Managing Your Chains

Untangling The Issue

Anyone with a closed headache rack knows the frustration of tangled, bunched, and buried chains. A few years ago I made the decision to cut all my chains in half making them a bit easier to handle. So my 25′ 5/16″ chains with two hooks became two separate 12.5′ 5/16″ chains with one hook. My 20′ 3/8″ chains with two hooks became two separate 10′ 3/8″ chains with one hook.

It’s madness they cried! What do you do when you need hooks on both ends or longer chains, idiot? Im glad you asked.

The Midlink

A Midlink, as the name implies, allows you to “link in the middle” of two open (i.e. No Hook) lengths of chain. They are manufactured by grade and class (you want G70 and F16) and size (5/16″ – 3/8″ – 1/2″ depending on your chain size). They are available at most securement shops and some trailer repair shops that have a supply store as well. I got mine from Tri-City Canvas in Granite City, IL. It doesn’t matter where you buy them because the size, grade, and rating are stamped on the piece.

What Do I Need?

The Midlink will come with both clevis pins and the two cotter pins to secure them. You’ll need to buy one Midlink for each chain (approx $8.00 each). This list assumes you already have the chains. If not, you can forget the grinder/cutting wheel. Have the shop you buy the chains from cut them first. Most will do at no charge when buying new but, some I have heard of charge a “cutting fee”. Usually no more than $5.00 each.

  • Angle Grinder/Cutting Wheel
  • One Hair Pin (this is an open style of cotter pin)
  • Needle Nose Pliers

That’s it.

Stretch the chain out with the hooks sided by side. Find the middle link and cut through both sides. You lose one link and alacazam! Two chains.

Attach a midlink permanently to the end of half you new chain sections with one of the supplied “straight cotter pins”.

Connect the other end of the chain only when you need the longer chain.

Drop the other clevis pin through and secure with the hair pin. Line up the Chainlink and Midlink. Insert Clevis Pin. Secure with Hair Pin.

PROS AND CONS

There is always good with the bad. Lets start with good!

The Good

  • Chains are half the weight. 
  • Easier to handle. 
  • Much easier to drag out of the headache rack. I have had no bound or tangled chains since doing this. 
  • I have noticed that the types of materials that commonly need more than 10′ of chain aren’t something I do often. 
  • Less extra chain to wrap up after you secure your load.

The Bad

  • It will take a few times for you to remember you have an extra 10 minutes of prep to secure. By this I mean after I cut my chains, I didn’t have to link them for months. When I picked up a load of cable reels (and needed 15+ feet of chain) I found myself scrambling to get them linked up instead of doing it while I sat in line waiting. (Duh)
  • Disconnecting them adds time. Not much with practice but still additional time. Our time is money as they say.
  • I’ll add this last item with an *. I picked up at an aerospace company that will remain nameless. They nearly refused to let me load because their “Safety Guy” had never heard of the Midlink. I waited an hour while he “Googled” it. Other than that I’ve never had a problem.