By Jon Maib
Since my introduction into the off-road hobby, one of the things I've always wanted to have (especially on CJ7) was the classic Warn 8274 winch. It is a classic winch that was introduced in 1974 and has withstood the test of time and is still being built and sold today. This winch wasn't the first in Warn's arsenal of winches though. Before Warn was selling, designing or building winches, Belleview Manufacturing was making a winch that was similar in appearance to the 8274 from 1959 to 1973. Warn worked with Belleview for a lot of their manufacturing processes and eventually, purchased Belleview Manufacturing and began selling the winch as the acclaimed Warn M6000 (later to be named the M8000).

The problem with the Belleview though was that it didn't have many of the features that we have now become accustom to in modern winches. The Belleview lacked automatic braking but instead had a cable actuated brake that could be activated from within the vehicle, it could only be powered in, leaving you to have to free spool out, with no ability to power out. So Warn decided in 1974, that it was time to update the Belleview and introduced the 8274. The number indicated everything you needed to know about the winch. The 8 told you that it was an 8000lb winch, the 2 indicated that it was 2 way and could free spool out AND power out and the 74 was the year it was introduced.

These older winches can still be found in various conditions ranging from $300 - $800 on different trader pages, you can even order one brand new from Warn for the small price of $2850 or go all out for the 70th anniversary edition that gives you more power, a synthetic rope and the fastest line speed of any Warn winch for $3200. While the price is totally worth the quality and power of the 8274, that was a little out of my project budget. I had posted on my personal social media page a picture of an 8274 stating that I really wanted to get one our project CJ7, 'Oh Deer'. To my surprise, shortly after posting, a friend of mine private messaged me letting me know he had an older one that needed some work if I was interested, and I was.

One of the greatest features of the 8274 is that it is completely serviceable. Warn still makes replacement parts and you can rebuild an 8274 if it has any issues. My buddy sent me a couple of pics of the 8274 that he had sitting in the garage and told me that I just needed to come pick it up. We scheduled a time to meet and I headed down to get it.

After picking up the winch, I began doing research on common things that needed to be replaced on the winch and how to go about fixing it up. I found some great material on the web on how to rebuild, one of them being this amazing resource: 8274 COMPREHENSIVE REBUILD. After reading through this, it was time to break the winch down and see what I needed to replace.

I was curious on how old this winch was before breaking it down, so I cleaned up the serial information and learned that this winch was built in October of 1978. I sent this info to the guy I got the winch from and he said that this winch originally came off his 1978 CJ7 he used to own. This was probably the original winch that came with his Jeep. With that info, I really wanted to ensure that I made this look good and run strong. So I began to strip down the winch. I would give you my breakdown, but I highly recommend the comprehensive rebuild link listed above, but this is what my breakdown revealed.

All in all, this 41 year old 8274 was in great shape. I spent time cleaning the entire case, cleaned out the old oil, checked gears, cleaned solenoid contacts, repaired a corroded cable, cleaned the armature, replaced some old seals, replaced the solenoid cover and repainted the winch mount. It was a pretty simple dismantle and repair. Once it was all put back together, I bench tested to ensure everything was working and then had to re-spool the 150' of wire cable. That was a lot of cable to spool, but that's the cool thing about the 8274, it can handle that much cable and spool it quickly! The old CJ now has an old, tried and true, beast of a winch, the mighty Warn 8274!