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12v Winch

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Old 03-01-2013, 03:57   #1 (permalink)
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Question 12v Winch

Does anyone know much about electric winches?

I saw several motorhomes in France last summer with winches fitted to bull bars or front bumpers presumably for when you get stuck in muddy fields or the snowy alps. ;-)

Then low and behold I saw one in operation - superb. The guy let out the steel wire, wrapped it round a tree, hooked the hook back on the wire and winched as he drove. Pulled his MH off the pitch as easy as pie.

So I looked into it only to find that they draw somethinglike 350 to 500 amps under full load and even with no load it takes 50 to 80 amps.

How can that work..,.,. I know it is only for a short time but..,...
At that rate it must use the vehicle battery and not the leisure ones as the cable run would need a huge swg to carry that much current - so shorter the better.
My vehicle battery is a 100 amp/h and will crank at 830 amps, the alternator is an updated one so charges at 150 amps but only 80 of that goes to the vehicle battery.

So would It harm the system to draw 500 amps over 5 mins and should the engine be on or off.

With the engine on it would obviously assist the vehicle movement and reduce the strain (and current draw) on the winch, but the alternator would be trying to fill that 500 amp draw? Would it not?

Any way any advice about the physics and mechanics would be appreciated,

And before everyone starts - yes I know the best advice is to stay off the mud and snow as a motorhome is not a 4x4. However we do like to get out in the wild and fancy going over the alps may be not in the depths of winter snow but while there is still a bit about.....

Many thanks

Last edited by ChocNessie; 03-01-2013 at 03:58.
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Old 03-01-2013, 04:58   #2 (permalink)
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Hi not sure about the amps but I would carry a sling to go around trees, towbars, ect as it stops the wire rope kinking
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:24   #3 (permalink)
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A number of things you need to think about with a winch - first it is a modification to your vehicle so you will need to advise your insurance company that you have one fitted and it will most likely increase your insurance premium - not least of all because you have increased the value of your vehicle and secondly in the event of an accident the damage to to both vehicles will be greater than if inbuilt crumple zones were allowed to work.

Next to be able to winch you need a fixed point to winch to - seldom do trees grow in the right place when you need them so to be guarenteed a chance of winching yourself out then you will need to carry a ground anchor

Next you need to look at the weight of a winch - most motorhomes are already very close to weight limits - if you add a winch bumper to the front and a winch then you have to look at about 100kg for a serious bit of kit.

I do think your anticipated power demand is wrong - you would be looking at less than that but the majority of people who winch have twin batteries fitted with a heavy duty split charge system to ensure that the power always comes mainly from the 2nd battery when winching and the charge always goes to the starting battery first. They generally have a Heavy Duty Alternator fitted as well so as to keep power going to the batteries.

I have a full winching kit on the Landy and all up it adds about 150kg to it.

IMHO if you want to carry a winch to get you out look at a small portable winch that you can hook onto a tow ball or your front tow eye - use anderson plugs for your power source if you cannot easily get to the battery from front or back That will get you out of most situations and will not put massive weight on your payload. If you do decide to get a winch for your safety and others either buy a book on winching protocol or best go on a 1 day course and learn the dangers and safety issues they can easily kill.

Best though walk the area first and don't get stuck
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Old 03-01-2013, 07:39   #4 (permalink)
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Default Winches

I had one on my Range Rover and yes they do draw a lot of amps it is essential to have the engine running when you are using them. Mine would stall at 3.5 tons weight so in theory would lift the Rangy vertically up a wall LOL never tried that though, the rangy weighs about two tons.

Would need some serious mounting brackets to fix it to your chassis, a bull bar would be insufficient I would think. mine drew about 95 amps in use I believe probably a lot more under load sorry but I cant remember any figures, I can tell you though there was some serious battery draw.

Alos you would have to consider the weight of the thing mine weighed about 50lbs plus the bracketry to fix it so its eating into your payload as well.

Personally I wouldn't put one on my motorhome I dont think the chassis is sufficiently stong enough to cope without some extensive modification. So you would probably end up having about a hundredweight of very rarely used metalwork hanging off the front of your m/home.

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Old 03-01-2013, 08:01   #5 (permalink)
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He sounds like a menace! Wrapping round a tree without a strop, connecting back to the cable and then driving as he winched......oh dear!

Winches will put on weight, and reduce fuel consumption and reduce ground clearance - so you need to consider how often you would use one.

You would need a winch plate at least, and then a suitable winch for the weight of your van - than would probably negate electric winches as you would be near capacity - though you can snatch back to reduce load.

You current system would run a winch for shorter periods - I doubt if you would run them for long anyway, and so long as you keep the engine running, it will be ok.

You need to know what yuou are doing with winches, and how to use them. Taking your vehicle weight, at say 3.5t and buying a winch of that capacity would seem ideal - it isn't, as it would need to be of a larger capacity. You only have 3.5t pulling power when unwound - each layer that goes back on the drum reduces the capacity

You then have to consider how to use it, say if you went on a site bogged yourself down and thought 'Great, I'll get the winch out' - you would need to know the algorythm for assessing the weights (which is why training is required) If bogged down on the level in mud, your winch will need to pull TWICE your vehicle weight. If that was on a slope, 20% for every degree on top of that. You then need something to winch from, a tree may not always be available - and it has to be capable of taking the forces you are asking it to - or else you will have a tree in your roof! Ground anchoes will get over this, but they are bulky, heavy and the owner may not like you shoving that in his lawn!

Not saying don't do it - but research throughly before you buy - you need to assess how useful it will be before buying, and weigh up other options. A 'canadian winch' (branches) may be of more use where available.
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Old 03-01-2013, 08:54   #6 (permalink)
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Old 03-01-2013, 09:12   #7 (permalink)
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Hi Richard,

I have used meaty winches either attached to, or built into the length of the chassis of Fire Appliances (front and rear operation) during rescue and recovery incidents. From my practical experience of them and what I know, and, taking into account the excellent advice above, I would never consider fitting one to the front of our MH, seriously. As well as all the technical reasons given, they can be lethal in inexperienced and untrained hands.

In nearly eight years of MH'ing, I have only got stuck once, and that was only because the site owner wouldn't listen to my concerns about a heavy MH on a wet grass pitch at the bottom of a slope, in winter. It was a case of "that's the pitch I have allocated you, if you don't like it, you can leave". Needless to say, I ripped up his nice grass pitch when leaving on the Sunday morning, with the aid of Grommet, Geo, Artona, KandS, and others pushing me out.
I declined to inform the warden of the damage to his pitch when leaving, and we've never had the slightest inclination to back to that site at Rutland again.

You could do what we do, ie, fit quality M&S/Winter tyres on the driving axle, and as advised above, walk the ground first before traversing.


It's better to get there safely, than not at all.

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Old 03-01-2013, 09:54   #8 (permalink)
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IMHO if you want to carry a winch to get you out look at a small portable winch that you can hook onto a tow ball or your front tow eye - use anderson plugs for your power source if you cannot easily get to the battery from front or back That will get you out of most situations and will not put massive weight on your payload. If you do decide to get a winch for your safety and others either buy a book on winching protocol or best go on a 1 day course and learn the dangers and safety issues they can easily kill.

Best though walk the area first and don't get stuck [/quote]

I have one of these and although very slow it works. The one I bought also had an extra pulley so the cable can be doubled to give extra power but of course this slows it down a bit more. I have it wired to a 7 pin grey caravan plug and run the engine while using it so no problem with power to operate. Certainly beats pushing or being stuck. I also have a ground anchor as stated above. Useful piece of kit and cheap at the price.
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ChocNessie (11-01-2013)

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