Saturday, July 14, 2012

Attaching an Electric Winch to my Tractor to Skid Logs

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a bit of a dilemma. I had cut down a large, precarious jackpine that would be able to supply me with the start of my power station enclosure. Unfortunately, it was in a difficult location to access, and after spending about an hour to retrieve one piece, I decided it was time to pursue another tack. 

I had thought for some time about the possibility of a mechanized winch to bring my logs out. A little bit of google searching had revealed that many people were pressuring for the use of hydraulic or PTO winches on a tractor when it comes to skidding logs. This was discouraging, as those options are beyond both my ken and my budget.

 

Of course, much of what I'm doing out here is experimentation, and, with electric winches being a rather inexpensive proposition, I decided to discover for myself whether or not I would be disappointed with their performance.

 

On our trip to the Teddy Bear's Picnic, I took the chance to pop by the nearby Canadian Tire and picked up a 3000lb winch that they seemed to be clearing out. I spent that evening and the next morning assembling the winch, and trying to mount it to the tractor.

 

I ended up removing all the tines from the cultivator that had come with the tractor. It is pretty unlikely that in this part of the world I will have enough earth together in one place that I can easily cultivate with the tractor. Then I bolted the winch through two plates of plywood to the cultivator. It looked like a pretty steady mount to me.

 

Next I had to run two wires from the battery at the front of the tractor, to the cultivator/winch at the back. This went pretty smoothly too - I stripped some 14/3 house wire that I had, and used the red and black lines, just to ensure consistency with 12V systems. I currently have these two wires twisted together and covered with electrical tape, but I intend to replace this rigging with an actual plug next time I can get to town to purchase the parts.

 

In any case, the winch worked! Now to test it in the field - I headed to the gravel pit, and connected up the winch to my logs - and it pulled! It even started to drag the tractor once or twice when a log dug deep into an alder bush or another log.

 

I have to say I was very, very happy with its performance. So much so that if and when it does burn out, I think I will be more than willing to pay more money for a much higher capacity winch. Mine only has a 44' cable (which I've already put a small kink in :( ), but between that, and my other 40' cable, and my multiple chains, I should be able to get at a really good number of trees in normally inaccessable places.

 

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