Bushtracker Tip # 15: Extreme Off-road and winch tricks to help....

Submitted: Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 21:48
ThreadID: 121718 Views:6180 Replies:1 FollowUps:1
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I am going to give a few tips on extreme 4x4 use in Tips 15 to 17 and see if this is well received, by your Email to me… Thank all of you for your kind words and comments on my efforts so far…

The Tips that are just really for ongoing maintenance and product support for current Bushtracker Owners will stay on the Private Forum... But for the rest here are some goodies you may find of help...

For those that might think I am just another pretty face (Ha!) “that fell over the Bushtracker concept in a paddock somewhere”…. Humour… I have 35 years in extreme 4x4 use in extreme conditions hunting deer, elk, bear, in North America, game patrol overland in Africa, and three years in Central America, and Australia, as well as the part time and full time living on yachts where many of the Bushtracker concepts come from…

Now before the Tip, some background on the primary security of winches… Again, I will qualify myself so you take this with its due credibility: I have owned around a dozen winches of all three major kinds, on a variety of vehicles including two military vehicles. I currently own four. I have the largest personal 4x4 in Australia, a Dual Cab Mack, with a 20,000 lb hydraulic out the front and a 12,000 lb warn out the back.. (Yea I know I’m crazy, Ha!) I also have two Landcruisers currently, an old 1989 Sahara that I cannot bring myself to part with, that has 330,000 kms on it and has now been fully restored; with a Warn 9000 lb. I also have a 100 Series with a 10,000 lb Warn on the front. I am not just a pretty face, only into horses and my Mack horse truck to get my kids more in tune with my Heritage and the Outback, being a tiny bit Lakota Sioux. Yes I am crazy, Ha! But I have an extreme amount of experience with 4x4 to the limits of possibility in hunting, prospecting, adventure, and exploration; so here are a few tips and background…

Winches: There are basically three types. PTO (Power Take Off), Hydraulic, and Electric… PTO is about the strongest, as it will go to and exceed it’s design limits, where hydraulic and electric often stall and do not go to their rated capacity for a number of hydraulic and electrical shortfalls.. PTO is shaft drive to a geared winch. It’s strength however can be it’s downfall. There is supposed to be a shear pin in the shaft and u-joint drive that is the weak point; However, I have broken two of them without the shear pin going… In 1973 I had a 1968 Ford F-250 Military with a PTO winch on the front, and with the front nose down in a bog pulling obliquely I sheared the weld on a u-joint yoke… In 1980, when a 48’ yacht hit the beach and started to break up, we hired a “tank retriever” from the guy that supplies military vehicles to Hollywood and it was there in 5 hours to catch the next low tide… The hull was breaking up and sinking in the surf due to ballast, so we only had the low tide interval to salvage. This was not enough time to unbolt gear, we had to just rip it off with the tank retrievers enormous winch under the headlights of the local Four Wheel Drive Club cheering us on… We did things like ripping out the engine right off mounts, with so much strain up and over the gunnel that when it broke loose it shot up right out of the wreck and landed with a thud on the sand.. Anyway, in the end we broke the bull gear on that winch.. So, PTO is great, but a bit expensive and very hard to route the shaft drive with u-joints from the PTO to the winch on modern vehicles. It is a daunting task to route the solid shaft drive without the high ground clearance of vehicles like Military, older Ford 4x4, Dodge Power Wagons, and such.. Sooo, yes it is strong, almost too strong for its own good, and very hard to put on modern vehicles…

The next is Hydraulic… Now this is great, PTO or belt drive or gear drive, hydraulic pump and flexible hoses to a hydraulic motor on basically the same winch… This however is the most expensive….. And hard to do it right. The hydraulic reservoir on my Mack is large, as the pump moves 72 litres a minute a engine speed of 1000 rpm… On a smaller winch with modest power, the pump can still move 30-35 litres per minute, and it will heat up and smoke the oil if you do not have a big enough tank. This is probably the best winch, if you have room, and a very large pocket book. Mine will go until it actually stalls pulling down dead trees and such to get their fall right with the chainsaw. Some of the good hydraulic winches are under-rated and will go til they stall without breaking anything.. Good, but expensive… And there is the problem of a reasonable tank reservoir so the oil does not heat up too fast..

