Spooling synthetic winch line; doing it right the first time
by Alex Riedo, Off-Road Director at Master-Pull LLC
Modifying your winch to handle synthetic winch line requires a few simple steps because it’s not like cable.
Synthetic winch line is as strong as its wire counterpart, yet much easier to work with than traditional winch cable. Synthetic winch line’s weakness is it doesn’t like excessive heat generated by a winch’s internal drum brake, and it’s more prone to cuts and abrasions than steel.
So it needs to be installed correctly to ensure a long life and maximize safety when used in the construction world.
Start out by removing the wire cable that came on your drum; instead of spooling out under power use the free spool portion and pull all of the cable off the drum. This reduces the wear and tear on the motor and reduces the amount of heat built up by the drum brake.
Once the wire is removed check the winch drum for sharp spots or burrs, remove any that you find and sand the drum smooth. At this point you can apply a thin coat of paint to keep the drum from rusting.
Next remove the roller fairlead that came with the winch and install a hawse type aluminum fairlead. Hawse fairleads are lighter, give a better approach angle and also are smooth so they will not damage the synthetic.
At this point it is good to ensure the winch plate and fairlead have at least ¼ inch gap between their openings so the rope will always run on the fairlead.
Once that is complete you can attach the rope onto the drum. Many winches use a drum link which has a set screw, others feed the cable or rope through the drum, use whichever method came standard on your winch.
Since nearly every electric winch has an internal drum brake the drums can generate heat and damage synthetic rope. Master-Pull includes a heat protector sleeve that slides over the rope to keep the first layer of rope from being damaged by excessive drum heat.
Spool the rope on neatly and using hand tension, unlike cable it is not required to spool synthetics on under tension since they will not kink. Make sure the rope goes all the way across the drum and back to get the most rope per layer.
By spooling on neat you will be able to fit the maximum amount of rope per layer and the winch will be able to work more effeciently if it doesn’t have to pull extra layers.
Following these simple steps will keep your synthetic winch line performing at its best for years to come.