Lightweight Heavy Duty Portable Winch Setup for anyone!
Putting a winch on your vehicle is like going ‘wheelin' with an old buddy, it's there when you need it most! While trying to figure out what to do with the two Nissan Patrols, GMC Yukon XL, Jeep Cherokee (car-b-q last July and is toast now literally) and my Project TJ AKA the “Mad Cow” (yeah TXJEEPER wouldn't sell it with the winch), I realized it was going to be pretty darn expensive to outfit each of them with a winch. That led to what normally happens when someone doesn't want to be pinched by the almighty dollar - you get inventive. More inventions have come out of necessity and lack of funds than anything else.
I figured the obvious solution was a portable winch setup, since I can only drive one of these vehicles at a time, anyway. I hit the Net and saw how much it cost to outfit a rig with portable quick-connect type cables front and rear. It would cost me over $200 per vehicle for those. That meant for the four 4x4's I still have left at home, it would cost me more for the wiring (over $800) than it would for the winch. Now that just doesn't seem right. So I got to thinking and came up with a better mousetrap.
The first thing I needed was a winch, of course. One that would work in the worst-case scenario of freeing my heaviest vehicle - a 2001 GMC Yukon XL with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7,200 lb. So I used the rule of thumb to multiply the weight of the vehicle by 1.5 as a way to figure out how much winch I needed and that let me narrow the search down to only 12,000 lb capacity winches or stronger. I wanted a winch with a Series Wound motor, something that didn't weigh a ton so I could move it from vehicle to vehicle or front to rear and one that was affordable.
I found what I required with the Mile Marker E12000. It was the ONLY winch that met all these requirements. The Mile Marker E12000 weighs in at a mere 94 pounds (only 9 lb. more than a Warn XD-9000 winch), while the other 12k winches available weighed over 40 lbs more than the Mile Marker. This knocked them out of the “portable” category for me. The E12000 was also very affordable with a street price of around $600 today. As far as speed goes, a 12,000 lb. pull is very slow for all winch brands at less than four feet per minute, so that really wasn't a deciding factor.
The second item I needed was a portable winch plate and a front receiver to mount it on the Mad Cow out of the path of destruction. My current Bulletproof bumper has a front receiver but it is positioned down very low where it would put the portable winch in harm's way if I installed it there while hitting the trail.
In searching for a solution, I found a few receivers but I noticed one thing that was very impressive with the Draw-Tite product. It's portable winch plate uses a 2” square SOLID bar of steel welded to the mounting plate instead of the typical 2” by 0.25” thick wall tubing used on other brands. To top that, it has a welded-in skid plate up front in case you were to make contact with Terra Firma while on the trail.
When the Draw-Tite portable winch plate arrived, I was initially bummed when I noticed that it is only rated for 9000 lb. at a pull angle of 45 degrees left or right from straight ahead and 15 degrees up or down from horizontal. Then I figured out that a straight pull equivalent of a 9000 lb. 45 degree pull is over 12,000 lb. I went and checked the specs on the winch and the Mile Marker E12000 winch develops 12,000 lbs of pull only on the first wrap on the drum. Based on that, I have two choices. I need to either limit my cable usage to all but the last wrap on the winch (the last wrap is normally only 15 feet or so and the winch manufacturer's recommend that you keep a certain number of wraps on it anyway to prevent it from coming off during operation) or limit my pull angle to straight ahead when I'm actually pulling 12,000 lbs (not very often even with a 7,200 lb. vehicle that rolls on wheels).
I decided that I would limit the cable usage to all but the last 15 feet (last wrap) since I do not want to exceed the manufacturer's rating for the winch plate. If I need more cable length, then I will add a strap between the cable and the vehicle. The Draw-Tite front-mounted receiver for the Jeep TJ is perfect for keeping the winch up high and clear of trail obstacles. When the portable winch plate is installed into the above frame rail receiver, it doesn't change your angle of entry, either. The going price for a Draw-Tite portable winch mount is around $80 (less than a lot of the hard mounts) and the front receiver for my TJ goes for about $120.
The third item required was a set of portable-type cables for the winch to provide electrical power. I searched online and found a set of Goodall Start All Plug-to-Plug cables from BatteryMart that would work perfect for this application. They are originally intended for starting vehicles and they have a plug-to-plug type connection. This was exactly what I was looking for. I picked up the 2 gage Duplex welding cable version from BatteryMart since they are rated for 500 amps. One cable is 5 ft long and has normal lug terminals for hard-mounting to the winch in this case and a plug on the other end. The other cable is 15 ft long and has heavy-duty booster cables at one end and a matching plug at the other end. These cables allow the owner of the winch to get power from ANY functioning 12/24 Volt source - not necessarily the vehicle with the winch, either! I'll go into this further a little later. BatteryMart stocks these for about $115. This alternative is much less expensive and more user-friendly than individual quick-connect cables on each vehicle.
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