Using a snatch strap

Submitted: Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2281 Views:5029 Replies:16 FollowUps:13
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Hi, im pretty new to the 4WD scene and have recently purchased a snatch strap to use with my BJ40 Landcruiser. I dont have a tow hook or anything, just a tow ball. I rang up ARB and asked them if it was safe to use the towball but they said not to and to get a towing hook fitted. I then asked some guy at Repco and he said ARB were only saying that to make a sale and that my towball looks safe enough to him. Some of my friends that dont have towing hook's use their towball all the time to snatch people out. So i was hoping to get an opinion on whether i should pay to get a tow hook fitted, or will my towball do for now. I am mainly concerned about the safety aspect of it, in case someone got injured. If my towball broke i wouldnt be overly worried.

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Reply By: Truckster - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Go and join a club, and do driver training with them... This will help you in all aspects of 4wding, and answer lots of basic questions.

If you have a towbar with removable tounge, then remove it, put the snatch in there and use the pin that holds the tounge in to secure the snatch.

To each their own, but on all driver training courses Ive done, they say dont use the ball as the strap can come off, and missile back at the car behind, or other damage COULD be caused.

Hooks are only $20, why wouldnt you buy them ??
AnswerID: 8163

Follow Up By: Savvas - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Truckster.... I know one guy who did this with their Hayman Reese hitch, use the pin to hold the snatch strap. The pin bent and wouldn't come out again. He had to cut the pin out with a grinder and buy a new one.

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Follow Up By: Truckster - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Anything is possible, but I could suggest someone trying too hard for the situation, Ive snatched out probably 20+ people with my GQ, and yet to bent a pin... Not saying it wont happen, but it probably will, one day!

But Ive always carried a spare pin, and 6 R clips, as if you drop one in the mud, your gone!

Not so much for me, but for others.

Remember you dont need 200mph at time of max stretch of the strap...
FollowupID: 3901

Reply By: Cam - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Your going to get a huge response from this one & the general flavour will be to NEVER use you towball as an anchor point for the snatch strap. The reason being is that in the rare case of the towball breaking it then becomes a lethal projectile & flying in the opposite direction of the force. This is usually towards the bogged vehicle & in the vicinity of the driver in that vehicle. You are better off utilising a purpose built point for using the snatch strap for both the front & rear of the vehicle.
AnswerID: 8165

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

I agree with the others for the reasons stated. As truckster said, tow hooks are cheap and easy to fit yourself so I don't know why you wouldn't get them fitted. Something you didn't ask, but I feel compelled to address is what if you're being snatched forward. Whatever you do, don't attached the snatch strap to the bullbar. You really need tow hooks front and rear. Another thing we always do, regardless of what the snatch strap is attached to, is place a blanket or hessian bag across the middle of the strap. If something breaks, this helps slow and ground the flight of the strap.

There is far more to snatching than hooking up a strap though, so I strongly urge you to get 4WD training or/and join a club. Not only will you learn about safe vehicle recovery etc, you'll also learn driving techniques that will help you NOT get stuck. The club scene can be a lot of fun too!

We've had a couple of BJ40's and they're a great truck for having some fun in. Get some training and go enjoy yourself.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 8168

Reply By: Ryan - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks guys. I dont have a bull bar but i do have another bar, which the bull bar bolts onto i guess, dont know what youd call it, a nudge bar maybe? Anyway on the left of it theres a hook so i assume thats to attatch a snatch strap to.

I dont know how id attatch the hook onto the back of my car, id have to drill holes through the steel there and i dont know how id do that...
buggered if i know why toyota didnt put one on there straight from the factory! Did they use the towball back in the 70's??

Anyways my mates are quite good and have taught me a lot about 4wd'ing when i go out with them. But your right i think i could really benefit from a good course and i might do it.
AnswerID: 8172

Follow Up By: Allyn (member) - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00
beware the hook you're looking at isn't the factory tie down hook for transportation as it will be nowhere near strong enough for snatching and you risk injuring someone.
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Follow Up By: Derek - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00
Ryan. I agree with everything that has been said, particularly about getting formal training. I'd like to add a few more things. 1) Your car may in fact have provision for a rear hook and it is covered up or you haven't noticed it. 2) You would have a fair chance of getting a hook cheap (or even free) from a towbar installation place. 3) If you can't fit the hook to the car's chassis then make sure the component you do attach it to can take the load. 4) Use the correct attaching bolts. Too soft and they'll stretch or sheer and too hard and they'll snap like carrots. Find a car that you know has the original factory fitted bolts and see how many strokes are evident on the heads. This indicates the tensile strength of the bolt and this is what you should fit. And lastly never, never use a tow ball for snatching another vehicle. I'd also seriously question recovering a 2 tonne vehicle with any type of pull on the tow ball!
Hope this helps.
FollowupID: 3878

