What heave you Olde Winch?
August 8, 2011 11:12 AM   Subscribe

What might this winch have been used for?

I'm looking at buying a 146yr old house & one of the outbuildings has this winch in the rafters.

It's obviously some kind of winch, but there's no storage area in the rafters above it, & I've only a couple ideas about what it would have been used or needed for.

The farm at one time raised cows, horses, & whatever else produced the 3ft of manure in the barn.

What would a farmer use such a strong winch for?
posted by bricksNmortar to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Lifting farm equipment for repair? Lifting animals for repair, er, vet care?
posted by youngergirl44 at 11:15 AM on August 8, 2011

Tractor or truck maintenance or loading? Maybe hooking stuff up to the back of the tractor? Does the outbuilding have doors wide enough to get a car or tractor in?
posted by bondcliff at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2011

Lifting stuff to be put in the back of a truck, trailer, wagon, etc.
posted by The World Famous at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2011

Loading hay into a hay wagon?
posted by AugustWest at 11:17 AM on August 8, 2011

Old barns often have some sort of system that was used to lift hay up into the second level (hayloft). Some even lifted the entire hay wagon for unloading.

This page describes a slightly different system of winching hay into a barn using a moving pulley on a track.

Your system appears to be fixed in place - I was unable to find an online reference for a fixed system.
posted by davey_darling at 11:33 AM on August 8, 2011

There's one door to this outbuilding that you could probably lead a horse through, or maybe a cow.

The only other door is a "man-door."

My second though about this, was that it might been used for slaughtering. Concrete floor, ony way passage from the barn, exits with a man-door. Seems kind of convenient to be able to hoist Ol' Bessie up when the time came.

My first thought was hay, but there's another huge barn on the property for that which you can drive right onto the second floor.
posted by bricksNmortar at 11:39 AM on August 8, 2011

The extremely fancy house nearby my university campus which housed the Catholic Student Center had one of these in the garage below the butler's quarters. It was for pulling engines, which was needed a lot back in the old days.
posted by notsnot at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2011

That's a serious winch with a gear low enough to be suitable for very heavy lifting. A simple block&tackle would be sufficient for single bays of hay. It looks more suitable for heavy iron or stone objects. (or fully loaded wagons, as mentioned by davey_darling)
posted by buggzzee23 at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does it look like there were rafters? Because I've seen those winches used to move hay quite a bit. We had one in our old barn that was fixed in place because there was no easy way to get the hay up into the rafters otherwise (vertical access with a ladder). I wouldn't be surprised if it was hooked up for some sort of one-time use and forgotten about.

Not to poo on any answers, but it's not to lift animals. If you want to get animals held in place for vet care you need a chute.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:42 AM on August 8, 2011

There is this hay winch for comparison. If your barn has a hay loft door like this one, it was almost certainly used for lifting hay from a wagon parked out front to the loft for storage. The tipoff for this is the little pointy bit above the door (sorry for the technical jargon) used to anchor a pulley for lifting. If there's no loft, it may have been removed.

That said, things on farms tend to get reused and repurposed, so there's no way of knowing what its last use was. If it were my barn, I'd use it to hoist livestock for evisceration.

On preview: Heh. Probably a recycled hay winch then.
posted by stet at 11:43 AM on August 8, 2011

I came in here to say slaughtering, seems like you've already considered it. Does the floor have little gutters in it? Any gambrels or hooks kicking around the place? It would need to support some serious weight if they were raising cows, Bessie was a big girl...
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:14 PM on August 8, 2011

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