Annabel on the Rocks– With a Winch

5000 lb winch customer pic

I was 17 when I bought my first 4-wheeler, a ’73 Land Cruiser FJ40. It only had 56K miles on it– all highway– and I taught myself to drive a shift when I drove that beauty home from the seller’s house (killed it at every light). My buddy and I tooled it all over Utah that summer, ’til I finally rolled it at Arches Natl. Park and had to drive it (with a crushed body and intact engine) to a body shop where it rehabilitated for the next month. I loved that ‘Cruiser, and rue the day I got it in my head to sell it. The other thing I regret was never having gotten a winch. We got stuck a few times, and hadn’t it been for the kindness of strangers, we’d still be there.

land cruiser stuck

Now that I’m older and wiser (mostly from getting my fingers burned), I know that a winch is the first thing you want to get your 4-wheeler– long before any of the other off-road bling you’ve got in mind. For a modest investment, it’ll save your bacon from places where other dogs won’t hunt, and pay for itself over and over again.

The first question to address would be, what weight capacity winch should you get? It’s said the rule of thumb is, you take the gross weight of your vehicle, add in the modded bumpers, suspension, tires, etc., and times that number by 1.5. So, for example, if your total weight comes out to be 5,000 lb., the winch should have a (x 1.5 =) 7,500 lb. capacity. If you try to go lower– ’cause, say, a 3,000 lb. winch is on sale– you run the risk of disaster in a ravine. If you go a lot more, like 12,000 lb., you’ll be OK, but it’s kind of overkill– unless, of course, you want to be able to help heavy metal in distress. In that case, my brother, go for it and there will be blessings in store for you in Off-Road Heaven.

Harbor Freight’s Badland winches are legendary pullers– in the dirt, mud, snow, rocks, etc– and are consistently thrown high praise in four-wheeler forums, magazines and customer reviews. I was getting ready to write this article when I came across the story of Annabel, a late-40’s CJ2A that got stuck in the rocks while trying to back down a steep, rocky dugway. The owner, Carl, had taken Annabel up the hill, but then decided he wanted to get it on video, so he backed her back down. He ran into a rock and dirt wall, the driver’s side rear tire went flat, and he was wedged there– he couldn’t go up or down. As luck would have it, he had a Badlands 5,000 lb. winch:

As Carl later posted:

“I am a firm believer in my 5000 lb winch. It has twice pulled me out of a steep sandy bank by it’s self besides this dugway. That’s three hard pulls with the winch doing the pulling for at least the length of the Jeep each time. None of these were easy pulls but once the winch got the Jeep moving it lightened up on the load.”

Badlands off-road electric winches are rugged, dependable and give some of the biggest bangs for the buck. Check out these models:

5000 lb winch

The Annabel Special! We already know how it does with small jeeps, but this lightweight dynamo’s also got plenty of power to assist in ATV recovery, traversing rough terrain or loading a boat. Customers also like it for pulling small trees when clearing an area. Reliable and safe, it comes with a remote switch with a 12 ft. lead, making it easy to use even when you’re alone! Features include a three-stage planetary gear system for fast line speed, aircraft grade wire rope and a permanent magnet motor that draws less current, making it perfect for ATV use. As one customer shared:
“Works great, have used this winch for almost a year now. Installed it on my Yamaha Rhino and use it to pull trees down and once because I got stuck in a swamp. Now I use it to lift and lower my snow plow….for the money I’d highly recommend (it).”  Fletch – Green Bay, WI

“I have a 6000 on my Samuri and was able to pull a full size ford truck out that was sunk to the doors this has been a great investment has never left me high or dry.”  Lil K – UT

The awesome “go-to” choice for pretty much all off-roaders, rock-crawlers, mud-boggers and sand-suckers. Get over and through the tough terrain with this musclebound electric winch. With a 9000 lb. towing capacity and an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is excellent for the 4-wheeling novice and expert alike. A 12-foot lead remote switch makes this winch easy to use even when you’re traveling alone. And the testimonies say it all:

