Any thing that has a brushed electric motor has a breakin period when the brushes wear into the commutator. I let what ever it is run no load for at least a few minutes and make sure to blow the brushes out if possible. For the winch i cycled it in and out a few times, to much of a pain to tear it apart so i didnt blow it out.
It was in the instructions that came with my Warn winch.
Roll it out and then roll it back in under tension while having someone hand feed.
I Googled 'breaking in warn winch' and a couple sites suggested soaking it in diesel fuel prior to doing this. Something about helping the strands stretch properly. I also read that it helps to flatten the winch cable so it is not curled when rolled out.
Now going back in time when a starter was in op we did not buy a new one but repaired the one with the problem with new bushings and brushes.
I did this [break in] with my Super winch 3000 LT. Simply set the spool to freewheel and have at it. Motor will spin in either direction in or out. When done simply reengage the spool.
On starters we used cables to let the starter run a few seconds at a time allowing the brushes to "set in" onto the armature. Hope this helps, Ken
Seating the cable or rope under some tension is a good idea. I also spray my cable with some lube on spool about 1 or 2 times a month just to keep everything moving well and to cut down on corrosion. I typically change my wire annually for about $15-20 at Lowes. They look at me funny when I use their swag tool and build my cable in isle 17....lol
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