5 Top Tips | Caring for Wire Rope

5 Top Tips | Caring for Wire Rope

Rigging equipment has a tough job lifting and moving heavy loads for hours and hours a day. In order for that equipment to be able to be its job, we have to take proper care of it. We expect longevity and endurance from equipment like wire rope, but that can easily turn if not properly treated. Equipment that is properly treated, handled, installed, inspected and stored will reward us with a prolonged life of service, better job performance and peace of mind in knowing it won’t fail.

Riggers don’t have the luxury of simple equipment slip-ups. If your rigging equipment fails you, it can cause damage to product, property and worst-case scenario, an extreme safety hazard resulting in injury or loss of life. Since wire rope is a material of choice in heavier lifts, extreme safety hazards can be a real possibility if you’re using rope that’s in an unsafe condition.

But that can be avoided! Here are 5 top tips to help you keep you wire rope in tip-top condition…

1. Seizing Your Wire Rope

Seizing and cutting operations are not difficult to perform, but are crucial in the performance of wire rope. Proper seizing must be applied to both rope ends to protect the wire ropes from loosening – Carelessly or inadequately seized ends may cause distortion or flattening of the rope. If you use wire rope that is not properly seized it will cause uneven distribution of the load over the strands causing the life of the wire rope to be drastically shortened.

Normally, one of two methods are used to do this. Typically method one is suitable for wire ropes with a diameter over one inch, and method two is those with a diameter one inch and under.

Method One:

  1. One end of the seizing wire is placed between the valleys of two strands.
  2. Turn another end around the rope and the fixed end of seizing wire closely and tightly at right angles.
  3. Stop turning after the proper length of seizing has been applied.
  4. Twist two ends of seizing wire together and make sure they are seizing the rope tightly.

Method Two:

  1. Wrap with small wires as shown in the picture.
  2. Twist the two ends of seizing wire together.
  3. Alternatively tight twist with end cutters.

2. Care When Unloading & Handling

If you’re dealing with loading or unloading wire rope in a reel or coil, it’s important to know that that is not a protected storage method and if you drop the reel during this process, it can lead to serious damage to your wire rope. Because of this, it is important to handle reels of wire rope with care and focus not to drop or damage the reel. Damage to the reel can also make it incredibly difficult to remove the wire rope from the reel, so it’s not only an important safety precaution but will also save you time and frustration in the future.

It’s also important to take care when removing wire rope from the reels or coils. When doing this, ensure the reel or coil is rotating as the wire rope unwinds. Below you will see some of the rights vs. wrongs for unwinding rope.

3. Installation By Trained Professionals

In the rigging field, it’s very important that workers be properly trained in any and all tasks they are performing because many lifts can become extremely dangerous if even one aspect is done incorrectly. So the most important thing to take away from this tip is to seek out proper training from certified professionals before taking on tasks like installing wire rope!

Once you have that training you will know how important it is to take into account the design factor of any equipment being used with wire rope, being sure to take note of the nominal diameter of wire rope to use with the equipment, as specified by the manufacturer. Installing an incorrect size will result in a failed rope or shorter service life as the rope can get pinched into a smaller space compromising its integrity.

Wire rope diameter is determined by measuring the outer circle of the strands, which is the greatest dimension that can be measured with a pair of parallel-jawed calipers or machinist’s caliper square. You can easily make a mistake if not taking care in measuring the largest dimension, as shown below:

 

4. Keeping up with Inspections and Assessments

Keeping up with the required inspections is something that must be prioritized for all rigging equipment. Wire rope is often used for heavy lifting, which means they are being used in situations where they are trusted to keep not just your load safe, but the people and the environment around it. That means that you have to be confident that your wire rope is up to the task – And how do you do that? Inspections!

Based on manufacturer/organization recommendations, ensure your wire rope is being inspected by a certified professional where the rope can be dismantled and tested through visual assessment and non-destructive testing. Hercules SLR can make this a worry-free part of your business – Our experience and LEEA certified team can take this completely off your hands, on-site or in our fell service rigging shops! 

On top of these professional inspections, wire rope should also be visually assessed by trained and experienced workers at the start of every shift or when resuming stalled work. Thorough visual assessments should also be carried out after reattaching or refitting the wire rope on the same or different equipment. Machine operators should be trained to visually assess the entire wire rope, with emphasis on points of attachment.

