A Salute to the Mighty Come-Along Tool
Using a Come-Along in Sticky Situations
Reading Time: 4 minutes
By Mark M. Hall – Thanks to the fabulous come-along tool, an endless variety of monumental pulling tasks can be performed by one individual. In countless sheds and barns across this nation is one of the greatest tools known to man. Its capabilities are such that no homesteader wants to be without it. Without a doubt, it is my favorite of all tools, in case
you hadn’t guessed already.
This power puller, as it is also aptly called, is a tough, hand-operated winch. With each pull of the lever, the ratcheted gear pulley tugs an inch or
two of wire rope and wraps it onto a steel drum. As a result, whatever this super pulling tool is hooked to “comes along” with it. Like mine, most models can lift up to 2,000 lbs. and drag as much as 4,000 lbs.! That means it can lift a load of 333 bricks and drag twice as many.
My first encounter with the amazing come-along tool took place in the late 1980s when I was a teenager. That summer, someone had offered to buy Dad’s 1950 Chevy. Rusty and dilapidated, the car had sat unused for many years. Removing the broken-down classic from its resting place behind the garage would be difficult.
It was perpendicular to the narrow driveway, so there was not enough room to tow it. However, there was plenty of room for Dad’s come-along.
In a jiffy, he hooked one end of the come-along to the car frame and the other end to a chain wrapped around a nearby tree. I must admit, as I watched him quickly tighten the slack in the wire rope, I was skeptical of its ability to do the job. Could only one man and a hand tool really drag this 1.5-ton car? After all, the wheels had sunk into the ground, and it would have to be pulled slightly uphill. Yet, sure enough, as Dad pulled hard on the lever, the antique Chevy began inching its way up and out of the age-old grooves in the dirt. It was incredible! Before long, I was happily finishing
the job for him in my muscle shirt and stonewashed jeans.
Over the many years since that time, I have haplessly worked myself into numerous jams on our own homesteading land. Yet, with the help of my
come-along, these tough situations have been turned into mere child’s play.
When I began my first fence installation, it looked horrible. Rolled wire fencing sagged and wavered pathetically from the first few metal fence posts. That afternoon, a farmer friend stopped by and reminded me that the wire needed to be stretched. I could have gone right then to the local farm store to buy a fence stretcher, but he pointed out that my come-along could do the job just as well for a light-weight fence such as mine. Fortunately, he offered to stay and help, and I gladly accepted. For starters, we temporarily nailed two scrap boards together, over top of the rolled fence wire edge, to make a firm pulling surface. We then hooked one end of the come-along to the boards and the other end to a fence post ahead in line. To my delight, a few tugs on the handle straightened the wire substantially. The process was repeated with each additional roll until the fence was stretched and completed.
Once, I unwittingly put our old John Deere lawn tractor in need
of some pulling assistance as well. Normally, I use a weed whacker to remove the weeds that grow tall on the creek bank, but one year I decided to be smart. Rather than walking all around, whacking the entire bank, I could instead save time by cutting some of it with the lawn tractor. Soon, I was greedily mowing down tons of weeds, oblivious to the uneven contour of the slope beneath me. Before long, my drive wheel slipped into a hole, and when the tractor couldn’t move any further, I knew it was time to bring out the come-along. Fortunately, there was a tree on the right, at the top
of the slope, against which I was able to secure the puller. In just a matter of minutes, the tractor was hooked up and pulled back into the yard, where it clearly belonged.
On a separate occasion, I buried the lawn tractor deep into a mud hole and called to duty the come-along once more. However, this time around, there was nothing to anchor against — no tree or fence post anywhere nearby. Splattered already, I slithered off of the mud-caked tractor and sloshed my way over to a metal spike lying nearby. I snatched it up, positioning it about 30 feet in front, and pounded it into the ground as far as I could. Again, the come-along pulled out the lawn tractor with no problem.
As you can see, the come-along is a tool of a thousand uses. Some builders use it in framing, while others correct the positioning of old, leaning walls. It is even utilized in certain automotive body repair procedures, such
as the repositioning of bent frames. There are those who claim that they can even pop out dents in body panels with it.
Yes, the come-along is indeed a most valuable tool and therefore has enjoyed an exceptionally long and productive life. In fact, an entire century has passed since the very similar prototype of the modern come-along was first invented. Millions have been sold all over the globe since the 1940s when it was first commercialized, and there is every reason, in my view, to expect that millions more will be sold over the next hundred years.
Mankind just can’t seem to avoid becoming thoroughly stuck, now and then. That goes double for me, and I assure you, I’m not pulling your leg.
In what other ways have you found a come-along tool a real life-saver? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Originally published in the January/February 2021 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.