Reply By: ray91 - Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Nov 04, 2002 at 01:00
Ryan most tow balls have a rating of two tons,the snatch strap is rated eight or nine tons you tell me which will break first.Buy the right gear before you kill someone.
AnswerID: 8192

Reply By: stevesub - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Go to a 4WD specialist mechanic and get him to advise you on what you should use. Ideally he will fit 2 rated tow hooks at the front and 2 more at the rear end of your truck. Even fitting the tow hooks has to be done properly as the wrong bolts, corroded chassis, etc will be unsafe.

We straightened a tow hook on a Discovery we winched out of quicksand one day using a X6 superwinch and snatch block (6 ton force on the hook). Luckily we got the truck out before snatch block came off so the correct hooks are vital.

JOIN A CLUB - they are very helpful in our experience with training and good advice plus you get access to great rreacks that the public cannot get access to.

DO NOT USE THE TOWBALL, as others have said, you may kill someone.
AnswerID: 8195

Reply By: Ashley - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Ryan I agree with everyone, go and join a CLUB !!!!!!

You need to do this before you go off road again and get the advice you need.
AnswerID: 8207

Reply By: Janset - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
I have been a member of a 4WD club for about 13 years.

For your information snatching a bogged vehicle would have to be one of the most dangerous things that you a likely to ever do in a 4WD. It is a practiced art not just hook and pull. With practice and skill (taught to you) if is an effortless exercise.

A few years ago my club went up the Tallering peaks and we were doing a bit of river driving and as expected people got bogged. At one stage we had to hook 2 snatch straps together to get a vehicle out but not before one of them snapped for whatever reason. The rear half of the broken strap fell dead in the water, the energy being absorbed by the bag slung over it, but the forward strap cannoned into the rear of the snatching vehicle stowing in the tail gate and getting jambed solid into the tiny little gap between the tailgate and the pillar. I couldn't even get a screwdriver in there let alone the strap.

And then the sum of all worse case scenarios. About 2 years ago a farmer in Esperance got bogged on his property. He radioed his wife who upon arrival hooked her end of the snatch strap over the tow ball and away she went.

The tow-ball sheared off went though the windscreen of the towed vehicle and killed her husband. What more proof do you want.

A hook is so designed that if overloaded, it will straighted out but not part company

Hooks to the front and rear are a must. The best place is always bolted with high quality bolts to the chassis.

Here I can not over stress, shot cuts result damage or in the above case, in tragedy!


AnswerID: 8213

Reply By: bob - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Okay, some ones got to be different. I say using the tow bar is OK but..
50 mm tow balls are rated at 3500kgs. This figure relates to its towing capacity not its strength. A Australian standards compliant tow ball must be able to hold a load of 8.7 tonnes for a minimum of 15 seconds. Most snatchum recoveries would be less than a third of this load.

AnswerID: 8217

Follow Up By: Janset - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
I do not mean to knock you, but I am afraid I will have to question your reasoning. How do you explain then the death of that Esperance farmer when the tow ball broke off and came back through his windscreen and killed him.

Secondly, my Troopie fully loaded weighs in a 3 1/4 tonnes. When bogged to the axles and I am snatched I think you will find I would be closer to the 8 tonnes than the the lower end. I take your point about the use of a shovel though, sometimes we do tend to be lazy.

And finally, if in a 4WD club, your equipment should be in tip top condition, that is why we and all good clubs should have, a Safety Office.

That is his office, to check out members gear to see if all satisfactory or no outing.

If you just refresh your memory with my previous follow up post, I mentioned that when we connected 2 snatchem straps to-gether, and by the way, that is a recognised practice if you can't get closer, one of the straps (rated at 8 tonnes) broke. This would suggest to me that the load on that particular snatch exceed 8 tonnes.

I think the bottom line is, each component has been designed to do a specific job and that is all that it should be used for. For the price of a hook a life can be lost. There is really no contest here is there?

