Warn 8274 Winch Rebuild

Last fall the winch on my 1992 F250 wasn’t working well at all. The brake was totally shot and the winch lacked power and sometimes it wouldn’t spin, even with no load. I decided it was time to take it apart, see what was going on and generally fix up whatever the issues were.

using the winch to tension a new fence

Luckily, the winch is a model 8274 which has become a sought-after classic Warn winch as it is an excellent design and outperforms many modern winches. Consequently, all manner of parts and upgrades are available for these winches. (funny thing is I had bought one of these 8274 winches brand new for my first 4×4 (a ’72 F250) in 1980 and then bought a used one as soon as I bought my ’73 Bronco in 1982. I’ve only owned 3 winches in my life and all 3 were Warn 8274s.

When I took it apart one of the first things I noticed was that over the years (the winch is about 40 years old and I have no idea when it was last apart) the oil had been contaminated with water.

Also it had the ‘old’ puck style brake that I think they only used in the early years of 8274 production.

The metal brake components were all oily/dirty and the ‘pucks’ were worn and oil soaked so no wonder the brake didn’t work at all. I ended up sand blasting and painting the metal brake parts (except obviously I didn’t paint the surfaces that go against the brake pads).

I bought a winch rebuild kit (bearing, seals, brake pads, etc) made by a British company called Gigglepin from a place in the states called Jason Beard Adventure Gear. The Gigglepin brake pads appear to be much better than the Warn factory replacement pads – far greater surface area and thicker too).

Brake parts cleaned, painted and ready for reassembly (motor housing too).
Notice the nice new brake pads – right rear of photo.

The brake assembly was difficult to disassemble. I don’t think I would have been able to get the brake disk off the shaft if I didn’t have a hydraulic press, that thing was on there super tight!

The motor commutator bars were dirty so I gave them a quick clean with emory cloth. The only other thing I did to the motor was clean and paint the housing and vacuum out the inside, the brushes looked fine.

I also decided to replace the old solenoid pack with a more modern solenoid contactor relay, that was a factory Warn part, although I believe made by Albright. I think it was the old solenoids that were causing the main problem of a lack of power – due to poor electrical connections.

Old solenoid pack on left, newer totally different relay on right

Unfortunately, the solenoid contactor relay is somewhat thicker than the old solenoid pack so the plastic cover wouldn’t fit on anymore. I ended up making a little adaptor thing out of a piece of sheet metal (wrapped with electrical tape) to space the plastic cover out enough so it could clear the relay.

The winch is now back on the truck. It seems to run fine (I temporarily wired it to the battery to wind on the cable) but I still need to buy some wire for new power and ground cables. One thing I should have done differently was to weld a bolt to the motor housing to make a good place to connect the ground cable to.

I’ll post an update here once the new power and ground wires are in place and I have tested the winch properly. One other thing to note: the plastic cover on this winch is from a newer model of Warn 8274 as when I bought this winch about 10 years ago the plastic cover that came with it was totally smashed so I got this one from Craigslist.

UPDATE: I installed new cables from the battery to the winch (only 4 gauge but that should be fine) and then I rewound the cable onto the winch but this time under tension. When I first put the winch back on the truck I had just put the cable on the winch drum loosely and it isn’t a good plan to leave it like that as if you then put a big load on the cable the outer wraps on the drum can get forced down toward the drum between loose inner wraps and it can really make a mess of the cable. To do this I spooled out all the cable and then hooked it to our little car and dragged that up the driveway (car in neutral so just against gravity) as I carefully moved the cable side to side to try and make sure each layer of wraps on the drum had no gaps. The winch seems to be working perfectly now! 🙂

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1999 Pathfinder Exhaust

Our oldest daughter is 16 now and she has her own vehicle. It is a ’99 Pathfinder and is in pretty good shape overall. It is certainly a much nicer car than my first vehicle, a ’66 Datsun 411, was.

When she bought it the tailpipe/resonator assembly was missing so if one sat parked with the engine running there was a risk of exhaust gasses entering the vehicle.

As it turned out the pipe coming out of the muffler was rusted off, necessitating replacing the muffler and related pipes too.

