Outdoors, Green Living, Homesteading, Sustainable living, Green Building

The fine art of Logistics and Orientation


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The Survival Pod Cast
Off Grid Net

I thought the title I chose for this article was more interesting than “transporting, rigging and lifting.” In this context I’m not talking about business, commerce or military logistics. I’m simply talking about moving something. I don’t know what I wanted to write about in this article except that I wanted to give some food for thought on this matter.

This article will talk about moving an object or material from point a to point b. It will also talk about changing the position of an object or material. This means turning and rotating. Mainly this article is for objects and materials that are heavier than what a normal human can lift, carry and re-position. They say the amateur war general talks tactics and the experienced generals in war talk logistics.  Design is worth little if you can’t get the components into position.

Early Man… Bear with me as I recount here on the past up to the present to give some frame of reference as to where we are on the homestead.

Man Power.. One man carry, Two man carry, Four man carry, Eight man carry.  If we get enough manpower behind something we can lift and move quite a bit. 8 men could for example lift something weighing 400 to 800 lbs. I recall training as a combat engineer in the army reserve for bridge building. The bridge components could be put together by teams of men who carried the components in place as other men pinned them together. The whole bridge could be pushed on rollers across the river by all the men at once. A river could be bridged in a day with 50 to 100 men, depending on the length of bridging. The problem on the old homestead is that unless you are Ahmish you do not have that kind of manpower available. At most the average person could get 2 or 3 or even 4 or 5 buddies together to move something. And I doubt this could be done day in and day out with this many. It might be a once in a blue moon event.

So what did early man come up with to help him move something. It all depends on what it was and how it needed to be moved I suppose.  Moving horizontally is one thing and moving vertically is another. Lifting can be performed with leverage. It can be performed with ropes and pulley’s (called block and tackle).  After ropes came chains and then in the modern era wire ropes (cables) and synthetic fiber ropes (nylon). Other devices that came along were windlass and tread wheels. Then came gears and ratcheting devices. For lifting there was gin poles, shear poles and tripods.

Log rollers were made first. then that probably led to the wheel. A wheel needs a bearing, and an axle. Later this lead to rollers and conveyers (sets of rollers). A platform can then be built on the axle or axles.  As a side note lard was used for the first axle grease. This forms a cart or wagon. This cart or wagon can be human powered or animal powered. Stationary implementations needing power might use water or wind.

Modern man has something the ancients could not dreamed of. Engines and Motors. Now thanks to mechanics, electricity, and combustion engines, we can convert torque into motion. Instead of freewheeling, wheels can be turned with power and thereby using friction to move a cart or wagon along at a steady pace.

Steam engine came first. It powered trains, tractors, earth workers, ships. Steam was powerful and still is, yet it has had competition from the combustion engine. We also have pneumatic power. That is air pressure power or compressed air power. Electric motors came along about the same time as the combustion engine. Finally with oils and pumps and high pressure hoses and lines we have hydraulics. And of course all this lead to flight. However moving things by flight or boat is out of the question for most homesteaders I would think.

POWER Options

  • Man power
  • Horse Power
  • Wheel and Mechanical Power
  • Water and Wind Power
  • Steam Power
  • Compressed Air Power
  • Combustion Engine Power
  • Electric Motor Power
  • Hydraulic Power


The above just about totally covers any methods we have for moving, lifting, turning, rotating and flipping any object of any size, shape, density, weight. None of this comes without a price however. And that price can be more or less depending on the day and time or the person and situation. There is also a cost in safety related to using these methods. There is a cost in learning curve in using, maintaining, repairing. There are cost in fueling and there is simply cost in making things happen.

If you pick up an old military FM on “Rigging” much of this will be explained. The nice thing about military manuals is that they explain the way to do things in the absence of technology or with minimal technology available. Below I list items from this manual that
might be useful even today. Also much of this can be used with any type of powering method.

