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Old 03-07-2019, 07:44 PM   #21
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: GA
Posts: 611
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Amtran RE
Chassis: International 3000
Engine: T444e 7.3L
Originally Posted by matthews2001 View Post
I am taking my (newly acquired) 2001 Thomas shorty across Canada (live in Vermont) this summer to Alaska and plan to do a bunch of boondocking.

I am thinking of buying 2 13,000 winchs. They look cheap (300-500 each) and would only be used a few times if at all(so I am not as concerned about quality/longevity) . Little mental insurance...

Anybody know how well this might work out, say muddy dirt road on the flat, tires just spinning. Would 2 winches be super effective and a TIME saver? I will bring 200 feet of cable too... I wont be TOO daring/offroad but I could see a couple mud holes.
It depends where and how you get stuck. A lot of Alaska is muskeg. Basically, there is a layer of permafrost 6 inches or 6 feet under the surface preventing water from draining away in large parts of the state. It looks like solid ground, but it turns to swamp when you drive across it. You won't find a rock or big tree in permafrost areas, but 200 feet of cable might hook up to a vehicle parked on solid ground. Also be aware that most of the state has no cell service, and the nearest tow truck or spare tire might be 3 or more hours away (if you can get word to him).

In short, don't take unnecessary risks. I really want a wench too, but some other items (GPS beacon, tire changing equipment, spare fluids and parts) were a little higher on the priority list.

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Old 03-07-2019, 09:44 PM   #22
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Foot of the siskiyou mountains Oregon.
Posts: 222
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas / international
Chassis: International
Engine: Dt 360/ spicer 5 speed
Rated Cap: 42
Just for reference..I once pulled my friends bus several hundred feet up out of a muddy field with the 12,000 lb warn winch on my Dodge. I used two snatch blocks, several chains and cables, and had it anchored to a tree with a third block just to change pull direction. Had to reset the mix-up several times, but the 12k did fine.
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Old 03-09-2019, 08:36 AM   #23
matthews2001's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Southern VT
Posts: 154
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Bus
Chassis: Allison MD 3060
Engine: Catepillar 3126B 210hp/605 ft lb
I am surprized more skoolies dont get stuck (as evidenced by poor replies to this post). I am heading to Alaska this summer and have the Good Sam Club premium including tire damage replacement. I figured $600 or $700 for two (poor quality) winches could save me a day waiting for a tow truck in a no cell coverage area.

I live on a dirt road in Vermont and in the past my big old wagon would get stuck. I wouldn't try to drive outta here (VT) in the bus during mud season.

Just wondering if a winch 12,000 lbs, one or two, would be useful. Or so few rarely get stuck that its irrelevant (this is my first bus, and first trip on a lot of dirt roads (I assume).
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Old 03-09-2019, 11:14 AM   #24
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: GA
Posts: 611
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Amtran RE
Chassis: International 3000
Engine: T444e 7.3L
A wench could be very useful - if you get stuck, you'll reduce your chances of being stuck for a long time. You'll probably still need help though, because the only way you are likely to anchor it is to another vehicle (with a lot of cable). If you find a local, they will almost certainly stop to help for as long as it takes, no matter how many hours that is.

Just bear in mind a couple things:
1. If you get stuck in muskeg, you'll need something very heavy duty to get out - a regular tow truck is probably not even going to be enough. Muskeg can be hard to spot, so be very careful.
2. If you go too far off the beaten path, finding anyone to help may be a challenge. Outside of Anchorage (300k), Fairbanks (31k), and Juneau (30k), and Wasilla (11k), there are only about 20 towns with more than 1000 people. This is in a state 1/3 the size of the rest of the country (bigger than Texas AND California AND Montana combined).
3. There are far fewer places to get off the highway than I thought. There are stretches of 100 miles with no dirt turnoffs. When you find a turnoff, it will likely become impassible to any vehicles within 2-3 miles. That said, our best adventures involve exploring these areas.

If you plan to get off the highway in Alaska, I recommend something like this:
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