Fitting a Defender winch

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You don't want to go off-roading without one of these : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
A winch is an essential off-roading recovery tool that has plenty of other uses, too. Alisdair Cusick explains this professional installation

Need to know

Time taken: 3 hours
Tools needed: ½in socket set, spanners, impact gun, drill, non-rotating cutter, screwdrivers, torque wrench.
Difficulty: 3 out of 5    
Models: All Defenders, but process similar for all Land Rovers.
Parts used: • From ORE 4x4: T114A12 Warrior T1000-145 extreme (military-spec) synthetic rope winch, £1179; OREwb01 winch bumper, £537-663 (depending on options); bumper fixing kit, £16.66; 3m battery extension leads £79.
• Mobile Centre winch wiring kit with switch, conduit and clips, £168.
Work Safely
• Disconnect the battery, earth lead first, before starting work.
• Use the right tool for the right job.
• Use the correctly rated lifting and support equipment.
• Get an expert to do the job if in you are in any doubt.
• Never take risks working underneath a vehicle
• Wear eye protection when working under a vehicle.

Thanks to: Ian Baughan at IRB Developments, Chris McCormack at Ore 4x4 and Tim Consolante at Mobile Centre for their help with this feature.
irbdevelopments.com; ore4x4.co.uk;
mobilecentre.co.uk.

 

A winch has always been one of the most popular accessories for our Land Rovers. They are surprisingly simple to fit, not least because most are made for beefy winch bumpers, meaning the bumper and winch both bolt to existing holes in the Defender’s chassis, using suitably rated high-tensile strength fixings.

Problems arise around wiring the device to the vehicle. Doing this correctly is of huge importance, not least because the winch’s feed wiring goes straight to the battery. Encounter any wiring issues, such as the insulation of a positive lead rubbing through, and those beefy power leads are free to short all that direct current at will. Equally important, is that all the ancillary components are balanced to the current demands of the winch. If not, the moment we use the winch under heavy load, the current demand spikes, and the maximum load flows through the leads, isolator switch and cabling, testing their capacity to the full.

As best practice, the cables should be to the correct length, not with loops of excess cabling folded back on itself. The cables should be inside flexible conduit for mechanical protection and insulation, and securely attached to the vehicle. Of equal importance is providing a fuse in the circuit as close to the battery as practical, and that the isolator switch is rated to the maximum load of your winch.

A correct installation will allow sufficient winching current through a correctly rated isolator that can handle that current, but will have a fuse that blows in the event of any issue that causes more current than the wiring can handle. In this feature, Ian Baughan of IRB Developments and Chris McCormack of Ore 4x4 walk us through fitting Ore’s Warrior T1000-145 winch kit to a 2.4 Puma Defender 110.

What we’re fitting: Clockwise from top left: isolator switch, winch, bumper, fixings, marker lights. This bumper is a modular design, so bumper ends require bolting to the central winch basket.

Always the first step: Ian first disconnects the battery, then improves access to the working area. Off comes the deeper radiator grille, to make getting around the chassis dumb irons easier.

Old bumper off: He then removes the four bumper to chassis fixings. These will be replaced, as the winch will require higher tensile strength bolts than the regular bumper fixings.

Isolator mounting: Having removed the passenger seat for access, Ian decides where to mount the winch isolator switch. Happy with the position, he drills a pilot hole through the seat box.

Neatest job: He then uses a non-rotating 60mm hole cutter, for a burr-free hole. The tool’s threaded rod fits through the pilot hole, and the cutter is threaded on.

Easy: The cutting face is then wound down the threads with a ratchet. It cuts both the seat box panel and soundproofing in one neat operation, exactly to size.

Assembly required: Chris fits the bumper ends to the winch basket. Our vehicle is having marker lights refitted, so those are bolted to the bumper, using stainless fixings for improved longevity.

Helping hand: The winch bumper can now go on. It can be hard to align the bolts, so Ore has this clever fitting kit, incorporating a tapped block to simplify bolt alignment.

On it goes: The bumper assembly is eased into position over the chassis rails. Chris threads the fixings easily through the bumper, chassis and tapped block, then torques up the fixings.

Understand your kit: Note that this factory bolt on the lashing eye is reused when attaching this winch bumper unit. Designs differ, so always read and fully understand your fitting details.

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Back inside: Meanwhile, Ian fits the battery isolator, and it looks a very neat job thanks to that non-rotating cutter. An OE-style finish relies on such sharp appearances.

Cable swap: Standard winch cable lengths are for engine bay batteries. Defender fitment requires longer leads to reach the seat box. Chris removes the two Allen bolts securing the winch cover.

Swap over: This is the first lead we’ll swap, the positive supply. Chris unbolts the terminal, then swaps the lead for the longer one, re-using the original waterproof boot.

Protection: With the control box cover refitted, he then threads flexible conduit over the cable. Silicone-based release gel can help encourage the conduit right up to the boot.

Earth too: The earth cable is likewise swapped for a longer one. Access is easier as the terminal is on the outside of the winch. Again, conduit goes on afterwards.

Pride of place: The winch and cables are then offered into the bumper, ensuring no cables are pinched. Chris leaves it loose in the basket for now, to allow final positioning.

Thread the needle: The positive and earth cables are fed down the chassis rail towards the battery box. On a Discovery, the leads would head to the engine bay.

Fix in position: The hawse is bolted to the bumper, first threading the winch cable through it. Chris fits the winch fixings from underneath, then torques them to 48Nm.

Secure: The cables should be secured throughout their length, preventing them from rubbing through and potentially causing a short. Note there is no excess cabling looped back on itself.

Isolator switch: Ian connects up the isolator wiring, which uses the positive side of the supply. One side goes to the winch, the other feed will connect to the fuse.

Vital fuse: The special mega fuse, rated to 500A, connects between battery positive and the isolator switch. This is a special slow-blow fuse, permitting current to build before blowing.

Connect to earth: The battery earth post on a Defender doesn’t permit cables to be added, so Ian threads the cable to the factory chassis earth point, located on the nearside chassis rail.

Finally, test: The battery negative is reconnected, and the system can be tested, after turning the isolator switch on. Chris runs the cable in and out, and gives a thumbs up.

Business-like: The winch installation and its bumper look neat and purposeful. The LED marker lights are also tested after fitting and wiring, adding to the visual effect.

 

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