It’s easier than you thought to fit a get out of gaol free card.
Upgrading or replacing a 12V winch is often a daunting task, especially for the inexperienced. They’re a vital piece of equipment that can literally save your backside if things turn pear shaped away from civilisation, so some concern is understandable. There’s not only the physical mounting side of things to worry about but also wiring it. After all, a winch that doesn’t have the right power going to it isn’t going to help at all when you need it most. With that said, we wanted to show just how easy it is to not only mount The Boss winch into a typical LandCruiser, but also get it wired up and working with all the checks to make sure it’s up to the job when you need it.
1. Remove accessories
In most 4WDs you’ll have a few accessories that will need to be dropped out of the way before you can get too far. Driving lights and aerials will be the obvious one. If they can be easily disconnected and removed do it, otherwise tie them up out of the way. You’ll also need to look at any other pieces of kit that will be in the way. In a lot of 4WDs this will include indicators in the bull bar and day time running lights with some late model rigs mounting the radiator overflow and washer bottles under there too.
2. Remove the bull bar
In most common IFS or compact 4WDs you’ll need to remove the bull bar to get to the winch mounting point. You’ll generally have four bolts on either side going into the chassis although some may have more. If you have scrub bars these will need to be removed as well. Some 4WDs have far simpler designs like this 80 Series LandCruiser where we could lift the winch up from underneath without removing anything.
3. Check the winch
Before you bolt the winch into place now is your final chance to give it a once over and double check everything works. If you have the know-how and two sets of jumper leads it’s worth checking the motor works. Also engage and disengage the free spool and check the drum spools freely without excessive pressure. It’s easier to identify and fix issues on a bench than in the truck.
4. Make the first connections
Each install is different and can all be governed by little details like where the control box mounts or what orientation the motor is. Before you set about bolting anything in place have a good look at where the little details need to go. On this install the earth terminal on the back of the motor was going to be hard against the bull bar so we fitted that first and tucked it up out of the way so it didn’t catch us out later.
5. Get the hardware ready
Your winch will be held in place by four captive nuts in the winch itself with four matching holes through the bull bar. When you’re almost ready to put the winch in place slide the four nuts in place and get your bolts and washers ready. The Boss comes with stainless steel fixings so you won’t get caught out in corrosive conditions.
6. Mount the winch
Getting a winch in place is generally a two person job no matter the style of bar work it’s going into. On this one we lifted it up from underneath while a second person loosely put the bolts in place. Don’t worry about spring washers or anti-seize at this stage as all you’re trying to do is get it sitting in place. Once it’s sitting even and all the bolts are tightened you can pull them out one at a time to fit the fairlead onto the lower two mounts with spring washers and anti-seize on all four bolts. If you’ve had to remove your bull bar to install the winch now is the time to reinstall it.
7. Mount the control box
With the winch in place It’s time to get power to it. With The Boss the electronics are all contained in the one control box so wiring is easy. To keep voltage drop as low as possible the cables are the perfect length to get from the bull bar down onto the winch so it will need to be mounted as closely as possible. Without a strong dose of power a winch can burn out or overheat components.
8. Route your cables
Now the control box is in place it’s time to route the 6 cables coming out of the control box. The thinnest wire is a ground which needs to be connected to the body or chassis somewhere. It’s already got a tab on it so any 10mm bolt into the radiator support panel nearby will serve a quick and easy earth point. From here the three short wires go to their colour coded terminals on the motor while the two longer cables are run up through to the battery.
9. Connect them to the battery
With both cables up to the battery and cabled tied secure along the way it’s time to connect them. Both cables come fitted with lugs already so can easily be connected to your existing battery terminals in most cases. You’ll need to ensure that wherever the cables run through or near sheet metal that adequate protection is made so they don’t rub through and arc out. The extreme loads seen in winching make fuses and circuit breakers impractical
10. Grab the control
If it’s seemed simple up until this point it’s because it is. One of the last steps is to grab the included hand held control and check for proper operation of the winch. No matter what winch you’re installing always assume something could go wrong, so free spool a metre or two of rope out by hand before testing the motor for operation in both directions. Once you’re happy with it connect a winch hook and go find a nearby tree to spool your rope or cable on tight. From the factory all winch ropes are wound on loose, if you were to winch under load on a loose drum the outer layers will dig into the lower layers and bind up. With all but the last layer off the drum connect to the tree and slowly winch yourself towards it with a friend ensuring the rope spools on evenly.
Congratulations, after an afternoon on the tools your 4WD is now ready for self-recovery in any terrain.
Matt Penrose – OzOffroad