Technical Top Tips

Snatch Blocks and how to use them …


A snatch block is a simple piece of equipment that can greatly improve the functionality of your winch. If you have a winch or plan on getting one, putting a sturdy snatch block in your recovery kit is a must. Not only will it increase your winch’s pulling power, but it will also give you more options in self-recovery sticky situations.

Options are also available to clear obstacles with a snatch block. For example you come across a tree blocking your route, too big to cut with a saw, no way you could drive around or over and no room for your truck to drag it clear, so what do you do? Using a suitable anchor point off to the side of the track and your snatch block, you can redirect your winch line to pull the tree to the side of the trail. The easiest and quickest way to continue your journey.


The basics

The snatch block is a pulley block with one side plate that un-clips and swivels open. This allows the user to place the winch cable directly on to the pulley wheel without having to unhitch the load or thread a large distance of cable through the block. Simply open the side and fit the cable, close and secure.

The two primary functions of a snatch block in recovery winching is to change the direction of your winch cable when the anchor point is offset, and to increase the pulling power of your winch.

Sometimes we need more pulling power than the winch can provide – or we want to get the winching job done faster. Either scenario requires maximizing the winching capabilities A winch only delivers the maximum-rated pulling power when the cable is on the innermost layer. Pulling from subsequent layers reduces that power by about 20 % per layer.

Employing a snatch block (or blocks) in the winching setup provides a big mechanical advantage and allows more cable to be run off the drum so the winch can pull at a higher load..

Using a double-sheave snatch block along with the traditional single-pulley block can help turn a frustrating winching situation into a piece of cake.

Employing both, as shown in the accompanying illustration, can make a 16,000-pound load feel more like 5,000 to your winch, speeding up the pull and reducing the electrical load on both winch and batteries.


Double your pulling power

Another type of winch rigging that uses a snatch block is the double-line pull. The two common situations in which the double-line pull is useful is if A, you think your winch doesn’t have enough power to pull out your vehicle and B, is if you want to recover a vehicle that is heavier than your truck.

A double-line pull involves using the snatch block to redirect the winch cable back towards the winch. In a self-recovery situation, you’d run the cable through the snatch block and then back to your own vehicle. The snatch block is attached to an anchor point and positioned directly in front of the vehicle.

If you are moving another vehicle, the stuck vehicle is attached to the snatch block. The winch cable goes through the snatch block and back to an anchor point that is next to your vehicle. This anchor point takes some of the strain off your vehicle, which is important when you are recovering a heavier truck.

This double-line setup with the snatch block doubles the pulling power of your winch, however, when you double the power, you also cut the cable speed down by half.



Offset anchor point adjustment.

One of the golden rules of winching is to ensure your cable spools up on the winch drum evenly. This is easy when you are winching straight forward, but if you are pulling at an angle, the cable is more likely to bunch on one side of the drum.

If you don’t have an anchor point directly in front of your vehicle, you can use a snatch block to set up an angled, single-line pull. This involves running the winch cable through the snatch block to an offset anchor point. You would then identify a second anchor point that’s offset in the opposite direction as the first anchor point. Attach the snatch block to the second anchor point with a choke chain. Then, use the tension from the two offset anchor points to position the block directly in front of the vehicle.

Do this right and your winch cable will extend straight out from the vehicle. The snatch block redirects the cable at an appropriate angle to reach the offset anchor point.

The snatch block may be simple in design, but using one properly requires some creative thinking. Make sure you practice rigging your winch with a snatch block before you need it in battle.


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3 thoughts on “Snatch Blocks and how to use them …

  1. Thanks for some other excellent post. The place else could anyone get that type of information in such a perfect means of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the search for such info.

  2. It’s good to know that when it comes to using a basic winch, that there are different things to do to increase the pulling power. I find it interesting that if we were to change the direction of the cable when the anchor point is off set, then that would do it. This is something that I never considered doing before, but am going to try the next time we are trying to get our side by side out of a ditch.

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