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Author Topic: Use stretchy rope to tow out a stuck heavy vehicle  (Read 9581 times)
H3Jim
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« on: October 29, 2006, 05:21:24 PM »

Sometime ago I traded messages with Driving Miss Lazy regarding good ways of getting a stuck bus out of the sand.  First, I am happy to report that I have not yet had the privilege of getting my bus stuck.

DML suggested stretchy rope so that the towing vehicle can get a running start, and since the rope stretches, it won't yank the axles off, or bumpers or whatever you have tied it to.

In preparation for the awful day when I do become stuck (I go to the desert all the time) I purchased a 60 foot length of 1" marine rope that has 15% stretch in it. 30,000 lbs breaking strength.  I always carry it with me.  This last weekend, I used it to tow out motor homes with trailers, trucks and camping trailers etc.  I used a friends truck so I didn't have to get the bus in the sand.  I am now a great believer, and so are most of my friends about using a stretchy rope to tow with. One group of folks was using a flat nylon tow strap to tow out a big class A with trailer, when the strap broke, it took out the motor home's  radiator. When they got out a chain I was afraid they would do some real damage so I went over and lent them my rope.  they had been working for several hours to try to get the unit out, but the rope just popped the out in several minutes.  ( I had been away from camp when they were originally stuck or I would have helped them sooner, before the radiator got trashed.)

Its really remarkable how well it works.  My only issue is being able to find the big stuff at a reasonable price, I paid a lot from the marine store for this - although still less than a tow if I ever need it.

The main point of this post is to let everyone know the dramatic difference there is in using something that gives as opposed to chain or other non stretchy stuff.  Much safer, way more effective.
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Jim Stewart
El Cajon, Ca.  (San Diego area)

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bobofthenorth
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« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2006, 05:25:48 PM »

I agree that a rope is the way to go but I'm not sure 1" is heavy enough.  We use 2 or 3" for pulling heavy trucks.  30,000# seems light duty for a vehicle that could weigh 35,000#.  JM2C

We have a customer who came within a few inches of getting his head taken off with a broken chain this fall.  The chain broke and came through the rear window of the tractor and wrapped itself over his shoulder.  A few inches higher and it would have been all over.

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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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H3Jim
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« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2006, 05:34:23 PM »

Another trick is to hang a tire or a heavy  blanket or whatever over the tow strap while towing.  If it does break and start to become a deadly whip, having something hanging on the strap will stop it or at least deflect it downward.  Its more likely to hit the ground than a windshield or a head.  Should probably be standard procedure to alway use something, no matter what you are using to tow with.  Easy to do, and a good safety precaution.

Good point about the thickness, I just bought the heaviest they had. It doesn't have to support the entire weight of the vehicle, just tow it.  I was not sure how to accurately calculate the minimum breaking strength required, with out just doing overkill.  Does anyone have a good rule of thumb for this?
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Jim Stewart
El Cajon, Ca.  (San Diego area)

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« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2006, 05:47:01 PM »

Jim, I had some 1.25 or 1.5 rope.  But I sold it cheap at a yard sale.  It was a winch line from a digger truck, used to set poles. The next time they throw it away do you want me to get some?  It is big to tie knots in, I had somone weave eyes in mine.  Tom Y     
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« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2006, 06:03:58 PM »

Its difficult to turn away an offer like that, but I want to stick to rope that has stretch in it.  This makes it useful for a smaller vehicle trying to tow out a large vehicle, especially in deep sand or when traction is an issue.  The stretch allows use of momentum instead of relying on power and traction from a dead stop.  Thank you very much for the offer though, its appreciated.
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Jim Stewart
El Cajon, Ca.  (San Diego area)

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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2006, 06:34:37 PM »

My nylon rope was either 1 inch or 1-1/4 inch. I actually had two of them that were about 50 foot each.
I got stuck in the sand once at Glamis and the rear of the bus was buried all the way to the sand.

My son had a 3/4 ton 4X4 ford pickup with a stake body on it. Nothing in the bed. I was so far back in the sand that his truck was still in soft sand also, even at the end of the rope all stretched out.

The hardest part of it is the technique that is very scary the first time. He backed his truck up to the front bumper of the bus. He then takes off, balls to the wall. Wide open.   When the rope starts to tighten up, I gun the bus. The surprising thing is that the stretch in the nylon line is such that I never felt a hard jerk. On this occasion it took three tries, but he got me out.  Believe me we rescued lots of motor homes and campers, even some with their trailer still attached.

I do know how to weave an eye in the end, so that was no problem.

I would be scared of going with too big a rope as it may not have the amount of stretch necessary to eliminate the jerking when the line gets taut. Sure would be interesting to know how much force is exerted when the line is fully extended. I believe Royce was up to about 30 mph when the line finally got taut.

