A cautionary tale
Last month I wrote about the testing of recovery equipment and that the evening was entertaining and very informative. It ’s a pity not everyone is able to appreciate the potential damage when recovery gear is used incorrectly or the wrong gear is used. So many people are taking up fourwheeling and driving off- road because i t is seen as a ‘cheap’ form of motorsport recreation but that is far from reality. The choice of recovery gear used by some people is mind boggling and as long as no one gets hurt, i t can be just as informative as to what not to do, and entertaining watching many of the patrons of the Woodhill 4WD Park and their recovery antics and equipment. A few months back I was up there and late in the afternoon was at the office chatting to Roger Winslade, when someone came seeking assistance to get recovered from the mud bog in the play area adjacent to the carpark. I wandered over to take a look with the intention of rescuing them. A Nissan SWB was stuck in the water trap with water inside the vehicle. A strap of sorts had been looped around the tow bar ( not the ball thankfully) and a second one shackled to it to ensure it was long enough. I took a quick look at the strap and the guy quickly stated something along the lines“it’ s rated to 20 tonnes”. Now i t might have been rated to 20 tonnes or more but the wide double webbed straps looked more like heavy duty lif ting straps than proper nylon stretch 4WD recovery straps. Also the shackle used to join them wasn’t large enough across the pin for the rather wide strap so the shackle was being used ‘side ways’ which will damage the shackle as they are only designed to take a load in one direction. Using the non- stretch straps to snatch recover would only shock load the attachment points on both vehicles, so I checked out the other stuck vehicle. His mate in a Toyota 60 series with a PTO winch hanging out the front had managed to get himself stuck as well in his attempt to come to the rescue. The standard Toyota PTO winch mounts on the 60 Series wagons hang out so far at the front the vehicle doesn’t have much of an approach angle when i t comes to off road obstacles. Unfortunately for the Toyota, he was carrying around that ‘aircraft carrier’ sized front bumper for no reason as the PTO winch didn’t work, so he too needed assistance. Fortunately for me, someone else arrived on the scene and soon extracted the Toyota backwards. The Toyota then went around and hooked up to pull the Nissan out of the hole. The Nissan came out easily enough backwards but the driver also managed to run over the strap and wrap i t around a rear wheel a couple of times. Thankfully the Toyota had stopped pulling by this stage otherwise brake lines could have been severely damaged or ripped out. Once out it was open doors to drain as much of the muddy water as possible from inside the footwells. Just as well the interior floor mats seemed to have been removed so I guess he has ‘ been there done that’ before. Some time was then spent getting the straps from around the wheel and also getting the shackle undone and the gear packed up. Partly to blame is the amount of cheap recovery equipment from China finding its way onto the New Zealand market. A lot of this gear is substandard and not manufactured with such quality controls in place like the more well- known brands that have been around for years. Because of this, people do not want to pay a fair price for the proper nylon straps and other quality equipment. On the subject of Woodhill 4WD Park, over the next few months there will be some disruption with the Park due to tree harvesting by the forestry company. The harvesting is due to start on April 10 and will be around the 4WD Park headquarters base meaning on some weekends there will be restrictions and changed access routes. Roger has advised that the Park will be open as usual every fortnight, but that park goers will notice some changes to tracks and certain areas as the harvesting progresses.
Good recovery gear is worth every penny when push comes to shove