August 26, 2010

Customer service at its best

Good customer service is hard to find, so I'm tipping my hat here to the best. About 14 years ago I bought a Tirfor hand winch from Howard Material Handling of Seaview, Lower Hutt. The transaction was over the phone and I never met Errol Howard, who sold me the iconic French winch. The Tirfor made some great "saves", but became largely relegated to the shed after the arrival of a Superwinch electric winch. I'm not fitting a winch to my new Wrangler Rubicon, so I dusted off the Tirfor. It was stiff and didn't want to work. I called Howard Material Handling, got hold of Errol and without introducing myself sought his advice – which turned out to be spot-on – and I soon had the Tirfor going like new without having to spend a cent. But here's the thing: during the phone call he asked, "Did you buy this winch from me years ago; it's Phil in Auckland isn't it?" Amazing. He remembered me after having had only a couple of conversations more than a decade ago! I hear Errol and his wife are looking at hanging up their snig chains and retiring – any new owner will have a hard act to follow.

Good things about a hand winch
• Can be used to pull from the front, back or side.
• Relatively light and easy to store.
• No need for even one battery!

Bad things about a hand winch
• Can be really hard work.
• Not particularly quick.
• Not rated for really heavy pulls – usually between 1250kg and 2500kg.


  1. I'm a great believer in a hand winch but they're really a two-man proposition, to share the physical effort and for one person to sit in the vehicle to help by steering/driving.

  2. I have both a hand winch and PTO. They both have their uses. I have used the hand winch when the motor has died.

    Mine is not light. Together with the cable and winch the total weight is about 45kg. Maybe yours is smaller. Mine has a weight limit of 4500kg which can be increased with swing-away blocks (which also reduce the load for the wincher). The cable is 11mm. There is a technique with the winch to reduce effort; with the fully extended handle at about 30ยบ so that it nestles against the lower abdomen/pelvis, use your legs instead of the arms to push and pull the lever. Winched a friend's Pajero 100m off Muriwai that way. Was slow but not taxing.

    I bought mine from Errol too.

  3. Thanks. Good tip about the effort-reducing technique.

  4. And adding to a point Alan made, my Tirfor weighs 27kg including its cable and chain.