TBT to synthetic rope breakage. MYTH: Synthetic winch rope falls to the ground when it breaks. Well, the truth is, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. This video was sent to us from our friend and GenRight Off Road Ambassador Jeff Perkins. In this particular case, the synthetic winch rope broke suddenly without warning and the recoil was significant. Sure, there is less energy stored when compared to a steel cable, but you still would not want get hit with this rope.
The mode of synthetic winch rope failure is uncertain. At times it can fail by sequential strand failures. In a sequential failure, as each one of the individual strand fails, a small portion of the overall stored energy is released from the system. As this type of failure mode continues, energy is released in steps over time until there is little energy stored in the system and the final strand finally fails and the rope drops to the ground. The problem is that there is no way to predict that this mode of rope failure will occur versus a more dangerous sudden catastrophic rope failure.
A sudden winch rope failure is quite possible, especially if the winch line is either shock loaded, or in this case the rope may have been overstressed by an undersized corner radius on the fairlead, or the rope possibly contacted a small burr on the fairlead. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to play it safe and plan for the sudden failure and recoil of the rope. What’s the take away here? Be cautious and don’t count on a sequential rope fiber failure, use a rope damper, and stay away from the recoil danger zone.
So do any of you have any experience with winch rope failure? Sequential or sudden?
Engineering Facts Matter
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