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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 3:48 pm    Post subject: 34 TOWING TIPS FOR OFF-ROAD Reply with quote

Towing Off-Road..
Many have commented that they appreciated the Towing Tips for Newbies, but would like one for Off-Road as well. So by request, here it is. Mind you, it could be nearly endless, but here are a few: First of all, do the exercise of reading the "On Road Towing Tips" as much of that relates to off-road as well. These are some specific off road parts from experience, with examples of the kind of "poo" you can really get into, and how not to get into that situation in the first place. There are extreme Off-road Tips already on this Forum, and others, this is just a few for towing related problems.

1) "Walk it" : When in doubt, you need to get out of your truck and walk ahead. I know that is inconvenient at times, but not doing it can have some serious consequences. In my Tip on Feb 25, 05 "Tall Tale from the Lone Ranger" on the Hi-lift Jack value, I told you about an occasion on driving on a hard crust over quicksand up north, only to find an hour later in the middle of the recovery, that I was well below the high tide mark !! Now for those of you that have read that I will not bore you by repeating the story. But here is another: On the back side of Gregory Downs, is a destination called "Lawn Hill¯ Gorge". Through it and pushing on is the headwaters of the Gregory River, and there is a dirt track out of the "Riversleigh" there that follows the Gregory downstream. About 50 km down that track, well out of the range of most touring, we followed a cattle track down from the road to the Gregory for the night. We went through the normal steep banks of a river that floods, through these "flood channels" down on to the Gregory itself. This was a magic spot, one of those you dream about, a peninsula of gravel bar out that the river went around on three sides, and had bits of firewood branches here and there. Perfect. I drove down on it and turned around, but there was water running under the gravel and it was like greased pebbles and I hesitated as soon as I started the U turn: Down I went all the way to the axles!! You need to walk a suspicious or different bit ahead, feel the ground, as it is a lot better than the hours of recovery!!

2) "Walk it in reverse"¯: You KNOW there is nothing back there but tall grass. But it is disheartening to hit a 700mm high round boulder, crushing your steps, and having to pull them out in reverse with the winch and hammer them into shape (Yea, done that too! A dubious record..).. When in doubt, have a look, even when reversing, get out and at least have a look. Walk it before you back up in the tall grass.

3) "Sound the ground": Another time I was looking for an overgrown track to the "Lost City" of caves on a Station out west. I came to a low spot in a valley between limestone cliffs on sand, and the surface was dry, but wheel ruts were wet and there had obviously been rain. The thing to do was get out and jump on the ground a bit, to sort of sound it out for solidness.. I would have discovered it was a bit mushy like, sort of soggy. That would have told me there was water running under the sand at that low spot, quicksand of sorts with a dry crust on top. So did I? Nope, not me, I drove out on it with a tonne of diesel fuel in a trailer, and buried her all the way to the running boards, didn't I Cool You do stupid things, tired, and in too big of a hurry. Lessons learned hard in the Bush. More of my misspent youth Laughing So, sound the ground when in doubt..!!

4) "Get wet"¯: I dropped a LandRover over the steep edge, and had water running over the bonnet in about 1976, because I did not want to get wet and walk out in the water to sound the depth first. The wait for help was not pleasant, and you really feel dumb too Embarassed . Just watch for Crocs up north. But udder dan dat, walk it and get wet.

5) "Greasy driving": On the black soil country, when it has rained for over an hour or two, it starts to get greasy. You can still often make it out if you don't wait too long, specially if you have diff-locks or L.S. Diffs. It varies in the terrain, and the amount of rain, but from my experience the black soil on the dirt track gets less than an inch an hour in water penetration turning it to black grease. So for the first few hours you are alright, and not cutting up the track, just very slippery. After eight hours or overnight, you had better just stay put for a few days and let it dry out, as even if you did get out you would be doing the wrong thing cutting up the road.. But in the first bit, or a light rain, you just have a fish-tailing greasy driving problem. Often you will get up to a certain speed like say 40kph, and it will start fishtailing around, and you will have to slow back down to say 20kph until that fishtailing stops. Alternately you can turn up your brake controller "Gain", so when you just start down on the pedal, the brakes come on the trailer first, and pulls back on the tow vehicle without the tow vehicle brakes coming on at all.. What this does, is immediately cure any fishtailing action, by just applying the brakes in the van alone to pull it back dead in line behind you, to stop any fishtailing. Understand? The top part of your pedal puts on the caravan brakes first, (with the "Gain" turned up), without putting on the tow vehicle brakes at all.

