Reader L. in Tucson recent wrote to ask for some guidance on buying come-alongs for his new retreat ranch in northern Arizona. Here is my advice:
Ratchet cable hoists (commonly called "Come-Alongs") are crucial tools for life on a retreat and for off-road driving. They have umpteen uses for everything from wire fence stretching to lifting elk carcasses for butchering. These should be purchased in pairs, for the greatest versatility. We keep four come-alongs here at the Rawles Ranch: Two that are 2-ton capacity and two that are 4-ton capacity. All four are American-made, by Maasdam under the trade name Pow'R Pull. I highly recommend them.
I recommend that you carry at least one come-along--together with a tow chain and a choker chain--whenever driving off of paved roads in any season. And in winter months this gear should be carried even when traveling on pavement.
Keep your come-alongs well-oiled and out of the elements and they will give you many years of service. Inspect the cable after each use for any signs of fraying. Also, be sure to never attempt to crank on a cable when the spool is nearly empty. (Always have at least one and a half wraps on the spool, before you crank it under any load. (Otherwise, the cable's terminating "button" might shear off, and send your load plummeting!) - JWR