1. #1
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    Default Synthetic Winch Rope

    Anyone using or anyone have any thoughts on the use of synthetic winch rope on rescue truck winches?

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    No one around here uses it.The question has been brought up and batted around before,try a search which may yield other responses.I prefer steel cored wire rope for rescue for the following reasons;Size for size it is stronger.While synthetic is lighter and easier on people,it is less resistant to damage when being used around sharp rocks,torn steel,glass etc.A lot of synthetics may allow some preload(stretch).A lot of this depends on material and construction.A wire rope can stand abuse better than synthetics.I use both in our towing division;I've worn out wire rope but I've had to throw out synthetics from chemical exposure and cuts.They don't have to move much over sharp objects to ruin them.If it were me,I'd use a top grade wire rope with a wire center,but I've outlined my reasoning why.If you choose to use synthetic buy a name brand,top shelf version.Remember it's your(and their)lives. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-29-2005 at 08:21 AM.

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    I agree with 101, buy the best wire rope you can AND take care of it!
    Developer and Sr. Presenter, Team Xtreme
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    We have been using Kevlar (synthetic) rope for 15 years and have never had any issues with it. You don't have to worry about burs, kinking or layering the rope back on the spool. It will not store energy as wire rope so if it fails it won't whip back. The downside is it is sensitive to UV (protect from sun) and it's more expensive. We have 3 heavy rescues in our department and we use our winches quite frequently.

    Synthetic rope has been used in the shipping industry for decades. If you can tow a ship with it....

    We first learned of Kevlar rope from companies in Montgomery County, MD (Rockville Vol. Fire Department) and they swear by it.
    John E. Burruss, NREMT-P
    Heavy-Technical Rescue Instructor
    Virginia Department of Fire Programs

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    John,Steel cored wired rope doesn't generally break/whip if used within correct load limits either.Nor is it inclined to kink if used CORRECTLY. We have differing opinions on synthetics,you obviously have had good luck with them while my experiences have been;well,let's just say they don't mirror yours. Things I know:Truck drivers never lie and whatever they tell you is gospel.Fortunately I've been in the game long enough to accurately guess most rigs weight and resistance.Burrs are a sign wire rope has been abused or needs replacing,it's a warning to an experienced operator.And, as you state, some synthetic products store no energy.Others, however ,store a great deal of energy,far greater than any wire rope. So I'd speculate that both in the correct application have their place.But for me it will be an AMERICAN made wire centered wire rope of the correct size and class for the machine it's put on.Anchor chain has been used on ships for years too,but I wouldn't use it for Rescue or vehicle recovery.Different products for different purposes.I use synthetics for several applications but around vehicle wrecks I've yet to find a more durable,safe product than a rated chain and wire rope.And if you're having good luck with synthetics,Great! But I think you're in a minority, nationwide. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 10-10-2005 at 10:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    John,Steel cored wired rope doesn't generally break/whip if used within correct load limits either.Nor is it inclined to kink if used CORRECTLY. We have differing opinions on synthetics,you obviously have had good luck with them while my experiences have been;well,let's just say they don't mirror yours. Things I know:Truck drivers never lie and whatever they tell you is gospel.Fortunately I've been in the game long enough to accurately guess most rigs weight and resistance.Burrs are a sign wire rope has been abused or needs replacing,it's a warning to an experienced operator.And, as you state, some synthetic products store no energy.Others, however ,store a great deal of energy,far greater than any wire rope. So I'd speculate that both in the correct application have their place.But for me it will be an AMERICAN made wire centered wire rope of the correct size and class for the machine it's put on.Anchor chain has been used on ships for years too,but I wouldn't use it for Rescue or vehicle recovery.Different products for different purposes.I use synthetics for several applications but around vehicle wrecks I've yet to find a more durable,safe product than a rated chain and wire rope.And if you're having good luck with synthetics,Great! But I think you're in a minority, nationwide. T.C.
    I doubt it.
    Synthetic rope has alot of advangtages to be used for vehicle winching. The price is usually much higher than steel rope. That's the key reason why it is not be used popularly enough.
    But you should keep in mind, synthetic winch rope can easily hurt by fire & Abrasion. So be careful with fire. Nothing else.

