While a "hoist" normally is used for lifting (near vertical),
a winch is normally used for pulling (near horizontal).
A winch is a mechanical device that is used to pull in (wind
up) or let out (wind out) or otherwise adjust the "tension" of a rope or wire
rope (also called "cable" or "wire cable"). In its simplest form it consists of
a spool and attached hand crank.
In larger forms, winches stand at the heart of machines as
diverse as tow trucks, steam shovels and elevators. The spool can also be called
the winch drum.
More elaborate designs have gear assemblies and can be powered
by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or internal combustion drives. Some may
include a solenoid brake and/or a mechanical brake or ratchet and pawl device
that prevents it from unwinding unless the pawl is retracted.
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