The hub winch – a new take on an old idea

  • Getting your 4x4 unstuck is a breeze thanks to Bernie Swart’s low-tech Hub Winch.
  • Attaching the Hub Winch to a bogged down wheel takes under 10 munites.
Date:8 October 2012 Tags:, ,

Older members of the 4×4 fraternity are bound to remember the so called “capstan winches”.  Fitted to the hubs of vehicles, and consisting of drums bolted on to the rims (using the existing studs and nuts), they allowed self-recovery as well as vehicle to vehicle recovery. Their operation was breathtakingly simple: Once stuck, the driver would insert a length of thick rope into grooved slot on the drum and attach the other end to a tree or any other available anchor point. The driver would then just engage either forward or reverse gear (to wind the rope up on the drum) and thus extract himself from his sticky situation. However, although the venerable capstan winch system worked extremely well, it tended to be very cumbersome and utilitarian bit of kit.

Well, thanks to Gauteng’s Bernie Swart, a new, more modern take on the capstan winch is now available. Called the Hub Winch, it not only offers a cost effective solution for off-roaders wanting to extract themselves from gooey muck and soft sand, but has also ironed out many of the inherent flaws of the previous design. In addition, it has one major benefit over your standard, more expensive winch setup – namely the ability to work from the rear of your vehicle if so required.

To demonstrate how the Hub Winch worked, a vehicle was driven into a section of deep black turf until it became well and truly stuck. Within a few minutes the two base plates and spools were fitted onto the rear wheels. The straps were laid out, and the whole arrangement attached to the included crossbeam (there to ensure the two straps remain parallel with the vehicle), which in turn was attached via straps to the anchor point.

The vehicle engaged reverse gear and pulled away. The spools took up the slack and within 30 seconds the straps had rolled up onto the spools. Now that the vehicle was on solid ground, all that remained was to clean the equipment and pack it away. And that did not take long either.

A good deal of thought had gone into the design to cover all conceivable permutations – namely vehicles with traction control, diff-locks, as well as the different types of wheels, studs and wheel sizes. It can also be fitted to all types of vehicles including “soft” 4×4’s and 4×2’s. Unlike its older cousin, The Hub Winch doesn’t attach to the wheels via the existing studs. Instead, it uses polypropylene and rubber coated attachment bolts to secure it to the wheels, thus preventing unsightly scrapes from damaging expensive alloy rims.

It can also be attached and removed from the wheels within a few minutes – even when off-road. And, although all the standard safety requirements still need to be applied when in use, as with any form of recovery. This system doesn’t employ potentially lethal steel cables, making it much safer to use.

The Hub Winch kit comes neatly packed in specially designed cases with the attachment system, all the necessary straps and crossbeam included. It’ll set you back R4 500 and, if correctly used, carries a five year warranty on metal components. Door to door delivery via courier to all large towns is included in the price. For more info contact Bernie Swart – 083 492 9240 or e-mail him at

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