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Off Road Recovery Equipment & Getting Unstuck - Get Back, Jack!

Posted in How To on October 1, 2002
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Contributors: Gabriel Sheffer

Depending upon whom you ask, getting stuck either stinks or rocks. What some see as a pain in the butt others see as a challenge and a natural part of the four-wheeling experience. Where you stand on the subject probably has more to do with your equipment than your temperament. With the right tools and accessories, even Ernie can have a good time extracting his rig from a bad stuck.

Before You Get Stuck
* Whenever possible, consider backing up onto your tracks and taking a different line, since the ground behind you will be well packed from the weight of your vehicle.

* Momentum is your friend, so keep wheel speeds high if you think you can make it through.

* If your tires are spinning but you're not moving, try shoveling the mud, snow or sand out from underneath your tires. Then stuff the area with traction-building items like rocks or branches.

* If you're high-centered on a rock, try airing up your tires. You'd be surprised what a little extra height can do. If you're stuck in mud, try airing down a little more.

* If you've suffered a rollover, turn off the ignition and get all passengers out of the vehicle. During recovery attach your winch to a framerail or rollbar-never suspension components, and make sure you leave your rig in gear.

Portable Puller
The More Power Puller is an industrial unit that can be used by four-wheelers as an alternative to electric winches. The More Power Puller is a beefy 28 pounds of solid iron and comes with 35 feet of 5/16-inch steel cable. The portable puller has a 2-ton dead-lift rating and a 4-ton drag-weight rating. According to the company, the Power Puller can be positioned anywhere needed to extract the vehicle. It can even upright a rolled vehicle from the side. Information: The Wyeth-Scott Co., Dept. FW, 85 Dayton Rd., P.O. Box 888, Newark, OH 43058, 800/743-4521, www.wyeth-scott.com.

Ramsey
The new Patriot 15000 winch combines the design of Ramsey's front-mount consumer and industrial winch lines. The Patriot 15000 has a planetary gear system for those applications that require brute strength without sacrificing line speed. Its motors and solenoids are grounded directly to the battery, eliminating poor grounding that can cause performance failures and winch damage. The Patriot features 5.5 hp and a 12-volt DC motor for increased pulling power. It's available with either a 12-foot wire pendant remote or a wireless remote. Information: Ramsey, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 581510 Tulsa, OK 74158, 918/438-2760, www.ramsey.com.

Around The Block
Snatch blocks are an essential part of any recovery. These units are to be used in conjunction with a portable or vehicle-mounted winch, enabling you to pull loads that are double your winch's capacity. Featuring a greasable, hardened steel pin and easy-glide side plates, these snatch blocks also allow winching from different angles when a straight pull isn't the best option. Information: ARB USA, Dept. FW, 20 S. Spokane St., Seattle, WA 98134, 206/264-1669, www.arbusa.com.

A Kit For Recovery
The Warn Recovery Kit comes with practically everything you need to help get you unstuck. The kit includes a snatch block, 2x8 tree protector, a shackle, gloves and 10 feet of 5/16-inch Grade 7 choker chain with hooks. The kit also comes with a red heavyweight nylon soft case with four internal pockets. It's also available with a camouflage storage bag. Information: Warn, Dept. FW, 12900 SE Capps Rd., Clackamas, OR 97015, 503/722-1200, www.warn.com.

Keep Those Tools Handy
Smaxe Rack is manufactured by Olympic 4X4 Products. The stylish, durable rack can hold a shovel, mattock and axe. The Smaxe Rack was engineered so you can install it in any position on any Jeep. According to Olympic 4x4, your tools will not fall out while on the trail since they're secured and locked into position, safely protected from theft or damage, but there when you need them for an extraction. Information: Olympic 4x4, Dept. FW, 2645 South Yates Ave., City of Commerce, CA 90040, 323/726-6988, www.olympic4x4.com.

