How to Use a Snatch Block

man sets up snatch blocks with wire rope

Lifting heavy items can put a tremendous strain on your equipment and pose significant risks. Snatch blocks, however, offer a solution by increasing the strength of your rope while reducing strain on anchor points. These versatile pulley mechanisms are commonly used in vehicle recovery scenarios, but they have a wide range of other applications as well. Let’s explore how you can make the most out of snatch blocks.

Understanding Snatch Blocks

A snatch block, also known as a snatch pulley or snatch block pulley, is a heavy-duty pulley block with a metal casing that provides mechanical advantage in lifting and rigging heavy items. While snatch blocks are often associated with vehicle recovery, they can be used for various purposes, such as lifting and hoisting heavy objects and towing small vehicles.

When setting up a pulley system to pull heavy items, a snatch block introduces an additional component that changes the direction of the cable. This three-point motion reduces the amount of force required and increases the efficiency of the process.

Differentiating Snatch Blocks from Wire Pulleys

Many people wonder how snatch blocks differ from other wire pulleys. Snatch blocks are heavy-duty pulleys housed in metal casings. However, unlike regular pulleys, snatch blocks feature a metal plate, often referred to as a “cheek plate,” that opens up for easier threading or “reeving” of the wire rope. This unique design allows for swift and convenient setup compared to wire pulleys that require threading the wire rope through an opening.

Both snatch blocks and wire pulleys function in a similar manner, and the choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific demands of the situation.

Types of Snatch Blocks

There are three main types of snatch pulleys, each with various variations and designs:

  • Snatch Block with Hook End Fitting
  • Snatch Block with Shackle End Fitting
  • Swivel Snatch Pulleys

At US Cargo Control, we offer a wide range of snatch pulleys, including Crosby® McKissick® Snatch Blocks, in different sizes, makes, and variations.

How to Properly Use a Snatch Block

To make the most of snatch blocks, it is essential to understand how to use them correctly. Follow these steps for safe and effective utilization:

  1. Open the Metal Casing: Depending on the type of snatch block you have, you may need to pull out a wire pin or unscrew the sheave bolt to open the metal casing. Make sure to follow the specific instructions for your snatch block to avoid disassembling it entirely. Note that wire pulleys do not open up.

  2. Thread the Wire Rope: Once the metal casing is open, thread the wire rope through the snatch block’s sheave. Referred to as “reeving,” wrap the wire rope around the sheave several times to secure it in place.

  3. Close the Metal Casing: After properly positioning the rope inside the sheave, seal the metal casing by screwing the bolt back on or reinserting the pin.

Three Common Ways to Utilize Snatch Blocks

Snatch blocks have a multitude of configurations and applications. Here are three of the most common ways they are used:

a black SUV stuck in the mud hooked up to wire rope to be pulled out

1. Vehicle Recovery

Snatch blocks play a crucial role in vehicle recovery situations. Rescue trucks utilize these devices in combination with winches and wire rope to increase pulling strength and facilitate a smoother recovery process. By attaching the snatch block to the vehicle using an anchor shackle, rescue trucks can effectively extract stuck cars using their winch. Multiple snatch blocks can further enhance the winch’s pulling power, allowing for even more reliable vehicle recovery.

In cases where direct access to the stuck vehicle is challenging, establishing a firm anchor point (such as a tree or another vehicle) becomes necessary. This anchor point redirects the pulling force, enabling the vehicle to move in the desired direction. Tree saver straps or chains can be used to secure the snatch block to the tree in these situations.

For vehicles that lack a suitable connection point or are already damaged, recovery straps and anchor shackles serve as makeshift anchor points and assist in accessing the stuck vehicle safely.

2. Towing

Snatch blocks are also beneficial for towing stranded or immobile vehicles. By connecting a heavy-duty shackle to the stuck vehicle, a parallel line of taut wire rope is created through the snatch block and looped through the winch. This setup allows for a more secure and efficient towing process.

3. Overhead Lifting and Hoisting

In lifting applications, snatch pulleys increase the capacity of wire hoists. Cranes and similar lifting equipment utilize winches to lift loads, and snatch blocks help reduce tension when applied correctly. It’s worth noting that smaller equipment with lifts or booms can also benefit from utilizing snatch blocks, particularly for lifting items over short distances.

Safely Harnessing the Power of Snatch Blocks

To ensure the safe and efficient use of snatch blocks, it is crucial to follow proper guidelines and adhere to their rated capacities. Considering the immense forces involved, choosing the right snatch pulley and configuring it correctly is paramount. Here are some quick safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Select a snatch block with a rating that is at least double the pull of the winch you plan to use.
  • Match the sheave size of the snatch block to the diameter of the rope you will be utilizing.
  • Check the working load limits (WLLs) of all materials involved to prevent damage or breakage.
  • Confirm that your anchor point is strong enough to handle the anticipated pressures.
  • Ensure a secure connection for both the snatch block and the pulley.
  • Utilize safety supplies such as orange cones and reflective vests when working in areas with traffic.

Safety is of utmost importance when utilizing snatch blocks. Should you have any questions or require assistance with these products or safety protocols, feel free to reach out to our experts at (866) 444-9990 or email us at [email protected]. We are here to help you achieve your goals safely and effectively.

You Might Also Like:

  • Auto Recovery Straps vs. Tow Straps
  • How to Extract a Stuck Vehicle
  • Heavy Duty Towing vs. Light Duty Towing: What’s the Difference?
  • How to Pull a Car Out of Snow
  • Winch 101: A Complete Guide

To learn more about our rigging hardware, contact our team of experts at (866) 444-9990 or email us at [email protected]. We are dedicated to helping you obtain the products you need, precisely when you need them.

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