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How to Use a Come-along or Hand Winch

  • A come-along, or hand winch is one of the most common tools used for installing shade sails. A come-along is comprised of a body and lever arm. The body contains a fixed end and a running end. All movement comes from the running end. The running end is moved as the wire rope is wrapped around the spool in the center of the body. Spooling is achieved by pivoting the lever arm and utilizing the latches. There are two latches. The first is found on the body, which prevents the spool from unwinding while applying tension/force to the running end with the lever arm. The second latch is found on the lever arm of the come-along and advances the spool to coil the wire rope on the spool. Finally, the wire rope that exits the body on the running end terminates with a hook. Along that length of wire rope there is a pulley with a quick-link.
  • To prepare a come-along for an install you should: First, release the wire rope by disengaging both latches simultaneously while pulling on the running end hook. (This is most easily accomplished with a second person pulling the wire rope from the disengaged spool.) Second, the hook on the running end of the come along should be attached to the shade sail corner. Third, the quick-link on the pulley that runs along the wire rope should be attached to the connection point you intend to pull the shade sail corner too. (Make sure you connect it to a point other than the one intended for the shackle on your tensioning hardware. For example, our standard poles typically have two holes at every connection point.) Fourth, connect the fixed end of the come-along to an apposing point, such as another pole, tree, etc. You may need to use additional rope or wire rope to reach that point.
  • To pull the sail closer to the corner, crank the lever arm slowly until the sail is in a position that you can connect the turnbuckle or commercial bracket to your desired corner. Again, remember to go slow, monitoring the wire rope movement around the sail and the stretching of the sail. Once your have connected your corner hardware, you can release the pressure off of the come-along. This is accomplished by applying pressure to the lever arm to turn the sprocket on the spool enough, so that when you release the lever attached to the body of the come-along, you may simultaneously allow the lever/sprocket to turn the opposite direction, thus extending the wire rope. Incrementally continue this process until all of the force is transferred to the connection hardware and you can remove the come-along. Repeat these steps for all corners for which it is needed.