How to Replace Steel Winch Cable with Synthetic Rope

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Last Updated on June 21, 2022

Want to replace steel winch cable with synthetic rope? Well, in terms of strength, weight, safety, and most significantly, durability synthetic rope outperforms winch cable. Steel cables weigh higher than synthetic rope; rope fibers remove at least an additional 20 lbs of winch line weight and do not store energy in the same manner as steel cable does. So, if the synthetic line breaks, it will become less of a projectile.

And if you look at how synthetic rope is made, you will feel more confident. Without getting too scientific, the rope is molecularly changed in a chemical bath. The result is that winch rope becomes 30-40% tougher than steel cable. It has nearly double the fracture resistance and is lighter than steel cable. Also, synthetic rope is simpler to handle.

For more details, I recommend reading “Steel cable vs. Synthetic rope for winch: Which is best?

So, if you wish to replace your winch cable with synthetic rope, here I am to assist you. I will show you how to install synthetic rope in the simplest method possible.

Some synthetic winch rope has an end loop, whereas others do not. You must manually splice the incomplete one. We recommend purchasing a rope with an end loop so that you can complete your task without difficulty.  

Tools you might need:

You must now gather all of the necessary tools to carry out the process. These are: 

  • Socket wrench set
  • Pliers
  • Heavy-duty gloves.

Before you replace your winch cable you need to uninstall the cable already installed in the winch. To do so, wear a pair of heavy-duty gloves when dealing with winch cables.

How to Replace Steel Winch Cable with Synthetic Rope

Steps to Replace Steel Cable with Synthetic Rope on Winch

  1. First you have to extract the winch drum covers but do not detach the winch drum from the remainder of the winch. In subsequent phases of the procedure, the motor linked to the drum is required.
  1. Second, switch to free spooling mode before pulling the winch wire out. It will make your job easy. Pull it all the way out until you reach the end that is attached to the drum.
  1. Disconnect the cord from the drum. A winch wire can be connected to the winch drum in two ways. Based on the conditions of your cable and how the winch’s makers constructed it. You can get the cable connected to the winch drum or secured to it with a hole and a bolt.
  1. You must ensure that you understand how the prior wire was connected to the drum. Now you need to connect the new cable in the same manner as the previous connection. The winch line has a tiny diameter loop attached to one end that you use to attach to the winch drum.
  1. A bolt-on for usage with different drums may be included with the provided drum set. Choose one that fits your drum and attach it to a line. In some situations, a nylon washer from the kit may be required to gain a better hold on the drum mount.

Note: You may unravel the winch line and place it on the smooth surface before starting to coil it onto the device. This greatly simplifies your task. As the winding cycle begins, be sure there are no entanglements.

Some Additional Steps You Might Need

Preparing the drum

Once removing the old cable, thoroughly inspect the drum for any sharp items that might be harmful to the new synthetic rope after it is installed. During operation, a steel winch cable will cause considerable damage to the drum.

Steel wires can be liable to drone, tear, or kink as they age. These are jagged small splinters in the wire, similar to the jagged little fragments in an old bit of timber. These tiny drones can damage and roughen the exterior of the winch drum. If you notice any projecting lumps, sand their sharp edges to make the drum’s exterior smooth. This will make sure the newly added rope is not harmed.

Check the fairleads

Examine the fairleads completely; if you believe you need to replace them, we recommend Aluminum fairleads. Because they feature a smooth coating that is not able to harm synthetic cable. They are ideal for synthetic winch lines.

A fairlead is a component found on winches. A fairlead simply assists in guiding the rope back onto the drum of the winch. Winches with steel rope typically have a roller fairlead, whereas winches with synthetic rope have a hawse fairlead.

A roller fairlead guides cable back to the drum using four rollers. A hawse is just a radiused piece that is used to direct the rope back to the winch. If you wish to modify the look of your fairlead, there are several aftermarket choices available from a range of vendors in a range of materials, designs, and hues.

On the other hand, we don’t suggest cast steel fairleads; since they don’t have a smooth enough coating for synthetic rope. Steel pulley fairleads are also a good choice; just ensure that the rollers are smooth and not scooped out. 

Apart from that, the rollers must be positioned such that they overlap one another. Because certain older rollers lack overlapping ones, they may generate consent in the guiding corner. During use, the winch cable might be entangled in this area, causing it to be damaged.

Use the correct fairlead, you must ensure it has enough free space (at least 0.37 inches to 0.5 inches) in the middle of the fairleads and the ends of the montage plate.

  • It is advised that you conduct a few convenient and simple maintenance measures while you are doing this work. These can assist you to avoid some of the more frequent problems you may have when using your winch further on.
  • Rusted or loose connections on your winch are a typical reason for a non-functioning winch. It’s also a typical reason for a battery that won’t charge. Unplug both connections and clean any dirt or damage with a copper wire brush or fine sandpaper. Fix any broken wires or connections before reconnecting to the terminals.
  • It is not unusual for a winch bolt to snap or go loose. Now is the moment to double-check that all bolts are securely fastened and in good condition. Restore any defective bolts with fresh stuff that meets the manufacturer’s specifications.

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About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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