no good they only get you 20 yards further into trouble”
winches are the best of the crop at the moment with little on the horizon to
better them. I have recently seen an hydraulic winch in action operating off the
power steering unit of a Hilux and it ceased to pull when the full weight of the
vehicle came onto the cable. I’ve
heard around the traps that the inclusion of a larger fluid reservoir makes them
almost unstoppable but the big drawback is the engine must be running unlike
electric winches. I have a Warn
XD9,000 winch bolted to the bull bar and I’ve used under water and mud
to safely recover my vehicle but it required a full service immediately after.
Hand Winches are a lot more versatile and allow you to pull you vehicle from any point and in any direction required. Hand winches are slow and hard work unless shared by many helpers but it is always handy to have a good look around then you decide if there’s any urgency about the situation. When using a hand winch on my own I am always reminded of that great quote, “The oxen is slow but the Earth is patient”, from Tom Selleck in High Road to China. Take your time and one centimetre at a time you will recover your vehicle. The best I've struck is the Big Haul because it is lighter than the Tirfor and has a better set up handle. They are available from most accessory outlets. John Webster wdt.alphalink.com.au has them on Special for $440.00 and that's about as cheap as you get.
I always carry a long handled shovel, a proper rated drag chain, hydraulic bottle jack, a 30 x 30cm jacking plate, 3 rubber shower mats, a Bushranger Bull bag and just about very tool that I've scrounged over the last 50 years. Most things serve more than one purpose, for instance the shovel alternates between recovery gear and "dunny al fresco".
The most important piece of recover equipment is carried between the ears because if you don't know what you're doing you a long time stuck. It never ceases to amaze me, on my travels, how perfectly rational human beings who have obviously got the brains and urge to have a great 4x4 and the will do explore but nothing else. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. The worst I've encountered was an older gentleman who didn't even know how to engage 4 wheel drive let alone high or low ratio. Travelling with the advertising on the vehicle, I think, caused some people to either expert advice or went the other way and tried to impress with their total lack of knowledge.
Don't get me wrong we assisted where asked and did so as I would expect from my fellow travellers if I were stuck. On this years trip a yarn was circulating about a family driving there new 100 series to the tip and having completed the OTL chose to drive the Jardine River and I would think without walking it. When I tried to walk it I went into a hole and at 6'3" I even got the top of my hat wet it was about 7 to 8 feet deep. Anyway this Toyota did not make it even halfway when the whole lot went bang and an eerie silence descended over the river. The vehicle was recovered, towed to Seisia and then to Cairns via the Trinity Bay for repairs under "warranty claim". This came to be a very expensive trip for our misguided friend as water throughout the vehicle is NOT covered by warranty and when the bills arrived he near had heart failure.
The easiest way to minimise damage and recovery situations is to know the abilities of both yourself and the vehicle. Knowledge is the way to smooth and incident free 4 wheel driving anywhere in OZ. If you don't get stuck in the first place then you don't have to worry about getting out safely. Simple isn't it.
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