HD WINCH GUIDE
Nov 24, 12 | by: Bruce W. Smith
HEAVY DUTY PICKUP WINCHES
When it comes time to pull out the winch cable you want to be running one of the “Big Dawg” electric or hydraulic pickup winches
by Bruce W. Smith
When you work in the construction world you never know when the winch on your pickup is going to be called upon to save the day.
On one outing it could be used to pull a high-centered skid steer back to solid ground or winching a broken-down front-end loader up on the trailer to be towed back to the shop.
The next day it’s freeing your own pickup buried in the sand or sliding a blow-down off the road on the way to a remote jobsite.
The need for a heavy-duty winch – one capable of pulling a loaded diesel 4×4 crew cab up a bank as easily as it can roll piece of equipment onto a trailer or slide boulders or trees out of the way – is a must-have tool for the professional contractors who work every day outdoors.
To choose the right winch for heavy-duty use boils down to knowing a couple of simple items: 1) the weight of your pickup, and 2) the type of winching needs.
“Selecting a winch isn’t just a case of considering the vehicle weight. The contractor has to consider how a winch works and the forces involved in extracting a stuck vehicle or piece of equipment,” says Jeff Bimson, CEO of Warrior Winches.
“A general guide for those who actually use their winches on the job is to take the curb weight, add 50 percent [the effect of being stuck] and then multiply by two. This will give you a guide to the winch capacity required to be an effective tool in the field.”
So if a 4×4 crew-cab diesel has a curb weight of 6,500 pounds, adding 50 percent and doubling that number equates to 19,500 pounds. Overkill? Maybe. But Bimson’s thinking is spot on.
The point is many winch buyers think too small. When push comes to pull, they end up kicking themselves as smoke boils from the winch or there’s not enough muscle to get the job done. It’s better to have a lot more pulling power at your fingertips than too little.
At a bare minimum you should get a winch with the capacity twice that of your pickup’s loaded weight. A 1/2-ton 4×4 pickup shouldn’t have anything less than a 10,000-pound-capacity winch, while a 4×4 dually diesel 4×4 should be set up with a 16,000-pound model. Bigger is better on both.
The type of winch depends on need and application. An electric is easier to install and there’s a wide range of models from which to choose. They also work whether the engine is running or not.
But electric winches tend to overheat under hard use and take a toll on the vehicle’s battery system if the winch operator doesn’t pay close attention to what’s going on. Electric winches are good for short pulls. But they all slow down on long, hard pulls as battery power drops.
Hydraulic winches, on the other hand, keep pulling strong no matter the load or duration of the pull. The downside is they are a lot more expensive, the installation is more involved and they don’t work when the pickup’s engine stops.
Another thing to consider when buying a heavy-duty winch is how it’s made.
When you work in mud, sand and water day in and day out you want a winch with the highest quality internal components, and its electrical and drum/gear components sealed from the elements. The last thing you want is a winch that fails because mud and water worked their way into critical parts.