It looked like a reasonably easy job and Midas wanted about $1500 to do it so I bought the required parts from rockauto.com. Only 4 bolts needed to be removed (cut off as they were far too rusty to undo) and all the hangers were those rubber type that are super easy to deal with.

Of course, as usual things don’t end up being as easy as it first appeared they would be: the bolts were actually pressed in studs that I ended up needing to partly drill out and then blow out with a torch (luckily my next-door neighbour has an oxy-acetylene torch I was able to borrow). Once I figured out they were pressed-in splined studs and finally got the first one out it wasn’t such a bad job but before I got that first one out I was remembering why I don’t generally do exhaust work. (for many years I did all my own automotive work with a few exceptions, one of which was exhaust work)

At some point as I was wondering what would be the best tool to get what was left of the stud out of the hole (before I borrowed the torch) the thought occurred to me that maybe a shotgun would be best option. At that point it also occurred to me that likely it was time to take a break from that job and leave it for another day. 🙂

(finally, the first stud out, second one drilled partly out…)

(what was left of one of the exhaust studs after I finally got the splined part out – not too much chance that nut was going to unscrew off that rather rusted bolt)

All in all, it wasn’t a terrible job to do (if I had a shop and a hoist it wouldn’t have been bad at all) and it saved my daughter about $800 so it was worth the effort.

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Cool vehicle seen at ferry terminal:

1971 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Six Pack, 4 speed convertible, apparently completely stock.

The guy had just bought it from somewhere in the maritimes, He had picked it up in the lower mainland after it arrived there by train and was driving back to his home on Vancouver Island. Pretty sure this is the coolest vehicle I have ever seen in a ferry lineup. Quite often my syncro westy (partly visible, way in the background) is the coolest vehicle in the lineup (IMHO) but not this day.

PS – decided to post this after seeing this post from AB: https://shufti.blog/2022/06/03/vanagon-rare-pairing/

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F-250 as logging truck

Testing the limits of the rack….
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Summer Camping Trip August 2021

Fortunately we managed to fit a camping trip into family schedules that were tighter than in previous years and between forest fire road closures. We had decided to go to the Chilcotin area of our beautiful province, an area our girls had never been to, but my wife and I had seen a bit of when we traveled to Bella Coola in our very first westy trip in 2004. The main focuses of our trip were to go horseback riding near the incredibly beautiful Tatlayoko Lake and visit an acquaintance who lives in a remote spot on the shores of Chilko Lake.

We decided to head to the interior via Pemberton/Lillooet although we knew it was unlikely we would be able to take the Kelly Lake Road from Pavilion to Clinton so we would need to take the long route on more main roads over to highway 97.

Pemberton Meadows – the road to the Hurley Pass Road

We spent an hour or two checking out Pemberton Meadows: what a beautiful valley that is. Then we decided to go to Lillooet via the Hurley River Road but it was a super-hot day and after maybe 3 or 4 miles of dusty, bumpy gravel road we decided to take that route on some future trip when it wasn’t so hot out (sweat and dust aren’t the greatest combination).

On ‘the Duffey – getting close to Lillooet

I’ll never tire of the scenery on the Duffey Lake Road, it is so gorgeous up there.

Just north-east of Lillooet – that is smoke!

Just north/east of Lillooet we knew we would be going by the McKay Creek fire but what we didn’t realize was that we would be able to see huge flames up on a distant ridge. The flames appeared to be 50 or 60 feet tall but only right at the top of the ridge. The side of the ridge we were looking at wasn’t on fire at all but the other side must have been totally engulfed and the smoke covered ½ the sky. We got away from the smokey smell by somewhere not too far north of Clinton and that was the last smoke we smelled for the rest of the trip.

Camping at Tatlayoko Lake

We stayed at Lac La Hache that night and the next day spent a bit of time in the Williams Lake Visitor Info Centre (which is like a very interesting museum with friendly helpful staff) before heading west on Highway 20. That night we camped on the shores of Tatlayoko Lake at a beautiful spot (the community campsite) that apparently is a wind-surfer/kite-boarder hot spot.

