Warn 9500i Winch
Eventually I was going to get a winch.
Either after getting stuck real bad or coming upon a deal I couldn't
refuse. Only once could I have used a winch, and that was at
Paragon one chilly April day when I was high centered on a bolder
during a hill climb. It wasn't long after though that I found
a deal on a Warn 9500i. After a minor repair, I bought the
winch off of a friend and he bought a new one. The following
describes the installation on the very custom Project CJ-7,
including a custom fabricated mounting plate and the wiring of the
winch using some left over parts from an 12 volt APC backup power
supply. No, not like the one under your desk at work but
rather a monster UPS that contained 12 car batteries to supply power
to 10 Web servers for 5 to 6 hours of reserve power.
This winch spent the first several years of its life attached to
the front of a friend's 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser until one day
during some landscaping around his pond a bulldozer got stuck.
A few really hard tugs of the Warn 9500i winch started to move the
bulldozer but it was just too much and something snapped in the Warn
Winch. He made the decision to upgrade the Winch at that time
and I offered to buy this Warn Winch from him after the repairs were
made to it by a local shop. Turns out the damage was minor and
the broken part cost about $35. I'm not sure what it was that
snapped but it was probably a part meant to break before major
damage would occur. Kind of like a fuse or a cheap built in
Inspection, Cleaning, Painting
The used winch had spent its previous life outside in all kinds
of weather for years but surprisingly had little evidence of that
aside from a little fading of the paint and a minor amount of rust
around the bolts and on the spool. The cable that came with
the winch when it was new was never used, having been replace with a
Synthetic Winch Rope instead. The 4-Way Roller Fairlead was
also unused and in new condition.
|After a thorough inspection of the housing and a jumper cable
test to verify that the winch was working, it was time to clean it
up and touchup the paint where it was needed. A quick wipe
down of Simple Green got the layers of dirt off with a little help
of an old toothbrush in the motor cooling fins.
|I gave the spool a quick sandpaper scrub to get the rust off and
wire-brushed the rusted bolt heads. Using some gray-metal
Rustoleum and a paint brush, I touched out the housing up to a
like-new condition. The spool was sprayed with a gloss black.
I also painted the Roller Fairlead's bracket gloss black after
removing the rollers. After bringing the Winch up to a
like-new appearance, it was time to fabricate a mounting a plate.
Fabricating a Mounting Plate
I probably could have bought something aftermarket to mount the
winch but what fun would that be? Besides it's probable that
the outrigged front suspension hangers would have been in the way of
any aftermarket system for mounting a winch so I fabricated my own
design. The mounting plate was quite simple in design, yet
probably much stronger than anything I could have bought.
|I started with a flat plate of 1/4 inch steel
measuring 32 x 8 inches that when from frame rail to frame rail.
Bolt that held my bumper on at the top from the frame rail were
inverted so that the 4 1/2 Grade 8 bolts stuck up. I used longer
bolts so I had enough to work with.
|4 holes were drilled into the plate so the plate
could drop down onto the 4 bolts, which already had nuts on them.
The plate rests on these 4 nuts with 4 additional nuts and lock
washers holding the plate down. Unfortunately I don't have
pictures of it during the fabrication but the after pictures should
|With the plate drilled out for the 4 holes toward
the front out on the ends (see image to the right) the plate was
lowed onto the bolts and bolted down temporarily. The winch
was then lined up and measured to exactly where I wanted it and the
plate was marked. I took the winch and the plate off, then
flipped the winch over to make a template of the 4 bolt holes under
the winch. The template was the shape of the footprint of the
winch and had the holes cut out. So I could lay the template
on the plate and marked the holes. Then the holes were drilled
|Since the winch plate was only held onto the frame
by the 4 bolts and they were forward of the plate's center, I
needed a way to attached the rear of the plate to the frame.
The outrigged hangers were in the way of grabbing the frame
directly below, so I came up with a way to reach back to the bolt that
the sway bar hangers attached to. Using 1/4 x 2 1/2 inch steel
plates and a length of angle iron, I made a rear attach point that
used an existing bolt hole in the frame and replaced the swaybar's
bolt with a grade 8, slightly longer bolt, nut and lock washer.
|The angle iron was welded to the sections that
reach back to the bolt. The angle iron was then attached to
the plate by 4 grade 8 bolts. It took a few times of mounting
the plate, measuring, pulling off, then remounting to get it right
but ultimately it was a pretty effective way to use an exiting hole
in the frame and stiffen up the whole winch mount plate and securely
attach it to the frame with 4 1/2 inch grade 8 bolts and 2 7/16
grade 8 bolts towards the rear.
|Mounting the Roller Fairlead
For the roller
fairlead, I took two pieces of angle iron and cut them on angles to
taper them down towards the outer ends. This was mainly for visual effect.
