Harbor Freight 8,000 lb Cable puller, ratcheting winch: Thumbs Down!!

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Beowulf

New Member
Dec 24, 2009
211
SoCal Southern Sierras
Ok, thought I should share my thoughts on this device, in-case anyone get's the idea that they might want one:

Device: http://www.harborfreight.com/8000-lb-cable-winch-puller-543.html

Harbor Freight 8,000 lb. Cable Puller/Ratcheting Winch. (they also sell 4,000 lb and 1,500 lb versions) %-P

I grew up on a farm, where a device like this might have been called a "come-along" or a "calf-puller." I think I had one back when I was a kid that was rated to 1,500 lbs. With it, a few wrenches, and a barn rafter, I was able to swap all sorts of engines around between my growing collection of junker cars. (aka hot rods.)

Fast forward to present: I thought it might be nice to have one of these for occasionally tensioning a strap on a hung tree or other odds and ends around the place. Now I know Harbor Freight sells some decent stuff for the money, and some total junk that is no bargain at any price. This puller falls into the latter category.

My experience with it:

I wanted to relocate a tree stump (already pulled out of the ground) a few feet over. Maybe it weighs 1,000 lbs or so. I hooked a log chain to the stump, a tow strap rated to 2,000 lbs to an adjacent tree, and hooked the puller in between and tightened it up.

Now the tow strap is an old one, worn through in a couple of places from dragging stuff around. I figured it would break long before I hit the 8,000 lb limit of this glorious tool. However, as I began pulling, and the stump began moving, at about three feet, the ratchet suddenly "let go." Closer examination revealed that the pawl or dog that locks the ratchet wheel in place as you lever the thing tighter bent and let off the tension because it no longer contacted the wheel.

Now not being one to give up on moving a stump, I bent the pawl back in place, and straightened it up a little better than it came from the factory. I kept ratcheting, the stump kept moving, until the second layer of cable started to wrap on the take up spool. It had enough tension to bend the sides of the spool, allowing them to start rubbing on the sides of the frame and the ratchet handle! This made the handle extremely hard to move in either direction.

I got the job finished, but believe I will explore HF's return policy on this particular piece of excrement. I really doubt that I was pulling more than about 500-800 lbs of force with this thing, and it completely failed to live up to my low expectations for it. Soft metal, poor design and workmanship. The 8,000 lb rating is complete prevarication.
 

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thinkxingu

Minister of Fire
Jun 3, 2007
1,125
S.NH
No offense, man, but that's not even a good deal money-wise. My local TSC stocks those for $35, and they're very well built.

S
 

SolarAndWood

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2008
6,788
Syracuse NY
I think I paid less than half that on sale. Other failure modes include folded handle, failed pulleys and bent then broken hooks.
 

DanCorcoran

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2010
2,205
Richmond, VA
HF has a very good returns policy. This will help them identify problems with shoddy products.
 

Dune

Minister of Fire
Seriously, the crappy chinese tool broke?
 

smokinj

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2008
15,980
Anderson, Indiana
Old boat winch works great mounted on a trailer and much faster then a come-a-long.
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
Dune said:
Seriously, the crappy chinese tool broke?
LOL
Mine is not from HF but it's that same low quality China junk. There is good quality available but not at that price and probably not Chinese made.
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
I like the winches/come-alongs that use a nylon strap instead of cable. Only problem is they don't have as many feet of line on them but good for short pulls.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,773
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
You can be the first to review that product!

I have the same one and have used it to drag my dead tractor up onto my trailer after an unfortunate ground clearance/hydro filter issue plus a handful of dead cars and trucks. It has worked great. Maybe I got a good one? I bring the come-a-long with me to act as a hand winch to extract my stuck pickup too.
 

benjamin

Minister of Fire
Nov 7, 2009
693
SW WI
SHOCKED!

Perhaps I should explain what 8,000 pounds means to harbor freight. Obviously this thing is not going to lift 8,000. And it's not going to drag 8,000 pounds. It's more like rating a shop vac at 6.5 HP, kind of a notional, theoretical statement most commonly uttered only by politicians. That is it might pull your 8,000 lb truck, if the tires are properly inflated, and it's already rolling, and it on a paved incline.

I have several of this very fine item, they work great for what they are. My guess is they are the exact same as the one TSC sells for twice the price, unless TSC has some old stock and the factory has found an even flimsier grade of steel for the new ones.
 

