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.


Steel Cable: market growth driven by automotive industry


The steel cable or wire rope market expects to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.2% in the coming period heading into 2023, reports PR Newswire.

Wire rope or steel cable provides strength, flexibility and has many applications. Steel cable is used in elevators, rigging and lifting applications, theatre sets, and is used as a reinforcing material for automotive tires and conveyor belts.

Filaments, which are fine strands of steel are significantly useful for the fabrication of automotive tires. Advantages of wire rope or steel cable filaments include high thermal resistance a better travelling performance. Currently, the global wire rope market is being greatly influenced by market entrants in the automotive industry.

Example of fraying wire rope—notice the individual strands that make up each rope.

Right now, technology and a need for lighter tires are two growing demands in the automotive industry. Flat-run tires, eco tires and nitrogen tires are three examples of tech-driven tires that create a demand for a flashier, updated tires for manufacturers. Their industry has a need for lighter tires, which means steel cable will be a sought-after material for automotive fabrication. These steel cable filaments will be used in application for heavy equipment tires, cargo truck tires, conveyor belts, rubber framework and light truck tires.

As the famed architect Walter Grophius said, “New synthetic substances—steel, concrete, glass—are actively superseding the traditional raw materials of construction.” Even in modern days, fabrication and manufacturing industries are constantly finding news ways to use to use familiar, synthetic materials.


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

Wire Rope: A Manufacturing & Transportation Pioneer

Early Life

Andrew Smith Hallidie was born Andrew Smith, later adopting the name Hallidie in honour of his uncle, Sir Andrew Hallidie. His birthplace is variously quoted as London in the United Kingdom. His father, Andrew Smith (a prolific inventor in his own right, responsible for inventing the first box door spring, a floor cramp and had an early patent for wire rope) had been born in Fleming, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, in 1798, and his mother, Julia Johnstone Smith, was from Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire.

Andrew Smith Hallidie

The younger Smith was initially apprenticed to a machine shop and drawing office. In 1852 he and his father set sail for California, where the senior Mr. Smith had an interest in some gold mines in Mariposa County. The mines proved disappointing, and he returned to England in 1853. Andrew Smith Junior, however, remained in California, and became a gold miner whilst also working as a blacksmith, surveyor and builder of bridges.


In 1855, young Hallidie built a wire suspension bridge and aqueduct 220 feet long at Horse Shoe Bar on the Middle Fork of the American River. During 1856, whilst working on the construction of a flume at a mine at American Bar, the now, Andrew Smith Hallidie was consulted over the rapid rate of wear on the ropes used to lower cars of rock from the mine to the mill. These ropes wore out in 75 days—unsatisfied with this, Hallidie manufactured rope for the project consisting of three spliced pieces one-eighth of an inch thick, 1200 feet long. These lasted for two years—a vast improvement from the previous 75 day standard.

Hallide invented the Hallidie Ropeway, a form of aerial tramway used for transporting ore and other material across mountainous districts in the west, which he successfully installed in a number of locations, and later patented. After a few years of drifting from camp to camp working claims, narrowly avoiding disasters both natural and man-made, and briefly running a restaurant at Michigan Bluff in the Mother Lode, he abandoned mining in 1857 and returned to San Francisco. Under the name of A. S. Hallidie & Co., he commenced the manufacture of wire rope in a building at Mason and Chestnut Streets, using the machinery from American Bar.

In addition to aerial tramways, his rope was used to build suspension bridges across creeks and rivers throughout northern California. He was often away from the City on his bridge projects until in 1865 he returned to San Francisco and focused his energies entirely on manufacturing and perfecting wire rope. The discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mines in Nevada increased the demand for wire rope.

The city became a major industrial center for mining operations in the 1860s and Hallidie prospered, becoming a leading entrepreneur, US citizen, husband to Martha Elizabeth Woods, and in 1868 President of the prestigious Mechanic’s Institute.

Hallidie’s ‘Endless Wire Ropeway’—Precursor to Cable Cars

It was about this time that Hallidie began to implement a scheme for urban transportation he had been considered for some time, based upon his use of wire rope for the aerial tramways. He worked on improving the tensile strength and flexibility of his wire to develop an “endless” wire rope that could be would around large pulleys, which could then provide continuous underground propulsion for a car that could be attached or released at will from the cable. Hallide took out a patent Endless Wire Rope Patentfor this “Endless Wire Ropeway” and for years it dominated the construction of tramway at mines throughout the West. However, it was the implementation of his Endless Wire Ropeway for moving streetcars in San Francisco that brought him lasting fame and a place in the history books.

It is here accounts differ as to exactly how involved Hallidie was in the inception of the first cable car at Clay Street Hill Railway. One version, has him taking over the promotion of the line when the original promoter, Benjamin Brooks, failed to raise the necessary capital.

In another version, Hallidie was the instigator, inspired by a desire to reduce the suffering incurred by the horses that hauled streetcars up Jackson Street, from Kearny to Stockton Street.

There is also doubt as to when exactly the first run of the cable car occurred. The franchise required the first run no later than August 1, 1873, however at least one source reports that the run took place a day late, on August 2, but that the city chose not to void the franchise. Some accounts say that the first gripman hired by Hallidie looked down the steep hill from Jones and refused to operate the car, so Hallidie took the grip himself and ran the car down the hill and up again without any problems.

