Winches can be a lifesaver and a life taker. Things can go from bad to worse in a split second. Along with having a winch comes the responsibility of knowing how to use this tool safely. The hook, winch line, and hard shackles are where you can get in trouble really fast. Synthetic line is safer than steel cable. Both have limitations, but if a synthetic line breaks, it holds little to no kinetic energy and most likely will just fall down, whereas if steel cable breaks, it has a tendency to rip in any and all directions and take out anything in its way. When you’re in a winching situation, and using the hook, be sure the opening of the hook is facing the ground so if it breaks, it should fall toward the ground and not fly backward. FYI, the road salt from the winter roads of northeast Ohio takes a toll on the hook.
Removing one of these potentially dangerous parts of my winch was by replacing the hook with a closed loop system, like a Factor 55 FlatLink. It’s an easy and fairly inexpensive upgrade. Besides, it just looks cool! Go to Factor 55’s website and YouTube channel to review all the specs and test videos, and you may choose like I did to upgrade to this safer system. I met the Factor 55 guys at Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah at the vendor show and was very impressed with their products. Talking to the vendor in person – asking questions, feeling and seeing the product – is invaluable.
To upgrade your hook to the Factor 55 FlatLink you will need a pair a pliers to remove the hook (it’s just held in with a cotter pin). You will need a snap ring plier to get the snap ring onto and secure the FlatLink pin. You can get creative with small screw drivers, but these snap ring pliers get the job done in no time.