Frequently Asked Questions

Before You Buy

  1. How can I be sure I’m buying a good-quality come-along?
  2. What load rating should I look for when buying a come-along?
  3. What’s the difference between a come-along and a continuous rope puller?
  4. What accessories should I have if I’m using a come-along?
  5. Does it matter whether I use cable, rope or strap?

Safety Concerns

  1. What is the most dangerous part of using a come-along?
  2. How can I safely increase the mechanical advantage?
  3. Can I use a cheater bar to get more leverage?
  4. Is it OK to replace my winch cable with a longer one?
  5. Does it matter whether I use hooks or shackles?

Care & Maintenance

  1. What maintenance does a come-along require?
  2. My winch cable has a kink in it but isn’t frayed, is it still safe to use?
  3. I exceeded the load rating and have broken my come-along, can I repair it myself?
  4. Can I replace my winch cable with Dyneema rope instead?

Using Your Come-Along

  1. Can I winch a car or boat onto a trailer using a come-along?
  2. Can a come-along be used for towing?
  3. Can I permanently mount a come-along to a truck, trailer or tow dolly?
  4. Can I use a come-along instead of an electric winch?
  5. Is there a difference between recovery straps and towing straps?
  6. How can I use a come-along for logging?
  7. Is a come-along useful for building fences?
  8. Can I use a come-along to hoist bales of hay into my hayloft?
  9. Is it possible to use a come-along to straighten a barn?
  10. Can you use a come-along to straighten a vehicle frame?
  11. How can I use a come-along to replace a garage door panel?
  12. How can come-alongs be used on a construction site?

How can I be sure I’m buying a good-quality come-along?

Look for a solidly constructed tool that’s made of high-quality materials. If it feels flimsy and cheap in your hands, don’t buy it. If you’re buying online, do your research and read reviews before purchasing. Also make sure anything you buy has a good warranty.

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What load rating should I look for when buying a come-along?

To calculate the load rating you need, multiply the weight of the heaviest load you’re planning to pull by 1.5x. Also take into account the terrain where you’re working – if you have to pull something out of mud, up a slope, or over rough ground, you will be using more force. It’s easy to look up the weight of your vehicle, but it’s not as easy to make an accurate guess at the weight of a tree you’ve just felled. Always err on the side of caution, and use damper blankets to reduce the danger if your cable does break.

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What’s the difference between a come-along and a continuous rope puller?

A come-along winds a cable or strap onto a spool as you pull, while a continuous rope puller simply pulls the rope through. Both have advantages and disadvantages. A come-along is attached to its cable or strap, meaning that there is a limit to how long that cable or strap can be. A rope puller on the other hand can be used with any length of rope. However, rope pullers can’t always handle the heavy loads that a come-along can take. Which you choose depends on which factor is more important to you – power or reach.

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What accessories should I have if I’m using a come-along?

The accessories you need will depend on how you plan to use the come-along (for example you need log chains if you’re going to skid logs). No matter how you’re using it, there are a few essential accessories that should be in your toolbox. Wearing safety gloves will protect your fingers if they get caught in the mechanism plus safeguard you from abrasion by the cable or strap. You should also have a damper blanket of some kind to absorb the energy if the cable snaps. If your come-along doesn’t have a pulley and second hook, you should consider getting a snatch block too. This will allow you to pull heavier loads more easily.

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Does it matter whether I use cable, rope or strap?

Each of these choices has advantages and disadvantages. Rope pullers give you more length and flexibility, but are not as strong as cables and straps. Strap pullers are strong and will not damage the finish on vehicles and other valuable loads. The come-alongs that are rated for the heaviest loads are generally cable pullers. Just remember that cables may conduct electricity if you’re working around power lines, and that they don’t perform as well in extreme cold.

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What is the most dangerous part of using a come-along?