Things to look for when visually assessing a wire rope:

  • Broken Strands –  One of the easiest ways to do this is to run a cotton cloth over the length of the wire (if possible), checking for any places where the material get’s snagged. Any cable that has a single broken wire strand located around critical fatigue areas (where the cable runs around a pulley, sleeve or through a fair-lead; or any section where the cable is flexed, rubbed, or worked) must be replaced. Generally, SOME broken wires in non-critical areas are okay, but always consult your service/maintenance manual.
  • Surface Wear and Tare – Look out for any flat spots, any areas where the cable twist is unraveling, or any other condition resulting in the cable being distorted—If any of these things are present, you must replace the cable.
  • Internal Ware and Tare –  It is recommended to remove the cable whenever possible and flex them to ensure that all cables on the inside of the wire rope haven’t worn down due to environmental deterioration, distortion or fatigue. If you haven’t been keeping up with regular inspections, this is particularly necessary as it is possible for wire rope to look completely sound from the outside, but as soon as you move it around, it completely fails.

5. Proper Storage Methods

Wire rope needs to be stored in a well-ventilated, dry, and covered area and should not come in contact with the floor. If it is necessary to store it outside, they must be covered so that moisture cannot get inside and cause corrosion. You should also make sure that they are protected from dust, water, steam, salt, chemical fumes or adverse climatic conditions.

Turning the reel occasionally is a good practice to get in the habit of. This will prevent the wire rope’s lubricant from wearing off. If ropes are stored for a long time, it is advised for you to get them examined periodically and apply a coat of lubricant to them.

Bonus tip: If you live in an area that is prone to termites, protect the wooden reel by storing it on cement flooring. 


In the market for wire rope? Need an inspection? We’ve got you covered!

With our full service, one-stop-shop with all the service, inspections and repairs that any company would need, we can top the rest! Our goal is to make it look like you don’t need us! From advice, help with design, problem solutions, through to seamless procurement and excellent customer service, we are here to support your business and move it forward—Whatever it is, we can help.

NEED A QUOTE? HAVE A QUESTION? CALL US—WE KNOW THE (WIRE) ROPES & EVERYTHING RIGGING-RELATED.

Product Spotlight | Crosby Shackles

Product Spotlight | Crosby Shackles

Crosby is one of the most recognizable names in the rigging industry, and has been for over 100 years. Crosby makes over 2,000 rigging and lifting products to meet all your hoisting needs, and Hercules SLR is proud to be an Authorized Crosby Distributor and a Certified Crosby Repair Center.

Focusing today on Crosby shackles, as Crosby says, “there is no equal”. When you buy Crosby, you’re getting some attributes that are guaranteed when you buy their rigging and lifting equipment. The attributes that make Crosby shackles stand out from the rest include:

  • Design – Crosby carbon shackles have the highest design factor (6 to 1) in the industry. Crosby purchases only special bar forging quality steel with cleanliness and guaranteed hardenability. All material chemistry is independently verified prior to manufacturing to assure that strength, ductility and fatigue properties are met.
  • Closed Forged – Each shackle is closed die forged which allows for an increased cross-section that, when coupled with quenched and tempering, enhances strength and ductility. Close tolerance holes and concentric pins with good surface finishes are provided by Crosby and are proven to provide improved fatigue life in actual use. Crosby shackles are fatigue rated as well as load rated.
  • Quenched and Tempered – All Crosby shackle bows and pins are quenched and tempered, which enhances their performance under cold temperatures and adverse field conditions. Crosby’s Quenched and Tempered shackles provide the tensile strength, ductility, impact and fatigue properties that are essential if they are to perform time after time in adverse conditions. These properties assure that the inspection criteria set forth by ANSI will effectively monitor the ability of the shackles to continue in service.
  • Identification and Application Information – Crosby forges “Crosby” or “CG”, the Working Load Limit, and the Product Identification Code (PIC) into each bow and “Crosby” or “CG”, and the Product Identification Code (PIC) into each pin of its full line of screw pin, round pin, and bolt type
    anchor and chain shackles.

Crosby creates a variety of different shackles ranging in size, type, class, capacity and more to exceed the toughest demands of any industry, including land-based and offshore energy, construction and infrastructure, cargo handling and towing, marine, mining, and transportation. Below we take a bit of a closer look into a few of the key shackles in Crosby’s extensive library – But if you aren’t seeing something you’d like to know a bit more about, reach out! Our experts are always happy to help.

Anchor Shackles

An anchor shackle can be identified by it’s larger round “O” shaped bow. They are sometimes referred to as bow shackles, however, a bow shackle typically has a larger, more defined “bow” area than an anchor shackle. This “bow” we’re referring to allows for single or multiple leg slings to be collected in the bow, and for it to be sideloaded. This is an essential process used in a variety of material handling applications, making anchor shackles one of the most widely used of the shackle family.

Wide Body Shackles

You can pick out a wide-body shackle from it’s much larger bow cross-section. This wider shape provides an array of advantages, especially in heavy lifting applications. The significant gain in the sling bearing surface eliminates the need for a thimble and makes for an easier time dealing with synthetic Nylon and Polyester slings. It also increases the useable sling strength, which can greatly improve the overall life of wire rope slings.

