/images/PowerCableUpdate.jpg/images/southwire_100x70.jpgWhat Can Reels Really Take?WhatcanReelsReallyTake.htmPutting heavy forces on cable reel flanges during pay-off may be asking for problems. Anything you can do to speed up a cable pull is great, but be sure to do your homework about the stresses you put on cable reels -- especially the flanges.
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What Can Reels Really Take?

Putting heavy forces on cable reel flanges during pay-off may be asking for problems.

Anything you can do to speed up a cable pull is great, but be sure to do your homework about the stresses you put on cable reels -- especially the flanges.

"Paying off cable from heavy cable reels usually requires an axle through the hub of the reel, and reels are reinforced to handle those stresses" says David Cooper, Southwire application engineer. "Some contractors are now using roller devices to support cable reels by the outer edges of the flanges during payoff. The rollers promise to save time and labor during the pull, but with heavily loaded wooden reels, rollers may cause more problems than they solve."

Problems During a Pull Eat Up Savings

In one recent situation, a contractor was using a roller device to pay off heavy power cable from a wooden reel. The reel started breaking at the flanges during the pull. They had to stop the pull to keep the reel from collapsing.

"Roller payoff devices may work well with lightweight cables like small-gage building wire or control cable, but a large reel loaded with 500kcmil copper conductor can be carrying five to seven thousand pounds," says Cooper. "The reel takes a pounding as it's being paid off that way. Wooden reel flanges are simply not as strong as steel reels or reels with metal bands around the flanges."

Reel Jack Stands are Still Standard Practice

Southwire recommends using reel jack stands to support an axle through the center hole in the reel during payoff. The stands support the weight of the reel and handle horizontal forces during payoff. That's the traditional way to support the cable, and the center of the reel is designed for that. At least one manufacturer of roller payoff devices also makes a model that supports the cable reel by an axle through the reel hub.

"Rollers may reduce the number of people needed to make a pull, but make sure the reel will stand the stresses," Cooper advises. "Always check with the manufacturer of the roller equipment, and with your cable supplier before using reels on rollers for payoff. Your cable supplier may offer reel options that will make roller payoff work for you."