The famed Warn model 8274 was developed in the early ’60s by Belleview Winch, and then it morphed into the 8000 series and later the 8200, with the near-final design being the numbers spoken by Jeepers in almost religious tones: 8274. That number designation was the culmination of many years of mechanical refinement. The spur drive upright design with an integrated brake and all-electric controls became the winch of legends in 1974. Even the stalwart, albeit fictional, tree-hugger George Washington Hayduke used the famed unit to outwit the authorities by winching 100 feet off a cliff in his venerable CJ-5.
If you’ve never experienced a winch that can reel in unloaded cable at a blistering 52 feet-per-minute then hunker down and pull 8,000 pounds with ease, you wouldn’t understand the sound of the click-click-click of the brake pawl resonating against the rocks like the riff of a Rachmaninoff masterpiece on the piano. It’s pure symphonic ecstasy listening to the grind of the gears and the whine of the motor straining against the weight of a derelict 4x4 caught in the canyon.
Presented here is a selection of 8274 winches and variants we saw on a single group of Jeeps attacking some of the most-feared Moab obstacles. The group was made up of seasoned vehicles and veterans, and they chose the icon of spoolers. As a side note, not a single Jeep on our trail needed the famed companion. Maybe the rocks knew they wouldn’t win?
The 8274 winch is an upgrade from the previous M8200, which had power-in only. This model in the photo is an early version identified by the chrome trailer plug receptacle with for prongs. In a pinch, you could power the winch in or out with a dime if the hand control wasn’t available.
The Bellview Manufacturing winch was the progenitor of the 8274. It featured 6,000 pounds of pull in the upright spur gear design that gives the winch its tall stature. Two separate cables from inside the cab worked the clutch and band brake.
Later models went to the plastic control plug, starting with only three wires but six holes. You can still “jump-start” this style with a piece of wire or needle nose pliers in an emergency.
While Warn supplied myriad different bumper and mounting options, this is one of the few feet-forward styles made. Notice this custom mount, which lowers the standard profile.
A roller fairlead was the most common upgrade for the 8274. The winch is the only one to sport 150 feet of 5/16-inch steel-braided aircraft cable. Why so long? Because it would fit, and as the story goes, you are always 10 feet short of reaching an anchor.
When equipped with synthetic line, an aluminum or composite hawse fairlead is needed to protect the line from any rough edges. How vintage is synthetic rope?
One user switched the 2 1/2hp motor for a hydraulic drive. With the proper pump it works great. Notice the 1/2-inch cable upgrade, and no brake pucks or pawls to make the famous 8274 click, click, click sound.
Many owners relocate the control box under the hood for a sleeker appearance. This fairly new model is darn clean and needs some miles put on it.
Most factory mounting plates have the bottom of the winch at the top of the frame rails, which can inhibit good radiator cooling performance. Sinking the winch lower with a custom mount lets more air through the radiator and allows for a better pulling angle from the bottom of the drum.
A special-edition 8274 was designed in 1998 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Warn and was upgraded to a stronger motor. This model brought the winch up to an incredible 79 feet-per-minute no-load line speed!