“I honestly believe that my push bars and frame of the truck would rip apart before the winch gave out. LOL. Pulled my 5000-lb truck UP a 40 degree incline, with brakes locked and a bed full of firewood. I say it will do anything I would EVER need it to do… Very happy with my 9000. Now the 12,000-lb winch, and using a double line, is used for what? Bulldozers?”  1997 Silverado 350 Extended Cab – Concord, NC

“Searched a lot of places for a winch before buying this one. I put it on my ’78 Ford F-250 “highboy” with 39-inch boggers. I have pulled out multiple vehicles stuck in the mud, and even a tree from out of the creek that a 3020 John Deere tractor could not. Couldn’t be happier, in fact i just bought a second one.”  TheWiseGuy – Gallipolis, OH

5000 lb winch

When heading out with the buds for an off-road excursion, the wise man will gear up according to the credo, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”  That said, the Badlands 12000-lb. electric winch brings a whole new meaning to, “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” This is the Godzilla of the bunch, the one that can take on most any mishap and chore thrown at it. Rescue a vehicle, haul timber or load a boat with this powerful winch. The series-wound motor stays cool while the 3-stage planetary gear system provides fast line speed. Featuring an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is a must-have for ANY off-road adventure! Just ask the guys who know:

“Installed the night before an off-road trip, got the Jeep stuck going uphill with the engine not able to run and it pulled the Jeep uphill like it wasn’t even there. Fixed a loose wire on the distributor and the Jeep started like the battery had not bothered at all. Easy to install, I did it in less than an hour. Tough, reliable product. I would definitely recommend to a friend and buy again! No need to spend $1200 on a Warn for a weekend warrior toy with this winch around!”  DocMicro – USA

“This winch is amazing… I pulled a car sideways– not forward or backward– but sideways, without my truck running to juice my battery, and it did it without a hiccup. Strong winch and def worth the money… If you’re looking for a winch, this is the one.”  Toyota Mud Dog – The Plains, OH

For the lighter rigs, they also have 2,500 and 3,500 lb. capacity winches. So when you’re ready to put a winch on your 4x– or replace your old one– check out the rough, tough line of affordable Badlands winches at Harbor Freight. No doubt, they’ll make a believer out of you, too.

5-Drawer Tool Cart Review

As a Harbor Freight blogger, one of the more entertaining things I get to do is look at customer reviews. For one, they can be very colorful. And let’s be honest: most of the time, someone thinking about getting a tool is gonna be a lot more interested in what another customer has to say than me.

5 drawer tool cart

Among the more popular products that get reviewed is the U.S. General 30″ 5-Drawer Glossy Red Tool Cart. One reason is simply because it’s a darn good tool box at a great, low price. Another (and this is just me philosophizing here) is ’cause it just integrates so well to whatever your special interest is, be it automotive, woodworking, electronics, garden-variety DIY, what have you. It follows you around the garage or shop easily, and you can personalize it in a way you just can’t other garage fixtures, such as with stickers, additions and accessories like bottle openers.

5 drawer tool cart - bottle opener

Yep, there’s a lot of great tool cart eye candy out there to give you ideas. Just go to Google Images, type “harbor freight 5-drawer tool cart” and let ‘er fly.

5 drawer tool cart - wrench mods

For the benefit of shoppers like, you though, the best reviews are the ones that answer all the pertinent questions. In regards to this tool cart, I wanted to share this customer YouTube video review, provided by ChuckE2009. In his 10-minute presentation, Chuck unboxes, assembles, tests, stocks and wheels around his 5-drawer tool cart, all the while offering commentary on the box’s quality, features and capabilities. In the world of customer reviews, I give this one an “A+.”

Check out the U.S. General 5-Drawer Tool Cart for yourself. Make sure you skim the customer reviews on the product page and, if convenient, go to your local Harbor Freight Tools and investigate it yourself. I think you’re going to find it’s a pretty cool box and a great deal.

