DIY Off-Road Vehicle Recovery with Rope & Pulleys

https://www.offgridweb.com/transportation/diy-off-road-vehicle-recovery-with-rope-pulleys/

We’ve all been there — alone and unafraid, enjoying a weekend adventure or vacation in the backwoods and basking in the freedom American off-roading provides. Then BAM! You find yourself in a predicament. You misjudged the angle of the slope and didn’t see the ditch when you were backing up. That rock was a lot bigger than it looked, you have a flat tire, clearly through no fault of your own. These unfortunate realities could put a damper on your well-earned weekend, especially if you are miles away from help. Learning some basic vehicle recovery skills can help you get to safety.

We met up with Gary Presson from North 40 Rescue, the premier rope rescue and land navigation training company in the Northwest, to learn how to get ourselves out of these tricky situations with the simple physics of mechanical advantage. Mechanical advantage is defined as the force amplification achieved by using a tool or machine. Using ropes and pulley systems — items small enough to add to your pack — one person can lift a UTV out of everyday hazards and be back on the trail in no time. Here are step-by-step instructions to solve the most common vehicle recovery problems.

Vehicle Recovery Dilemma #1: Bottoming Out

We first learned how to recover a UTV from a situation that happens often in off-trail riding: bottoming out to high-center during a summit. This occurs when the breakover angle of the UTV is insufficient for the hill you are attempting to crest. To the novice driver, bottoming out can quickly turn into a high-centered situation. In other words, the undercarriage of the vehicle winds up perched on the crest, with the drive wheels unable to get enough purchase on the terrain to push it over the top. When the undercarriage of the UTV hits the ground, many drivers accelerate quickly in the hope of getting the UTV up the incline. Unfortunately, what often happens is the back wheels spin, digging into the ground, and the front-drive wheels cannot gain enough grip to move forward. We were able to solve this by setting an anchor point directly in front of the UTV and pulling it forward using the strength of one or two people.

Problem: Bottomed out; stuck high-center on summit

Solution: Forward pull

Manpower: 1-2 people

Gear:

3/8-inch static rope. Rated 20kn strength (4,480 lbs) (150 Feet)

1-inch nylon flat webbing (8 feet)

Tubular nylon

Ratcheting pulley

Double pulley

6mm prusiks (1-2)

Tri-link

Single pulley and carabiner

Carabiner (2)

Knots:

Water knot

Figure eight

Prusik

Step 1 (Create your pull point): Attach tubular nylon to your pull point on the UTV using a water knot.

Step 2 (Create your anchor point): Rig the anchor point with the nylon flat webbing strap. Wrap the strap around the anchor, connecting it with a tri-link.

Step 3 (Connect rope to pull point): Tie a figure-eight knot in the static rope and connect to the pull point with carabiner.

Step 4 (Connect rope to anchor point): Connect a ratcheting pulley to your tri-link with a carabiner and route the rope through the pulley.

Step 5: Set up your 5 to 1 mechanical advantage. Attach the prusik to the load leg; attach a double pulley to the prusik and route the rope through the double pulley. Route the rope back to the ratcheting pulley at the anchor point and then back through the double pulley nearest to the UTV.

Step 6: Pull the vehicle out (make sure the vehicle is in neutral).

Vehicle Recovery Dilemma #2: High-Centered / Flat Tire

Next, we learned one way to fix two issues: a high-centered UTV or a flat tire. A high-centered UTV means the vehicle maneuvered over an obstacle taller than its ground clearance, forcing its driving wheels off the ground. Both high-centered and flat tire situations require you to lift one side of the UTV off the ground, allowing you to either remove the obstacle, create a rock bridge to add height, or change the tire, depending on the situation. This technique is used when you do not have a jack available. By setting the anchor point on the opposite side of the problem, we were able to use leverage to lift the UTV.

Problem: High centered/flat tire

Solution: Side Lift

Manpower: 1 person

Gear:

  • 1-inch nylon flat webbing (8 feet)
  • 1-inch tubular nylon
  • 3/8-inch static rope. Rated 20kn strength (4480 lbs)
  • 6mm Prusiks (3)
  • Tri-link
  • Carabiners (3)
  • Double pulley
  • Single pulley (2)

Knots:

Girth hitch

Water knot

Double figure eight

Prusik

Step 1 (Find your UTV attachment point): Using a girth hitch, attach the nylon flat webbing to the roll over protection system, or ROPS, bar. **Based on leverage, there are bad, good and better attachment places. If possible, attach to opposite side of your anchor point as high as possible**

Step 2 (Create your anchor point): Attach tubular nylon to your anchor point using a water knot.

