How to Clock Your Winch Motor or Gearbox

You may find your winch doesn't quite fit where you thought it would or that some component on your winch is in an inconvenient location.

The fix?

Clock your winch motor or gearbox.

It's not hard to do this. We'll take a quick look at how to do this easy job.

Table of Contents

There are a few reasons to clock either your winch's motor or its gear box:

  • Your winch doesn't quite fit your winch bumper with either the motor terminals or the clutch lever contacting the bumper or your rig.
  • Your clutch lever is inaccessible and would be better on the front or the back of the winch.
  • Your clutch lever or motor terminals and wiring are in an exposed, vulnerable location.

So:

You can easily fix any of these problems with a few tools.

Most winches have clockable components - it's usually just a matter of removing some bolts and spinning the component.

Things to Keep in Mind

When we talk about clocking, we're talking about leaving the winch feet where they are and rotating the motor, the gearbox, or both.

If you actually want to rotate where the feet mount, read about foot forward and foot down configurations first and make sure you can safely position your winch the way you want.

So there are a few things to think about while you're doing the work:

IP68 waterproofed winches need to be put together carefully to ensure that they stay waterproof.

IP67 waterproofed winches should also be put together carefully - note that they are less "waterproof" than IP68 rated winches.

Winches that aren't waterproof need to be able to drain water. You might be tempted to seal them up with a ton of silicone, but they need to vent, so don't. Do make sure that any gaskets are in good shape.

Disconnect winch wiring from your battery! You don't want to accidentally short the winch motor's terminals.

Give some thought to shooting some marine grease in the gearbox. Some budget winches have a reputation for having very little grease in the gear casing on delivery.


How Much Can You Clock?

The amount you can clock is generally governed by the bolt holes that mount the motor or the gearbox.

  • For most 4x4 winches you can rotate the motor in 90 degree increments.
  • For most 4x4 winches you can rotate the gearbox in 36 degree increments.

How to Clock a Winch Motor

How to Clock a Winch Motor - 1

To start, you want to remove the winch motor's flange bolts. Usually, there are 4, and you can see them at the base of the motor. (The drawing doesn't show these bolts.)

Next, remove the 2 long bolts that hold the motor's end cap in place. You can't spin the motor without removing these.

How to Clock a Winch Motor - 2

Next, slide the motor out. You only have to move it out about 1/4" or so, enough to clear some parts.

Then, rotate the motor. Most motors will rotate in increments of 90 degrees, based on the bolt pattern.

How to Clock a Winch Motor - 3

Slide the motor back in. It should be fairly easy. If you have to force it, jimmy it back and forth a little while pushing in.

How to Clock a Winch Motor - 4

Now you can reinstall the long motor cap bolts. You shouldn't tighten these completely until you have the flange bolts installed.

So, next install the flange bolts.

Tighten everything down and you're done!

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox

Clocking a gearbox is usually a little more complicated than clocking a motor - there's often more hardware to take apart.

Some winches have a more simply attached gearbox that attaches and clocks like a winch motor. If your winch's gearbox has flange mounts on the drum like a winch motor, you can basically follow the motor procedure above.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 1

Your winch will have either tie rods or maybe some other bracket that strings the drum supports together at the top (your bumper provides the other support at the feet).

Detach the tie rods/bracket from the gearbox drum support.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 2

Pull the gearbox and drum support plate completely off the driveshaft.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 3

When you clock a gearbox, you're actually clocking the gearbox relative to the gearbox-side drum support plate.

So:

Unbolt the drum support plate from the gearbox. There are usually about 10 bolts.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 4

This is where the magic happens!

Note the position of the gearbox relative to the feet on the drum support plate. Drums with 10 bolts can be rotated in increments of 36 degrees.

If you want to know your increment angles, count the number of bolts that you removed in the previous step. Divide 360 by that number. If you had 4 bolts, you could rotate the drum by 90 degrees.

You may want to test fit your assembly to make sure the clutch handle is where you want it.

When you're ready, rotate the gearbox and refit the drum support plate back onto the gearbox.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 5

Install the gearbox to drum support plate bolts.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 6

Slide the gearbox back onto the driveshaft. If things look dry, you may want to lightly grease the driveshaft.

How to Clock a Winch Gearbox - 7

Install the tie rod or bracket bolts.

And you're done!

Make sure that when you reinstall your winch that you properly torque the hardware.

Last updated: Feb 2019