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WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
Recovery Equipment

Do any of the members here use or carry any type of recovery equipment in their hunting vehicle?  While replacing an older and deteriorating recover strap that I keep in my vehicle, a thought occured to me. On all the vehicles I've ever owned I always keep a 30 foot recovery strap rated for 15 tons in the truck and always have a solid forged steel Warn Reciever Shackle Bracket and 3/4" thick recovery D shackle rated for 4 3/4 tons pinned into my Class IV tow hitches.  This equipment has come in very handy a dozen or so times over the last two decades, especially when in the backcountry and I would never think of going very far without this gear.  

I went all over the net reading on other 4x4 and off-roading forums about winching, shackles, and recovery straps, and other equipment to get an idea of what seasoned off-roaders and 4 wheeling folks use.  Turns out most of their stuff is the same as what I have.  What I don't get is why there seems to be way too much emphisis placed on the strongest rated gear and very little thought, if any, given to the weakest link?? I've pulled out plenty of stuck vehicles in my time, as well as moved a couple large fallen trees off of isolated mountain roads.  But I concluded that if I ever needed to rescue or pull-out any stuck vehicle heavier than say 9000 lbs or move a large trunk tree heavier than that I'm not likely going to be able to do it with the truck I have, despite my Class IV hitch rating of 5 1/4 tons, the 15 ton strap rating, and the 4 3/4 ton shackle rating, my current vehicle is only rated to tow freewheel just under 10,000 lbs.  Couple that with the fact that the weakest link looks to be the hitch pin itself which is designed to pull max load on freewheels. Yet I can't find any information from anyone (even the manufacturers) as to the shear strength or pull weight rating of those 5/8" hitch pins.  Sounds like all those off-road guys on the other forums have never really given it that much thought either, all they seem to care about is the toughest hardware in their arsenal, having recovery equipment with upto 50,000 lbs of capability in some vehicles that can barely even pull a quarter of that, much less that weight being stuck in a ditch or mud. It goes without saying that your gear is only as good or as strong as it's weakest link.  I think that can be said for most equipment out there.

Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4433
If you have a machine shop in

If you have a machine shop in your area you should be able to take them one of those 5/8" hitch pins and have them put in in a press and find out the shear point.  But when you look at it in the way that it is used on the hitch it will take a lot more than you think.  It was a lot like when I read up on winches set up into a receiver hitch where the hitch wasn't rated for as much as the winch was.  It basically came down to what type of application you were using it for a winch vrs towing.  As far as what I use to use I always made sure that when ever I connected to something that what ever I connected to would sustain the weight of what I was going to do with it.  I guess that a lot of my experience came from working on a telephone line crew where we were working around winches, cables, pulleys, and all sorts of other things designed to pull a lot of weight and not break, and if you had to use it beyond it capabilities then you had to know how to do it right without breaking the equipment. 

WesternHunter's picture
Joined: 05/05/2006
Posts: 2374
Good Point

You make a great point Critter.  I got a reply from Warn Industries and they stated that the working load limit of their 5/8" hitch pins for towing is 9,500 lbs, but the test break strength is actually 50,000 lbs.  That's roughly equal to the break strength of the thicker (3/4" thick) shackle used to attach the recovery strap to.  Personally I have a hard time believing that a thinner hitch pin has the same break strength as a thicker shackle, but in any case I'm sure the break strength of that pin is still much more than I'll really ever have to worry about.  When we're talking most passenger trucks, SUVs, and cars, those max gross weights are going to be under 8000 lbs.  I think the hitch pin I'm currently using in my truck is made by Curt Mfg, so I'm still waiting for a reply from them. 

I've never had to use my equipment on anything heavier than the tow capacity of my vehicles, in fact well inside that limit, but the thought did occure to me about the limits of this gear and the idea that I'd rather have the strap itself be the weakest link in the whole rig setup. I don't do any 4 wheeling much anymore, not in a long time.  In fact I don't even have a proper vehicle anymore that's well suited for true 4 wheeling in the mountains.  I do take my 4x4 trucks off-road and on dirt roads that should be considered off-road, but within reason, just to get me closer to remote hunting and fishing spots, but nothing too extream. I just like having that gear with me because I've had to use it quite a few times to help out someone in the back country.

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