6) "Jack knife": The same sort of a problem can occur on a curve. The van could break loose on traction in the mud, and start to slide off the road pulling you off with it!! IMPORTANT: This could happen in mud, but also ice, snow, even gravel. If you are in slick conditions and in a curve and the caravan starts to break loose and come around.. TO PUT ON THE VEHICLE BRAKES CAN MEAN THE WORST CONDITION AND THAT IS THE TRAILER JACK-KNIFES UP ALONGSIDE. This is a real issue in slick conditions, and another reason to reach down and turn up the gain on your brake controller, so the brakes on the caravan come on first, pulling it back in line with the tow vehicle; so that if you continue down the pedal to brake the vehicle the van is already dead behind you and pulling you up as the vehicle brakes come on. If you do not clearly understand this one, Email me and I will send you more elaboration!!! It is very important Exclamation

7) "Nut Cracker": Watch how close to right angles, you back the van in a tight spot. You can crush your power mover jockey wheel, or hit other equipment if you push it over too far with some vehicles. Be careful as you pinch it up onto the rear of the tow vehicle, to see what can bind up in the jaws of the nut cracker..

8 ) "Watch the traffic behind": Don't make them angry, that forces them to pass you in frustration when it is not really safe. Pull over, be courteous, let them get by you.. On dirt tracks some Locals will be travelling at a higher speed than you, they being in familiar ground, where you are in a strange place with a van on the back and going noticeably slower. Pull over and let them by, make a good name for Caravaners instead of a bad one. And it is safety as well, as they might pass when it was not so safe, just out of frustration..

9) "Elephants everywhere": Cattle are a major reason to slow down. When you are approaching a mob, figure on a 1000kg bullock just in that thicket that is going to panic and run out in front of you to get back to the herd as you approach. It will happen. They will jump out in front of you, and when they do they are as big as an elephant! Just like in Africa, you slow down in the herd as you do not know when one will panic and try to get back to the Mob as you approach. Cattle are no different, and hitting a big bullock is about the same as an elephant in disaster! Mind you Camels are real big too, and even the out west big Red Roos are too big to hit!! I have seen some stand about 6' tall.. Keep in mind that the "Herd Animals" need the herd for security, and will bolt across the road at your approach to get back home. The dangerous bit is the same here as in Africa, the dangerous spot seems to be as you approach the herd, and the one in the thicket panics and bolts out in front of you to get back to safety. OK?

10) "Right of way to Road Trains": Tonnage, major tonnage, in a hurry, earning a living, frustrated with "Bloody Tourists", it does not matter who has the "right of way". Again it is like Elephants in Africa. Don't argue. Stay clear and let them by. Pull over and let them pass, pull over on head to head and let them through! Don't Argue!!

11) "Grates": Watch out, some cattle grates are quite steep on one side or the other, and the same goes for jump ups and dips cut in the road for drainage. Go slow enough to see and react, particularly in bad weather.

12) "Throw out the schedule": No you don't have to get there tonight. Don't push it, remember to slow down and smell the roses, because that is what you are doing this for in the first place, right? Remember? There is an old adage about stopping a putting a cup of tea on when you hit a problem. Not so silly. A lot of times you can save yourself a lot of grief if you sit down and think about how to tackle the problem for a while. The main thing is just to slow down and enjoy the process, and get away from the City Lifestyle of being too Goal Oriented.

13) "Spares": This topic has been gone through pretty well in other places, but shovel, jack, winch is nice, tyre repair kits, spare belts, hoses, basics for the donkey. I could go on but this is covering old ground, and the list is as extensive as your pocketbook or carrying capacity is.

