I recently spent some time with engineers from a local automobile manufacturer discussing the changes to vehicles as well as the implications in terms of warranty conditions.
Moving on we then assessed the options in terms of recovery, we have to bear in mind that given the cost of vehicles today most owners on a trip will rather look for an alternative route rather than damage their vehicle by going through an extreme obstacle.
What are the implications? We used to advocate four recovery points front and rear to enable the use of a bridle and safety lanyard.
Given all-around cameras and park distance control, it makes it difficult if not impossible to fit replacement bumpers and additional recovery points unless the vehicle is of a lower spec. After much discussion, they asked me to put a recovery kit together for their customers. So where I did go?
Firstly one needs a decent bag to keep the equipment, look for straps to anchor gloves and shackles as well as pockets for straps and other equipment. The best bags are made of washable Cordura or PVC with eyelets that allow the bag to breathe if the equipment is wet.
The shackle is one of the most important pieces of equipment. Use rated alloy bow shackles with a workload limit of no less than 2000 kg and with a factor of safety of 6:1 .Carry a variety to cater to all vehicle weights that you may have to assist. On a rated shackle the pin is thicker than the body. The body is embossed with the Work Load Limit and batch number. The bow shackle has a larger inner working radius offering more space for the attachment of straps and the ability to achieve greater angles when recovering. After tightening a shackle turn the pin a half-turn back, this will make it easier to open after the recovery.
- Critical to any adventure are your gloves so we have to include them in our kit. Good gloves have the following features:
• Durable due to the strong leather used in manufacture.
• Protection through a reinforced double palm.
- Accessibility, the solid brass eyelets and a carabiner allow you to join the gloves joining and attach them to your belt loops or within your vehicle.
Then we get to straps and ropes, essentials are ;
Pull/Winch Extension Strap
Typically referred to as the first line of defence) The strap is used to pull or tow stuck vehicles through or over an obstacle in a controlled fashion.
Kinetic Energy Straps and Ropes
They use a dynamic elastic rebound and are used to recover a badly stuck vehicle from sand or mud. as the last line of defence.
A strap from a reputable manufacturer should have a label stitched in, detailing not only compliance with SANS 94 but also ;
• Manufacturers name
• Technical spec
• Work Load Limit (laden vehicle mass)
- The factor of safety and/or the minimum breaking strength.
A Recovery Link; A recovery link is used to join two straps or ropes where extra length is required. Only join straps and ropes with the same rating and type.
Recovery Safety Lanyard; This is used in recovery for added safety in the event of a strap or rope failing.
Recovery Safety Blanket; This is used to dampen the recoil of recovery equipment in the case of the failure of a strap, cable, shackle or recovery point.
Evaluate the number of recovery safety blankets required; if doing a vehicle-to-vehicle recovery one blanket should be used per 5 metres of strap, rope or cable.
A rope soft shackle.
This allows you to create an emergency recovery point when one is not fitted.
This is almost a back-to-basics approach and is a good beginning for a recovery kit. One could discuss the fitment of “weld-on” or “bolt-on” recovery points which would be chassis mounted with your dealer and would give you two recovery points front and rear. Ensure that these are also rated and professionally fitted as a failure could result in damage to a vehicle. And look to a manual winch if you are unable to fit an electric winch! They are extremely useful when you need a bit of help!
Get out there and enjoy yourself and attend a professional recovery course to learn how to use your kit. Remember to keep your kit close at hand if you are attempting a difficult obstacle as you may need help if you get into trouble.