Winching Techniques (Part 2)

Let’s say you have become stuck fast in a very boggy area. In this situation you are undoubtedly going to ask your winch to do a lot more heavy work. Again, remember the gearing principle. You must get most of the wire rope off the drum. The nominal pulling capacity of all winches is based on the bare drum, but be sure to keep the first six wraps on it. Walk the wire rope out to the farthest away ground anchor you can find. If you don’t have a tree you could use the dead weight of two vehicles chained together.

Time to break open the T-Stake ground anchors and set them in line to the load at the end of the wire rope. Using T-Stakes is very simple. Drop on the ground a large bow shackle already attached to the wire rope and knock in the first T-Stake through the bow shackle as far as you think necessary, with the stake leaning backwards about 15 degrees from upright. Place the second T-Stake about one metre behind the first, in line with the load, and hammer it into the ground at a similar angle with a sledge hammer. Do the same again with the third stake.

Using some rope, tie the rope of the front stake to the second stake at ground level, then the same again between the second and third stakes. The flat of the T-section always faces the load.

Using a Snatch Block


A set of three T-stakes are linked with rope to act as ground anchors for the winch cable

With an observer standing to one side of the ground anchors, take the strain up on the wire rope and get back into the vehicle. Try winching only at first, which will tend to pull your vehicle up and on top of the mud. Doing this will help lift the axles clear of the ground.

However, sometimes, through necessity, you have to winch and drive to take the strain off the winch. You will have to balance the revs of the engine with the speed of the wheels. Don’t get carried away as 4000rpm will not give you any extra amps over 2000rpm but it will certainly dig you further into the ground which will ensure you get even more stuck!

If you are that stuck, now is the time to get that snatch block out, but this time you are going to use it for a double line pull. People often think that using a snatch block doubles the pull of the winch. This is not quite true. If this was the case, and the snatch block doubled the pull of, say, a 9000lb winch, I would hate to be hearing what the chassis members are saying to themselves!

In reality, the use of a snatch block in a double line pull situation ensures that the winch draws only about half its normal current draw at any particular line pull. Therefore, even allowing for a slight loss of efficiency when using a pulley block you will reduce the current draw by nearly half.

Considering you are very reliant on your battery set-up and alternator, I can assure you that if you have a lot of heavy winching to do, using a snatch block is going to ensure you can winch much longer than you could without one.

Right: back to our scenario of being very well stuck in a boggy piece of ground. Your snatch block of course halves your available length of wire rope, which gives you a maximum of only about 46ft (14m) reach, allowing for the first few turns of rope on the drum. This is where another accessory comes in useful, in the shape of an extension wire rope.

When extending the reach of a winch, always be careful, as using any old bit of tow rope, tow strap or single length of webbing stop could build in a fuse which could let go at any time – with disastrous results, especially with shackles in between. You have been warned!

If a load is obviously very high, hang an old coat or heavy blanket over the wire rope to deaden a flying end should the worst happen.

Getting in a Strop

Quite often when your vehicle sinks in a bog you are going to need every trick in the book to get you out. Take up the tension first on the wire rope, ensuring of course those first few turns are laid neatly and tightly together or that every layer built up on the previous layer gives a flat drum type surface with no gaps in it.

While keeping an eye on your observer standing to one side of the ground anchor, start winching in anger. If the vehicle barely moves forward, you could have a problem! Never let your winch reach a ‘stall’ situation. By that I mean let the drum come to a halt while your finger is still on the button because if you do, sure as eggs are eggs, you will burn out your winch motor, leaving you not only stranded in the mud, but much poorer, too. When you burn out a motor, you blow the segments out of the armature commutator, which in turn rips out the brush holder unit.

So if you are pretty well stuck, try slipping the clutch a little while in first or second gear to see if a slight movement of the wheels helps, but don’t let them spin or you will go down deeper! If all else fails, you will have to get the Jackall out and lift in turn both the front and rear of the vehicle using a large base plate to spread the load in order to ‘break suction’.
Now let’s look at climbing a steep hill. It is obvious you can’t safely climb the hill as it’s far too steep, undulating and slippery. You and your colleagues walk up first, carrying an assortment of webbing tree strops, the extension wire rope, various shackles and a snatch block.

At the top, where there is a way out, you are lucky in finding a convenient large tree. Large enough, in fact, to need to use the 4m tree strop. You couple the hook end of the extension wire rope to the bow shackle on the strop and run the rope down the hill. In the meantime, someone freespools the drum on the winch and brings the hook of the winch rope up to meet the splice of the rope hanging from the tree.

Halfway down the hill, a second tree strop is attached to a tree on the edge of the track together with a tow rope, in preparation to secure the vehicle once it is winched up as far as the extension wire rope.

Because of the long climb it’s thought best to assist the winch by letting the clutch out in first gear to conserve battery power. Be very careful when doing this that you don’t accidentally overrun the wire rope. If the rope starts to go slack, slowly depress the clutch so the strain is back on the rope.

Without any problems, you winch halfway up the hill with your observer keeping an eye on your winch drum to make sure the layers are going on evenly. Your second observer up by the tree keeps an eye open for any problems that may arise.


Nearly there, but notice the wraps of wire opening up on the drum

The Next Step

You cannot winch any further now as your winch hook has nearly reached your roller fairleads. Your number one observer, without wasting any time, picks up the handy tow rope which is connected to the tree by the side of the track and secures the loose end to your vehicle with a shackle. You then lower back on the winch until the safety harness holds you firmly in place.

The extension wire rope is then taken out of use as your winch wire rope is walked up to the top for re-rigging. There lies a problem – the hook won’t reach the tree strop. Call for an adjustable alloy chain to make up the shortfall. With the thumbs up, you start winching a driving again. As you move off, someone kindly uncouples your safety harness.


Telephone: 01363 82666


Goodwinch Ltd, Oakleaf Way. Gunn. Barnstaple. Devon. Ex32 7NZ

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