When I first installed the synthetic rope onto the drum and wound it up on the bench I noticed that the hook didn’t exactly snugly mate against the hawse fairlead. Unable to tension it any further, the hook kind of wobbled, which I knew would eventually nick the fairlead and over time create sharp points that could damage the rope. The answer was a winch isolator.
The one I chose was from Daystar, a manufacturer that also offers bushings and a variety of parts for four wheel drive applications. The one I purchased was a model KU70046 in black, though a flashier orange is available as well.
When I wired up the winch and before I re-spooled the rope under tension, I installed the isolator on the rope. The benefit of having the isolator, in addition to protecting the fairlead and reducing the movement of the hook, is that it marks the rope while it’s deployed (potentially keeping someone from tripping over it) and it provides an alternate to the hook for pulling the rope.
When the rope is spooled in and the isolator is flush the fairlead, it also keeps mud, dirt, and debris from clogging the opening and getting into the spooled rope. Unlike wire rope, the synthetic rope has gaps in the weave that abrasive particles can enter and potentially compromise it’s integrity. While the rope should be cleaned between uses, the isolator does offer a first level of cover on dusty roads or when mud might be thrown up.