Block & Tackle “101″

(Skip this if You Know Your Block & Tackle Basics.)

The concept was first thought to have been devised by Archimedes on the Island of Syracuse sometime around 237 B.C.E.  This is basic physics: you pass a rope through pulleys and gain a percentage mechanical advantage for lifting or pulling horizontally with each drop of rope.  The higher you go up with your mechanical advantage the more rope you must move to attain your goal.  To ascend yourself 25 feet up without using any mechanical advantage just requires you to pull 25 feet of rope but it would be very difficult to pull.  Using a four-to-one mechanical advantage, you would need to pull 100 feet of hope but it would be very easy to pull.  This is the physics principle behind why our system is so easy to use.

The System *99* is such a success because it utilizes this physics principle to ascend and decend personnel in a safe and user-friendly way.  Surrounding the basic block & tackle on the System *99* is a patented system that allows for simple and intuitive use.

 Block and Tackle Basics

Definitions of block & tackle components

BLOCK = Top Head or Pulley

TACKLE = Pulleys that are Mounted under the Top Head Block or Pulley & the Lower / Traveler Pulleys & Normally the Rope or Line is also referred to asa Part of the Tackle

BIGHT = The Termination / End Point / at the Load Side of the System

LOAD SIDE ROPES = the Ropes that Suspend the Load

FREE SIDE ROPE = The Rope you Pull on to Move your Load, and Allow to Slip through Your Handle & Fingers to Control Descent

HANDY BILLY = Another Name, (In Nautical Speak), for a Small Portable Block~n~Tackle

PURCHASE = Another Name for the Tackle

FALL = The Free-Side Rope

BECKET = Either the *Bight* Tie-off Point Under the Top Head Assembly (or) the Lower Karabiner Mounting Hole in the bottom the bottom traveler pulley or any pulley attachment point

OFFSET BECKET = Opposite Side of Pulley Mounting Point from Above Captioned Becket

Facts about the System *99*

  • The System *99* is the Most Versatile rescue and utility work system available today.  It utilizes a mechanical advantage block & tackle lifting system combined with its patented “Constant High Percentage Friction Lowering Brake”.  This is the latest evolution of the block~N~Tackle.
  • This lightweight, compact, universal system can be set up in a few seconds and can perform a wide variety of functions.
  • One person can operate this system, raise and lower him/herself without the Help of a co-worker. Should an emergency situation occur, a top-side observer can utilize the System *99* to rescue an incapacitated co-worker. Additionally, the System *99* can be used to raise and lower tools and equipment.
  • The core of the System *99* is called the “Head Unit” (pictured below).  It utilizes a stationary block in which the main pulley is mounted on a 4.75″ by 8.5″ by 3/8″ thick aircraft aluminum backing plate.  The head unit weighs 3.5 pounds and provides 360 degree portability.  It is so flexible it allows the user to move at any angle and in any direction.
  • The large pulley on the head unit on the System *99* is a friction brake head block assembly that consists of a 3.5″ diameter by 2″ deep aircraft aluminum capstan roller drum.  It is mounted on a 4.75″ by 8.5″ by 3/8″ thick aircraft aluminum backing plate with an offset bend so it hangs straight under load.  Mounted inside the drum is an anti-reverse spin lock, also known as a Sprague Clutch. The rope containment area of the drum is 3/8″ thick.  The rope, capstan, and drum all ride on a 3/4” steel carrying bolt, which is supported on sealed ball bearings.
  • The System *99* utilizes our special ‘ISE’ Series 3000 rope.  It is 3/8” (9.5mm) diameter Kernmantle, (core sheathed) rope, which is wrapped 2.5 times around the roller drum.  This creates 900 degrees of surface contact area. This special rope has a breaking strength of 6,000 Pounds! It is decay and rot resistant and can withstand temperatures in excess of 400 degrees.
  • The Three ‘Teflon’ ® coated rope guides located around the drum keep the rope from tangling or overlapping and tracking properly.
  • All the aircraft aluminum components are coated with a “MIL-SPEC” coating to resist corrosion.
  • When lowering a person or object, the roller drum automatically locks (courtesy of our “Constant High Percentage Friction Lowering Brake”).  The 2.5 turns of rope around it provides a  90% to **95% Friction Braking Action.  10 to 20 Pounds of force on the free side of the rope is all that is required to hold a 200 pound load stationary.  This essentially means the user is in total control of the rate of decent at all times.
  • Another optional configuration for the System *99* is to wrap the rope only 1.5 times around the Drum, (540 Degrees of Surface Contact Area versus 900 with 2.5 times of rope wrap).  This provides a 55% to 60% friction braking action.  This option is intended for expert users who want the option of a faster decent.  Keep in mind that these braking percentages are estimates and are based on new, clean, and dry rope.
  • For the “tackle” portion of a block & tackle system, we add roller pulleys to the load side under the backing plate.  This completes the block & tackle system and provides a mechanical advantage lifting system.
  • Although normally used vertically, this System can be used horizontally or in a compound (horizontal to vertical) application. Our “Custom Edge Roller” (stock #2299) is particularly useful for this.  Give us a call anytime and we will help you customize the System *99* to fit your needs perfectly.

Head Unit Pictures

 Where can the System *99* be used?

On the jobsite:

Refineries, grain elevators, silo product recovery, silo construction, building construction and maintenance, subways, hi-rise settings, electrical work, painting work, plastering work, pest control tasks, steep-angle roofers, window washers, chair lift operators, ski areas, railroads, breweries, naval ship operations, communication towers, offshore drilling platforms, bridge-building or inspecting, dam-building or inspecting, theatrical rigging, home and hospital movement of patients,


Fire departments, high-angle or low-angle rescue squads, helicopter rescue.


Tree house owners (yes, we’ve sold these units to tree-house aficionados so they can safely and easily access their secluded getaways), yacht or sailboat mast ascent and decent, “man overboard” rescue from a boat, installing or maintaining heavy yachting equipment (such as outboard motors).

…and countless other applications.