How to Replace a Winch Strap

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

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.

Other than a new strap, the tools required include box wrenches for the anchor bolt, and perhaps a new bolt in case the original is damaged. A utility knife may be handy if you need to cut off old webbing.

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:


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.

Story brought to you by BoatUS.

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