Chain Shackles

Chain shackles are often known as D-shackles (or dee shackles) which refers to the “D” shape. This design is narrower than a bow or anchor shackle and generally has a threaded pin or pin close. Their design enables efficient movement of materials, particularly in compact lifting environments. Don’t be fooled by the name “chain shackle”—this type of shackle is used primarily with single-legged wire rope slings and various attachment points. The smaller loop is designed to take high loads primarily in line. Side and racking loads may twist or bend a D or chain shackle.

Theatrical Shackles

Theatrical shackles are specially designed for the entertainment industry. They are designed with all the strength and dependability of a standard shackle but have a black finish that allows it to blend in with the stage surroundings. This allows theatrical riggers (also known as grips) to rig in a safe and dependable way, using industry-standard equipment without distracting from the on-stage action.

Crosby supplies one of the most-used theatrical shackles in the entertainment industry which features a flat black baked-on powder coat finish which gives it the matte black, easy to blend in look you see in the photo.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Shackles

ROV shackles are a piece of equipment that is heavily relied on in the subsea industry. In the early days of subsea rigging, standard shackles were being used, but since work with these shackles are done completely by divers or remotely operated vehicles, standard shackle pins and nuts were far too difficult to work with. ROV shackles are specially designed with handles to allow for different robotic grips which make this far easier. They are also made with industry-standard colors to be highly visible which makes them much easier to locate under their conditions.

Shackle Variations

As you saw above, with the anchor shackles and chain shackles, we featured two different variations of that shackle – A screw pin shackle and a round pin shackle or bolt type shackle.

Screw pin shackles

Screw pin shackles feature a threaded pin that is inserted through the ears and tightened. These shackles are often the choice for applications where slings and other hardware are being changed out often, and they are not recommended for permanent or long-term use. Screw pin shackles can be used in multi-leg sling assemblies and where side-loading may occur, but the WLL must be accounted for.

Tip: Be cautious of a live line where the screw pin is being rotated, torqued, or twisted because it can cause the pin to unthread itself. This is also why it’s important to tighten the pin prior to each lift.

Round Pin shackles

Round pin shackles have a round unthreaded pin that is secured in its place by a cotter pin. This variation is the most popular in tie-down, towing, suspension or applications where the load is in a strict line. They are known for performing well under conditions in which they are subject to torque or twisting and are not recommending for overhead lifting. They are also not recommended for use in attaching multiple-leg slings or in any application where load sliding is a possibility.

Bolt Type Shackles

Bolt type shackles can look similar to a round pin shackles at first glance but are a more secure option. It features a combination of a bolt and nut along with the cotter pin. These shackles can be used in any applications appropriate for the round pin shackle or screw pin shackle – With the ability to handle rotation or torque. These are often the most popular choice for permanent or long-term installations because the nut and cotter pin combination eliminate the need to tighten the pin prior to each lift!

How to Choose a Shackle?

  • Refer to the manufacturer’s table for the safe working load limit (WLL) of the shackle. The rated capacity should always be printed on the shackle and be visible.
  • Shackles are sized according to the diameter of the bow section rather than the pin size – So never use a shackle if the distance between the eyes is greater than listed in the manufacturer’s table.
  • Always consult the manufacturer if you are using shackles in extreme conditions such as temperature higher then 204°C or lower than -40°C or exposure to corrosive fumes.

7 Quick Tips For Using Shackles

  1. Inspect shackles regularly and replace any that show any of the following:
    • Stretching and wear
    • Bending
    • Distortion, surface blemishes, wear, and fractures
  2. Never replace the shackle pin with a bolt or unidentified pin – You risk the bolt being bent by the load or possibly completely failing.
  3. Do not allow a shackle to be pulled at an angle, this will cause the legs to open. Avoid this by packing the pin with washers to center the shackle.
  4. Avoid using a screw pin shackle or fit pins in contact with moving parts if the pin can roll and unscrew. If the load shifts, the sling can unscrew the shackle pin.
  5. Do not use round pin shackles restrained by only a cotter pin for overhead lifting.
  6. Never force, hammer or wedge shackles into position.
  7. Never exceed a 120-degree lifting angle when using multiple-leg slings.

Why shop around? When you buy Crosby rigging equipment from Hercules SLR, you don’t just get a shackle or an eye bolt—You get unparalleled asset management service (did we mention it’s free?), qualified inspection technicians for service & preventive maintenance and peace-of-mind knowing your equipment is safe to lift, hoist or move.

See your Crosby gear from purchase, all the way to service with Hercules SLR’s extensive product selection, inspection & service team, asset management, testing and more.

NEED A QUOTE? HAVE A QUESTION? CALL US—WE KNOW THE (WIRE) ROPES & EVERYTHING RIGGING-RELATED.