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Unread 09-20-2010, 07:41 PM   #1
CooterBrown
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Recovery gear write up

i posted this in another thread and have seen other threads pop up with similar questions. so thought i should give this its own thread. if any one has questions on winches, rigging gear, or recovery gear feel free to ask.

im a rigger and work with wire rope, winches, cranes, snatch blocks etc all day. and perform a gazzillion inspections a year, im not claiming to be an expert, but i have some know with the issue. please take this as me spreading some knowledge, and i assume no liability for any mishaps that occur as a result.

wire rope is not safer than synthetic and synthetic is not safer than wire rope. bad things can happen with both. but with proper use and the right knowledge and well maintained equipment, you can have fun, get unstuck, and make it hope to bed at night. at work i work with 1"- 1-7/8" wire rope, but the 1/4" on my warn is just as deadly and dangerous. synthetic line can get you dead just as fast during a failure.

picture wire rope as a machine instead of a rope. whent he wire rope is put under tension it does not stretch like rope, it unlays itself, so you have moving parts bearing on each other. so putting lube on them actually helps reduce wear. new wire rope for our application is stainless steel, or plated steel so until the plating wears off it has a smooth coating to bear on. and doesnt need lube. once your cable shows signs of rust it should get some lube. preferably a grease. you wont find that any where but thats what i would do.

as far as cable contracting and loosening. i think yall are looking into this far too deeply. the loosening has mostly to do with your never going to get every rap to have the same "tightness" also the vibrations of daily driving will work slack from the working end into the standing wraps. its no big deal. but think about it this way. if temperature was to play a part, which it does, the temperature will have the same effect on the steel drum as it does on the cable, maybe not exactly equal but not enough to put noticable slack. your winch itself will actually slowly over time let out slack as well.

inspecting wire rope. i inspect mine quarterly, usually accompanying an oil change. unless ive used it. i clean it with wd-40, or CLP, and run a rag down it to get the excess off, because as stated before you dont want dust to collect in the bearing of the wire rope, but the lube will also work that dust out when it gets under tension.

things to look for are fishhooks, breaks, crimps, kinks, birdcages, and ****les. you may ask yourself wtf is that well ill tell you if you have time to read.

fishhooks arent bad by themselves, it will happen over time, wire rope is made up of many strands( wire threads have you) spun into lays, on winch wire ropes that i have seen they are 6 lay wire rope with a wire core. that means there is a 7th lay inside the wire. so a fishhook is a break of one strand that gets bent out to form a hook that loves to go right through your glove and hook you in the hand. on bigger wire rope its pretty gruesome, ill see if i can find pics of my hand. but this leads us to breaks. again breaks alone are no big deal at all. the coast guard rigging standard allows up to 3 breaks in any single strand, or 5 breaks in a lay length. a lay length is the distance that it takes for one lay to make a full turn around the wire rope, so on 1/4 in wire like ours its probably about 3 inches. this is pretty substantial if you can see that many breaks on the surface because there is quite a bit of the lay facing the inside of the wire. and if you find this the wire should be scrapped.

crimps are where the wire rope has been crushed by something and the wire rope can no longer flex and bear like we talked about before so it doesnt have the strength it once had. i would discard it.

kinks, i assume yall would be able to recognize it, same as with crimps, it loses its ability to flex and "Stretch" so it loses its strength.

bird cages and ****les, these are quite obvious and you have to really do something wrong to get one but it happens all the time. a bird cage can happen with out wire rope do to the lack of a swivel in the system. when wire rope "stretches" and unlays itself that causes the hook or bitter end to spin, but if it isnt aloud to spin it could unlay the line enough to not allow it to go back, this will be obvious and look like a little cage in the line. it will usually happen toward the hook as the rotation is trying to escape. but only abuse and too much weight will cause this. a ****le is caused but the same lack of a swivel, your wire rope has a memory, and it spends its entire life in the shape of a winch drum so when you take it off it is going to want to form "bights" or loops of rope, when these are left in the line and tension is applied it will form a kink, then after tension is applied to a kink it becomes a ****le.