Two 3/8 inch grade 8 bolts held each roller fairlead upright support
to the winch mounting plate.
|I also had to notch out for the outer
bolts coming up from the frame. The inner faces of the angles
were drilled out for the Roller fairlead.
Everything was bolted up together a final time for clearances and
to make sure everything was right. Then broken down again for
a paint job of gloss black.
Wiring the Winch
|With the paint finally dry after a few days, I bolted
everything up again with grade 8 hardware, then proceeded to
wire it up. Wiring the winch is pretty basic. You have
two heavy gauge wires, a red and black, that get run to the
|I ran these two heavy wires back along the passenger side,
under the grill and secured it atop the frame rail back to the
rear of the passenger wheel well.
|Where the wire ran up and around the corner of the
fender's lower edge, I put it inside of split wire loom or
automotive corrugated flex tubing as some call it. This
was to protect the wire from abrasion.
|Quick Disconnects and a Fuse
Recently I scrapped a massive APC Battery backup that would
supply 120 volts for computers. The power was stored in
12 volt car batteries, 12 batteries total with 4 in each unit.
The batteries were connected using these heavy gauge quick
disconnects and the 4-battery units themselves were
interconnected using even heavier gauge clips and wire.
I kept all of the clips and used a set of the heavier gauge
wires and clips.
|Fusing the Winch
There were also some serious fuses in each unit. 200 Amp
slow blow fuses. One is pictured to the right. I
checked out the specs of these fuses and found that they can
take a rather high amp draw for about 10 seconds before
tapering down to the rated 200 amp. I put one of these
in-line along the positive line, between the winch cable and
the quick disconnect cable. I've never seen anyone fuse
a winch before but I have everything else fused (except the
starter motor) so I though it might be a good idea in the case
of a dead short. I've used the winch several times so
far and the fuse is holding up.
One side of the quick disconnect I mounted to
the battery tray support. This gave me a fixed end to
yank the cable and disconnect the winch's power cable.
When it's not in use, it's stashed under the tray where it
hangs in the loop of the positive terminal cable.
If you have an Optima battery or any battery
with side terminals (flush on the side and used with a small
bolt or connection), it's recommended that a winch is NOT
connected to these smaller terminals. In most cases
they can not handle the full amperage draw of a winch. Use
of these small terminals can damage your battery and
potentially cause a fire.
|Where the winches cable connected to the quick disconnects
cable and where the other end of the quick disconnect cable
would attach to the battery I used heavy duty copper terminal
ends. The cable was dipped in flux, then soldered into
the cap of the terminal end.
|Where the terminal ends were to bolt together, I cleaned
then with sand paper and used a dielectric grease to keep the
ends from corroding.
The positive power cable from the winch was
bolted to the Buss 200a fuse. From the battery mounted
half of the quick disconnect was also bolted to the fuse.
I actually wrapped the fuse in electrical tape and slid a
short section of pipe over it and the ends of wire. This
was because I have no idea what would happen if the fuse blew.
It might go off like a fire cracker and I though it would be
better contained than wide open.
The negative end of the winch cable was bolted
to the quick disconnects negative side.
After all of the terminals were bolted
together, they were well wrapped with electrical tape to
prevent accidental grounding or contact with something.
|One last thing ... I had to relocate the air supply
coupling because the winch had to take up the space where the
coupling used to come up off of the back side of the front
bumper, which doubles as an air tank (along with the rear
tank). I just extended the line with 1/2 nylon tubing,
nylon NPT quick-disconnects an elbow and a short threaded
the Warn 9500i Winch
The Warn 9500i is an impressive winch. I
know this winch has seen plenty of use including a 2 hour
ordeal where a Jeep YJ with a blow motor had to be towed back
to camp. The only way back to camp included a long steep
hill. This winch not only pulled the incapacitated YJ
but also pulled a very heavy Toyota Land Cruiser up the hill
as it was trying to pull the YJ. The hill was slick and
the winch was doing most of the work in several long hard
pulls. It's also come in handy a few times for me
including once where I had to pull my old Toyota pickup truck,
now owned by a friend, out of a mud hole. It has a fast
line pull, yet has a high capacity. The broken part was
cheap, 35 bucks and the fact that a cheap part broke when it
was over loaded is a good thing. Overall, I'm very happy
with it and hope to see many years of long service with this