Flatbedford

Minister of Fire
Mar 17, 2009
5,252
Las Vegas, NV
I bought the 2 ton model from these folks 14 years ago and I am sure I will be using it for the rest of my lifetime and that when i am done with it somebody else could use it for his too.
http://www.wyeth-scott.com/
You will pay more for this than the one at Harbor Freight or TSC, but it is in a league of its own. Note that is a hoist/puller with a dead lift rating and a pull rating. I have pulled cars, trucks, boats, trees etc. with mine. It is heavy and a little cumbersome to work with, but worth the effort.
 

Beowulf

New Member
Dec 24, 2009
211
SoCal Southern Sierras
Flatbedford said:
...
http://www.wyeth-scott.com/
You will pay more for this than the one at Harbor Freight or TSC, but it is in a league of its own. Note that is a hoist/puller with a dead lift rating and a pull rating. I have pulled cars, trucks, boats, trees etc. with mine. It is heavy and a little cumbersome to work with, but worth the effort.
Now that looks like a fine tool! 35' of the blue synthetic cable loaded on one will set you back a couple of bucks, but it sure looks like it is built to last. FIL just shipped me a small (2,000 lb) electric winch that was laying around his garage for the truck, so I may delay on this for a while, but I think this is the ultimate "come-along" for when I want to turn loose of the money.

I had pretty low expectations for the HF puller, but they were still not met by the one I got. I think cash refund is the order of the day and wait till I can afford this one. Any one discounting them that you know of?

Thanks!
 
I have a Jet brand chain come-a-long. It has 25' of chain and is rated at 1500#. I highly recommend it. It is slow but very reliable. I've used it for pulling over hung up trees. Once I used it to drag my 4000 # Jeep wrangler over 30' out of a nasty mud bog (before getting my winch!). That and a couple lenghts of grade 70 chain go with me every where I am working.
 

FLINT

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2008
535
Western VA Mtns.
Flatbedford said:
I bought the 2 ton model from these folks 14 years ago and I am sure I will be using it for the rest of my lifetime and that when i am done with it somebody else could use it for his too.
http://www.wyeth-scott.com/
You will pay more for this than the one at Harbor Freight or TSC, but it is in a league of its own. Note that is a hoist/puller with a dead lift rating and a pull rating. I have pulled cars, trucks, boats, trees etc. with mine. It is heavy and a little cumbersome to work with, but worth the effort.

Yes, I recently bought the 2 ton model with 20' of the blue synthetic cable. This thing is an absolute beast! I can't imagine ever breaking it. I've already used it on some trees this year including two oak that definitely wanted to fall the other way and pulled the things all the way down the the puller. I've also used it to turn some big logs that I couldn't by hand to finish blocking. I keep it in the truck always. its well worth the cost!!!!
 

DBoon

Minister of Fire
Jan 14, 2009
1,246
Central NY
You had me at "Harbor Freight"....
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
DBoon said:
You had me at "Harbor [del]Freight[/del] Fright"....
Fixed it for you.
 

Ductape

Member
Jul 16, 2008
225
Central NH
I've got the four tonner also. I've never expected it would pull four ton, but figured it looked much more substantial than my old come-along. Pulling down hangers , and taking down leaners is all i've really used it for.................. until i got stuck out behind my friends house where i've been cutting. Not the best picture here, but i used the come-along to pull my 7,200 lb. F350 and 7,000 lb. dump trailer (full of green firewood) out of the mud hole and up the hill to the driveway. The pic is decieving, but the hill is much steeper than it appears in the photo. After three hours I had the front tires about six feet from the top of the hill, and dry pavement............... and the come-along broke ! Two of the three welds holding one of the 'sprockets' onto the end of the drum broke, causing it to drag hard on the inside of the come-along, making it un-usable.


Winch001.jpg



Well, I called a friend to finish pulling me out with his Chevy dually (go ahead...... laugh it up Chevy guys !!). The next day I partially disassembled the come-along , clamped the sprocket back where it belonged, and welded it back in place. It lives to pull another day. Overall I have to say I'm content with it for the money I paid....... I never expected it would actually pull (or lift) 8000 lbs.
 

Beowulf

New Member
Dec 24, 2009
211
SoCal Southern Sierras
Ductape said:
... and the come-along broke ! Two of the three welds holding one of the 'sprockets' onto the end of the drum broke, causing it to drag hard on the inside of the come-along, making it un-usable.
Yep, that was the final failure mode that mine had, as well, pulling what I think was quite a bit less than you were pulling from the look of the picture. Took it back, and they refunded it with out a question beyond "Is there anything wrong with it?" My answer was simply, "Yes, it is no good." No further interaction required.
 
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