If you’re new to rigging, you may have heard the terms master links, shackles, and wire ropes thrown around without much context. And while there’s plenty of specific and technical information on them online, it’s never clear why they’re so essential.

Wire ropes, master links, and shackles are used to secure loads, transfer weight, and offer stability. They’re crucial to several industries, including construction, mining, oil and gas, marine, transportation, and aerospace.

The right type of rigging hardware can make or break your project, meaning you must understand what to choose. To help you with this, we have compiled this short guide on the various master links, shackles, and wire ropes offered by most industrial hardware suppliers.

Wire Ropes, Master Links, and Shackles: A Quick Breakdown

As mentioned, master links, wire ropes, and shackles are important lifting essentials. Let’s explore each of them in detail.

Types of Master Links

Master links are heavy-duty connectors attaching multiple chains or slings to a single load. Usually made from alloy steel, this rigging hardware enables secure and stable connections between a load and the lifting equipment.

Like with most rigging devices, master links come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, such as:

  • Standard Master Links: These master links have a large opening at one end that lets you attach chains or slings easily. The other end has a smaller opening that connects with the lifting equipment. Some standard master links also have a safety latch to prevent accidental disengagement.
  • Pear-Shaped Master Links: These master links are wide at one end and resemble a pear. They’re often used to accommodate thicker, larger chains.
  • Oblong Master Links: With these master links, you get a straight, rectangular shape that distributes the load evenly across multiple chains or slings.
  • Sub-Assemblies: Master link sub-assemblies typically include a master link with two or more hooks or shackles that offer multiple lifting points on a single load.

You must select the correct type of master link for your specific rigging application. A reputable industrial hardware supplier can help you take your pick.

Uses of Master Links

Master links are used in a plethora of industries, namely:

  • Heavy Lifting: Master links are indispensable to projects that involve hoisting large machinery or heavy equipment.
  • Marine: Because master links can withstand harsh environmental conditions, they are often used for marine applications like mooring and towing.
  • Construction: When combined with other rigging components like wire rope, master links can lift and rig objects like steel beams, precast panels, and concrete forms.

To say master links are crucial to rigging and lifting would be an understatement. Not only are they incredibly versatile, convenient, and efficient, but they also reduce the risk of uneven loading and potential accidents.

Types of Shackles

A shackle, also known as a shackle bolt, is a U-shaped piece of metal secured with a clevis pin or bolt. Ideal for use with lifting slings and tow ropes, shackles help fasten and rig heavy loads.

Shackles often make the final link in a sling or chain setup, where their function is to establish a robust connection between the load-lifting device and the object.

Although master links shackles come in multiple varieties, they all have two main components- the body and the pin. The body can have an anchor-like shape (the Dee shackle) or a chain shape (the Bow shackle).

Let’s explore a few types of shackles.

  • Screw Pin Shackles: These shackles have a removable screw pin for easy attachment/detachment. They are more suited to non-permanent applications.
  • Bolt-Type Shackles: They come with a bolt threaded through the shackle’s body to ensure a secure connection. Bolt-type shackles are used in applications where the load is static and the connection is nearly permanent.
  • Round Pin Shackles: Designed to be easy to install and remove, round pin shackles have a circular pin held together by a cotter pin. They are ideal for applications needing frequent disassemblies, like towing, suspension, or tie-downs.
  • Chain Shackles: This rigging hardware connects chains and is commonly used to lift loads.

Choosing the right master links shackles for the right job can help ensure safety and efficiency. Always consult an industrial hardware supplier if you don’t know which shackle to use.

Uses of Shackles

Shackles are incredibly versatile rigging hardware used across several industries. A few of them include:

  • Rigging and Lifting: Shackles help connect lifting equipment like slings, hoists, and cranes to aid rigging and lifting operations.
  • Marine Industry: Besides towing and cargo handling, shackles are used to secure boats and anchors to mooring lines.
  • Recreational Activities: Shackles connect ropes and cables in recreational activities, such as camping, rock climbing, and boating.

Types of Wire Rope

A well-loved staple in rigging and lifting operations, wire rope is a collection of metal strands twisted and braided together to form a helix. The wires are typically made from high-tensile steel, and the number/way they’re twisted can vary depending on the rope’s desired strength and flexibility.

Wire rope can come in various sizes and configurations, a few of them being:

  • Standard Wire Ropes: A typical 6×25 rope has 150 wires in its outer strands forming a complex pattern around the core. They may be coated with zinc or plastic for additional protection.
  • Rotation-Resistant Wire Ropes: This type of wire rope has a special construction that resists rotation, making it ideal for hoisting and lifting operations where the load must remain steady.
  • Compacted Wire Ropes: Carefully constructed with a reduced diameter and increased strength, compacted wire ropes are great for heavy-duty lifting and rigging applications.
  • Stainless Steel Wire Rope: As the name suggests, these wire ropes are crafted from high-grade stainless steel, which offers excellent corrosion resistance.

There are plenty of factors to consider when selecting wire ropes for your project, including load capacity, flexibility, and overall durability. Do your research in advance to maintain compliance with industry standards.

Uses of Wire Ropes

Wire rope is essential to several industries, such as:

  • Lifting and Hoisting: Wire ropes are used with cranes, hoists, and other lifting equipment for heavy-duty lifting operations.
  • Mining and Construction: This rigging hardware is the go-to for mooring, towing, and anchoring boats and ships, as well as for fishing nets and traps.
  • Agriculture: Wire ropes can help lift bales of hay and other heavy loads on farms.
  • Transportation: Sturdy wire ropes secure cargo loads on trucks, ships, and other vehicles.

How to Install a Master Link?

Installing a master link and shackle might sound hard on paper, but it’s incredibly easy once you know the basics. Here’s a quick guide on how to install a master link like a pro.

  • Make sure the master link matches the size and strength of the chain or wire rope.
  • Use pliers or a wrench to remove the retaining clip/pin and open the master link.
  • Insert one end of the chain or wire rope into the open end.
  • Place the retaining clip back onto the master link and secure it.
  • Use a tensioning device to adjust the chain or wire rope.

A few safety tips to follow in this regard. First, always make sure the master link, shackle, or wire rope is safe to use and free from damage or defects. The last thing you want is to use damaged equipment.

Additionally, remember to wear appropriate personal protection equipment, like gloves and safety glasses, when handling shackles, master links, or wire ropes.

Get in Touch with A Seasoned Industrial Hardware Supplier Today!

There you have it: an in-depth rundown on master links, shackles, and wire rope. All three components are crucial to rigging and lifting operations and are used across several industries. But given the overwhelming variety of hardware, it’s best to choose an industrial hardware supplier that guarantees quality with every purchase- like Elite Sales!

At Elite, we have an impressive collection of master links, shackles, and wire ropes to meet your project goals. Our brand products are designed to help clients compete successfully in their respective niches. For more information, get in touch with us today!