Weld What's Broken
The Mobi-Arc 200x provides DC arc welding and battery jump-starting capability by efficiently controlling the output from your OEM, custom or high-output alternator. Plug in your welding leads, idle up the engine and weld away. Mobi-Arc is 100-percent solid-state and automatically changes the alternator from a 14.7-volt battery charge to a high-current source. When you're done, Mobi-Arc automatically switches to continue charging the vehicle's battery. Measuring 5x2 1/2x4 1/2 inches, it's sure to fit any cramped engine compartment. Information: Mobile Welding & Power, Dept. FW, 2686 Carriagedale Row, First Floor, San Diego, CA 92037, 858/583-2146, www.mobi-arc.com.

DR. Hook
A chain is a good thing to have, but it's even better if it's got a great hook on the end of it-a hook, maybe, like this one. The Clevis Grab Hook from Matco Tools is for use on a 3/8-inch chain and comes complete with a hardened pin and alloy heat-treated steel. Information: Matco Tools, Dept. FW, 4403 Allan Rd., Stow, OH 44224, 866/289-8665, www.matcotools.com.



Wanna Make Dinner?
Bring these recovery essentials with you whenever you hit 4-Lo and you should be back in time for dinner-usually.
* Leather gloves
* A pair of shackles
* Pull-Pal
* Hi-Lift jack
* A shovel
* Some choker chains
* At least one tree-saver strap

Restore A Rupture
From the makers of the well-known and loved POR-15 putty comes POR Patch. This filler and seam sealer is a heavy-duty adhesive that can be used to reseal diff covers, gas tanks, oil pans or anything else that gets shot while you cruise that gnarly trail. Information: Restomotive Laboratories, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 1235, Morristown, NJ 07962, 800/457-6715, www.por15.com.

Patch Those Skins
This tire repair kit is made especially for off-road tires. It comes with 30 permanent self-sealing repairs and any tool you might need to get the job done right. And the kit comes in its own lockable case so you won't lose any pieces. Information: North Shore Laboratories, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 568, Peabody, MA 01960, 800/888-9021, www.safetyseal.com.

Chains Of Freedom
Made in the U.S., with a 4,700-pound working load limit, these chains are useful in a variety of recovery situations. They're zinc-coated to resist rust. Chains include removable clevis grab hooks designed to grab chain link and hold it in place. Information: Recovery Gear, Dept. FW, 117 NE 8th Ave., Portland, OR 97232, 888/877-6837, www.recoverygear.com.

Weight A Minute
Sure, we've all used towels and jackets on our winch lines to make winching safe, but wouldn't it be nice to have the Winch Weight? It's a great addition to your recovery equipment and everyone on the trail will be jealous. Winch Weights are available in red, blue or black. Information: Winch Weight, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 2329, Arnold, CA 95223, 209/795-1585, www.winchweight.com.

Tree Hugger
In keeping with Four Wheeler's Tread Lightly! credo, we strongly recommend you use a tree trunk protector whenever you ask Mother Nature for winching help. When winching or anchoring to a tree, always use a tree trunk protector in order to protect the tree from a cable or chain, which can damage the bark and mark a ring around the tree's bark, as well as damage your winch cable. This protector, from ARB, is made from a 100-percent polyester material and features reinforced eyes for extra durability. Information: ARB USA, Dept. FW, 20 S. Spokane St., Seattle, WA 98134, 206/264-1669, www.arbusa.com.

Pull Pal
'Wheelers that own big, heavy-duty trucks will be happy to hear about the new RW14000 Military Pull Pal. Created for the military and using a larger spade (24x14) than previous editions of the Pull Pal, this product gives heavy rigs an extraction accessory they can rely on. Pull Pals are designed to work in most conditions, including sand and snow. They can be used as an anchoring point, and can be folded up to the size of a standard bumper jack. Information: Pull Pal, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 639, Carbondale, CO 81623, 970/963-8875, www.pullpal.com.

Your Own Underhood Welder
The Premier Power Welder allows you to weld stainless, mild- or high-carbon steel and aluminum with no size or plate thickness limits. Premier's high-frequency pulsating DC current allows you to utilize any AC or DC electrode up through 1/8-inch at 100 percent duty cycle. The Premier allows both welding and battery charging using No. 4 cable leads up to 500-foot lengths with minimal loss of heat. Alternators from 160 to 200 amps are available to power the welder. Information: Premier Power Welder, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 639, Carbondale, CO 81623, 800/541-1817, www.premierpowerwelder.com.