How To Save On Car Repairs With an OBD II Scanner

Do Your Own Diagnostics BEFORE You Take The Vehicle In

Five Ways to Save Serious Money on Car Repairs

There’s a growing popularity these days for DIY OBD-II (On-Board Diagnostics, the diagnostic and reporting tech used in most vehicles 1996 and newer) scanners you can use to diagnose your own car issues. When the “Check Engine” light comes on– or your car starts beeping and/or flashing like the dickens– more often than not there’s an OBD code associated with it. The OBD-II scanners read those codes and beeps, and convert them into plain language so you can understand what’s wrong with the car. Many of them let you do your own health checks on your car, and others will even record data while you drive and help you figure out if there’s a problem before it becomes a serious issue. So, with the effort of a short learning curve, you can be diagnosing your cars for problems early and save mucho dinero.

Something to keep in mind is that there are two types of OBD II diagnostic trouble codes: generic “P0” codes and enhanced “P1” codes. All 1996+ vehicles use the same basic definitions for the generic codes, but the enhanced codes are vehicle-specific and could very well change from one model year to another. So it’ll likely be out of date by the next model year and have to be updated or replaced. What’s more, some types of faults will set a P1 code but not set a P0 code. That’s why you need a tool that can read both types of codes, not just the generic ones.


There are several OBD-II scanners available at Harbor Freight Tools which provide varying features, including multilingual language (English, Spanish, French). One of the more popular , the Cen-Tech OBD II & CAN Scan Tool with ABS, can also read the special diagnostics software for antilock brake systems (on most post-’96 vehicles), as well as the generic and model-specific codes– and other troubleshooting features– making this a great addition to the garage. This one can diagnose most of the issues you’ll experience.


For those who want to cover all contingencies, the Autel MaxiDAS® DS708 is the Swiss army knife of home automotive diagnostic tools. Developed by a team of the best engineers and technicians in the industry, the DS708 is a state-of-art vehicle diagnostic system that delivers a more accurate, stable, comprehensive, easier and faster diagnosis and provides incredibly high performance for the DIYer. This tool offers home workshops and auto technicians an OE-level diagnostic solution rarely seen outside a high-tech professional shop. Not only does it read all 5 OBD-II protocols and all 10 test modes, it can be used wirelessly with connectivity throughout your shop. But, like I said, it IS a Swiss army knife, so it’s worth checking around automotive websites and see if this is the ticket or overkill.

OBD selection

There are a number of other OBD-II scanner models at Harbor Freight, all at great prices for the features they offer. Take the time to review each one, including reviews and even Google other sites for what they have to say about them. HFT is sure to have the right scanner for you.


torch wrench header pic

Some folks might look at this and say, “I’ve already got a socket wrench” or “I’ve got plenty of ratchets (and I don’t need one that big).” But what makes the torque wrench stand out– and why you absolutely need to have one in your arsenal– is that it measures the precise amount of pressure you use to tighten down a nut or bolt. Why is that important? Because in certain situations (as with lug nuts and oil drain plugs) it’s important that the tightness is definite.

torque wrench engine 2

Many sub-assemblies of the car, such as the engine and transmission as well as the vehicle itself, are built to exact tolerances, and it’s up to the torque wrench to deliver that specific tolerance. It’s even more crucial with newer vehicles thanks to the advent of a lot of aluminum, soft metal and plastic parts on cars. The last thing you need is to strip or over-tighten. In fact, both under-torquing and over-torquing can have unfavorable consequences. For instance. under-torquing a wheel lug could result in the nut loosening and eventually falling off. Over-torquing a lug can actually weaken the wheel stud and cause it to crack and break which can lead to the same results. So, it’s obvious why every DIY mechanic should own a torque wrench.

torque wrench dial

Take the example of oil drain plugs and wheel lug nuts. Check the manual for the recommended torque. Set the torque setting on your wrench by twisting the handle to the desired settings. Listen for the click, which indicates you’ve reached your set torque, then stop.