if your still reading, im impressed.

repairing wire rope is not simple. if my line was screwed up within 10 feet of the hook i would save the line and just resplice the hook on. but as i doubt there are very many people out there who can splice wire rope, i would suggest using two cable clamps for the diameter wire rope you have, or finding a rigging shop and haveing them re-swedge (the fitting thats on there now) the hook on. otherwise pony up for a new wire. when in doubt take it to a rigging shop to be pull tested and inspected, or replace it. replacing it will probably be cheaper but you never know.

when respooling your wire rope, you want to have tension on it, but you dont need as much tension as the first time you "set" the rope. setting the rope gives it that initial lesson on its memory. and future respools, unless you take off the wire rope or bring it down to where it has less than 5 wraps on the drum, walking the wire rope in will pulling on it with your body should be enough. just have someone help you make sure the ropw is laying in between the wires of the lay below it to prevent crimping. think about a crane, the headache ball on a crane is only there to provide weight for spooling. on the 20ton crane i work with the headache ball weighs 750 pounds. but when we set new wire rope on it we hand a giant water bag off of it at a wieght of close to 20000lbs. so you dont need full weight every time.

if any one still has any questions feel free to ask

i will come back and do a write up on synthetics, slings, snatch blocks, shackles etc. as the time goes by so stay tuned if this interests you. i know this is kind of dry, i will try to make it interesting.

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Unread 09-20-2010, 07:42 PM   #2
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This ones kinda long but I think I covered just about everything
Synthetics.
Care of Synthetics is much different than wire rope but just as intensive and important if not more important. This can go for synthetic winch line or tow lines. The biggest issue in chafing. Don't go sprinkling gold bond on it,. But mind it when dragging it in the dirt, or especially running it across rocks when under tension. Any abrasion at all and it should be repaired or preferably replaced. The best thing to do is to get a piece of non-synthetic chafing gear. To keep in you rig for when it has to rub on something. A 3 foot split piece of garden hose, or even a cotton sweat shirt would work in a pinch. Anything that the line can slide on without chafing. Preferably not something made of nylon or polyester as this will burn it.
* *Other things that cause chafing are dirt, ice, sand, or any type of debris in the line. Ice will reek havoc on lines. Moving the line with debris in it will cause chafing inside the line.
* *Things to maintain and extend the life of your synthetics. Wash with a mild soapy solution (car wash soap when you wash the heep) and actually scrub the line a little bit. This kills mold that can grow in line if it isn't allowed time to dry properly and the mold itself can wear on the inside of the line. Mildew also eats the synthetics.
* *After a long day of multiple pulls or an extreme winching requiring a lot of weight on you line, unspool the line and allow it to "rest." Synthetics stretch when under tension, but they don't return to there original size right away. So what will happen is you will spool it on hand tight then it will shrink and be stored under tension, and subtract from the life of the line. So I would recommend unspooling down to the last full wrap of the drum *and just hanging it on the bumper over night to allow it to shrink.
* *Also sun deteriorates all synthetics. Your winch line is probably a polypro based, or polyester based line so it will have less sun wear than nylon but still none the less it will degrade it. So get a cover for your winch.

So a short recap, wash your line, don't let it chafe on sharp objects, and store out of the sun.

Shackles
Shackles are another important piece of rigging equipment, these can be used for all sorts of things on the trail, but like all pieces of gear need maintenance. Shackles should be made of steel alloy. Warn makes good ones, but I prefer Crosby red pin shackles. Allows are more malleable (meaning they stretch and bend before they break) this means they will show signs of failure before they break. This is important to us because often time we are pulling in tight quarters with people around, so if your shackle is failing, it will show signs before it blows up. The only real maintenance I perform on my shackles is I put a little bit of grease on the threads. They shouldn't rust easily but if they do just steel wool it off. And if it is bent or stretched at all float test it in the nearest large body of water. And for the most part if a shackle doesn't have the Working load limit stamped on it, or it says made in china throw it in the drink its worth the few extra bucks for the piece of mind knowing safety was in mind when it was made and it was tested to a certain rate.

