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Fenton, MO
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 13:35  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message
Looking to buy my first winch so I have a few newbie questions. Wire rope v synthetic. Given the typical Missouri trails like Washita, Bison Ranch, and the like, which would be the better choice?

Which winch? Looking at Engo E9000, T-Max EWI9500, Ramsey Patriot 9500. I know that Engo is the cheapest route to go but I don't like how the cables are jammed up against the grill in a JK. I would have to remote mount the solenoid box inside the engine bay to be happy with that one.

Thanks in advance for horror stories or good advice.

, IL
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 15:16  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
Others will post up, but as far as cable goes, if you're good at maintenance, and you jeep lives in a garage or you really keep the cable covered, synthetic has the advantages of being lighter, and can potentially do less damage if it breaks. They can also be repaired in the field if they do break.

If your jeep lives outside, sunlight, weather, and dirt will degrade the synthetic line faster than wire, so the wire cable may be a better choice. But it's heavier, if it breaks can fling around potentially injuring someone, and it's not nearly as cool. I haven't personally seen as many wire cables break as synthetic lines. It seems to me that the synthetic doesn't hold up to abuse nearly as well as wire, but I have nothing to quantify that.

I don't know about Engo. I've personally run a T-maxx for a while now and am going to swap it for a Warn 8274 because I found a good deal on one and like the much faster line speed better. Other than line speed I've been happy with the T-maxx and had no problems. You can even get a remote controller which is the size of a door lock fob and is a really nice addition.

I haven't owned one, but Ramsey is a decent brand also.

Don't cheap out on a winch. If you get a good one you're only going to have to buy it once, so it'll save you money in the long run. And do you really want your $20k-$30k jeep hanging off a suspect winch?

Edited by - Stalker on 3/6/2013 3:17:11 PM

Fairview Heights, IL
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 15:21  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
Like all safety equipment, pick a piece that will be reliable when you need it. I have not heard of the Engo, but I am familiar with the T-Max stuff and Ramsey.
The T-max and Ramsey are decent, but the T-max will have clutch issues and switch issues based on the case breaking. The ramsey is a decent winch with proven ability, but if your spending the money look for a warn.

As far as winch line, synthetic is nice on the hands, but if used frequently and not kept clean it will dryrot easy. The synthetic also frayes easy on the sharp rocks at are local parks. Ive broke two and always return to the cable. Never broke a cable.

I run a Ti 9500 Warn with standard cable and have had no issues. This is a sealed case (Kind of) for those short waterhole plunges. The line is spun out atleast once a year and reoiled and cleaned. If your going to use it, go Warn.

If a motor burns up on a Warn, they can be refitted or rebuilt. Good luck with the others.

Fairview Heights, IL
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 15:28  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
Check into getting recovery equipment with the winch. Snatch block with same size cable opening as winch. tree strap and study up on winch safety. These badboys are dangerous. Practice with it before having to use it in the woods....

Steppin off Safety podium!!!!!!

"The Safety Guy"

Crestwood, MO
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 16:13  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
I agree with everything Safetyguy said. I've had a Warn that I bought used probably 10 years ago, and it's still going today, with the original (metal) cable.

Another thing to mention, when you get this winch, don't be so eager to get it out for every time you or someone gets stuck. Too often people get a shiney new winch and they think that suddenly that's the only way to recovery. Many times a tow strap is still a viable recovery option, is faster, and many times safer that hooking up the winch.

Also, bear in mine, you will probably use your winch more on other people than you do on yourself.

I'll refrain from preaching winching procedures and safety in this thread.

Wildwood, MO
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 16:41  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
I bought a used Warn for the cost of some of the cheap winches. Just switched to synthetic line this week. I can see the advantages of it, I jsut hope it holds up.
, CO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 16:44  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
synthetic is lighter, and doesn't retain kinetic energy, however, no rope manufacturer rates theirs for full time use on a vehicle mounted winch. every one has caveats that tell you to keep it clean, do NOT keep it wound on the spool, and replace it every 2-3 years.

ultimately its up to you.. steal is much better suited to a permanent resident on your front bumper, especially for a daily driver. synthetic IS safer, but really more for a race car/truck that spends its time on a trailer or in a garage.

if your going to unwind and wash the synthetic rope after every run, to get the sand and grit out of it, then it may last a good long time.

one manufacture of synthetic rope, Sampson Rope who makes 'amsteel blue' which is the rope many companies brand as thier own, can be found here


read their technical briefs, including care and maintenance, when to retire the rope, etc.. for more information.

here is warns take on it..


