Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line Cables

Practices to Avoid: Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line® Cables

Learn practices to AVOID when it comes to Conventional Wireline Cables

Just as we encourage all customers operating conventional cable to follow our recommended best practices, our team of experts have developed a list of the most notable practices we ask customers to AVOID.

  • DO NOT: Tension cycle the line if stuck; this includes surging the well.
  • DO NOT: Pull more than 4,000 lbs. of surface line tension on the cable. If you are required to operate outside of normal RIH/POOH operations, stop and CALL prior to proceeding.
  • DO NOT: Operate the cable in hostile or corrosive environments; this includes H2S or acid.
  • DO NOT: Float tools while RIH; maintain TVD cable weight in fluid while RIH and pumping down.
  • DO NOT: Keep feeding line into the well once pumps are shut down. Around 200’ from your target depth, start reducing the line speed to increase line tension; this will prevent low tension transfer across the drum.
  • DO NOT: Apply more than 1,000 psi on the upper/lower rubber hand pumps over minimal rubber actuation.
  • DO NOT: Continue to run bad rubbers. If excessive pressure is required to maintain the seal, then SOMETHING is wrong – STOP… LAY DOWN the cable and investigate.
  • DO NOT: Use any aerosol spray, solvents or WD40 on the cable.
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Conventional Cables

Best Practices: Conventional Cables

Learn Best Practices for Conventional Wireline Cables

Our team of wireline experts encourage all customers operating conventional cable to follow our recommended best practices.

  • Ensure the drum’s integrity prior to any installation.
  • Always use a Certified Service Center for installation.
  • Season the cable for first 30 runs.
  • Allow the cable to rotate on the vertical zone of the cable for at least five minutes every 1,000 – 2,000 feet.
  • For new cables, stick to the 80/120 tension rule after the cable is seasoned 50/150.
    • The tension going into the well should never be less than 80% of line weight plus tool weight.
    • The tension coming out of the well should never exceed 120% of the line weight, tool weight, and any drag from the well due to friction that would increase tensions.
  • Use 0.004” to 0.006” clearance flow tubes.
  • Periodically, check cable for:
    • Kinks or shiny spots in cable and mark or note location.
    • Loose armor or torque on the cable.
  • Check the cable electrically pre-job and post-job.
  • Inspect the rope socket components for excessive wear or scaring of cone and washer.
  • Have the cable serviced if you experience any abnormal high tensions or any great loss of tension while on job.
  • Ideally, the unit should be at least 25 feet from the bottom sheave for every 12” of width on your cable drum.
  • Use the proper sheaves size for each cable.
  • When re-heading, check cable for embrittlement.
  • Inspect for cross armor wires while re-heading through flow tubes.
  • When possible, use swivels to help achieve the proper rotation.
  • Bring cable to a service center for retorquing after 80 to 100 runs.
  • Keep an accurate logbook and note all things that you see. This will help the service centers and manufacturer better service your cable for longer life and to resolve any potential cable issues.
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line Cables

Best Practices: Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line® Cables

Learn Best Practices for Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line® Cables

Our team of wireline experts encourage all customers operating greaseless cable to follow our recommended best practices.

  • Stop operations if there seems to be something out of the norm. Make a quick phone call and verify before continuing operations.
  • Keep the line pre-lubed with mineral oil while RIH and POOH. Applying a light spray to each wrap will suffice. During the last run on the pad, spray a light coat to each wrap to help keep the line moisturized between jobs.
  • Maintain lubrication in the lube chamber of the control head; fill when off the well between runs to make sure the cavity is full.
  • At a minimum, there will need to be TVD line weight in fluid maintained while RIH and pumping down to prevent compression of the cable.
  • A minimal element/rubber pressure needs to be maintained to maximize rubber and line life.
  • Follow ALL break-in procedures for a new line being introduced into any operation.
  • The tool weight in air for ALL operations should be no less than 800 lbs.
  • Make note of any cable abnormalities in the line record book, including the measured depth and length of the damaged area.
  • NO more than 60 runs should be ran on ANY re-head.
  • Control heads should be pressure washed and fully rebuilt prior starting a pad.
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Greaseless Enviro-Lite E-Line Cables
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - Drum Crush

Quality Wireline & Cable Technical Bulletin: Drum Crush

Drum Crush: A Historical Perspective and Basic Prevention Tips

In the early 1950s, the first double armored cables featured rubber-insulated conductors and were installed directly from the factory shipping reel to the truck drum. A 2×4 was commonly wedged under the flange of the shipping reel to establish extra tension. Major service companies developed a “dead man” setup where the turnaround sheave was attached to a 500-pound weight. The payoff brakes were adjusted continuously to keep the weight off the ground. This weight was later increased to 1,000 pounds.