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    Last edited by vincentb; 03-29-2010 at 01:43 PM.

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    Vinnie,A little background. I run a Towing and recovery service. My dad ran a smaller Towing service before me. I've been running Tow trucks for over 44 yrs.I GUARANTEE if you poll 15,000 professional towing operators across the USA you'll find very few using synthetic winch lines.Any wonder why? Synthetic(and we all use them)loops and straps are billed out on most jobs.Why? Because you might get a hundred uses out of them or you might get ONE. They are susceptible from damage from a lot more issues than just fire.Sharp edges(never found around a wreck scene)being one of the primary hazards,chemical degradation being another.Ever watch "Wrecked"? Think the Gratzianna's are running synthetic winch lines? Nope.Do as you like,but for me and most in my profession;it will be a rated chain and a rated wire rope on my rescue/recovery scenes.

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    Rescue, thanks for your input
    Understand you have a ecprience in towing. But, winching is a special kindda towing. It is not as static as towing, if you refer your friends in the off-road winching field, you will realize that, more and more prefer synthetic winch rope than ever. This kindds rope is a totally new one, not susceptible to mechinial at all.
    Synthetic in firefight is not as popular as it in winching, I guesss mainly because the fire will damage the rope easily. The second is thr price is some times expensive then steel wire. and the other I know is, steel wire have been used for such a long time, and most would thinks it's more trusty.

    Synthetic Winch Rope
    Last edited by vincentb; 03-29-2010 at 01:45 PM.

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    Vinnie,Key word in my resume: RECOVERY. WINCHING,lots of winching, in load ranges up to 120,000# plus. NO SYNTHETIC ROPE! Not on mine,not on my competition. We make a living doing this,it isn't a hobby, and ALL of us use wire rope. You really think we're all that slow? For off roading it may be perfectly acceptable. For life safety/making a living,not so much. Don't take my word for it,look around. I'd be surprised if you find anybody doing this (vehicle recovery professionally)with synthetic winch line. Feel free to look around and let me know how you make out. If it was THAT superior to wire rope we'd all be using it. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I've been running Tow trucks for over 44 yrs.I GUARANTEE if you poll 15,000 professional towing operators across the USA you'll find very few using synthetic winch lines.Any wonder why?
    Because if you've been doing that way for 44 years its all you know.

    Just out of curiousity, are you still using a '65 model wrecker?
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    Robert,Too many hours again?Reread my post. I USE synthetics every day. I DON'T(and won't)use synthetic winch lines. YES,44 yrs of PROVEN performance biases my decision. And if you do as I asked the other rspondent to do(poll other companies) you will find that I'm NOT in a minority here. As you ought to know by now,I'm not opposed to new ways/ideas if they work better than established proven methods. Nor do I jump on the bandwagon just 'cause it's new. As I mentioned, if synthetic winch line was that much superior to wire rope,people/companies much larger with much more money than mine would be jumping all over it. This isn't the case,nor do I expect it to change anytime soon.I deal with a lot of wrecks and as far as the Towing industry has come, a good rated chain,snatch block and good quality wire rope is what gets it done for the vast majority of America's towing companies,a hundred years after the notion became popular. Much like,despite modern innovation,water is still the primary extingushing agent for fire. You like synthetics? Have at it. But don't expect to see many of them(winch lines)on tow trucks for quite a while to come.Until well after my retirement at least. To answer your last,No my HD is a '69,the small hd is a '72,the 4 car is a '88 and my daily driver is a '96. Only the '96 is computerized.There's still something to be said for OLD IRON,it almost ALWAYS works. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 02-27-2009 at 09:48 PM.

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    Not to insult anyone's intelligence (seriously), but you guys aren't wrapping the cable itself around whatever you are winching/stabilzing are you?
    Career Firefighter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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    Speaking only for myself and my staff,ABSOLUTELY NOT! T.C.

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