How To: Winch Installation

How To, Utility ATV — on June 7, 2010 at 9:44 am

Maybe it’s a feeling of pride or just accomplishment, but there’s nothing better than finishing a quality project by yourself that you know is done right. Two years ago I bought my first house and I have been renovating it ever since. Sure, doing the remodeling by myself saves money, but that’s not why I do it. I’m a tinkerer by nature, take pride in my work and spending money on my tool collection is almost a full-time hobby. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my house projects is to heed my father’s advice: “Son, measure twice, cut once.”

How To: Install A Winch

How To: Install A Winch

With his words echoing through my head — just as they do before almost every project — I started plotting where all the Ramsey winch components would get installed on our Honda Foreman 500 ES Power Steering ATV. For this particular Ramsey Winch ATV 3000 install, we chose the Honda Foreman due to its high complication level. Many new ATVs now come pre-wired and ready to accept a winch accessory so not all steps or tips will apply to those models. A winch install can be a very mind-numbing experience filled with a little frustration and maybe a few muttered cuss words under your breath. But, if you are diligent, organized and measure twice in the prep stages, it will save you time over the course of the install.
Step 1
Dedicate a block of time for the project longer than you think it will take. Rushing to finish it two hours before leaving for a ride is not recommended. We set aside three hours for our Honda. Have a clean working space before starting the install. Have an area set aside on your shop work bench or garage floor to organize all the winch components and parts before starting. Also, have a separate spot to set all the machine’s stock bolts and parts.
Step 2
Read the installation instructions. Yes, we are serious. We know it’s a man’s nature to toss the instruction manual in the garbage and give it a go by yourself, but that usually ends in a poor and unprofessional result. Ramsey Winch provided machine generic instructions that were very good and we referred to them often.
Step 3
With the winch components organized within your workspace, locate the remote receiver, toggle switch, solenoid assembly and antenna. This will be one of the biggest time-saving steps. For a professional-looking job, we found a convenient and rigid location for the solenoid, remote receiver and antenna all under the Honda’s front cowl access panel. This put all the components’ wiring within reach of each other — alterations to wire lengths must be avoided — and provided the most-protected location from the elements.
Keep in mind the receiver must be grounded when choosing your location. Ramsey’s receiver came with a ground wire only three inches long and made choosing a location difficult. If your winch model comes with an antenna, it must be located at least 10 inches from the winch motor or battery leads for reception. Also, a coax cable leading from the receiver must be within reach of the antenna.
Ramsey’s toggle isn’t a handlebar-mounted switch like many other winch companies offer, so a location on the plastic needs to be determined. We found a convenient location under the handlebars within easy reach of our left hand from a seated position — important when operating plows or implements with the winch. When marking this location, ensure the handlebars won’t make contact with the switch when turned full left or full right.
Step 4
Begin removing necessary hardware from your ATV. For our Honda Foreman install, we removed the skid plate, front fascia, front rack, and left side plastic. Keep all plastic rivet fasteners and bolts with respective parts to save time after the winch install. Refer to your machine’s owner manual if you are unsure of what parts to remove — many new ATV manuals call out winch pre-wired locations and mounting points and will aid in what parts to remove.
Step 5
With the front of the ATV exposed, it’s time to loosely install the mounting plate. For the Honda Foreman, space was very tight for the Ramsey ATV 3000 winch. The two-plate system uses U-bolts to connect it to the chassis. Each plate required two U-bolts. We finger tightened the mounting plates to allow for adjustments based on space allotment. With the plates in place, we set the winch — with motor lead wires attached — on the top plate and found we needed more room for the motor lead wires due to frame rails. To compensate, we slid the mounting plates down the chassis — as far as possible in this case — and this left just enough breathing room for the motor leads and wires. We then tightened the mounting plates in place. Two bolts go directly through the two plates and up into the winch. Finally, two bolts were inserted through the back plate and winch, securing the winch and assembly. Now, disengage the winch clutch to prevent accidental winch engagement.
Step 6
Based off your predetermined mounting location, install the toggle switch. Use a half-inch drill bit and drill out a hole for the switch. With the switch fit in place, ensure the center spade is aligned properly front to back and tighten the nut. Place the directional plate over the switch and secure using the knurled nut. The green wire will connect to the OUT position, yellow to IN and red to center. Keep this in mind when installing the directional plate. We mounted the switch so wire spools out when we pull the switch toward the rider and spools in when we push the switch.
Step 7
Install the receiver to the location previously determined. Our Ramsey receiver came with a very short ground wire, making installation challenging on the Honda, which has many plastic parts. Altering the length of the ground is not possible, unfortunately, as it would ultimately affect the remote’s performance. Once we had the receiver in location and ground connected, we secured the receiver via self-tapping screws we had on hand to a rigid, plastic shroud on the right-front near the radiator. Ramsey’s instructions say to use cable ties provided, but we opted to go with a more rigid securement with the screws. This required us to drill pilot holes for each screw.
