Soft lines replacing wire on barge tows?

The company I work at has for the most part gone to Spectra and Samson Blue steel on their boats which push up to 15,500 tons of grain. They still use 11/8" wire to rig up the barges however. Anybody out there work where the barge rigging has gone to soft lines like the boats with this kind of tonnage?

Shit we still have 2 inch wires for face wires…

From what I’ve been told the blue steel is 1&1/2 times stronger than the wire it replaced and cost about the same believe it or not…

We use blue steel push lines and make up lines for moving barges in Seattle that are up too 15,000 tons with no problems at all. Just make sure to keep them from chaffing and you will be good to go. They will loosen up a bit after the first good strain as the line tightens on the drum but with winches it’s no big deal.

Thanks for the info, I heard a rumor that one of our competitors might start using them out on their barge tows,I would think it would be fine as long as the crews took care of the chaffing issue. The winter weather could also give some issues with frozen lines.

Soft push gear all day. Why use anything else this day in age is beyond me. Ideally you’ll have chafe gear and fair lead it around quarter bitts rather than wire sheaves. The line rep should be involved in helping to set the “system” up. Bouchard 210/220 barges get moved with one part Amsteel push gear daily. When I occasionally make up in pushgear using soft lines we cannot take both sides to the winch/capstan so I have the guys take a few scow hitches rather than all figure-8s on the drum, it cuts way down on the slippage.

Proton 8 makes for a great one part strap BTW.

The nice thing about spectra in the winter is that it doesn’t retain water like a wet dog like poly lines and such. It will freeze hard but not to the same extent due to the different fiber make up of the line. On our ocean tugs we have nice canvas cover we put over the winches while in transit to help with sunlight damage and freezing.

With the Blue Steel you guys use anything on the winch to keep wear down on the winch drum?I’ve taken the old outer jacket off the old spectra line and put it on the last 3 wraps on the drum, it seems to me that that’s where the most wear on the line was as we always are in and out as we do our Molly hocking.

[QUOTE=Signal Red;112902]From what I’ve been told the blue steel is 1&1/2 times stronger than the wire it replaced and cost about the same believe it or not…[/QUOTE]
We have used both on our inland tugs and can tell you that Amsteel Blue is much more expensive than regular wire. I purchased 100’ of 7/8" wire last week at $233.50 and 90’ of 1" Amsteel Blue a few months back for approximately $700. The biggest problem with the soft line is getting crews to keep them out of the water or where they can get wet when not in use. If they constantly stay saturated with Saltwater they are going to break much quicker. I got about 6 months use out of the last Amsteel Blue we purchased before it broke but there was lots of user error involved in poor weather conditions.

Nope, we shackle an eye into the tow wire and wrap it right on the drum. I have heard of guys laying a tarp around the drum too. We generally get 6months than end for end the line and use it till it starts looking questionable. The main thing for us is making sure the fairleads are smooth so the chaffing is minimal.

My Port Captain told me the price was about the same, we went from 11/8" wire to 1" Amsteel. I like how easy it is to splice compared to Spectra.


I put old jacket on last couple wraps to cut down on wear on the drum, seems to me that’s where the most wear happens on this boat.