OLD TIMER’S BLOCK AND TACKLE
By Norris Chambers
A block is
also a housing equipped with one or more pulleys. A tackle is a combination of
ropes or other lines and originally referred to the rigging used on ships. A block and tackle is a combination of a block and some tackle.
block and tackle arrangement doubled the pulling power with each pulley that
was added to the blocks. Of course there was more line to pull, but that was
easier than trying to lift something that was too heavy or something that was
too hard to pull. A modern adaptation of the block and tackle is called a “come
along” and it works well.
block and tackle was well known by the old timers and was used on a regular
A small block and tackle, using thin
pliable cable or rope in combination with one or two small pulleys in housings,
was used as a wire stretcher for fence building. Most commercial stretchers had
a locking clamp for holding the wire and the other end was fastened to the
corner post. All that was necessary to stretch a long wire was to pull on the
tackle cable or rope and the wire would slowly tighten. We did not use a regular wire stretcher for
tightening a fence wire. We just used a long stick, tied the wire about a foot
from the end, then put the end against the post and pulled the stick back,
using it as a fulcrum. This method worked very well on wires that were not too
long. If the wire was too long for the method, we stretched it more often.
block and tackle principle was used on the old oil rigs for pulling or setting
heavy casing in the well. The old standard derricks had several large pulleys
on the top of the rig and the block that was used to raise the pipe up or down
had several. The number used depended on the size of the pipe being
manipulated. A long length of cable had to be drawn to move the block up or
down the required distance and this was accomplished by a power driven reel.
hog butchering day arrived a single-tree was hooked to the hind legs of the hog
and hung from a convenient tree or t-frame. The handy device readily raised the
carcass up and down in the scalding barrel and after scraping kept it suspended
for other butchering operations.
were times when an old automobile, tractor, wagon or other heavy machine had to
be lifted for undercarriage attention. For this purpose nothing could have been
better than the block and tackle and a suitable tree with a protruding limb.
suppose a stubborn donkey could have been moved forward with this handy device
but we had other methods that worked well.
The tree trunk! On some of our longer, speedier lines we had
a braking lever at the top of the tire. When we pulled down on the lever it
pressed a wooden block against the cable and slowed the descent.