Thunder 9500: 12-volt winch test

THE Thunder 9500 sports a macho-looking textured coating, and the blue rope makes it a great-looking bit of kit.

Check out more of 4X4's Ultimate Winch Test

A fluted motor end-cap allows extra heat dissipation, while extra tie-rod covers hint at a stiffer, more rigid body structure. It also includes a wireless remote control and separate wireless receiver, making it a good all-round package.

The wired remote features easy to understand ‘in’ and ‘out’ instructions, while the wireless version features arrows that are a little confusing as to which way winches in and which way winches out – depending if you are facing toward or away from the winch.

Thunder 9500 kit.jpgThe hook-end of the rope, which at 26m is the shortest on test, includes a protective sheath, while the drum-end has no warnings or markings regarding amount of line left on the drum, so users must take extra care. Interestingly, the Thunder drum is the only one on test to feature a knurled face of the drum, presumably to help prevent rope slip.

While that is a great idea, unfortunately it doesn’t work given the loads experienced – we had the end of the rope pull free from the aluminium-crimped fitting where it’s attached to the drum, even though we had more than two full layers of rope on the drum. This isn’t the only rope this happened to, so it shouldn’t be seen as a negative.

Winch racing returns at the 2016 Wild Dog Winch Challenge

Another downside was the positioning of the rope’s retaining bolt in the vertical face of the drum. From new, the rope can clearly be seen to deviate around the alloy-crimped end. Without load this isn’t a problem, but it can’t be healthy for the rope to be rubbing on while under strain, potentially chaffing the rope. Some other winches have the rope mounted similarly, so expect the same problem there.

Thunder 9500 clevis pin open hookThe thimble around the clevis pin of the hook deformed (which we reckon is an industry-wide design problem) in exactly the same manner as most on test.

The Thunder incorporates a thunderous – second largest on test – 6.8 horsepower motor with mid-range (compared to those on test) final gearing ratios.

The drum diameter is the second largest, which also reflects on gearing, loads and winch speeds. This winch returned moderate to high amperage draw and exceptionally low motor and gearbox temperatures – the best on test, and a great asset.

Thunder 9500 winch testing.jpgNo doubt the fluted, heat-sink-style of the motor end-cap, combined with the gearbox cover design and internal workings, assist in reducing heat creation and retention.

Overall, winch speeds were pretty much middle of the pack, making the Thunder a good all-round winch in this company.

Alloy hawse fairlead; open hook with spring-loaded safety catch and removable clevis pin; safety strap; wireless hand-held remote control and separate wireless receiver; sheath protection for hook-end of rope.

Price $1299
Warranty 1 year
Load rating pound / kg 9500 / 4309
Motor Hp 6.8
Gear ratio 212:1
Gear train type 3 stage planetary
Brake type Automatic in drum
Synthetic rope size (diameter x length) 9.5mm x 26m
Solenoid Custom designed copper buzz bar plate continuous duty cycle
Clutch Sliding ring gear
Fairlead Aluminium hawse fairlead
Drum size (diameter x length) 76 x 224

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