The Car Winch: A Multi-Purpose Tool for Rural Areas

A car winch is useful in rural areas, able to pull a vehicle across a horizontal surface, as well as pulling firewood, stretching cable or fence wire tight and for construction uses.

| March/April 1988

Help for the rural driver's winch-hunt. A car winch not only pulls your vehicle out of trouble but has many other uses. 

The Car Winch: A Multi-Purpose Tool for Rural Areas

Somehow, it's always easier to get yourself into a hole than out of one. One backcountry wit, having spent most of his life waiting for the state to pave his road, passed the remainder wondering why people were so eager to get off of it. His observation regarding off-road motoring was capsulized in one sentence: "Four-wheel drive will get you into trouble, but it takes a winch to get you out."

A winch? That distinctly all-business rigging that squats on the front of pickup trucks? You bet. Because even if gathering firewood is the extent of your off-roading—or even if your rural existence is limited to weekends in the woods—a winch, carefully tailored to your needs and to the vehicle you drive, may be the most useful country companion you can have pulling for you.

Forget the transmission-driven monsters of a generation ago. Today's electric winches are compact, convenient and unobtrusive. Some can even be hidden completely behind the original factory bumpers. But before we get into what they are, let's look at what they can do.

Most people are familiar with a tow truck winch. It's really a portable windlass built for hauling and lifting. Not so a vehicle winch, which is meant for pulling a load across a more or less horizontal surface. That's not to say that overhead lifting is beyond its ability, but most manufacturers would prefer that users leave that job to hoists, which are designed with safety features specific to overhead work.

Even so, a winch is more productive than you might imagine. Besides its obvious use—hauling other vehicles or the vehicle it's attached to out of impossible situations—a winch can pull firewood up slopes and out of slippery spots, yank stubborn stumps and snags from fields or lake beds, stretch cable or fence wire tight as you please, raise gin poles or structural members at construction sites or drag heavy loads from where you don't want them to where you do.

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