14) "Snatch blocks and shackles.."¯ Get an education before using these! Basically a snatch block breaking loose off a tree is like a great 8 tonne slingshot going off and will cut anything in half it hits, or the cable slices, if there is a strain on the winch. The same for shackles, like on snatch straps. If they break they can go clear through a truck with the elastic tension off the snatch strap under massive loading. Join a local 4x4 club to learn the safe use of recovery gear, as I would have to write a book here on this to explain it without the use of pictures and such. You know "a picture is worth a thousand words". Do your homework, so you take the potential tragedy out of travel. Also learn the 4x4 basics from your local Club about things like padding a winch point on a tree with a padded sling or something so you don't ring-bark the tree and kill it! No I am not a Greenie, this is just good Bush Sense. And the right thing to do.

15) "Tell Someone Responsible": If you are going wwwaaaay out back of beyond, make sure someone knows when you should be coming back out of the Bush, and which way you went. If you are broken down, stay with the vehicle. Almost all recent deaths are because they found the vehicle but the people had tried to walk out in the heat. Yes radios and sat phones and such are nice, but, make sure someone reliable know where you went and when you are coming out of a big desert or real rough run somewhere remote.

16) "Medical kit": Again covered elsewhere, but a necessity. Mine is very extensive. You can always get cookbook coaching over the radio, if you have the gear to make a difference, and a Senior First Aid Certificate is not a waste to have.

17) "Spin the wheels": As a rule, once you completely break traction, sitting there "pouring on the coal" on spinning the wheels going nowhere, only gets you deeper into the poo. Stop, have a cup of tea, look at the situation, slow down and think. Oh yea! I forgot to put it in 4x4, or Oh yea! I get to try the diff locks.. Or try backing up a little and get a run into it a bit to get through. Sometimes it is a little forward and reverse "rocking" to get out of it. But in general, breaking traction and spinning the wheels is just counter productive.

18 ) "Leave off the diff-locks going in": Keep something in reserve in bad muck Cool . You can usually get out with the addition of one little thing like Diff-Locks. Or letting the tyre pressure down for a larger footprint and traction. And you can always get out in reverse. The exception to the rule would be like one time when I was on the back track out of William Creek to Coober Pedy. There were a few 20 to 40 Metre Bogs at that time. When you can see the end, and need to get through, then give it all you've got, Diff "Locks and all". And with a manual, know what gear to use, as in maybe third gear low range on some vehicles, or second gear in high range on others. Get the power and momentum going and stick with it, have the right gear selected going in and do not try to change gears if you can avoid it. A speedy power shift is great, but a blown shift is loss of forward momentum and can mean BOGGED AGAIN!

19) "Worst case":¯ And mind you I have only had to do it once, but you can always un-hook and drag it out by the tow hooks in the rear of the van. I have usually only used those tow hooks to pull out other people. The Jockey wheel could get damaged, so use some discretion here. If the wheel is down, in mud you may be able to crank it down and slide it. Or you can put the gears in the right direction and have someone steer it with the handle walking behind. BE CAREFUL, but as long as you are clear of it and not down hill from it, and not under it, you should be alright with this manoeuvre. But again, I have done it, and successfully steered the van by hand with the jockey wheel while being pulled out in reverse.

20) "Think about the Winch": If you are going to push the limits, going into a BOG, think about your bail out plan. Where would you hook the winch to pull you through??? Remember, "discretion is the better part of valour". Have a back up plan. Once in Nicaragua, at the bottom of a crater at the end of a good cattle truck dirt track I wondered about getting to the lake in the centre. I had the good sense to walk out to the waters edge on the 100 Metres of clearing. As I walked out, the ground seemed to feel a bit funny. About half way to the water, I stopped and jumped up and down, only to see to my HORROR, that the whole ground moved like jelly for 20 Metres!!! Never seen it that bad anywhere else in the world!!. There was a good hard crust, but underneath it must have been a water logged colloidal jelly like clay. If a vehicle broke through the crust is would have gone down to the running boards with nothing to winch to, and nothing to jack on. If you are in doubt, look to see what would bail you out before you get in too deep. You will get enough adventures anyway, without getting yourself into the really stupid ones.