A lot can go wrong when you’re dealing with the forces involved in heavy hauling, so before you begin winching be sure to familiarize yourself with the safety considerations. The most obvious danger is a snapped cable. Damper blankets can make this less dangerous, and using the come-along as directed (appropriate loads, no hoisting, no cheater bars) can prevent the cable snapping in the first place. Felling trees is also inherently dangerous. A come-along can be used to guide where the tree will fall, taking some of the guesswork out of the task. Be careful of power lines, and consider using a rope or strap if you have to work near high voltage lines. A metal cable is conductive and therefore more dangerous.

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How can I safely increase the mechanical advantage?

The handle of your come-along gives you the mechanical advantage of leverage, but you can increase this advantage by adding a pulley. Some come-alongs have a second hook and pulley attached, or you can add a snatch block. By doubling the cable and using a pulley, you get an additional two-to-one mechanical advantage.

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Can I use a cheater bar to get more leverage?

Never use a cheater bar, and if the handle on your come-along breaks, don’t replace it yourself. As a safety measure, the handle is designed to break if the load is too heavy for the winch. Always go through the manufacturer to do repairs, and if you’re trying to increase the mechanical advantage of your come-along, there’s a safer way to do it with pulleys.

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Is it OK to replace my winch cable with a longer one?

Whenever replacing the cable always be sure to use the same diameter. However, there may not be room for a longer cable to wind onto the spool and using a thinner cable will compromise the load rating. Apart from the dangers of no longer knowing the safe working capacity of your winch, such modifications will also void the manufacturer’s warranty.

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Does it matter whether I use hooks or shackles?

Hooks can be fine if they have safety latches and you’re connecting them to chains. D-ring shackles are definitely better if you’re using straps, because the size and shape of a strap doesn’t work well with a hook. Shackles take a little more time to connect, but they are both safer and stronger than hooks.

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What maintenance does a come-along require?

You don’t have to do much to maintain your winch. Oil all of the pivot points with light machine oil periodically, and store it somewhere dry. Always inspect the cable, rope or strap for damage before you use it. If there is fraying or the cable is bent, don’t use it. After use, rewind it under pressure so that the cable will wind smoothly onto the drum without tangling.

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My winch cable has a kink in it but isn’t frayed, is it still safe to use?

If there is a bend or kink in your cable, it’s safest to replace it. Even if there’s no visible fraying, the kink is a potential weak spot that might break under pressure.

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I exceeded the load rating and have broken my come-along, can I repair it myself?

It depends which come-along parts are damaged. Replacing a broken cable may not be a big deal, but if the handle is bent you should contact the manufacturer about repairs. The handle is designed to bend if the load is too great for the come-along, so using the wrong replacement handle is unsafe. Better quality come-alongs often have replacement available, but always check with the manufacturer before replacing or repairing anything if you’re not sure.

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Can I replace my winch cable with Dyneema rope instead?

Whether you can replace your winch cable with Dyneema rope depends on the type of winch being used. Just be aware that your winch load rating will no longer apply. Synthetic winch rope made from Dyneema (and other alternatives such as Plasma or Spectra) is more vulnerable to the heat of winch braking systems, as well as to UV rays and chafing over time. Used in a come-along or hand winch there is a possibility that the Dyneema rope may rub on the winch mechanism. Before converting your winch, check for burrs caused by the old cable which can damage the new rope. If using Dyneema in a cable or rope puller the clamping mechanism could crush or chafe the rope, so always inspect before use. When fitting Dyneema rope to an electric winch, ensure it doesn’t get hotter than 150 F and that it has a cover to protect the rope from the sun.

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Can I winch a car or boat onto a trailer using a come-along?

Yes, a come-along works well for this task as long as it can handle the weight of the vehicle or boat. If your winch comes into contact with salt water, rinse it well with fresh water after use and allow to thoroughly dry before stowing.

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Can a come-along be used for towing?

Can a come-along be used for towing? Don’t use a come-along for towing. Once you’ve got your vehicle out of the ditch, use ropes, chains or straps designed for towing.

