Factor 55 FlatLink E

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal, Summer 2012.

If you stop by Factor 55’s booth at a trade show you will find a variety of their winch shackle mounts disfigured, torn, and mutilated. This might seem odd, until owner Mike Costa hands you a spec sheet from the US-certified destruction lab they use to destroy everything they produce prior to releasing it to the public. Mike, whom I’ve known since the mid-1980s when he was an aerospace engineer, is a longtime four-wheel drive enthusiast and a perfectionist when it comes to, well, everything.

FlatLink E is a variant of the original FlatLink, and features a larger pear-shaped mounting hole to accommodate a .75-inch bow (screw pin shackle), creating a closed- system attachment. It was designed with the latest 3D CAD system and analyzed for structural integrity with Cosmos FEA (Finite Element Analysis). CNC milled in Boise, Idaho, from Kaiser select 6061-T6511 billet aluminum, it features a .625-inch diameter 6Al-4V grade V titanium double-shear pin. The surface is treated with a MIL-SPEC hard-anodized gray finish (Mil-A-8625F Type III) and EPDM rubber guards to protect alloy fairleads.

When I asked Mike about testing on this unit he said, “We first perform pre-failure load tests to measure any permanent material yielding. The FlatLink E finally broke at 42,100 pounds.” I’ve used Factor 55 winch shackles for several years, and the “E” has been a trusted addition to my recovery kit. www.factor55.com , 208-639-1674

Chris spent his formative years riding dirt bikes with his dad in the deserts of Southern California and Baja, Mexico, which led to a lifelong quest for adventure. He is handy behind a viewfinder and at the keyboard, and brings four decades of international travel experience to Overland Journal as Editor-in-Chief. His career, which includes work for National Geographic Adventure, Four Wheeler, Hot Rod, and Autoweek, has taken him through 50-plus countries and to every continent. He has also served as correspondent to magazines in a dozen countries and in as many languages. In 2013 he was part of the Expeditions7 team that crossed Antarctica and he has recently been inducted into the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame as a pioneering journalist. When not behind the camera Chris can be found on The Office (his sailboat), or undertaking meticulous “research” for upcoming articles in locales such as Tequila, Mexico.