Step 8
Now it’s time to install the solenoid. We found a location inside the front cowl access panel during Step 3 that was very convenient for wiring. The solenoid location was in the front portion of the access panel farthest from the rider, which put all solenoid terminals facing the receiver and battery leads, and motor leads from the winch were just below the solenoid. This location also makes it convenient for cleaning and servicing the solenoid when necessary. To attach the solenoid, Ramsey suggests tube clamps, but they were not big enough to clamp around our Honda’s chassis rails. Once again we used the plastic covering inside the access panel to house the solenoid and we used two bolts to secure it.
Step 9
Next we mounted the antenna, which secured to the underside of the bodywork inside the front cowl access panel closest to the rider. Before installing the antenna, clean the plastic and buff dry. Ramsey says the best place to mount the antenna will be the underside of the ATV cowling in the highest possible position. Remove the backing from the double-stick tape on the PC board, peel back a half-inch section of tape from both copper strips and affix them to each respective terminal side. Now affix the PC board to the underside mounting location and then slowly peel back the tape on the copper strips as you adhere them to the underside plastic following the contours. Finally, attach the coax cable from the receiver to the antenna.
Step 10
Connect the black and black/yellow motor leads to the solenoid. Then, run the battery cable wires provided to the battery and install black to negative and leave red unconnected — this prevents accidental winch engagement during install. On our Honda, we ran the battery leads down the frame rail and secured them with cable ties. We cable tied the excess wire together near the battery as space was available. Finally, we connected the battery leads to the solenoid to the proper terminals as labeled in the instruction manual.
Step 11
Now it’s time to connect the wiring harness to the receiver. Snap the male end into the receiver plug and be prepared to start fishing wires. Run the yellow, red and green wires together toward the toggle switch. With our Honda’s left plastic removed, we were able to easily fish the wires to the toggle under the front plastic. Connect the red wire to the center spade, green to the OUT position and yellow to IN. Now, plug each remaining yellow and green connection to the proper solenoid location. From the wiring harness, a red/white wire remains. This wire is either spliced or connected to the accessory wire running from your machine’s ignition.
Many new ATVs have accessory plugs one can connect the red/white wire to. Ramsey’s red/white wire has both a female and male connector. Unfortunately, the Honda Foreman 500 doesn’t have an accessory wire plug-in location, so we had to splice into the accessory wire running from the ignition. Ramsey provides the splice. This is an important step if you want the winch to only run when the machine’s key is in the ON position. Running a winch “hot,” meaning it can always access the battery’s power regardless of the machine being on or off, can drain a battery without the user knowing how much power is left. The accessory wire ensures you are running the machine while running the winch, which prevents battery drainage and accidental winch engagement.
Step 12
Install the roller fairlead to the mounting plate,  pull out two feet of cable and pull it between the rollers. Now install the hook on the cable loop.
Step 13
Start gathering all of your neatly organized stock ATV parts and re-install them. For our Honda Foreman, it was necessary to trim the bottom portion of the plastic front fascia to compensate for the roller fairlead.
Step 14
With all of your ATV’s stock components installed and winch installation complete, connect the positive power lead from the solenoid to the battery. Pull approximately 20 feet of cable from the winch and engage the winch clutch. Test the remote transmitter. To turn the remote on, one must hold the on/off button in for two seconds. Run the winch out briefly and make sure it has stopped fully before running the cable back in. Ramsey says this prevents premature solenoid failure.
Step 15
Sit back and admire a job well done. Grunt a few times, forget about the few frustrating install moments you just had and go get stuck in the mud. Recover your ATV with the winch and grunt some more.
Maybe it’s a feeling of pride or just accomplishment, but there’s nothing better than finishing a quality project by yourself that you know is done right. Two years ago I bought my first house and I have been renovating it ever since. Sure, doing the remodeling by myself saves money, but that’s not why I do it. I’m a tinkerer by nature, take pride in my work and spending money on my tool collection is almost a full-time hobby. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my house projects is to heed my father’s advice: “Son, measure twice, cut once.”
With his words echoing through my head — just as they do before almost every project — I started plotting where all the Ramsey winch components would get installed on our Honda Foreman 500 ES Power Steering ATV. For this particular Ramsey Winch ATV 3000 install, we chose the Honda Foreman due to its high complication level. Many new ATVs now come pre-wired and ready to accept a winch accessory so not all steps or tips will apply to those models. A winch install can be a very mind-numbing experience filled with a little frustration and maybe a few muttered cuss words under your breath. But, if you are diligent, organized and measure twice in the prep stages, it will save you time over the course of the install.