  • Natural Fiber Ropes
  • Synthetic Fiber Ropes
  • Wire Ropes (cables)
  • Chains
  • I’ll add nylon straps or webbing.
  • Pulleys
  • Block and Tackle
  • Hooks
  • Rings and Links
  • Ratcheting hoist
  • Chain hoist
  • Motorized Drum Hoist
  • Motorized Wench.
  • I’ll add Hand operated ratcheting wench.
  • Hydraulic Jacks
  • Ratcheting Jacks
  • Screw Jacks
  • Steamboat Ratchets.
  • Rollers
  • Roller Conveyer
  • Wheel Conveyer
  • Wheeled carts, trailers and motorized vehicles.
  • I’ll add Pry bars and pipe extensions
  • Poles
  • Gin Pole
  • Shear Pole
  • Tripod
  • Booms
  • Staked Anchors
  • Deadmen Anchors
  • Anchor plates
  • Natural Anchors
  • Derrick
  • Knots for ropes
  • Knots for cables
  • Splices in ropes and cables
  • Cable connectors
  • Jinniwink (type of Derrick)
  • Skids
  • Ladder Sraight
  • Ladder Push up
  • Ladder Extension
  • Rope Ladders
  • Cable Ladders
  • Scaffolding
  • Chairs or seats for lifting men with pulley and rope.
  • I’ll add Come-alongs (ratcheting cable device dad used on fencing and other stuff)
  • Spanish Windlass

That’s quit a list. All of that can be used with manpower alone. Much of it can be used with anything else you have to provide power such as a horse, oxen  or a vehicle.  You can setup block and tackle system for just about any mechanical advantage ratio you want. The rigging book shows methods for ratios of 1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 6:1, 16:1.  For example a man can pull 100 lbs force on a 16:1 and lift 1600lbs which is about 1 1/2 tons.

The rigging book has some nice tables for things. An example of rope strength for manila and sisal rope might be 1/2″ 520 to 660lbs safe load. 1″ 1800 to 2250lbs 2″ 6200 to 7700lbs 3″ 12,000 to 16,000 lbs. breaking strength would be 4 times those amounts.

Breaking strength for 6×9 standard wire rope might be, 1/4″ 1.5 to 2.7 tons, 1/2″ 7 to 14 tons, 1″ 13 to 51 tons, 2″ 140 to 200 tons. When using cable for different purposes different safety factors are applied between 3.2 and 8. When using powered drums for pulling on the wire cables different sized drums are needed for different sized wire. Larger the cable the larger diameter the drum is.

Deadman is a log buried in the ground as an anchor.  A cable or chain or rope is attached to the log. Examples of deadmen might be 3 foot deep with cable at 45 degrees would be 1/2 ton. However 7 feet deep would be 2.5 tons. Lower angle increases. 14 degree angle and 7 feet deep would get you a little over 4 tons. You can combine multiple anchors of any kind for added strength.

Knot types

  • Overhand
  • Figure 8
  • Wall
  • Square
  • Single Sheet Bend
  • Double Sheet Bend
  • Carrick Bend
  • Bowline
  • Double Bowline
  • Running Bowline
  • Bowline on a bite
  • Spanish Bowline
  • French Bowline
  • Speir Knot
  • Cats paw
  • Figure 8 with extra turn
  • Half Hitch
  • Rolling Hitch
  • Telegraph Hitch
  • Mooring Hitch
  • Sheep Shank
  • Fishermens Bend
  • Butterfly Knot
  • Clove Hitch
  • Frapping Turns
  • Square Lashing
  • Shear Lashing
  • Block Lashing
  • Splices


There is a chart on the strength of chains. 1/4″ 512 to 1200 lbs, 1/2″ 2250 to 5250lbs, 1″ 9000 to 18000 lbs, 1 3/8″ 14K to 32Klbs Chain hoist are very strong as are chains. You can get those at the hardware store for 1/4 ton up to 3 ton fairly cheaply. There is a table for different sized hooks, 11/16s 1200 lbs, 1″ 3400 lbs, 2″ 13K lbs, 3″ 24K lbs.

