Wanting to switch from cable to synthetic winch rope

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amont77

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Ok guys/gals, I've been looking into making a switch to synthetic line, but have been getting mixed opinions. A couple of months ago I jumped on a deal I found on a Superwinch TS9500 steel cable winch, the price was too go to pass up at the time and I figured I could switch out the cable later if I wanted to. I mainly want to do the switch to save a little weight and for the added safety. After doing some research, it sounds like it could potentially lead to other problems like over heating. The product profile page on Superwinch's website says that they don't recommend using synthetic line on certain drums on their winches (they offer a gray drum and a black drum, both have different ratings). Although, it seems like people are making the switch all the time with no problems. I've tried contacting Superwinch to get more detail but they haven't gotten back to me. Can someone enlighten me on this subject? Please and thank you.
 
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smritte

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Last year I did the same as you. Got a great deal on a winch for my Cruiser but, it has steel cable. I will be changing over to synthetic soon.

One of my too many hobbies has been maintaining one of the local 4X4 trails. The vehicle I use for this is my Jeep. It has a 12k winch with steel cable. Over the years I have winched, watched winched trees, boulders, vehicles and probably a few things I've forgotten. Where the steel cable shines is winching over rocks and having boulders come loose and roll over your cable. That's where it ends.
The others in my group would replace their synthetic cables every year, mine would go two to three. The issues i saw with the synthetic were because of the cable makeup. On a hard pull the tension would friction weld (melt) the cable onto the layer it was wound on. The better grades I never saw this happen. As for special spools, I know the winch manufacture's say buy this or this but, most of the people I run with just have regular winch's with synthetic line. Never saw any issues other than with lower grade line.

The brand my friends run on their rigs and race trucks is the viking cable.
http://vikingoffroad.com/categories/Recovery-Gear/Winchlines/
After seeing the difference in quality and watching people use the crap out of their stuff, this is who im buying from. My Cruiser will not be used for trail maintenance.

Scott
 

amont77

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Thanks for the insight! You sound much more active with your winch than I plan on being. I mainly do light to moderate, occasionally somewhat technical trails in New England, where its a mix of rocks and mud. A winch is overkill on most of the trips I've been on so far, but I plan on doing a bit more remote, long distance trips soon. With that in mind, I decided to add a winch for more of piece of mind knowing that if I get stuck somewhere, I can get myself out.

I know that if I make the switch, I don't want to go top quality. I wouldn't want to actually get stuck somewhere and have a line break because I wanted to save some money. I'll check out Viking Offroad and I've heard a couple others saying the Master Pull is a good one to go with. All I know is that the Superwinch synthetic cables are around $400, which is kind of crazy.
 

smritte

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I cant comment on the other brands. The only thing I saw was good and poor quality. The Viking is what my offroad (not adapt a trail) group runs.
As for using the winch, Ive had to have my Jeep winch motor rewound a few time's from overloading and burning it out. In all the years off roading, I probably winched only a couple of stuck vehicles. Most of the time, a strap got them out. I have had a Jeep on the end of my winch, slide off the road and hang by my cable. We got him hooked up just before that happened. That was scary. Im glad I had a new cable then.

Scott
 

4xFar Adventures

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The TS9500 has the brake inside the drum and is a very common setup for planetary winches. Generally, the heat buildup is caused when powering out the line under tension, like lowering a vehicle over a cliff. I've never seen or heard of a syn line friction melting to another layer as @smritte mentioned. But, I have seen something similar when a rope was partially cut on a steering guard, trying to straighten a bent drag link. Once a few of the strands were cut, the remaining strands were overloaded and pulled to the point of melting together.

I too have my synthetic line from Viking Offroad, now winchline.com. That price of $400 is about right for a 100' length of 3/8" rope. If you are doing a lot of dragging with the winch, I would recommend getting some chain to wrap around whatever it is you're pulling. This keeps the most abrasion away from your line, or getting crushed as well.
 

smritte

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I've never seen or heard of a syn line friction melting to another layer as @smritte mentioned. But, I have seen something similar when a rope was partially cut on a steering guard, trying to straighten a bent drag link. Once a few of the strands were cut, the remaining strands were overloaded and pulled to the point of melting together.
I have seen this quite a few times. Imagine having to hook the line to something then back the vehicle up to unstick them. I have also seen a loose cable wrap and having the line forced down through the upper layer and get stuck under. Im guessing the ones I've witnessed were not good cables. The guys I do trail maintenance with wont buy the higher end stuff.

Scott
 
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4xFar Adventures

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That's called diving, and has more to do with how the rope is spooled than it is about heating up and melting. The first layer of rope on a drum can really look like it's melted too. It gets really shiny and compressed. As long as you can birdcage the lines and the fibers aren't melted, it should be ok. It is the tension that forces it between wraps on the drum, and that tension is why you need to reverse the vehicle to free it up.

The easiest way to avoid this is cross winding the rope. Start winding the rope as normal (called level winding), under tension, for two layers. Then cross the rope from one side of the drum to the next in one rotation of the drum. Then, do the same thing in the opposite direction. You should now have a wide X across the drum. Continue with the level winding (the traditional method) for two layers, then cross wind. Continue the pattern until your rope is completely spooled onto the drum.
 

Cabin Fever

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One thing I have heard, if you change from wire to synthetic, make sure all the burs on your drum are removed. Cable can chew up your drum a little, the new line might not like that. $.02
CF
 

jeep670

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Brakes inside the drum will overheat the drum which could weaken or even melt the synthetic rope. It may not happen on the first or second pull but it may happen on the 14th..
The question is: are you willing to take the risk?
 

Lindenwood

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I originally went with steel cable for the long-term durability against abrasion and sand intrusion, but got a kink in my line forcing replacement. I went with Synthetic because it wasn't that much more expensive, and figured the increase in safety and ease-of-use was a fair trade for some toughness. Since I historically have never needed a winch that often, and keep my winch covered anyway, it shouldnt be a huge deal.

As to melting, I have always read the main culprit is using a winch to lower a vehicle down a long hill, because this tends to require the most internal braking in the winch for a given winching session. However, I have actually read few real anecdotes of melted synth lines.
 
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4xFar Adventures

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Brakes inside the drum will overheat the drum which could weaken or even melt the synthetic rope. It may not happen on the first or second pull but it may happen on the 14th..
The question is: are you willing to take the risk?
Heat build up from the brake happens when you are powering out the winchline under a heavy load. This is why you should stop and let the brake cool. Power out for no more than 20-30 seconds and let it rest for at least the same amount of time. If you are doing this on a regular basis, you should consider a spur gear winch, like the Warn 8274. It has an external brake (that's the "tinking" sound you hear) and doesn't have the heat build up issue. A worm gear winch like the Superwinch Husky series acts as it's own brake and doesn't use friction material like a planetary gear winch. Unfortunately, the Husky line is now discontinued.

Your typical winching scenario, like pulling some out of a hole, doesn't cause the brake to expand inside the drum because. In my Instagram feed, I have a picture of the brake mechanism from my emrebuild, and might help explain how it works.
 
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Homeguy

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Don’t skimp on synthetic cable. If you get stuck in the mud. You would be surprised how much pulling power it will need to get you out. Cheap cable can break pretty easy.


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