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Wear and Abuse

All wire ropes should be thorougly inspected at regular intervals. The longer it has been in service or the more severe the service, the more thoroughly and frequently it should be inspected. Be sure to maintain records of each inspection.

Inspections should be carried out by a person who has learned through special training or practical experience what to look for and who knows how to judge the importance of any abnormal conditions they may discover. It is the inspector’s responsibility to obtain and follow the proper inspection criteria for each application inspected.

Image illustrating tension break

Tension Break

Wire break shows one end of broken wire coned, the other cupped. Necking down of the broken ends is typical of this type break. Where tension breaks are found, the rope has been subjected to overloading, either for its original strength (new rope) or for its remaining strength in the case of a used rope. Tension breaks frequently are caused by the sudden application of a load to a slack rope, thereby setting up incalculable impact stress.

Image illustrating Fatigue Break

Fatigue Break

Wire breaks are usually transverse or square showing granular structure. Often these breaks will develop a shattered or jagged fracture, depending on the type of operation. Where fatigue breaks occur, the rope has repeatedly been bent around too small a radius. Whipping, vibration, slapping, and torsional stresses will also cause fatigue. Fatigue breaks are accelerated by abrasion and nicking.

Image illustrating Abrasion Break

Abrasion Break

Wire break shows broken ends worn to a knife-edge thinness. Abrasive wear obviously is concentrated at points, where the rope contacts an abrasive medium, such as the grooves of sheaves and drums, or other objects with which the rope comes into contact. Unwarranted abrasive wear indicates improperly grooved sheaves and drums, incorrect fleet angle, or other localized abrasive condition.

Image illustrating Corrosion Break

Corrosion Break

Easily noted by the wire’s pitted surface, wire breaks usually show evidence of tension, abrasion, and/or fatigue. Corrosion usually indicates improper lubrication. The extent of the damage to the interior of the rope is extremely difficult to determine; consequently corrosion is one of the most dangerous causes of rope deterioration.

Image illustrating Cut or Shear

Cut or Shear

Wire will be pinched down and cut at broken ends or will show evidence of shear-like cut. This condition is evidence of mechanical abuse caused by agents outside the installation, or by something abnormal on the installation itself, such as a broken flange.


Image illustrating abrasion
  • Frozen sheaves or rollers
  • Tight grooves
  • Excessive fleet angle
  • Oversized or undersized rope
  • Corrugated sheave or drum
  • Sheave overspin
  • Rope jumping the sheave
  • Poor spooling
  • Misaligned sheaves
  • Site contaminants


Image illustrating core protrusion
  • Shockloading
  • Poor seizing techniques
  • Poor installation techniques


Image illustrating wear and abuse by corrosion
  • Lack of lubrication
  • Environmental damage, e.g., acidic
  • Fume exposure
  • Improper storage


Image illustrating wear and abuse by crushing
  • Poor installation techniques
  • Crosswinding
  • Poor spooling
  • Incorrect wire rope construction
  • Poor break-in procedure
  • Excessive fleet angle
  • Excessive rope length


  • Lack of lubrication (fiber core)
  • Excessive abrasion
  • Corrosion, internal, and/or external
  • Inner wire or core failure


Image illustrating reverse bend fatigue
Image illustrating Fatigue of undersized sheave
  • Out of round sheaves
  • Tight grooves
  • Misaligned sheaves
  • Undersized sheaves
  • Worn bearings
  • Vibration
  • Slapping
  • Whipping
  • Reverse bends


  • Poor seizing techniques
  • Tight grooves
  • Undersized sheaves
  • Poor installation techniques


  • Poor spooling
  • Excessive rope length
  • Broken flange


  • Poor unreeling procedures
  • Poor installation techniques
  • Undersized sheaves


  • Poor installation techniques
  • Poor unreeling procedures
  • Corrosion
  • Core failure


  • Poor installation techniques
  • Undersized sheaves


  • Oversized sheaves
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