General Purpose Tools

Griphoist (Tirfor) Hand Winch

Better than a come-along or winch

I don’t know anything else non-explosive, that you can pick up with one hand, and that can move five tons one hundred feet — with safety, precision, and astonishingly little work. Like many good tools the Tirfor is a thing of beauty, superbly designed and engineered. With 100 feet of cable (or more) its reach is much greater than a come-along, and this can often make all the difference. Its speed is much faster, too, not just the speed in moving something (the lever is double-acting) but speed in setting up or moving the set-up around. Often when you need to move something, minutes if not seconds count. The action is precise. A come-along winds the cable upon itself, and often when the cable comes under tension the cable wrap slips a bit. The resulting jerks can cause all kinds of problems in a situation where precise movement counts, and a sudden shift in load may cause failure somewhere else. Finally, the Tirfor has a much more effective (and safer) mechanism for smoothly *lowering* a heavy load. Most (ratcheted) come-alongs are very poor at this.

–George Dyson

In Europe these tools are known as Tirfor Hand Winches. In the US they are branded Griphoists. They are also sometimes sold as Scaffold Hoists. This diversity indicated their astounding versatility for moving heavy things by hand. They do the work of motorized winches — haul logs, or move stuck tractors, raise towers, and so on — but with the deftness of a human hand. Because there is no ratchet or coil, a Griphoist permits very small adjustments, unlike either come-alongs or winches. The patented double grip mechanism of the Griphoist/Tirfor is considered so reliable that some versions of the unit are rated by the UL to be suitable for hoisting humans — for instance in hoisting window-washers scaffolding.

The consumer versions of the Griphoists are the Pull All, which is rated to move 700 lbs and the Super Pull All, rated at 1500 lbs. Of course you can get heavy duty versions that move up to 8 tons. The Pull Alls can handle pulling out stumps, hoisting car engines, and other homestead chores.

Pull All Griphoist
Available from Amazon

Super Pull All Griphoist
Available from Amazon

Also available for $260 and $675, respectively, from Ver Sales (distributor)

Manufactured by Tractel
392 University Ave., PO Box 68, Westwood, MA 02090, 800-421-0246

The principle may be described as “hand-to-hand” like a man pulling a rope. While one hand pulls, the other changes position to pull in turn.

The two hands represent the two jaws of the TIRFOR. They grip the wire rope without damaging it. They pull it during forward operation and restrain it during reverse operation.

The effort is transferred to the jaws by two levers which act by a cam system on the links that control the automatic clamping of the jaws on the wire rope.


(Note: Given the fluctuation in the availability of the Tirfor, a commenter mentioned that Jet produces several equivalent models in a variety of price ranges. --OH — editors)

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