Winches are expensive items, so it is understandable that many overland enthusiasts don’t have them fitted to their vehicles. But what should they do when they find themselves in need of a winch? Simple, says Gary Swemmer, use a hi-lift jack.
Should one buy a winch? It’s a tough question. A good winch is pricey, and unless you’re tackling hardcore 4×4 trails on a weekly basis, you probably won’t use it much. Can you justify spending R15 000 on something that you’ll only use once or twice a year? That said, a winch could be a real lifesaver. You probably won’t use it often, but on that odd occasion when you get properly stuck, you’ll be very glad that you have one fitted to the front of your 4×4.
But let us suppose that you, like many overland enthusiasts, do not have a winch. What do you do when you find yourself in a situation that requires the use of a winch? Simple, you use your hi-lift jack as a winch. Here’s how to go about it:
- Firstly, be very careful when using a hi-lift jack, as it can cause serious damage and injury if you’re not careful. Make sure that bystanders stay a good distance away, and always wear gloves when using the hi-lift jack.
- Start off by connecting a recovery bridal to your vehicle’s recovery points. Make sure that you use sturdy bow shackles that will be able to handle the load placed on them.
- Connect a third shackle to the end of the hi-lift jack, and then also connect it to the recovery bridal.
- Connect a pull strap to the foot of the hi-lift jack. You’ll see that there is a hole that can be used to connect the jack to pull strap with the help of shackle. Once again, be sure to use a sturdy shackle.
- Take a tree trunk protector and wrap it around a tree. In order for this system to work, you will need ensure that there is as little slack as possible, so wrap the protector around the tree as many times as needed. Why is this important? The hi-lift jack will only allow you to winch about one metre, so if there is too much slack, you won’t be able to recover your vehicle.
- Your jack should now be suspended in the air between the recovery bridal on one side, and the pull strap on the other. Start to “winch” by grasping the jack’s handle with both hands, and working it up and down with long, easy strokes. Make sure that you pull all the way up, and push all the way down.
- Once you have winched as far as your jack will allow, place something behind your vehicles wheels and pull up its handbrake to ensure that it doesn’t roll back when you loosen your winching setup.
- Of course, there is a fair possibility that you will need to repeat this process several times before you are out of trouble. If this is the case, reset your winching system by returning your hi-lift jack to its start position and reducing the slack in your tree trunk protector by winding it around the tree.