How to Build a Rope Tow

How to Build a Rope Tow
The thrill of flying down a snow-covered mountain, making fresh tracks in the snow with your skis as you whiz by trees and rocks through the crisp winter air can be considerable. But the fact remains that once you've reached the bottom of the slope, you've got to get yourself back up again. That's where a rope tow comes in. A rope tow allows you to get to the top without too much effort--just a good firm grip on the rope. Though it's challenging, you can certainly make your own rope tow. Here's how.


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to Build a Rope Tow

Things You’ll Need:
  • Manila rope
  • Shovel
  • 2 4 by 4 wood planks
  • Weatherproof cement
  • 2 pulleys
  • Screws
  • Mounting bracket
  • Gas-powered motor
Step 1
Measure the slope on which you desire to build your rope tow.
Step 2
Obtain manila rope. This will be used as your rope tow rope. It should have a pulling capacity of between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds. Typically manila rope can be found at any good hardware store or ordered off of the Internet. Be sure it is several feet longer than twice the measurement you conducted in Step 1.
Step 3
Dig a hole at the bottom of the hill, at the location where you want the rope tow to start. Dig another hole at the top of the hill, where you want the rope tow to end. Both holes should be 2 feet deep and around 10 inches wide.
Step 4
Obtain two 5-foot-long 4 by 4 wood boards, pretreated for weather. These 4 by 4s should be available at any hardware store. Place one of them in the hole at the top of the hill, and the other in the hole at the bottom of the hill. Position the planks straight up-and-down so that they are perfectly vertical. There will be about three inches of free space between the sides of the holes and the planks themselves; this will be filled in Step 5.
Step 5
Fill both holes with weatherproof, waterproof cement (also available from most hardware stores) to stabilize and anchor firmly your 4 by 4s. Wait for at least three days for the cement to dry completely.
Step 6
Mount a pulley on the 4 by 4 at the top of the hill. Use screws and a mounting bracket to mount. Be sure that this top pulley possesses a locking mechanism, ensuring that the rope will move in the proper direction. Repeat this step (minus the locking mechanism) at the bottom of the hill. Now both the top and bottom 4 by 4s should have pulleys mounted on them.
Step 7
Obtain a motor (a basic Briggs & Stratton gas-powered motor would do) and attach it to the pulley at the top of the slope. Read the instructions that come with the motor to correctly do this, since many types of motor exist.
Step 8
Loop the manila rope between the pulley at the top of the hill and the pulley at the bottom of the hill. Turn on the motor and your rope tow is complete and working.

Article Written By William Jackson

William Jackson has written, reported and edited professionally for more than 10 years. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, high-level government reports, books and online. He holds a master's degree in humanities from Pennsylvania State University.

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