OKoffroad.com 4x4 Editorial
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Winch Rigging
. GreenCountryCruisers by Kevin Yeager  
reprinted with permission  

We all see a front-mounted electric winch and Hi-Lift Jacks as must-have accessories on off-road vehicles today. Did you ever give any thought as to how well the owners of these vehicles can use this recovery equipment?


The Winch
The most common type of winch used by 4 wheelers today is the electric winch, but this wasn't always so. The early 4x4s used a power-take-off (PTO) winch because electric winches weren't available yet, or they weren't powerful enough. Today there are electric winches powerful enough for even the heaviest recreational 4x4 on the market.

Single Line Pull
The simplest rigging set up for winching is a single line pull. This is just attaching the winch's hook to an anchor (tree, rock or vehicle) with either a D-ring shackle, tree saver strap, choker chain or a combination of these and then using the winch to pull the vehicle free.

When setting up the pull, try to do it so that the winch cable comes as straight as possible into the winch. This makes it easier to get the cable evenly wound on the drum. If this is not possible, as you wind in the cable check periodically how the cable is stacking up on the drum during the pull. On long pulls it may be necessary to stop and rewind the cable on the drum to prevent the cable from over stacking and binding up in the winch housing.

Angle Pull
A variation of the single line pull is the angle pull. The angle pull is used when something is causing an obstruction preventing a direct pull, or when the winching vehicle cannot be positioned for a direct pull. By adding a snatch block to the rigging set up you can redirect the cable to get a better line on the vehicle being pulled. You can be very creative in how you rig an angle pull. It will even allow you to pull another vehicle forward while you are behind it.



Double Line Pull
The next level of winch rigging is the double line pull, where the cable is run through a snatch block and back to the winching vehicle. This set up essentially doubles the pulling power of the winch while halving the line speed of the winch. A double line pull is most often used when your winch does not have sufficient power to get your rig unstuck or when the rig you are trying to free is bigger than yours.

To reduce stress on your rig, when using a double line pull to free a bigger vehicle, attach the winch cable to an anchor point other than your rig. This way as your winch pulls the stuck truck free, only half of the load is transmitted to your rig and the other half goes to the tree or rock that you anchored the winch cable to.

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reprinted with permission

Double Line Pull with Angle Pull
A double line pull may be combined with an angle pull for awkward heavy pulls. Use the same anchor point for both the direction change snatch block and the winch cable. This combination gives you the benefits of both the double line and the angle pull. Note that you must use two snatch blocks for this combination pull to be effective.

Pulling Force Distribution
In using your winch to free a stuck vehicle the pulling force may be more evenly distributed to the stuck vehicle. Use your choker chain securely attached to both main frame rails of the stuck rig.


Then use a D-ring shackle to connect the winch hook or snatch block to the choker chain. The use of a spreader bar placed in the V of the chain, close to the vehicle, is recommended to prevent the frame rails from collapsing inwards during the pull.

Anchoring the Recovery Vehicle
Recovering another vehicle with your vehicle's winch may cause your vehicle to be dragged towards the stuck rig. This is a common problem, and requires your rig to be anchored. When securing your rig to prevent this, DO NOT use the rear bumper or rear recovery points. This is a common mistake and puts you at the risk of doing damage to your vehicle's frame. Your winch has enough power to stretch your frame or pull it into a diamond shape.

The correct method to use to secure your rig and prevent damage to the frame, is to use two recovery points on the front of your rig and run the rigging under your vehicle and back to an anchor point. Sounds odd, but it will prevent you from damaging your vehicle.

Hi-Lift Jack
The Hi-Lift (a registered brand name) or farm jack is one of the most versatile pieces of recovery gear that you can carry in your 4x4. Not only can it used to change a tire, it can be used to recover your stuck rig, among other uses. With a few accessories you might be surprised at what you can do with your jack.


To turn your jack into a winch you'll need a few things. A tree saver and a 3/4" D-ring shackle will let you anchor the jack to a tree, vehicle or other immovable object. A 20 foot 3/8" choker chain will let you attach the jack to the stuck vehicle. I recommend using 3/4" D-ring shackles at each end of the chain.

Making sure that the chain is properly attached to the vehicle is the key to this set up. Always use a secure recovery point or attach it to the frame so that it will not come loose under the full pulling load.

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Fourwheeling for me: "Twenty-five years ago, it struck me that I'd rather be at 2mph on a rocky trail, with half a tire hanging over a 2,000 foot drop, than in a sports car on asphalt, cornering at 80 mph at the edge of tire adhesion."
         Jim Allen
Author of "Jeep," "Chevy and GMC Pickup Performance Handbook," "Illustrated Jeep Buyers Guide," "Jeep 4x4 Performance Handbook," "Classic 4x4s Buyers Guide," and about a thousand magazine articles on four-wheel drive topics since 1982.
(Thank you from OKoffroad.com)
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