Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winch Line - Amsteel Blue 5/16" ROPE instead of a strap or cable

I recently had to replace the winch on our King trailer. The Fulton 3200# 2-speed model buckled (and parts broke off and flew into the water!) when I was winching the boat onto the trailer at Brannan Island marina in the Sacramento River Delta.

In replacing the winch, I decided on another winch of the same type (best of the choices out there). I removed and sanded and painted the steel plate that the winch mounts to, and mounted the new winch with the same three bolts to the trailer. Then I ordered a strap with a similar working strength to what had been on the old winch (figured I should get everything new, though the old strap was still serviceable) and prepared to install it. The strap seemed less substantial to me than the old one (that came on the trailer) was, and so I returned it and began looking at alternatives.

I could put a cable on the boat, oil it regularly and replace it every few years. I could order a heavier strap, adapt the winch (which is fitted from the factory to handle a cable or rope) by drilling holes in either side and fitting a bolt for the strap to mount to. Or I could think 'outside the box'.

I did the latter and, after looking at many types of heavy duty rope, came across one that bills itself as the alternative to cable. It's called Amsteel Blue, and it utilizes Dutch technology which makes it several times stronger than rope and stronger than the equivalent size of cable. It is nearly impossible to cut (requires a very sharp razor knife) and it floats! So I ordered 25' of Amsteel Blue in a 5/16" thickness, and installed it on my winch (with a 4" section of shrink-tubing where the rope passes through the wall of the winch to be anchored the outside). Couldn't be happier with the rope's performance to date. The breaking strength of the 5/16" Amsteel Blue is 13,700#. I don't anticipate any trouble with a boat that, fully loaded is about 8000#

I liked it so much that I ordered four lengths of 3/16" Amsteel Blue for my fenders. Overkill perhaps (breaking strength of 5400#), but I'll never worry about currents or a rough dock wearing on my fender lines! An added benefit is that you can use a much smaller thickness of line (3/16" vs. 5/8" in regular rope), leaving more room on the cleat for your docking lines, etc.

Resource: There are several places to get Amsteel Blue, but I think I found the best: Greg Kenley at Midwest Winchrope (www.midwestwinchrope.com) will cut your length(s) to order and splice loops/thimbles into the ends for you. He does top notch work, and his prices are at least as good as larger 'discount' shops. His phone number is: (573) 703-3040 and, as a bonus, he's a nice guy.  Amsteel Blue is as tough as it gets and I'm glad I found it for Kokomo. You may have an interest in taking a look at the demo video (Greg's homegrown video) at: http://www.youtube.com/watch? =FcifJkhXpMM. Even if you're not looking for heavy duty, light weight winch line, it's pretty interesting.

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San Quentin Prison

San Quentin Prison
One of the more 'captivating' sites along the Corte Madera channel . Rowers from Corte Madera are practicing in the foreground.