Some winch questions

Ron0z

Active Member
I'm still learning about my new (used) car. It came with a winch. I asked the previous owner to demonstrate it. It had a couple of switches on the dash (an isolation switch, and one for in/out operation). It also came with a remote.

The demo included the seller grabbing hold of the rope and taking up the slack as the rope unwound a meter or so. He then rewound it back in. It seemed to work okay. A simple demonstration that tells nothing other than that the motor turns.

Okay, I'm home and figured it's about time I check it out with some load. Didn't get that far before the battery in the remote seemed to give out. Anyway, a couple of things took my attention. One thing at a time.

As the rope is unwinding and I'm dragging it up the driveway. Of course, I can see what's left on the drum as it's unwinding. I peer in at the drum and see the rope is not wrapped nicely. What do I mean by nicely? Well, if I were to climb inside an elevator or onto a crane and check out the cable around the drum I'd expect to see it neatly stacked in a layer, and as the next layer is built up as the drum pulls the cable in, I would expect to see the cable stack neatly on top. I would expect to see the cable wrapped neatly left to right, then right to left, and so forth. The rope on this winch was bunched and bundled in a pattern that looked so wrong. A dog's breakfast. It struck me that such an untidy pattern could cause a jam. Now, what I'm inclined to do is unwrap all of that rope and then wind it in carefully and watch how it wraps around the drum making sure it's done nice and neat.

First, a few little questions:
Do winches usually stop when the rope is all the way out?
Will I be left with a rope in my hand and nothing attached to the drum?

But here's the main question:
When stuck in the woods and you need to use the winch, what prevents the rope from bunching up in a mess when reeling it in?
 

John U

Well-Known Member
Don't ever operate your winch without your motor running (unless your aim is to destroy your battery).

I've never run my rope all the way out. Rope left on the drum allows the layers above it to grip.

Keep tension on the rope while winding it back in. I just use my weight against it as tension. Spool it across as you go so it doesn't all wind on in the one spot and foul on the winch.

Watch a few you tunes from knowledgeable drivers before using it. That saved me from myself when I first used it.

Get a bag of recovery gear and learn how to use it. I got a half decent one from bcf for about $100. It includes stuff like tree saver and winch extension strap as well as shackles and winch blanket.
 

Ron0z

Active Member
It occurs to me that perhaps the rope became untidy because the previous owner was too casual in winding it in at some point. I'm curious to know how winches behave (ie. wind in) when under an actual heavy load.
 

John U

Well-Known Member
It occurs to me that perhaps the rope became untidy because the previous owner was too casual in winding it in at some point. I'm curious to know how winches behave (ie. wind in) when under an actual heavy load.
You need to head and get stuck then.
 

rogerazz

4x4 Earth Contributer
I run my winch out then in once a month or so, to make sure it is still working.
I assume that when you get nearly full out the rope (if it's rope) is coloured or somehow shows different to warn you.
When I feed back in I keep tight hold and move from side to side on drum.
Or hook up to a post, stump and let it pull your vehicle in.
When hard winching do not go anywhere near the rope or cable.
You rely on it to wind in OK. Or deal with it if necessary.
 

discomatt

Well-Known Member
I'm still learning about my new (used) car. It came with a winch. I asked the previous owner to demonstrate it. It had a couple of switches on the dash (an isolation switch, and one for in/out operation). It also came with a remote.

The demo included the seller grabbing hold of the rope and taking up the slack as the rope unwound a meter or so. He then rewound it back in. It seemed to work okay. A simple demonstration that tells nothing other than that the motor turns.

Okay, I'm home and figured it's about time I check it out with some load. Didn't get that far before the battery in the remote seemed to give out. Anyway, a couple of things took my attention. One thing at a time.

As the rope is unwinding and I'm dragging it up the driveway. Of course, I can see what's left on the drum as it's unwinding. I peer in at the drum and see the rope is not wrapped nicely. What do I mean by nicely? Well, if I were to climb inside an elevator or onto a crane and check out the cable around the drum I'd expect to see it neatly stacked in a layer, and as the next layer is built up as the drum pulls the cable in, I would expect to see the cable stack neatly on top. I would expect to see the cable wrapped neatly left to right, then right to left, and so forth. The rope on this winch was bunched and bundled in a pattern that looked so wrong. A dog's breakfast. It struck me that such an untidy pattern could cause a jam. Now, what I'm inclined to do is unwrap all of that rope and then wind it in carefully and watch how it wraps around the drum making sure it's done nice and neat.

First, a few little questions:
Do winches usually stop when the rope is all the way out?
Will I be left with a rope in my hand and nothing attached to the drum?

