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Winch Safe Operation

Whenever you operate a winch you want to understand the equipment and have the best understanding possible of winching techniques in order to be as safe as possible.

VEHICLE RECOVERY IS A HIGH RISK ACTIVITY. THE RISK CAN BE REDUCED WITH SOME PRIOR TRAINING, PLANNING AND PREPARATION, AND A DISCIPLINED APPROACH TO THE RECOVERY TASK.

1) Operator Training:
A winch which is not used correctly is a significant safety risk. It is vitally important that the drivers of vehicles which are equipped with a winch are properly trained in its safe operation. Regular training and practice will ensure safer and more competent use during an emergency situation.

2) Owners Manual:
Become familiar with the owner’s manual. Be sure to read and understand how to use your winch properly. Winches are used for pulling not for lifting. Be sure to choose the right winch for the job.

3) Extra Equipment:
Winches are normally fitted to vehicles to provide a self-recovery capability, or to provide the capability to recover another vehicle, or to move heavy objects. A winch will be rarely suitable for recovery use without some additional equipment to compliment it. Some of the additional recovery equipment should include a snatch block, some “D” shackles, a short length of 3/8 inch chain, a tree trunk protector and a shovel.

Winches are potentially a very dangerous and even lethal piece of machinery. Read the following notes prepared by WARN for your own safety and the safety of others around you.

MOVING PARTS ENTANGLEMENT HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death.
• Always ensure hook latch is closed and not supporting load.
• Never apply load to hook tip or latch. Apply load only to the centre of hook.
• Never use a hook whose throat opening has increased, or whose tip is bent or twisted.
• Always use a hook with a latch.
• Always ensure the operator and bystanders are aware of the stability of the vehicle and/or load.
• Always keep wired remote control lead and power cord clear of the drum, rope, and rigging. Inspect for cracks, pinches, frayed wires or loose connections. Damaged components must be replaced before operation.
• Always pass remote

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MOVING PARTS ENTANGLEMENT HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death.
General Safety:
• Always Know Your Winch. Take time to fully read the Instructions and/or Operations Guide, and/or Basic Guide to Winching Techniques, in order to understand your winch and its operations.
• Never exceed winch or winch rope rated capacity. Double line using a snatch block to reduce winch load.
• Always wear heavy leather gloves when handling winch rope.
• Never use winch or winch rope for towing. Shock loads can damage, overload and break rope.
• Never use a winch to secure a load.
• Never operate this winch when under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication.
• Never operate this winch if you are under 16 years of age. Installation Safety:
• Always choose a mounting location that is sufficiently strong to withstand the maximum pulling capacity of your winch.
• Always use grade 5 (grade 8.8 metric) or better hardware.
• Never weld mounting bolts.
• Always use factory approved mounting hardware, components, and accessories.
• Never use bolts that are too long.
• Always complete the winch installation and hook attachment before installing the wiring.
• Always keep hands clear of winch rope, hook loop, hook and fairlead opening during installation, operation, and when spooling in or out.
• Always position fairlead with warning readily visible on top.
• Always pre-stretch rope and re-spool under load before use. Tightly wound rope reduces chances of “binding”, which can damage the rope.

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MOVING PARTS ENTANGLEMENT HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death.
Winching Safety:
• Always inspect winch rope, hook, and slings before operating winch. Frayed, kinked or damaged winch rope must be replaced immediately. Damaged components must be replaced before operation. Protect parts from damage.
• Always remove any element or obstacle that may interfere with safe operation of the winch.
• Always be certain the anchor you select will withstand the load and the strap or chain will not slip.
• Always use supplied hook strap whenever spooling winch rope in or out, during installation and during operation.
• Always require operators and bystanders to be aware of vehicle and or load.
• Always be aware of stability of vehicle and load during winching, keep others away. Alert all bystanders of an unstable condition.
• Always unspool as much wire rope as possible when rigging. Double line or pick distant anchor point.
• Always take time to use appropriate rigging techniques for a winch pull.
• Never touch winch rope or hook while someone else is at the control switch or during winching operation.
• Never engage or disengage clutch if winch is under load, winch rope is in tension or drum is moving.
• Never touch winch rope or hook while under tension or under load.
• Always stand clear of winch rope and load and keep others away while winching.
• Never use vehicle to pull load on winch rope. Combined load or shock load can damage, overload and break rope.
• Never wrap winch rope back onto itself. Use a choker chain or tree trunk protector on the anchor.

