Andy Fielding of CTS Forestry & Arboriculture puts the PCW5000 portable winch to the test.

TO support our business needs, we recently had the opportunity to try out a portable winch to decide whether or not this was a piece of kit worth investing in. Having looked at the options available, we opted for the petrol-powered PCW5000 winch as the marketing information stated that it would be an asset for workers in the forestry industry. We put that statement to the test.

So, how portable is portable? The winch is made up of a Honda four-stroke GXH-50 cc engine, an aluminium alloy gearbox, capstan and attachment points. In total that lot weighs in at just 16 kg, so we consider the winch to be both compact and portable. We’ve been carrying it over some rough ground through the autumn and winter without any major problems. There is an optional carry case, which will take not only the winch but various accessories as well. This helps protect the winch in transit too.

Forestry Journal:

The winch has a pulling force of 1,000 kg and a pulling speed of 12 metres per minute. We’ve found this speed to be sufficient for directional felling, removing hung-up trees and the relatively short distances we’ve pulled timber. We could have opted for the High-Speed version, which will pull faster at 36 metres per minute but at a much reduced pulling force. On the outside they are the same machine except the standard 57 mm diameter capstan drum is replaced with an 85 mm drum on the High-Speed version. On the inside (the bit you cannot see), the gearing ratio is different.

One of the main advantages we found of choosing a capstan-type winch is that there is no limit to the length of rope used. Rope diameters of between 10 mm and 16 mm can be used but we opted for a 12 mm Stein Omega (double-braid polyester) rope as this is what is recommended in the specifications.

Another factor we looked at was the safety issue of wire rope versus synthetic rope in the event of a rope failure. Synthetic rope will not recoil in the same way that a wire rope will and, due to the rope exit guide, the operator (that’s me) never has to stand in line with the direction of pull and therefore is away from the recoil zone.

As standard, the winch came with a 2,000 kg two-metre polyester sling which is wrapped around a convenient tree and attached to the two anchor points located either side of the gear housing. There are optional extras available to enable the winch to be attached to the towbar of a vehicle or strapped directly onto a tree. We have used the towbar attachment, as this, in the right circumstances, can speed up the set-up time.

Forestry Journal:

Most of the work we’ve put the winch through is doing simple straight-line pulls, sometimes with a directional pulley to help with where we stand during felling, or as an aid to reduce friction by changing the angle of pull. We’ve also added pulleys to increase the mechanical advantage of the winch up to a maximum of five times or 5,000 kg pulling force.

So, the million-dollar question: was this a good investment? In one word, yes. But is this the right winch for you?

If weight is an issue, the lighter (9.5 kg) PCW3000 winch would be an asset, albeit at a reduced (700 kg) pulling force. If your carbon footprint is an issue the PCW3000 also comes in a lithium-ion battery-powered version, also weighing just 9.5 kg but with an increased pulling force of 1,000 kg. The choice is yours.