|The Pull Pal Winch Anchor & Winch Techniques||Short Cuts|
By: David Gray - 9/2000
A winch often gives a new 4-wheeler a feeling of invulnerability. He may feel confident that no matter how bad the situation, after pulling a little cable and flicking a switch, he could free himself. A winch is a valuable recovery tool, but a winch can't work if you have nothing to anchor the other end of the cable, and in some cases a traditional straight pull could cause disaster.
|Sometimes the nearest tree is a long ways away...|
Every person who relies on a winch on the trail needs to make sure that, at absolute minimum, they carry a basic "winch kit." This basic equipment includes a clevis or two, a tree saver strap, a length of suitable chain, and a snatch block (basically a pulley made for winching), all rated for at least the capacity of the winch, preferably with a healthy safety margin. Gloves are necessary, as well, to prevent hands from getting cut from wire cables. Most winch manufacturers and many other vendors offer these basic winch kits, often in a convenient bag that can double as a line weight to prevent whiplash if the cable breaks. This basic kit allows you to anchor to a sturdy tree or another vehicle directly in front of where you want to be, so you can winch yourself forward. With some creativity, the snatch block can be used with a secondary anchor to alter the angle of the pull.
Unfortunately, getting stuck is never well-planned: sometimes the nearest tree is a long ways away, or your buddy can't safely get his vehicle in a position to safely provide an anchor, or you can't get a safe pulling angle...
|The Pull Pal Winch Anchor|
Winch Anchors and the Pull-Pal
These all too common types of situations require need a winch anchor. There are all kinds of home-brewed anchoring techniques out there; methods range from burying a tire with a chain attached, to pounding a spare axle shaft into the ground, but the Pull-Pal is the most widely accepted winch anchor available.
The Gremillions manufacture and market this self-setting plow-type winch anchor. They are stalwart supporters of the 4-wheeling community and Pat is an experienced 4-wheeler whose competitive exploits and willingness to aid other 4-wheelers is well known. Camel Trophy competitors use the Pull-Pal, and recently, the US military adopted a new 11,000-lb. model for regular use.
|The Pull-Pal consists of two components that separate for easy storage.||The Pull-Pal's plow shaped blade locks securely on the armature.||The assembled Pull-Pal can easily be pushed into most softer surfaces.||A person can steady the Pull-Pal until it bites into the ground. Here, it is hooked up and ready for a pull.|
|The folded Pull-Pal stores easily.|
The Pull-Pal is available in 3 different sizes (6000, 9000 & 11,000 lbs.), but all consist of a folding arm assembly that locks to a plow shaped blade. The 9000-lb. (rated) model was easily stored on my Jeep, with the folded assembly being virtually the same length as my Hi-Lift Jack and stored on top of it, and the blade tucking in next to my spare tire. The 11,000-lbs model used by the military is the same size, but made of heavier components. The 6,000-lb. model is smaller and suitable for Samurai-sized vehicles.
The Pull-Pal is a self-setting winch anchor; dig the plow tip into the ground and the winch pulls the cable, causing the plow to dig into the ground until it meets enough resistance to move the vehicle. This is generally accomplished without too much of a problem in most soil types and conditions, but there are some conditions where the Pull-Pal may not be able to find enough resistance to extract a vehicle (see the review by Dr. Sean Michael on 4x4Wire for more information). Note that none of the common winch anchor techniques would work well in these situations either. In some instances, more than one Pull-Pal has been deployed to solve the problem. It should also be obvious that the Pull-Pal can not dig into solid, unbroken rock.
|The Pull-Pal is set a good distance away, maximizing winch performance.A snatch block allows use of more line for increased pulling power.||Once the pull starts the plow starts digging in until if find enough bite (the plow becomes more "stuck" than the vehicle being pulled).||In this shot we were not very "stuck" - only in gear with the parking brake engaged. Even in soft sand, the Pull-Pal did not have to dig far to move the vehicle.||When the Jeep got close to the Pull-Pal, the upward angle of the winch cable helped pull the Pull-Pal blade back to the surface, making recovery of the tool easy.|