A winch is another one of those items that you don’t give much thought to until you need it. This post is for you but if you’ve ever gotten stuck and thought to yourself, “Too simple – I’ve gotten a winch!” only to discover that it’s no longer functioning.
Winches have the disadvantage of being continually exposed to the weather. Your winch deals with dust, dirt, mud, rain, sand, and grime on a regular basis. I’m sure you understand where I’m headed with this. If they’re expected to last, they’ll need to be maintained.
Fortunately, it’s a rather simple process that can be completed in an hour or less without too many complications, and it should be considered part of your trip prep if you’re planning on spending a few days (or weeks) in the wilderness.
The disk & brake system is the significantly less likely of the four primary elements to require maintenance. They’re fairly tough on most high-quality winches, and there’s not much that can go wrong with those. We’ve heard of some inexpensive winches experiencing brake troubles, but they’re generally reliable and shouldn’t require any repairs.
If your machine fails in this area, you should consult a professional because it’s a difficult job that will have you generating new swear terms at an astonishing rate. Nevertheless, the solenoids, rope, motor and transmission should all be thoroughly examined.
Here’s how we make absolutely sure electronic winders are up to the task of keeping our smug expressions on our faces when we’re door-handle down in the mire.
Cleanliness Is Essential
Keeping synthetic cable or wire rope (do folks still use this?) clean will help it live longer. Remove your rope from the drum entirely and rinse it in a basin of mild water and soap. Also, don’t oil your wire cable because it will attract dirt and filth.
Examine the rope/cable thoroughly for frayed threads or damage. These will produce weak places, therefore re-splicing the ropes or changing the cable may be necessary. Re-spool that onto the drums under pressure once you’re finished, trying to make sure to get to at least those few wraps queued up as exactly as possible.
The most common way of re-spooling is winching in with a modest slope (or on level terrain with the handbrake on a couple of snaps). It’s a great idea to do this with newer winches because the rope is seldom spooled-on under strain from the manufacturer. This can cause bunching, flat patches, and even bird’s nesting in the rope when you use 4wd winches.
The Electric System
Remove the control box’s cover and examine the solenoid valves and all connections. To prevent the connections from rust, sand them lightly with fine sandpaper and apply a dab of wiring oil. While you’re at it, check for any damage to the wiring. Take the stopper from the motor and look for damage on the rotors and brushes; these can last a lot longer and will need to be replaced eventually.
The Equipment Box
Disconnect the gearbox from of the winch’s tip and wash and re-grease the planetary gears completely. Only a small smear across the moving elements is required. Utilize the identical heavy-duty oil you used to fill your CV joints, or a maritime grease with a high heat rating. This step is critical if you regularly cross water or are traveling someplace where you will most likely encounter them. Make sure the gaskets are in good shape and repair them if necessary.