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FALLING OR CRUSHING HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death.
• Always stand clear, keep hands clear, keep others away.
• Never operate winch with less than 5 wraps of rope around the drum. Rope could come loose from the drum, as the rope attachment to the drum is not designed to hold a load.
• Never use winch as a hoist or to suspend a load.
• Always be certain anchor will withstand load, use appropriate rigging and take time to rig correctly.
• Never use winch to lift or move persons.
• Never use excessive effort to freespool winch rope.
• Always use proper posture/lifting technique or get lifting assistance while handling and installing product.
• Always spool the rope onto the drum in the direction specified by the winch warning label on the winch and/or documentation. This is required for the automatic brake (if so equipped) to function properly.
• Always spool the winch rope onto the drum as indicated by the drum rotation label.

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CUT AND BURN HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death. To avoid injury to hands and fingers:
• Always wear heavy leather gloves when handling winch rope.
• Always be aware of possible hot surfaces at winch motor, drum or rope during or after winch use.

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CHEMICAL AND FIRE HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to serious injury or death.
• Always remove jewelry and wear eye protection.
• Never route electrical cables across sharp edges.
• Never route electrical cables near parts that get hot.
• Never route electrical cables through or near moving parts.
• Always place the supplied terminal boots on wires and terminals as directed by the installation instructions.
• Never lean over battery while making connections.
• Never route electrical cables over battery terminals.
• Never short battery terminals with metal objects.
• Always verify area is clear of fuel lines, fuel tank, brake lines, electrical wires, etc., when drilling.
• Always consult operator’s manual for proper wiring details.
• Always insulate and protect all exposed wiring and electrical terminals.

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CUT AND BURN HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to minor or moderate injury.
• Never let winch rope slip through your hands.

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MOVING PARTS ENTANGLEMENT HAZARD:
Failure to observe these instructions could lead to minor or moderate injury. To avoid injury to hands or fingers:
• Never leave remote control where it can be activated during free spooling, rigging, or when the winch is not being used.
• Never leave the winch remote control plugged in when installing, freespooling, rigging, servicing or when the winch is not being used.

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AVOID WINCH AND EQUIPMENT DAMAGE:
• Always avoid side pulls which can pile up wire rope at one end of the drum. This can damage wire rope or winch.
• Always ensure the clutch is fully engaged or disengaged.
• Always use care to not damage the vehicle frame when anchoring to a vehicle during a winching operation.
• Never submerge winch in water.
• Always store the remote control in a protected, clean, dry area.

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ELECTRIC WINCH BASIC COMPONENTS:

To start, you should familiarize yourself with your winch and each of its components: Practice using your winch before using it on the trail.

Motor - Typically the winch motor is powered by the vehicle’s battery. The motor provides power to the gear mechanism, which turns the winch drum and winds the wire rope.
Winch Drum - The winch drum is the cylinder onto which the wire rope feeds. The drum is driven by the motor and drive train. Its direction can be changed
using the remote control.
Wire Rope - The wire rope’s diameter and length are determined by the winch’s load capacity and design. Wrapped around the winch drum and fed through the fairlead, the wire rope is looped at the end to accept the hook’s clevis pin.
Fairlead - When using the winch at an angle, the fairlead (or wire lead) acts to guide the wire rope onto the spooling drum. It minimizes damage to the wire rope while it goes through the winch mount or bumper.
Gear Train - The reduction gear converts the winch motor power into a large pulling force. The gear train design makes it possible for the winch to be lighter and more compact.
Braking System - The brake is automatically applied to the winch drum when the winch motor is stopped and there is load on the wire rope. The brake prevents the winch from paying out line, which in turn holds the vehicle in place.
Clutch - The clutch allows the operator to manually disengage the spooling drum from the gear train, enabling the drum to rotate freely (known as “freespooling”). Engaging the clutch “locks” the winch drum back onto the gear train.
Control Box - Using electrical power from the vehicle’s battery, the control box solenoids switch power to the motor, enabling the operator to change the direction of the winch drum rotation.
Remote Control - The remote control plugs into the winch control box, allowing the operator to control the winch direction, as well as stand well clear of the wire rope while operating the winch.

