Warn Winch Rebuild & Recovery Gear Maintenance

🚙 Warn Winch Rebuild + Recovery Gear Maintenance

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Have you ever had to pull your winch out and found that it’s not working?

Unfortunately, it happened to us recently with our Warn High Mount Winch. The result saw us having to do a Warn Winch rebuild because salt water had been getting in causing corrosion and rust.

Maintaining your recovery gear is essential if you want it to last and do it’s job properly. No one wants to find themselves in a dire situation with worn out or broken recovery gear.

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Warn Winch Rebuild

Investigating the Broken Winch

Broken winch

The first thing we did, before the Warn Winch rebuild was to check that the solenoid was working and that the winch itself was getting power. The solenoid was clicking, confirming that there was power and that the solenoid was definitely working.

The next thing we needed to find out was if the winch was getting power. To do this, we put a test light on to the winch’s power wire and pushed the winch button. The test light lit up, so that confirmed that there was power going to the winch.

Therefore, the problem must have been within the winch itself. It looks like we need to pull the winch apart to assess the problem.

Pulling the Winch Apart

Milky oil in the winch
Milky oil in the gears

To pull the winch apart, we pulled the motor and casing off the top. There, we found the first sign of the leading cause of the winch not doing its job.

The casing hadn’t been sealed and the oil was full of water, making an undesirable caramel colour (NOTE: caramel is not an ideal colour for oil). It was looking like we’d be doing a Warn Winch rebuild.

You can see the milky oil in the photo above.

What We Discovered

Winch rebuild

When we removed the motor from the gear casing and pulled the motor apart, the problem was evident. It had seized from being full of salt water.

As mentioned above, the seals obviously weren’t doing their job and we hadn’t realised that water was getting in. Not only was the salt water rusting and corroding the parts and casings, but it was also mixing with the oil and wreaking havoc with the electrics.

You can see below just how rusty and corroded all of the parts were inside of the winch motor.

Warn Hi Mount Winch
Warn High Mount Winch

Cleaning & Rebuilding the Winch

Steps to clean and rebuild the winch:

  1. Soak all of the parts in Inox
  2. Clean up all parts and surfaces (using a variety of sandpapers & wire drill brushes)
  3. Repeat this process several times to get everything as clean as possible
  4. Spray everything with degreaser and wash them down with water
  5. Blow dry all parts with an air blower to make sure they are all completely dry
  6. Cover all parts with Inox again
  7. Put the motor and casing back together
  8. Seal motor and casing as reassembling
  9. Clean out the old oil from the gear casing and gears with lots of rags and degreaser (not a fun task with no drain hole!)
  10. Fill up the gear casing with fresh gear oil
  11. Refit the motor and gear casing back on top of the winch, sealing the two cases as they get put back together
  12. Rewire the winch back up
  13. Give it a test run
  14. Give everything else on the winch a lube and a clean while you’re there
Rebuilding the winch
All cleaned up, ready to go back together

The Warn Winch rebuild took around 6 hours without rushing, but it could easily have been done quicker. It was lucky we realised that the winch wasn’t working in a non-emergency situation. Things could have potentially ended badly if we were stuck in the middle of nowhere, needing the winch, only to have found it rusted out.

All of the parts below are cleaned and ready for reassembling.

Winch rebuild
Winch rebuild
Winch rebuild
Aus Line Break
Aus Line Break

Recovery Gear Maintenance

This is a really good reminder to show how important it is to regularly check your recovery gear to make sure that it’s all in good working order.

Items can end up damaged through wear and tear, lack of maintenance, plus incorrect use and storage. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a bad situation with useless recovery gear.

Tips for cleaning & storing recovery gear:

  • WINCH – Pull your winch rope right out and winch the rope back in periodically to ensure that it’s all working. This also stops the rope from binding together, which is caused from sitting tightly wound up for long periods in the elements.
  • STRAPS & ROPES – Clean your straps, winch rope and tree protector with a hose. If they’re covered in dry mud/ sand etc., soak them and then hose them off. NOTE: It’s not recommended to use a high pressured hose as it can push grit deeper into the fibres, shortening its lifespan with unnecessary wear and tear. Similarly, soaps and detergents are not generally recommended as they can damage the fibres.
  • SHOVEL & TOOLS – Make sure your shovel and any other hand tools are always clean and free of rust.
  • JACKS, BLOCKS & SHACKLES – Hi-lift Jacks, winch blocks and shackles can be cleaned with a high pressure water hose, brush and/ or rag.
  • REPLACE WORN STRAPS – If you notice any of your straps or ropes wearing through at all, replace them with new ones. It’s not worth having them snap in that time of need. They can also become an extremely dangerous projectile if they snap.
  • ROLLING STRAPS – Always coil your straps when not is use.

Check out the Patrol set-up below!

2005 Nissan Patrol
Aus Line Break

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