A difficult choice

A difficult choice

We were sitting outside Randfontein on a large farm where the community had gathered to celebrate heritage day. There were tents, marquees , gazebos and two quarries where the capable “pipe cars” competed. Adjacent to that was a small 4×4 test track where instructors demonstrated standard production vehicles to potential customers. I was there to represent a client and take some photos. Afterwards, I spent some time in the shade with members of the dealer group who have a multi-franchise operation.

In front of the raised area where we were sitting was a “mud trough” and it attracted the attention of a single individual who would attack it from both ends. He got stuck a few times but always managed to get out even with a lack of decent traction at the exit points. Each time he exited he changed passengers and went through again.

Everyone was covered in mud. Then the inevitable happened, the combination of water and mud caused the engine to stall, and he was well and truly stuck.

A rescue vehicle arrived, out came a long tow strap. The vehicle in the mud did not have recovery points so they simply looped the strap around the front bumper. The rescue vehicle did not have a recovery point so the strap was looped through the towbar. Then they all realised that they had no shackles so the strap was secured with a tyre lever. Thankfully nothing went wrong and the stuck vehicle was safely recovered.

Following this, the conversation turned to essential equipment and I was asked which 7 items of equipment I thought to be essential and this should exclude the obvious items such as a first aid kit, torch,multi-tool and a fire extinguisher. Challenge accepted. And I started to think of those essentials that one should never leave home without.

Well, tyres are essential to a vehicle so a tyre repair kit came to mind. Generally, they are quick and easy to use, and you can not rely on a spare tyre all the time. Some are space savers which will be narrower and lighter and drastically reduce your speed and ability to traverse rough terrain.

Then if you are in a remote area it will be difficult to access a repair facility. And what if you have two flats?

That being said an air source is then the next item, there are various options from cans of compressed slime to a decent compressor. If I am not travelling far I have a hose with a two-way valve that allows me to transfer air from my spare tyre.

I then pointed out that in many cases the gent in the mud needed half a metre to exit and he struggled, so a set of recovery boards such as the “Tredd” boards would come in handy. They are light and strong and the treads on the surface give additional grip.

You may have to dig away under the wheels to place the boards so a spade was my next item. I opt for a mid-size military spec folding spade rather than a full-size spade. It works well and is easy to store in a bag.

Then one would need at a minimum a snatch strap or pull strap and shackles in case you need to resort to a more dynamic recovery of the vehicle to vehicle type. The elasticity of a snatch strap even if you do not do a kinetic recovery makes the exercise much “softer”.And always carry rated alloy bow shackles rather than the commercial varieties sold at most hardware stores.

That being said ensure that you have rated attachment/recovery points on your vehicle and remember that a tow ball is unsuitable and should never be used. 

Lastly, I would substitute the scissor jack for a bottle jack, they are stronger and have more lifting ability, add to that a jacking plate and you are good to go. 

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