He explains they are a block and tackle, which has one block, or pulley, at the bottom and another at the top. The ropes in between are what is called tackle. It’s very old school – the technology has been around for a long, long time.
There are lots of different types and styles of block and tackle. The one Kevin is using has three “sheaves,” or grooved wheels, that the ropes run through, giving greater mechanical advantage. They let you pick up a heavier load with less pulling. The block and tackle is doing the work for you.
Each of the 5″ x 5″ x 1/4″ wall steel tubes Kevin is lifting weighs about 140 pounds. Could he lift them onto the workbench himself? Yes. Does he want to? No. That’s what he got the block and tackle for. It’s just a whole lot easier to use a block and tackle than to pick them up by hand.
The block and tackle also lets Kevin do a whole lot more work by himself. It’s safer and quicker and is much better for his back.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you’re going to add a block and tackle to your shop. First, make sure your block and tackle is attached to a strong, solid beam. The beam his block and tackle is screw into is two 2x6s on edge, sandwiched together, with a strap around them. It’s good and solid, which is important if you are going to pick up anything heavy with it, like an engine block.
If you are picking up something big and heavy, also try to get your attachment to the item centered so it picks it up flat and square rather than off to one side.
You want to watch the equipment ratings, too. Different block and tackles are rated to lift different weights – 100 pounds, 200 pounds, etc. Kevin’s is rated to pick up 2 tons, so it will pick up a lot more than those two 2×6 beams will even hold.
Finally, the more sheaves you have, the more rope you’ll need and the more you have to pull to lift items. A single pulley will lift pretty quickly, but a triple pulley means a lot more pulling to do the same work, but it’s easier. So make sure you have enough rope – Kevin thinks he has about 50 feet on his block and tackle.
A block and tackle is a great tool – it doesn’t use gas or electricity, doesn’t make noise, and is a great workout for the arms and chest when you are picking up something with it. And it just hangs out up there until you need it.
Kevin found his on eBay, but you can also find them on Amazon and probably also brick-and-mortar stores in your area.
Before you head out, hang around for another moment to learn about mechanical advantage (or not) ….