But here's the main question:
When stuck in the woods and you need to use the winch, what prevents the rope from bunching up in a mess when reeling it in?
Never wind it on in a neat fashion like a crane cable , under load it will pull layers down and lock into each other, neat yes but the layers while needing to be even need to overlap like cross hatching
 

Ron0z

Active Member
Never wind it on in a neat fashion like a crane cable
That's interesting. I found this video, which seemed comprehensive. And the guy took pains to say that the cable should be wrapped neatly to avoid a tangled mess with the cable biting into itself, which could cause problems.

One of the most interesting things he did point out was that when winching, as the cable pulls (if the anchor is way off to the side) the cable is likely to build up at one end of the drum. He suggested that winching may have to be done in stages; pull yourself out, reposition the cable neatly, pull out again with the winch, repeat, etc.

 

cam04

Well-Known Member
Fswr (steel) likes to be guided on neatly and sit in the groove of the last lay (like the pretty spools on the cranes). Dyneema needs to go faster across the spool so that the lays cross each other and don’t want to bite into the last lays and jamb. Have a look at a ships mooring winches. I didn’t watch the YouTube vid above but he is wrong anyway. The only way you want to have neat lays with dyneema is if you replace it under tension every time and nobody does that.
Second, with low mount winches (I’m assuming low mount - hidden in the bar) try to always use the clutch to disengage the winch and pull the cable out in freespool rather than powering out. Powering out works against the brake which wears out the brake but also heats up the spool which can damage dyneema quite quickly.
Third, the winch won’t stop when you are spooling in or out so this is dangerous work. NEVER leave less than 5 wraps on the spool when winching in anger. It is spool friction that joins the line to the spool, not the dicky screw in the last bit. Same putting it away, get used to how much the winch overruns after you take the finger off and try to not let it eat itself or any of your body parts as the hook comes home.
They are a great thing, but a dangerous toy. I’ll try to find my copy of the warn guide and put it up for some reference.
 
Last edited:

cam04

Well-Known Member
Nope. This one.
 

Attachments

  • Warn safe guide to winching TechGuide_PN62885-A2.pdf
    1.3 MB · Views: 23

Ron0z

Active Member
It seems reasonable that steel cable wound tightly will be an impenetrable barrier to the next layer. It would be impossible for the outer layer to squeeze between loops of the inner layer. Synthetic on the other hand is flexible. I can see how, with sufficient force, it might have a tendency to squeeze between the gaps in the loops of the inner layer and become jammed. I can appreciate that.

Though, if the synthetic cable is under high pressure the inner layers will be too (though, lessened by friction) and there may be a tendency for the cable to spread flatter (from the pressure of the outer layer) which will tend to prevent the upper layer from squeezing into the gaps. (Like a two-pronged ice hook - the heavier the block of ice the tighter the grip.)

It also occurs to me that in a 'crosshatch' pattern the cable will be under tension with many alternating bends as it wobbles over the underlying layer, rather than a relatively constant bend (ie. that of the drum). Those bends may put additional stress on the cable.

But I'm no engineer, and am prepared to listen to the more experienced. I'm just thinking aloud.
 

Ron0z

Active Member
Cam04, that PDF refers to wire rope. I'm not so sure you'd want to wind in a cross-hatch manner. Probably damage the cable, and it might not be possible with wire. It'd tend to have a mind of its own.
 

cam04

Well-Known Member
wire rope - neat
Dyneema under pressure - neat - there’s no other option unless you have a mechanical level wind……think about it.
Dyneema loose - fast lay so that when you put it under pressure it doesn’t dive through and bind.
 

Hoyks

Well-Known Member
The rope will only wind on neatly if it is under tension and the anchor point is directly in front of the vehicle. Trees are rarely that convenient, so the rope/cable will get bunched up on one side or the other.

If it is bundled to one side, stop, pull the cable out and lay it back on the drum a bit neater as if it gets too bunched up it can damage the winch.

If you pull the cable all the way off the winch it is still attached by a small bolt and a thimble on the end of the cable. It has negligible strength though, so ensure you have at least 5 tight wraps around the drum before winching in or it can rip the bolt out and you're screwed.

If powering the winch out, it is possible to then have it winding back in, its not good as the drum has a brake that doesn't always work if all the load is 180 degrees from how it is designed to work.

Steel cable can be pulled down through the layers under load and it is much harder to un-do than poly rope and will suffer damage in the process. All rope should be wound onto the drum neatly and under some tension so the layers can't move relative to each other and the rope can't pull down through the layers. Sure, do a quick and dirty pull to get you out of a rut, but then fix it when you get the chance.

Poly rope has so many advantages compared to steel that I wouldn't go back to steel.
 

Ron0z

Active Member
Seems logical. Also, you'd never get dyneema under pressure. And even if you did as soon as you hang up the hook any vibrations as you drive is going to make the cable loose again.
 
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