Using a Pulley Radius Guide to Improve Wire Rope Life

Far too often, wire rope and cable products fail to last nearly as long as expected. While wire ropes and cables constructed from low-quality materials can sometimes contribute to premature failure, often it is because the wrong sheaves and pulleys are used in the application. Thankfully, Strand Core provides a radius guide to ensure you are pairing the suitable sheaves and pulleys for your wire rope and cable products. Read more to learn about the best size sheaves and pulleys for wire and cable. 

How to Get the Most out of Wire Rope & Cable:

steel sheaves with bearing

There are two considerations for sheaves and pulleys when trying to increase wire rope and cable service life. One is to make sure the cable and wire rope is operating over the largest possible sheave or pulley diameter. The reason large pulleys are recommended is because large pulleys provide a less intense angle for rope to make, putting less stress on cable, whilst choosing a small pulley means the rope will have to turn a sharp corner adding stress to your cable and wire rope, causing damage over time. The second consideration is to ensure cable and wire rope is supported correctly in the groove of the sheave or pulley. When the cable is not properly supported in the pulley groove, it becomes dented, crushed, and damaged, which severely reduces its service life.  

Sheave & Pulley Radius Guides:

It is important to remember that the working life of individual wire strands is significantly reduced as the pulley or sheave diameter is reduced. Strand Core provides a chart that shows minimum tread diameters over which various constructions and sizes of cable should operate.

Recommendations are based on a standard D:d ratio.

D= Diameter of the pulley at its grove

d= Diameter of the wire rope or aircraft cable

For each cable diameter, there is a sheave and pulley desired minimum and a critical minimum. For example, cables sized 1/16”, which are typically 6x7 or 7x7 construction, have the desired minimum ratio of 4:1 and a critical minimum ratio of 28:1. Furthermore, the desired minimum pulley or sheave size for a 1/16” cable is 2/5/8”, and the critical minimum is 1-3/4”. To look at sheaves and pulleys desired and critical minimum for other cable sizes and constructions, you can check out our extensive guide here


The key takeaway is sheaves and pulleys play a big role in wire rope and cable service life. Understanding the importance of using large pulleys and following the desired and critical minimum guide provided by Strand Core results in your wire rope and cable lasting for many years!

Why buy with us? We carry various styles and sizes of cable and rope, our products are Manufactured in USA, and we can provide a custom configuration of materials and constructions that comply with various industry specifications. If you are interested in checking out our wire rope and cable options, please visit Alternatively, if you have any questions, our team is happy to help! Reach out to us by email through or by phone at 800-983-9926.  

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