Winching is potentially dangerous and all innocent bystanders should be kept well away. Proper, well maintained winch cable must be used. This is nominally inelastic but can still whip about dangerously after a breakage. Never use a snatch strap with a winch. Wear stout gloves to protect your hands when handling winch cables.

Capstan Winch

The capstan winch is usually mounted at the front of a vehicle and driven from the engine's crank-shaft pulley by a dog-clutch and a short shaft. The example below is on a 1955 107" Land-Rover. If buying one of these winches second-hand try to make sure that it comes with the drive shaft and associated fittings.


A capstan winch is operated by taking a couple of turns of the rope (hemp or synthetic rope) around the capstan. The operator can make the winch pull-in, hold steady, or let-out by varying the tension on the tail of the rope. Two people are needed for recovery operations - one inside the vehicle and one to hold the tail of the rope. The winch can pull at any angle to the side which is often a great advantage.

A rare rear-mounted capstan winch, driven from the gearbox power take off (PTO), was made for series-1 Land-Rovers. A capstan winch was fitted to the foredeck (?) of all amphibious Jeeps.

An unusual type of self-tailing capstan winch was fitted to some 101 Land-Rovers - L. A11ison

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