Step 1: For easier wiring, we removed the Honda’s left side plastic.

Step 1: For easier wiring, we removed the Honda’s left side plastic.

Step 1

Dedicate a block of time for the project longer than you think it will take. Rushing to finish it two hours before leaving for a ride is not recommended. We set aside three hours for our Honda. Have a clean working space before starting the install. Have an area set aside on your shop work bench or garage floor to organize all the winch components and parts before starting. Also, have a separate spot to set all the machine’s stock bolts and parts.

Step 2

Read the installation instructions. Yes, we are serious. We know it’s a man’s nature to toss the instruction manual in the garbage and give it a go by yourself, but that usually ends in a poor and unprofessional result. Ramsey Winch provided machine generic instructions that were very good and we referred to them often.

Step 2: This winch install required us to remove several stock components, including the skid plate.

This winch install required us to remove several stock components, including the skid plate.

Step 3

With the winch components organized within your workspace, locate the remote receiver, toggle switch, solenoid assembly and antenna. This will be one of the biggest time-saving steps. For a professional-looking job, we found a convenient and rigid location for the solenoid, remote receiver and antenna all under the Honda’s front cowl access panel. This put all the components’ wiring within reach of each other — alterations to wire lengths must be avoided — and provided the most-protected location from the elements.
Keep in mind the receiver must be grounded when choosing your location. Ramsey’s receiver came with a ground wire only three inches long and made choosing a location difficult. If your winch model comes with an antenna, it must be located at least 10 inches from the winch motor or battery leads for reception. Also, a coax cable leading from the receiver must be within reach of the antenna.
Ramsey’s toggle isn’t a handlebar-mounted switch like many other winch companies offer, so a location on the plastic needs to be determined. We found a convenient location under the handlebars within easy reach of our left hand from a seated position — important when operating plows or implements with the winch. When marking this location, ensure the handlebars won’t make contact with the switch when turned full left or full right.

For working room around the access panel, we decided to remove the front rack as well.

For working room around the access panel, we decided to remove the front rack as well.

Step 4

Begin removing necessary hardware from your ATV. For our Honda Foreman install, we removed the skid plate, front fascia, front rack, and left side plastic. Keep all plastic rivet fasteners and bolts with respective parts to save time after the winch install. Refer to your machine’s owner manual if you are unsure of what parts to remove — many new ATV manuals call out winch pre-wired locations and mounting points and will aid in what parts to remove.

Mounting Plate

Mounting Plate

Step 5

With the front of the ATV exposed, it’s time to loosely install the mounting plate. For the Honda Foreman, space was very tight for the Ramsey ATV 3000 winch. The two-plate system uses U-bolts to connect it to the chassis. Each plate required two U-bolts. We finger tightened the mounting plates to allow for adjustments based on space allotment. With the plates in place, we set the winch — with motor lead wires attached — on the top plate and found we needed more room for the motor lead wires due to frame rails. To compensate, we slid the mounting plates down the chassis — as far as possible in this case — and this left just enough breathing room for the motor leads and wires. We then tightened the mounting plates in place. Two bolts go directly through the two plates and up into the winch. Finally, two bolts were inserted through the back plate and winch, securing the winch and assembly. Now, disengage the winch clutch to prevent accidental winch engagement.

Use a half-inch drill bit and drill out a hole for the switch.

Use a half-inch drill bit and drill out a hole for the switch.

Step 6

Based off your predetermined mounting location, install the toggle switch. Use a half-inch drill bit and drill out a hole for the switch. With the switch fit in place, ensure the center spade is aligned properly front to back and tighten the nut. Place the directional plate over the switch and secure using the knurled nut. The green wire will connect to the OUT position, yellow to IN and red to center. Keep this in mind when installing the directional plate. We mounted the switch so wire spools out when we pull the switch toward the rider and spools in when we push the switch.

Installing the ground wire.

Installing the ground wire.

