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Recovery and Towing


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Another milestone on my project today got the rear legs piped up and feet welded on should have main lift rams working over this long weekend if i dont get to distracted by the wedding

:cheesy:

 

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All our vehicles have names although may not be wrote on them. I have no choice in the name its my wife or girls in office who name them so they can allocate them on jobs. The one it is replacing (the Foden) was called Hippocrocamonsterpig you can make it out across the front in chalk in an earlier photo. May just be it will inherit its slot on computer and hence name

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Got a bit further over the weekend. But have convinced myself is is going to be a useful piece of kit when finished. not good pics but i think it shows boom hieght and reach

 

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A bit more on towing. When I first got involved with towing 40 years ago things were different to today’s practices. In those days nearly all towing was done on poles. Reason only the biggest operators had equipment that could safely lift and carry large commercial vehicles. As modern vehicles developed body work became more fragile and they became more and more difficult to pickup and weights increased so making the whole job of suspend towing more difficult.

Today I suspect using a pole to tow a broken down vehicle is the easiest option available to most members of this site.

So a few facts tips about towing disabled vehicles on poles.

Back then the person in the disabled vehicle was classed as the brakeman or steersman and as such didn’t need a licence to drive the vehicle being towed but had only to be old enough to hold one.

The person in the towing vehicle had to have a licence to drive the vehicle he was in but not the one he was towing. The one he was towing was classed as a disabled vehicle and not a trailer.

Disabled vehicle owners could not be prosecuted for having no working lights or rear mudguards.

Now I don’t know for sure but if you regard the vehicle being towed as a disabled vehicle then nothing has changed.

But please check to satisfy your self before doing anything involving above

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A bit more on towing. When I first got involved with towing 40 years ago things were different to today’s practices. In those days nearly all towing was done on poles. Reason only the biggest operators had equipment that could safely lift and carry large commercial vehicles. As modern vehicles developed body work became more fragile and they became more and more difficult to pickup and weights increased so making the whole job of suspend towing more difficult.

Today I suspect using a pole to tow a broken down vehicle is the easiest option available to most members of this site.

So a few facts tips about towing disabled vehicles on poles.

Back then the person in the disabled vehicle was classed as the brakeman or steersman and as such didn’t need a licence to drive the vehicle being towed but had only to be old enough to hold one.

The person in the towing vehicle had to have a licence to drive the vehicle he was in but not the one he was towing. The one he was towing was classed as a disabled vehicle and not a trailer.

Disabled vehicle owners could not be prosecuted for having no working lights or rear mudguards.

Now I don’t know for sure but if you regard the vehicle being towed as a disabled vehicle then nothing has changed.

But please check to satisfy your self before doing anything involving above

 

any update on this one...is this fact...it could be very useful...

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So we have decided to go along the route of using a tow pole is there anything to watch out for. Well yes actually quite a lot. The tow pole used to one of the most abused pieces of equipment on a recovery truck. Just have a look at any you come across on the back of wreckers and see how many are bent or twisted or have kinks in the tube near the fixing eyes.

The biggest inherent danger with Tow poles is they lull people in to a false sense of security thinking they can go and stop quickly. Ask anybody who has worked in the recovery industry for a while they will all have stories about this or that going wrong.

As I have mentioned previously the recovery industry rarely use poles in today’s world but if you do see them they will be usually travelling slowly with say a huge mobile crane on. They aren’t going slowly because the machine is heavy today’s heavy wreckers could probably tow them about at legal speed limits. No they travel slowly because that’s the way to go with poles.

So straight away that’s one thing that’s helping people on this site the machines they are towing with and are towing aren’t flying machines

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So we have decided to go along the route of using a tow pole is there anything to watch out for. Well yes actually quite a lot. The tow pole used to one of the most abused pieces of equipment on a recovery truck. Just have a look at any you come across on the back of wreckers and see how many are bent or twisted or have kinks in the tube near the fixing eyes.

The biggest inherent danger with Tow poles is they lull people in to a false sense of security thinking they can go and stop quickly. Ask anybody who has worked in the recovery industry for a while they will all have stories about this or that going wrong.

As I have mentioned previously the recovery industry rarely use poles in today’s world but if you do see them they will be usually travelling slowly with say a huge mobile crane on. They aren’t going slowly because the machine is heavy today’s heavy wreckers could probably tow them about at legal speed limits. No they travel slowly because that’s the way to go with poles.

