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Series Land Rovers, Options

Series Land Rovers, Options, Capstan Winches - General Info

The Land-Rover capstan winch has a 8 or 10 sided drum and was designed for laid rope, not multiplait (multiplait should be used on a smooth drum). Manilla (a sort of grass) is best for hauling since it will stretch before breaking unlike hemp (growing banned most places, makes excellent rope etc.). Generally synthetic ropes should not be used with a powered capstan since the heat generated whilst it is slipping can melt the rope and damage it. The ONLY disadvantage if the winch is that the engine must be running to use it.

The advantages to a capstan:
  • Light weight. Quite easy to use. 100% Reliable, works under water or mud. Direct drive, no drain on the electrical system. Precise control of the load and line speed - in or out. It's a working winch - you can use it all day long.
  • You can use it to cook (see below).
The disadvantages:
  • Difficult to use if rope is wet or frozen. Of course, if the engine is dead, you're *stuck*. Must be engaged with the engine stationary, though it can be disengaged while running.
  • Line pull limited to 3,000# on some versions, though this can be almost doubled with a snatch block.

One capstan winch on a 1955 series 1 for a while was a Aeroparts device; I don't know if the shear pins are in the same place on the Fairey device which is more common. There are two shear pins on mine; one is part of the drive shaft to the winch from the starter dog, one is part of the capstan itself. The first one is the weakest one of the two; it is something like a 1/4inch diameter brass pin with the diameter reduced to about half that at each end. They are not too difficult to replace, so long as you get the outer and inner parts of the shaft (which the pins connect to operate the winch) lined up, and so long as you can get at the underneath of the winch (ie just in front of the front chassis cross member). I found it helpful to line up the holes using a steel version of the shear pin which I made up. If you make such a pin, it will also allow you to hand crank the engine without risking breaking the shear pin; it should not be used for winching of course :-)Sheer Pins: You should be able to quite happily winch 1.5 ton objects (guess which) up steep 1:2 or 1:1 slopes, with a thick nylon rope. The only times I broke a shear pin was either hand cranking before I made the steel pin, or when attempting to bash the pin in before the holes were lined up. The Fairey capstan winch, if used with a steel shear pin has a load capacity of 10 000 Pounds!


Take 3 turns upwards round the capstan and tail the rope from the side, far enough away in case anything lets go. When in use with proper rope, you will find that the the turning of the drum as you tail the winch will cause the turns of rope to ride up. The further up the drum the rope goes, the steeper the taper becomes, so the top turns of rope bind tighter onto the lower ones. This reduces the force you need to put in tailing. Most capstans on ships have a limit to the torque they can generate, either because of the motor power if electric or steam, or a pressure relief if hydraulic. The Land-Rover one has, as far as I can remember, a shear pin. Rather terminal!

One person wrote: "I did find it rather tricky to operate the winch. It was very easy to melt the rope, easy to get one turn overrunning another and virtually impossible to slip the rope on the capstan when loaded. All this may well have been due to my incompetence, so I don't know whether it is generic to that kind of winch. The rather flimsy nature of the engage mechanism on the Aeroparts winch was also a bit of a problem. All this led to some quite exciting moments, but that may not be what you had in mind :-)"



Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified March 15, 2005.
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