Hill People Gear Forums
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsVehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Recovery Lessons LearnedVehicle Recovery Lessons Learned
Previous
 
Next
New Post
11/6/2015 4:17 PM
 

Yesterday morning Scot and I headed up in my XJ to get into the snowline again. The fresh snow was about calf deep and it wasn't too big a deal to keep pushing through it. We decided to "break road" up to the top if we could so we could get back up there after consolidation for some good XC skiing. I've developed a fair amount of confidence in my mud terrains and things were going quite well -- up until we hit a steep section of road and I lost traction. When I tried to back down the hill I promptly landed in the ditch. 

Recovery ended up consisting of winching the vehicle up the hill and out of the ditch. It took something like 4 "sets" with the HiLift to get it far enough. We backed a long ways down in the ruts until we found a good turnaround spot. It was good, but not so good that we didn't have to do another single set to get it unstuck during turnaround.

We are conservative with our driving and don't get stuck often. This was the first time we'd ever used a HiLift as a come along, and the second time that we've used a come along at all. All the way around, there were lessons learned.

  • It's what you have with you - Kind of a truism. Very similar to "I only carry my concealed pistol when I think I might be in danger". That's a nonsensical statement. If you anticipate a problem, the best course of action is to avoid the problem altogether (obviously there are exceptions). We got one of those manual winches for well over half off which would have made very short work of this situation. Did I have it with me? No, because it's large and heavy to store so I would only carry it if I thought I might need it. I guess for a lot of folks a foray onto the backroads isn't part of their daily routine so it's not a big deal to load a bunch of extra recovery gear. We're on secondary roads just about every morning in our daily drivers. So bins full of recovery gear isn't part of the equation. It's about what can always be with our rigs without impeding too much on everything else a daily driver needs to do. And weight can make a big difference in the overall performance of smaller vehicles so it is always a factor.
  • Limited slip - my jeep has open front and rear differentials. Without going into a blow by blow, there were a few times in the process when having limited slip (preferably mechanical) or lockers would have made things easier. I also suspect we would have gone right up the hill as well. Snow is just one of those surfaces where it is very easy to create the condition where all of the power in each axle is going to a single wheel that has no traction.
  • Locking your HiLift on - Padlocks that live outside are a known failure point. Even moreso the small ones that go through HiLift mounting bolts. We carry bottles of lube to get locks unstuck. We've both thought about carrying bolt cutters for cutting our external padlocks if need be. Sure enough, lots of jiggling and lube work spread out over 15 minutes wasn't enough to unlock the HiLift. The situation yielded to a big lever. I didn't put a lock back on. I "locked" it on with a length of 1/8" steel cable and a swage. When I next need it off, I'll cut the cable. Also a nylon locknut. Probably not quite as secure as the little padlock but at least somebody will need a pair of sideclips or fencing pliers and a wrench if they want to steal the HiLift.
  • Line length - My main line was a 60' tow strap. I also had a static climbing rope as a sort of throwaway if I needed more length. 60' didn't get it and the static rope still stretched too much to be of any use. Luckily I had a couple of heavy duty ratchet straps for securing loads that made up the difference. One of the mechanisms broke but we were still able to use the strap just as a strap. The other one survived intact. Line length is one of the limitations of winching. You can carry an anchor to solve this problem in some soil types. Or you can add more line. How much is enough? The amsteel type rope is one lightweight option but it is spendy. I'll probably add another line of some type.
  • Non-HiLift takeup - As soon as you set out to winch with a HiLift it becomes immediately obvious that you need some mechanism for taking as much slack as possible out of the system before you use the HiLift. A HiLift only has 4 feet of travel and you can easily have 4' of slack in an un-tensioned system. The chain setup that HiLift sells for using your HiLift as a winch might solve this problem. I haven't examined carefully so I don't know. The heavy duty cargo ratchet strap solved the problem this time. Now I've got a come along with 12 feet of line. That gives me more line length and a nice robust way to set tension on the system (and maybe even do some pulling if the load isn't too much) before getting going with the HiLift.
  • Pull Direction - Twice now I've tried to skid the rear end of a vehicle sideways. Unsuccessfully. I'm convinced that, for the most part, it's something that doesn't work. The nice thing about a HiLift as a winch is that you can run it off the front or back of the vehicle or anywhere else you have a pull point on the vehicle you trust. For the most part, I imagine that the rear end is the point you want to winch from. Any jam you get into going forward is probably best solved by going back in the direction you came from. In this case, I got into the jam backing up so going forward was the easiest way out.
  • Shovel - It only takes a minute with a shovel to move a lot of material. You may not be able to dig out completely, but you sure can make things a lot easier by removing obstacles to a pulling operation. Or inserting some traction into the situation. I've done both. If I could have one and only one vehicle recovery tool, it would be a shovel.
  • Traction Devices - I don't have a set of MaxTrax like Scot does. If I did, we would have tried that first. Hard to say because we didn't, but that probably would have been a quicker and easier way to get unstuck and one that doesn't need an anchor to pull to. It's a spendy item that just moved a little higher on my priority list. A note on this - if you do have open diffs like I do, you'll want to get traction under both wheels on a given axle. Otherwise the traction may not do a thing for you.
  • Transmission State - When you want the vehicle to move, make sure it is in neutral. When you don't want the vehicle to move (re-setting your haul system), make sure it is in gear. Enough said on that point.
  • Wheel Chocks - I used to carry a wheel chock but got out of the habit. Now I'm back in the habit. In this case, transmission state (and a log at one point early on) was enough to keep the vehicle from rolling backwards during a re-set. I'm happier to have a chock as well.

