How to attach winch line to new winch? - RC Groups
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Jul 07, 2008, 07:37 PM
I just wanna fly
slozuke's Avatar

How to attach winch line to new winch?

I am just finishing building a new winch and I have a question on how to attach the line to the drum and to the tow ring. I am using #21 nylon line from Memphis Twine and a 2" diameter spool.
I don't have a winch handy to look at for reference. I have flown off of many different winches but never thought to look how the lines were tied off.
Thanks for any info!!

Also, what is good to use for a tow ring?
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Jul 07, 2008, 10:03 PM

I tape the end onto the drum. Then hand wind the first two layers of line on.
Itís never come loose. Course I never use the last three layers of line.

As for the tow ring a key chain ring works great for a while
Hobby lobby the arts & craft store sells chrome plated / welded rings all different sizes. I use the 1Ē I.D. ones.

When the #21 line is new it will handle 2-meter wings just fine. But after about 100 launches it starts to brake easily.
#21 line from Memphis will brake launching a 100Ē wing in 5 mph winds. I first started out with that. Then went to #24. That brakes launching in 10 mph winds.
Now Iím using #36 thatís what most wench users recommend. Of course Iíve broke that also.

Jinks D.
Jul 07, 2008, 10:19 PM
Registered User
jtlsf5's Avatar
28 years as a CD and 15 years of running the Nats flight line has taught me simple, foolproof techniques. For the line to winch you have two choices. If you have a Rahm type winch, you simply run the line through the hole on the outboard flange (don't forget to go through the brake arm) and tie a figure eight knot in it. If you have a smooth drum with no holes put a couple of wraps around the drum, then a good slip knot. Cinch it down, move to one side and trim the excess. Wind on the line.

For a towring go to a local marine supply store and get some good welded rings. Do not use the split keyrings, they will fail on load. We have even seen split rings fail on a retriever. For a knot use a single bloodknot between the line and ring.

Other techniques may work as well, but this is how we have done it in the largest MOM winch-based contest in the free world, and how we will continue as long as I'm in the chair and running the line.


Addenda: I assume you are using braided Dacron line and not monofilament. If you are using mono, other techniques apply and someone more familiar with mono should comment.

There is one other technique that you can use to attach line to a chute. Make about a 6" loop by taking the end of the line and folding it back on itself, then create the loop by making a figure eight knot at the open end. You can use this to make a simple slip knot through the ring on your chute by passing the loop through the ring then the end of the chute back through the line loop. Solid, easy to remove and will last.
Last edited by jtlsf5; Jul 07, 2008 at 10:27 PM.
Jul 07, 2008, 11:41 PM
Registered User
For winding line onto a winch, I've found that you can use a battery charger instead of a battery so that it goes on very slowly. I forget whether I used the 10 amp or the 2 amp setting, but it turned over gently.
Jul 07, 2008, 11:57 PM
Twisted and Confused
flyonline's Avatar
If you're running braided line, it may be worth running a single layer of thick mono underneath the braid to stop the spool slipping under load - assuming that you tie the line around the drum rather than to the lip.

braid fisherman
Jul 08, 2008, 12:45 AM
Registered User
Some RC sailplane people recommend the Arbor Knot for attaching the line to the winch drum. "The Arbor knot is a typical fishers' knot. Its primary use is to attach fishing line to the arbor of a fishing reel."

Also, Andrew E. Mileski recommends the Barrel Knot for joining braided Nylon twine as well as monofilament. The Barrel Knot can also be used to tie the line to a ring or a winch drum by tying 1/2 the barrel knot (a single figure-eight knot). On further web searching, it appears the Barrel Knot and the Blood Knot are different names for the same knot??? See Andrew's website at:

Some people say you do not need a swivel to the parachute unless you are using a retriever. But if you do want a swivel, you might try the Escape Proof Snap Swivel by Hi-Catch. The eye opens and closes by sliding two "C" shaped metal parts together. I was told NOT to use the type of swivels with the "safety pin" as these tend to fail under load. But the Hi-Catch snap swivel does not have this problem. See:
Escape Proof Snap Swivel
Hi-Catch Ball Bearing Escape Proof Snap Swivels are constructed using a patented Escape Proof Snap and a ball bearing double welded eye swivel. Designed to allow easy disconnection while providing maximum strength.
Item 838038 200 lb. (Qty. 6) $21.99

Originally Posted by slozuke
I am just finishing building a new winch and I have a question on how to attach the line to the drum and to the tow ring.
Last edited by jbeanelliott; Jul 08, 2008 at 03:32 AM.
Jul 08, 2008, 03:14 AM
Twisted and Confused
flyonline's Avatar
Another option on the swivel and attachment are the Bill Norman Speed Clips . They're great as they are almost impossible to get undone by pulling or tangling and they clip on very quickly.

Personally, I'd go for a bimini twist when joining braid to mono, but it's a much more complicated knot to tie than a blood knot but gives closer to 100% breaking strain.

Jul 08, 2008, 10:37 AM
I just wanna fly
slozuke's Avatar
Thanks for all the info guys! Someone sent me a link to a knot making site and it has all the info anyone could possibly need for making knots.
Thanks again everyone!
Jul 08, 2008, 11:02 AM
Registered User
jtlsf5's Avatar
The "knot" I was referring to to attach a line to a smooth winch drum is the Round Turn with 2 Half Hitches. Only difference is I make two initial turns before the half hitches. To make sure it maintains tightness, make the initial turns opposite to the rotation of the winch; this way the half hitches tighten under normal winch use.

Jul 08, 2008, 11:07 AM
I just wanna fly
slozuke's Avatar
Originally Posted by jtlsf5
The "knot" I was referring to to attach a line to a smooth winch drum is the Round Turn with 2 Half Hitches. Only difference is I make two initial turns before the half hitches. To make sure it maintains tightness, make the initial turns opposite to the rotation of the winch; this way the half hitches tighten under normal winch use.

Thanks for that idea Jim, I didn't think to make a knot based on the rotation of the drum to "self-tighten".

I've posted some pics of my winch set-up. Now I just gotta get it finished so I can get out and try it.
Last edited by slozuke; Jul 08, 2008 at 08:11 PM.
Jul 25, 2008, 03:04 AM
Eugene Glider Guiders
steve e's Avatar
I have been looking at some of the replies and have yet to see my method listed. The way I have been attaching my winch line at both ends and the retriever at both ends is, I have been tying a double figure 8 or a simple over hand knot leaving a 3 to 4 inch loop at each end of the various lines. I do not use a swivel at the parachute but it is a standard chute with two steel welded rings. So I just a take the loop at the end of the winch line and drop the it through the shroud line steel ring then I pop the loop open with my hand and pull the whole parachute through that opening making a simple, easy choker. So now the chute can be removed quickly at any time throughout the day without tying or untying anything. I do the same thing at the winch spool, I open the loop in the other end of the winch line and pull the main body of the string through the open loop making a choker. Now I open this choker up and pull the loop over the end of the winch spool end plate. If you put the choker on the drum one way it will just spin, if you flip the choker over on the spool then it will tighten every time. If it still happens to spin for you, you can reach into the choker, slide out more line and loop it over the spool one more time - that cannot slip. I only use a single choke on mine and it works all the time. I do the same thing for the retriever, I tie a nice big loop in the retriever line and then drop the loop through one of the two small welded rings attached to each end of the bearing.
Then I drop the bearing through the loop which again makes an easy choker. Now with the parachute off the main winch line I slide the opposite small steel ring onto the winch line and then replace the parachute to start flying. I do the same thing for the retriever drum.
Happy landings, Steve

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