21) "Pick a good spot to have an Audience": On the way back from the Nationals, National Reining Horse Championships in Sydney just the middle of July, I did not want to park 19 metres of truck on a narrow neighbourhood with dog and horses on board at 7 AM on Sunday Morning while I went to Maccas. So there was an empty field next to the McDonalds, and to be a nice guy and not park my impatient horses and dog wanting out, I pulled out on it. I Did not follow my own rules about walking it or anything did I ?? Little did I know but what it was a re-claimed swamp, with dredge fill, after six weeks of rain, with a nice coat of grass over it!!! Well, the Circus that ensued had the whole neighbourhood out to watch. Ha! Nothing like the Experienced looking silly, Too Embarrassing Exclamation Anyways, before you have the entire mob watching you try and manoeuvre your van in tight spots in your arrival at a remote camp, spend a few sessions and some time in an empty Shopping centre parking lot until you are good and confident at putting your van in and out of tight spots. Saves the red faces later. Know how to do the basics of nice neat backing into spots and three point turns and backing and filling and jacking over tight, before you have the whole camp watching you under red faced pressure. OK?

22) "Cutting Corners": Keep in mind that there can be something in that bush you are cutting the corner on. Once in the N.T. I cut a corner and heard this shrill buzz and all of a sudden the van weighed about 20 tonne. There was an old abandoned well casing in the bush, that someone had welded a gate hinge to. It cut the corners off the alloy body armour checker plate and cut a groove about 1½ Metres long. Never mind it would have ripped the whole side out of a normal van and the body armour saved the day, it still is not pleasant to put "Battle Scars" on your van. Keep in mind you cut corners, and there might be something in that bush.

23) "To Tired to Think Straight": Most of the silly things happen when your judgement is impaired by being tired. Realize that, and think about it twice when in that state. Do not take the chances, it is not worth it. Reconsider, and second guess yourself, when in a tired state and forced to make a judgement call or decision.

24) "Watch the High Centre": Keep in mind the maximum distance to your tail shafts (drivelines) when venturing over logs and drop offs. In one 4x4 Club there was a notorious hill with large holes and humps, called "Tail Shaft Hill". Look at your vehicle for high centre weaknesses. And on my Ford, I looked at and protected the Transfer Case with an added leaf spring cage to keep from high centre damage on a rock or log as I climbed over..

25) "Know Your Horse": It pays if you are handy, to know the abilities of your tow vehicle. For instance, can you lock up the transfer case, and drop one tail shaft to run out on the other differential, in case of damage? Can it be modified to do that? These simple types of little modifications could save a huge recovery bill in the right circumstances. Get to know what you can and cannot do with your horse.

26) "Snorke": Some of these things are not just a style or fad. A petrol engine can survive a water drenching with a proper dry out. But take a slug of water in the intake of a high compression diesel and you have killed the engine. And you do not want to plunge into a metre deep creek crossing without cooling the engine down first. Water splashed all over a hot engine can cause serious problems to the engine. Cool it down first, check the depth, close the water tight door on the van, and then proceed on that deep water crossing. A metre deep of water is not a problem. Just not a high current like on a Weir or fast running creek, as the reduced weight on the wheels with you partially floating can mean you get swept in.. OK? Anyway, the fan can pick up water at only about 400mm deep on some vehicles, and you do not want to blow that water all over a hot engine. It can be done even with a petrol, if you plastic bag seal the distributor, or have a treated plug wire system, or disconnect the fan belt for a short run, it is just more difficult with petrol. But don't let the "easy" of the diesel run you into trouble with a hot engine and cold water. Big No-No! For instance it can immediately seize up a hot injection pump and shear a shaft Shocked Cool, no problem..

27) "Gum Tree Blues": I am hesitant to park under big overhanging limbs of Gum trees. I have had two branches last year fall on trailers out at my horses. They are heavy, and seem to drop branches without notice, particularly during a drought or storm. In the drought it might even be a survival mechanism, but it can sure be a problem if you are under them with your Bushtracker!! I for one will always park out in the sun, for solar input, but also a saved spot for me under a big overhanging gum tree branch, will stay vacant. A few of the species of Gum trees are notorious droppers of limbs, Cabbage Gums, Blue Gums, etc. I don't trust any.

