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Here is a photo of the front suspension at normal ride height. Note the coil spring, position of the SwayLOC arm, and the distance between the fender flare and the tire.
Here is a photo of the front suspension with the bump stops just hitting. Note the position of the SwayLOC arm and the distance between fender flare and tire. That is about 5~6" of front spring compression. And yes, I checked for adequate clearance between the winch body and the SwayLOC arms at the start of this project.
I realized I neglected to include a photo of the contactor with the battery and winch cables attached. The bluish/green bullet connectors provide the connection for the winch control switch in the cab. Warn provides slip on connector covers which are nice.....they protect against accidental contact of a dropped wrench causing the winch to engage (or your battery to short circuit).
How does it work?
I had a chance to test out the winch at the end of the week. I met with Russ and Kyle on Saturday AM to do a shakedown run for my upcoming trip to Moab. We warmed up on a trail to flex out the suspension (and check clearances on the new engine skid) and then moved on to a trail that started with a waterfall. A couple of years back, and locked TJ could drive the waterfall. Since then, some of the rock has chunked away and it now presents more of a challenge. I had been on it a couple of weeks ago and remembered the line I had used that gave me problems.
I started up the falls and sure enough, the right rear tire started dropping into a hole which caused the front end to unload and the driver's side front tire so get air. I slowly walked the TJ up to the point where I had several feet of air under the tire and things were tippy....the TJ could easily be rocked from side to side. Russ was at the point of jumping onto the front bumper.....OK, a good time to try the suck down winch.
The winch control was mounted on my shifter....with a finger, I pressed the "IN" position and heard the winch engage. As it spooled in the Amsteel line, I watched the front end drop a bit, then a bit more, and with the weight now shifting towards the front of the vehicle, the tire settled onto the ground. With a bit more gas to the auto tranny, I let up on the brake a bit and walked up the falls as though I had no problems at all. I then repeated the same on the upper section of the waterfall, again, picking a line that would guarantee 3 wheel operation. As before, the front end settled down and I drove up the remaining section of the waterfall.
Russ and Kyle both watched.....they were impressed. At that point, Russ brought his 35" TJ with lockers to the falls to work his way up. After more than 5 minutes of trying various lines, (yes, he was tippy on all of them), we strategically placed a couple of rocks and he made it up. Kyle's attempt went better.
Once all three of us were at the top, Russ and Kyle agreed that it was time to install a suck down winch. I tried it again a bit later on another section of the trail and the results were again quite positive. It was able to shift the weight enough to the front axle to allow me to get over the obstacle. Granted, it is NOT the answer to every difficult obstacle, not by no means. It is, however, a darn good improvement to your rig, just like lockers and bigger tires.
I donated my templates to Troy since he was good enough to do the welding for me. He plans on making a kit available to those who wish to avoid the metal work needed to make their own.
I look forward to further testing of the winch's performance during my week at Moab. See you there!