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How to Use Your Winch to Move a Log

Your winch can be used to move your Jeep, but it can also be used to move something that’s blocking your Jeep. For example, you are out on the trail and you happen on a log blocking the trail. In this situation, you have four options:

  • Move the log by hand
  • Break the log into smaller pieces and then move it by hand
  • Build a ramp and drive over the log
  • Use your winch to drag the log off the trail

Your first step is to assess the situation. The simplest option is to drag the log manually, so evaluate the possibility of that strategy first. If the log is wedged or pinned into place, you may need to cut it first, if you have the necessary tools. Before you fire up the chainsaw, though, take stock of what’s holding the fallen tree in place. If you have to cut live trees to move the dead one, this isn’t a viable option. Consider building a ramp instead. You may be able to use debris to create enough of an incline to hop over the log.

If those options aren’t feasible, then your winch may indeed be the right solution. Remember these tips to complete the winching operation safely and effectively:

Know where you are. Parklands generally enforce rules about disturbing plant and animal life. You should know the rules of your area before you go out and tear up the trails. If you don’t know the rules, at least use common sense. You’ll want to complete the winching operation without destroying any small trees, seedlings, or plants.

Clear the area. Choose the path of least resistance for dragging the log, and keep everyone out of the way. Injuries can result from broken branches, a slipped choker chain, or a snapped winch rope.

Attach a choker chain to the dead log only. A choker chain is useful in this situation, because it will cinch around the log for a tight fit. If you need to attach your winch to a live tree, use a tree trunk protector strap.

Watch the winch line. Once you start winching, keep a close eye on the drum. This advice applies to all winching operations: don’t let the winch line pile up unevenly on the drum. If you see this happening, stop the winch. You’ll need to move your truck or Jeep slightly and rewind your cable before starting again.

About winch choker chains

If you don’t have a choker chain, you can make your own. Head to the hardware store and purchase a high-grade, carbon steel chain. Grade 70 transport chain is an example. Select a size that is as strong as your winch. For example, 3/8” Grade 70 transport chain has been proof-tested to 13,200 lbs. and has a minimum breaking force of 26,500 lbs. This would be a strong enough to use with a WARN M12000 Self-Recovery Winch, which has a rated pulling capacity of 12,000 lbs. You can find chain specifications on the National Association of Chain Manufacturers website.

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