Where is the most power on your winch line? When you are definitely stuck, do you want as much winch line pulled out, or do you want a shorter distance of rope pulled? Even after considering dynamics and situations, this may get a little argumentative for some. Allow me to provide you with the answer.
You get the most power from your winch with more rope extended. A winch pulls its maximum load spooling the first layer back onto the drum. For example, if you have a 10,000 lb capacity winch, you will ONLY pull 10,000 lb when you are spooling the first layer of rope around the drum.
Charlene Tip: Always leave a minimum of 5 wraps on the drum with wire rope and a minimum of 10 wraps on the drum with synthetic rope! Some rope is now colored to know when you hit the minimum. If not, spool in the appropriate minimum and then wrap a piece of duct tape (colored is best!) around the rope on the outside of the fairlead so you have a visual of when to stop pulling line.
As the second layer of winch line is spooled in, there is an approximate loss of 15% capacity. This loss compounds with each rotation of line around the drum. This equation is in relation to the winch drum, not the length of the line. As the rope is stacked up onto the drum, the diameter of the drum is increasing. This effectively changes the gear ratio of the winch. The larger the diameter of the drum, the more the winch capacity decreases. However, as the diameter increases, so does the speed.
Charlene Tip: If you have a WARN winch, go to the page for your specific winch. There you can find the specs including the line speed and amp draw, which helps you compare different winch models. Then, there is the Pull by Layer column that lists the above mentioned pulling pound capacity of the winch with one layer, two layers, three layers, etc of rope on the drum.
Let’s translate this into reality: you are stuck and need to be winched out of your current predicament. You have a 10,000 lb winch and you need all the power you can get to be able to recover yourself. In order to get that power, you need to pull as much rope as possible (to the minimum mark), leaving the appropriate wraps on the drum. Now you have 50 feet of rope out while the most realistic winching point is within 20 feet of you. In this situation, it is more realistic to use a Pully or Snatch Block to utilize as much line as possible. (We will talk about how to rig your winch line in another article.)
Be proactive. Grab some gloves and head out to your vehicle, put the winch into free spool and pull your rope or cable. Verify as you get to the end that you have a marking on your rope or cable to ensure someone who is helping to pull your winch line doesn’t pull it too far. (Note: When you are stuck, or in a situation, it is rare that you are actually the one with your hands on your winch line. Help your winch, vehicle and yourself by being prepared.) Take a few minutes to pull the rope out across your street and visualize how much rope you have, conceptualizing how you would be able to use all the line in the situation above. Then re-spool the winch line using proper spooling techniques (Video Here: CLICK).
Author: Ladies Offroad Network Team
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