So straight away that’s one thing that’s helping people on this site the machines they are towing with and are towing aren’t flying machines

We still use poles(AA) and you are right they can be a very abused peice of kit. People you tow dont seem to listen how many times I have heard "i will be fine I have been towed loads of times:undecided:" they then spend time on the phone drinking the coffee they bought. I tend to just slap them on a dolly rather than risk them wrapping a pole round the back of my van:shocked: One we had a customer decided to take a left because he new a short cut.:-D rumour has it it made a right mess of his car:-D

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We still use poles(AA) and you are right they can be a very abused peice of kit. People you tow dont seem to listen how many times I have heard "i will be fine I have been towed loads of times:undecided:" they then spend time on the phone drinking the coffee they bought. I tend to just slap them on a dolly rather than risk them wrapping a pole round the back of my van:shocked: One we had a customer decided to take a left because he new a short cut.:-D rumour has it it made a right mess of his car:-D

Strange i never thought about cars when i started writing about Tow poles. You guys are going to come across all the pitfalls more times than most people with the amount callouts you get in a day. As you have mentioned already the complacent driver can be a right pain. One more thing in our contracts with all the motoring organisation we are strictly forbidden from using poles an light vehicles

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Right we are using a pole to illustrate some of the pitfalls of using a pole I have picked an example where by we have a 10 ton truck towing a disabled vehicle with a gross weight of 20 tons this vehicle for what ever reason has no brakes. In an ideal world when every thing is hooked up and ready to go the pole will be at right angles to both vehicles running centrally and when viewed from the side will be parallel with the ground. So off we go no problems. A little ways up the road we come to a corner as we are still accelerating and take the corner in a nice smooth arc all still running fine. We then get up to a nice cruising speed every things ok. The road sarts to go down a steep gradient Up in the distance the driver of the towing vehicle sees a roundabout so being wary of the ways of towing on a pole he starts to brake well in advance while still in a straight line. He is now at a speed he can negotiate the roundabout safely accelerating as he goes around it . This how it should be done all braking done when in straight line accelerating when cornering. Right at the last moment upon hitting the roundabout a youth in bulled up Astra appears from nowhere. Driver has only one option swerve and hit the brakes at the same time person in disabled vehicle can do nothing to help in fact his problems have become worse because weight on his steering axle have increased. Picture shows what’s happening. We now have a force of 20 tons pushing at the towing vehicle at an angle the towing vehicle is trying to resist this purely with weight of say 5 tons resistance on its back axle

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As you can see the chances of the towing vehicle not doing a spin round or jacknife are pretty slim. But wait things are actually much worse than i first made out remember i said there was a gradient involved will put another picture on to show whats happening from the side

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Remember I said the vehicle being towed was unbraked and there is a gradient involved. If you look at this picture it is fairly obvious because of weight transference nearly the whole weight of both vehicles is being braked by the front axle of the towing vehicle. This in turn means the rear axle of the towing vehicle is actually tending to lift of the floor. Thus the rear axle which is providing the resistance to stop the whole lot jack knifing has very little weight on it. Add in a greasy road surface and it’s a fair bet the whole lot is an accident in the making. Now I am not saying don’t use poles but make sure both drivers are aware of the pitfalls when not in a straight line plus compounded by a gradient and maybe a poor road surface. There are other things you can do to lessen these effects

 

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There are other things you can do to lessen these effects

 

Yes, agree cosrec, important stuff this, easily goes wrong.

 

Having been towed a fair few miles on a pole on three occasions, (30 very odd hilly miles once, the joys of petrol Scammell ownership) I would say the the worst thing is having almost no forward vision, especially when passing parked cars and such, you just don't know whats coming.

 

I would never tow or be towed on a pole without the brakes hoses being connected to the casualty and crossed over the pole to stop them dragging on the ground, and the taps opened.

Using the casualties brakes via the reaction brake lever of the towing vehicle for most of the braking keeps things in line down hill, is very effective and saves the front vehicles nice cool brakes for emergencies.

 

It certainly can be a very stressful experience, even more so if one is aware of what can go wrong...(and if you're not you shouldn't be doing it), and one which should last as short a time as possible.

