Winch "self rescue" equipment
(or what do you do when there are no trees?)

Living here in Oregon as I do, there are nearly always trees within arms reach. Well at least if you stay in the coast range there are. So should you find yourself stuck, winching is not a problem. But if you venture into eastern Oregon you may find yourself without a good winch anchor. And if you are like my buddy Jim in Nevada, then you have thousands (hundreds of thousands!) of acres with nothing but sand and sagebrush. A stuck rig without 10 miles of winch cable can be a real problem.

We have all heard of the plan in which you 1) dig a hole, 2) place spare tire in hole and cover with dirt, 3) winch to spare tire, 4) dig out spare tire, 5) repeat until you die of exhaustion (pretty quickly I think). This sounds like (at best) a lot of hard work.

What is needed is a good self rescue technique. After all, if you were sensible and had a buddy along to pull you out you wouldn't be stuck. Jim and I set off looking for a good solution. We aren't done yet, but here we show you some prototype work from our June 2006 testing.

The basic plan is to have sections of angle iron driven into the ground with the top of one section (say a foot out of the ground) anchored to another section at ground level. The less solid the ground the more angle iron you use.
ComponentsIn this test we used two sections of 1/4 inch thick angle iron 2 inch by 30 inch positioned about 10 feet apart and driven into the ground with about 10 inches of angle iron left above the ground. We had a series of holes drilled in the angle iron so we could secure a winch cable at ground level of one piece and then anchor the top of that piece to ground level of the second piece.

In groundHere you see the two pieces of angle iron driven into the ground with winch cable attached at ground level. The top of the front post is anchored to the rear post at ground level. We used a "ratcheting strap" but chain is probably much better.

In use

For our test we parked a Ford F-250 (8,000 lbs!) in a ditch, with parking brake on, and winched it out of the ditch. It was dragging the tires and really pulling on that winch cable.

One of the things we learned from our testing is that some sort of "cap" for the angle iron would be useful. Swinging a sledge down on a small target is not easy. Placing a cap of some sort on the angle iron would give a larger target and keep the angle iron from getting badly smashed, giving you multiple uses. This was our initial prototype testing. More testing will follow.