Snatch-blocks.
One of my favorite pieces of equipment, but quite possible one of the most dangerous and misunderstood. A snatch block is a simple pulley, that's it plain and simple. Its called a snatch because the line doesn't have to be threaded through it and it can simply be opened up and the line placed in it. When winching these are great. They can be used when winching around a corner, and the small the angle the less strain is placed on the winch. For instance if you put a snatch block on a tree and then run the cable from your winch right back to your bumper it doubles the pulling capacity of your winch. If you are pulling around a corner and the line is making a 90 degree angle your winch has 150% the capacity. BUT. If whatever your snatch block is hooked to fails you just created the world most deadly sling shot. And now your 10 pd snatch block is going into hyper speed towards your buddy. So use this only if a straight pull is not safe or available and never let any one stand in the angle made by the wire rope. This is no joke.
* *Maintenance on these is simple. For it to work the shiv (wheel) inside has to spin freely, to determine this spin it with your fingers. Also check for indentations from the wire rope in the shiv. This is bad and shouldn't happen, it is cause by too much tension and not spinning. So I would just keep it well grease. And again clean. Also check that the attachment point is not worn or stretched.


Slings/ tow straps/ tow ropes
These are essential for winch less. Slings are good but they don't build up stretch to assist in pulling and they are quite a bit more money than the other two. These should be discarded if the polyester yarn inside is showing. As the yarn inside is actually one piece spun round and round if it gets torn the whole thing is useless and dangerous.
* *Tow straps and tow ropes. Synthetics: these are great because they stretch and then pop the stuck vehicle out. But if they show chafing or damage cut them up and throw them out. Its not worth the 30-60 bucks to kill your buddy.
* *Natural line tow ropes. These aren't as common any more but I have seen them used successfully. Manila line spliced at both ends makes a decent tow rope. BUT, it has nowhere near the strength of synthetics. It is also quite a bit safer than everything we have talked about because it doesn't shrink, or stretch so when it does fail it has no snap back, it typically just makes a big noise and falls to the ground. But caution and common sense should still be used. Drawbacks are, it rots, cant get it wet, and it chafes easily.

Things to keep in mind with all rigging equipment is the working load limit (WLL). Once you have all your cool new tools in action and looking sophisticated to unstuck your buddies rig, this set up is only as strong as its weakest link. So keep in mind that if you have a 12500lb winch with a shackle only rated to 4tons. You have a system only rated to 8000lbs. but your winch doesn't know that so it will keep pulling. The safety here is that most standing rigging(rigging that doesn't move on its own.) has a WLL of 50% the weight at which it completely fails. Running rigging( winches and rigging that moves on its own, typically stalls at its rated weight.) I wouldn't push my WLL's. this isn't a game and safety is the number one when dealing with anything rigging related. But when used safely and with common sense it is some of the most fun and rewarding parts of offroading.

Please keep in mind these are all recommendations from my experience in dealing with these things. I take no responsibility in any damage or harm that comes from using rigging gear as I have mentioned. Safety is the main key here. And should be exercised constantly. If you cant do it safely then don't do it and let some one with more experience do it.
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Unread 09-20-2010, 09:14 PM   #3
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if your still reading, im impressed.