Mountains east of Tatlayoko Lake

We camped 2 more nights close to Tatlayoko Lake and one day went for a trail ride (on horseback) up to a viewpoint near an old mine. I must say, the people at Homathko River Inn (where we went trail riding) are so friendly and the entire place so welcoming, I highly recommend that place for anyone interested in staying at a gorgeous, peaceful, interesting, out-of-the-way spot.

Our next destination was to see a friend who lives at a remote spot on Chilko Lake (near Nemaiah Valley). To get there we took a back road that, judging by its appearance at some point we wondered if anyone still used it and if it would actually remain passible all the way to Nemaiah Valley. Fortunately at about the time I was starting to wonder if turning back might make more sense (not wanting to go below ½ a tank of gas at that would mean not enough to return to the last gas station) we stumbled across a most beautiful big lodge with many outbuildings (Tsuniah Lake Lodge). At first I didn’t know if we would find any people there but after looking around a bit we met a most friendly lady who, with her family, runs the lodge. The road was little travelled as most of the lodge guests, who tend to be Americans,  arrive by plane (at least pre-Covid times) and this past summer I think there were few guests due to Covid. The lady we met gave us a tour of the lodge facilities and told us a great deal of history about the place (her dad had built and started the lodge in 1950). That afternoon was so interesting and really one of the surprise highlights of the trip. It was also great that she let us know the road we were on was totally passable to our destination and also that gas was available even closer than we had planned for (there is a gas station in Nemaiah Valley). After Tsuniah Lake Lodge we continued on the last maybe 10 miles to our friends place on Chilko Lake although that really was a 4WD road and although there were no signs at all on the road from the end we started on, when we got through to Nemaiah Valley and looked back at the road we just came out of there was a sign saying, “Road conditions for the next 48km. can be impassible at certain times of the year. Four wheel drive vehicles recommended.”

Exiting the road the goes from Tsuniah Lake to Nemaiah Valley
Our first view of the mountains on the other side of Chilko Lake – after getting out of the bush
Leaving Nemaiah Valley

Nemaiah Valley is incredibly scenic with the colourful big mountain peaks surrounding it and the shores of Chilko Lake right there but we more or less just drove through only stopping for gas and at various points to take in the views.

Traffic – Chilcotin style…

Interestingly enough as we left the valley area we again saw a sign for people heading the other way: this one talked of Covid restrictions for that area (there certainly were no signs like this on the road we used to enter the valley)

Leaving Nemaiah Valley

The rest of the trip was essentially just getting back home as quickly as we could. We passed though the Fraser Canyon but sadly it was dark at that time so the kids never got to see it. We were driving after dark from somewhere south of Cache Creek all the way to a campsite near Yale(Emory Creek Provincial Park). Just a note: I highly recommend never staying at Emory Creek campsite as it is located between 2 major railway lines and the trains run frequently, all night long. We got there at about 11 p.m. though and just really needed to stop driving for the day. We had hoped to stay at a provincial campsite near Spences Bridge but it (and of course the one in Lytton) were closed so that is how we ended up driving through the Fraser Canyon in the dark.

Typical Chilcotin scene

The trip was a total of 1923 km and the westy ran flawlessly although at one point a loose hose clamp caused power steering fluid to drip onto the hot muffler so that was not a good situation and it necessitated a road-side stop and emptying all our stuff from behind the backseat so I could gain access to the engine cover and tighten the offending clamp. That happened while climbing the biggest pass of the trip (up towards Duffey Lake from the Pemberton side, and on the hottest day of the trip, not ideal conditions to have flammable liquid dripping onto a scorching hot muffler. In some ways I wish the van had manual steering as the power steering system has given me grief on multiple occasions (ongoing noisy pump or hoses and then this leak). Our DOKA has manual steering and it seems just fine.

