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The Winch Plate – Upcycled:

What do you do when your home sinks into a massive mudhole in the middle of the Rwandan rainforest. Bandits, big snakes, and a stressed out wife – Have a BIG winch to save a bit of the adventure for later.

Charlie Scott from the United States had offered to donate a winch for Betsy, but it became apparent that the shipping costs on a 160kg winch would cost more than buying one is SA, which is extremely expensive. At the same time, my grandfather contacted the rest of our family in search of a winch, and managed to find one! My fathers uncle- David “Casey” Lewis would be the man that would come to the rescue (excuse the pun). He was involved in the mining industry in the late 70’s, and one of his friends designed and built two commercial sized winches for them. He purchased one of them way back then, and had it stored in his garage in Pretoria for almost 40-years. The winch had never been used and was in perfect condition, and he offered to donate the winch if we were willing to go and get it.

Charlie Scott was notified that we had a solution, and generously donated the funds for us to drive down to Pretoria to fetch it, which after a struggle with Covid regulations, we managed to do with the help of my father and his vehicle.

The Winch:

(above: this picture was taken after we had started building the winch mounting plate)

(above: it even has a crank handle that can be used when the power source has died)

The winch was designed to install upright (Grey control box at top), but as the bumper was not designed for the mounting bracket, we decided to install it underneath the cavity of the bumper using a custom built mounting plate. I credit this idea to Pugs Steyn as he greatly assisted us with the planning and supplies to complete the plate. After agreeing that the plate had to be “moerive” strong to handle the forces, he said “follow me, I might have something that would do the job” and lead us into his macadamia fields where an old plough was lying, just waiting to be upcycled for our mounting plate. He offered to donate the steel from the plough, and gave us the go ahead to poach what we needed to get it done.

(above: brain storming session after the old front bumper section was removed)

(above: the plough)

(above: The cut)

(above: 20mm steel, that’s pretty hefty)

(above: straight as an arrow)

(above: the side sections were cut, these would later weld onto the front front)

(above: rust removal)

(above: The edges were tapered, and notches cut so that everything would fit together)

(above: drilling winch plate bolt holes)

(above: clamped the components together to do plan out the welding)

The front plate was drilled and cut to match up with the winch. Vusi assisted me with the welding. He’s a mechanic that has excellent welding skills. The components were tacked up using a arc welder, but was properly welded with the use of a large tag welder. 

(above: Vusi, melting metal)

(above: Things coming together, the u-channels bolt onto the chassis)

(above: we did a test install, to see if everything would fit okay)

(above: We coated the new bumper with “gravel guard”)

(above: the winch installed, and ready for rescue)

(above: hooking up the winch to the starter lug point

Vusi came in handy, as he has good ideas and great experience with anything mechanical, and also has great knowledge on auto electrics. He works as a fulltime mechanic for Pug’s landscaping, and he is always around when I need some advice. He pointed out that I did not need to run the winch’s power cable all the way to the battery, but rather to connect it to the starter power terminal, which I would not have known, and this made the wiring much easier.

The forward / reverse switch on the winch was missing, and following advice from Pugs and Vusi, got ourselves a standard on/off/on toggle switch, and installed it inside the cab so I would be able to control the winch while having control over the throttle.