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Lifting and Hauling Tools

Part Seven of an illustrated compendium of trail tools by Jim Schmid

-- download a printable version in Word: text and cover

Rockbar (Pry Bar): For trail work a rockbar 4-foot in length and weighing 16 to 18 pounds with a beveled end is best. This is an essential tool for prying and levering large, heavy objects such as boulders, logs, and beams. The secret of using a rockbar is leverage. Slip the beveled end under a heavy object, and then apply basic physics to raise the object and ease it toward its destination. As with all hand tools, rockbars require wise use. Work as a team, making sure everyone understands each step of a rock move before it begins. A rockbar can also be used as a drop hammer to break rock or open a crack.

Safety tip: Keep toes and fingers clear of places where they could be pinched.

pry bar

Timber Carrier (Log Carrier): Timber carriers are used for transporting heavy timbers and logs to and from a work site. They look like a giant ice tong with 5 feet long wooden handles. The long handles allow room for two persons on each side of the carrier. One carrier may be used to drag the log. Two or more may be used to carry a heavy log a long distance and to avoid dragging logs through a fragile area. Timber carriers can be used to move bridge stringers and are helpful in shelter construction.

Safety tip: A firm tap on the back of the hooks will set the hooks into the log before carrying.

log carrier

Peavey and Cant Hook (Cant Dog/Log Dog): The peavey (named after its inventor Joseph Peavey) and cant hook ( a cant is a square-edged timber or a squared log) are used for rolling and positioning logs and timbers. This includes rolling the log or timber to move it to another site or to rotate it in place. The main difference between these two tools is the shape of the tool's end. Peavys have a straight spike at the end whereas cant hooks have a blunt tip. The spike allows more control over the handling of the logs, but may cause more damage to the surface of the log. Both are used for essentially the same purpose. Peaveys are quicker to reposition when rolling a log or timber some distance and for maintaining momentum. Cant hooks provide for more precise rotating. When arranged as opposing pairs, either tool can serve as a timber carrier if a true carrier is not available.

Safety tip: Exercise caution not to roll timber or logs onto your or someone else's toes.


Cant hook

Griphoist (Cable Winch): Griphoist is the brand name for a compact, lightweight-rigging tool (cable winch) that can be used to move rock or timber needed for trail structures. The machine consists of a metal body with a cable running through it. By cranking the lever, a set of levers clenches the cable and pulls it a few inches, moving heavy objects with ease. Its biggest advantage is that is a continuous cable puller. In other words, a cable of any length can be used. This allows for long pulls without having to re-anchor (i.e. across a stream or ravine). Nylon slings (less weight and less damage than chains) should be used to anchor the winch to a tree and to harness rock or logs. The winch cable should be kept freely suspended, rather than dragging it through dirt or rock, to avoid fraying and deterioration of the cable. Only crews trained in the art of rigging should use the Griphoist.

Safety tip: Always stand clear of stressed lines and out of the load's path of movement.

Cable Winch

Come Along (Comealong/Come-a-long/Come-along/Power Pull/Power Puller/Winch Puller/Ratchet Winch): The come along is a simple ratchet-and-pawl cable winch used for pulling, lifting, or stretching. The better models can move substantial loads (stump pulling or moving larger rocks and logs) without breaking but are limited by the length of cable that can be wound around the spool (usually about 25 feet). Because of this limitation, hauling material a considerable distance requires frequent re-anchoring of the winch.

Safety tip: Stay out from under the load.

Come Along

Rigging (Block and Tackle): Rigging refers to a system of cables, pulleys, and winches used to suspend and move heavy loads to a work site or into place. Rigging systems are most appropriate when there is a considerable amount of work to do at one siteÑsuch as when constructing a bridge, retaining wall, steps, or a shelter.

Safety tip: The set-up and use of a rigging system requires a sophisticated level of knowledge and special training or experience. It should not be attempted without this knowledge as severe accidents, caused by the heavy loads or a breaking cable, could occur.


Wheelbarrow: A wheelbarrow can be used to haul materials and tools to a work site as well as moving rock and dirt. Most wheelbarrows have a metal box and frame, wood or aluminum handles, and solid rubber or pneumatic tires. Pneumatic-tired wheelbarrows are recommended because you can adjust the tire inflation to roll easily on uneven terrain. Lift a loaded wheelbarrow with your legs, not with your back. Several light loads will be easier and safer to manage than one large one. Another option is to use a two-wheeled cart. They have better balance and can often carry heavier loads. However, they require wider space to maneuver.

Safety tip: Do not overload. Stay behind handles, not between them.


Canvas Bags: C. R. Daniels, Inc. sells a heavy-duty canvas bag ($16-20 per bag) that is great for carrying dirt, small rocks, tools or anything you want to carry. Originally designed to carry coal these canvas bags can carry up to 95 pounds. They have four handles making it easy for two people to carry the load. You can have your logo silk screened or embroidered for a small additional fee.

canvas bag

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