Homestead

Poly Pull Tape

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Cheap rope alternative

Pull pull tape is used for dragging wires through newly-installed conduit. It’s woven of polyester and is flat, not round, and it’s quite slippery which means it doesn’t get caught up like rope does around corners or when cinching things down.

I initially bought a big spool and used it for its intended purpose (using a shop vac and a plastic shopping bag to pull it through the conduit) but then having the leftovers inspired me to start using it for more than pulling fiber or wires. It has become the “go-to” rope for everything around the farm, because it’s strong, cheap, and easy to manage. The strength is impressive. I often drag trees and brush out of the woods behind my tractor with a few loops of tape, and I rarely if ever break this stuff no matter how far past “reasonable” I push it. It stretches very little under tension, which is another feature in most circumstances. It has the benefit of being quite thin and light, so I can spool up a few dozen feet or more easily in the leg pocket of one of my work pants and not even know its there until I need it.

Having this easily available all the time means I have fewer trips back to the shop. I keep some in all of my vehicles for roof cargo tie-downs or macro emergency repairs. I find that it throws well, and doesn’t burn my hands as much as rope would if I don’t have gloves on. It rarely gets tangled and pulls free easily from most situations, so re-use is usually effortless. The cost is low per foot, and I typically find it on eBay or Craigslist in very large (>3000’/900m) spools for under $100 typically left over from large electrical jobs, though it’s available new for a bit more.

Electricians use quite a bit of it in big building installations, and it just gets thrown out so you might be able to scrounge it if you know an electrician or can dumpster-dive from a new building going up. Some variants are pre-lubricated which may not be desirable for “around-the-house” applications.

Almost all these tapes are marked with length in feet, so it’s easy to know how many feet you’ve got left in a pull or how much you’ve wrapped around something, or how much is left in a spool, which is very handy. The only downside I can think of is that it doesn’t hold simple knots well, so you have to use the correct knots for slippery rope or over-tie things if you are going to be leaving them in a permanent configuration.

-- John Todd 09/24/19