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What Is Winch Rope?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 23, 2024
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Winch rope is special, heavy rope that is often used with gas-powered winches and remote, electric winches. Not designed to be wound around the drum of a winch, the winch rope is passed through the winch drive and is simply pulled through the winch, exiting the rear of the winch. There are several advantages in using winch rope over steel cable, including weight, convenience and safety. Synthetic fibers, such as Kevlar®, make the rope very strong and resistant to breakage. The elimination of loose wire frays that can puncture leather gloves and injure hands is perhaps one of the most appreciated advantages over the wire cable.

While synthetic winch cable can be used in place of wire cable on a standard winch, winch rope is only used on special winching applications. The diameter of the rope commonly prevents the rope from being wound around a winch drum. The type of winch that uses the winch rope is the remote or mobile winch that is often gasoline-powered, however, this can also be an electrically-powered winch. The rope is fed into the winch mechanism from the back side and pulled toward the object that is to be winched or pulled. The mechanism is tightened onto the rope and the winch begins to pull on the rope.

As the winch rope is pulled through the winch, the excess rope is simply piled up behind the winch. The rope can be coiled and tied tightly in a neat bundle after the winching has been completed. This makes the winch much lighter and easier to carry as compared to a typical winch that has a long and heavy cable wound around the spool. This also prevents the bends and kinks that are so common in steel winch cables. Along with the absence of wire frays that can injure skin, there are other safety benefits in a winch rope.

The winch rope does not fly uncontrollably when broken in the same manner that steel winch cable does. The steel cable stores energy that is released as an uncontrollable and dangerous whipping cable when it breaks. This flying cable is capable of severing body parts and damaging vehicles and property. The winch rope, however, does not fly back when broken in the manner as the cable. The rope can typically be controlled by placing a heavy blanket or coat over it while winching, and in the event of a break, it will simply and safely fall to the ground.

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