Shortening a Chain
Model Engineers' Workshop|April 2020
Will Doggett makes a special link to shorten the Hand Chain on a lifting block
Will Doggett

This article is about shortening a continuous hand chain on a chain block and shortening must not be done this way on a load chain under any circumstances as this would be very dangerous. To shorten a load chain the hook is removed the chain is then cut to the required length then the hook is replaced it is making it longer that you must not do.

The concept and history

Photo 1 show the finished article, actually this is not the one that is described in this article, it is one I made earlier. After sorting out and moving things in the workshop I found a feed bag with my chain block in it, I open the bag to find to my shame that both the chains, load and hand chain, had some rust on them. The rust most likely accrued in winter when the temperature changes from cold to hot in a very short time causing condensation in the bag, as it was stored in unheated building – well this is my defence.

To clean them up I was going to use a Citric acid and water bath this required the chains to be removed from the block. The hand chain was removed first it seamed long. I remembered that when I used the block the last time to put the Mill/Drill on its stand the hand chain was too long and getting in the way as it piled up on the floor but in the rush to use the new toy the block was put away and forgotten about. The answer to this problem was to make the chain shorter before cleaning the chain as there was no point in cleaning the bit that was not required.

Many years ago I looked after the maintenance shops lifting equipment this included chains and as such I knew that chain connectors were available as I had used them before, but at this point there was a problem the size I required being imperial was not available, only metric.

Moving on, the only way forward was to make the link myself out of two links from the chain that was going to be removed. The problem with making it my self was how to hold the links that are to be modified. The answer was a flat piece of steel that I could clamp the link to so that the flat part could be formed by hand or machine. This took the form of a Drill plate that I had made as an apprentice in the first year in the training workshops. The clamp piece is not the original this went missing some time ago, the original plate and replacement clamp are shown in photo 2.

The process

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