The named engineer of the Clay Street line was William Eppelsheimer. Given Hallidie’s previous experience of cables and cable haulage systems, it seems likely that he contributed to the design of the system.

wire rope cable car

The Clay Street line started regular service on September 1, 1873, and was a financial success. In addition, Hallidie’s patents on the cable car design were stringently enforced on cable car promoters around the world and made him a rich man.

A. S. Hallidie & Co. became the California Wire Works in 1883 with Hallidie as president. In 1895, it was sold to Washburn and Moen Co., the oldest manufacturers of wire in the United States (established in 1831).

Hallidie died on April 24, 1900 at the age of 65 of heart disease at his San Francisco residence, but his name lives on. In San Francisco, Hallidie Plaza (near the Powell and Market Street cable car turntable) and the Hallidie Building (an office building in the city’s Financial District) are named after him.


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.


Steel Wire Rope – How, Where, What and Why

steel wire rope

Steel wire rope is several strands of metal wire twisted into a helix forming a composite “rope”, in a pattern known as “laid rope”. Larger diameter wire rope consists of multiple strands of such laid rope in a pattern known as “cable laid”.

In stricter senses the term “steel wire rope” refers to diameter larger than 3/8 inch (9.52 mm), with smaller gauges designated cable or cords. Initially wrought iron wires were used, but today steel is the main material used for wire ropes.

Historically, steel wire rope evolved from wrought iron chains, which had a record of mechanical failure. While Fraying_steel_wire_ropeflaws in chain links or solid steel bars can lead to catastrophic failure, flaws in the wires making up a steel cable are less critical as the other wires easily take up the load. While friction between the individual wires and strands causes wear over the life of the rope, it also helps to compensate for minor failures in the short run.

Steel wire ropes were developed starting with mining hoist applications in the 1830s. Wire ropes are used dynamically for lifting and hoisting in cranes and elevators, and for transmission of mechanical power. Wire rope is also used to transmit force in mechanisms, such as a Bowden cable or the control surfaces of an airplane connected to levers and pedals in the cockpit. Only aircraft cables have WSC (wire strand core). Also, aircraft cables are available in smaller diameters than steel wire rope. For example, aircraft cables are available in 3/64 in. diameter while most wire ropes begin at a 1/4 in. diameter. Static wire ropes are used to support structures such as suspension bridges or as guy wires to support towers. An aerial tramway relies on wire rope to support and move cargo overhead.


Modern steel wire rope was invented by the German mining engineer Wilhelm Albert in the years between 1831 and 1834 for use in mining in the Harz Mountains in Clausthal, Lower Saxony, Germany. It was quickly accepted because it proved superior to ropes made of hemp or to metal chains, such as had been used before.

Wilhelm Albert’s first ropes consisted of three strands consisting of four wires each. In 1840, Scotsman Robert Stirling Newall improved the process further. In America wire rope was manufactured by John A. Roebling, starting in 1841 and forming the basis for his success in suspension bridge building. Roebling introduced a number of innovations in the design, materials and manufacture of wire rope. Ever with an ear to technology developments in mining and railroading, Josiah White and Erskine Hazard, principal owners[9] of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company (LC&N Co.) — as they had with the first blast furnaces in the Lehigh Valley — built a Wire Rope factory in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania in 1848, which provided lift cables for the Ashley Planes project, then the back track planes of the Summit Hill & Mauch Chunk Railroad, improving its attractiveness as a premier tourism destination, and vastly improving the throughput of the coal capacity since return of cars dropped from nearly four hours to less than 20 minutes. The decades were witness to a burgeoning increase in deep shaft mining in both Europe and North America as surface mineral deposits were exhausted and miners had to chase layers along inclined layers. The era was early in railroad development and steam engines lacked sufficient tractive effort to climb steep slopes, so incline plane railways were common. This pushed development of cable hoists rapidly in the United States as surface deposits in the Anthracite Coal Region north and south dove deeper every year, and even the rich deposits in the Panther Creek Valley required LC&N Co. to drive their first shafts into lower slopes beginning Lansford and its Schuylkill County twin-town Coaldale.

The German engineering firm of Adolf Bleichert & Co. was founded in 1874 and began to build bicable aerial tramways for mining in the Ruhr Valley. With important patents, and dozens of working systems in Europe, Bleichert dominated the global industry, later licensing its designs and manufacturing techniques to Trenton Iron Works, New Jersey, USA which built systems across America. Adolf Bleichert & Co. went on to build hundreds of aerial tramways around the world: from Alaska to Argentina, Australia and Spitsbergen. The Bleichert company also built hundreds of aerial tramways for both the Imperial German Army and the Wehrmacht.

In the last half of the 19th century, steel wire rope systems were used as a means of transmitting mechanical power including for the new cable cars. Wire rope systems cost one-tenth as much and had lower friction losses than line shafts. Because of these advantages, wire rope systems were used to transmit power for a distance of a few miles or kilometers.


The steel wire ropes are stressed by fluctuating forces, by wear, by corrosion and in seldom cases by extreme forces. The rope life is finite and the safety is only ensured by inspection for the detection of wire breaks on a reference rope length, of cross-section loss, as well as other failures so that the wire rope can be replaced before a dangerous situation occurs. Installations should be designed to facilitate the inspection of the wire ropes.

Read more about Wire Rope here

Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLR, Hercules Machining & Millwright Services, Spartan Industrial Marine, Stellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter LinkedIn and Facebook for more news and upcoming events.