That's all I can think of. Scot may have some things to add.


We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/7/2015 6:33 PM
 
What type of shovel are you carrying? I keep a short, round, Razorback that I found in my local big box garden section. It is a fairly stout shovel, but the blade is rather small. It has helped me out of spot or two before. But I have longed for something I can mount in my bed, along with my Estwing Camper's axe.
 
New Post
11/7/2015 9:01 PM
 
How bout getting an proper vehicle. Looks like your using that jeep in place of an snowmobile.

 
New Post
11/8/2015 5:09 AM
 

Evan, one sound technique that comes to mind that you might try next time....airing down.  Dropping from 35 PSI down to about 15 PSI (even less if you have bead lock rims) makes a HUGE difference in your tire's ability to grab traction.  Care must be taken a bit to ensure you don't de-bead, but running lower air pressures off road really helps a lot.  In every single off-road course I'd been to while active duty...Rod Hall Off Road, Land Rover America, BSR, ITI....and every time I went out on off road runs with Jeep and Power Wagon club trips....this was the first thing done at the trailhead.

I've carried and used a set of Staun Deflators http://stauntyredeflators.com.au/ for years.  They're simple and effective.  They can be adjusted to deflate each tire to a pre-set PSI level.  Very quick, and no guess work.  

Along with the benefits of airing down, you now are faced with the need to replace that air once back on pavement.  That means either having a gas station nearby as soon as you get back to populated areas, or carrying some type of on-board air system.  I currently have two...the Powertank PT-10 (with Monster Valve) http://powertank.com/products/sfID1/1..., which is one of the best out there and is filled with liquid CO2 and releases as inert gas.  It's fast and portable.  The tank can be refilled at a welding shop for about $20.00.  One full tank will refill up to thirty 35" tires from 15 PSI up to 30 PSI.  Really good bang for the buck.  

The other one I have and sometimes carry is the Superflow MV-90 http://www.superflowair.com/mv90/.  It takes up a bit less room than the Powertank and is also pretty stout in design.  It's also a solid workhorse for refilling tires, but doesn't accomplish the task as quickly as the Powertank.

Yep...more stuff to carry in the rig, but definitely worth having so that you can air down when on the trails and have better traction.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/9/2015 10:42 AM
 
Ken, that's a great point on airing down. I always have it in the back of my head that if I get bogged down in sand I'll air down as a way to climb out. Didn't think to apply it to snow.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/9/2015 12:25 PM
 

It's kind of key to air down prior to getting into the stuck situation.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/9/2015 2:05 PM
 
something else I didn't know!

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/9/2015 4:24 PM
 

You need to order a good come-along, today.  I've had a Mini-Mule for 20yrs.  Lifted heavy beams, lawnmowers, unstuck my Toyota a few times.  You need a come-along even if you have a winch. 

Before I spent $500 for a Coke-fizz bottle I'd seriously consider a hard mount compressor with an on-board tank plumbed in somewhere.  You can get by with a smaller compressor with a tank.  Using those tire deflators Alp suggested, try to size the tank so that you've got one "air-up" onboard.  Once you've got a compressor, then an ARB locker would be my next move.  What sort of lift do you have on that XJ?

 
New Post
11/9/2015 4:43 PM
 

The "Coke-fizz" bottle, as you put it, consistently outperforms just about any other onboard air system out there.  


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/9/2015 6:14 PM
 
alpendrms wrote:

The "Coke-fizz" bottle, as you put it, consistently outperforms just about any other onboard air system out there.  

 How so?  A little POS plug-in air pump will air up a tire, it just takes awhile.  That Powertank would probably  re seat a bead, but so would an on board tank.  There ain't exactly an abundance of room in the back of an XJ.

 
New Post
11/9/2015 6:35 PM
 

Yep, I know...I owned an XJ, 2 X CJs, and learned to drive in a '58 Willys.  Space can be at a premium, but packed right, an XJ can carry plenty of possibles.  The Powertank just works well because of its versatility and refill speed...a lot faster than most others out there.  It can be easily transferred from one rig to another, strong enough to not only re-seat a bead, but also can run air tools.  Stood up and strapped in the corner of an XJs cargo area, or strapped to a roof rack...no problem.  


