03Dec / 2015
Even if it is a simple recovery using a pull strap to recover a vehicle the chances are that your strap or bag may have got dirty either from sand or mud and water, should the recovery have been more difficult then more equipment may have been used.
You invested a good deal of money in your recovery equipment so it’s obvious that you want it to last – for this reason it’s imperative that you carry out preventative maintenance before and after use.
All too often after a difficult recovery one is tempted to pack the kit away and move on, as part of the packing process where you gather and check that you have got all your own stuff back you should attempt to dislodge the worst dirt – in this way less will find it’s way back into your bag or vehicle. Remember that damp straps should not be rolled up until they are dry; rather coil them into the bag. These should be dried in the shade not in the sun, as UV rays will cause them to degrade.
If you are away from civilization try to rinse straps and ropes in a river or with a hose without a nozzle (gentle flow) for an initial clean. Remember that the sand particles that may work into the weave are abrasive.
One should develop a procedure for cleaning after a trip and if equipment has stood for a while it should be checked before packing for the next trip.
Spades, hand tools, shackles, chains and snatch blocks
These items should be washed and scrubbed with a brush to remove all grit and dirt then wiped dry and set aside to dry completely. Threads of shackles on the body and pin should also be checked carefully for dried mud – this should be removed. The spade shaft should be checked for damage of any sort as well as the blade and handle. A pressure washer can be used on these items especially snatch blocks and chains to ensure that all grit and dirt is removed. They should then be wiped and allowed to dry in the sun.
Once dry they should be inspected for distortion and proper function, pulleys (sheaves) should work smoothly and the sides (shell) of the snatch block should not be bent or damaged. The pin (pulley/sheave) should also turn easily and the retaining cotter pin or clip should be secure. Threads and function on shackle bodies should be checked for smooth functioning and all these items should be lubricated and wiped down.
Straps, ropes, bridles & lanyards
As previously stated clean everything after a recovery before packing this will make the items easier to clean when you get home. Avoid the temptation to use a high-pressure washer or hose to clean straps or ropes - this merely forces the dirt into the material. Rather soak them in water in a bucket or basin to remove the initial dirt, thereafter you can either hand wash them or wash them in a washing machine using the gentle cycle. Avoid using a hard conventional detergent, instead opt for a natural organic detergent that is chlorine and phosphorous free, they are easier to rinse and will not damage the equipment. If they are still dirty the procedure should be repeated. Once rinsed the items should be dried, ideally in a cool shady spot. Thereafter they should be checked for condition,
- Damage to stitching
- Heat damage (melting/fusing)
If any damage is detected you should return the item to the manufacturer to ascertain if it can be repaired.
A similar process should be utilised for smaller items such as recovery links, blankets and soft-shackles.
At the end of the day we are using equipment that is potentially lethal under extreme load/stress, it’s in the interest of safety to others, the environment as well as vehicles to ensure that equipment is properly looked after and properly used- one should always adhere to the packaging and labelling regarding safety and if in doubt attend a recovery course before heading into the bush.