Differences Between A Winch And A Come-Along

If you ever had the misfortune of trying to pull out your jeep from a messy situation, you will realize just how challenging it can be. I was unprepared for the workout since I convinced myself that a come-along winch would serve the purpose. I was determined not to be in the same predicament again; the first step was to find out the difference between a Winch And A Come- Along?

Both the winch and the come-along have varied uses. A winch is used for the winding or adjusting tension of ropes and cable and operates mechanically. A come-along is a hand-operated winch with a ratchet that pulls heavyweights using a ratcheting gear pulley system.

To understand the differences between a winch and a come-along. You will first need to understand the components of both and their uses to gain a deeper insight into their differences.

Description Of A Winch

A steel cable with a synthetic robe wrapped around a motorized drum best describes a winch. The electronic control mechanism allows the operator to control the winch speed. It consists of a spool or a drum attached to a hand crank. Several components contribute to the effective functioning of the winch. The three most essential parts are;

The Motor

Made of 2 different types of motors;

  • The Permanent Magnet Motors – Used for light and medium-duty winching.
  • The Series Wound Motors –Used for heavy-duty winching.

The Solenoid

Used to control the movement and development of the engine. There are two types of solenoid switches;

  • 2 Mounting Solenoids– 2 mounting solenoids are inexpensive but less dependable and heavier.
  • 4 Mounting Solenoids- 4 mounting solenoids are more reliable, more expensive, and a lot lighter.

Winch Gear

Used to convert the high speed of a motor into a lower rate. Made of the following three types of gears;

Planetary Gear

The planetary gear is excellent for programmed transmission and offers good resistance to torque loads.

Worm Gear

Worm gear needs a clutch mechanism for spooling. It is efficient but slower than electric winches.

Spun Gear

This is very effective when it comes to heavy lifting.

The Uses Of A Winch

Vehicle Recovery

The most distinguishable factor of a tow truck compared to other vehicles is a winch—the winch assists in hoisting these vehicles onto the flatbed. A winch extracts cars that have been involved in an accident or just broken down.


A winch mounts on a trailer and can be instrumental in launching gliders. The strength of the winch is evident in the weight that it pulls. The winch can pull up to 1000 to 1, 600 m, up to 3 300 to 5200 ft of high tensile steel wire attached to the glider.

Search and rescue helicopters also use winches to lower rescue teams from a distance. A winch helps the helicopters maintain a safe space. A winch also airlifts heavy cargo.


Often embedded in the stage floor, a winch is used in backstages to move large set pieces on and off stage.

Water skating

Water skating is a sport that sees a person on a waterski or snowboard transported across the water with a winch. As soon as the winch is connected, it pulls in the swimmer. The swimmer’s speed draws in at a rate of 15 to 25 miles per hour.

Off-Road Vehicles

It is common to see an off-road vehicle equipped with a winch on the back and front bumper of the car due to the ruggedness of the terrain. These are used in emergencies to pull vehicles out of the mud, snow, sand, rocks, and any obstacles.

Lift Elevators

The winch is the heart of the elevator—a winch guides and lifts elevators to different floors. The elevator shaft is installed with a winch, creating a magnetic field for the motor.


A winch is used in landscaping to move around large boulders and other materials, creating that perfect landscaped ambiance.

Different Types Of Winch

Different types of winches perform various functions. I have listed some of the different kinds of winches.

Air Winch

The air winch is an air-powered version. It lifts and suspends materials. It is commonly used in maritime industries to remove and load cargo, used in the construction industry, gas and oil industry, and air rescue.

Lever Winch

The lever winch is a self-gripping winch; instead of spools, they have jaws. It operates manually by a lever which allows items to be moved in several tons simultaneously. They are often used in construction and for the loading and offloading of cargo in supermarkets.

Snubbing Winch

This snubbing winch control sheets and lines of small sailboats and dinghies. They help to relieve the tension of the primary winches. The vertical spool with a ratchet system allows the cable to wrap around the spool and tighten and reeled in when needed.

Mooring Winch

The mooring winch functions effectively in boats and ships when berthed or docked. It can provide support such as positioning during loading and offloading. It can adjust the deviation caused by vibration and constant tension. Most importantly offers drift support.

Description Of A Come- Along

A come-along is also known as a hand winch with a ratchet that operates manually to pull objects. The drum wraps with a wire robe or chain. It has a hook attached to one end of the chain and a level arm. A come-along winch is not ideal for overhead lifting.

Uses Of A Come-Along

  • They are used for installing shade sails.
  • Removal of tree stumps.
  • Towing of Vehicles.
  • They are used for military purposes to strap the ammunition and the army bags to the top of the surface and for military training.
  • A come-along operates in construction sites.

Different Types Of Come- Along

There are three different types of come -along;

Cable Come-Along

This type of come along consists of steel. It is not ideal for lifting; it transports dead weight. Uses vary from garage repair to vehicle recovery. Can handle a capacity of up to 8000-lbs. Has high-strength safety hooks that increase pulling, loading, and positioning efficiency.

Rope Come-Along

A rope is used in this come-along, which offers scratch resistance. A rope come-along handles logs, debris removal, securing materials, and towing vehicles.

Come-Along Hoist

Unlike other come along whose function is to pull, the come-along hoist is used to lift, raise and hoist objects. They can accept a load range of 6kg to 2500 kg, with the newer models accepting up to 5000 kg.

Differences Between A Winch And A Come-Along

Although the winch and the come-along can perform similar functions, there are visible differences.

WinchCome- Along
  A winch is a mechanical device.    A come-along is a hand-operated ratchet lever winch.
  They are used to wind rope or cable.  It is used to pull objects.
  They are used for lifting and suspension of materials mechanically.    They are used for lifting, towing, and hauling a heavyweight by hand power.
  It can be heavy to carry around.  Lighter and compact to carry around.  
  The use of a winch does not involve much manual labor.    The use of a come-along can be time-consuming and tiring.  
  A winch can be costly.  A come-along is more cost-effective.  


Winches have a design of massive pulling power. Having a winch helps ease some of the pressure of manual labor. If you want to break out into a sweat and do some manual work, then a come-along winch would be a perfect choice.

Having a mechanical device to ease the burden of hard labor often comes at a price. It entirely depends on what task you have at hand and the lengths you are willing to go to get the job done. Winch or come along; the choice is yours. Although they both have similarities, there is also a lot of differences.


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