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/9/2015 6:59 PM
 
I'll take your word for it. On second thought, there may not be anywhere on an XJ to place a tank, as its a unibody. 
 
New Post
11/9/2015 7:05 PM
 
Take-a-knee wrote:
I'll take your word for it. On second thought, there may not be anywhere on an XJ to place a tank, as its a unibody. 

Some guys with steel bumpers box them in and then tap them for a fitting and run them as an air tank...but that has a bunch of cost attached to it, as well.  If a guy knows how to weld really well, a home-built version could work.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/9/2015 7:14 PM
 
I did that on a CJ about 30yr ago, memory's a bit fuzzy.  4in well casing with about a 100psi would air up one 33in flat as I recollect.  The pipe length was the width of the jeep
 
New Post
11/10/2015 4:16 AM
 

Most likely a Superflow MV-90 would be a good model to have on hand.  Not as expensive as other systems (including the Powertank), works decently quick, and portable..so it can be transferred between whichever vehicle is taken out on the trails.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/10/2015 10:01 AM
 
FWIW - I was chatting with one of the owners of my local off road shop today (Barney Brothers... go figure) about winches. He used to use his a lot over on the front range but not so much on this side. He did use it yesterday to help stabilize a vehicle in Moab (on an AEV sponsored trip) while he rebuilt the front axle. At any rate, in his words winch failure happens "all the time". It's always electrical failure of some kind but he sees it a lot. A friend of ours in MT had a solenoid failure last winter. He had just done his monthly service and check of his winch a couple weeks previous but that didn't prevent the winch from failing right when he needed it. I'm not saying you shouldn't have a winch as a big part of your recovery plan, just that you better have a couple of other solid options as well.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
11/10/2015 10:20 AM
 

Absolutely..."Two equals one, one equals none."  Back-ups such as a Hi-Lift or come-along are always needed.  For certain, I've seen more vehicles get un-stuck with a Hi-Lift or traction aids (like Go Treads) than anything else.  When the solenoid gave out on the Defender I was in, we fixed it with a penny cut in half to bridge the gap and create contact, a zip tie, and some chewing gum...didn't need the gum, but we stuck it on there for style points.  The winch worked the whole rest of the week like that.  I talked to the Land Rover guys at the Overland Expo and Fred (did the repair) said that the penny/zip tie/gum repair is STILL on that winch and it's still working!  We did that week of training way back in the early 2000s...maybe 01 or 02.  Can't believe that repair is still working!

Winches can be fussy, but I'm still glad to have one.  I guess it's kinda like having a rifle that jams now and again...it needs to be maintained and lubed often...but sometimes they still break.  That said...when you need a winch....you REALLY need a winch.  Sometimes nothing can take its place, efficiency and strength wise.


Hill People Gear Coureurs des Bois (Brand Ambassador). Victoria faveat paratam. De Oppresso Liber.
 
New Post
11/11/2015 1:44 PM
 
Great discussion. Evan and Scot, thanks for sharing your lessons learned. As a frequent solo back country traveler, I am always looking for an edge.
 
New Post
11/11/2015 3:01 PM
 
minirunner wrote:
What type of shovel are you carrying? I keep a short, round, Razorback that I found in my local big box garden section. It is a fairly stout shovel, but the blade is rather small. It has helped me out of spot or two before. But I have longed for something I can mount in my bed, along with my Estwing Camper's axe.

 

Pretty standard D-handled 40" round point. Does well in soil and snow and also when you're climbing around under the rig trying to excavate in tight spaces.

We are fortunate in this matter that your conduct will be your marker and, thus, your reputation. The conduct of others on this forum has been, and will continue to be, their marker, and thus, their reputation. In the west, a person invests in one's reputation carefully. - 112Papa
 
New Post
1/13/2016 4:17 PM
 
I find a length of 5/16 choker chain (infinitely adjustable with "choker" hooks, that grab links of itself) to be ubiquitous alongside the hi-lift for the purpose of making up slack. One is no good without the other. For the sake of efficiency in hi-lift recovery situations, it's worth going with the 60" jack rather than the 48". That much more progress per laborious "set".

Another slack adjusting trick I've seen using an amsteel type line is to daisy chain the extra slack out, the last loop held with a toggle (a stick or even a rolled up magazine). I hope you know what I mean by "daisy chaining". Climbers do it with ropes and webbing. Handymen do it with long extension cords. I bought some of this line by the foot off of a spool at my high-end hardware store, spliced thimbled eyes in both ends saving a fair amount of money over identical, commercially available "winch extension" lines. This stuff is so small, quiet and light for its strength and usefulness.. it's hard to argue with.

I've done A LOT of wallet poor/ingenuity rich, "hard way" recoveries. Ultimately, I've come to believe in a quality winch.
 
Previous
 
Next
HomeHomeDiscussionsDiscussionsVehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Mobilit...Vehicle Recovery Lessons LearnedVehicle Recovery Lessons Learned