How to Recable a Winch [A Complete Guide]

Say how frustrating it is when you pull some heavy stuff with your winch and the cable starts spooling around the drum erratically? It often happens when you don’t take the proper measures while feeding the winch cable onto the drum.

An inappropriate re-cabling can affect the winch cable significantly in the long run. Besides compromising its strength, it can lower the rope’s friction with the drum, increasing the risk of fatal breakages and resulting in massive financial losses.

Not to mention the severe injuries it can inflict on you. So, it’s essential to learn how to recable a winch the right way to eliminate the potential headaches.

This article talks about a detailed guideline for re-cabling your winch the right way. Keep reading to learn more.

Recable Your Winch: Step by Step Procedure

recable winch

The process isn’t as complex as it may seem, so long as you are ready to spare a few minutes and a friend to help.

#1. Prepare Yourself

While re-cabling a winch, wear a pair of tough, high-quality gloves before attempting anything. Handling winch cables without gloves can be dangerous, particularly when the cable is hooked up to a powerful winch.

Though the gloves may not guarantee utmost protection, they certainly can prevent fatal injuries. Moreover, they can protect your hands from getting pierced by sharp burrs or frays.

#2. Switch the Winch Off

Turn off the winch and disable the remote control after a completed winching operation to avoid activating the winch while you handle the cable.

#3. Set the Clutch to Free Spooling

You can now simply release the winch cable by setting the clutch to free spooling since it allows the reel to spool independently.

#4. Pull Out the Winch Cable

Next, you are going to pull out the cable straight away. It’s a good idea to pull it out without piling it a few feet from the winch, as it gives you better control during spooling, preventing entanglements.

You can either pull out the entire cable or stop at the point where it becomes uneven.

#5. Turn the Winch Back On

You can now re-spool the cable as intended. Reconnect the remote control to allow for slow, steady pulling of the cable.

#6. Spool the Winch Line

At this point, it would be best to get an extra helping hand since it will be challenging to operate the remote and feed the cable around the drum simultaneously.

As the winch drags the cable on its own, slowly guide it onto the drum, wrapping it around evenly as it goes.

Also, it’s a good idea to wrap tightly enough, so there’s plenty of space between the fairlead and the drum.

It also increases the friction between the cable and drum as it turns, making the winch work more efficiently.

#7. A Few Essentials to Keep in Mind

Before the cable overlaps onto itself, ensure that the drum has an even layer on either side. Wrap it evenly around the drum from one end to the other.

After you have evenly wrapped the cable around the drum to one side, wrap it again to the other side. Keep overlapping until you have the entire cable covered.

If you want to maintain the performance of your winch, make sure that you properly spool the winch cable around the drum after each use.

Though it will only take a small amount of work, you will have a long-lasting winch.

Relevant Queries


How Do You Untangle a Stuck Winch Cable Before Re-cabling?

You can do this with a method similar to the free-spooling we mentioned above. Use the following steps to untangle your cables fast and efficiently.

  • Park your vehicle forward-facing to a fixed support, such as a telephone pole, a big tree, or a large truck’s rear.
  • Disconnect the remote and set the winch to spin and spool freely. If it keeps failing, the winch’s inside or the spool knob is more likely causing the trouble than the jammed cable.
  • Attach the cable’s free end to the fixed support near the ground. If the free end seems too short to work with, you can extend it with a strap.
  • Back the vehicle up gently until the line gets the tension while the winch spools freely. Avoid pulling the cable over a pointy edge since this can damage or break it.
  • You can gradually increase the tension on the cable by applying throttle till it releases. Be careful not to overtighten or over-speed the drum, as this may cause it to break.

How Can I Prevent a Stuck Winch Cable?

Preparation is the key to preventing stuck winch cables and ropes. Here are some essential tips to avoid any mess in the future.

  • Regardless of their type, it would help if you wrapped your cables or ropes neatly and evenly around the winch drum under load. While the cord can cross itself if the windings are too loose, the weight causes it to bind up when you add tension.
  • Ensure that the lower windings are wrapped tight to prevent the free end from falling between the lower windings when added tension. Synthetic ropes are more likely to jam if you skip this.
  • You will often find that as you winch, the cable spools back up erratically and unevenly. And so, it’s always a good idea to re-spool it neatly after each use.
  • If possible, install a spring-loaded roller fairlead. With this fairlead, you can spool back the cable with constant tension, allowing it to return neatly and tightly to the drum.
  • Steel cables with kinks and bends are always tricky to rewind down neatly. A new, smooth replacement may save you some pain if you are constantly getting stuck cables.

Why Does my ATV Plow Winch Cable Often Break While Re-cabling?

ATV cables mostly break due to low-grade steel constructions that get flat spots even under light pressure. If it keeps happening, consider replacing it with a synthetic rope.

You can also consider pairing the winch rope with a hawse fairlead to make it last even longer.

How Do You Re-spool a Winch Outdoors Manually?

Here’s the slickest re-spooling trick ever. Run a strap between two posts or large trees that are at least 15 to 25 feet apart.

You should then loop a smaller strap around the first one before hooking both ends of the winch cable. Lastly, turn the parking brake on gently to make the winch pull.

How Do You Re-spool a Winch Cable Evenly?

You only have to re-spool until the rope balances unevenly, but spooling it all out ensures that the cable will be evenly spooled without the need to redo it.

Then you can disconnect the clutch’s lever to allow for free spooling before reactivating it when on the halfway line to keep the drum locked.

Finally, slowly pull the rope with the help of a friend to get an evenly aligned spool.

Final Say

Winches are indispensable, whether recovering from an accident, rescuing stranded cars, or even towing an airplane. There are numerous types of winches, all of which have similar purposes.

And no matter which one you have, when you know how to recable a winch properly, you can make it last longer and perform as well as it should.