With the ultra dangerous part of the rescue over, the part where Matthew and I risked life and limb just to save the day. Ok I am embellishing that just a little bit because if you’ll remember getting the snake out was a bit of an anticlimax, when the scared little bugger slithered out, kept away from us and went looking for shelter without a qualm. But hey I thought if I built it up those who didn’t read the last episode might feel guilty and back track!
So with the snake gone we were back to the easy part of the rescue, but easy didn’t mean we could let our defences down and run on auto pilot, we still had an important job to do and it had to be done without mistake. That job was getting Alex’s four wheel drive onto the back of the Beast so we could tow her back to Halls Creek.
Now even with the flat tyre getting the four wheel drive up on the Beast’s back is a pretty easy task, all I have to do is tilt the tray, and winch it up. It’s the sort of job that can easily be done by one person. In fact that whole rescue could be, but many hands might light work as they say.
Once the vehicle is on the tray it’s really just a matter of untilting the tray. Is that a word? I tilt the tray to get it on an angle and make it a ramp, do I untilt it to get it horizontal again? I don’t know, but hey, I’m gonna run with it because, well because it’s my story!
So once the tray is untilted I’ve got the towed vehicle up on the Beast’s back and relatively flat, after that comes the part where I can’t just turn off and be a robot because I need to secure the vehicle. It would be nice to just throw a few straps over the top like truckies do and tighten the hell out of them until they hold, but those straps are good for a few tonne each and a few tonne of pull across the roof of a modern vehicle would make them look like a sardine can and you might be surprised but people are less willing to pay me for remodelling their vehicles because I took the easy tie down options.
The secure, well less damaging way to do such a job is to tie down from the wheels and the axles. The bit that requires the brain to be turned on is that every vehicle is different, even two vehicles with the same manufacturers badges can be different because of the way some people modify their rides. In the old days (yes old days, you know like 2010 hahaha!) sorry I’ll rephrase. Thirty odd years ago things were a bit different when it came to securing a load, straps weren’t used it was dog chains and ropes. These days truckies utilise all three depending on their loads but straps are definitely an easier option if you can use them.
Unfortunately while I have straps for the Beast they don’t come in the handy for towing vehicles and I used the old fashion method of dog chaining the axles or cross members down and pulling them as tight as I can to slow down any bounce. I’ll never stop a vehicle from bouncing on its own springs on the back of the old girl but I do what I can to minimise it.
Depending on the vehicle I also have the option of the tyre straps that adjust to straddle the tyre and work like a big seat belt to several tie down points. The problem with those is that tyres come in such varied sizes and it’s not a one size fits all profession. So while I do use them they are never the main source of my secure loading.
Matthew knew how to load a vehicle on the Beast and once Alex’s Toyota was up we both set out chaining it down.
For those that aren’t familiar with a dog chain let me try and explain because in the trucking world they aren’t they things you put around a dogs neck. Dog’s in trucks don’t need chains! Maybe one day I should get a dog? Yeah maybe, but for now I have Matthew! Oops don’t tell him I said that.
Let me see, dog chains. I’m sure you know what sort of heavy duty chains a truck driver might use to hold big loads on, well they are the chains bit, the dog bit is the end where they can tighten the chain. It can be as simple as a length of chain, maybe about two foot long for all you oldies still using the ancient measuring system, and it has a large hook on each end. One end secures to the tie down point, or other such relatively solid point, the other to the chain. The dog is the handle in the middle, which these days can be a ratchet driven system to offer more leverage from a single pull. The idea is you use the dog as a lever to pull the loose end of the chain tighter, if you can’t get it tight enough in one snig you have another go, this is where the ratchet bit can come in handy. For big loads like bulldozers etc you might see the loader using a bar or a piece of pipe on the dog to give them more leverage and get that chain tighter, the longer the extension bar the tighter they pull a chain that to the naked eye doesn’t have much stretch in it. I don’t need to go that far but the principal is the same, I want that chain as tight as I can get it to slow down any movement of the towed vehicle, especially on some of the rough roads I travel and using the dog chain system I can get it tight
So that’s what we did. Chain, dog, rope, secure and we were ready to go. Three people, one four wheel drive Oka with a flat tray and one Toyota sitting on her back with a flat tyre and adding several feet to her overall height. I’d have to keep an eye on and lower hanging trees but otherwise we were set for the ride home.
Previous Outback Rescue story here.