Something else you should be aware of with your torque wrench. Never drop it or use it as a hammer. That’s a sure way to seriously mess up its calibration, which could seriously mess up whatever it is you’re torquing.  When you are done using your torque wrench, back the torque all the way down before you store it away. That will help maintain the settings a lot longer.

To see the calibration and use of a torque wrench in action, check out the video below. 

Harbor Freight carries a number of high quality torque wrenches at great, low prices. The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Drive-Click Type Torque Wrench is a bestseller and one that Car Craft magazine endorsed as having “impressive accuracy” and “amazing value.” Check out these and other heavy-duty hand tools, all with a lifetime warranty.

How To Cut Metal Bolts With Your Angle Grinder

angle grinder product artLet’s say you’re in the middle of a project and a bolt you’re working with is too long, stopping you dead in your tracks. You could make a run to the local big box store (and then the next one), hoping they’ve got the right size. You could hacksaw it (you weren’t doing anything else for the rest of the afternoon, were you?). Or, if you’ve got an Angle Grinder with a metal cutoff wheel, you can make quick work of it. An angle grinder is the best tool in the arsenal for trimming bolts. Here’s how.

1. Mark the Cut Line

Measure and mark the length of the bolt with a Sharpie.

mark bolt with sharpie

 2. Add Nuts

Screw a couple of nuts onto the bolt all the way to the head (or base). This will make it easier to clamp the bolt to the work table as well as lining up the threads again after you cut it.

nuts and vice

3. Cut the Bolt With the Angle Grinder

Turn on the angle grinder and approach the bolt at a flat angle. Cut right through the bolt.

cutting bolt

4. Deburr Bolt

Clean and smooth the cut end of the bolt with a bench grinder or an abrasive pad.

deburr bolt with bench grinder

5. Try the Thread

Unscrew the nut to the top of the thread until it offers resistance, then use a wrench to back it completely off the bolt. This will reform the thread and leave you with a working bolt.

wrench the nut

6. Moving On

You can now resume with your project!

clean cut bolt


Remember to always wear Safety Glasses when using your angle grinder, taking note where the guard is to catch the flying sparks. Also remove anything flammable or easily ignited such as dirty rags.

chicago electric grinder in action

When it comes to cutting, grinding or polishing, you won’t find a more versatile power tool than the angle grinder. They’re indispensable for jobs that can’t be done any other way, and heaven-sent for the jobs that otherwise could only be described as excruciating ordeals. 

For a great deal on a powerful angle grinder, we recommend the Chicago Electric 4-1/2″ 4.5 Amp Heavy Duty model from Harbor Freight. It has a powerful ball-bearing motor that can tackle the hardest metal cutting, shaping and slag removal jobs, and the price is VERY doable. They also make a great pneumatic model. You can also find great deals on extra metal cutoff wheels and wire brush wheels for a plethora of automotive and shop projects.



You might think of Harbor Freight as the place to shop for vocational school but you may not be aware that Harbor Freight is a great place to shop for general back-to-school items as well. Below are five must-have items available at all Harbor Freight stores nationwide! And with Harbor Freight’s ridiculously low prices, you’ll feel a lot better before your son or daughter heads off to the University of Drastically Expensive & Burdensome Tuition, a.k.a. U of DEBT.

For moving into the dorm room, you just can’t beat the 18 In x 12-1/4 In 1000 lb. Capacity Hardwood Dolly. It’s lightweight but can carry heavy load after heavy load.

18 In x 12.25 In 1000 lb. Capacity Hardwood Dolly

18 In x 12-1/4 In 1000 lb. Capacity Hardwood Dolly
Item #61899


Things break… book shelves, chair backs, desk handles, you name it! The quick fix is right at your fingertips with the 130 Pc Tool Set with Case from Harbor Freight. From screwdrivers and pliers to a hammer and tape measure, this tool set contains 130 of the most commonly used tools and accessories. With this tool set, you can fix practically everything but a broken heart.
130 Pc Tool Set with Case

130 Pc Tool Set with Case
Item #68998



After studying hard, you’ll need a road trip to blow off some steam and refresh your knowledge-wary brain. It’s never hard to find friends to join you. The last thing you need is to get stuck somewhere with a dead battery. That’s where the 3-in-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply comes in. With this device, you can jump start a weak or dead battery, run/charge 12VDC auto, RV, marine or other portable appliances that draw up to 10 amps or illuminate an area with the built-in worklight.

