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Synthetic winch ropes

Salvage Jeep YJ in the Epiros Mountains Greece with Dyneema winch rope

Synthetic winch ropes


There are many reasons for using a synthetic rope instead of a steel rope for a winch. The synthetic ropes are usually made from Dyneema® or Vectran®.
With the same diameter, the synthetic rope only has 1/7 to 1/10 of the weight of a steel rope. In fact, it's so light that it floats on water. In contrast to wire ropes, plastic ropes do not twist. There are no so-called curls and the ropes don't kink either. This makes handling much easier.
With wire ropes, individual broken and protruding wires can quickly lead to unpleasant injuries if you handle the rope without sturdy gloves, for example when winding it up. If a steel cable breaks due to overload or damage, the whipping of both cable ends is extremely dangerous and can lead to injuries to people standing too close to the cable or damage to the vehicle. That's why you should always put a damper on the rope when using steel ropes. If a synthetic rope breaks, a kickback occurs, but this is comparatively much less dangerous.
Dyneema fibers are very durable and have a high resistance to abrasion, moisture, UV rays and chemicals such as oils and fats. Dyneema ropes only have a very low stretch of 0.5 to 2%.

Precautionary measures

To avoid damaging a synthetic rope, it must never be pulled over rocks or rough surfaces under load. If this is necessary, a suitable chafe guard must be placed underneath. Plastic ropes must not be passed around sharp corners. Jolting loads must be avoided as they can lead to the breaking load being exceeded.

Rope window

A synthetic rope must not be used with a pulley rope window, but requires an aluminum rope window. The reason for this is that synthetic ropes are very flexible and could therefore get caught in the corners between two pulleys under unfavorable circumstances and be damaged. When converting a winch to a plastic rope, the rope window must therefore also be replaced. The fixing holes of the pulley rope window and the aluminum rope window are identical, so replacing them is not a problem. As a welcome side effect, the aluminum rope window leads to additional weight savings.