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 DRIVING/TOWING
BUSH WINCH ON TEST
A wheel mounted alternative to the electric winch.

This hub-winch design uses two drums - one for each opposite-side wheel and can be used going forward or rearwards. Each drum attaches to a wheel hub, using specially-shaped wheel nuts.

bush winchBush Winch is a Western Australian based company, headed by geologist Patrick Verbeek. Over the past 10 years he's been  developing and producing a hub winch for popular 4WDs.

As at late 2015 the only design available fitted popular six-stud Japanese-design wheel ends, but a new two-piece design is being introduced in 2016 and will fit a much wider range of 4WDs.

This hub-winch design uses two drums - one for each opposite-side wheel and can be used going forward or rearwards. Each drum attaches to a wheel hub, using specially-shaped wheel nuts.

Bush Winch differs from other winches in using two ropes - one on each drum - so two wheels are doing the winching action. The drums can be used without other gear, on front or rear wheels, or in conjunction with rope-guide hub attachments that allow steering while winching.

Part of the kit is a set of replacement wheel dome nuts. They differ from the standard nuts in having a 'waisted' top, like a wine glass. The hub-mounting section of the Bush Winch locates and clicks into place on these nut extensions.

bush winchThe most common position for the Bush Winch drums is on the rear axle, with the two winch ropes running forwards, via rope guides clicked onto the front wheels.

The guides have swivel-eye ends that ensure the forward-running ropes don't foul the front wheels or vehicle parts.

If the desired recovery direction is rearwards the ropes run straight behind the vehicle, without the need for rope guides.

Hub-mounted winches aren't new, having been around since before World War II. They were popular on military vehicles and trucks that ventured off-road. One problem was the buildup of rope on the drum surface as the vehicle winched itself along, because rope thick enough to handle the weight and torque soon exceeded the drum's storage well.

That issue has been resolved by the development of modern synthetic rope. It's possible to have five-millimetre-section rope with a breaking strain of three tonnes, so two strands of that are more than capable of pulling a 4WD out of a bogging - even uphill.

In addition to using synthetic rope Patrick Verbeek's Bush Winch kit can include what he calls 'soft' shackles: shackles made of the same synthetic rope and that lock into place using a button-nut and a sliding loop. These soft shackles are gaining increasing popularity with racing yacht riggers.

The advantages over a traditional metal shackle are less weight and much lower mass, should the shackle give way and become a missile. Also, with the Bush Winch's twin-rope tackle, the ropes can be joined by a soft shackle that will pass over an anchor-point pulley, to equalise axle differential action and ensure that both ropes share the winching load equally.

bush winchThis sharing ability means that when Bush Winch's twin ground anchors are employed they have equal loading at all times and are less likely to pull out.

We were somewhat skeptical about the Bush Winch's ability, given the skinny ropes used, but our bush testing soon dispelled any fears. Winching forwards or rearwards was fuss-free. We now have a set in our recovery kit and will give the system a workout over the next few months.

Pricing for the second-generation Bush Winch is yet to be finalised, but the basic kit - driums, adaptors, rope guides and synthetic rope should be around $400.

Check out the video and prepare to be amazed:



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