3-in-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply

3-in-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply
Item #38391


A good combination lock is mandatory equipment to secure class or gym lockers, bikes, storage chests and more. Harbor Freight offers this tried and true classic featuring a solid steel alloy shackle and chrome-plated finish.

Combination Padlock

Combination Padlock
Item #92769


“Laptops and tablets and cell phones, oh my!” said the electrical outlet. But you don’t need a wizard to solve the power problem—you just need the 4 Outlet Power Strip from Harbor Freight Tools! Features include a heavy duty 24 in. power cord, lighted on/off switch with integrated 15 amp circuit breaker, slotted housing for wall or bench mounting and four three-prong grounded outlets.

4 Outlet Power Strip

4 Outlet Power Strip
Item #91334


To check out more useful back-to-school items, visit your local Harbor Freight Tools store!

The Little Winch That CAN!

Taking on an off-road adventure doesn’t mean you have to be reckless or unprepared. Be ready for nearly any altercation with the 2500 lb. ATV/Utility Electric Winch with Wireless Remote Control (Item #: 61840) from Harbor Freight! Whether it’s pulling your ATV out of a ditch or loading a boat onto your trailer, this light duty winch is perfect for those smaller jobs.


This little unit packs a lot of winching power and all the features you expect from a high-quality winch. A permanent magnet motor draws less current than larger models, making this the ideal winch for your ATV and the automatic load-holding brake provides maximum safety. Plus, with the wireless remote control, you can operate the winch from up to 20 ft. away. Both reliable and easy-to-use, this 2500 lb. capacity winch also comes with a rock bottom price that can’t be beat.

“This winch pulls my John Deere out of trouble all the time when I venture into the woods and get
stuck …. It operates as I intend it to and pulls me out wherever I might be in a gully or stuck on a slippery log or whatever…. I usually attach it to a stout tree and it pulls me up a 20 degree grade without issue …. only issue is that it uses a lot of battery power and now I let the tractor keep running so as not to wear down the battery…” – by Nick from Medina, Ohio

“About 6 months ago I purchased this winch and the Truck mounted Crane. After a couple of uses I removed the hand winch that came with the Crane and installed the Bad Land 2500 winch. Boy what a wonderful product. I had contracted Tendinitis in my shoulders and hips and needed help getting in firewood. This combination was just the ticket. Now I get more wood per trip and hardly break a sweat. Needless to say, my shoulders are much relieved. Never a problem. I use a group 27 battery to gain the extra power to run the winch. I highly recommend this combo to get the job done. Great product.” – by Mr. B from Helena, MT

This handy ATV recovery winch is great for a number of tasks including loading vehicles and equipment or traversing rough terrain easily. With a 2500 lb. capacity, it’s perfect for any ATV or utility vehicle. However, if you’re on the lookout for a winch with a bit more power, be sure to check out the 9000 lb. and 12,000 lb. capacity winches as well, available at your local Harbor Freight store!

The Incredible Foldable Shop Crane

Just because you’re working out a small space doesn’t mean you don’t have room for a powerful shop crane. With the 2 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane (Item #: 69514) from Harbor Freight, you can get the lifting power you need when you need it. And when you don’t, it folds down for easy, compact storage. That way, it’s out of the way when not in use. But with all the cool jobs and tasks you can tackle with the crane, it won’t be in storage for long!


The Shop Crane is easily adjustable from 73-5/8” to 89” in height to fit the job at hand while the boom extends from 41” to 61-3/4”. For any project that requires lifting items up to 4,000 lbs, this Foldable Shop Crane is designed for performance and reliability. Plus, it comes with the low, affordable price you’ve come to expect from Harbor Freight Tools.