Good post!
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Unread 09-22-2010, 05:32 PM   #4
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is a snatch strap included under "tow straps"?
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Unread 09-22-2010, 09:11 PM   #5
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Nice write-up, good work.
Crawled and thumbsup-ed.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 10:49 PM   #6
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i have gotten mixed reviews on this question.Please help. I have not done it yet but wounder if i ever need a winch extension could i use a tow strap. I have one that is 30 feet long 4 inches wide and capacity of 20000 pounds would this be safe or not? i have heard the wider the strap the less it will stretch. Thanks for the run down on winches i have 2 one with synthetic rope one with cable.
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Unread 09-22-2010, 11:38 PM   #7
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i have gotten mixed reviews on this question.Please help. I have not done it yet but wounder if i ever need a winch extension could i use a tow strap. I have one that is 30 feet long 4 inches wide and capacity of 20000 pounds would this be safe or not? i have heard the wider the strap the less it will stretch. Thanks for the run down on winches i have 2 one with synthetic rope one with cable.
ideally... no.. you're best bet there would be to strap the back of your vehicle to a tree or another rig and move closer... most winch hooks do not have a safety catch to keep the strap in the proper place within the hook... so if the winch line were to slacken or hit the ground, and then tighten up again you may have the tip of the hook digging into loop of the strap causing a point of failure and launching the hook right back at you... if you absolutely have to do it... put a shackle on the strap and attach your winch hook to that... then wrap a bungee or a wire tie around the hook and shackle to help maintain it's location at the proper place within the hook... do not allow any of the stress of the pull to be transferred to the bungee/wire tie... it should only be there to keep the hook located in an instance of slack... and use a sand bag or something in the middle of the winch line and near the hook to "catch" any sudden release of energy... just think of it like a rubber band... pull it too tight it'll snap.. not enough on the tip of your finger and it'll come back at you... hang a paper clip off of it and release it at both ends and nothing really happens..
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Unread 09-23-2010, 12:10 AM   #8
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Quote:
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i have gotten mixed reviews on this question.Please help. I have not done it yet but wounder if i ever need a winch extension could i use a tow strap. I have one that is 30 feet long 4 inches wide and capacity of 20000 pounds would this be safe or not? i have heard the wider the strap the less it will stretch. Thanks for the run down on winches i have 2 one with synthetic rope one with cable.
It's unsafe to use straps as winchline extensions because of the energy they store under load. If any piece of the rigging, recovery point or even a clevis were to fail, heaven help the guy in line with the winch hook when it goes flying.
I'm sure many people have examined their gear, assessed the risks, and done it anyway rather than walk home; but I'd not recommend it to anyone.
Because it's light and packs easily, I carry an extra length of synthetic line with a thimble at each end to use as an winchline extension for those rare occasions.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 08:41 AM   #9
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i would not use a tow strap as the others have said they have a stretch to them that is dangerous for sustained loads. i cant think of many situations where the extra 30 feet would help but if you feel you need something like this. get a round sling. they are pretty pricey. but they have no stretch and when they fail they fail slowly and they dont explode like a tow strap. when hooking any synthetic to your winch always use a shackle to the hook, this keeps you from point loading the hook.

a piece of synthetic line will store the same energy as a tow strap. FWIW
EDIT: yes synthetic winch line would be fine. i thought you meant just a 3 strand or double braided line.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 09:18 AM   #10
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is a snatch strap included under "tow straps"?
kindof but not really. tow straps are just synthetic, snatch straps are woven to stretch. i have never worked with one, so i left it out.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 01:09 PM   #11
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i have been out and got stuck once where a 100 feet of winch line woould have came nowhere near enough and no other vechicle could get me out.What is the difference between like a tow strap or like a arb winch extension? I had wound up stuck on a forest service road in the middle of a meadow.Must have fell into a tractorss ruts the 33 inch tire were clear under the mud on one side whille it was snowing hard.The ruts were covered in water i could not tell how deep it was tell i was stuck.Being in the middle of the meadow t the winch line could not reach anything. being a miracale i made it that fat for sure one wrong place tire the other truck would have wound up in the same perdicament. Im a little broke thats why i ask about the tow strap
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Unread 09-23-2010, 02:05 PM   #12
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well in a field where there isnt anything to winch to, you can use several diferent methods of making an anchor into the ground. such at bury your spare tire or a log, or run a series of stakes. its really not feasable to run out and hook onto something 2-300 feet away. so make a winching point near you.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 03:59 PM   #13
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i have often woundered about burying a log in the mud or dirt to winch to you just answered my question.
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Unread 09-23-2010, 04:16 PM   #14
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If I can find my warn techniques manual I'll take a pic of there pic for ya
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Unread 09-23-2010, 04:44 PM   #15
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all help is apriciated sorry for my spelling i was pretty glad to see a thread like this i hope im not asking to much?
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