Gday guys! I thought I’d write about the importance of carrying your recovery gear with you at all times. In my experience, this is the type of equipment that you shouldn’t leave home without. I’m talking traction aids (and I’m going to say Maxtrax, as they are the only ones I have used and highly recommend), snatch straps, rated shackles. Traction Aids are designed to go near or under your tyres so when your wheels start to spin forward they ‘grab’ to the aid instead of spinning in the mud or sand.
Another part of owning recovery gear is knowing how to use it in a safe and practical manner. My mates over at the Australian Offroad Academy have countless years in training and assessment and will teach anyone how to use your 4wd and recovery gear. Check them out at www.australianoffroadacademy.com.au Mel and I have both done a 4wd training course through them and highly recommended it. They are not just trainers they are also 4wd enthusiasts.
We have used our recovery gear pretty extensively. Most recently we went on a little weekender to Lake Keepit, NSW, just outside of Tamworth. We weren’t planning on doing any 4wding but I thought i’ll keep the MaxTrax in the kit just in case. We headed down to the water’s edge with the camper trailer in tow. As I started to turn around and head back up the bank, I realised that something was going wrong. We were 5 metres away from the water’s edge heading back up the bank, when we started to bog down instantly and came to a lurching complete stop. Mel was already out of the Patrol telling me where to put the camper and the look on her face was of pure hilarity. I thought we must be close to stuck so I engaged 4wd and nothing, just wheel spin. This is the biggest ‘no no’ in a recovery as you just get yourself into deeper trouble. I asked Mel what was going on and she said that I better get out and have a look. This is what I was faced with.
As you can see the trailer had hit a sink hole. Once the patrol drove over the spot it must’ve stirred up the water and created a quicksand type of mush, not only stuck but suctioned to it as well. We didn’t really have many options available to us, it was about 4pm (36’C) and the sun was going down. We grabbed out the shovel and started to dig and dig and dig.
I grabbed the MaxTrax and put it under the trailer tyres and the rear patrol tyres. One go and we were out. If I didn’t have the traction aids then I would have been digging for a lot longer. I would have had to drop the tyre pressures and keep going until we were free. Wanna see the video?
The next day we returned home from a swim and found another car had suffered the same fate, although this car had kept on trying to get out and had gotten himself bogged up to his axles. Again with the MaxTrax we dug around his tyres and put them into place. I thought I’d attach the snatch strap and pull him up due to being in so deep. Payment for such a recovery is beer and always welcome.
About an hour later another car came to grief about 50mt from where this photo was taken and if I figure out how to attach videos I’ll attach them later.
Watch the video
Another time we needed the MaxTrax was on our first visit to Fraser Island. We had just spent a few hours at Lake Mackenzie and were returning back to Cathedrals, some 2 hour drive. On the way back there is a section of track that is one way and very dry sand. A car got stuck. We were around the 15th car back so we waited a little while to see what was going on. After about 25mins in the direct sun and with Mel and the 3 kids in the car, I got out and started to walk up the path to see what was happening. A bloke walking back said there was heaps of people assisting and they should be out soon. So I thought I would go back and wait with Mel and the kids. Another 20mins went by and it was really starting to get hot now. I started to walk down to the car that was stuck. When I got there, there were around 20 people standing around and another car that had become stuck trying to help the first car out.
There was only one shovel and a lot of people telling other people what to do. So I asked if anyone had traction aids, and everyone said ‘what?’. I walked back to our car and grabbed our maxtrax, shovel and tyre pressure gauge. When I got back to the car I asked who the owner was and his wife pointed him out. I asked him what his tyre pressures were, he replied “30psi”. I asked if I could help and show him how to use the tyre deflator and gauge. I explained how the tyres flatten out and when in such soft sand and bogged, the best thing to do is firstly lower your pressures. Then I explained how the maxtraxs worked and proceeded to get some guys to dig around the tyres so I could put the traxs in. Within 15mins and on the first attempt with the maxtrax and right tyre pressures he was out and off up the track. Then we just did the same thing with the originally bogged car and both were on their way. By the time the cars were all gone and it was our turn to drive it was an hour and half later. If I didn’t have my MaxTrax then I don’t know how long we would have been waiting for.
Another occasion we tried to use them was when my best mate, Matty and I went out for a wheel. We came around a corner and couldn’t see the bog hole as it was covered with leaves. Matty’s Pajero went straight down and he wasn’t going anywhere. We tried the MaxTrax but we were just spinning on them. This is not good as it strips the lugs and wreaks the traction. We then got out the snatch strap and pulled him out fairly easily.