The first “very deep” wells (18,000 to 20,000 feet) logged in West Texas experienced several electrical failures in US Steel cables that were categorized as factory defects. However, these failures were located at a point in the cable that had not been off the drum. In fact, these shorts occurred several layers down from any portion of the cable that had been in the hole. This phenomenon became known as “drum crush.” To better understand how drum crush occurs, new cable was initially spooled back and forth between two trucks, building up tension — 500 pounds at a time — until a tension that was equal to tension in the field was established. This method was successful in simulating drum crush and provided valuable insight.

By the late 1950s, several drum crush solutions had been developed to reduce spooling tension at the wellsite, including a powered capstan or sheave wheel. Later, truck drums were upgraded to withstand the higher tensions, and capstans were used in the major spooling shops to install cable at the required higher spooling tensions.

For many years, the standard for spooling a cable on a drum was a single break system. The cable made the first wrap tightly against the flange. Once completed, the cable had to make a severe bend to step over a full cable diameter for the next wrap, which led to electrical failures when encountering high-spooling tensions. Although less frequently employed today, this single break pattern offers the easiest installation. Currently, the preferred spooling method is the double break pattern where the cable moves over half a cable diameter each half revolution of the drum, thus requiring a less severe bend in the cable.

To establish a double break pattern, the cable makes the first half wrap against the flange. Then, a filler of one-half cable diameter is placed against the drum flange to move the cable over for the last half wrap. A filler is also required for the last half revolution of the final wrap on the drum. For the full cable to spool properly, the breaks must form a straight line across the drum, and the cable must move from the bed layer to the second layer at a point exactly opposite the cable’s entry point on the starting flange.

When a covering layer is positioned back over a lower layer, the wraps of the covering layer fall in the grooves between the lower layer wraps. The diameter of the spooled cable fitting in the grooves increases by only 0.87 of a cable diameter. At the crossover point, the spooled diameter, in theory, increases by a full cable diameter. In practice, however, the cable gets “smashed” at the crossover so the diameter is not a full cable diameter.

On the second and subsequent layers, the breaks fall on top of the breaks of the underlying layer, causing a diameter buildup. If this diameter buildup is just at one point — as with the single break — then the drum full of cable is dynamically out of balance. In deep-hole operations, a drum spooled with a single break will severely shake the truck at high line speeds, while a double break pattern prevents this problem.

Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - Drum Crush
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - Drum Crush

Tips to Help Prevent Drum Crush

  • Place a straightedge across the drum core. There should be no visible gaps, which would indicate dips in core diameter. This could cause the cable to drop into the valley and lead to gaps in the spool job, which could result in tension changes and field problems that may ultimately cause drum crush.


  • Measure and record the distance between drum flanges at the core and top of the flanges. These distances should not differ by more than one-tenth of the cable diameter. After installation of the cable, if this distance has increased by more than one-half a cable diameter, spooling problems may occur in the field. The extra space between the flanges creates gaps in the cable. The cable may squeeze down into these gaps under load, which may lead to drum crush.


  • Check the condition and location of the cable entrance hole on the drum flange. This hole must be touching the drum core. The hole should allow the cable to make a smooth entrance onto the drum to properly start the first wrap. If the cable is not laying properly next to the flange as the second layer covers it, a kink may result. As progressively more layers are added under progressively higher tensions, the cable could short out at this location.


  • Establish the double break pattern.


  • During cable installation, once the bed layers are established, it is important to ensure that you do not stop while spooling the high-tension layers. If spooling is stopped, the cable tension will fall off, resulting in a “soft” section in the cable that could lead to drum crush. If a stop occurs, it is good practice to pull back to the bed layers and start over.


  • When running into the well, it is important to prevent the loss of tension. When tension is lost on the cable, the breaking point backs up and the spool job loosens, causing the cable to become soft. A cable under tension (“hard”) can withstand much higher axial loading. If tension is pulled across this soft section, the cable can crush itself. This crush may not occur immediately, but rather could happen several jobs later. Once tension is lost, the maximum tension that can be applied safely is twice the tension that was measured when the tension was lost. To prevent damage, the cable must be taken to a service center to reestablish the proper tension profile.


  • The cables should be tightened periodically at a qualified service center to ensure that the cables remain normalized, i.e., the outer and inner armors are torque balanced.
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - New Cable

Quality Wireline & Cable Technical Bulletin: New Cables

New Cables: Understanding Issues and Tips for Longevity

Although counter intuitive, wireline cables are most susceptible to damage during their first few runs in and out of the wellbore. Exposure to the wellbore environment “seasons” a new cable, preparing it for future work. These first few runs are critical to ensure maximum trouble-free cable operation.

A new cable undergoes important changes in tension, temperature and rotation when it is first put into service. During field operations, cable tensions and wellbore temperature are much higher than during manufacturing. These repeated higher tensions at elevated temperatures produce an embedment of the inner armor into the conductor insulation and a reduction in the new cable diameter by approximately 0.005 inches. Quality wireline cables are fabricated using a series of pressure rollers to partially embed the inner armor into the plastic core before the outer armor is applied. This process reduces the diameter changes typical of a new cable, which starts the seasoning process in advance of running in a well. See the picture to the right. The insulation, depicted in red, shows the indentation made during the manufacturing of Quality Cables.

