Dead battery - winch shorted I think

Submitted: Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 20:57
ThreadID: 32720 Views:2258 Replies:4 FollowUps:9
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Went to start the Patrol this morning and it was as dead as. Got the spare battery out to try a jump start and the cables started to get very hot. Called the friendly RACV man and he traced it to the winch that has a short. Anyone heard of this before? Should we have a switch between battery and winch so this doesn't happen? Off to the winch importer tomorrow!

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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:11

Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:11

Two questions

What brand of winch?
Where was the short?

If it was on the positive cable from the battery to the control box, then that is a instillation problem and has nothing to do with the winch.

The solenoids that control the direction of the winch also act as a switch. They will not allow power from the battery past the solenoids until they are activated. If they had shorted out and activated the winch would have either wound in or out until the battery was flat.

I can not see how the winch could short out a battery, more likely that the battery dropped a cell.

AnswerID: 166043

Reply By: Member - Ian H (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:13

Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:13
I'd be looking at the cleanliness of the battery terminals, like white deposits inside.
If you had a winch electrics short and the jump battery cables got hot then there would be sparks a plenty from the winch. If the cables get hot it shows a high resistance joint between the battery and starter. I'd be surprised if were not the terminals, but I have been wrong before. Good luck.
AnswerID: 166044

Reply By: Willem - Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:14

Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:14
Yep I have a switch, though others have said that it does not have a high enough current rating. Still, haven't had any probs winching. Fitted it after a short on winch cable out bush had flattened the battery in 5 seconds!!!
AnswerID: 166045

Follow Up By: hl - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 06:45

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 06:45
Flatten a charged battery in 5 seconds?
I'd like to see that!
Unless it was a 7Ah gel cell, you would have another story to tell!!!
FollowupID: 421014

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 07:13

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 07:13
No it was an Exide 4x4 battery I recall. It could have been less than 5 seconds.

The winch cable had rubbed through on the body causing a short. At that precise moment I was attempting to ford a muddy gutter which was deeper than I had anticipated. The bullbar went into the mud embankment, we came to a sudden stop and the cable did its thing. When I attempted to restart there was no battery power whatsoever.

My mate winched me out and after taping up the cable I restarted the truck in reverse. The battery charged again normally after that.

This happened in the remote Fitzmaurice River region in the NT in 1992.

FollowupID: 421016

Follow Up By: hl - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 07:43

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 07:43

Well, Willem, I would think the battery was either faulty or not charged. If you short out a fully charged battery, you will get fireworks big time, believe me....
FollowupID: 421020

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:00

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:00

There were lots of sparks.

It sounds like you don't believe me but that is your prerogative.

I also see that I did not write about the sparks either in my story. Go to my website below, click on 4x4 and then click on BACK UP! ON PALM CREEK story.

This was also published in 4x4 Australia Mag in 1992

FollowupID: 421024

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:04

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:04
G'day Willie,

I used to have one of those switches with the big red plastic key, mounted beside the starter battery, so I could cut power to the winch. I'm not sure what they're rated at but I went to use the winch on one occasion and it wouldn't work at all. I was stuck and needed the bloody thing to cease being an ornament!!! In frustration, I by-passed the switch and the winch fired up no worries and I was able to extricate myself from my predicament. No more switch!!!

However, I only had it fitted cos of the stories I'd heard about @rseholes shorting the winch box out after having dragged the cable over the roof and attaching hook onto towbar. I'd never thought of the possibility of a complete short in the winch or cables.


FollowupID: 421025

Follow Up By: hl - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:18

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:18
Hi Willie...

It's not that I don't believe you, but the amount of energy stored in a fully charged battery (in good condition) is enough to make really bad things happen. You could not discharge it fully within seconds with no more than just a few decent sparks. In most cases they will just burn through the short and hopefully all will be well after that. However, if the cable is heavy enough and the short is solid, the battery will rapidly start boiling and possibly explode. So, I treat these things with great respect. Fusible links right at the battery are absolutely essential in my view.


FollowupID: 421026

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:25

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 08:25
G'day Bill

Yep, I had the same switch lying around here for a while until me mate reminded me of the incident. The winch works OK but I must admit I haven't tried it under load. Will go and do so this morning and report back later. If it fails I will re route the terminals. No big deal....LOL

Hi hl

The vehicle was a 1979 Busted Arse bush Landcruiser FJ55.

What happened, happened and that is all I can say. One can speculate on the semantics of all things electrical but when it comes down to the crunch, that is what happened.

FollowupID: 421029

Follow Up By: conman - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 12:23

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 12:23
Hi Willem,

Intersting to finally put a face to your name. In my mind you were a lot older :-))

Some interesting stuff on your site, must be good to be able to trace your roots that far back. Unfortunately for those of us from mongrel background, we will never know where we came from.
FollowupID: 421069

Follow Up By: Willem - Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 15:22

Monday, Apr 10, 2006 at 15:22

I hooked the GQ winch up to the back fence post which is a piece of railway track concreted a metre into the ground.

Applied handbrake and the Brawn dragged the rear wheels. Then apllied foot brake and she still kept on winching. Then the fence post came towards me and I had to stop. Took best part of 10 minutes to straighten the whole shebang up again. So my switch must be a good 'un as it did not show any sign of fading. It was a straight line pull of around 25 metres.


Yeah thanks for the compliment. Sometimes I feel a lot
Plenty of skeletons in the cupboard mate. The rest of my family were not overly imprseed with my research..hahahahaha

FollowupID: 421094

Reply By: 100TD - Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:45

Sunday, Apr 09, 2006 at 21:45
I also have an isolator on the winch for such occasions and also to stop the little buggers caving my roof in or hanging it from a tree(the 100s that is!!!)cheers Paul
AnswerID: 166060

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