You may have purchased a come-along with a particular purpose in mind, but by adding a few accessories, you can use your winch for a number of different jobs around your property or on the road. There are also accessories that will keep you safer as you winch. Here are some of the most common accessories that will allow you to use your winch safely for a wide variety of tasks:
1. Winch Strap
Winch straps are stronger than ropes and less likely to damage the load you are pulling than a chain or cable. They come in several different types, depending on their purpose:
- Tow straps allow you to use your vehicle to tow a disabled vehicle.
- Recovery straps are more elastic and are used to recover a stuck vehicle.
- Extension straps allow you to extend the reach of your winch.
- Tree savers are wider straps that are designed not to damage any trees you use as anchors when winching.
2. D-ring Shackles
D-ring shackles are used to fasten straps when winching. They fasten with a threaded pin, and are a better choice than hooks for recovery for several reasons. First, hooks really work best with chains, as winch straps are the wrong shape to be held securely in a hook. Shackles are also stronger than hooks, and are rated for significantly heavier loads. The smooth shape of a shackle, with no points or sharp edges, will also be less likely to damage the fibers of your winch strap. A shackle takes a little longer to connect than a hook because you have to screw in the threaded pin, but that little bit of extra time is a great investment in safety.
3. Snatch Block
A snatch block is a pulley assembly that allows you to attach a double line to the load, giving you a 2-to-1 mechanical advantage when pulling. It has a movable side plate so that you can easily put in a loop of cable without having to start at the end and thread it through. Always be especially careful when using a snatch block that you don’t exceed the capacity of your winch and cable. Don’t skimp on the snatch block itself either – it has to withstand a huge amount of force when in use, so make sure you buy a good-quality one.
4. Cable Grip
Cable pulling grips are useful if you are repairing a wire fence or working with cables in construction. With a cable grip, you can easily attach your come-along to the wire or cable that you need to stretch. Some cable grips are designed with fence wire in mind, while others are more suited to heavy cables or power lines.
5. Log Chain
Log chains are useful if you’re moving trees that you’ve cut or pulling up tree stumps. Wrap the chain around the tree or stump and attach the other end to your winch. Log chains generally have a clevis grab hook at each end, but some are configured as “choker chains” which you can tighten around the load before you pull.
Safety gloves or rigger’s gloves will protect your hands from abrasion by the cable or strap, as well as protecting your fingers if they get caught in the winch itself. Make sure that your gloves fit you well – loose, floppy gloves just create another hazard as they are more likely to get caught in machinery. Sturdy leather is the best material, as it won’t get snagged if you encounter a fraying cable.
7. Damper Blanket
Recovery damper blankets are designed to keep you safe in the event that a cable snaps while you are winching. The damper blanket absorbs some of the energy of the snapped cable and directs it toward the ground. A damper blanket fits over the cable and attaches usually with Velcro. Pockets on the side can be filled with stones or sand to add weight. It’s best to have a purpose-made damper blanket, but in an emergency you can use a heavy coat, vehicle floor mat, or even a folded tarp.
Armed with a few of these accessories, you will be able to get a lot of use out of your come-along or electric winch. To stay safe, always make sure that you have the right tools and accessories for the job, and use them as intended.