Replacing A Winch Strap

By Dan Armitage

Frayed, faded, stained, or torn — is your winch strap ready for replacement?

Photo of a frayed and faded winch strapFrayed stitching, tears, cuts, and extreme fading are all signs that the winch strap needs to be replaced.

Be it by sun, moisture, misuse, or mere age, the time will come when you need to replace your boat trailer's winch strap. You'll want to get it replaced before it fails just when you need it most — at the ramp. Fortunately, replacing a winch strap is a snap. In fact, I supervised my 10-year-old son tackling the task on a PWC trailer we'd recently purchased.

Rather than take for granted that the person who put on the existing strap did it correctly, the first step in the replacement process is to make sure that you purchase the right strap for the winch. You should determine the working load capacity of the winch, which is usually stamped somewhere on the winch, or is available from the manufacturer. Next, make sure the strap you purchase has a strength rating at or above that of the winch, and that both the strap and winch are rated for the weight of the boat.

Also make sure the winch is designed for a webbing-type strap rather than rope or cable. Winches designed for use with webbing straps have a drum width of two inches or wider and a drum diameter of less than 1 3/4 inches. Webbing-strap winches also have a bolt — or holes for one — that goes through both sides of the spool adjacent to the drum. The bolt threads through the loop sewn into the end of the strap to anchor it on the drum when under tension. A winch built for use with rope will have only one hole on the side of the spool, through which the end of the rope is threaded and knotted or wound around to anchor it, and no bolt. Winches designed for use with cable will usually have a drum of at least 1 3/4 inches in diameter, no bolt, and may be narrower than 2 inches.

Once you've determined that you have a winch designed for use with a webbing strap and have purchased the correct strap for the rig, the replacement job is simple. Here are the major steps in the process:

  • Photo of removing the old winch strap
    Photo of cutting old winch strap off bolt

    1. Carefully remove the old strap by unwinding it off the winch drum.

    2. You may have to cut the old strap off the bolt to inspect or remove the anchor bolt.

  • Photo of loosening locknut holding the winch strap
    Photo of attaching new winch strap

    3. Use the wrenches to loosen the locknut holding the strap anchor bolt in the drum and remove it. Replace the bolt and nut if needed.

    4. Insert the bolt through the spool wall, through the loop sewn into the end of the new strap, and out through the opposite hole in the spool wall. Attach and tighten the locknut only enough to seat it securely on the bolt's threads and not tight against the spool.

  • Photo of winding strap into winch drum
    Photo of hooking new strap boat bow

    5. Wind the new strap onto the winch drum, making sure it lies flat with no twists, creases, or folds.

    6. Snap the new strap's hook to the boat's bow eye with the peace of mind that comes with having replaced an important component of your trailered rig. 

— Published: Fall 2014


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