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A Different Pull-osophy: Looking at Winching From a Different Direction

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on October 24, 2018
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Photographers: Four Wheeler StaffCourtesy of Manufacturers

From the jobsite to the trailhead, front-mounted winches are rather popular. You can even walk away from a Ram dealership with a Power Wagon hiding a 12,000-pound winch behind the front bumper. There is, however, a problem with front winches—they only perform their duties in the front of the vehicle. Since a big part of four-wheeling is problem solving, read on, and let’s solve this winching dilemma by looking at it from a different direction.

Photo: Ben Battles
With the front of this K30 pushing the dirt like a bulldozer, it’s not going anywhere forward. The rear bumper is also hung up on dry ground, keeping it from going backward. This truck needs a rear winch!

Front-Winch Woes

Imagine this scenario. Though wheeling alone is not something we recommend, it happens. The cold winter night is falling and that quick backwoods shortcut that was supposed to shave minutes off your trip has turned to mud. Your rig inevitably takes a nosedive into a snow-covered, sludgy chasm of a mudhole such that no combination of locked differentials, 4-Lo, or horsepower has a chance at budging it forward or back. The icy quagmire is headlamp-deep around the rig’s front quarter, and your trusty winch is sunk like the Titanic beneath the murky surface. Faced with the prospect of twisting the frozen freespool lever and fishing for the submerged winch hook, questions arise.

Can someone pull the rig out from the rear using shackles and a recovery strap? At this hour, with this poor phone reception, chances are slim. Is winching forward through the muck even a good idea? The remainder of the shortcut could still be a gooey minefield, offering more chances at getting stuck, even if you escape the current hole. A winch on the backside of the 4x4 sure seems like a dandy idea now.

Rear-Winch Bumper

Want a winch in the rear of your rig? Mount it just like you would in the front—using a winch bumper. These configurations keep the winch snug against the vehicle and protected from damage, while still allowing for a pull when it’s needed. Weight and cost, however, might need to be considered. The weight of the winch combined with the bumper can tax the rig’s suspension, and all bumpers come at a price. One option is the Stealth Rear Winch Bumper from Road Armor. It comes fit for many popular fullsize trucks and is a stylish way to mount and protect a winch on the back of your vehicle. Olympic 4x4 Products designed the Smuggler bumper to fit ’07-’17 Jeep Wranglers. The bumper weighs 236 pounds and can be purchased with or without the Dual Directional Tire Carrier.

Winch Cradles

Bridging the gap between front- and rear-mounted winches is the winch cradle. With most made to fit standard 2-inch receivers, the winch remains bolted to the cradle, and it can be moved between the front and back of the vehicle as desired. With the winch cradle installed, the approach and departure angles of your vehicle will be decreased, and care must be taken to avoid running the winch into obstacles. Also remember that winches are not lightweight, and moving a cradled winch between bumpers and storage can be tiresome, maybe even dangerous in mud or snow. Lastly, the winch cradle creates an inherent weak point between the winch and your rig’s frame. Pulling from an angle (which is not advised, even with bumper-mounted winches), can bend the cradle.

The Multi-Mount from Warn accepts a variety of the company’s winches (Warn Power Plant is shown here) and can be outfitted with a 7.5-foot power lead, hawse fairlead, and Quick Connect power plug. The Multi-Mount is said to fit standard 2-inch receivers.

Smittybilt adds sleek storage to the winch cradle concept with the XRC Black Box. The cradle accepts up to a 12,000-pound winch and is supplemented by three separate lockable storage compartments for recovery straps, gloves, and tools. The Black Box also features a pair of D-ring shackles and forward-facing lights, and it is said to fit standard 2-inch receivers.

Bed-Mounted

Winching is all about creativity, especially when mounting winches in places other than the bumpers. A bed-mounted winch can be as simple as a 2,500-pound unit for loading fullsize spare tires and cargo, or as extreme as a 9,500-pound winch with the hawse fairlead mounted in the tailgate. As a bonus, bed-mounted winches can also help coax payloads onto trailers, should the need arise. These winch configurations can hinder the cargo-carrying capabilities of a truck bed, especially if the space is used for hauling rocks, logs, or dirt that could harm a mounted winch.

Power Up

Planning a rear winch install must involve getting power from the battery to the winch. In some cases, a rear battery and jumper cables may fit the bill, but with that comes the cost of a new battery, deciding where to mount it, and how to keep it charged. For a more permanent power solution, Tuff Stuff has a 22-foot, 2-gauge wiring kit designed to get 12V power from the battery in the front to the back of your rig.

Hidden Winches

With some creative cutting, welding, or chopping, winches can be tucked out of sight between the framerails of most rigs. In addition to the custom bumper, this winch (blue truck, left) was mounted with its feet forward to eliminate shear stress on the four mounting bolts. To achieve this position, the winch drum was clocked 90 degrees. Looking back to 2005 and our ’92 Ford F-150 named Project Fiery Redhead, we were able to mount a Warn 9.5ti using a Reunel rear bumper. Again, this required clocking the winch drum, extending the clutch lever, and relocating the solenoid, but the result was a clean look and a hidden winch. These options may require more hands-on work than a simple winch bumper, but can also maintain factory departure angles and shelter winches from the elements.

Why Not Buy Two?

Buying a winch for the front and back of your rig might not be as far-fetched of an idea as it used to be. Sure, buying one winch and a portable cradle can be cheaper, but with some coupon clipping and shrewd shopping, you can bring home two winches for nearly half of what you could spend on just one. For rigs only requiring 9,000 pounds of pulling capacity, you can mount a Harbor Freight Badland ZXR 9000 winch to each end and still stay within a $650 budget (price of one winch at time of press was $319.99).

Sources

Smittybilt
Compton, CA 90220
888-717-5797
www.smittybilt.com
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
800-543-9276
www.warn.com
Olympic 4x4 Products
City of Commerce, CA 90040
800-777-0878
http://www.olympic4x4products.com
Road Armor Corp.
Mukilteo, WA
425-328-7194
http://www.roadarmor.com
Harbor Freight Tools
800-423-2567
www.HarborFreight.com
Reunel Manufacturing Company
800-338-2077
www.reunel.com
Tuff Stuff
866-220-0171
tuffstuff4x4.com

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