All wireline cables feature an armor design that develops a torque proportional to the load on the cable. The torque of the outer armor wires is always greater than the opposing torque of the inner armor wires because there are typically more armor wires on the outer, and the distance from the center is larger (increasing leverage). Under load, the dominating outer armor will attempt to rotate and unwind the cable until there is a torque balance between the armor layers.

During manufacturing, a cable is subjected to only a few hundred pounds of tension, thus there is essentially no torque in a new cable as delivered. When installed on a truck, the spooling tensions are significantly higher than during manufacturing. Since the cable is not free to rotate, it will develop significant torque. During the first field operations, this new cable will attempt to rotate to normalize this built-up torque, as well as to support the tool string weight. To illustrate the significance of this problem, consider a new 5/16-inch cable deployed in a straight 20,000-foot well. The total rotations that a new cable end would require to equalize the torque could be over 400 rotations.

Forum’s QWC team has addressed the problems associated with cable rotation by including a special blocking material that increases the friction between the inner and outer armor, reducing cable rotation. After repeated operations, this initial blocking material is slowly lost. In standard cables, which use galvanized steel armor wires, the spaces left by the loss of blocking material now become filled with the corrosion byproducts of zinc and iron. These byproducts, combined with the roughening of the wire from corrosion, increase the friction between the inner and outer armor, reducing cable rotation.

Cables using special alloy armor wires have been developed for operations in hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and highly corrosive well conditions. Alloy wires do not pit or generate corrosion byproducts. In the absence of friction typically caused by corrosion, alloy cables rotate freely throughout their life after the initial blocking material is lost.

Operations using alloy cables occur frequently in wells containing toxic gases where hydraulic packoffs are generally kept much tighter than in regular operations. These conditions result in additional cable unwinding and loosening of the outer armor. Throughout their lifetime, alloy cables must have the armor tightened and set with post-forming. No standard rules exist for servicing alloy cables, but it is a good practice to bring a new alloy cable to a service center after the first job and thereafter every 10 to 20 runs.

All cables that become loose — particularly new cables — are more susceptible to damage, including drum crush, outer armor wires being “milked” into a “birdcage” and reduced breaking strength. Importantly, the breaking strength of a normalized cable comes from all the inner and outer armor wires combined. When a cable becomes loose, the load is shifted from all wires to only the inner wires, which dramatically reduces the breaking strength as shown on the graph.

Breaking Strength Loss As Outer Armore Wires Loosen on a 5/16 inch Mono-Conductor
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - New Cable

Tips to Prevent Damage to New Cables and Increase Cable Life 

At Forum, we understand that the following suggestions occur under ideal conditions, and in many operations, these suggestions may not be practical. However, it is important to understand that if employed, these practices will increase cable life.

 To allow a new cable to rotate and become “normalized,” it is important to choose the first operations carefully. Select operations with minimum mechanical drag downhole. There should be little or no packoff pressure required, and the hole should be fairly straight. In practice, boreholes are never straight, and the end of the cable is never completely free to rotate. It takes a new cable several trips in the hole to spin out and become normalized. Follow the same rules any time a new part of the cable comes off the drum for the first few times.

  • Coming out of the hole, cable tension is increased due to friction and weight of the tool string. This higher tension will cause the cable to rotate and the outer armor to unwind. Line speed is a critical parameter. The faster the cable is run in the hole, the less tension it experiences. Coming out of the hole at high speeds creates increased tension and captures the cable in a loose condition. When going back in the hole, tension is reduced, and the cable will rotate to tighten the outer armor. To allow a cable to wind and unwind normally, good operating rules are:
  • While going in the hole, do not allow the tension at any depth to fall below two-thirds of the static tension at that depth.
  • Come out of the hole at a speed not greater than the speed that increases the tension by more than one and one-third of the static tension at that depth.
  • When special operating conditions do not allow for normal cable speeds or when tight packoffs are needed, the cable will unwind and develop loose outer armor. To correct this condition, the cable should be taken to a cable service shop to have the armor tightened and post-formed. Otherwise, the cable’s ultimate breaking strength could be jeopardized.
  • When running in the hole with new cables, stop every 1,000 to 2,000 feet (or whenever the customer permits) to allow the cable to regain tension and properly spin out. At this point, pull back 50 to 100 feet before running further into the well.
  • Avoid deviated wells if possible until the cable is seasoned.
  • Avoid any pressure with a hydraulic packoff and ensure the flow tubes have a minimum 0.004- to 0.006-inch clearance.
Forum Quality Wireline & Cable Tech Bulletin - New Cable