The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

8000 pound hand winch failure

hand winching a truck up a hill on a cold snowy day

We tried hand winching the truck out of trouble last week but just couldn't get it to budge more than a few inchs.

The winch is rated at 8000 pounds, which may have been enough if gravity wasn't working against us with the incline. Usually we manage to creep forward with a combination of me cranking on the winch and Anna easing forward, but that was with a truck about half the size of this one.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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That 8000 pound winch is only a 4000 pound winch if the block is just dangling from the tree like that isn't it?
Comment by Tim Mon Jan 17 21:18:27 2011

At first when I read your comment, I thought, "Of course you're right! That's why Mark felt like the winch was straining and decided not to risk it." We do usually keep the line on that end doubled up by connecting that hook back onto the winch. (We extended it out because it didn't quite reach the tree otherwise.)

But then I thought more about it, and the line on the other end of the winch is not doubled up. Surely that would be the weakest area, and doubling up the line on the other end wouldn't make it any weaker, would it? (Roland?)

Comment by anna Tue Jan 18 08:12:07 2011
Something is wrong if you couldn't pull that truck on that minor incline. By using a pulley at that tree, the ease of pulling would decrease by 1/2 so you should have been able to pull 8000 lbs. The pulley would subjected to the full load, and the strap end of the winch would be subjected to the full load, and each side of the cable going through the pulley would be only half that load since it would be doubled up. If you use the tree as the pulley and just wrap around it, you would have a lot of extra resistance on the tree, but the effort would still be less than a single line pull. Sounds like you needed more strapping to make that happen and maybe some other winch accessories.
Comment by dave Sat Jul 23 11:03:57 2011
What was wrong was that the "soil" under the wheels was actually a swamp. Mark didn't realize since it was covered with snow, but even during the driest parts of the year, that area stays waterlogged and marshy. Between the slick snow, the mud, and the hill (which is steeper than it looks in the photos), it took quite some doing to get the truck out! Putting weight in the bed was the final straw that broke the marsh's back and got us out.
Comment by anna Sat Jul 23 11:11:35 2011

I think Tim is right. Doubling up the steel cable would make it into a gun tackle, giving twice the leverage.

Think about it like this; If the steel cable is doubled (instead of single), you have to winch two inches of cable to move one inch (for the same amount of work). So the force on the lever is halved.

Strength should not be a big issue; it is a general engineering standard to design stuff for three times the nominal load.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Mar 27 17:42:10 2013

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