Field Fix: Winch Rope

The trek out and back from the Northwest Overland Rally presented photographer Lance Hanson and Factor55’s Justin Andrews with the opportunity to hit the dirt roads and explore the northern Cascades. Stumbling upon the perfect waterfront camp spot, the duo availed themselves of a few hours of relaxation, and when their motivation was recharged, it was time to tackle a few vehicle repairs.


Before we go further, a little about Justin Andrews. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Justin, we hope one day you do, but be prepared to spend some time listening to more than one of the many stories he has to tell. Justin has been working in the off-road and vehicle recovery worlds for over 8 years, doing everything from long-distance expedition recovery outfitting to on-the-fly winch rope repairs at King Of The Hammers. He resides in Idaho, where Factor55 winch accessory products are manufactured. His favorite movie is Point Break, which explains why you see him traveling from Idaho to the coast to practice surfing whenever he can.


As an expert in the kind of work Lance and Justin now had to deal with, Justin took time to showcase how to repair a winch rope in the field, and we’re going to give you a quick rundown.

Vehicle recovery can be inherently dangerous due to a multitude of variables, but for this example, we’re demonstrating with synthetic rope, which has become the standard for winch recovery due to ease of use, lightness, and safety factors.  When a rope fails, it falls to the ground, whereas a metal cable can start flying around and destroying anything in its path. You can apply the tactics in this repair guide to field repairing winch rope or building a winch extension to help you reach the tree that’s just out of reach.


Step 1: Cut It Out

If your rope is damaged, you will need to cut the affected fibers to ensure you are getting full working strength. Any knife will eventually cut through, but thanks to its exceptional toughness, CPM-CruWear steel – found in the 539GY Anonimus, as well several other Benchmade knives – cuts through winch rope many times while maintaining its edge. Synthetic ropes are made up of high-density fibers that will quickly dull super sharp blades that lack the resilience of a steel such as CPM-CruWear, CPM-D2, or other tough tool steels.


Step 2: Measure It

Now that the rope is cut, you can prep the rope to be threaded and buried. You can do this task by old school method with a tape and a ball-point pen, but we will be using Factor55’s Fast Fid to make quick work. Utilizing the measurements on the Fast Fid, 3/8” rope calls for 20-27” of rope to be buried. Measure out to the proper length and make a note of it.


Insert the end of the rope into the Fast Fid wire basket. This works like a classic finger trap. Compress the wire basket and insert the rope. Then, release tension on the wire basket and it will capture the rope.


Step 3: Stab It

Where we measured the rope length, we will take the red part of the Fast Fid and insert between fibers. Poke all the way through. Pull through until you leave adequate diameter for loop (determined if it’s for a ¾” thimble or winch extension loop).

*Optional* - To prevent the rope from creeping, repeat by inserting the Fast Fid between more fibers and doubling back.


Step 4: Bury It

In the middle of synthetic rope there is a tunnel. Insert the Fast Fid into the fibers and find the tunnel and feed the Fast Fid into about 20”-27” of rope.


Once you reach the intended length, exit the tunnel like so.


Step 5: Pull It Through and Detach It

Pull the rope through.


Release pressure on wire basket to remove rope end.


Step 6: Slice it up

Fan out the rope end to taper it and cut off the strands at an angle.


Step 7: Pull It Through

Holding the loop end, work the outside rope down until the fanned rope disappears into the tunnel. Just like that, your rope will have full strength and be ready for recovery duties as needed!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.