28 ) "Steep Driving": As mentioned in a previous bit about getting through a BOG, you need to know what gear is best in your own personal 4x4. You need one strong enough not to run out of torque on the really steep bits, but not too strong as to be slow so you don't have "Power-on traction". You need to have the strongest gear selected before your run up. Almost all disasters come from having the wrong gear selected, running out of steam, and having to try and power shift on the fly.. Good if you can do it, but a disaster in the making if you blow the shift, lose you forward momentum, and having to back down to start again. It is all too easy to blow it on a slippery steep back down process. You want to know your vehicle and be in the right gear. It is not such a problem with Automatics, just get into low range and she will power shift for you.. But with Manual Transmissions the selection of the right gear is all-important. It is usually 2nd gear in High Range, or 3rd Gear in Low Range, but you need to know what works for you and your van. Backing down with a van on the back is very rough.

29) "Where the Rubber hits the Road": There are three things to remember in off-road work, tyres, tyres, and tyres. Three hundred kms up the Bulldust track on the west side of the Cape near the beginning of the rainy season??? You had better have some lug type tyres, with cavities that carry enough weight of mud that they will spin the chunks of mud free with the centrifugal force of each rotation and bite again. Mud Terrain. If you have street tyres, or milder type of All Terrain, close to the wet season, maybe consider not pushing your luck. That is the sort of thinking you need. Want to run up the riverbank from Roper River Bar, chasing Barra? Not in street tyres. And rate your tyres on Side Wall strength, as that is where you are vulnerable. Trucks cut deep ruts, and when they dry like concrete there are often sharp rocks hanging out as you fall into the dried ruts. That and dry hardwood staking are the "tyre eaters"..

30) "Shoot the Goat": Australian Strine for "Shut the gate" Laughing Leave all gates as you find them, leave no trash, watch fires carefully, possibly none in drought areas or fire danger, bury any business, all the proper campground etiquette you already know, so others in the future will be welcome too ! In short, leave the area behind caring for it as if you owned it, and you will be welcomed back on your return.

31) "Too Tall Jones": Watch you overhead clearance. I in my Career, have done the big stupid a few times. Once at a Vehicle Registry in about 1994, I hit the low part of the overhanging roof with my Electrolux air unit and luckily just cracked the outer fibreglass housing. But I have found that you are particularly vulnerable when backing into somewhere. You are so busy looking at your clearances, many fail to look up a that big hanging branch. I tore loose a solar panel once with that exercise.

32) "Tyre Pressure": I cannot tell you what to run. It is a matter of what tyres? And what size of van? And what size of tyre? And what load? And what corrugation? And how deep the corrugation? And what speed? And then on a Gazetted road, the tyre pressure too low might be technically illegal. All I can tell you, is that on my last van on the severe corrugation off road, low was about 25psi hot and about 20 psi cold. But that may not work for you.. You have to judge the bag in your tyres in relation to your load and the road conditions. You are only too low, if the wheel starts to hit into the bag of the sidewall on a severe rut edge, and you are a little more prone to risk of punctures on the sidewall, but you have to weigh this cost against the damage to the van and contents of higher tyre pressures. This you are going to have to judge for yourself, but it is still the most important thing besides speed to cushion the van with lowered tyre pressure. Too high a pressure, and you will shake the van and contents to hard. That is the cause of much damage to appliances, and why one person will have it happen and others not. Usually too fast, or too high of tyre pressure, or both. And then of course the Driver is usually in denial, and it is all Bushtrackers fault. Ha! Anyway, this is an important feature and an "important learning curve" for you, to treat the vans right off-road.

