As long as there have been vehicles going off-road, there have been vehicles getting stuck. Mud, quicksand, snow, rock climbs, and other terrain types can take any four-wheeling day of fun and turn it into a slog. This is when recovery devices, like winches, come in handy.
For Project XtremeJ, our 2001 Jeep Cherokee, we have made great progress in turning the vehicle from a bone-stock 4×4 into a rockclimbing hero. From bumpers to rock guards to tires, we’ve added to the SUV every bit and piece it needs to succeed in the bumpy stuff. Our latest addition has been a Barricade 9,500-pound winch (PN J101798) from Extreme Terrain.
As a middleweight winch, it was ideal for Project XtremeJ, which is somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds as it stands. We were interested to see how the winch would perform in scenarios where things got sketchy, but first, we sought the background of the product.
Background of the Product
One thing that sticks out about the winch is its wireless capability. This is, of course, the 21st century, and the way of wireless-ness is getting into everything, from computer mice to cell phone batteries. It only makes sense that winches should follow.
Extreme Terrain’s Frank Bisciotti gave us the drilldown on wireless capability of the winch. “The benefits of the direct and remote control allows the user to operate the winch from inside or outside the vehicle,” he said. “We find this really useful in those sticky trail situations where the spotter may have better overall visibility, allowing them a way to operate the winch without an intermediary. On top of being a safety feature, having two options give users a backup in case they lose the remote, or the battery goes dead while on the trail.”
Another thing that makes the winch interesting is its winch cable. For this aspect, Extreme Terrain went with Dyneema SK75 synthetic rope. “This rope features a breaking load of 15,800 pounds and is treated in polyurethane resin to make it resistant to the elements while providing enhanced performance,” said Bisciotti. “When tested against standard 3/8-inch steel rope, not only is the synthetic stronger with less mass – it exhibits significantly less recoil at its breaking point, making it the safer option as well.”
Finally, to make the best use of the winch, it helps to have the right setup. “When installing this winch, you’ll either want to make sure you have a winch plate or a winch-ready bumper,” said Bisciotti. “A winch plate is absolutely needed if you are using a factory bumper. However, many of the available aftermarket bumpers already have provisions to install a winch. If your aftermarket bumper is not winch-ready, you can reach out to the manufacturer to acquire a winch plate.”
Our installation began by removing the previously installed Rusty’s bumper. We made markings on it using a balance to ensure we had it lined up perfectly centered, and then drilled holes where the winch would mount, as well as the fairlead. Cutting fluid was applied to the surface of the bumper’s inside to reduce wear on the drill bits we used.
After mocking up the winch, we realized that the motor side of the winch needed clocking to make the lever accessible once mounted. We carefully disassembled the winch and positioned the motor a few degrees away from where it would come into contact with the bumper, while also not sticking out too far so as to become a potential snagging point while out on the trail.
We used countersunk bolts to mount the fairlead to the bumper first, and because the winch had to sit flush against the bumper. Afterwards, we installed the winch in the pre-drilled holes on the bumper and tightened it down.
Next, we had to figure out where to mount the control box. Its dimensions proved somewhat irksome for the crowded engine bay of our Cherokee. No matter where we looked, there seemed be some tank, wiring, or other obstacle that would not budge enough to allow a brick-sized box to fit there. We finally settled on placing the control box up against the K&N airbox in the tightest of places.
The bumper could now get mounted onto the Jeep, which we took care of. We routed the wiring from the control box to the battery terminals, providing an instant connection of power from battery to box to winch. After spooling the cable and double-checking the torque on our bolts, we finished the installation.
Out In The Wild
Now it was time to put the winch through its paces. Out in the rocky, sandy expanse of Ocotillo Wells, it was Tierra del Sol 2018 and we finally had an opportunity to use the winch.
It was mid-morning when we set off on the trail, heading south. We had friends come along to give us a hand as we wound our way up, down, and around the dirt. CB radios kept the spirits up as things got sketchy, coaxing us through narrow ravines and sudden dropoffs.
We came upon a tiny canyon washed out from years and years of erosion. It would make a great spot to test out the winch and its capabilities, and if push came to shove, it wouldn’t be impossible to back out of.
We set the winch to “freespool” and unspooled the winch cable. As there weren’t many natural winching points to choose from, we went with the Jeep variety instead. Hooked up to a buddy’s JK, we grabbed the wired controller and hooked it up to the control box, while also returning the winch to “lock” (?). One click of the button later, we saw the winch go to work and slowly extract us from our canyonita.
All in all, it was a great day of fun, and one we look forward to repeating soon. XtremeJ’s owner, Kevin McIntosh, had this to say about his Barricade winch: “Having a winch out in the middle of nowhere while Jeeping is a huge confidence booster. Recovery sometimes can be the difference between life or death – it’s that extreme! The Barricade winch mated to the Rusty’s front prerunner bumper offered peace of mind when it came to getting stuck somewhere.”
“The winch tucked nicely in to the bumper and is almost invisible,” continued Kevin. “Only the fairlead and winch line are visible. It has a stealthy look that doesn’t take away from the aesthetics. Also, having a wireless remote almost makes it too easy to use!”
For all of these reasons, the Barricade 9,500-pound winch has proven itself to be a worthy addition to Project XtremeJ. Check out more on the XtremeJ build when you get a chance, and don’t forget to visit Extreme Terrain’s website and Facebook page for all things modified and Jeep-related.