Your winch is a powerful tool for off road recovery. When used safely, it can recover loads greater than the weight of your vehicle. Yet the same forces used for recovery can also create a dangerous situation if you don’t respect the power packed into your winch.
It’s important for your own safety and the safety of others riding with you that you understand how your winch works and how it reacts to load. The following guidelines will help you stay safe on the trail and use your winch’s power without creating a dangerous situation.
Winch Load and Recovery Accessories
When you decide on the maximum pulling capacity you need for a winch, you need to take into account the strength of your vehicle’s frame, mounting points, and other components. Every link in the chain must be able to withstand the pulling force of the winch. One weak link in the chain can lead to winch failure or cause something to break.
Make sure your vehicle frame, mounting system, anchor point (such as a tow hook on your own vehicle or another vehicle), and all winch accessories are rated to handle the maximum capacity of the winch. Wire or synthetic rope, snatch blocks, shackles, winch hooks, and other recovery accessories all need to be able to withstand the maximum line capacity of the winch.
Rated Line Pull
In understanding how a winch reacts to load, remember that the maximum rated capacity is determined by the first layer of rope. As more cable piles up on the drum, the rated capacity drops. This also means that when you are pulling a load at full capacity and you stop winching and try to start again, the rated line capacity will have dropped with the extra layers on the drum, and you may not have enough power to begin pulling again.
Doubling the Winch Capacity
Exceeding the winch capacity could cause the cable to snap or cause the winch to fail. Make sure you can get out safely by thinking ahead about how much winch power you will need for how you plan to use the winch. If the pull requires more power than your winch is rated for, double the line to increase the pulling power. Although it cuts down on line speed, a double line pull will reduce the strain on your winch and cable, making the pull easier on your winch and safer for all involved.