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Discussion Starter #1
I got the synthetic cable for all the right reasons: it’s light, it doesn’t kink, it doesn’t have splitters, it’s not stiff, it’s light, and it’s safer if it breaks. But that’s not all there is to it. I saw some issues I didn’t like when I started installing it.

It begins with the Warn “Synthetic Rope Installation Guide” that says, and I quote, “Replace rope every 12 months with WARN® synthetic winch rope only.” That’s a little over $200 a year just for synthetic rope.

I know, I know, you’ve had your synthetic for 50 years and pulled 100 Jeeps and haven’t had any problems. Well be that as it may, the manufacturer recommends replacement every year, and makes no mention of whether it has been used or not.

Just about all of the synthetic winch ropes are affected by UV. UV in sunlight degrades the material. I know there are coatings that help with that, but the sun is hard on these ropes. Steel cable? Bring on the UV.

I found the synthetic to be a pain to install. Not necessarily hard to install, but I had to keep unspooling to adjust gaps in the wind. I have no experience with steel cable, but I just don’t believe steel cable will behave this way.

Synthetic rope is VERY sensitive to heat, and unfortunately, the cable drum does heat up. Things start to happen at temps as low as 150° and above that it really gets nasty. Steel rope and heat? Doesn’t bother it at all.

So in order to essentially insulate the syn rope from the drum, Warn uses a nylon sleeve over the rope where it will contact the drum. This cover extends for about 1-1/2 layers and makes for uneven mushy layers. And when the rope reaches the unprotected section, it starts to wedge down into the protected layers.

Oh, Warn says to always have 10 wraps on the drum before pulling – steel rope? Five turns.

Synthetic rope is a porous weave and when it gets slack in it, the weave can open, let dirt, muck, etc. in and then trap it when tension is applied. Now we have this junk in the middle of abrasion sensitive material. IIRC, correctly it even self-abrades. Steel rope just doesn’t do this, well not as badly and it resists abrasion better if it does.

Spooling:
I found very quickly that if care isn’t taken while spooling on the rope, it can form lumps because of what was describe above and start making contact with the winch plate or the winch cross supports. That says if you start to pull and the syn rope collects in one place, you could easily get a jam that could damage the rope, winch, or both.

I’m sure wire cable could do this too, but it seems like because of the softness of the syn rope compared to the stiff formed shape of wire cable, the wire cable would be more likely to spread better than the syn rope.

Maintenance: There’s not much to do with steel cable. But if a syn rope is used in mud, one has to be concerned about cleaning it out at some point. It doesn’t seem like it would be that easy to clean a syn rope, especially to get internal debris out. Warn specifically says not to use high pressure washers on it, so we’re left with low/medium pressure and a lot of washing.

I’m not sure where all this is going to take me, but I am considering buying 100’ of 3/8” cable and give it a try. The only issue I see with cable, if you treat it right is if it breaks, it can be very dangerous where the syn rope would neither have the same stored energy or mass. Of course that issue is pretty well mitigated by placing a weight blanket over the steel cable to absorb the energy and reduce the recoil.
 

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Thanks! pretty much my take on it too, except they left out the manufacturer's recommendation to replace syn rope every year. They did emphasize the fact that it needs to be cleaned regularly.

I really like that it can be spliced if it breaks! I think I know how they splice it but I'm gonna see if I can look that up.

Thanks again!
 

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I have had both and the synthetic is a pain in arse if you trail in the woods or brush. When I use my winch I typically use it in the worst possible places which seem to really damage the structural integrity of the rope. Rocks/Trees both wreak havoc IMHO.
 

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I have had both and the synthetic is a pain in arse if you trail in the woods or brush. When I use my winch I typically use it in the worst possible places which seem to really damage the structural integrity of the rope. Rocks/Trees both wreak havoc IMHO.
sounds like about the same conditions as me and I would not go back to steel. I just take care and lay stuff over the rocks and try to keep it out of the mud. I unspooled mine yesterday and washed it good and looks like new altho a few fuzzy spots that don't hurt anything. I am going to find some used fire hose and slit it so I can use it for a sleeve tho.
 

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That are some benefits to the synthetic rope, the product certainly is marketed well and nowadays considered the cats meow however some of us are old school, all of my winches have been wire and while well used (90 ft stretch this last Sunday), you take care of them and they last darn near forever. With any recovery, you have to practice safe procedures. There is still a reason that Tow companies use wire as conditions are never optimum. If a vendor wants to send me a sample of 100+ ft for a 11K winch...I will certainly use it and report back after a few years:)
 
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