The Week's Features
Ornate graphics and Ben Franklin make for a colorful look
Towman gets cut off … by the improbable
Don’t waste time and a driver to deliver extra cable
New series capable of handling up to 37,500 lbs.
Submissions open until April 1; will be announced at Dallas event
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Las Vegas, NV.
May 8-11, 2019
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Dallas, TX.
August 15-17, 2019
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Dec. 4-8, 2019
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With the rampant increase in distracted driving towers need every advantage available to avoid costly accidents. Tow Industry Week Business Editor Brian J. Riker gives a presentation on the dynamic nature of tow trucks when loaded v. empty, following distance and other traffic hazards surely could help prevent some crashes. Join him for his seminar, “Defensive Driving/Driving Professionalism,” during Tow Industry Week, taking place at the American Towman ShowPlace, May 8-11 at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMarch 20 - March 26, 2019

City, State
RATES
Portage, IN
$125
(Pop. 36,828)
Monrovia, CA
$180
(Pop. 36,590)
Bowling Green, OH
$95
(Pop. 30,028)
Panama City, FL
$87.50
(Pop. 36,484)
Light-Duty nonconsensual tow rates as provided by Police Towers of America.
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Dangers of the Three-Wheel Technique

dangercopy 129a4By Randall C. Resch

While I understand the safety side of towing, using techniques that aren't sanctioned by the industry brings question as to their origin. But in order to extract a vehicle from a parking space quickly, a new technique has made its way to the towing forefront; enter "The Three-Wheel Technique."

It's the newest craze that's hitting the towing and recovery industry and I'd like to share it with you. I salute new ideas, but there's more than face value here than what some towers may bargain for, especially when the technique has potential for causing tow-inflicted damages and potential injury or death. This one has proved to be costly.

Visualize this: a tow company arrives to a rather typical private-property impound. The tower seems to follow appropriate procedures on the administrative side and then sets out to tow the vehicle. As it's parked nose-in in the parking space, the technique that's used is one that's far from standard and, in my opinion, questionable and unsafe.

The technique is simple; a tow operator backs up to the intended impound and lowers the wheel-lift a smidge above the pavement. Using the inside cab controls, backing up and operating the controls at the same time takes some finesse to avoid contact with the lower front or rear spoiler, splash pan or oil pan. As the wheel-lift's receivers make contact with one of the tires, the wheel-lift intentionally gets pushed farther out so the opposite receiver pivots under and beyond the vehicle's OTHER tire. The wheel-lift rotates past the tire to where the receiver's end has reached the center of the vehicle's underbody.

From inside the cab, the wheel-lift is raised and the far-side receiver contacts the underbelly of the towed vehicle. The vehicle tilts awkwardly where it's balanced only on one tire. From here, the tow operator drives forward moving the awkwardly balanced vehicle to an accessible location. While the process takes only seconds, the potential of damage is huge. Consider these two examples:

Casualty Example 1: Using the three-wheel technique, the tow truck's wheel-lift is lowered below the underside of a new Honda Accord. As the wheel-lift receivers are lifted to make contact with the vehicle's underbelly, it bends and creases the vehicle's entire muffler system. Because the receivers mashed the system's catalytic converter, the owner noticed a change in the new vehicle's performance causing him to take it to the dealer. Once raised on a service rack, there was obvious and noticeable damage to the catalytic converter, muffler and exhaust ... an expensive fix.

Casualty Example 2: Tower No. 2 uses the Three-Wheel Technique to move a vehicle from a nosed-in parking space. The vehicle, a newer Chrysler minivan, was lifted by its underbelly, near the rear floor area. As lift was applied, the floor was pushed upward causing the underbelly to bend. The owner noticed that the large rolling side-doors would not roll freely. His trip to the dealer found a large hump bent into the minivan's floor pan.