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TOP TIP!
Never engage or disengage clutch if winch is under load, winch rope is in tension or drum is moving.

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Winch Mechanics Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with your winch and its components, we can begin reviewing how it works. The major advantage of an electric-powered winch is that it can provide reliable service for intermittent utility and recreational use even while the vehicle’s engine is stalled — assuming, of course, that sufficient battery current is available. Your winch can operate at high current loads, and, for this reason, the control box uses a high current control system to safely handle the current flow.

It is important to understand that the longer the pull, the more heat that is created, just like a hot plate. Prolonged winching without cooling the winch motor will damage the motor. Also, if the engine is idling during winching, the battery may drain faster than it is charging. So pay close attention to your voltage gauge to make sure you aren’t draining your battery too low to start your vehicle.

Control Of Your Winch:
The winch is controlled by the hand held remote control to allow the operator to stand clear while controlling the winching process. The remote control provides control of the forward or reverse rotation of the spooling drum.

How the Winch Reacts to Load Winches are usually rated by pulling capacity. The maximum pulling capacity occurs on the first layer of wire rope on the drum. As the layers increase, the pulling power decreases. It’s the mathematics of winching. Exceeding the winch capacity could cause the winch to fail or the wire rope to break. Thinking through how you intend to use your winch now, could save you a big headache later. In addition, you’ll also want to make sure that your winch’s mounting system and your vehicle’s frame can accommodate the rated load of your winch. So analyze your situation. Use your judgement to calculate how much
weight you intend to pull. Calculate the gross weight and multiply by 1.5 and then do not exceed the rating

TOP TIP: Practice using your winch before you get stuck. A real situation is no time to be learning how to use your winch. Make sure new wire rope is stretched before it is first used.

Stretching Wire Rope The life of a wire rope is directly related to the use and care it receives. During its first use, a new wire rope must be spooled onto its drum under a load of at least 1000 lbs. (454 kgs). Use the following instructions to properly stretch the wire rope onto the winch drum.
1) Choose a FLAT AND LEVEL location that is large enough to run out the entire length of wire rope.
2) Turn the clutch lever on the winch to the “Free Spool” position. Spool out the wire rope to the last 5 wraps on the drum. Once the wire rope is spooled out, turn the clutch lever on the winch to the “Engaged” position.
3) Attach the hook end of the rope to a suitable anchor point and back the vehicle away from the anchor point until there is very little slack in the wire rope. Before getting out of the vehicle, set the parking brake, place the vehicle in gear or park and turn the vehicle off.
4) Connect the remote control to the winch. Standing approximately 8 ft away from the winch, power in the winch until all of the slack is wound onto the winch drum.
Disconnect the remote control from the winch. Hold tension on the wire rope with one hand; carefully push the wire rope to the side of the drum the wire rope is attached to so there are no gaps between each coil on the drum. Be sure to check that the wire rope is winding off of the bottom of the drum, not the top, or the automatic load holding brake will not function properly. (If the wire rope is winding off the top you have powered the winch “out” instead of “in” on the remote control).
5) The following steps should be done using two people for proper safety. If you attempt to tension your wire rope alone be sure to always engage the parking brake,
place the transmission in gear and turn the vehicle off every time you exit the vehicle to inspect the winch wire rope. Never exit the vehicle with a load on the winch wire rope. Tensioning the wire rope is critical to ensure a long product life. Tensioning the wire rope will prevent outer layers of wire rope from pinching and deforming the inner layers.
6) Use care to evenly wrap each layer to prevent damage to the rope.
7) Pass the remote control through the driver’s window for the driver of the vehicle to operate. Instruct your assistant to stand to the side of the vehicle and away from the winch wire rope. Your assistant should signal you if the wire rope is winding correctly by watching it move across the fairlead as the wire rope is powered in. Start the vehicle and place the transmission in neutral. Release the parking brake while applying moderate brake pedal pressure. Press power in on the remote control switch. After winching in for approximately 6 ft, stop winching. Slowly let up off of the brake pedal and then apply the parking brake. This will ensure that there is no load on the winch rope. Then place the transmission in park or gear and turn the vehicle off. Exit the vehicle and inspect the winch to make sure that the wire rope is being evenly wound onto the winch drum and not sinking into the lower layer. If the wire rope is sinking, power the wire rope out and repeat this step from the beginning with more brake pedal pressure.
8) When you are convinced the wire rope is winding onto the winch drum properly, repeat step 6 until the vehicle is within 6 ft of the winch anchor. Once within 6 ft, slowly let up off of the brake pedal and then apply the parking brake. This will ensure that there is no load on the winch wire rope. Then place the transmission in park or in gear and turn the vehicle off. Exit the vehicle. Disconnect the hook from the anchor. While holding onto the supplied hook strap, hold tension on the winch rope and slowly power in the winch by “pulsing” the power in on the remote control until the hook is within 3 ft of the fairlead. Stop winching in and attach the hook to a suitable anchor point on the vehicle. DO NOT POWER THE HOOK INTO THE FAIRLEAD. This could cause damage to the fairlead. Once the hook is suitably attached to the vehicle, power in the remaining slack in the winch rope by “pulsing” the power in on the remote until there is minimal slack in the winch wire rope.