I saw a bunch of nylon line here at a surplus store a couple of years ago and got a couple of pieces for about $20.00 each but i do not know if they still have any.

Richard

Just remembered, I was thinking about manufacturing these and trying to sell them on ebay or somewhere. The following is the description I developed. Never tried to sell one though.


Bungee tow Rope

A revolutionary new development in tow ropes

The Bungee Tow Rope (BTR) was developed after years of experiments to overcome the inherent weaknesses of flat or inflexible tow lines commonly sold to off- roaders and others wishing to have a method of freeing vehicles stuck in sand, mud, snow or other obstacles.

To utilize these flat or inflexible type lines, the towing vehicle must be on solid footing to assure good traction, the line must be taut before any pulling pressure is exerted, and pulling power is limited to the direct force the towing vehicle can apply to the line.

 The BTR operates on an exciting new principle whereby the towing vehicle does not need to be on solid footing and the pulling force is multiplied by a factor of ten or more. The BTR is manufactured utilizing a special nylon line, similar to a bungee cord, which can stretch to more than double its length, similar to a rubber band.

In use, the BTR is attached to the towing vehicles tow ball or frame and to the stuck vehicles front frame, with the towing vehicles rear bumper in close vicinity to the stuck vehicles front bumper. The slack line is coiled up between the two vehicles.

The towing vehicle then accelerates rapidly removing all the slack in the BTR and stretching it to its maximum length. There is no jerk as the BTR tightens and the stretching action stores a tremendous amount of kinetic energy in the line. As the line tightens the stuck vehicle accelerates and like magic, the combination of the towing vehicles weight combined with the stored energy in the BTR, the stuck vehicle is no longer stuck and with seemingly no effort follows the tow vehicle to firm ground.

The BTR is manufactured in various line diameters as well as various lengths, depending on the intended use.

1.   BTR ¾-25:  3/4 inch by 25 ft. For lightweight vehicles under 1000 lbs. like All Terrain Vehicles.
2.   BTR ¾-50:  3/4 inch by 50 ft. For lightweight automobiles under 2500 lbs.
3.   BTR 1-50:  1 inch by 50 ft. For full size automobiles and pickup trucks as well as smaller motor homes and autos towing travel trailers.
4.    For larger motor homes and vehicles towing large travel trailers, two BTR 1-50’s are recommended.

Extreme Examples where the BTR saved the day:

1.   A large Greyhound style bus, converted to a motor home, and weighing 40,000 lbs. was buried up to the rear axles in soft sand at Glamis, Ca. The off road capitol of the world.
Utilizing two BTR1-50’s (100 ft. total length), a ½ ton Chevy 4X4 pickup truck was able to extract the bus from the sand in two tries.

2.   A large motor home towing a 25 ft. enclosed trailer, loaded with sand toys, was buried in the sand at Pismo Beach, Ca. A one ton dually 4X4 pickup, utilizing a flat tow strap, also became buried trying to extract the motor home. Since the flat strap was tight, it was impossible to remove the strap connecting the pickup from the motor home without cutting it. Again, utilizing two BTR1-50’s, the combination of three vehicles were extracted from the soft sand with a ½ ton Ford pickup flatbed pickup.

3.   The third extreme example is really unbelievable but absolutely true.
A large 35 ft 4X4 motor home towing a 30 ft open trailer with lots of sand toys and four 55 gallon drums of fuel was hopelessly buried in the soft sand at Glamis. A one ton 4X4 dually trying to extract this unit was also hopelessly buried in the sand and it was impossible to unhook the flat tow strap between the units.
So along comes a little ¼ ton 4X4 Toyota pickup.. Everyone laughed outrageously when the Toyota backed up to the front of the stuck vehicles and offered to pull them out. Needless to say, the laughter changed to applause when the “little Toyota that could” walked the combined stuck vehicles out of the soft sand and on to the hard pack utilizing  two BTR 1-50’s and one BTR-1-25 for a combined length of 125 feet.

For more information and pricing contact BTR Industries, XXX Parkersburg Road, Spencer, WV 25276
Telephone: 304-927-XXX, Email: BTRIndustries@Charter.net




« Last Edit: October 29, 2006, 06:38:51 PM by DrivingMissLazy » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2006, 06:40:45 PM »

Tom, it must be a nylon type line that stretches. I would suspect that a winch line would not have any stretch.
Richard

Jim, I had some 1.25 or 1.5 rope.  But I sold it cheap at a yard sale.  It was a winch line from a digger truck, used to set poles. The next time they throw it away do you want me to get some?  It is big to tie knots in, I had somone weave eyes in mine.  Tom Y     
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Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a good Reisling in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming:  WOO HOO, what a ride
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2006, 07:08:18 PM »

If you have it available - pouring water in front of the wheels before you bury the vehicle to the axles will enable you to drive out of the sand in many cases.  Be sure to keep the front wheels straight until you get moving or they will act like an anchor.

