switch from Steel Cable to Synthetic Winchlines? Safety,
Strength, & Ease of Handling
Both steel and synthetic winchlines give a very small
amount of stretch, the equivalent of less than 1% at breaking
pressure. This tiny amount of stretch stores kinetic energy
that is released when the line breaks. Since steel winchline
is much heavier than synthetic winchline, the force of
that stored energy is devastatingly powerful, particularly
dangerous with people near. The synthetic line is so light
and therefore stores less kinetic energy, which when released,
the winchline virtually falls to the ground with a fraction
of the force of steel. For this reason, 4x4 offroad racing
sanctioning bodies do not allow steel cables because of
their inherent danger. Synthetic winchlines are now mandatory.
While synthetic winchlines are much safer, recovery operations
are still dangerous and we encourage all winch owners
with steel or synthetic winchlines to attend safety and
training classes from certified trainers such as: Bill
Training. See I4WDTA
for more information.
of Handling: Steel winch cables have a tendency
to kink, rust, and have very sharp strands once nicked.
They also tend to straighten by the nature of the material
making them harder to spool back on the winch properly.
Our synthetic winchlines have none of these problems.
However, synthetic lines are more susceptible to sharp
edges (bumpers in particular) and heat, but they are much
stronger, safer and easier to work with.
Dyneema® synthetic winchline fiber is up to 15 times
stronger than quality steel and 40% stronger than Aramid
fibers on weight for weight basis. This means the replacement
synthetic winchline is typically 35-45% stronger than
steel cable! Steel cables are typically sized to match
the strength of a winch. For example a 9,500 lb capacity
winch will have roughly a 9,500-10,000 lb capacity steel
cable. The replacement synthetic line would be 5/16"
(7.9mm) or 3/8" (9.5mm). Our Viking Winchlines are
rated at 12,300 lb (6 metric ton) for the 5/16" and
17,600 lb (8 metric ton) for 3/8", making them approximately
23% and 46% stronger on the conservative side.
note about "rated" strength of recovery equipment
for vehicles. There is no governing criteria
to measure the strength of products used in vehicle recovery.
Some products like hooks and shackles come from Overhead
Lifting industry that have strict rules about safety factors measured as Working Load Limit (WLL) Safe Working Load is somtimes also used (SWL). As an example a typical Bow Shackle will have a WLL of 4.75 US Ton
with a 4:1 safety factor or approximately a 38,000 Lb.
breaking strength. When it comes to the breaking strength
of rope it becomes even more confusing. There are several
methods by which rope is measured, and comparing these
data is like comparing apples and oranges. In the past
we have taken the widely accepted average breaking strength.
However, Viking Offroad has taken a lead by leveling the
field with a straight forward measurement: MBS or Minimum
Breaking Strength. Rated shackles
is posted in our literature with their MBS, rather
than WLL, and all our ropes including winchlines
carry the same MBS rating.
Another distinction of
Viking Winchlines is that they are break tested with spliced eyes, whereas
some ropes are lab tested to measure the strength of the rope only without eyes. this measure ment is good for examining variations in rope types but for the practical purpose of fitting a winchline to a vehicle it is better to use a conservative figure such as MBS.
Viking Winchlines are all US Made from the strongest
fiber currently available: Dyneema SK-75, and with a viking winchline you can be assured of the best quality from the USA and Europe. Accept no cheap imitations.
Note: There are variations of very strong synthetic
ropes that we have seen on the market. These can include
Amsteel rather than AmSteel-Blue (both can be blue and
virtually indistinguishable) and Dyneema SK-60 available
as well. Viking Offroad will never substitute synthetic
ropes of lesser strength or quality. We always use genuine
US made High Performance Dyneema 12 strand ropes for our winchlines.
Winchlines are used in by many: Recreational four
wheeling, racing, ATV's, and towing industry. They are
also used by the top trainers in the world including several
military trainers who train the best of US Armed Forces. Our non civilian customers include: DOD (Department of Defense), Navy, Navy Seals, Army, Army Rangers,
Marines, Air Force, SWAT, DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) Etc.. Additionally First Responders such as Fire and Police Departments, Search and Rescue, US Forest Service, and California Beach Lifeguards. (Note:
not all US gov't agencies use synthetic recovery gear,
typically only areas of these agencies do. If you work
for a gov't agency and do not currently use synthetic
winchlines, discuss this option with a supervisor or purchasing
agent and contact us for a quote).