33) "Dusty": There are two important Culprits, the rear window and the Four Seasons hatch. Someone just Ordered a van and said "Can we get extra care not to have the rear window rubber seal over the screws like we saw on our Friends Bushtracker that leaked bulldust? I explained that "It did not leave here that way". I showed them that what happened is that the top hinge had filled with dust, and when it would not crank closed, someone has gone outside to "help" close it.. This stretches the hinge, and drops the hopper down lower, ruins the window, and it will never seal properly again. There are many solutions, from air foil dust blowers on the roof, to cleaning of the hinge, to duct tape over the hinge to keep the dust out, many choices in the Bulldust; but if you force the window closed with dust in the hinge it will never be dust proof again. Another factor is that of late, people have been taking more "Expeditions" with other Bushtrackers in Convoy. For instance two 21' Bustrackers and one 20' Bushtracker just went on an expedition to the Cape. When in convoy, you hold back to the edge but you still have dust hanging in the air. We build the vans with the Four Seasons Hatch as far forward as possible to keep it out of the dust line, as it has to be a none sealing double skinned gas venting hatch by law. But if you are following just on the edge of bull dust in the air in Convoy, you may want to cut a piece of foam to fit the opening to seal it up just for that trip. I have also closed my watertight outer door over the gas vent in the door, and pushed in a strip of foam on the top to keep out the bulldust. We build the most dust proof van in Australia, but these are the three exceptions that can still cause problems in the right or wrong circumstances.

34) "Speed": What is the hurry? Slow down on the corrugation. If you are marking up the contents in drawers and fridge, if you travel too fast, you will start to break things. Too hard of travel breaks shelves in fridge doors, hinges on cabinets, things like that. Tyre pressure is important, but also speed. One person in a Convoy was always a half hour behind. The others always had to wait up for them. They both arrived at the same time, but the one that ran ahead had breakages, where the one that travelled slower did not. What is the rush? Again do not be goal oriented so much. Some of the greatest discoveries were when I least expected them, and had time to poke along and have a good look around, not just getting to the pre-planned place.

Kind regards from the Ranger, still up on the ridges looking afta ya!
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Grumblebum and the Dragon

Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Posts: 605
Location: On the road
State:: Qld/NSW
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And if all else fails when really seriously bogged get a team of oxen - 16 roped together with rawhide works brilliantly well.

Happened to us once in Botswana in northern Kalahari on a flood plain. No sticks or stones and too soft to jack once the vehicle had broken through the crust. The vehicle was basically floating on its floor pan.

After 24 hours two of us waded and walked to small village of half a dozen huts, my Swana speaking mate convinced the headman to get a team of his oxen together and walk them 15 kms back to the vehicle - this included swimming them across the now flooded Botetle river. Jean was quite glad to see us - sitting on the roof of the F150 - there had been lions calling not far away.

The headman goaded his oxen to put their shoulders down and PULL. Huge sucking and gurgling souds and the effie quietly rolled out onto firm ground.

Their is only one problem here in Oz... first catch your oxen Exclamation

Cheers John
Sometimes I wake up Grumpy
Other times I let her sleep in!!

Grumpy? Whose's grumpy - not the Dragon!!
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Posts: 49
Location: Sandgate
State:: Qld
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 7:24 pm    Post subject: Traction control systems Reply with quote