There are different ways to do slings when lifting and different kinds of slings. Some strengths for manila rope slings might be, 1/4″ single sling 108lbs, 1″ double sling 1600 to 2800 lbs, 2″ double sling 5500 to 9600lbs, 3″ quadruple sling 23k lbs to 40k lbs. That’s 20 tons with large manila ropes. Not bad.

There are safe working loads for wire and chain slings also. An example might be 1″ single chain sling 17K lbs or a 2″ double cable sling at 62K to 107Klbs. Or max in the chart is 2 3/4″ quad cable sling 250K to 425K lbs. That’s 125 tons to 212 tons.

There are formulas for figuring guy line sizes and numbers for varying load situations. An example for what a log might handle used as a boom or gin pole might be, 6″ dia. 20′ 5000lbs, 12″ dia 40′ 10 tons, 6×6″ 30′ 1.5 tons, 8×8 50′ 2 tons, 12×12 60′ is only 6 tons but 12×12 shortened to 30′ is 20 tons. As you can see wood can do quit a lot of work for us.

Ratchet Jacks up to 15 tons. Screw Jacks up to 12 tons but hydraulic jacks up to 100 tons. A steam boat ratchet is for pulling things together or pushing them apart and is not rated in tons.

There is much to consider in all this such as angle of slings when you wrap something, If you wrap it too tight you can put double the load on each side of the sling, or half the load on each side if not so tight. Lots of stuff to know on care and maintenance and replacement of ropes and slings and chains. Or if something is somewhat worn increasing safety factor. Much of it is common sense but sometimes that is in short supply.

I think several power tools might be a must on the homestead. One would be a tractor. Another would be front end loader. The front end loader might be part of the tractor or a skid steer. And another is a backhoe. A four wheeler might come in handy in some limited situations. A good farm pickup would be nice as well, and maybe a flat bed pickup. A dump trailer or dump bed pickup would be handy. If you can afford a dump truck then that’s even better. That’s a lot of equipment with trailers to boot equipment is not cheap. And we can attach wenches and booms to some of these. Tractors and skid steers have endless attachments.

There are several kinds of fork lifts which could be handy on the homestead. You have the standard industrial fork lift that does ok on floors and roads and drives but not in dirt and mud. Then we have a reach fork lift used on large construction projects. A nice looking one is the 3 wheeled version you see hanging from flat beds used for unloading materials at construction sites. Then there is a heavier duty fork lift that looks like a converted tractor. And you can get fork lift attachments for tractors and front end loaders which is probably a better way to go because of cost. Unfortunately equipment like farm animals must pay their own way or they are expensive hobbies or pets.

Recommended Books
Army Field Manual on Rigging
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3 responses

  1. found a derrik

    i recently found the pieces of a derrik on my mining claim,it was used to remove/pile boulders along side a creek. all the components are there except the timbers used for the mast and boom and in the “A” arm bucket. the mast/boom component is 2″ thick cast iron from the “CHICAGOI/OHIO LOCOMOTIVE WORKS” (now bucyrus shovel) 1870 patent date. been bringing it out one piece at a time and plan on erecting it.when it is assembled it will look just like the pic. posted above.

    any idea what this could be worth……….it could still be used if i replaced the wooden components

    October 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

  2. Nicely presented. But I have some questions, you mentioned here manila wire ropes are like these – 1/4″ single sling 108lbs, 1″ double sling 1600 to 2800 lbs, 2″ double sling 5500 to 9600lbs, 3″ quadruple sling 23k lbs to 40k lbs. I have seen in some other article which has some different limits. Which is correct?

    January 22, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    • I don’t recall where I got those figures. Please look up more correct figures and double check things yourself. But at least this gives some idea.

      January 22, 2017 at 1:35 pm

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