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DIY: Replacing winch cable with dyneema rope


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Bit of a DIY tutorial on how to replace the steel winch cable with dyneema rope and one way to do a correctly rated eye splice.

So as some forum members know Tina helps me drive on and drive off the trailer with minimal fuss and stress (we do use the winch but not as heavily as I would be using when solo), our trailer is 3 years old and has had quite a well maintained life thus far. So it kind of surprised me that the inevitable eventually happened and the winch cable failed (with no injuries luckily). So take this opportunity for those with steel cables to check for kinks or frays.


The cable failed at the crimp where a kink slowly worked its way through.


Step 1: Remove the winch from the winch post, should be 3 bolts.


Step 2: Undo the locking nut holding the tail end of the steel cable.


Step 3: Strip the cable, you should always use gloves when handling steel cable.


Steel cable has memory, it's heavy, it flies through the air when it snaps, sinks in water and requires a fair amount of maintenance, etc.


Dyneema rope has very little to no memory, it's light, it drops limp when it snaps and floats on water. The only negative I have about it is that a little care must be paid when using it to avoid cutting it and getting dirt/rocks caught in the fibers. This one is rated to 3500 kg and cost me $6 per meter (I got 6 meters) and I will be reusing my original S-hook. Average price was around $60+ for a similarly rated item off the shelf. Perks of Dyneema is that if it snaps you can retie it and keep going (also applies to 4x4 winches - many of which also use Dyneema now).


Step 4: Give the winch a good clean to remove all the grease.


Step 5: Electrical tape the head end of the rope.

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Step 6: Ideally you will use a fib, but I learnt how to do this while we were out in the bush so we made do with what we had. I'll show you the same way so you know what to do in future. In this instance the tube of a pen is perfectly acceptable.


Step 7: Determine how big you need your loop and using the "fib" feed the head end back through the center of the rope (in this instance it's 8 fibers) so 4 each side. Consider that you will need extra length to tuck back into the core (this will be explained later).


Step 8: Pull the rope through.


Step 9: Remove the fib and attach it to the tail end. Feed this back through the head end of the rope (again through the middle).


Step 10: Pull the tail end through.


Step 11: Pull the ends slowly and firmly, you'll find that both cross over points will tighten up snug against one another.


Step 12: This is the confusing bit. With the head end, feed the fib through the center core of the rope near where the cross over points from Step 11.


Step 13: Feed the entire fib through the core and start bunching up the rope around the fib until there is enough so that the rope will sit inside itself.

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Step 14: Pull the entire fib through the wall of the rope and remove the fib. During this process try to be careful and not damage any fibers. The fib should be smooth without sharp edges. If you don't have a fib then you can simply build one up using tape. At this stage you would either flame the end of the rope to prevent fraying or tape the end. When flaming, try to avoid sharp edges, I prefer to flame then tape.


Step 15: Pull the loop slowly and firmly, make sure all the fibers are covering the internal "head end" of the rope.


Step 16: Once everything seated properly apply a fair amount of force by stretching the loop and pulling the tail end of the rope.


Step 17: Now you can use a reef knot lark's head knot to attach your hook.



Step 18: My winch roller got chewed out by the steel cable, these sharp bits can damage your dyneema rope so I just simply flipped it 180º to get a smooth unused side.


Step 19: I flamed and taped up the tail end and placed the locking bolt through the middle (of 4 fibers) and sandwiched the rope between two stainless washers. Keep in mind this locking nut is not load bearing and simply to hold the tail end of the rope while you get a few wraps on the drum. Take this into consideration when ordering the length required as you will need a couple of wraps (I used 1 meters worth) to really grip onto the drum of the winch.


Step 20: Re-grease the necessary bits, wind the rope back under tension and you are done!

The eye splice method can be used for heavy duty applications, it's quite strong as the rope feeds through the core of itself and as tension is applied it squeezes itself. I learnt this for a 4x4 winch and we fed a much longer head end into the core as a safety measure.

Hope this helps members save a bit of coin and it's something handy to lock away in the memory banks when you're stuck at the ramp or off roading in future. Takes 5-10 minutes if you know what you're doing, bit longer if you need to bush mechanic some bits and pieces.

If anyone has suggestions on how it can be better improved, please let me know by posting.



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Hahahaha.... I was waiting for the pic to say that you had spliced in a loop but had not put the hook on first ;-)

The loop you have put on the hook is commonly called a larks head as it used to be used around the neck of larks I assume.

AHHHH no... I did think to splice the hook into the loop but decided that I'd use a "larks head" instead. Thanks for that, I've always called it a reef knot (well one half of it anyway). Will make the correction.

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Eug did forget to put the hook in and furiously searched youtube for a fix :P

HAH! Possible scenario, but that would have annoyed me and I would have untied the lot and started from scratch.

Cheers for the comments, I've learnt a thing or two from various members over the years and thought it's time I start returning the favour.

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I replaced mine a while back with the dyneema works a treat all down to the part where I came back to the ramp after a trip and someone had cut the factory splice of and half hitched the hook back on? Beats me why. thanks for the pics will resplice ASAP

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  • 4 years later...


Great post. I was always a bit confused about putting the long tail end through the short tag of the loop. I have put up a link for the fids I like to use. I don't think they do a better job than your pen solution but I needed to do a stack of simple loops for a job last year and found these pretty fast to use... not to mention I didn't know your clever bushmans solution with the pen.



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  • 3 months later...
On 21/04/2012 at 11:33 AM, Eug said:

Once everything seated properly apply a fair amount of force by stretching the loop and pulling the tail end of the rope.

Good one Eug,

Know thread is old but had to comment,

This is the same way to do halter ropes for horses.

Instead of tape on the end I use heat shrink, just don't apply to much heat.

              Thanks for the tutorial,,,  Gary

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