Last comment, as the kids grow the limited space of a westfalia for 4 humans is becoming more apparent and it is giving me more reason to get the DOKA running again and into trip-worthy state as maybe we could put a roof top tent on it and use both westy and DOKA for future family camping trips (especially if one or both kids bring a friend). I have thought about bigger vans (4WD sprinter) or little off-road style trailers but really there is no way we could have passed though some of the places we went this trip with any sort of trailer (imagine going up a side road where you have no idea if there will be a place to turn around and towing a trailer) and even the shortest wheel base sprinters are just so big that on the narrow roads we were on, they would be catching branches and maybe catching bumpers on water-bars, etc. As we already have 2 syncros and sometimes like to travel to remote spots where a second vehicle would be like insurance against breaking down in the middle of nowhere, plus many spare parts could fit either vehicle (not to mention the prohibitive price of a 4WD sprinter or an off-road style mini trailer, or the limited towing capacity of a vanagon) getting the DOKA trip ready is looking like the best way to move forward (plus a good excuse for “working on the DOKA” to vault closer to the top of the to-do list 😊. It is fun to dream, especially when at least some of the dreams can be made to happen… Very last comment: I do hope it will be possible to take the kids to Yellowstone, or the Colorado Rockies, or the Grand Canyon some summer in the not too distant future…

Posted in Syncro Stuff, Westy Stuff | Tagged | 2 Comments

RV Propane Furnace Repair – Suburban Model SF-30

We have a 5th wheel trailer that has a propane furnace in it. Usually when you turn it on, if the thermostat is up, the fan comes on right away and then about 30 seconds later the propane comes on and is ignited and then lots of heat flows from the vents.

About 3 weeks ago the furnace suddenly stopped working. The only thing that happened when it was turned on (with thermostat up) was a clicking sound from the furnace.

First, I took off the grille and furnace front cover and I could easily spin the fan by poking in a long stick, so I knew the fan motor wasn’t seized. I removed the furnace (not a particularly easy task as it appears when the trailer was built, they did not have it in mind that someone might ever want to remove the furnace). Then I was able to check and found that the furnace was getting 12 volts (and ground) as required and also that the thermostat and related wiring were working as they should, so the problem was definitely inside the furnace.

I hooked the furnace up to a 12-volt battery so I could do some trouble shooting. Luckily there is a wiring diagram glued to the furnace and the controls are pretty simple, so it didn’t take too long to isolate the problem to the control board (it was getting all the correct inputs – power, ground, signal from thermostat, connection to sail switch (to sense when the fan is spinning) and over-temp switch, and the outputs to the fan motor, propane valve and spark ignitor were all connected. I could fake that the fan was working by moving the sail switch by hand and everything else worked as it should, plus when I put power to the fan output wire the fan spun just fine. It turned out the fan relay was clicking when it should but no power was getting to the fan.

Suburban SF-30 RV Furnace on work bench
Suburban SF-30 control board

I ordered a new control board from an RV place (about $140 CDN) but then as I was looking at the board I noticed that one of the 4 connectors where the relay pins were soldered to the circuit board looked weird, there was a dark ring around the pin. I re-soldered the pin to the circuit board trace and tested the furnace and it worked perfectly. Luckily, I was able to cancel the order for the new control board.

Source of the problem was this bad solder joint. (although this photo was after I fixed it – I know it doesn’t look pretty but it has been 2 weeks and the heater is still working perfectly)

It has now been 2 weeks since the repair was made and the furnace reinstalled in the trailer and so far, it is working perfectly. I find repairing this sort of thing to be very rewarding. Not just as I saved money avoiding having an RV technician make a house call, or purchasing a new furnace or new control board but also as I like to get as much life out of things as I can… sort of my way of fighting back against our ‘disposable’ society.

Now we just need to get the “right to repair” laws in place in Canada so companies like John Deere and Apple don’t intentionally make it impossible for consumers to do their own repairs.

Note: Youtube made this job far easier than it would have been otherwise as I found a video of a guy completely disassembling a Suburban SF-30 furnace so I knew all the parts of the system, where they were and what they did. I also saw a video of a guy troubleshooting a similar issue on the SF-30.

PS – next thing to fix is the 2004 Golf (2 litre gas engine) which has an intermittent miss, super obvious immediately after starting and then intermittently (seemingly randomly) when under load. Unfortunately that is unlikely to be as easy to sort out as this furnace was.