The synthetic vs. steel debate has heated up recently, as synthetic rope becomes more mainstream. Here's our take on it.

Spydura synthetic rope is a great product for many vehicle recovery situations. If you winch a lot and are concerned about weight, synthetic can be a great option since it is lightweight and easy to handle. It doesn't develop sharp burrs like steel rope, and doesn't store as much potential energy when under load. On the flip side, synthetic rope is more prone to abrasion, and should be regularly inspected for frays or other damage caused by UV, chemicals, and overall use. And when using synthetic, you always want to lay down the abrasion sleeve when needed to guard against rope damage.

Steel rope is extremely durable, and is good for both vehicle recovery and utility work, such as moving trees, rocks, etc., since it resists abrasion very well. Ultra-violet wear is also not a factor with steel rope, and it may be a better choice for you if you don't frequently use your winch. Steel rope is heavier than synthetic, can develop rust, and can also develop sharp burrs. This is one reason why we always recommend users always wear heavy gloves to protect their hands while handling the rope.

Some people immediately think synthetic rope is safer than steel rope. Although steel rope will store more potential energy, since it's made out of steel, it is less prone to abrasion (and possible fraying). The bottom line is that no matter which line you choose, you need to follow safe winching techniques and take all necessary safety precautions. In fact, you can download Warn Industries' The Basic Guide to Winching Techniques to brush up or learn more about how to use your winch and practice safe winching.

Bottom line, for most jeepers, Steel wire is the better choice. if your a wheeler who uses their winch a lot, doesn't drive on the street, maintains their rope impeccably, and is willing to replace their rope every 2-3 years, then synthetic may be best for you...

there are no professional tow companies using synthetic.. folks that depend on thier winches every day, day in and day out use steel.

rescue companies use a mix, but remember, most career fire departments are all about maintenance.

avoid folks trying to pimp thier product.. some people buy barrels of rope from the manufacturer, and claim its purpose built for recovery winches, only to make a profit.

a final option, one I consider to be the best of both worlds. i keep my winch spooled with steel rope. its out in the elements, every day. but I keep a rescue 'throw bag' with a 150' synthetic rope extension, and a three snatch blocks, and a variety of rigging stuff. since this is kept in a bag out of the elements, it doesnt degrade, and i can easily run it through the rope washer (a $30 attachment to a hose, you should buy if your going with synthetic despite the facts) to keep it clean.

of the three you mention, I prefer the ramsey. ramsey is one of the top winches sold to professionals, and i know first hand their customer support is top notch.. when we were competing, we crushed our winch in one of our many rolls. Ramsey had the replacement parts to us almost immediately, and we were ready to go for the next comp, with little hassle.

if your looking for low cost, the 'badlands' winches from harbor freight seem to be pretty decent.. you can get a 12k winch for $399... from what ive seen, if they work out of the box, they will work forever... but they do (or did) have a fairly high out of the box DOA rate.

naturally, you cant go wrong with Warn.. you can spend too much, but warn is the consumer leader in recovery winches.

, CO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 16:49  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
safety guy says it all right here..

Ive broke two and always return to the cable. Never broke a cable.

we were required to use synthetic on our competition buggy, for crowd protection. we broke ours at least half a dozen times, and it was a trailer queen competition buggy. dozens of other competitors broke theirs as well.. these werent heavy full bodied jeeps either, but lightweight competition buggies, 1/3rd the 'rating' of the rope...

in over 25 years of wheeling, i've never even SEEN steel cable break. ive seen synthetic rope break at least 25 times... many times the rig being winched has fallen backwards.. there have been a few near misses of folks who were, of course, way to close to the winching operations.

Fenton, MO
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 17:17  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message
Guys, I really appreciate your feedback on this stuff. Having run the rocky local trails I was thinking that the synthetic would be most vulnerable, but a sanity check was in order. Cool is good, function is better. Steel rope it is.

Now as for the winch itself, I've never been one to go cheap just for the sake of cheap. Quality, function, and durability are my primary drivers in decisions, especially when the cash register has an extra loud cha-ching. Stalker, you put it in proper perspective about hanging a $20k-$30k jeep off a suspect winch. Makes perfectly good sense.

