Portable Winch Worth the Purchase?

Looking at potentially purchasing a 2200 lb portable winch. I’ve looked through the threads and can’t find a ton of work site opinions on them. I have seen the Reg Coates videos and he seems to speak highly of them, which says allot. I run a 2 -3 man show and looking for a way to decrease body work and increase productivity. Obviously a mini or even a hydraulic chipper winch is what I really want but not in the budget especially with the current state of things due to Covid. I have a metal fabrication guy that could make me a mount for my chipper and could still use the machine remotely if need be. Looking for any incite from folks that use them on wether the efficiency and productivity is worth the coin or should I just keep bucking tell I can afford a chipper winch or Mini! Thanks
 

Merle Nelson

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
SF Bay Area, CA
I've only used a portable for specific situations. (A chainsaw winch with capstan.) But when it is the tool, it is a Godsend. They are slow moving so you may use it for more now and when you have a chipper with winch and/or mini it may need to have long lasting fuel for how seldom you use it. But, it still will be the tool at times I would bet.

I did a view topping job on 30 and 40 foot wide cypress trees where the limbs could be set down on the next lower limbs but then a human being could not pull them off. The winch set up on a tree base over in the adjoining field (no vehicles could drive there) probably saved me 3 days of work on this one job.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
You can get an awful lot done with a GRCS. The additional vehicle mounting plate gives you a lot of versatility, and with either a corded or battery powered Milwaukee Super Hawg, you can do long drifts and drags. In my estimation, the GRCS will outperform the portable winch in 99.99% of applications.
 
Thanks for the response. The speed of retrieve is one of my biggest concerns at 40fpm. Even being less then half of the speed of a chipper winch if we could get large piles of brush to the load out without having to drag or cart 20 times it would still be a moral and efficiency booster. I would hope...?
 
@cerviaarborist. I do agree with you about the grcs over the portable winch. The price point at 2800 vs 1200 though is a hard one to bite on. I’ve never worked with a grcs and have primarily seen there use in large wood lowering or lifting applications, more so than dragging or moving of material. Good to know it can be used in that form as well. As amazing of a tool as it is I’m just not sure I’d have enough day to day use for it to warrrant the cost?
 

39Buick

Participating member
Location
Alabama
@cerviaarborist. I do agree with you about the grcs over the portable winch. The price point at 2800 vs 1200 though is a hard one to bite on. I’ve never worked with a grcs and have primarily seen there use in large wood lowering or lifting applications, more so than dragging or moving of material. Good to know it can be used in that form as well. As amazing of a tool as it is I’m just not sure I’d have enough day to day use for it to warrrant the cost?
Have you watched this? He has also done videos using the winch and rigging lines to haul piles of brush and logs!

 
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Serf Life

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Maine Island
Portable winch is worth the money all day long. Sometimes equipment can’t get close enough, area is too steep, or ground is too wet to drive on. It pulled my mud stuck f450 with chipper attached out, up an incline with a 2:1. With a block up in a tree it will pull serious weight with minimal ground damage. It is slow but small, light, cheap, near zero maintenance, and good re-sale value. If a mini gets stuck in the back 40 it will save a major headache. Honda gas sipper too.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
@cerviaarborist. I do agree with you about the grcs over the portable winch. The price point at 2800 vs 1200 though is a hard one to bite on. I’ve never worked with a grcs and have primarily seen there use in large wood lowering or lifting applications, more so than dragging or moving of material. Good to know it can be used in that form as well. As amazing of a tool as it is I’m just not sure I’d have enough day to day use for it to warrrant the cost?
Like my arbor trolley, Dingo and a host of other devices, I spent the first six months after purchase mentally kicking my own backside for not having purchased it years sooner. Once you have it on hand, you'll find yourself using it to expedite things you used to do by hand. I used to do removals without it, but I don't even want to think about those days now.
 
@39Buick Yeh, the reg mount and hauling videos are what got my wheels turning in the first place! I want to fabricate a mount on my chipper like that so I could take the winch off and on depending on the situation.

@serflife “Portable winch is worth the money all day long. Sometimes equipment can’t get close enough, area is too steep, or ground is too wet to drive on. It pulled my mud stuck f450 with chipper attached out, up an incline with a 2:1. With a block up in a tree it will pull serious weight with minimal ground damage. It is slow but small, light, cheap, near zero maintenance, and good re-sale value. If a mini gets stuck in the back 40 it will save a major headache. Honda gas sipper too.”

Honestley what I was hoping to hear! Some reassurance on the purchase being a good idea! Haaa. Good to hear you’ve had a positive experience with the product. Seems like it has many uses, even outside of the day to day tree work field. Even if it is a bit slow.


@cerviarborist i definitely hear what your saying about spending the money on equipment! Every purchase I’ve been up at night stressing on making has made my life so much better I’m the long run! As you said only regret is usually why I didn’t do it earlier. I’ll do some more research on the uses of the grcs vs the portable winch before making a purchase. My main goal out of whatever I buy though is to make moving material more efficient and less strain on the body for us first and foremost. If we could get the advantage of having the lifting and lowering power of the GRCS as well though may very well be worth spending the extra money.
 

Tom Dunlap

Here from the beginning
Administrator
I have a 10k# winch mounted on a skid with a 2" receiver. The winch was first used for skidding debris to my chipper.