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Westy Trip – summer 2020

We had thought about a trip to Yellowstone but with COVID we changed our plans to explore parts of Southern BC. The girls hadn’t really seen anywhere east of Chilliwack so this was a perfect opportunity to check out some of the great scenery BC has to offer.

This was our approximate route (Google wouldn’t show our ‘short-cut’ from Kimberly to Gray Creek/Nelson so I had to draw that part in myself.) We explored a number of side roads too.

We took about 2 weeks to cover the route so that gave time to explore a bit and travel at a relaxed pace and it was fun to show the girls where I lived many years ago (Lillooet) and many other places.

Duffey Lake (between Pemberton and Lillooet) – scenic as usual and the weather was perfect.

We took a ‘side road’ (Blowdown FSR) just after Duffey Lake and then hiked up to Blowdown Lake. It was beautiful although it was a bad year for bugs.

On the way up Blowdown Forest Service Road
Older daughter cooling down in Blowdown Lake

I had only been to Blowdown Lake once before and that was a ski trip so this was my first time to see the water there. It is picturesque.

Visited with some friends in Lillooet I hadn’t seen in about 30 years so that was fun, and then eastward to Kamloops and Shuswap country.

Lillooet from part way up the trail to Red Rock. (used to be a good trail for mountain biking, now seems to have been taken over by dirt bikers and quads)
Dry country as we got closer to Kamloops

We spent a couple of days at Scotch Creek on Shuswap Lake. I had run my buddy’s parasailing business there for one summer many years ago so it was fun to be back there again. Our second night in Scotch Creek we got a spot in the provincial campsite with no reservation (who’d ‘a thought… long weekend, middle of summer)

The beach at Scotch Creek Provincial campsite on Shuswap Lake.

Revelstoke was fun although tougher to find a campsite. We ended up staying on the side of Hwy 23 the first night and then found a spot at Martha Creek Provincial campsite the next night. Revelstoke sure is scenic and we enjoyed a trip up the ski hill and riding down their ‘Pipe Coaster’.

Revelstoke Ski Hill
Our youngest caused a bit of a traffic jam on the Pipe Coaster… (mom and big sis behind her)

Then the scenic drive from Revelstoke to Golden – so impressive!

Between Revelstoke and Golden
Looking down to Golden from near the paragliding launch spot on Mount Seven.

We decided to go to Banff so that necessitated crossing the border to Alberta.

It was overcast and raining when we got to Lake Louise but in some ways that was a blessing as if it had been a nice day we likely wouldn’t have been able to drive to Moraine Lake and I was really hoping the girls would get a chance to see that. (even with the less-than-stellar weather we had to wait until there was space in the Moraine Lake parking lot before they would let you start the drive in from Lake Louise)

Moraine Lake – impressive even with the fog and drizzle!
Getting close to Banff, and sun coming back too.

The drive from Banff to Kimberly was nice. We camped near Canal Flats and checked out downtown Kimberly the next morning. I asked about the Gray Creek Pass route to Nelson at the tourist-info place and was told it was as in as good a shape as it had ever been so we decided to go that way rather than the highway.

The start of the Gray Creek Pass road, a bit west of Kimberley.
Getting closer to home, good old Osoyoos. I spent many enjoyable summer days here as a teenager as it was our ‘usual’ summer holiday destination for quite a few years.
We camped in the Haynes Point overflow site (the side of the road out to the main campsite). It was so windy I couldn’t pop the top until the wind died down at about 2 a.m.
Lots of whitecaps on the lake – younger daughter checking out the water.
Really getting close to home now – Mount Baker and the Black Buttes. Spent many fun filled days at Baker ski area years ago and stood on the summit with my brother on the May long weekend in 1985.

Overall it was a great trip and I am so glad we got away when we did as the whole COVID situation hasn’t gotten any better in the last few months. I wonder what the summer of 2021 will bring… hopefully happy travels.

Note: in a comment below, Peter asked about the ‘Black Buttes’ which are the 2 rocky “sub-peaks” to the right of the summit of Baker in the photo above. Peter: here are 2 better photos of the Black Buttes from the ski-touring trip up Baker.