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Can I permanently mount a come-along to a truck, trailer or tow dolly?

This is not a good idea. Come-alongs will rust and corrode if they are exposed to the elements for a long time, which is why they should always be stored somewhere dry. The shape and configuration of the handle doesn’t make them easy to use if they are mounted. And one of the biggest advantages of a come-along is that it gives you the flexibility to attach it wherever you need it for each job. If you want to mount a winch to your vehicle or trailer, it’s better to use an electric winch or a crank hand winch.

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Can I use a come-along instead of an electric winch?

You can use a come-along for a lot of the same jobs you’d use a power winch for, including recovering stuck vehicles. An electric winch is more powerful and will get the job done faster, but a come-along is more portable and versatile. Because it’s not attached to your vehicle, you can use it for lots of different tasks. A come-along is also much cheaper than an electric winch, so if it’s something you’ll rarely use, it might be better to go with the cheaper option.

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Is there a difference between recovery straps and towing straps?

Towing straps allow a vehicle to tow a disabled vehicle along a road. Recovery straps are designed to help you free a stuck vehicle, either by winching or towing. A recovery strap is more elastic, giving you the extra boost you need to get a vehicle out of a muddy hole.

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How can I use a come-along for logging?

Come-alongs have a variety of uses around a woodlot. You can use them when felling trees to help control where the tree will fall. They are also useful for moving heavy logs around, removing stumps, and pulling logs or equipment onto a trailer. You will need log chains or choker chains if you plan on skidding logs with your come-along.

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Is a come-along useful for building fences?

A come-along is very useful in fence construction. With the help of a fence stretcher and a chain, you can use your come-along to stretch the wire in a woven wire or chain link fence. It’s easy to overstretch wire if you pull it with a tractor, but the slow pace of the come-along will prevent this problem. A come-along can also be used to stretch barbed wire.

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Can I use a come-along to hoist bales of hay into my hayloft?

No, a come-along is not built for lifting or hoisting. Unlike a hoist, a come-along doesn’t have a mechanical locking brake, and the freespooling mechanism also makes it dangerous to use a come-along for hoisting. Don’t use a come-along to pull a load up a slope of more than 45 degrees, or to lift an object to more than shoulder height. A ratchet lever hoist can look very similar to a come-along on the outside, so make sure you know what tool you’re using!

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Is it possible to use a come-along to straighten a barn?

Yes. If you have an old, crooked barn on your property just attach the come-along to a beam or post on the building, and connect the other side to a stationary object. You might have to brace the wall first if there isn’t a secure beam to attach the come-along’s cable. The fact that a come-along works slowly is an advantage here, as you’ll have more control over the process and won’t pull too far. Brace the walls once the structure is straight. If the building is too damaged to save, a come-along can be useful for demolishing it, too. Make sure that you and any helpers are working at a safe distance.

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Can you use a come-along to straighten a vehicle frame?

Generally speaking, you should let the professionals tackle this one. But if you’ve got a vehicle that’s not worth much and you want to give it a go, using a come-along is much better than just attaching a cable to a tree and hitting the gas. Anchor the come-along to a stationary object and attach it to the part of the frame you want to pull. You may need to use some blocks or chocks to stop the vehicle from moving when you pull it.

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How can I use a come-along to replace a garage door panel?

Raise the door about six inches and secure it with vise grips or locking pliers under the rollers, one on each side. Attach the come-along to the cable, cranking it once to release the tension and separate the panels. Undo the hinges on the top and bottom of the panel you want to remove and crank the come-along a few more times. There will now be enough of a gap to let you remove the old panel and install the new one.

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How can come-alongs be used on a construction site?

Come-alongs are useful wherever you have heavy equipment and building materials to move around. Also, you can use a come-along to pull beams and joints together during construction, or to straighten heavy panels. If you have heavy cables to stretch, you can use your come-along as long as you have cable pulling grips. But remember, never use a come-along as a hoist.

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