Mechanix
Handling a winch without gloves is like playing dentist with a piranha-you could do it, but why would you? Mechanix Original Glove is made of synthetic leather, a durable and flexible material. Superb craftsmanship is what these gloves are known for, and they're machine washable so they won't get all ratty right away. Information: Mechanix Wear, Dept. FW, 21225-C Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, CA 90265, 310/317-0813, www.mechanix.com.

Get Out!
* When you get stuck don't panic. Take a moment to evaluate the situation and form a line of attack.

* Be patient and use your head.

* Respect that winch. Follow manufacturers' winching recommendations and always use the correct mounting kit for your winch and rig.

* When winching wear leather gloves, make sure your line isn't frayed and that your hook isn't damaged.

* If possible, stand behind your door or open your vehicle's hood when you winch.

* Make sure onlookers are at least as far as the distance of the winch line.

* When winching put a jacket or towel on the winch line to dampen any possible recoil.

* Let your winch motor cool down periodically during long, hard winches.

Nato Tough
Gerber's folding shovel is compact and strong. It's so strong, in fact, that it's the only traveling shovel approved by NATO. Even the U.S. Marine Corps uses this one, and if it's good enough for them it's good enough for us. Plus it comes with a nifty carrying case. Information: Gerber, Dept. FW, 14200 SW 72nd Ave., Portland, OR 97224, 800/950-6161, www.gerberblades.com.

Lord Of Rings
X-Line D-Rings are forged from 316 stainless steel to deliver the highest strength along with excellent corrosion resistance. Rated with a working strength of 8,000 pounds and a bursting strength of 40,000 pounds, X-Line D-Rings are designed to withstand years of use. Information: OffRoadOnly, Dept. FW, 21056 Flag Trail, Prior Lake, MN 55372, 952/226-4317, www.offroadonly.com.

It's Not Cable
"Super Yankers" from Master Pull is a premium-quality double-braided nylon winch line that's been professionally hand-spliced. Each line comes with heavy-duty nylon chafe guard in each eye for protection against wear and tear. These pull ropes are rated and tested. Information: Master Pull, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 639, Carbondale, CO 81623, 800/541-1817, www.premierpowerwelder.com.

Oasis OffRoad
The Trailhead compressor from Oasis Off Road is a high-output electric York compressor that's said to provide nearly twice the cfm of a standard garage compressor. The great thing about this unit is that you can install it on your rig. Use it to air up your tires, run air tools or clean your rig. Information: Oasis Off Road, Dept. FW, 22971 Triton Way, Unit F, Laguna Hills, CA 92653, 888/966-2747, www.oasis-off-road.com.

Hooked Up
Always use a reliable, proper tow point for extractions-never suspension components. Currie offers this receiver hook designed for extreme conditions. Made of heavy-duty alloy steel, this hook fits into any 2-inch tow-hitch receiver and provides a centered point for recovery. Information: Currie Enterprises, Dept. FW, 1480 N. Tustin Ave., Anaheim, CA 92807, 714/528-6957, www.currieenterprises.com.

Multiplicities
The Max Ax is a multi-purpose tool that is perfect for off-road use. This all-in-one device offers users an axe with a 36-inch polyglass handle and several tools, including a shovel, rake, two different-sized picks and a mattock. It also comes with a leather sheath and a carrying case. Information: Forest Tool Company, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 768, Mendecino, CA 95460, 707/937-2141, www.maxax.com.

Jack It Up
The Hi-Lift jack has become the ultimate jack for four-wheelers, another one of those components that forms an element of any 'wheeler's basic tool kit. Standard features include a 4,660-pound capacity and a safety shear bolt that prevents overloading. What makes the jack so popular is its uncanny ability to lift, winch, push and clamp. The new generation of Hi-Lift jacks are now powdercoated rather than painted, ensuring a stronger, more attractive and environmentally safe product. Two models in five sizes are available. Contact: Hi-Lift Jacks, Dept. FW, 46 West Spring St., Bloomfield, IN 47424, 800/233-2051, www.hi-lift.com.

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