Thanks for the tip on the stretchable rope. Sounds like a great idea!
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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2006, 07:15:11 PM »

Richard (DML) -

Think you've got a good opportunity to supplement your income with the BRT - you ought to make up a couple and try your luck on eBay with them!

FWIW. . .

 Wink
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RJ Long
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« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2006, 07:30:30 PM »

Nothing new.  I've been making, selling, and using nylon tow ropes all my life. We made them to raise money in FFA when I was in high school. Usually made 1 1/2" ropes which worked well on general oil field and ranch vehicles. Had a construction company with graders, scrapers, and D8 Cats that wanted them a little bigger, so we made up some 2" ones. Splicing a loop in that one is a real pain in the rear!

My family sold them for the FFA through our service station. Couldn't keep them in stock when hunting season rolled around.  FFA probably made 50 to 100 a year. We bought rope by the spool, 600' at a time.

Hard to find nylon rope in 1" or larger. The last few I made for myself and others, I had to special order it out of a place in Grand Rapids, MI. I carry one in the pickup, and have had one in the car for years until we got this 03 Explorer, and there's no place to put one.

Nylon rope is the best for pulling out stuck vehicles. However, as indicated, it can be dangerous. I've personally seen one take the headlight assembly completely off an older Autocar oil field truck. Those headlights are about the size of a man's head. At the time, I was sitting in an old Hough open cab loader pulling on a second rope. I decided that probably wasn't the best place to be at the moment and climbed down and walked away. Didn't thrill my Dad, but we weren't going to get that truck out, anyway. He was high centered with a full load of gravel and we just didn't have the weight to pull it.

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Craig Shepard
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JerryH
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2006, 04:15:13 AM »

Although I repsect all your opinions about using nylon ropes for pulling stuck vehicles ...
I'll either pass or make sure I am inside a bullet proof vehicle when it's being used.
Years ago, while using nylon tow strap, the anchor point broke (not the strap), and it came flying ... clipping my head, caught the corner of my eye, knocking my glasses off.  Could have lost my eye.

So for me, I will not use anything with elasticity.  Oh, and my aunt used to work for a company that made cargo netting and strapping for helicopter lifts and the military, so the straps weren't crap ... but can you trust both the strap and the tow point all the time.

In any case, "if" something gives and if there's any elasticity in the strap -- watch out.  I use chains for pulling vehicles out.

Just my $0.02,
Jerry H.
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« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2006, 04:40:14 AM »

Yes, I've witnessed nylon rope do considerable damage when something broke or came loose.

I've also watched chains punch holes in tailgates and take out rear windows (no nylon in the rig, only chain).

Tugging vehicles out of stuck places can be hazardous to your health, if you are not careful, or if you are just plain unlucky.

craig
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Craig Shepard
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DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2006, 04:45:58 AM »

Jerry and all, the line breaking or the tow point breaking has always been a major concern for me also, but a chain is probably more dangerous than a rope. Especially if a tow point breaks loose. And a chain is almost useless in the sand. The tow vehicle just sinks in the sand. In fact one combination that Royce pulled out one time included a pickup with a chain attached to a motor home which had a trailer attached. The pickup with the chain was stuck also and could not get the chain unhooked. LOL
Richard
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« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2006, 05:23:44 AM »

The danger is in the uncontroled release of the stored energy in the rope/ strap/ chain. The energy of the broken strap/ chain has to be dissipated, some use a tire, some use a radiator or tailgate, others weren't as lucky.

When pulling, you MUST use secure attachment points, I lost a classmate in high school when they were pulling out a stuck 4X4 using a nylon recovery strap that was just slipped over the trailer ball. Yep, the ball snapped off & went thru the skull of the victim. This is the reason I turn chicken (complete with a yellow belly) & call a tow/ recovery service that has experience & knows what to do.

EVERYTHING has elasticity, just varing degrees of it.

The stretchy rope is much easier on the attachment points than a chain. I've used chain & I cringe every time the slack is taken up as it feels like a very hard hit & I just know something just got ripped off.


If using the stretch rope, it needs to be sized for the smaller vehicle's momentum since that is the deciding factor. In DML's example, that would be the son's pickup. This gives the softest impact to the vehicles.

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« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2006, 06:22:04 AM »

I too use a heavy tow rope, I got it from an army surplus store. If it held up for the ARMY it'll hold up for me! BK  Grin
« Last Edit: October 30, 2006, 02:24:21 PM by Busted Knuckle » Logged

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