Whilst out on the most recent explore in Shropshire I was ‘finally’ joined with a new explorer, Rob.
The aim of the day was to update videos that I’d recorded in HD using my SLR back in 2016 and uploaded to the YouTube channel I also offered people to join me and had set out a route that would both cater for them but also benefit me as they were lanes that needed newer videos,
I took Rob first to a byway at Stokesay castle, a steep but easy green lane then we headed to Leintwardine, which I knew was not going to be easy!
As we got onto the lane and along a fairly hard standing track with a few deep puddles we arrived at a grass track which has been carved out with vehicle tracks, going on previous experience I knew that if we straddled the ruts we should make it along the whole lane after all we both had All terrain tires on and previously I’d done it in my older duster with factory standard tires on!
Knowing this was new to Rob (Exploring in a Duster) I said wait here whilst I go see how easy it will be,
So I put the Duster into 4WD lock and turned the traction control off (as told to do in the manual) as I know I needed ultimate traction.
Off I headed and I could feel it under the tires being fairly slippery, I came to section where in-between the ruts it has some grass missing, this is always a sign that the central section is going to be difficult to keep traction but for some reason I felt myself slipping off it and usually it’s correct by increasing the throttle but I didn’t I tried to stay consistent expecting my all terrains to keep me going on the direction I wanted to go, alas it didn’t work!
If I recall as always the back wheels tend to go first and as they landed into the ruts I quickly lost traction on the front and they then followed suit, I now have both off side wheels in the rut!
The issue now is at this section the ruts were deeper than the ground clearance I had available, so I was wedged solidly on the soil unable to move, my wheels were spinning but I didn’t get any deeper, I’m not sure what Rob was thinking watching me flailing about!
So I radioed Rob to tell him I’m stuck and I start thinking what should I do?
Initially I had brought along some industrial rubber ramps but they didn’t work at all, then I thought I could dig myself out which had worked in the past but it’s a long process!
Then I asked Rob if he had a tow bar, the reason for this is that I’m not entirely confident of the towing points on the Duster in a recovery situation. Once he confirmed he did I asked if he’d be able to try and reverse back to me which as it was slippery I was hoping that even if he did would he have enough traction to pull me clear?
He agreed and I advised him to try and not slip into the ruts which, up to my vehicle, I had a feeling that if he fell into them he wouldn’t have grounded out as they weren’t as deep BUT I was not wanting to test that theory!
I watched him slowly reverse his duster back…
Boom! He lost the back end slightly and in the ruts he went. Secretly now, in my head I was like “oh now we’re f**ked”, I watch him for a few moments squirming around in a panicked looking state trying to get back out of them but then I noticed the ground clearance and could see that if he stayed like that with his near side wheels in the ruts he should be able to make it back to me close enough to loop a tow rope or something between our tow bars.
As he eased back his wheels kept spinning a few times which concerned me, I stopped him and asked him if he had a rope he said he did but as he was getting it out it looked like a tow rope so I stopped him there and showed him my recovery strap (that’s never been used!) Conveniently it has a loop at each end perfect for dropping over a tow ball.
He gingerly moves back a little more and within the length of the recovery strap and I place out on both of our tow bars,
I’ve seen a lot of chatter about things breaking then being catapulted through windows and decapitating people so I was thinking what to do? This was a new experience for me, so I asked him to get in the car and gently tug at my car whilst I have my car in reverse.
He started doing that and it didn’t appear to be doing anything at first then I noticed out of my window it appeared that every time he did it I was moving just a fraction of a centimetre backwards, and I mean it, it was very minimal but I could see the grass etc moving along my window slightly, this gave me renewed confidence although I was thinking in the back of my mind what is the effect of all this mud I’m wedged on dragging underneath the cat especially with regards to the dangling DPF sensor!
I asked Rob to increase the tug but only a little more as I was fearful of serious damage, he obliged and you could feel the yank much more this time and considering he’s not exactly got the best of traction on this grass/mud mix he’s doing well…
After about the sixth try the minute movements became much more, like ten to thirty centimetre movements then quite quickly it was a release of pressure and I quickly came unstuck and was able to reverse unaided back to the hard standing track!
Muddy but happy I piled in all my muddy tools that I had out and we continued our journey.
After all this I think to myself, despite us not doing it hardcore and yanking me out at full speed I wonder how well other potential recoveries might go if we just take it slow and steady and a bit at a time as in this case it worked with out ‘sending it’
Any how, on to the next adventure, if I have something new to share you’ll find it here on the drivers blog at the DDE website.