A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a winch is only as good as the rope wrapped around the drum.
How to Take Care of Your Winch Rope in the Long Haul
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and a winch is only as good as the rope wrapped around the drum. While winches with cables have their own maintenance concerns, a winch equipped with synthetic rope has but one major concern: abrasion.
Abrasion will happen. It’s a fact of life and one that those in the 4x4 lifestyle will encounter over and over again on their excursions into the wilderness. This results in frayed ropes and the once-in-a-blue-moon snapped line. The good news is that much abrasion can, for the most part, be avoided. After all, winch rope is expensive and that money is better spent on fuel to get you out past the back roads.
The most obvious path to abrasion, and easiest to avoid, is rubbing the line against trees and rocks while winching. To avoid this, use a blanket or some other padding to protect the rope from direct contact with whatever you’re using as an anchor.
In the process of winching, or generally just driving around through mud holes, your rope picks up bits of dirt and grime. This grime contains tiny particles which add to the abrasion in a substantial way, sort of like wrapping sandpaper between the fibers. To avoid this damage, you should tend to your winch rope by soaking it clean water every now and then.
When setting up for a recovery, take care to avoid stepping on your rope. While this is a safer method than straddling the line, it also grinds the fibers into the dirt. A better way is to walk around the line altogether. It’s also worth noting that a rope that twists and binds during a recovery is much more susceptible to fraying and snapping. This is easily avoided by checking the line under tension to ensure that it will have a smooth roll.
A good winch rope will serve you well for trip after trip after trip. Simply by keeping it clean and following the golden recovery rule of not allowing slack in the line will prevent unnecessary damage to your expensive synthetic rope, which should give you the peace of mind that this recovery won’t be its last.