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What Is a Chain Block?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A chain block is a piece of equipment used to lift heavy items. The typical block, also known as chain falls, consists of two grooved wheels with a chain wound around them in the same fashion as a block and tackle. As the chain is pulled in a certain direction, it winds onto the wheels and the end of the chain that has a hook attached to it begins to rise and easily lifts an object.

The chain wound around the two wheels creates a simple machine that uses the leverage and the increased lifting ability created by the two wheels to lift heavy weights. Commonly found in auto repair garages, a chain block is often used to remove automobile engines from the chassis when repairs or replacement become necessary. The block allows a single person to raise an entire engine up and away from the automobile chassis. Conversely, the block also allows a single worker to install an entire automobile engine without assistance.

The lifting ability of the chain block has been utilized in the construction of buildings where large loads of materials are required to be lifted up several floors. Even butcher shops have used blocks to lift and suspend entire beef carcasses in order to process them. Similar devices have been used to winch stuck vehicles out of locations where they might have otherwise remained stuck. Even the elevator in an office building utilizes a distinctly similar configuration to raise and lower an elevator car with ease.

In manufacturing, the chain block, or chain hoist, is often used to place or remove objects onto or off of an assembly line. Also, large items such as heavy presses that may require servicing are opened with the aid of a chain hoist. Even heavy dies that are used in the presses are loaded into position within the press through the assistance of a chain block and a skilled operator. The use of this device expedites many jobs and frees a multitude of workers to perform other duties.

Chain blocks, chain hoists and other such devices are very important tools in the workplace. The use of these simple machines multiply a worker's strength. They allow the operator to perform tasks that would otherwise require several workers to complete. They also are beneficial in saving heavy or cumbersome parts from being damaged during handling.

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