At a glance, a come-along looks like a pretty simple tool. Right away you will notice that it’s made of a few basic parts such as:
- Cable, rope or strap: This is attached to the load you want to pull.
- Drum, including ratchet wheel or ratchet drive: This consists of a drum or spool attached to two sprockets. The sprockets are rotated by the drive pawls to pull the load. The cable or strap winds onto the drum as you pull.
- Lever Handle: By pulling the handle you turn the ratchet wheel and pull the load. The length of the handle gives you the mechanical advantage of leverage.
The come-along also includes hooks to attach it to both an anchor and to your load:
- Anchor hook: This is located behind the handle, so you will pull the handle toward the anchor hook. This hook is attached to a stationary object such as a tree or rock.
- Load hook or cable/strap end hook: This is attached to the end of the cable, rope or strap, and you attach it to the load you want to move.
- Optional second hook and pulley: You use this if you want to double the line to the load to increase the mechanical advantage using a pulley.
A closer look at the mechanism will reveal the smaller parts that allow you to use the come-along safely and effectively:
- Cable guard or ratchet guard: This protects the ratchet wheel and small parts from damage, and helps you keep your fingers safe from the moving parts.
- Drive pawl spring: If this spring is engaged (in the down position) the ratchet action will be engaged. When the spring is released, the ratchet wheel can move in both directions allowing you to unwind the cable.
- Drive pawl: This is the piece that locks into the sprockets to produce the ratchet action. It is connected to the drive pawl spring, which is used to activate or deactivate the ratchet action.
- Stop pawl or retainer pawl spring: This is located behind the ratchet wheel and must also be released to unwind the cable. When activated it acts as a brake.
- Stop pawl or retainer pawl trigger: This is used to engage or disengage the stop pawl spring.
Understanding the different parts of your come-along will help you maintain it and use it safely.