Project Bedrock: Winch Upgrade
Superwinch’s Blue Monster
Superwinch’s Talon 12.5SR gives our GMC Sierra more than six tons of self-recovery pulling power at the touch of a button
By Bruce W. Smith
Winches to a lot of people are just an accessory to have gracing the front of their vehicles because it adds a flare of machismo to their ride and persona. But when you work in the construction world a pickup-mounted winch is a necessity, not an attention-grabbing accessory.
It can be called upon to save the day at any moment. On one outing it could be used to help pull a stuck skid steer back to solid ground or winching a broken-down front-end loader up on a trailer.
On another workday it might be used to free your pickup or another employee’s vehicle from an otherwise costly time-loss situation.
The next day it could be called on to slide a blow-down off some remote backroad on the way into your favorite hunting area or winching a drift boat out of the river and on to a trailer
A heavy-duty winch is a must-have tool for professional contractors who work every day outdoors and enjoy the outdoors on their days off.
That’s why the most expensive upgrade we are adding to Project Bedrock, our 2011 GMC Sierra 4×4 Crew Cab, is a winch.
Not just any winch, but a state-of-the-art electric that delivers 12,500 pounds of pulling power: the Superwinch Talon 12.5SR ($1,640).
You might think having a winch capable of pulling more than six tons is overkill on a half-ton pickup. But we are following our own advice from our 2011 Winch Buyers Guide where we recommend the bare minimum winch for a contractor is double the pickup’s loaded weight.
Project Bedrock has a curb weight around 5,300 pounds, and having a winch capable of moving more than double that is great insurance we’ll have the pulling muscle needed for just about any situation.
The point is many recreational winch buyers think too small. When push comes to pull, they end up kicking themselves as smoke boils from the winch or there’s not enough muscle to get the job done.
A professional contractor’s philosophy should be it’s better to have a lot more pulling power at your fingertips than too little. And trying to save a few hundred dollars at the outset on buying a smaller winch will probably come back and bite you right in the middle of some big job.
But we didn’t select the Talon 12.5SR going on our 2011 GMC Sierra Bedrock only for brute pulling power; the Talon’s lighter mounted weight (uses synthetic rope instead of steel cable) and strong internal construction played just as important a role.
The Talon’s is one of the industry’s best truly sealed vehicle recovery winch assemblies.
The 6hp motor is sealed and the VS4 control solenoid will keep out water, mud, snow, and dust and has a patented venting feature that allows the contacts to resist water and release condensation that can damage contacts.
This winch also uses a heavy-duty two-stage planetary and two-stage spur gearbox instead of the triple-gears found in winches of lighter design.
From a safety standpoint, the Talon’s “Dual-stop” -holding brake design provides zero drag on cable in and is located inside the gearbox away from the drum to eliminate heat transfer to the AmSteel-Blue synthetic winch line.
Another item contractors will like is the Talon 12.5SR winch is covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty, which includes an industry-first three-year warranty on all electrical components.
Superwinch doesn’t make winch mounts. So we went to Go Industries, which builds heavy-duty winch mounting systems just for this purpose. We choose their winch and grille guard mount to keep the GMC’s stock bumper and our upgrade costs down.
The grille guard and winch mounting plate are thick steel and protected from rust and abrasions with a black-matte powder-coat finish. As you can see from the accompanying photos, installation is quick and easy.
Now we can drive Project Bedrock anywhere and be assured there’s enough pulling muscle at our fingertips to handle just about any situation requiring a winch.
Working Load* : 12,500 Ibs (5,670 kg)
Motor: 6.0 hp (4.48 kw), Sealed
Gearing Ratio: 148:1
Freespool Clutch: Pull-and-Turn
Installed Weight: 68 Ibs (42 kg)
Fairlead : Aluminium Hawse (synthetic rope models)
*Based on first layer of rope wrapped on the drum