How Does A Winch Tensioner Work?

Written by Benjamin | 1 Comment »

Have you ever flown a kite? When the breeze is strong and your kite is flying high, it’s easy to pack up and go home with a nicely wound kite reel. Simply twisting the winder is all you need to do to ensure that you get a clean, tight line wrap. The reason? Tension. Tension allows you to wind one layer of string upon another without snags or kinks, which in turn means that the next time you want to go fly your kite, it’s a lot easier to get going (no problems with the string).

What is a winch tensioner

Winch Tensioners help ensure your winch cable lays down as cleanly as possible, just as the cable on the winch shown.

What A Winch Tensioner Does

A winch tensioner (also known as a winch winder) is designed to push the winch rope down against the drum so that in winds one layer at a time. Without a tensioner, you could have a series of problems including:

  • a potential tangle or kink in your cable or synthetic winch rope
  • a jam or snag that will waste time and could even damage your winch
  • kinks or bends in your winch cable or rope can lead to a weakening of the cable/rope at that specific point
  • poorly wound cable may not have enough friction against your winch drum to pull effectively

While tensioners certainly aren’t required (if you guide your rope carefully while re-spooling, you can get a good wind) they do help save time when re-spooling your winch, reduce the wear on your rope, and maximize the friction of the rope against the drum, all but guaranteeing you’ll never have a problem with a drum that spins freely.

How Winch Tensioners Work

Most tensioners work by holding your winch cable down against the drum, using a spring loaded bar or plate to push against the rope on the drum uniformly. Think of it as a spring-loaded roller that presses up against the winch drum (see crude diagram below).

How a winch tensioner works basic diagram

The red circle is the bar or the rolled edge of the tension plate. What's not shown are the springs that pull the bar or plate against the drum.

It should be noted that a tensioner should not be used to tension your winch rope when you re-spool. You’ll still want to put at least 500 lbs of force on the winch rope while you’re re-spooling. Otherwise, your rope might not have enough “grip” against the surface of the drum the next time you pull.


One Comment

  1. Timothy Trembly says:

    I need a tensioner to fit a LP10000 winch do you have something that will work for me ,the spool width is 8 5/8 wide

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