Is My Winch Operating Properly?

Please read this article to better understand how your Atlas® electric winch will perform in a variety of situations. If you do not understand the concepts presented in this article; please do not buy our Atlas® winch. Greg Smith Equipment sells the highest quality automotive equipment at the lowest possible prices. Greg Smith Equipment provides detailed information concerning the operation and limitations of our equipment, so that our customers are able to make informed decisions. We want you to be completely satisfied with your purchase from Greg Smith Equipment. We believe that if you buy the correct piece of equipment (in the beginning); you will be rewarded with many years of reliable service.

Here is a simple test that you may perform to convince yourself that your Atlas® winch is operating properly. We ask that you perform this simple test BEFORE you call us in regard to your winch not operating properly. We will be discussing the performance issues relating to our Atlas® 10,000 LB. winch. We have additional information and charts outlining the performance capabilities for all other Atlas® winches posted on the Greg Smith Equipment web site.

Our 10,000 LB. Atlas® electric winch will "pull" a 10,000 LB. vehicle (using a single line pull) if the following conditions exist:

  • The "pulled" vehicle must be on a level concrete or asphalt (not sticky) surface.
  • The vehicle must have properly inflated tires and "roll" easily.
  • The winch drum must ONLY be wrapped with one layer of cable: (Wire cable is painted red at the drum end of the cable to identify this length)
  • The winch must have adequate 12 volt power. (Minimum of 500 amps)
  • This "test" will allow you to verify that your Atlas® 10,000 LB. winch has the capacity to pull 10,000 LB. if used correctly. Your 10,000 LB. Atlas® winch will pull this "test" vehicle...and continue to pull this vehicle until all the cable is long as you keep the vehicle in motion.

    If your Atlas® winch passes this test...and it will...then there is NOTHING wrong with the operation of your winch. If your Atlas® 10,000 LB. will not "pull the load" as you believe it should, then you may not be using your Atlas® 10,000 LB winch properly.

    Please read the following paragraphs to better understand the proper way to use your winch.

    If you understand the full capabilities of your winch and how to properly use many of the low cost accessories (to further increase the pulling power of the winch), then you will feel confident about using your winch in a variety of "pulling" situations.

    When you review the winch performance chart below you will notice that a 10,000 LB. winch...whether it is an Atlas® winch or a competitive winch...will pull 10,000 LB. ONLY when there is just one layer of cable wound around the drum. The reason that the 10,000 LB. Atlas® winch will continue to "pull" the 10,000 LB. load across the level surface (as the cable is wrapped many times upon the drum) is that the "rolling resistance" of the 10,000 LB. vehicle has been considerably reduced.


    Layer of Cable1234
    Rated LineLbs10,0007,9646,5915,632
    Pull per layerkgs4,5323,6012,9872,552
    Cable capacitykgs5122128

    If you STOP the action of the winch after you have three (3) layers of cable around the steel drum; the 10,000 LB. winch (theoretically) has only 6,591 LB. of "pulling power"! The "STOPPED" 10,000 LB. vehicle now has the "rolling resistance" of a 10,000 LB. vehicle and your 10,000 LB. winch WILL NOT "pull" the vehicle.

    Many winch users believe that the "closer" the pulled vehicle is to the winch; the greater the pulling capacity of the winch. This is just the OPPOSITE of what is TRUE if the cable is spooled around the drum more than one (1) time. The winch has the greatest pulling capacity when there is just ONE wire cable layer around the steel drum. There are many ways to configure the line (with pulling attachments) so that only the first layer of cable is wrapped around the drum. One layer wrapped around the drum allows for the "most pulling power" of your winch.

    There are many extenuating factors that "add" weight to your vehicle (as far as your winch is concerned).

    We discussed that for the winch to have its maximum "pulling power"; there must be only one layer of cable wrapped around the drum. More layers of wrapped cable around the drum will reduce the pulling power of the winch.

    Here are few other factors that help to "raise" the weight of the "pulled weight" of the vehicle and perhaps affect the pulling capacity of the winch:

    If you are pulling a vehicle up a ramp with 6 degree angle, then the pulling capacity of the winch is reduced by 50%. If you are pulling a vehicle up a ramp that has a 26 degree slope, then the pulling capacity of your 10,000 LB. winch is now reduced to less than 2,000 LB. Click here for more information.

    The green Mustang may only weigh 3,000 LB.; but when it is pulled up the 25 degree inclined ramp of the "rollback" truck, the "amount of weight being pulled" may be greater than 10,000 LB. If the winch operator would reduce the incline (make the slope more level) of the truck bed; the Mustang would "weigh less".

    Never attempt to pull a vehicle up an incline with an angle greater than 45 degrees (WITHOUT an auxiliary rear wheel chocking system in place). The braking system incorporated in a winch is not designed to work effectively on pulling angles greater than 45 degrees. A winch is not a hoist! Click here for more information.

    You must also consider the "drag coefficient" of the rolling surface on which the vehicle will be pulled. A hard packed gravel road can add up to 200 LB. vehicle weight to a 5,000 LB. vehicle. A swamp or mud bog can add up to 5,000 LB. vehicle weight to a 5,000 LB. vehicle.

    This yellow jeep may have a net weight of 3,500 LB., but the combined effect of the mud and large rock incline can add over 8,000 LB. to the "amount of weight being pulled" in this situation, increasing the "effective" weight of the Jeep to 11,500 LB.

    The bottom line is this: Your Atlas® 10,000 LB. winch will do what we advertise it will do.

    Your Atlas® 10,000 lb. winch will PULL 10,000 POUNDS! It is your responsibility to configure the cable and pulling accessories to maximize the pulling power of your winch.

    Your Atlas® winch is equipped with the exclusive AOPS that prevents serious damage to expensive winch component parts if the winch is subjected to an "overload" situation. Other winches DO NOT HAVE the exclusive AOPS system, and although other 10,000 LB winches may pull a little more than their rated capacity, these competitive winches are compromising many of the expensive working parts of the winch. The Atlas® AOPS system prevents serious damage to the clutch, gearbox, and motor of your Atlas® winch.

    Your Atlas® 10,000 LB will pull (safely and effectively) more than a 10,000 LB. load if the operator uses a double or triple line pulling configuration in conjunction with a pulley block or snatch block. Please review our winch articles and other winch articles on the Internet to better understand how to safely increase the pulling power of your Atlas® winch by increasing the number of lines used for the pulling operation.

    Double Line Pull: On a double line pull, the pulling capacity of the winch is increased because a snatch block is used to spool twice as much cable out of the drum. This reduces the number of layers on the drum, which allows a greater pulling capacity.

    Triple Line Pull: On a triple line pull, even more cable is spooled out of the drum, plus the two snatch blocks used double the pulling power and halve the recovery speed. However, this method should be used with caution as twice as much stress is placed on the mounting points.