The mount was made with a 4" id tube welded to the top of the chipper. Inside was another tube that would rotate. To hold it in place I drilled a hole in the tube, welded on a 3/4" nut. Then I made a t-handle for a 'setscrew' to hold the inner tube. The winch mounted on a skid on top of the tube which could rotate easily.

I had a battery shop make up cables to run off the chipper battery.

Be careful of duty cycle and overheating the winch motor. Without enough amperage you can burn up the motor

The setup worked well enough. I got an atv so the winch wasn't needed.
 
@Tom Dunlap thanks for the build idea! Trying to figure out a good way to mount the unit to the plate so that it could still relatively taken on and off relatively quickly. If I pull the trigger I’ll post some pics of the build.
 

pete3d

New member
Location
Hinchinbrooke
I have and use the 35cc PCW3000, the little brother of the winch you are looking at. It’s a solid performer and suits my woodlot improvement requirements perfectly, enabling me to extract logs from congested areas off the skidding trails in my bush. I would need an extremely large draft horse to replace it, and that’s definitely out of my budget.
For a versatile inexpensive mount for any Portable Winch winch consider:
With basic metal working skills and a little imagination this plate can mount a Portable Winch on almost any machine.
 

flushcut

Branched out member
Location
Delavan, WI
I would suggest saving for a mini. My chipper has a winch and has been used five times in five years, mini all the way. I know it's more money but it will make your money faster than a winch. A mini will load wood, drag brush, feed the chipper, and run a multitude of attachments diversifying your services and thus making more money. A winch will drag brush and load logs if you are very creative with rigging and that's about it.
 

JeffGu

Been here a while
Two of my trailers have small ATV type winches on them, with a marine battery in a plastic toolbox. They're a godsend. My stump grinder weights about 900 lbs. and the winch can pull it right up in there. They're slow as hell, but beats the hell out of throwing your back out, which is even slower.
 

27RMT0N

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
WA
I have the PCW5000, many of the accessories that go along with it, and have actually just taken a lot of footage to make a video about it... I'm in a rural area and mostly work solo, so I thought it would help me move more brush with less physical effort. It's nice for the right situation: pulling material up a steep hill, moving a log you want to keep whole, or pulling apart a pile like Reg mentions in his video. But I don't use it all that much, although that is in large part because so many of my jobs are no-cleanup. If I had a good way to mount it on my chipper, I certainly would though.

In my experience unless you have the right situation though, it is often slower than doing things by hand. Setup, then just the speed of the pull mean it has to be really worth getting it out and using it. That said, I still like the thing and think it's a great bit of kit. In the right situation is a wonderful tool (high quality as well). To give you an idea of what it looks like in the real world I just threw together two clips of it in action. These are easy conditions, downhill drags, and keep in mind this is with one of the FASTER drums to give you an idea of speed. To me it is in a totally different ballpark from a chipper winch or a mini-skid or whatever. It's best feature is that it is small and portable, which lets you pull just about anywhere giving a lot of flexability. The skid-cone is a must have, and the tree mount as well if you are in areas with lots of trees to anchor off. I'm happy to answer any questions you have though:

 

Serf Life

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Maine Island
Running a 2-3 man crew, I’d wager you do have the budget for a mini or art. loader. Well maybe after life gets back to normal. $350-$600/month in payments is one day of a contract climber and hopefully less than a week of wages for an employee. A Zahn is close to 20k, Cast has those little wheeled minis which is also neighborhood of 20k. Bobcat may still have a 0% interest, 60mo term promo on their equip.... Vermeer offered a 3mo deferment of the first payments to have it make money first, and DW made that happen when asked too.Your bank account won’t even feel it I promise you.
 
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Thanks for all of the feedback from everyone!

@27RMT0N Thanks for the epic breakdown and video. Confirming my concerns the winch does get the job done but is damn slow going! Especially coupled with setup time. If you don’t mind a may PM you to pick your brain a bit further. It appears you’ve spent some time behind the unit and have a solid understanding of what it’s capable of.

@Serf Life I know the mini is the logical next step for my business. Upgraded my truck and chipper last year which was a game changer. I’ve been itching to buy one for the last year and a half! By two man man crew I mean mostly myself and one other guy. I do most of the technical climbing and I’ve got my guy skilled enough to handle everything else. A mini would change our life’s. Breaking back humping big ass spruce logs into the truck or trailer and dragging brush for too many years now. Back can’t sustain that forever! I end up renting one or hiring an extra man at least two to three times a month anyway, would cover the payment there. I was just hoping fir a more economical temporary solution to my problem with the winch. Which it still would probably be an improvement to the current situation. What mini would you suggest for a first purchase? I need it to be light enough to not destroy everything but have some solid lifting power. There’s a used boxer 320 in my area for 9500 with 900 hours. But sounds like a pretty small machine ?
 

Serf Life

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
Maine Island
I read through the few Mini threads multiple times, asked a bunch of questions, ran numbers, and demo’d/rented before pulling the trigger. Your setup and type of work will point you toward the right machine. Lots of lawn and modest sized material, the Zahn looks hard to beat for the price and size. I got a sk800 which shakes out to $580/mo and $720yr insurance. Big wood and multiple trucks the avant and giants look amazing. “Buy the biggest you can afford” was the advise i kept hearing. Would still buy the winch personally.
 

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