3 Hidden Dangers in Switching Your Winch to Synthetic Rope

So you’ve got a great winch still in its prime but you want to switch to synthetic rope. Superwinch’s Senior Design Engineer Scott Peterson has 3 dangers you should consider before spooling up that new line. Not heeding his advice could lead to dangerous winching, rope failure, or even leaving your rig stuck and walking back home.

Danger #1 – Brake in the Drum

Two facts work against a lot of winches in switching from steel cable to synthetic rope.

Fact 1) Most winches have the brake for the winch inside the winch drum. And just like the brakes on your truck, this brake can create heat when it operates. The result — heat gets to your new rope.

Fact 2) Dyneema (the most popular synthetic rope out there) has a critical temperature of 150 degrees F where degradation of the fibers (strength loss) begins.

Combine the two and you could be damaging your rope just powering in or out the length of your line. Superwinch’s synthetic-equipped vehicle winches have the brake located on the end of the gearbox, to protect the rope.

Danger #2 – Used Parts

If you plan on re-using your fairlead, hawse or pulley blocks, you must inspect them closely. If steel cable has run through them, chances are pretty good that there’s a cut, scrape, burr, or other sharp area that needs attention.

If you’re using a roller fairlead, do all of the rollers still roll? Also check your winch installation. Are there any areas where the rope could scrape across the edge of your mount plate, or the opening around your fairlead?

Synthetic rope is susceptible to cuts so it’s imperative to check anything that will come in contact with the rope. It’s not uncommon to have to lightly grind down or sand smooth your drum or fairlead, or consider purchasing new parts. Checking out and maintaining your gear regularly is key.

Danger #3 – What Rope, and how do I install it?

Anyone and everyone wants to sell you rope.

Is it real Dyneema? The only way Superwinch buys rope is by purchasing it from a trusted source (Viking and genuine Samson Rope in this case) with certifications. Rope that’s not certified is a risk Superwinch isn’t willing to take.

Does the rope come with an abrasion sleeve? Superwinch includes a 10’ moveable abrasion sleeve if your rope needs to go over a rock ledge or around a rock in your recovery.

Does it have a thimble? You’ll find a thimble on every synthetic rope Superwinch sells. This ensures a safer, stronger coupling to your hook. Always look for a rope with a thimble.

Lastly, be sure to check that the rope you’re buying is compatible with the rope attachment method of your winch. Some winches use a lug on the end of the rope attaching to the drum or drum flange. Superwinch uses a hole through the drum, where the rope is fed through and a ‘tail’ is placed down the drum, and the rope wound on. This ensures a strong, reliable connection.

Buying synthetic rope on price is a risky proposition in Superwinch’s point of view. If you can’t trust your rope, there’s more risk with every pull.

Want to know more? As a company, we’re always happy to talk about your gear and how to make it safer. You can reach Superwinch at 800-323-2031 or [email protected]. We’ve also got a lot of good reading material on our website, www.superwinch.com under “choose the right winch”. Be safe out there.

“Pro Tips” Provided by Superwinch Senior Design Engineer, Scott Peterson