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The problem with towing on poles is they can be next to invisable to the public even with a marker hanging from the middle of the pole.

Had a close escape when being towed in a mates 110 with his other Landrover. Coming out of a side street into traffic stopped for a set of lights, a guy in the waiting traffic flashed him out into the stationary traffic as the lights changed. He pulled out and the guy started to move forward behind him oblivious to the pole with a 110 attached bearing down him. Luckily there was nothing on the pavement so i had to mount the kerb and squeeze the 110 through a narrowing gap between the car and a lamp post! :wow:

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Great fun can be had if the casualty is much longer than the towing vehicle, the need for the rear driver to swing out right for a tight left hander may not be allowed for..:sleep:.. choice words from the towee and a pole at right angles to the direction of travel may result!:argh:

 

If there are railings or pedestrians on the corner this of course doubles the fun.. :box:

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When on a pole two drivers are involved like every thing in recovery only one can be in charge of the operation. Common sense dictates this is the driver of the towing vehicle. As the driver of the towed vehicle you have to have faith in them hard at times I know especially when you can’t see where you are going. Also your sole purpose is to keep that pole straight follow towing vehicle and do as indicated by driver.

The next thing to lessen the dangers to your self and every one around as pointed out by Gritineye is put some air in the towed vehicles tanks (that is assuming both vehicles have air brakes). A lot of ex Mod vehicles (not all) have couplings at the front and rear just for these occasions. Use them it makes life so much easier.

The Mod seem to have settled on palm couplings (glad-hands) as standard although the civilian transport industry have settled in general for Male Female connectors. If making up a set if airlines it is possible to make one set do all with out multiple adaptors will put picture on to show how this is a trick I learnt of the ferries where they are pulling trailers of the ferries with different couplings. As you can see depending which airline to fit adaptor to you end up with two palm couplings or one male one female. Next post I will show what to do if no airline connectors are fitted

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I may have been dreaming but i'm sure someone told me there is a device that can be fitted to operate the brakes of the towed vehicle via its brake pedal:undecided: Is it some kind of clamp on arrangement like a piston that works off the signal line while an air feed is plumbed into the dead vehicles air supply?

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I may have been dreaming but i'm sure someone told me there is a device that can be fitted to operate the brakes of the towed vehicle via its brake pedal:undecided: Is it some kind of clamp on arrangement like a piston that works off the signal line while an air feed is plumbed into the dead vehicles air supply?

 

Sure was. It was a small air cylinder that clamped to the brake pedal and had a strut that went up to the steering wheel and was all held in place with little ratchet straps it was connected to the yellow service line of the towing vehicle. We inherited one with a heavy wrecker we traded in we gave it to our main heavy driver at the time to road test. I have only today seen it rusting away in a container in the yard while trying to find something else. He said it was more trouble than it was worth. They were i believe made to circumvent a stupid law that was imposed on us by the EU. I was going to mention this in next post. I believe they were called brake buddies although i tryed goggling this and only found ones for electric one for towing vehicles behind motor homes

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So we all agree it’s a good idea to get some air in to the vehicle being towed. But we have a little problem. Awhile ago some bureaucrat decided they would introduce a law that says in so many words it is illegal to interfere with the braking system of vehicle and to make it operate except at points put there by the manufacturer for that purpose. Hopefully someone on here will tell us the correct wording.

Now I am basically a law abiding citizen so I thought hard about this. This is my take on it. If I introduce air in to the tanks of a disabled vehicle I am not making the braking system work just giving it the means to do so. So I can put air into the tanks by what ever method. As it happens lots of even relatively old vehicles have test points which you can screw on to with an adaptor and fill the tanks up. Failing that remember those airlines I wrote about earlier if you split the female connector and palm and screw the female into the tank drain tap on the first tank after the compressor it will fit in about 90% of cases there is always a way of getting air in some how. So if nothing else the driver of the towed vehicle can at least stop the vehicle he is steering by pressing the brake pedal.

But I think the driver of the towed vehicle has enough to think about with out operating the brakes if he is struggling with no power steering and fretting about where the towing driver is going next.

So if I was towing any distance I would be willing to split a pipe and connect into the feed for the back bogie and join on to with the yellow service line somehow. I think I could stand the wrath of a magistrate giving me a dressing down after I explained it was matter of mine and public safety.

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