“I bought this crane for my husband’s garage and he says it works great! Pulled the engine right out of the car…no problem! He’s very happy with it!” – by TJ from Western PA

“Great product !! Excellent value & price , Harbor Freight communication was also the best
Very happy with this 2 ton hoist “Fantastic Quality.” – by Rick from new Jersey

“Used this crane out of the box to unload a BMW engine and transmission out of the back of a pick-up truck and park it in my garage. Assembled in 15 minutes and worked perfectly when used with the HF 2 ton load balancer. This is a must have. This crane lifted a load from 72″ high and put it down safely on the ground – not all cranes can lower that far. This crane is excellent value for money and folds down into a very small footprint.” – by Seawolf from Springfield, MA

With an included ram, chain and hook, the 2 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane contains everything you need to start lifting those heavy parts right away. So if you’re ready to handle bigger projects from the comfort of your own shop or garage, get down to your local Harbor Freight store and pick one up today!

Get a Jump Start on Trouble with Reliable Booster Cables

There’s nothing fancy about the 16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables (Item #: 60396) from Harbor Freight Tools. When it comes to getting out of a jam (or jump starting a drained battery) all you care about is the end result. And with these great jumper cables in your trunk, you can rest assured that you’ll never be left stranded again.


Designed for use in all climates, the Heavy Duty Booster Cables are ready to go anytime your car isn’t. Hooking them up is easy, even if you’ve never used booster cables before, thanks to the color coded cables for positive and negative terminals. The vinyl-dipped steel clamps are easy on your hands and the copper jaws are perfect for electricity conduction, allowing you to get going quickly so you can transport your vehicle to a safe place for repairs.  As you can see, it’s no secret what makes these jumper cables so great.

“Probably the best cables you can buy for under twenty, clamps are tight, crimps look good, cable is soft and easy to handle and does not fight you while tucking it back into its case after use.” – by Travelling Mechanic from Chicago, IL

“It looks good and feels good. I like the design. The copper wire is attached on the top and the bottom is stabled by a clip. The design will keep the contact wire from detaching.” – by Yang from Morgantown, WV

Simple and reliable, the 16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables are a must-have item for any vehicle. Providing superior performance just about anywhere, these jumper cables also provide peace of mind even if you never use them. For any well-prepared motorist, or frequent driver, swing by your local Harbor Freight and get a set of these Heavy Duty Booster Cables for quick and easy jumpstarting of dead or drained batteries. Don’t waste your money on some fancy set of jumper cables with a bunch of useless features and extras. All you need is a set that works.


Abrasive Blast Cabinet

More often than not, wire brushes or sanding discs just won’t cut it! Blasting is the only way to really get parts clean and prepped for paint and powder, especially when it comes to automotive parts. But blasting can create quite a mess. Save yourself the hassle with the Abrasive Blasting Cabinet (item #: 68893) from Harbor Freight Tools. The blasting cabinet is constructed from sturdy 19-gauge steel to keep dust, debris and blasting medium contained. It also features a fluorescent lighting system, ceramic nozzle, hose and gloves.

Here’s what customers are saying about the blasting cabinet:

I use this product daily. It works VERY WELL… – Scotty B., Jupiter Farms, FL

I have been doing all powdercoating for 2 motorcycle shops and use the heck out of this rig. I have not had a problem with leaks, assembly, gloves etc. This system works comparable to any others that are 4 times the cost. – RS-SS Restorations, Colorado/Arkansas

This is one of the best purchases I have made for my shop. Finding all kinds of uses. – Joel, Wisconsin

Harbor Freight also carries compressors and dust collectors, which can be used with the Abrasive Blast Cabinet. For accessory specifications, please be sure to consult the user manual.

When it comes to parts that need to be stripped down to the base material, give ‘em a blast that will last with the Abrasive Blast Cabinet from Harbor Freight Tools, available at one of 600+ stores nationwide!

Abrasive Blast Cabinet
Item #: 68893