Whether you’re recovering another vehicle or pulling a stump from the ground, knowing the proper winching techniques can help keep you and others around you safe. And perhaps the most important part of the winching process, regardless of the situation, is what you do before you pull. In this section, we’ll show you the
basic fundamentals for effective winching. However, it is up to you to analyze the situation and make the decisions necessary for the proper use of your winch. Apply your knowledge of your winch and the basic fundamentals you’ve practiced and adjust your techniques to your unique situation. Some keys to remember when using your Warn winch:
1. Always take your time to assess your situation and plan your pull carefully.
2. Always take your time when using a winch.
3. Use the right equipment for your situation.
4. Always wear leather gloves and do not allow the wire rope to slide through your hands.
5. You and only you should handle the wire rope and operate the remote control switch.
6. Think safety at all times.
7. Practice. Practice and practice the steps.

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What to look for under load The wire rope must always spool onto the drum as indicated by the drum rotation decal on the winch. As you power in, make sure the wire rope winds evenly and tightly on the drum. This prevents the outer wire wraps from drawing into the inner wraps, binding and damaging the wire rope. Avoid shock loads by using the control switch intermittently to take up wire rope slack. Shock loads can momentarily far exceed the winch and wire rope ratings. During side pulls the wire rope tends to stack up at one end of the drum. This stack can become large enough to cause serious damage to the winch. So, line up pulls as straight ahead as possible and stop winching if the wire rope comes close to the tie rods or mounting plate. To fix an uneven stack, spool out that section of the rope and reposition it to the opposite end of the drum which will free up space for continued winching.

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TOP TIP! Avoid overheating the winch motor. For extended winching, stop at reasonable intervals to allow the winch motor to cool down.

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GENERAL WINCH MAINTENANCE:

Inspect the wire rope before and after each winching operation. If the wire rope has become kinked or frayed, the wire rope needs to be replaced. Be sure to also inspect the winch hook and hook pin for signs of wear or damage. Replace if necessary.
• Keep winch, wire rope, and switch control free from contaminants. Use a clean rag or towel to remove any dirt and debris. If necessary, unwind winch completely (leaving a minimum of 5 wraps on spooling drum), wipe clean, and rewind properly before storage. Using a light oil on the wire rope and winch hook can keep rust
and corrosion from forming.
• Operating your winch for a long period of time places an extra burden on your vehicle’s battery. Be sure to check and maintain your battery and battery cables according to manufacturer guidelines. Also inspect switch control and all electrical connections to be certain they are clean and tight fitting.
• Inspect the remote control for damage, if so equipped. Be sure to cap the remote socket to prevent dirt and debris from entering the connections. Store remote control in a protected, clean, dry area.
• No lubrication is required for the life of the winch.

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TOP TIP! Never operate winch with less than 5 wraps of rope around the drum. Rope could come loose from the drum, as the rope attachment to the drum is not designed to hold a load.

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SUMMARY:

The basic guide to proper winching techniques cannot cover all the possible situations in which you may need to use a winch. In the final analysis, the decisions you make will determine the final outcome. So think through each situation and each step of use. Always be mindful of your own safety and the safety of others. Pay attention and you’ll have fun.