October 11, 2010

So who rescues the rescuer, then?

Alan Hejl of the Auckland 4WD Club takes winch cable from the Nissan (red arrow) to run through a snatch block (yellow arrow) and hook it to a rear recovery hook on the stuck Jeep.
Here's a bit of a screw-up. I'm part of the safety patrol in the Jeep Woodhill 4WD Park, near Auckland,  but I'm the one needing rescue. We'd been threading our way through pine trees during a little off-track diversion and I manage to get the Wrangler stuck, with a tree stump wedged between the sump and transmission skid plate. Couldn't go forward. Couldn't go back, only up. That creates a problem because neither patrol chief Alan Hejl nor I have packed a skyhook. So it's a matter of laboriously lifting the front beam axle with a scissors jack and building up the track under the right front wheel with branches, topped by a piece of thick MDF board I carry as a jack base. We also dig tracks for the rear wheels and line them with more sticks. Most of the sticks and small branches nearby are rotten or near rotten, so it takes while to collect enough for the job.

Once the stump is clear of anything it can damage, we decide to winch the Jeep backwards, because if ever there is a need for "slow and steady", this is it. The Jeep's low speed throttle control is poor; there's either none or too much. With a winch, we can pull the vehicle slowly, centimetre by centimetre. But there's no easy way to get the lead recovery vehicle behind the stuck truck, so Alan drives his Nissan closer to the Jeep and rigs a snatch block to a convenient tree so that the Wrangler can be pulled backwards while the Safari is facing it.

The whole exercise takes an hour, but is completely successful and I'm again ready to help, not be helped. Wow, how embarrassing. It was sort-of a freak situation but a key aspect to safe and successful off roading is to expect the unexpected. I was sort-of prepared, but not prepared enough. For example:
• I carried an exhaust jack that's been really useful over the years, but completely useless on this occasion because of a lack of clearance to set it up properly, and the angle of the ground.
• I had no kind of saw, but Alan at least had a small folding one.
• The Jeep's scissors jack worked really well, but would have been useless without a firm base and something to boost its height which, between us, we had.
• The Jeep, like most modern 4WDs, has no points to accept a high-lift jack and as a result of this incident, I'll be buying a second, larger scissors jack.

Another lesson: Don't use a wanky lifestyle vehicle without proper ground clearance to do a man's job!

Build-up of front wheel to get Wrangler separated from the tree stump lodged between sump and transmission skidplate.


  1. Nothing new then Phil. Seem to recall you assisting me in similar circumstances on at least 2 ocassions in the past.

  2. Sounds like I should have done the Sunday instead of Saturday. Looks like you two had some fun out there.

  3. Why didn't you just drive around the stump?

  4. Trees, or even larger stumps, in the way!

  5. Why don't you F*ing well learn to drive before preaching to others, you wanker

  6. Sorry, Anonymous, but I'm always learning. That's one of the things off-roading is all about.