Winch cable maintenance

Submitted: Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 10:55
ThreadID: 131421 Views:5202 Replies:10 FollowUps:3
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Just giving the truck a bit of a spruce up and service at the moment. Probably like most peole with a winch, you spend a whole lot of money to get one, and rarely, if ever use it. Is there any benefit or harm in spraying the winch cable with something like lanolin to keep it in good condition, stop rust etc? I know the winch itself needs servicing. My winch is a Warn XDC.

Thanks in advance.
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:05

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:05
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Their is no need to spray your winch rope , if it is the same as mine it is a galvanised wire rope, ( I have had 4 winches and they have all been Gal wire rope .

Dust and crap will build up on the rope if you spray it especially with Lanolin .


AnswerID: 595261

Reply By: mountainman - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:37

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:37
There is specific winch rope sprays available on the market.
and is advisable to run the spray over it to stop corrosion.
As you well know the cable is full of strands and in industry...all cables are mentioned below.
Overhead crane ropes...all mobile cranes
all are lubricated.
it protects the outer and inner strands from rust and possibly reduce heat on the wire.
for some reason the ute winch doesnt have the same care taken..
you will guarantee a longer life from your cable if it was lubricated like everything elss..
AnswerID: 595264

Reply By: Shaver - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:41

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:41
As a former Rec Mech we used to run out the Winch cable to a load & winch it in & applied a rag with petrol & oil to the cable which was mixed up in a bucket !
AnswerID: 595266

Reply By: Flighty ( WA ) - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:46

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 11:46
Only just serviced mine, and found that solenoids were all U/S, so after a long process of finding new ones and fitting, then giving them a thorough coating of "Lectra shield" for protection against elements etc, I replaced the cable with Dyneema rope.
The weight reduction of rope and hawse or "fairlead" as some call them, was quite significant and without the need for and rope treatment required.

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AnswerID: 595267

Follow Up By: Shaker - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 10:57

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 10:57
What was the weight saving? I must do some homework to see if it's justifiable.

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Reply By: pop2jocem - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 15:25

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 15:25

Personally what I would recommend is to run your winch cable out completely except for the last 3 wraps on the drum. Attaching the hook end to another vehicle or some other anchor point about 1 mt above the ground and letting the car roll or drive backwards as you winch out should keep the cable from dragging in the dirt as long as you keep it under tension.
Then you can inspect the entire length of the cable for broken strands, rust or kinks. Wash the rope with petrol, kero or some suitable solvent to remove any accumulated sand mud etc.
Having worked in the crane industry I know winch cables are kept lubricated quite heavily and in that industry all good. Personally I wouldn't be spraying any sticky lubricant onto a rope that is in all likelyhood going to be used by getting dragged through mud, sand or whatever you have managed to bog your vehicle in. Crane ropes generally don't operate anywhere but up in the air.
Once your happy your rope is clean and undamaged, all I would use is a light spray of WD40 or some such. Personally I prefer Inox. Seems to penetrate and protect better without leaving a sticky residue on the outside.
Then of course re-tension your rope ready for the next adventure, or should I say misadventure.

AnswerID: 595277

Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 16:52

Friday, Jan 22, 2016 at 16:52
I like Inox, as Pop suggested, for the same reasons.

Have seen a CRC Product for wire ropes and cables. Haven't used it, but their other products are excellent.

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Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 00:30

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 00:30
As has been mentioned ...... there is no question that you should run your winch rope out under a little tension and give it and inspection ...... and probably a wipe. ....... possibly with a rag lightly wetted with kero.

But here are some concepts that most people don't grasp ....... pretty much all stranded steel ropes have a core of natural fibre up the middle ...... the role of the core is to provide a buffer to protect the strands from each other and to carry the lubrication. ...... every time the rope is tension cycled a very small amount lubricant is forced out of the core and into the strands.

This piece of rope will be saturated with an oily grease at the time of manufacture.

It is not recommended to wash wire rope with solvent, because it takes the lubrication away from between the strands and may dilute the lubricant in the core rope.

If you think you can add any lubrication to a wire rope you are kidding yourself ... ya just not going to get lubrication into the core rope or between the strands ........ unless of course you take the whole thing off and immerse it in a lubricant.

