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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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Editor: Charles Duke
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Lisa Price has been named chief people officer of KAR Global. She also serves as the company’s executive VP of human resources.


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Don't Miss It!
Are your business’s day-to-day actions are best guided by an Employee Handbook? Without a solid set of written guidelines, activity is nothing more than orchestrated chaos. American Towman Operations Editor Randall C. Resch’s seminar, “The Value of a Solid PPM Manual,” will give emphasis to nonspecific and uncommon employee situations not typically covered in HR manuals for towing and recovery. This seminar will take place during Tow Industry Week at its new location, the Westgate Paradise & Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 14-15, 2020. atshowplace.com

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