Maintaining your recovery gear is as important as maintain your truck. The last place you need to find out tackle is in need of some TLC is when you’re in a hole up to your axles hanging of a broken strap, split shovel handle or ducking a flying recovery chain.
A 4×4 recovery kit is worth investing money into because it’s rescuing you and your treasured truck, so it stands to reason it’s worth spending time maintaining the kit. Don’t forget all those items strapped to the roof rack and vehicle, jacks, shovels etc. get them down and give them some attention.
Try to gently hose off all the gear you’ve had to use that day once you’re back off the trail, it’s a lot easier then waiting till the dirt is caked in. Damp dirt clinging to kit is the main cause of rust or rot. Be aware although high-pressure hoses are great at removing the crud off your truck on a snatch strap or dense fabric winch it can drive any grit deep into the fabric causing wear from the inside. Don’t forget to leave everything out to dry too. Especially you water waders out there, you may not have touched your kit bag but the river you crossed might have.
Prevention is always better then cure so start by giving everything a good clean, get a scrubbing brush on them if grit and grime has wedged its way in. Wipe everything down with a dry cloth and leave items to dry through. We accept no responsibility to claims from better halves for the hogging of the dishwasher!
Place fabric straps and ropes into a bucket of water with a gentle fabric detergent diluted into it. Straps should preferably be wiped in the same direction as the main thread with a smooth or flannel cloth, if you need to scrub then make sure you use a soft bristled brush. Any wiping or brushing against the grain/thread will cause plucking and weakening of the fibres. Hang straps and ropes to dry thoroughly as rolling up damp and putting away will trigger rot.
Get rid of any rust on metals with a wire brush, go gently and try to avoid getting the power tools out you lazy blighter or there will be nothing left. Gently sand down any wooden handles to remove any splinters.
File or use a sharpening stone on any shovels or axes to keep them sharp and effective.
Lightly oil metal and wooden gear with a clean cloth. Wipe off any excess and again leave the tool to dry. This will add a protective coating and help prevent rust.
Try to keep kit off the floor by hanging them up or storing on shelves as damp rises through concrete floors and can cause rust or rot on your precious kit.
Hi-lift Jacks are better cleaned with a pressure washer or air pressure to ensure all the dirt is blasted free or a stiff brush will do just as good. Once clean use a penetrating oil to protect and coat the Jack to keep it in good working order. Unlike other oils penetrating oil does not encourage dust to stick and clog up any components.
Winches like any mechanical part need regular checks to spot any cracks in the casing, fraying in the rope, missing screws etc. A good service is also recommended periodically, you don’t want any faults occurring when you’re half way out of a hole or on a steep incline. Check the spare shear pins are held in the power stroke lever under the plastic end-cap and that the anchoring hook and safety lever are all damage free. Now would be a good time to pull out the rope and check it’s clean and in good condition, this will also confirm power supply is working. Whilst the rope is out take the opportunity to spray the mechanisms with gear oil (SAE90-120) so it can soak and work into the cogs when you wind back in.
Shackles, snatch blocks and chains need a good cleaning and regular close inspection as hairline fractures or disfigurement may not be obvious from a cursory glance. Don’t be over sure they’re ok even if they’ve not been used. Rattling around in a toolbox, back of the truck, axes, jacks and who knows what could have crushed or damaged them. Look out for bent pins or shackles or stretching of any components. Lubricate the snatch blocks central pin and double check you have the correct block for the weight of your truck including everything your carrying. Make sure they are put away dry to prevent rust and stored in a dry place.
For those of you who are lucky enough to live in the hotter climates, remember the sun can damage straps and fabric as much as the moisture, due to the UV rays breaking down the fabric components. Colour fading is the first sign to watch for.
Regular checks and maintenance of your kit will give you peace of mind, longevity for your gear and most importantly could save your life so no shirking you know it makes sense.