Step 3 (Connect rope to anchor point): Tie a double figure-eight knot in the static rope and connect to the anchor point with carabiner or tri-link.

Step 4 (Connect rope to attachment point): Using a carabiner, connect a single pulley to the attachment point and route the rope through. This provides an initial 2 to 1 mechanical advantage.

Step 5 (Attach prusik): Attach 6mm prusik to the static line load leg to keep the rope from running back through the pulley system. This captures the progress made when the system is tensioned and prevents the UTV from falling back onto the obstacle.

 

Step 6: Add additional mechanical advantage.

Step 6a: Attach a prusik to the anchor point. Attach a double pulley to the prusik with a carabiner. Thread the static line through the double pulley.

Step 6b: Add a 6mm prusik as a connection point to the first line coming out of the single pulley. Using a carabiner, connect another single pulley to this prusik and route the rope through to the double pulley at the anchor point.

Step 7: Pull UTV up.

Step 8: If high centered, create a rock bridge; if you have a flat tire, change the tire.

Step 9: Lower UTV: Pull tension enough to release the progress capture prusik by sliding toward the pulley near the connection point.

Vehicle Recovery Dilemma #3: High Centered/Impassable Obstacle

Finally, we learned what to do if we were high centered and had an impassable obstacle in our way. With nowhere to go forward, and no way to reverse, we had to lift the UTV up enough to get off centered. Then using the tension from the ropes to assist, reverse the tethered UTV on two tires. Again, using an anchor point opposite to the problem side allowed us to use leverage in lifting the vehicle. Proper safety equipment is instrumental in maintaining protection in this scenario.

Problem: High Centered with impassable obstacle in front

Solution: Rope-assisted reverse

Manpower: 1 person

Gear:

  • 1-inch nylon flat webbing (8 feet)
  • 1-inch tubular nylon
  • ½, 12.5 mm static rope. Rated 40 kn (8960 lbs)
  • 8mm Prusik (3)
  • Carabiner (4)
  • Single pulley (2)
  • Double pulley (1)

Knots:

  • Girth hitch
  • Water knot
  • Double figure eight
  • Prusik

Step 1 (Find your UTV attachment point): Using a girth hitch, attach the nylon flat webbing to the ROPS bar. **Based on leverage, there are bad, good and better attachment places. If possible, attach to opposite side of your anchor point as high as possible**

Step 2 (Create your anchor point): Attach tubular nylon to your anchor point using a water knot.
Step 3 (Connect rope to anchor point): Tie a double figure-eight knot in the static rope and connect to the anchor point with carabiner.

Step 4 (Connect rope to attachment point): Connect a single pulley to the attachment point with a carabiner. Route the rope through the pulley.
Step 5 (Set up your Prusik): Attach an 8mm prusik to the static line load leg and the attachment point via the carabiner. This will capture the progress made when pulling on the system.

Step 6 (Add more mechanical advantage): Attach a double pulley to your anchor point using a carabiner. Route the line back to the anchor point.

Step 7: Using an 8mm prusik, connect back to the first line out of the single pulley on the UTV side. Add another single pulley and route the line through the new pulley and back to the double pulley at the anchor.

Step 8: Lift UTV off high center.

Step 9: Utilizing the tension from the ropes, reverse and maneuver UTV away from obstacle.

Step 10 (Lower UTV): Pull tension enough to release the progress capture prusik by sliding toward connection point; lower the UTV.

Conclusion

Preparation is paramount when enjoying off-road adventures. Water, food, extra fuel, and basic recovery gear are essential to every trip. While the first three are straightforward, self-explanatory items, recovery gear is an often-debated topic. What is recommended and what is necessary? How does one balance essential gear and available space? While ropes and pulleys may not be for everyone, they’re a multi-use, space-, and weight-saving option for those concerned with the accumulation of off-road equipment. After all, most vehicle recovery gear was intended for trucks, Jeeps, or SUVs, not UTVs.

Presson recommends practicing the above vehicle recovery systems a few times before you take your vehicle on the trail. He notes most riders have never practiced recovering their vehicles, have never tested their gear, and have never learned their limitations as lone riders. For many, the attraction of off-road riding is the freedom from cell signal, demanding bosses, and daily life stressors. Yet, being stuck in the mountains without a working phone can lead to dangerous consequences. The simple act of practicing the above or any recovery operation can mean the difference between getting yourself out of a bad situation, and having friends and family call on organizations like North 40 Rescue to save you.

Source:
North 40 Rescue > north40rescue.com


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