When it comes to installing a 12-volt electric winch, there used to be two schools of thought: buy the big-name brand that has stood the test of time, or buy cheap ’cause you can’t afford the real deal.
Well, that was yesterday. Step into the new age and you’ll find plenty of decent winches that perform as well or better than the big names, cost a little more than the ‘el cheapo’ brands, plus offer other features once available only to the deep-pocketed.
One of those features is synthetic rope, which in the past was more expensive than the total cost of some winches. Synthetic rope has many advantages over traditional steel cable, especially regarding safety, ease of use and weight.
I was in the market recently for a winch for my Troopy, so I searched the internet for bargains, and talked to sellers of branded and rebadged winches, users and general touring bodies. One name that kept coming up with rave reviews was Runva.
Now, before I go any further – yep, I know Runva winches are made in China, I know they cost far less than the premium-branded gear and, yep, on the surface they do look like many other ‘winch-in-a-box’ units.
So, like all potential buyers not wanting to hand over a wad of cash for a dud, I called the Australian Runva offices with a fistful of questions, some to which I already knew the answers. But I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth.
One unexpected fact, however, that helped me choose Runva, was that it’s a world-wide company; as in, there is Runva Australia, Runva USA, Runva Korea, Runva China and Runva Canada. This, in my mind, gives it more credit than a company that imports a container of winches, tents, barbecue plates and air compressors, and then whacks on a sticker before flogging them off without back-up services.
The Runva line-up includes hydraulic winches, industrial winches, lifting winches, ATV winches and, of course, 4x4 winches, from which there are plenty of different purpose-built models to choose.
Runva’s newly released 11XP 12V Premium, with 26.5m of 11mm Dyneema Rope, comes with attractive extras such as a 15,000lb-rated snatch block, wired and wireless remotes, black powdercoated aluminium hawse fairlead, a rated bow shackle and shackle thimble attached to the rope’s end, plus a neoprene winch body cover for applications where the winch is exposed to the elements.
The motor is a large 6.5hp model, plus, importantly, it is IP67-rated, meaning it’s totally guarded from dust ingress and protected from water ingress at down to one metre deep.
Being new to the market, the braking system is a variation of the standard system and features an automatic ratchet load-holding mechanism built in to the gearbox. The low gearing of 228:1, combined with the 6.5hp motor and three-stage, planetary, full-steel gear train grants a rated line pull of 11,000lb, and having a standard bolt pattern allowed straightforward fitting to my Opposite Lockwinch bar.
Another attractive inclusion is the sealed, waterproof 600Amp solenoid, which should provide many years of hassle-free use. On the safety side of things, I was particularly impressed with the inclusion of an override power-isolating switch and mounting bracket, which I’ve hidden under the bonnet so that no-one can operate the winch without a key.
To date, I haven’t used the Runva winch in anger to extract myself or anyone else, but a few things I’ve noted while mucking around in the backyard, trying to haul the kids across the paddock, is the slight delay in the wireless, handheld controller (which is similar to most others), compared with the instant control of the wired version.
The winch clutch is very easy to engage via the low-profile handle, fit and finish is perfect and, as hard as they tried, seven kids had no chance of holding back the 11,000 pounder!
Considering the Runva’s limited lifetime warranty, Australian-company back-up and online parts availability, I am confident the winch will be useful for a long time – now I’m off to go and get bogged.
Available from: www.runvawinch.com.au
We say: Price, motor size and specs are just right.