Windstar Spare Tire Winch for Vintage Trucks

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1995 Windstar Spare Tire Winch for Vintage Ford Trucks

By Jim Thomas (FTE screen name brewster1)


In searching for a compatible spare tire winch for my 1960 Flareside, I first examined the unit used in the Ford Aerostar. This winch operates horizontally out the rear of the vehicle and I did not want to cut a hole in my bed/bumper. It also had a small cable. The Windstar winch operates vertically from inside the rear hatch and has a larger cable. To prevent thefts it will not let down from under the Windstar. I pulled the winch off a friend’s Windstar and discovered that it will work upside down and would fit nicely under my 1960 F-100. I also held the winch up under a 1960 wide bed and it appears that it will work, but you may have to trim box-mounting bracket A differently around the bed mount. The winch is easy to remove from the Windstar. Drop the spare tire, take out 5 bolts, and it’s done. This tech article describes how to install the Windstar spare tire mount on a 1960 F-100 pickup.

Figures 1 and 2. Top and bottom views of the Windstar winch assembly.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Mounting the Winch Box

The winch box can be mounted upside down in the right rear corner (passenger side) of the truck and the tube can be rotated to any position. Mounting the winch box on the other side would require considerably more modification to the mounting bracket.

  • Remove the e-clip holding the tube to the box. Roll out some cable and separate the pieces.
  • Modify winch box bracket A.
    • Cut bracket A to dimensions (2 and 3/8 tall on left, 2 and 1/16 wide at top, 1 and 3/8 tall on right and 3 and 1/8 across to last hole) as shown in Figures 3, 4, and 5.
    • Hold the box roughly in place and mark where you want the two holes on the wide end of the bracket. Remove the box and drill and slot the holes with a 3/8 bit.

Figures 3, 4, and 5. Modifications to the winch box.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

  • Cut a ¼" by 1" inch piece off the corner of the bed mount where the box hits. This is ¼" front to back and 1" right to left as shown in Figure 6. I initially cut off too much as you can see.

Figure 6. Mounting holes in frame and bed.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

  • Shove the winch box up and to the right as far as it will go against the bed mount. Mark the bed through the two holes on the wide part of the bracket. Drill 3/8" holes in the bed and slot as needed. I had to use a right angle drill attachment. Bolt the unit up in position noted above and then you can mark the outside bolt hole with a long piece of chalk Remove unit, drill and slot hole as needed. Remount the unit to check fit. The outside bolt head will hold itself against the frame or you can weld it on if desired. (Don’t weld until you are sure about the fore and aft positioning of the box.) Figure 7 shows the box flush mounted to the bed.

Figure 7. Winch box flush mounted to bed.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

  • Create winch box bracket B to brace the winch box at the frame to prevent movement. I welded on a 2" long tab that extends ¾ inch out from the edge of the box and has a slotted 5/16 hole as shown in Figure 8. The long slot allows for fore and aft positioning. Remount the box and mark/drill hole in frame. It is easier to drill if you remove the box. A spacer will be required between the bracket and the frame.

Figure 8. Winch box with Bracket B attached.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Mounting the Tube

With the box unbolted the tube and foot assembly can be separately worked over the cross member and under the bed where the cross member dips down and meets the frame. Then remount the box.

  • Mark the centerlines on the rear frame cross members. This should be the center of the existing holes in the two 1960 cross members.
  • Insert the end of the tube into the winch box. The tube should hang over the rear cross member on center. Make sure the e-clip will be in the correct position. The longest bracket on the tube (Figure 9) will need to be bent away from the short one to make it perpendicular to the cross member. Elongate the hole at the rear of this bracket for a 5/16" bolt.

Figure 9. Tube with Bracket C bent away and a slotted hole.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

  • Fabricate tube bracket D to bolt the tube to the cross member. I used a 1/8" by 1" "L" bracket with a 1" and a 2" arm and bolted it to the cross member with two ¼ inch bolts to keep it from turning. This bracket will need to be slotted for a 5/16 bolt for most of the length of its 2" side as shown in the photos below. If you plan to mount the winch further forward, you can make this bracket about an inch longer.
  • Fasten bracket D to tube bracket C with two 5/16 bolts as shown in photo 11.

Figures 10 and 11. Tube brackets C and D with tube mounted in place.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Modifying the Cable Foot for a 5.5 Inch Bolt Circle Wheel

If you are using wheels with a 4.5 inch bolt circle, you may not have to modify the cable foot depending on the size of your wheel center hole. The Windstar has a 2-7/16 inch diameter center hole. My Ford truck wheel has a 3-3/8 inch diameter center hole and the Windstar foot is too narrow.

  • To widen the curved edge that contacts the center hole, I cut two small cross-sections from a piece of 1/8 wall pipe approximately ¾ inch tall and 2.5 inches long around the curve. You could also use flat metal and curve it yourself.
  • I then cut two pieces of 3/8 inch square rod 1 and 7/8 inches long to use to space the curved pieces the desired distance from the bell on the foot.
  • After tacking the curves to the foot, I tacked the 3/8 square rods to each end of the foot (Figure 12).
  • After checking the fit on the wheel, I finished welding and grinding all the pieces (Figures 13 and 14).

Figures 12, 13, and 14. Cable foot modifications for larger wheel size.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Mounting the Front Tire Rest

The tire needs a resting point at the front. I used a piece of ¼" by 3" angle iron 9.5" long and just bolted it on with 5/16" bolts (Figures 15 and 16).

Figures 15 and 16. Spare tire front rest.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Fore and Aft Positioning

After initially mounting the 215-70R 15 spare, I decided it needed to be tucked under the truck further. This necessitated the use of spacers to move the winch box forward and an additional tube mount bracket. The winch box spacers (Figure 17) are ¾" long on the outside bolt and 7/8" long on the inside bolts. The difference was needed to center the tube in the eye on the box.

Figures 17 and 18. Winch box with spacers.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Tube bracket E is 1-1/8" by 1" and 3/8" by 5/8" wide (Figure 19). As noted earlier if bracket D is about 1" longer, this one should not be needed.

Figures 19 – 22. Tube brackets D and E and tube installed in forward position.

(Photos Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Finished Product

Figure 23. Completed assembly with brackets and spacers.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Figure 24. Tire and Winch Positioning.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

Note the visibility of the spare hanging under the truck in Figure 25. It’s about the same from behind as all other trucks on the road. If you are using a donut spare, it will be less noticeable.

Figure 25. Spare tire visibility when mounted.

(Photo Courtesy Jim Thomas)

My plan was to use a 4-bar to work the winch but it hits the tire during operation. A 3/8" ratchet and extension, however, works fine.

The total cost for the setup was $20 for the winch and $3 for fasteners. All the metal came from stuff I had laying around my shop. I have driven the truck over some rough roads and so far the spare has remained secure.


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