RE­COV­ERY EQUIP­MENT

Know­ing how to use it is as im­por­tant as the re­cov­ery equip­ment you carry says reg­u­lar NZ4WD magazine con­trib­u­tor Mur­ray Tay­lor.

NZ4WD - - Contents - Story and photos by Mur­ray Tay­lor

Yes, we all carry it, but the real ques­tions about re­cov­ery gear should be, do we know how to use it (safely), and what will it ac­tu­ally do, when re­quired? The list’s ac­tu­ally as long as one likes to make it re­gard­ing gear, but in the end it comes down to what you per­son­ally con­sider worth car­ry­ing for the ac­tual trip you’re do­ing. Also whether you may be a trip leader or just a trip mem­ber. My­self, as both mem­ber and a trip leader, carry what I feel is ap­pro­pri­ate for the trip I am about to do. The stan­dard list of gear on board “The Whale” at any one time would be: • Two strops (snatch straps)

plus a short ex­ten­sion.

• Two winch ex­ten­sions (one be­ing Dyneema rope, for through a block or as re­place­ment for the ac­tual winch rope). • A join­ing stick.

• Tree truck pro­tec­tor.

• A light­weight bri­dle (five

tonne tow strap).

• A range of shack­les from 1.5 tonne to 4.74 tonne in most cases two of each.

• A winch blan­ket.

• A high-lift jack, and winch chain set up for the jack, plus jack block and winch block.

• A spade and a hand saw. Why I hear many of you ask?

Get­ting stroppy

Let’s start with the strop. A strop would have to be the most used item in any 4WDer’s gear kit. As such it is also the most abused and mis­treated item we carry. The key rea­son a strop is both the most used (and abused) item on the list is that in most cases it only takes a small tug to re­cover a ve­hi­cle if all that’s lost is mo­men­tum. If it's stuck fast and you need lots of ef­fort, then it’s time to take another look at the re­cov­ery

Care in­struc­tions

So a strop needs look­ing after. It should be laid out flat with no twists along its length be­fore con­nect­ing to re­cov­ery points, (twist­ing can cause break­age). And at the end of a trip if it’s been used and is muddy, etc, it will need a good thor­ough wash and dry (not in the sun­light, ei­ther). It also pays to check it for nicks and fray­ing along its length, around the stitch­ing and es­pe­cial around the eye. If you find any (nicks or fray­ing) present cut it in half and re­place it. Be­cause if you don’t, trust me, it will break un­der load. While we are on the sub­ject of look­ing after a strop, they should not be left out in the sun (i.e. on the front of a truck) all their life. Also re­mem­ber if it’s been used real hard a strop will lose some of its ef­fec­tive­ness… the rea­son to al­ways carry two, as one can be dam­aged so eas­ily.

Ex­ten­sion course

Next in line is the short ex­ten­sion and joiner which are used if the nine-me­tre strop is not long enough. Never join strops (a recipe for a prob­lem), and al­ways use a joiner, (never a shackle) un­less you would like to throw two items of gear away. Apart from the shack­les most of the other gear is in­volved with winch­ing ex­er­cises – great things to have in your gear kit, or door pocket, but not the great­est item/s to have hang­ing off ei­ther the back or front of your truck un­less hold­ing a winch hook.

Shackle do’s and don’ts

As one does not use a shackle on a shackle (un­less you are work­ing from small to large), in al­most all cases to use a shackle on a ve­hi­cle, if needed, (i.e. no hooks fit­ted) one has to re­move it first. Now if it’s tight and needs tools, well it’s not me who will be look­ing for it in a few feet of mud! In most cases if shack­les, etc, are in use – so are the fol­low­ing items; winch block, tree truck pro­tec­tor, winch and winch blan­ket, etc. At this stage it’s a good idea to have a cup of tea. In other words sit and think about what one is about to do. Rush­ing in, in most cases, will not help. Of­ten, in fact, it only make things worse, and one chief in con­trol is what’s re­quired. Then the re­cov­ery can take place.

I will ad­mit that most of the gear I have as­sem­bled and carry (apart from the strop) will sit around for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. That said, it has been called upon over the years, one just never knows when.

High Lift jack and chain

The high-lift jack and chain for winch­ing has been out of the truck a few times over the years. This has nor­mally been for main­te­nance of a ve­hi­cle while on a long trip. But what about the chain for winch­ing, I hear you ask? Well, like all things in life, truck winches do fail when least ex­pected, so it’s a backup for that winch. Why in the truck? For a start it’s made of steel and if it was out­side it would get wet, rusty, cov­ered in dust, etc, all things which will not help it work when you re­ally need it. Un­less, of course, you carry CRC, grease or even a re­pair kit, or it’s in a boot on the out­side...

Spade

I al­ways carry a spade with me as there’s al­ways a pos­si­ble need to dig a wheel track across a slip or re­move an ob­sta­cle along the way. The same with the saw, which is there to cut that of­fend­ing branch, which could add to the pin- strip­ing down the sides. You never know when it will come in handy. The gear’s there if and when re­quired, and for some of the longer trips down south, etc. Other op­tions (de­pend­ing on the coun­try) in­clude a chain saw, and all that goes with it, a ground an­chor (not the com­pe­ti­tion-style an­chor) and sand tracks (which come in all dif­fer­ent colours and styles th­ese days). The lat­ter are ef­fec­tive but speak­ing strictly per­son­ally here I see no need for them as I am not do­ing the miles of sand travel that Aus­tralia and a few other coun­tries have. That said they are also great if you are trav­el­ling by your­self, and can even work in mud if you do not have a winch. De­spite be­ing a lot smaller my other 4WD, “Lit­tle Whale” (a Suzuki SJ413. Ed) has al­most the same gear in­side, but not the dou­ble up like “Big Whale” has i.e. no sec­ond strop, or ex­ten­sion and no high lift jack or chains, and again I add gear for the coun­try I am about to travel in.

The bot­tom line

The bot­tom line is that what you carry and use is your choice, or a fac­tor of pay­load/ space de­pend­ing on your truck. In al­most all cases how­ever (and here we are talk­ing club trips and Sa­faris), the min­i­mum re­cov­ery gear is a shackle (4.75t) if no hooks fit­ted, a rated snatch strap six or nine me­tres in length and a shovel or spade. That’s the re­cov­ery gear only and like all re­cov­ery gear it should be in good con­di­tion and you should know how to use ev­ery piece (of re­cov­ery gear) if and when re­quired. When he asked me to write this, the Ed asked me for a real world (which I have cov­ered so far) and an ‘ideal world’ list of re­cov­ery gear I would like to carry with me.

Safety first

Fun­nily enough, the an­swer to the sec­ond ques­tion is… ideally noth­ing more than what I have at the mo­ment. But that is be­cause the ideal trip is the one where you have all the gear but never use it be­cause it’s a 4WD you are driv­ing and it is your own skill in driv­ing it that’s gets you to the end. That said, once you get be­yond a typ­i­cal Shiny 4x4 trip cat­e­gory, you will al­most al­ways need and use the ex­tra re­cov­ery gear that’s in the truck be­cause that’s the joy of the trip, get­ting through the ob­sta­cles! To be safe is the ideal and that in most cases means think about what you are about to do in re­gard to us­ing re­cov­ery equip­ment be­fore you do use it... (the tow ball in the tail- gate’s been around for years yet you still see it hap­pen­ing to­day). If in doubt ask, but al­ways en­joy the trip you are on.

The right re­cov­ery equip­ment is es­sen­tial when you ven­ture off-road.

Two strops.

Dynemma rope and range of shack­les.

Spade mounted ready for use.

High-lift jack sto­ried in­side.

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