Step 7

Install the receiver to the location previously determined. Our Ramsey receiver came with a very short ground wire, making installation challenging on the Honda, which has many plastic parts. Altering the length of the ground is not possible, unfortunately, as it would ultimately affect the remote’s performance. Once we had the receiver in location and ground connected, we secured the receiver via self-tapping screws we had on hand to a rigid, plastic shroud on the right-front near the radiator. Ramsey’s instructions say to use cable ties provided, but we opted to go with a more rigid securement with the screws. This required us to drill pilot holes for each screw.

Step 8

Now it’s time to install the solenoid. We found a location inside the front cowl access panel during Step 3 that was very convenient for wiring. The solenoid location was in the front portion of the access panel farthest from the rider, which put all solenoid terminals facing the receiver and battery leads, and motor leads from the winch were just below the solenoid. This location also makes it convenient for cleaning and servicing the solenoid when necessary. To attach the solenoid, Ramsey suggests tube clamps, but they were not big enough to clamp around our Honda’s chassis rails. Once again we used the plastic covering inside the access panel to house the solenoid and we used two bolts to secure it.

Next we mounted the antenna.

Next we mounted the antenna.

Step 9

Next we mounted the antenna, which secured to the underside of the bodywork inside the front cowl access panel closest to the rider. Before installing the antenna, clean the plastic and buff dry. Ramsey says the best place to mount the antenna will be the underside of the ATV cowling in the highest possible position. Remove the backing from the double-stick tape on the PC board, peel back a half-inch section of tape from both copper strips and affix them to each respective terminal side. Now affix the PC board to the underside mounting location and then slowly peel back the tape on the copper strips as you adhere them to the underside plastic following the contours. Finally, attach the coax cable from the receiver to the antenna.

Don’t save this step for last. Ensure your ATV’s mounting plate setup has enough room for winch motor leads early on in the process.

Don’t save this step for last. Ensure your ATV’s mounting plate setup has enough room for winch motor leads early on in the process.

Step 10

Connect the black and black/yellow motor leads to the solenoid. Then, run the battery cable wires provided to the battery and install black to negative and leave red unconnected — this prevents accidental winch engagement during install. On our Honda, we ran the battery leads down the frame rail and secured them with cable ties. We cable tied the excess wire together near the battery as space was available. Finally, we connected the battery leads to the solenoid to the proper terminals as labeled in the instruction manual.

Now it’s time to connect the wiring harness to the receiver.

Now it’s time to connect the wiring harness to the receiver.

Step 11

Now it’s time to connect the wiring harness to the receiver. Snap the male end into the receiver plug and be prepared to start fishing wires. Run the yellow, red and green wires together toward the toggle switch. With our Honda’s left plastic removed, we were able to easily fish the wires to the toggle under the front plastic. Connect the red wire to the center spade, green to the OUT position and yellow to IN. Now, plug each remaining yellow and green connection to the proper solenoid location. From the wiring harness, a red/white wire remains. This wire is either spliced or connected to the accessory wire running from your machine’s ignition.
Many new ATVs have accessory plugs one can connect the red/white wire to. Ramsey’s red/white wire has both a female and male connector. Unfortunately, the Honda Foreman 500 doesn’t have an accessory wire plug-in location, so we had to splice into the accessory wire running from the ignition. Ramsey provides the splice. This is an important step if you want the winch to only run when the machine’s key is in the ON position. Running a winch “hot,” meaning it can always access the battery’s power regardless of the machine being on or off, can drain a battery without the user knowing how much power is left. The accessory wire ensures you are running the machine while running the winch, which prevents battery drainage and accidental winch engagement.

Step 12

Install the roller fairlead to the mounting plate,  pull out two feet of cable and pull it between the rollers. Now install the hook on the cable loop.

Step 13

Start gathering all of your neatly organized stock ATV parts and re-install them. For our Honda Foreman, it was necessary to trim the bottom portion of the plastic front fascia to compensate for the roller fairlead.

Step 14

With all of your ATV’s stock components installed and winch installation complete, connect the positive power lead from the solenoid to the battery. Pull approximately 20 feet of cable from the winch and engage the winch clutch. Test the remote transmitter. To turn the remote on, one must hold the on/off button in for two seconds. Run the winch out briefly and make sure it has stopped fully before running the cable back in. Ramsey says this prevents premature solenoid failure.

Now it's time to go out and start winching.

Now it's time to go out and start winching.

Step 15

Sit back and admire a job well done. Grunt a few times, forget about the few frustrating install moments you just had and go get stuck in the mud. Recover your ATV with the winch and grunt some more.

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