On one of the forums, someone was sharing his experience with “new” recovery equipment. Having worked and trained with the leading supplier of recovery equipment for roughly 25 years I have watched the development of equipment. They originally started with a bag, gloves, rated bow shackles and a pull strap.
They now have one of the most comprehensive lines in Africa and compete in various export markets. The”new” items mentioned were;
- A safety lanyard
- A bridle
- A rope soft shackle
The soft shackle is one of the newer items, the others have been around for some time though nonetheless seeing that they work in tandem I feel they are worthy of some explanation.
Let’s start with the safety lanyard, it is used as a safety mechanism in the event of a failure of any rope or strap ( including wire rope or plasma ). It is made of high-tenacity polyester webbing with low elongation and the suggested length is 1,4 metres. It is looped over the strap using a hitch knot and then attached to the vehicle. Using a different point for attachment from that of the strap or rope.
In the event of a failure it literally “chokes” the rope or strap and stops it from flying around which could cause damage or injury to vehicles and bystanders.
Then we get to the bridle, it is also made of low elongation high tenacity polyester webbing and in many cases has replaced the older “drag” chain which we used to use. As such it is more gentle than a chain which has no give and can be fairly harsh. A good bridle will be 3,5 metres in length and the eyes should be reinforced with movable encapsulated sleeves for protection against sharp edges on the recovery points. attachment is once again with rated bow shackles and it is suggested that you use two lanyards on each side, however, this would then require 4 recovery points. It makes for an easier recovery as the “V” shape spreads the load and allows for a straight recovery.
Then we get to the newer “kid on the block”, the rope soft shackle. Newer vehicles come with single recovery points front and rear, the soft shackle enables you to create an additional recovery point when required.
It’s simple, a circular loop with a retainer “knot” to close it when in use. It is fed through the loop of the rope or strap attached to a suitable structural point on the vehicle and then closed as the retainer is fed through the eye.
It can also be used to join two similar straps if one does not have a recovery link for this purpose.
One should ensure that there should be no kinks in the rigging of the set-up as that reduces the effectiveness in the event of a recovery taking place.
The soft shackle obviates the need to bow shackles however full safety procedures should be followed with recovery blankets and lanyards
Caution should also be taken with sharp metal edges that could damage the soft shackle which would render it useless.
If you are new to the game I would suggest that you attend a professional recovery course after your driving course. Choose a reputable supplier who knows what they are talking about as recovery has an element of danger if the appropriate measures are not followed. This we often illustrate with a “recovery failure” which shows how dangerous a bad set-up could be and then illustrates how the safety equipment can obviate the danger.
As exciting as it may seem stay well clear of the exercise. There should be one person giving instructions!
Don’t rush in and buy everything you see, start small and build on it. I would suggest gloves, rated shackles, a pull strap and a bag. Check the ratings following the Gross Vehicle Mass of your vehicle ( GVM ).
On a course ask the instructor to assess your equipment and advise you concerning recovery points.
Lastly no matter what people may say a tow ball on your rear bumper is not suitable for recovery and can potentially become a lethal missile. Also, a methodical approach is called for whereby you assess the options and available equipment – so get out there and enjoy yourself!