The Black Buttes on Baker as seen from our campsite the evening before attempting the summit (summit of Baker itself is off to the right in this photo). (please excuse reflection of Christmas lights – it is a photo of a photo)
The upper Black Butte as seen from above on our way back down after reaching the summit of Baker. The lower Black Butte, and pretty much everything else, had been swallowed by clouds. We went from skiing down in intense sun to slowly and very carefully following our tracks from the way up so as to avoid skiing into a crevasse in the dense fog.
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New Vehicle – Kubota L4400 Tractor

Last fall I bought a new (to me) vehicle: a Kubota L4400 tractor. I knew it was going to be a very useful tool but I didn’t realize just how useful.

So far I have used it for tasks for such as:

  • Moving a small building
  • Digging ditches
  • Clearing dense brush
  • Moving dirt to make a place to put a building
  • Spreading a load of gravel
  • Erecting the frame for a small building
  • Clearing snow from the driveway
  • Digging holes for planting trees
  • Raking rocks from a newly landscaped area
  • Moving misc stuff around the property (including moving a big trailer)

Honourable mention in the useful vehicle category has to go to my 1992 F250 as without it, getting the Kubota home wouldn’t have been so easy (thank you Rod for lending me your trailer).


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Westy Trip (summer 2019) Pemberton

In late July last summer we went on a short trip up the Sea to Sky corridor to the Pemberton area. In nice weather the trip from Horseshoe Bay up to Pemberton is truly spectacular.

The viewpoint to the Tantalus Range (just north of Squamish) is always worth a stop.


Just past Whistler we stopped on the shores of Green Lake to take in the views of runs on Blackcomb and Whistler . We saw two Harbour Air float planes take off while we were checking out the views of the surrounding peaks (Whistler and Blackcomb of course, plus Wedge, Weart, Mt Currie and others).


We stopped at Nairn Falls (just south of Pemberton) for that nice little hike into the falls which was enjoyable, saw a jet boat taking tourists up the river to the base of the falls too. Interesting how many of the no smoking signs in Canada now include a marijuana leaf on them.



While in Pemberton we decided to take a drive up the Mount McKenzie Forest Service Road which yielded great views of the Pemberton Valley and surrounding peaks.


We even got to see a couple of Paragliders launch from the very spot I launched from on my one and only paragliding flight many years ago (my flight ended well, I just wanted to try it once). It was cool for the kids to see that.


We ventured further up the Mt McKenzie FSR  to the upper paraglider launch point which has a spectacular view of Mount Currie and south to Black Tusk, as well as over to the mountains across the valley to the west.



Next time we are back in this area we plan to continue eastward across the Duffey Lake road to Lillooet where I lived for 3 years in what seems almost like another lifetime ago. It’ll be fun to show the kids some of the places where I used to have fun up there.


Posted in Syncro Stuff, Westy Stuff | 5 Comments

Studebaker M16 Starter Issues

A while back I had to move the M-16 farm truck. I hadn’t started it for about 4 months but it is usually pretty good about firing up even after sitting for extended periods. I keep a trickle charger on the battery so wasn’t worried about cranking power.

When I tried to turn over the motor nothing happened. I checked with a volt meter on the battery while attempting to crank and could see big voltage drop when the starter was trying to turn so I knew the solenoid and related wiring were OK. It appeared the starter was seized.

I pulled the starter, and happily, like almost everything else on this truck, that was easy to do. At first I couldn’t see why it wouldn’t turn but eventually noticed a small bit of metal wedged between the rotor and armature.



That little bit of metal on the right is what was jammed between the armature and rotor.

I had to disassemble the starter to get the metal bit out but once that was done it turned freely. I took the opportunity to clean the commutator bars and brushes. Not having a metal lathe I used my drill press and some emery cloth. It wasn’t ideal but got the job done.


I then undercut the commutator bars with and old broken pancake flipper that was about the perfect width and shape (I knew it would come in handy at some point).


The commutator was so dirty to begin with I was surprised the starter worked at all. Now it cranks over nicely but I still have to boost it with a 12 volt battery when starting it for the first time in a while (the truck has a 6 volt battery).

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