Safetyguy, you bring up a good point regarding the rebuild capability of the Warn. Sadly, you may get a no-name winch for much less but if it fails you out on the trail, then it's still a fail. That savings is not worth a **** at that point.

Jeepr, as a novice off roader, I keep learning every time I'm out with the MWJT folks. I'm learning that being stuck is not as much of an issue when other experienced off roaders are around to learn from. But, I don't want to have a reliance on someone else when I get myself stuck. I want to learn self reliance in the event I were to get myself stuck with no one around. At that point I can see the winch being a valuable asset. I'm the first to admit I have experience to gain and tricks to learn.

Fenton, MO
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 17:43  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message
Thanks for that info Chrispy. It's that type of experience that's a great resource for me. A couple of months ago Harbor Freight had one of their big parking lot sales during which my friend and I picked up a Badlands 10K winch. I didn't even have mine out of the box when my friends winch smoked it in on the first winching. I then read numerous accounts of failures and didn't feel comfortable with the odds. Back to HF it went for a refund.

, CO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 18:22  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
yep, its hard to justify a cheap winch other than on cost, i have several friends who have used them with much success, but, have seen quite a few fail as well (almost always on the first winching...)

I have a Bulldog 8000 winch i won at Easter Jeep Safari at the vendor raffle. its really too light for my jeep, but... free is free. the controller died (basically a toggle switch in a molded rubber pistol grip), but the company replaced it without issue.

now my solenoid pack has failed.. (i can run the winch by manually jumping across the power leads, but, not through the solenoids)... ive used it hundreds of times up here in the mountains, mostly with road rescues, getting people out of ditches, etc, and the occasional self rescue "i bet i can make it down that trail" kinda thing. i pulled my friends 2010 superduty sideways with it when he slid off the trail while scouting for an Xmas tree (yea, that was a fun call to receive)... just rigged a harness to his front and rear tow points, to a snatch block on a large tree on the side of his truck, strapped my jeep to another tree... and the 8000# winch pulled the whole truck sideways up a hill about 5 feet back onto the road.

anyway.. point being... you can take a risk with a cheap winch, many of us do.. or just buy a Warn/Ramsey. its not that you cant burn up those either, but those companies stake their reputation on quality... not discount prices.

Hart of the barn. AKA Barnhart, MO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 18:22  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
KZ I had one of those Harbor Freight specials on my old YJ never had an issue with it my brother also has one he never had an issue with. I now have a Mile Marker on my TJ the thing has never worked since I purchased the Jeep thinking it might just be corrosion on the electronics on it. I am thinking the previous owner really liked the mud and water.
Winchester, IL
Club Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 18:31  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
I had a Ramsey on my '89 Wrangler when I bought it (Thanks, Walt!), and when it bit the rust (somebody had it apart and re-installed the motor with the drain on the SIDE!), I stayed with the Ramsey. Ramsey is still American made to the best of my knowledge, and that is a big deal for me. They've been in business since 1944; I think they've figured out how to do it by now. Warn makes a top notch winch, but there's a lot of them out there. If you want a winch that works and is not as common as a Warn, the Ramsey is a great choice.
Axle Boy
Ofallon, MO
Club Vendor
Posted - 6 March 2013 19:3  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
Having been a dealer for all of them except Engo, Warn is the only product that I have been able to successfully and always get parts or service for. Tmax has since become part of the Westin group since I stopped carrying them, so the quality MAY have improved. Then again the last set of Westin side steps I saw had rust holes in them....so maybe not.

Unfortunately for Engo, T-max and all the other import winches that promised great service and value failed to consistently deliver, so I never gave it a chance.

I'm going on 7 years with my Warn 9.5ti, just now getting ready to change the cable. I'm going with rope, but I also know that is the safest option for ME, since no matter how much I swear I will, I almost never use a winch weight or dampner.


, CO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 19:26  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
keep in mind that some of warns are also 'import winches'.
Where hi-cap mags are legal and pot is not!!!, MO
Online Member
Posted - 6 March 2013 20:7  Show Profile  Email Poster  Edit or Delete Message  GoTo Member Rides
The new Northern tool in Saint Peters MO, has a 9500 superwinch on sale for like $350.00..

I'm not disagreeing with the others, but I have seen alot of high end brand winches fail... all the failures I have seen involved switches... It is mostly due to no up keep... I would take a "up kept" cheap winch over a "neglected/never used" high dollar one any day...

So don't forget to keep things clean and well oiled a winch to easy to forget until you need it...

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