I've put two posts on the forum regarding the Jeep Commander as a tow vehicle. Overall I'm very happy with it. However, I want to share one disconcerting experience regarding the Jeep and its traction control system, as I suspect that many of the new 4WDs are coming out with these new-fangled systems, and there are some pitfalls and potentially serious hazards if you don't fully understand how they work. I've been driving 4WDs since 1976 when I got an open off-road licence for 4WDs and the largest rigid body off-road trucks the Army had at that time, while I was in the Army Reserve. However, those days off-road vehicles and trucks were mechanically simple (if frequently unreliable) with carburettors and crash gearboxes. Almost no instruments and no computers. They didn't even have power steering.
My first 4WD excursion with the Jeep was to Fraser Island. I promptly got bogged in some relatively deep sand, but nothing that would have worried me previously in Land Cruisers or Patrols, and this is despite the Jeep's constant 4WD and fully locking electronic diffs front, rear and centre. The Jeep got into the sand and the engine just seemed to die. Afterwards I went and read the owner's manual (yes, it's a boy thing). It clearly states that the Electronic Stability Program (which includes the traction control system (TCS)) has three settings: fully on, partially off, and fully off, and that in deep snow, sand, gravel or mud the Electronic Stability Program should be turned to at least the partially off setting. I had to read the book several times to figure out why (badly explained). However, with the ESP fully operational, the Jeep's wheel sensors detect wheel slip within 1/8th of a wheel revolution. The computer responds by applying the brake to that wheel, and with its three electronic diffs, applies more power to the wheel /s that still have traction. It also reduces engine power (if necessary) to eliminate wheel spin. This sounds fine and dandy. Who can argue with putting more engine power to the wheel/s that have traction?
However, in deep snow, sand, mud etc, some wheel spin is essential to get going or to stay moving. This was the problem on Fraser Island the ESP wasn't at least partially disengaged. One wheel started to spin; engine power was transferred to other wheels...they also start to spin...engine power is reduced and, hey presto, there's no more wheel spin but also no engine power and no forward motion!
Apart from embarrassment, this didn't cause any real problems on Fraser Island. This wasn't the fault of the vehice, it was fully operator error!
However, when going into Blencoe falls recently from the West (the Herbert River side) and towing our new BT, the failure to put the ESP into at least partially off mode, created a potentially dangerous situation.
I was pulling the van up a steep, fairly slippery (it had started raining) and windy hill. It was going fine and felt sure-footed and safe, and would have continued to go fine and safe unless the engine management system intervenedā€”which it decided to do. About half-way up the hill, in the space of 2 to 3 seconds, I heard one wheel start to spin (only for the smallest fraction of a second, then it stopped spinning) and then the engine just closed down over the next couple of seconds, even though I put the foot flat to the floor. As soon as the power loss started to happen, I realised what was going on, but with so many wretched buttons on the dash, by the time I found the ESP button, I was stationary holding the vehicle on the service brake.
So here I was on a steep greasy hill dragging a 3.5 tonne 'condominium on wheels' with no forward momentum. There was no practical chance of reversing down the hill around the various bends on this surface.
I turned the ESP to partial off, and fortunately, with some wheel spin and a small amount of fish-trailing (and a few quick prayers), the Jeep and van started climbing back up the hill. Needless to say, I left the ESP in the partial off mode until we got completely out of any chance of wheel spin.
It now seems to me that the TCS is designed for high speed driving where one wheel temporarily loses traction due to (say) some loose gravel or perhaps water or oil, or when off-road and climbing over rocks where one wheel might be lifted into the air on each axle but the other wheels are solid on the ground...it should be turned off for slippery conditions where some wheel spin is essential.
In case you're wondering what the "fully off" mode is for ESP. As I understand it, this also turns off the Electronic Roll Mitigation functions and also the Stability Control functions that automatically correct oversteer and understeer. The Jeep automatically turns all these functions off when in low range 4WD, but they can also be turned off manually in high range 4WD.
So if your "Next G" late model 4WD has all these fancy systems, I suggest you read the owner's manual thoroughly and then get a good grounding in how these systems work for your vehicle and what it may mean for you when towing a van!
If you come to a fork in the road, take it
The BrakeAways

VKS-737 0959 (Selcall 0959)
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Grumblebum and the Dragon

Joined: 22 Jul 2007
Posts: 605
Location: On the road
State:: Qld/NSW
Current Bushtracker owner:: Yes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An alternative to "Walking it first" is to get the Dragon to walk it Very Happy This happened at the Carson River crossing enroute to the coast north of kalumburu.

I pulled up and Jean hopped out and walked in (if it reaches her nickers then I walk it!!) Just then another vehicles pulls up and the UHF (on scan) sounds off - no doubt talking to a mate who was following "Gee - look at this bloke - he makes his wife walk the creek while he sits in the dry!

I flicked onto his channel an replied along the lines of 'This is what 40 years of training can achieve' Laughing

There is some advantage in having the partner walk in (say's he trying to justify it) They can guide you around any hidden nasties.
Sometimes I wake up Grumpy
Other times I let her sleep in!!

Grumpy? Whose's grumpy - not the Dragon!!
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