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I have an ATV winch that I use on my 2010 1500 Silverado to pull an aluminum boat & trailer up a pebble beach.

The winch is mounted on the headache rack. Reason: To pull the boat/trailer up high so that I can drop the trailer down onto the truck hitch. And so the trailer tongue is high enough that it doesn't dig into the sloped ground.

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Recently, I tried to use the winch with the cable running over the top of the tailgate and down to the boat. But the tailgate couldn't take the weight; the cable bent/crunched the tailgate up like a tin can (although it sprung back into shape afterwards without much permanent damage). Additionally, the cable was angled off to one side so it jammed the winch.

I want to solve those issues by mounting a fairlead to the top of the tailgate. I think that would prevent damage to the tailgate (if adequately braced to spread out the weight) and guide the cable straight so that it spools correctly.

How can I attach the fairlead to the top of the tailgate?

Ideally, the fairlead would be easily removable from the tailgate when not in use. But I'm open to ideas. The truck has stake pocket anchors installed.

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  • My suggestion is ... DON'T. You don't want it on the tailgate. It wasn't made to take it. Aug 13, 2023 at 0:04

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I ended up using two 4" x 4" boards as a brace on top of the truck box/tailgate:

enter image description here

That seems to solve the first problem where the cable was crunching the tailgate. (Although the cable does crunch the wood now, but that's not really a problem.) The boards don't slide back towards the winch because they push against the stake pocket anchors.

If it continues to work after a few uses, then I might try to solve the second problem by installing a fairlead on the face of the rear board to guide the cable straight towards the winch:

  • Drill holes in the middle of the boards.
  • Install the aforementioned fairlead or a thru-deck bushing fairlead (image).
  • Install the cable through the hole: Remove the hook from the winch, feed the cable through the fairlead hole, and re-attach the hook.

Right now, the boards just lie loosely on top of the truck box sides/tailgate. But I could attach hooks that fit into the stake pocket anchors, or attach pieces of wood underneath the boards that fit inside the truck bed, to prevent the boards from moving from side to side. That might be needed when the cable is pointed off at an angle.

The boards will be stored inside the truck box when not in use.

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