Moving Logs

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Moving logs is simple right? They make machines for that!

Well yes, it can be as simple as lifting with a crane or hydraulic loaders, excavators, you can utilize tractors to lift and pull among a plethora of other (sensible) options. I would use them, of course that implies that I do have them, which I do not…

That leaves ingenuity.

What happened before machinery? Horsepower (literally a horse) and ropes, block and tackle, cummalongs - using the idea of ‘mechanical advantage.’ What we utilize to move heavy logs is an assortment of what is available and practical; I would certainly not turn away a machine if the opportunity arose, but that comes with its own list of complications and restrictions even.

Enter the "Peavey" Hook + Block and Tackle

Timber and Salt has embraced the practicality of old technology, and we have found it not only remarkably useful, but immensely satisfying as well. We use levers, bars, and the most useful logging tool: the “Peavey Hook” to maneuver and roll logs. We rely on the mechanical advantage present in a Block and Tackle system; ropes fed through a combination of ‘blocks’ or pulleys. In fact all over Cape Ann, where we are located, in the early days of quarrying, a system of derricks (vertical block and tackles) and horse drawn sleds and carriages were used to move massive granite blocks all over the North Shore (and beyond).

How we do it (mostly...)

We have an assortment of options from a 2:1 light duty to a 4:1 heavy duty system. The basic principle is that when you assemble a block and tackle system between the item to be moved (log for instance) and an immovable anchor point (tree or truck) you are able to reduce the force needed to move that item.

{See here for a basic write up}

For example, if you attach a pulley onto the log, and have a block with two pulleys on say, the truck, when you run the rope from the truck through the pulley on the log and back through the pulley on the truck you have created a block and tackle system. When you pull the rope you are now doubling (2:1) the force you can apply and translating that to the object to be moved. So, for the sake of simplicity let's forget about friction (if only!) and we said that there was a 100lb log we needed to move, we could set up the aforementioned 2:1 block and tackle now we only need to apply 50lbs of force to move the log.

For every length between the log and the pull point you increase your mechanical advantage by one. This setup is really useful, and practical, because it can be employed anywhere. It is always impressive when you utilize these systems to get seemingly impossible tasks completed. In fact, it is much more rewarding to solve these challenges because you are applying reason and critical thinking skills into figuring out how to create the system needed to move these massive logs through wooded areas, out of tight spots, and into or out of trailers. We also capture a LOT of head turning, bewildered or incredulous looks, and some shout outs (usually) from old timer’s!

It is downright satisfying when you problem solve with a focus on self reliance.

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