Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Attaching a Winch to my Tractor - Revisited

As I'm sure some of you remember, about three months ago I attached a small (3000lb capacity) winch to the former cultivator of my tractor. This worked out exceedlingly well in the interim, with me hauling in many logs that would have been nearly impossible to access by any other means. I understand why loggers use to employ draught horses to good effect, and apparently many still do! I am a little jealous of this technique as I think it would be much more relaxing than trying to get a heavy, noisy tractor back into dense, rocky and uneven bush. In any case, as I said, the winch I installed has been far and away better than our original technique of chaining logs to the tractor and just trying to find ways to drag them into a convenient location. The tractor could rarely approach the logs close enough to hook up our short chains, and when it could, it involved very challenging routes to get the logs back out to a trail groomed enough to drag them to the mill in any decent length of time.

As with many luxuries in life, one begins to look at them as neccessities, and then the grass begins to look greener. I had accepted that this was my entry-level winch and was mostly there to act as an experiment - that's why it was almost with relief that I realized that it had finally stopped pulling.

The small(ish) cable had begun to fray likely due to the fact that this winch didn't come with any sort of fairlead at all. The lack of fairlead ensured that the winch cable was constantly piling up at one end of the winch or another unless the tractor was perfectly lined up with the log, and the log pulled perfectly straight towards the tractor. Unspooling and redirecting cable every few feet were just two of the winch's charms.

The cable was also a bit on the short side, maxing out at about 30 feet. I tied together two other winch cables which were 25 feet each, so I had a range of about 80 feet, although this also meant that I had to stop every 25 feet to remove a cable and reattach the winch to the new length. This also got old after the first or second time I had to perform this manouver.

So with my tiny (in hindsight) winch now out of commission, I consulted with my sources (the latest Canadian Tire Flyer) for the best deal on a new winch - and it was my lucky day! Their largest winch, the SuperWinch LP8500 was on sale. There was apparently only one in all of Thunder Bay, and it took them over half an hour to find it somewhere in their warehouse, but eventually, it was mine!

Imagine my disappointment when I arrived home and realized that the picture on the box was a little deceptive. As pictured on the box, they had photoshopped out the mount for it, which was required to have the fairlead installed. Strangely the mount is not sold by anyone in Canada that I could see, and it was well over $100US plus shipping and duty to get it.

I put it aside for a day, and the next day fashioned my own mount out of angle iron and bolts. I think I did not a bad job; although the fairlead is a little crooked I cannot see how it will be a problem. It also took a bit of work to install beefier 4 gauge wiring to the battery. This is when I noticed that my battery terminal was cracked, which explains why the tractor sometimes is hard to start and needs the battery terminal to be wiggled on occasion before it will turn over.

I'll replace the terminal next time I get to the city and can purchase a new one. In the meantime though, the winch appears to spool in and out, so I am really excited to give it a try. Later today I'll head out to the bush and report back on what it can do.

As you can also see from the photos, I have attached four short lengths of "gold" chain on either side of the winch. I use these to actually chain log ends to my three point hitch, and then I can lift and drag them much more easily.


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