What’s a Come Along?

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A come-along is a portable, hand-operated winch used for pulling, lifting, and lowering objects. It can be used in construction, industrial, and towing applications. It comes in various sizes and weight-lifting capacities and should be used within recommended weight limits to prevent fatigue failure. Lubrication and replacement of the stress link are necessary for maintenance.

A come-along is a hand-operated ratchet lever winch. A winch is a mechanical device used to wind a rope or cable, while a ratchet is a mechanical brake that prevents the line from unwinding. Come-longs are convenient and portable enough to use in almost any situation, because they are small enough to be carried in one hand and weigh only 10 pounds (about 4.54 kilograms) on average.

These tools are used to pull joints together, to straighten heavy panels as you place them, as safety ties, and to pull the frame of a new construction together as it is being lifted. They can also be used to stretch, lift and lower objects. In addition to construction and industrial applications, a come-along is useful for towing boats, cars and gliders. On boats and ships it can be used to pull the anchor or mooring lines, sheets and halyards.

You can purchase a come-along in a variety of sizes and weight-lifting capacities for different building needs. Lifting capacity generally ranges from 1 to 3 tons (907.19 to 2721.6 kilograms), with a lift height of 6 to 12 feet (about 1.83 to 3.66 meters). It is important to adhere to the recommended weight limits provided with the tool, as it is susceptible to fatigue failure when used repeatedly at even a small percentage of its tensile strength.

Many come-alongs are designed with internal clutches to limit operating loads. Within these limits, however, wire rope can rust from the inside out. Also, the cross sections of the chain links are reduced due to wear. Frequent lubrication will prolong the life of the device.

A come-along can also be fitted with a mesh strap to prevent twisting, as well as a safety feature called a breakable stress link. If it’s overloaded, the stress link breaks down. This allows the operator to back the load before the fiberglass handle snaps, preventing both personal injury and equipment damage. The stress link can be easily replaced if damaged. Replacing the stress link is much less expensive and difficult than if further damage to the equipment were to occur due to excessive stress.

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