To see the Three-Wheel Technique as it's put through its motions looks cool. The whole activity of the technique takes no more than about 30 seconds, but the technique has proved itself precarious and careless at best due to the potential for damage. Remember, when you're in business to not damage a customer's vehicle, the Three-Wheel Technique doesn't promote damage free-towing. The technique appears to be reckless and unconcerned for the property of others.

Just because it looks cool doesn't foster the image the industry expects. I believe that the technique isn't appropriate for the use of the equipment as the manufacturer intended. In the same manner lifting a vehicle with a forklift from the side tends to bend underside components, the Three-Wheel Technique has potential of inflicting expensive damages to your customer's vehicle. I recommend towers use the wheel-lift in the manner that's deemed acceptable by the majority of industry training and standards.
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Spare Cable for Recovery Scenarios

TowBusinessOperations cfe41By Randall C. Resch

Last month, I propped myself in a tow company's office chair, only to be entertained by the orchestrated chaos that was going on during an unexpected rainstorm.

The company's veteran dispatcher worked the phones, radios and computers with ease and grace like a maestro. The office beeped, honked and sounded common to a busy dispatch office and the dispatcher didn't miss a tick. She miracously had everything flowing smoothly, and then, in an instance, things changed.

Although calls were stacked creatively, everything was running seemingly perfect until the company's senior driver called to request extra cable. It seems that the tower was far from the company's facility and couldn't complete an off-road recovery. His tow truck's winch cable plus all the truck's chain was nearly 50' short of reaching the casualty.

When you're that far away from what you need, it's definitely an inconvenience that has to be solved. Things quickly turned to "robbing Peter to pay Paul" in trying to find an available driver to return to the shop, load up extra cable and get it delivered to the waiting driver.

To me, that's a huge waste of energy, resources and driver availability that could have been prevented by a little bit of pre-planning and minimal investment.

Spare Cable 101

Savvy tow owners prepare their trucks with extra lengths of wire rope that's neatly stowed in the tow truck's side boxes.

There may be an extra length of useable cable that was previously removed from one of your company's winches when it was readied for inspections. If the cable's condition wasn't too bad for winching purposes, it easily serves this re-purposing.

Here are two cable options that satisfy the dilemma of not being equipped with spare cable:

Option One: 50' to 100'

1. Take a spare, 14" tire from a small foreign car and separate the car tire from the rim. For spare-sized tires, a length of cable (up to 100') can neatly be wound inside the spare tire's diameter.

2. At the cable's non-hook end, have a proportionate sized, rated cable thimble, swaged to the cable's non-hook end; where the thimble will accept a standard-sized tow hook. This can be done by any local and reputable cable loft.

3. Wind the spare cable's entire length, loop end first, into the spare tire, and stow it at the bottom of a side box and in a location that's reachable to the tow operator.

Option Two: 50' or Less

1. Find a non-serviceable dolly tire that's lying around waiting to be re-purposed. Separate the dolly tire from its rim.

2. Take a 50' length of (prepared) cable and wind the cable inside of the dolly-tire, non-hook end first, until the entire length of cable is stowed inside the dolly tire's diameter.

3. In the same manner the 100' roll of cable was stowed in the tow truck's side box, the smaller 50' roll is positioned atop the 100-footer.

Finally, using a colored marking crayon mark the outside of each tire with the cable's length.

Stack, Store and Deploy

It's best to be equipped for those not-so-normal incidents, like when a police officer requests 35' of cable ... and it's actually 135'. When you're in a carrier, the extra length of cable makes perfect sense in hitting those difficult challenges head on.

I recommend that all wreckers, carriers and off-road trucks are minimally outfitted with two 100' lengths and two 50' lengths of extra wire rope, totaling 300' of additional cable that's ready to rock at a moment's notice. With spare cable neatly coiled, spare rounds are easily carried to the winch site where it's deployed as neatly as it stows.

(Note: I knew that the cable's hook was missing its safety clip in the above photo, but it was my only visual aid at the time this narrative was written. If you observed that the clip was missing, you go to the head of the class ... but the narrative still stands.)

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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