Now for what is practical, most cost effective, and the Tip for its shortfall: Electric winches are cheap.. They will run until they stall, and seldom break. The will also run without the engine running, where the other two will not.. I have run mine under water, while salt water is a no-no, being electrolyte conductive on its own, I have run mine under fresh water nose down.. Maybe water did not get into the motor, but I have heard other similar reports. Anyway, the biggest short fall is heating up the motor… If you have a long pull, you are limited to a few minutes, as to run time on the motor before it heats up.. With the engine at 1000 rpm, the alternator will catch up charging the batteries while you change out winch points, but the motor takes forever to cool… So here is the Tip: About 100 km in the mountains S.E. of Springsure I was out on the back of a Station in 1997 trying to find a legendary place not seen in many years.. It was a jumble of rocks and caves that only a few old Horsemen knew about called the “Lost City”.. I had a 1.5 tonne off-road trailer full of supplies, on the back of a stretched 75 series Landcruiser with diff-lock, high lift suspension, LSD front diff, 12HT Turbo diesel, and the works.. Fearless!… Or so I thought.. Until I broke through the four inch dry surface crust of sand in the bottom of a little canyon, and sunk into the slosh almost quicksand of an underground river; and sunk up to the floorboards. It took many full length reaches of cable and snatch block to double the power of the 10,000 lb winch, and another recovery cable, set up many times with about 45 minutes of winching, to plough through the mud to firmer ground. Now the average run time to overheating is only about 5 minutes… Major Problem… So I put a 20 litre jerry can of water just inside the bull bar, leaning against the bonnet of the Cruiser, and with a spare small drain valve (like on the water tanks) stuck in the end of jiggle siphon, I had the motor cooler. I jiggle siphoned the water out of the jerry can, and then throttled down the valve so it only just let out a small stream of water onto the Warn winch motor body, dead in the middle so it ran all over the 12v motor. I stopped it after a while when re-setting the snatch blocks for another pull. This gave me the longest and hardest run I have ever heard of with a 12v winch. You might know the drill, shovel ramps, wood in the hole, ploughing mud deep enough to use the front tyres (while turning in gear in low range), they were only a use as rudders.. Ha! While some conservatives would critique this situation as foolish, it is the price to pay once in while for adventure and exploring of the kind that I do…

On getting back home days later, I though surely the winch motor or gear drive was damaged or severely worn, as it all got hot even with the water cooling… So I removed it and shipped it to ARB in Brisbane. They disassembled and inspected it, and then put it back together and shipped it back to me, no parts, only the $132 shop time for inspection. The stretched Landcruiser was eventually retired to ten passenger Tourist buggy on Frazer Island, with the same winch still in place… Ha!

Snow, mud, sand, slosh, the practical cost effective answer is still electric. While hydraulic is superior, it is many times as expensive, and there is the tank problem… There is a unit out there that runs off the power steering pump (which is hydraulic), but I have heard many poor performance reports, slow, lack of rated power, etc… I can’t see how it could run to my demands, as the pump and volume requirements when you are really in the “poo” are quite large.. Soooo, the electric winch, when aided by the water cooling discovery of mine on the motor, is still the best option. On short pulls, for most people, no worries about cooling.. But one major shortfall has always been power (alternator catches up fast as you reset the gear) and overheating if you have accidentally driven onto a crust or swamp or broken through the dried crust of river gravel down into the slush.. Ha! So if you have to do a long pull, the water cooling seems to work where many have burned up winch motors or had to wait an hour for it to cool each time before another winching set, and I will do the water cooling again…

Now, if you like these kind of Tips, let me know and I will post more… Yes, some of you already know, but a many Bushtracker Owners do not have the experience of extreme off-road exploration, and it you like these sort of Tips I have a few you are not likely to read about or hear about in the normal 4x4 sources… Let me know, I am happy to take the time to make the contribution to “The Cause” …

Cheers, your Friend at Bushtracker, stg

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 04:15

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 04:15
I must say that I agree with your comments about the Hydraulic winches running off the power steering pump. I had a 10,000lb hydraulic winch fitted to our F250 and while in WA last year set to work winching a Patrol that was bogged on the beach with the rising tide washing under the vehicle. Because of the in-coming tide it was necessary to winch on about a 30 degree angle which would have increased the load substancially. Using a snatch block I still couldn't move the Nissan. Then on thinking about it later, the winch couldn't have been putting out very much power at all as it wasn't pulling the F250 towards the Patrol that it should have been with 20,000lb pull on it. (We got the Patrol out with the assistance of another vehicle)

When we got home I traded the Hydraulic one in and fitted a 15,000lb electric as I had previously had 3 other electric winches and they all worked good.

I then discovered that when using the Power Steering pump to power the Hydraulic winch, the F250 apparently has a pressure relief valve that was blowing off when I used the winch and hence the winch could never reach its rated 10,000lb pulling power because of this valve. I could have fitted a heavy duty pump to drive the winch but for me I believe the electric type are by far the best for type of use that I want one for.

Also I have found that when winching much heavier vehicles out that are well above the rating of the winch, if you can securely anchor your vehicle to a tree of similar, then put a snatch block in line and take the winch up to the point of stalling, if the driver of the bogged vehicle spins the wheels in low 4WD first, the bogged vehicle will move a few centimetres. Then take up the winch strain and repeat until it is clear of the bog. I have successfully used this method twice to get 4WD Fire tankers out of bogs where only 4WD vehicle could access.
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Follow Up By: Turist - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 08:20

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 08:20
Brian someone must produce a "real" hydraulic winch, one that operates from the PTO.
Tow trucks are using one for the winch on the rear tray, hydraulic pump on the PTO and hoses to the winch.
Heaps of grunt.
May be worth some investigation for those interested in serious winching.
For mine, i'll stick to serious wenching.

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