Winches are essential tools for many different hobbies or jobs. They’re simple in their construction and fairly easy to use, but they still need to be used correctly to prevent any injuries to yourself or others. A cord snap or improperly securing a winch not only can be disastrous for whatever you’re towing or lifting, it could injure you and other bystanders as well. Luckily, with the right training and use, you these risks are almost non-existent.
Get trained to use your winch
Before you use your winch, make sure that you know how to use it properly. If you’re planning on using it with your 4×4, many off-roading clubs offer winch training as part of their membership. Read all the directions carefully and make sure you know what weight it can handle, how to properly secure the winch, and what to look for to make sure that it’s in good working order before you use it. Read your owner’s manual and know all the risks involved.
Before you use your winch
Before you use your winch, perform a couple of checks first. Assess the entire situation and make sure that whatever you are about to tow is safe and secure. Keep any onlookers away. Finally, always inspect your winch before you use it. Check the cable for any fraying and make sure the entire tool is clear of any dirt, muck, or other obstructions.
Don’t try to lift a heavy load
Using a Boat Winch
Never, ever try to lift a load that is too heavy for your winch. You risk breaking your winch cable, which if it’s a steel or wire cable, can recoil and injure your and anyone else around you. You also risk the catastrophic failure of your winch, which could send springs and other objects flying into you.
Luckily, you can avoid these problems by buying a winch that has a shear pin. These pins will break when the load is too heavy for your winch, locking the winch in place and making sure that you don’t pull the object any further. Once you’ve lightened up the load, you can replace the shear pin with a spare and continue pulling or lifting.
If your load is too heavy, use two winches or snatch blocks
If your load is too heavy, there are two tactics that you can either use snatch blocks or two winches to lighten the load. Both of these methods will reduce the amount of strain that is being put on your winch.
Using the second winch will cut the amount of strain put on your winch in half, but will require a second person to operate it. Using snatch blocks will also cut the load you’re required to pull in half, but you will also have to pull in twice as much cable, making any attempt to use your winch last twice as long. Because of this, the best option is usually to try to find a Tirfor hand winch that can support the weight that you need and use snatch blocks or another winch only if you need to in a pinch.
Have an extension cable ready
If you think you might have any possibility of needing to pull further than the amount of cable that your winch holds, always bring an extension cable with you, especially if you’re in your 4×4. Depending on where your vehicle gets stuck, you might not be able to find a tree or other object to anchor your winch to. If this happens, but you can find one further away, all that you’ll have to do is attach some extension cable. If you don’t have extension cables, you may be stuck without many options.
Keep wire rope in good condition
One of the quickest parts of any hand powered winch to wear out is the cable. Steel cable can kink, bird’s nest, and otherwise fray, leaving it weak and unable to pull a heavy load. Make sure that you always check your cable before you go out and before you attach it to anything. Make sure there’s no frays or bends that could threaten to beak the cable and always store the cable carefully.
Have Bystanders Stand Clear
Finally, when you’re using your winch have anyone standing around stay clear. Even if you use your winch correctly, inspect it, and take all the safety precautions that you can, the cable could still snap. If this happens, the recoil could seriously injure anyone standing nearby. Don’t let this happen and have them stand a safe distance away.
Winches are incredibly powerful tools, but they need to be used correctly. Use these tips to make sure that you use your winch safely, and you’ll be able to pull bigger loads quicker and easier than you ever thought possible.