What's the deal with Freespool?

July 27, 2017

What is Freespool?

Tiger Shark Freespool handleThe Freespool feature is just that:  It “frees” the “spool”.  In other words, it disconnects the drum containing the rope from the gearbox.   This is similar to putting your car’s transmission in neutral.

Freespool is used to pull out your winch hook and rope easily, to connect to a load to be pulled, or an anchor point to recover the vehicle.  While you could power the winch rope out with the winch motor, that usually takes longer, and over time can wear out your winch motor brushes more rapidly.  Using Freespool to manually pull the cable out reserves your motor for what it does best – Pulling in.

How do you use freespool?

The Freespool mechanism on the winch is typically a lever or a knob that is pulled or turned.   The winch will typically remain in Freespool mode until you move or turn the knob or lever back to its original position. 

Often, other terminology is used for Freespool.  For example, the gearbox is often referred to as being “engaged”, or “disengaged.”  If the gearbox is “disengaged”, the winch is in Freespool mode.

Safety is also important to mention when discussing Freespool.   If there is any load on the winch cable, you should never try to place the winch into Freespool mode.    Always be sure that there is zero load on the cable before reaching for the Freespool lever or knob.

After using the Freespool feature, and turning the lever or knob back to place the winch back into the gearbox “engaged” position, it may take another action to get the gearbox to engage.   The Freespool mechanism can consist of some type of pin that engages with a pocket of a gear, or a gear that is pulled sideways to release from a mating pocket.  When you place the winch back into the “engaged” position, it may take a short 1-2 second run of the motor, or a slight pull on the winch rope, to get the mechanism to align itself, and “latch” back into position.  Often this “latch” can be heard and/or seen by the movement of the freespool knob.  Practice using your particular winch will teach you how to properly use Freespool.

Different types of freespool

Superwinch uses a couple of different freespool concepts on its winches.  Our Powersports winches use a rotating end, allowing freespool to be used regardless of the angle the user is coming at it.  For winches that sit in harms way, pull and turn is frequently used (like on the Superwinch Talon and Tiger Shark) preventing accidental engagement.  For trailer winches, Superwinch built a freespool control lever that could be foot-actuated if mounted on the trailer deck.

Superwinch puts a great deal of though and consideration behind each component.