how to inspect your boat lift cables for signs of wear or fraying

How to Inspect Your Boat Lift Cables for Signs of Wear or Fraying

Anyone can identify a frayed rope. Remember the splitting twine attached precariously to a swing on your ancient childhood playset? With use, rope slowly unravels and individual strands stand out. The process of wear is natural. However normal, it shouldn’t be ignored. When wear of any kind is noticed on boat lift cables, the issue becomes potentially catastrophic, and usage should immediately cease.

Boat lifting cables – and all wire rope cables in general – wear in two ways: internally and externally (i.e. from the inside and the outside). Below, we examine both kinds of wear, three practical tips to extend lift cable life, and a trustworthy cable replacement resource.

Inspection Guidelines

In general, here are a few major signs of damage indicating boat lift cables should be replaced:

  • Heavy corrosion
  • Kinks
  • Rust spots
  • Broken strands (especially in excess)
  • Deformities

Internal Wear

Internal cable wear is less severe than external and is sometimes overlooked. Internal wear occurs when strands work against each other, often under heavy loads, such as when cables are hauled across pulleys or sheaves. Internal wear is caused by nicking and appears almost scalloped on internal strands.

External Wear

External wear is abrasive and more apparent than internal. Abrasive wear results from metal being slowly worn away over time. What does this look like? The crowns of each wire will flatten, resulting in loss of material. As this occurs, the strength of the cable gradually decreases.

Practical Prevention Tips

  1. If you own a boat lift, or any equipment employing wire rope cables, you should examine the cables monthly at a minimum. To avoid injury to your hands during inspection, use leather gloves or another form of protection before feeling the cables.
  2. Using fresh water, lightly rinse your boat lift after each use. Saltwater corrodes cables, reducing lifespan dramatically. A light fresh water rinsing will prevent corrosion and rusting. The rinse will also remove any contaminants and dirt on the outside of the cables.
  3. Abrasion between individual strands occurs when cables rub against each other. Lubricating your lift cables with penetrating oil, such as Cable Fluid Penetrating Oil, lessens corrosion and reduces internal friction. Avoid using grease, because this substance does a poor job lubricating cables.

Trustworthy Cable Replacement Resource

Keep in mind, you should consider cable replacement every couple of years. Even if only slight wear or fraying is noticed, attempting to extend the life of your cables beyond two years could be dangerous. Do you have a quality source on-hand for purchasing cables regularly?

At Boat Lift Repair Parts, we know that boating is your life – and boat lift cables are one of our specialties. We provide top-quality galvanized and stainless steel cables for many major boat lift brands, including Craftlander, Davit Master, Floe, Great Lakes, and more. If you would like a reference for a professional boat lift installation company or have any questions, contact us today! We will point you in the right direction.