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Old 03-29-2012, 07:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Harbor Freight winch hacks?

I know that the HF winches are a controversial topic, but has anyone ever bought one and tried to make it better? I ask because I had two of the HF Blue Pumps. You can get them for $25 when they go on sale but they're notorious for blowing because of the cheap capacitors HF uses as well as the fact that they have no overload protection so if something jams the pump it will overheat and the wiring will melt/short out. I searched around online and found someone who had a lot more electrical knowledge than me that provided instructions and a parts list for a more robust capacitor and a cheap, simple, overload protection device. I picked everything up from my local electrical supply shop and it took me about a half an hour to rewire everything. Since I got the pump on sale for $25 and the parts cost me about $35 I had a solid, reliable pump for only about $10 more than I would have paid if I bought the pump at the regular price.

I'm wondering if any other electrical whiz kids have purchased a HF winch, taken it apart and found the weak spots. I was disappointed to read the 4WD magazine shootout since the HF winch didn't work out of the box, but obviously it was an electrical problem, not a mechanical problem that caused it to not work. I'm hoping to catch the 12,000LB unit on sale to mount on the front of my Yota. The reasoning being that in case the HF mechanicals are not up to snuff, the 12,000LB unit should theoretically be way overbuilt for such a light truck. Still, I would be interested in making some tweaks to the electrical system in an effort to make it more reliable. Any ideas?
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Im sure the gauge size of wire is to small for a winch of that size. You could always start from there and put in line fuses to make it pop the fuse before it overloads the circuit in the winch and add some capacitors in it. But it is HF material so good luck!
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:49 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I know nothing about these winches, of course I know they are HF so more than likely cheap but I got a 10,000lb for free from a buddy so I bolted it on. I have yet to use it, but it sounds like there is something electrical I should be upgrading?
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Old 03-29-2012, 07:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdub0013 View Post
I know nothing about these winches, of course I know they are HF so more than likely cheap but I got a 10,000lb for free from a buddy so I bolted it on. I have yet to use it, but it sounds like there is something electrical I should be upgrading?
I'm guessing-like I said, the blue pumps they sell are known as crap, but all of the problems with them are solved with two simple, cheap fixes. I'm wondering if the winches are the same. I don't have enough electrical knowledge to look at the guts of one and see what could be easily upgraded, but I'm wondering if someone else has.
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I bought one of those elcheapo HF 3500lb winches for my car trailer. The winch itself worked great but i nothing but trouble with the solenoid pack. Without fail the winch would quit when a car was halfway on the trailer and then the winch would only work in reverse. So i would take all the wires off the solenoid and swap them around to get it to pull the rest of the way on. Power wise it was great, the little bugger would pull until the cable broke. Solenoids were crap though!
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