One of the missions of The HotWire is to educate our customers on the particulars of wire and wire rope by answering any process and performance questions that they may have. A question that comes up every so often concerns the shelf life of aircraft cable. In this case, we had a post from 2010 that addressed this very issue. We think it's worth re-posting.
Does Wire Rope Have a Shelf Life?
When retained in storage properly wire rope (steel cable) has an unlimited shelf life.
Wire rope integrity
You can avoid damage or deterioration as long as the cable is kept dry. Exposure to moisture, acids, alkalines or other destructive agents can cause chemical decomposition of the wires.
Lubricated wire rope
Certain wire ropes are lubricated during manufacture for protection from corrosion during storage but that lubrication may not last for the wire ropes entire life. Lube can dry or leak out and require relubrication. This process depends on the type of lube used and the conditions during storage.
Preformed wire rope exists when the strands are permanently shaped before fabrication to the helical form they assume in the finished rope. This operation eliminates stress and strain and prevents the rope from flying apart when cut or broken. It keeps the wire rope from kinking and helps to eliminate the tendency to rotate.
Stock is controlled and re-reeled at time of order to establish that no significant deterioration or damage has occurred.
What you can do
Avoid storing the wire rope in areas of high temperature or in the presence of chemicals, fumes or other environmental conditions. Keep reels clean, dry and covered but well ventilated.