What Is A Chain Block?

What is a Chain Block?

A chain block, or block and tackle, is a mechanical device for vertical lifting and lowering of heavy loads with ease. It’s manually operated, making it ideal in locations where power isn’t available. Its simplicity enables safe and easy single-person use, prioritising precision over speed in lifting operations.

Key Chain Block Components:

Here’s a breakdown of the essential parts of a chain block: 

  • Load Chain: The chain that directly lifts and supports the weight of the load. Made of high-strength steel to handle heavy loads during lifting operations.
  • Hand Chain: The chain used by the operator to control the lifting mechanism. Allows manual operation of the hoist by pulling to lift or lower the load.
  • Lifting Hook: A robust hook at the end of the load chain for attaching to the load. Provides a secure connection point for various objects being lifted.
  • Main Sprocket or Load Sprocket: Toothed wheel driving the load chain. Transfers power from the gearbox to the load chain, facilitating controlled lifting.
  • Pawl: Mechanical device engaging with the gears to prevent reverse movement. Ensures the load remains securely suspended by preventing chain slippage.
  • Gears: Mechanical components that transmit force and control the speed of lifting. Amplify the force applied to the chain, enabling controlled lifting operations.
  • Braking System: Mechanism to stop and hold the load at a desired position. Ensures safety by preventing accidental lowering and maintaining stability during lifting.
  • Gearbox Casing: Enclosure housing the gears and other internal components. Protects the gears and ensures smooth operation by containing and lubricating moving parts.
  • Hand Wheel: Component attached to the hand chain for manual control. Enables the user to control lifting and lowering operations with precision.


How Does a Chain Block Work?

To use a chain block, first attach the load to the lifting hook. The lifting chain, wound around two wheels, tightens its grip when the hand chain is pulled. This action forms a loop within the mechanism, creating tension that precisely lifts the load off the ground. 

Chain blocks can be attached to lifting slings to lift the load more evenly. These slings can be made of chain, webbing, or wire rope.


What are Chain Blocks Used For?

Chain blocks are used across various industries for lifting and lowering heavy loads with precision and safety. Typically, they are used in construction, manufacturing, logistics, and maintenance tasks. They are indispensable in situations where manual lifting is impractical or unsafe, offering a reliable solution for handling heavy objects.

Since they are manually operated, they can be used in locations where there is no power, and they can be easily and safely used by a single person on their own. For example, a chain block could be used if a technician needs to lower a hoist into place carefully, if a motor needs to be removed from a tight spot, or in a factory to lift heavy objects onto conveyor belts.


What’s the Difference Between a Chain Block and a Chain Hoist?

While “chain block” and “chain hoist” are often used interchangeably to refer to equipment that lifts heavy loads with chains, there are distinctions. A “chain block” specifically refers to a manual lifting device, whereas “chain hoist” can refer to both manual and electric lifting equipment.

Find out more about the difference between electric chain hoists and manual chain hoists.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Chain Blocks

Here are some of the major advantages of chain blocks:

  • No Power Needed: Operates manually, making it ideal for remote or power-limited locations.
  • Easy to Use: Simple design enables easy operation by a single person.
  • Highly Portable: Compact and lightweight, facilitating easy transport and setup.
  • Cost-Effective: Typically, more affordable than electric hoists, reducing initial investment and maintenance costs.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires less maintenance compared to more complex lifting equipment, leading to lower upkeep costs.

Some of the major disadvantages of chain blocks include:

  • Slower Lifting Speed: Not suited for applications where quick lifting and lowering is required, as the manual operation is inherently slower than electric hoists.
  • Limited Load Capacity: Generally has a lower maximum load capacity compared to electric hoists, restricting its use for extremely heavy loads.
  • Limited Range: Typically designed for vertical lifting only, limiting their versatility for horizontal or angled lifting tasks.

    Expert Advice When Buying a Chain Block

    When looking to buy a manual chain block, ensure it has an adequate load capacity for your needs and look for brands that offer maximum protection in terms of safety (overload protection). Consider brands that give better value in terms of life span and cost of ownership.

    Be careful of brands that use non-standard chain sizes as this could affect your productivity when distributors have stock issues. Non-standard chains also typically cost significantly more than standard chains without any tangible quality improvement.


    Our Range of Manual Chain Blocks

    RGM Cranes offers a range of manual chain blocks that serve as cost-effective, safe, and portable alternatives to electric chain hoists. With load capacities from 250kg to 30 tonnes, these chain blocks feature galvanised load chains, corrosion-resistant stainless-steel housing, and reliable safety brakes. Their compact and robust design makes them ideal for various industries, ensuring secure and precise lifting operations.

    Find out more about our range of manual chain blocks.

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