How to Use Hoists


Hoists are lifting contraptions that use either pulleys or pulley-like drums to change the direction of and multiply force, making it easier to pull loads upward. They come in all shapes and sizes, so it is likely that no two will work exactly the same way. However, there are some common operating procedures for manual drum and ratchet hoists that will enable one to operate all of them.

Drum Hoist

  • Pull the braking peg out to release and lower the line. The best manual drum hoists will use a peg to prevent the drum from turning, rather than try to restrain turning the wheel, although there are some designs that do that too.

  • Lower the rope to the load, and attach the hook to the load's weight-bearing ring, rung or handle.

  • Grip a handle and start turning the wheel. Insert the brake peg to hold the load in place whenever stopping becomes necessary. Otherwise, keep turning until the load has been raised.

Ratchet Hoists

  • Hook in the anchor point, if there is one. Some ratchet hoists, like a Come-A-Long, are very portable, but require an anchoring point from which to hang the hoist. Be sure the anchor point can bear the weight of the load, as well as the hoist itself. Others have use multiple pulleys and have an arm, so the weight is transferred to the floor. No anchor point is necessary for these.

  • Release the brake so the ratchets are free, so the line can be extended to the load. Hook the load onto the rung, ring or handle. Restore the brake.

  • Start cranking the lever. Do not worry about the brake if you want to stop, as the ratchets will automatically brake the hoist after each crank. So long as they ratchets are engaged, the hoist can only pull up, not release downwards.

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