Welcome to my new pages on recovery techniques. There is a lot to write about as the subject is huge, whether your interest is Greenlaning, Off-Road competitions or simply on-road towing.
Whenever you are attaching ropes with shackles for recovering or wire rope hooks for being winched, it is vitally important to make sure that you are securing to a proper recovery point fit for the job, using BZP (Bright Zinc Plated) 8.8 high tensile bolts.
I will always remember many years ago, during ice and snow, I passed a Reliant Scimitar that had slid off the road into the verge. I naturally stopped with our Range Rover and offered my help.
Out came my tow rope which I duly attached to the Range Rover’s tow ball. I asked the Reliant driver where he wished me to attach the rope to on his vehicle as there was no front recovery point. He said “It’s OK to secure the rope to ‘that tube’ under the spoiler”.
This I did and asked him to let his clutch out as I started to tow him back on to the road. The only trouble was as I started to pull forward, I ripped ‘that tube’ out from under his vehicle! After apologising I realised that this tube was part of the fibre glass body strengthening and nowhere near good enough to tow on. I eventually carefully recovered him by securing the rope to his axle, but the moral to the story is:-
Only use designated recovery points to secure to!
Is your chassis sound?
All recovery points must be soundly constructed, and fitted in such a way that they can’t spring apart or fly off if either a heavy, or Kinetic energy recovery rope is to be used. Such recoveries should be employing the use of a ‘bridle’ which requires recovery points attached to, or in line with each chassis leg. The use of a ‘bridle’ halves the load on each towing point.
This is very important, especially with an older Series vehicle or an early Range Rover. Over the years, mud, water and salt from either winter gritted roads or living in coastal areas slowly deteriorate a Land Rover chassis, usually at the front or back, just where you are going to tow from, or be towed!
Quite simply know your chassis intimately! Whether you are looking at a vehicle with a view to purchase, just bought one, or are a proud owner of one which has been in the family for years, take a good look at its chassis.
Wearing overalls, goggles and gloves,tap along the chassis with a small hammer from front to rear, working all around the sides and bottom of each chassis leg, crossmember and outrigger listening to the tone of the tapping. Check the top of the chassis too, where you can gain access.
You can tell the difference quite clearly between a ‘ring’ when tapping a good part of steel, and a dead ‘thud’ when the steel is well and truly rusted through! If you are suspicious, attack that part with an old screwdriver.
If you can poke the screwdriver through the chassis with a tap from the hammer, your investigations must continue in earnest!
Remember, nearly always, a chassis will rust from the inside to the outside because water gets trapped inside the box and hollow sections. All chassis can be easily repaired with professional skills using plating techniques and repair sections, so readily available from the advertisers in the various 4X4 magazines.
Waxoyled for the future
Whether your chassis is in first class order or just repaired. I strongly recommend that before applying Waxoyl treatment, you carry out the following preparation to give reliability (saving cost at each MOT time!), longevity (so many people buy a Land Rover product to last a lifetime!) and safety (so your chassis doesn’t collapse when you do a bit of serious off-roading or heavy towing!)
At most low points of your chassis or crossmembers you will find a small drain hole. In between these holes or each side of them drill further 10mm holes, say 400mm-450mm apart. Then enlarge the holes with a tapered enlarging bit to around to about 20mm-30mm diameter. Carefully file the swarf left by the drilling and wire brush the whole of the chassis. Be sure to wear goggles/face mask and use gloves.
I work on the basis that if water is going to get in and lie on the hollow section of the chassis along with the mud, then let it run out before it drys and stays in there for good!
Now power wash the chassis inside and out using these nice large holes to get the nozzle in, working from both directions. Having got all the crap out, let the vehicle stand for a week or two in a dry ventilated place to let it all dry out.
Give a final wire brush of the entire chassis, being careful of brake pipes, fuel pipes and cables, followed by a good brush down or use a airline blow gun.
Hand paint or spray the whole lot in ‘chassis black’ or smooth black Hammerite in however number of coats you wish.
After well hardened, give the Waxoyl can a good shake and apply/use the whole of that 5 litres on a warm day using a compressor and spray lance drawing straight from the can. You can direct the nozzle of the lance through all those nice large holes and from each direction several times to ensure a complete coverage of every nook and cranny throughout the inside of the whole of the entire chassis. Don’t be tempted to thin the Waxoyl, if too thick place the can in a bucket of hot water to thin it.
As you have gone this far, you will probably finish off the underside of the vehicle by applying 4-5 litres of Panel Guard for undersealing the floor pans and inside the wheel arches.
So now that you know you have a jolly good strong rust free chassis, you can set about fitting the various towing and recovery points.
Series Land Rovers – Front
Bumper ‘D’ Rings are the order of the day for the front. Always fit in pairs so you can use a bridle. They fit by using the chassis dumb iron bolts plus two short 40mm set screws through the bumper. If your vehicle is either a ‘Lightweight’ or 101 Land Rover don’t be tempted to use the lifting eyes as recovery points. You could tear the two bolts out of the chassis thought the lever action – especially on a ‘Lightweight’.
Land Rover coil sprung 90, 110 and 130 – Front.
Don’t rely on the pear shaped lashing eyes for recovery work, these are designed to simply lash the vehicle down on to either a vehicle transporter or on board a ship. Use only Jate Rings which wrap round the chassis with special long 8.8 BZP bolts, picking up the two ends on the full diameter of the bolt shank.
Don’t over-tighten the nyloc nut as you might need to ‘kick-down’ the Jate Ring in order to remove the shackle or winch hook after the recovery. Again always use a bridle when appropriate.
A wider version is available to suit these vehicles fitted with a Southdown Steering Guard which covers the outer sides of the chassis.
Classic Range Rover pre EFI – Front
These vehicles were fitted with a lashing eye as above. Again you could use a pair of Jate Rings. Or better still treat as:
Classic Range Rover post ’85 and Discovery 200 and 300 Tdi models – inc V8 up to Td5 launch.
These vehicles have a piece of looped bar welded to the chassis and are only for lashing down. Because all the vehicles come complete with a spoiler under the bumper, the only supplied towing point is a ‘loop’ protruding through the spoiler. This is only designed for on-road towing as it can bend easily if not pulled on in a straight line.
For these vehicles we have ‘Jackmates’ which are profiled in 10mm steel and fitted in pairs using three 12mm BZP 8.8 bolts to each side of the chassis. Not only do you get a pair of recovery points, but as an added bonus you gain a pair of jacking points as well.
BRB Winch Bumpers and Roo Bars
These specially designed kits for all of the above vehicles have built-in recovery points and jacking tubes in every model, thereby saving the use of either Bumper ‘D’ Rings, Jate Rings or Jackmates.
New Range Rover, Discovery Td5 and Freelander – Front.
Owing to the design of the front of these vehicles and their chassis dumb irons, I am still at a loss as to how to secure really strong recovery points for off-road use – but I am working on it!
For the time being use carefully your factory fitted recovery loops.
All Series Land Rovers, Defenders, Range Rovers, Discoveries and Freelander – Rear.
All factory fitted and approved towing drop plates which employ either angle iron or pre-formed bridles back to the chassis are perfectly suitable for rear recovery work by using a combination tow jaw, neck of a tow ball or a NATO hook. But if your vehicle has a removable swan neck tow ball, don’t overdo it.
Land Rover, Defender Ninety, Classic Range Rover and Discovery 200/300 may have their bolt-on lashing eyes swapped for Jate Rings for secure winching backwards. The chassis at the back is 6mm thinner than the front, so use the lashing eye as a spacer hinged upwards to the outside of the chassis.