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Synthetic winch lines


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The next time your changing your steel winch line consider using a synthetic instead.  Synthetic winch line offers many advantages over traditional steel winch line.

  • Strength: 3/8” synthetic has a 4,100 lb. working load limit which is higher than the 3,760 lb. capacity of fiber core steel wire rope, but slightly lower than the 4,800 lb. WLL of IWRC steel winch line of the same size.
  • Lightweight: Synthetic weighs 1/7th the weight of steel rope making it easier to use and handle especially on long recoveries where extensions are used.
  • Safety:  Synthetic rope is smooth with no burrs reducing the chance of cuts to the hands. It is also extremely flexible compared to steel rope, floats on water and holds less energy in the rope so less recoil.
  • No Self-Damage: Unlike steel rope, synthetic has no memory which means no flat spots or kinks. Plus since it can wind back on itself so bird-nesting on the winch drum is not an issue.

If you have decided to convert from steel to synthetic winch line you must clean and de-bur the existing winch drum, roller guides, snatch blocks, sheave wheels and side pullers.  Steel line can leave burs and sharp edges on these components that could damage synthetic line.   Synthetic will require a minimum of 7 wraps on the winch drum.

For all of its advantages synthetic does have a disadvantage.  These lines are abrasion resistant, however, if placed under tension on a sharp edge the risk of severing fibers is high so care must be taken not to have the rope or winch line on a sharp edge.  It’s no different than round slings and pulling straps.  Just like steel winch lines you do want to inspect a synthetic prior to each use.

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