The single most important thing you can do is keep your rope clean. and free of grit.

The second most important thing you can do is spool your rope off and spool it back on under tension from time to time.

Apart from that ...... leave it alone.

There will always be some sort of product sold to fill a desire, or some garage tale work practice.

What I have posted above is recommended practice as published in rigging texts and rope manufacturer recommendations.

The other thing to remember is ..... rope is a consumable and has a finite life .... when it gets worn or does not otherwise meet inspection criteriour is should be replaced.

AnswerID: 595299

Follow Up By: Ron N - Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 21:30

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 21:30
Not all Steel Wire Ropes have a hemp core - and possibly more than half of the SWR sold today has a steel core.
Bantam is correct about the hemp core holding lubricant for the SWR.

Steel core wire rope is much stronger than hemp core wire rope, and is used in substantial amounts in cranes and other high-load applications.
Stainless steel wire rope does not have a hemp core either.

If your SWR is to be dragged through the dirt, you don't want a sticky, greasy lubricant applied to it.
This will only pick up lots of sand and grit, and it will end up between the strands and cause increased wear on the strands as they flex.

A SWR lubricant that is a dry lubricant is best. Anything with Molybdenum Disulphide in it is an excellent dry lube - i.e. - a coating of MoS2 will continue to lube even when dry.

You can lube SWR right through, by immersing it completely in a tank with a special heavy SWR lubricant (it looks like thin bitumen) fully covering it.
The tank is then heated, turning the SWR lubricant into a much thinner viscosity, and the lubricant then penetrates right through the SWR strands.
This lube technique is only used when the SWR is not going to come into contact with the soil.

(I speak as an old fella who cut his teeth on machines that used SWR to lift and lower attached equipment, and I have more than passing experience in working with, installing, replacing, buying, and using SWR on a daily basis!)

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 10:46

Saturday, Jan 23, 2016 at 10:46
Anyone who is still unsure about the care and feeding of your wire rope and not sure about the effectiveness of a penetrating lubricant rather than a coating type, especially with regards to the environment that a 4WD winch cable is required to operate in, have a little read

wire rope
AnswerID: 595316

Reply By: Batt's - Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 02:26

Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 at 02:26
When I was a conveyor belt splicer we use to lubricate winch ropes all the time not talking about 4WD winches at the moment, it was part of regular ongoing maintenance we had all different sized winches up to 36 t straight line pull. These were all used on mine sites etc dusty and dirty environments cable were dragged on the ground quite often which is nearly unavoidable when you can have 500 mtr of rope on the drum and have limited or awkward access to the area don't get me wrong they weren't deliberately abused because last thing you want is one to break which I seen happen a couple of times.

Now I've never thought of lubricating my 4WD winch cable which comes out of the box already lubricated. My cable has become very dry over the years so I talked to other people about it and decided to run it out and I used nearly half a can of lanoline lubricating it which can only benefit it because it putting lube back into the strands which will help increase it's life and it looks a lot better now I've done it.

Putting the type of cable used for different applications aside my point is people have this fear that you shouldn't clean, lube a 4wd winch cable because of the conditions it's subjected to but you must do cables on cranes, mobile winches, winches permanently set up on conveyor belts to for their counter weight etc because of the conditions their subjected to which have similarities to what a 4WD winch is put through. So I say giving it a clean and service can only help increase it's life and safety for the long term look after it and it will look after you.
AnswerID: 595351

Reply By: The Bantam - Monday, Jan 25, 2016 at 01:49

Monday, Jan 25, 2016 at 01:49
The other thing to remember ..... you can buy a brand new 10mm steel winch rope for around $100.

So if ya steel winch rope is looking a bit sad and a bit dry ...... it may be a far better choice to replace it.

Remember well cared for winch ropes wear out fom the inside ..... abused winch ropes will get very unpleasant / dangerous to handle.

AnswerID: 595391

Reply By: Erx007 - Monday, Jan 25, 2016 at 14:41

Monday, Jan 25, 2016 at 14:41
Talking about maintenance, can anyone recommend somewhere I can get my old winch serviced? If its not too expensive I would get the cable replaced with rope as well..
AnswerID: 595401

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