How to Use a Come Along Winch Correctly (With Tips)?

how to use come along

Have you ever wondered how to use a come-along winch correctly?

In this article, we’ll be offering a comprehensive overview of the come-along winch: a highly practical tool thanks to its versatility and portability! 

The information in this guide is for anybody looking for a winch to pull heavy objects such as a car or a shade sail. 

We will be discussing:

  • The basic features of a come-along winch

  • A step-by-step guide on using a come-along winch

  • Safety precautions and tips for efficient usage. 

Let’s get into it!

Getting to Know Your Come Along 

A come along winch consists of a body and lever arm. The body has a fixed end and a running end. All the movement comes from the running end. The come along winch has a very long lever arm and is therefore suited to manually pulling loads. It is a hand winch that uses a ratchet to pull an object.

The ratcheting gear pulley system allows you to pull around heavyweights much more easily. Additionally, they are made from metal and have a strong coiled cable which is gradually coiled using a handle. This enables you to move heavy loads without any pressure.

The working capacity of a come along winch is about 4000 lbs. This is the maximum load and lifting capacity. However, the safe lifting capacity is 2000 lbs. It is also important to note that come along winches are not the perfect tool for overhead lifting. However, it is the perfect tool for pulling.

Come-along winches as most of us know them are manual, although you will be able to find examples of electric come-alongs on the market as well.

And while these electric come-alongs are usually faster (and a lot quieter), it is likely that at some point in your life, you'll need to use a winch in a place without access to a power source!

For this reason, we think that manual come-along winches are more reliable and versatile than their electric counterparts.

Step-by-Step Guide on Using a Come-Along 

Assessing the situation

Winches are primarily used to lift and/or suspend objects. 

However, come-along winches are designed to pull (this includes towing and/or hauling) using the hand power of the operator. 

Come along winches are lighter and more cost effective than many other hydraulic or electric winches. 

If you're in a situation where you need to pull a relatively heavy object (when your car is in a ditch, for instance) and you have no other options, a come-along winch will be your go-to tool! 

Setting Up the Come-Along

  • First off, you will need to attach the cable on the come-along winch to the end of the object being pulled

  • Then, proceed to attach the other end of the come-along winch to an anchor point. 

Tensioning the Cable

  • You will need to ensure the cable or chain is well positioned (meaning no buckling, binding, or kinking) and pulling in a straight line

  • Pull the drive pawl spring (on the lever handle) down, and start ratcheting the handle back and forth until the desired tension is reached

  • As you exert pressure on the come-along winch hand lever arm, continue to ensure the path of the winch is unobstructed and that the cable remains straight!

Performing the Recovery

  • However big or small the object you are pulling is, it is of the utmost importance that the cable remains straight and unobstructed

  • Continue ratcheting as required! Make sure you are aware of your physical state while doing this; It can sometimes be hard work, so take a break if you're feeling tired.

Securing the Load

  • Once you have pulled your object to where you need it, ensure it is on stable ground before approaching it or attempting to remove the chain of the come-along winch from it

  • In order to disengage the ratchet drive and release the cable,  pull the drive pawl spring up, push the handle all the way to the anchor hook side of the winch, then raise the handle slowly

  • Repeat as many times as you need for the tension to be loosened.

Safety Precautions 

As with the operation of any type of machinery, taking the correct safety precautions is absolutely necessary when using a come-along winch! These safety precautions include:

  • Having an obstruction-free work area

  • Wearing appropriate clothing - NO LOOSE CLOTHING

  • The use of safety glasses and gloves is highly recommended

  • Check the winch for faults before use

  • Do not use excessive force

  • Ensure the stop spawl spring is engaged when the winch is in use.

Come alongs are great for moving heavy objects and completing chores. However, it is important to know the weight limit, so you don't overload the winch. Overloading the winch could cause dangerous accidents resulting in severe injuries. If possible, always have a rough idea of the weight your winch can take, and don't exceed the weight limit.

Hand winch device. Lever traction mechanism with gear for moving cargo and pulling the car.

Tips for Efficient Come-Along Use

Now we’ve touched on the basics of come-along winch use, let's discuss some of the ways you can really maximize the use of the helpful tool:

Using additional accessories for better leverage

  • While you should never use a come-along winch around corners or at angles, there is a way you can work around this! Pulleys provide a strong, guided edge around which the cable can roll

  • Snatch blocks can reduce the load your come-along winch withstands by up to half, as well as provide more options for angles of approach.

Teamwork and communication during the recovery process

  • If you have the option of operating a come-along winch with a partner, this will reduce your workload and enhance safety!

Two pairs of hands and eyes are often better than one, and operating a come-along winch is no exception.

Knowing the limitations of your come-along

  • It has been touched on before in this article, but it is a crucial tip to keep in mind when operating your come-along winch. 

When purchasing a come-along winch, check to see its weight capacity and other relevant specifications

  • While the maximum load and lifting capacity may be around 4000 lbs for many come-along winches, a safe limit would be around 2000 lbs. 

Overloading a come-along winch (like any other winch) could potentially cause serious accidents and possibly severe injury.