What price do you put on your safety?

FollowupID: 3922

Reply By: bob - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
I also recommend that people should not be afraid to use a shovel first. It does help to reduce the load. Secondly a couple of gentle tugs is a lot safer than one big one.
AnswerID: 8218

Follow Up By: Bob - Thursday, Nov 07, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Nov 07, 2002 at 01:00

I too have heard stories about bad snatchum recoveries. One was where a shackle broke, went through the front windscreen then out the back window. Does this mean we should stop using shackles? I know ideally we should not use shackles in a recovery, but unfortunately sometimes it is unavoidable. Maybe you could therefore recommend a 'special knot' so I can tie mine on???
My original point was this - if a tow ball is rated a 8.7 tonnes minimum,and Most recoveries involve the use of shackles of 3.2 tonnes & 4.7 tonnes. One would think that the tow ball would not be the weakest link.
Maybe next time your troopie is bogged down to its axles, I suggested maybe you should introduce your self to your spade, to help reduce the load placed onto your recovery points. Maybe your new 8 tonne snatch strap wont break this time.

FollowupID: 3994

Follow Up By: Janset - Friday, Nov 08, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Nov 08, 2002 at 01:00
It wasn't me that was connected to the 2 snatchem straps, it was I think mentioned in my post that it was another club member.

He was stuck in the river with water 1/3 of the way up his doors. A shovel in this case is rather pointless. To leave the river at that point was also impossible as the side were cliffs over 50 feet high. To turn around was also not an option so we had to slog on until we found a way out.

The argument here could be, what the hell were we doing in such a predicament. Answer, we are a 4WD club not a Café pretend 4WD club. And the other answer and probably more truthful is that we were really sucked in.

It did not start of like this but it got progressively worse with rays of hope where things looked to be improving at times.... I think you have hear the saying, "come in spinner', well were the "Spinners".

As for my vehicle, yes I do use my shovel if in deep, but as you no doubt are aware, there is a very slim line between "no I don't need it yet" and "yet I do need it now". In hind sight I too have perfect vision, that is why I hate all those football panel shows, "They should have done....."

FollowupID: 4015

Reply By: Truckster - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Heres what can GO WRONG with vehicle recovery.

There is a pic somewhere around in a mag, of a recovery gone terribly wrong, it was of a Jeep with a shackle that had gone thru back door, rear seat, front headrest, steering wheel, and windscreen, and the shackle was resting on the bumper bar of the car.. Its like a missile, you would have less chance. If it hit you, dont worry, it only hurts while the pains there, .000001 of a second...

Dont suppose anyone has it do they?? Email it to me ?? PLEASE!
AnswerID: 8228

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

geocities wont allow linking now :(
FollowupID: 3934

Reply By: Ryan - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks for all the reply's guys. On my towball it says its rated at 3500 lbs. But after hearing all these stories about how someone has died and people have been injured i think i might just go down to a towball place and hopefully they can fit a hook for me dirt cheap! I didnt realise it was so dangerous, all my friends use the towball to snatch each other out al the time. The guy i brought the car off is a mate and he's snatched people out with the towball a lot! I didnt wanna spend much on the car since i paid $1500 for it and its a bit old but i guess if its nice and cheap to put a hook on it'll be worth it...
Cant really put a price on someones life can you!
AnswerID: 8244

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Nov 05, 2002 at 01:00
Unfortunately, it's easy to copy someone else's lead when you see them do something incorrectly a hundred times and get away with it. But it only takes one incident...Anyway, at least you had the sense to ask the question and follow the advice given. Maybe you can educate your mates. :-) Melissa
FollowupID: 3927

Reply By: Savvas - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Along with all the previous posting, I have to say that Russell Coight (Glenn Robbins) is not doing anyone any favours by dropping a snatch strap over a towball on his TV show.

I enjoy watching the show just for a bit of a laugh. And I know his mistakes are what makes it funny. Most people that frequent this forum would know that's not the way to do it and there are inherent dangers involved.

However there is a significant number of people who are none the wiser on this, are not member of clubs, have not done training and have not asked anyone knowledgeable about how to recover a vehicle. It's those people that might try it and then kill someone. Can you imagine .... "But that's how Russell Coight did it!"

And really, dropping a snatch strap over a towball, doesn't make for funny TV anyway. Or maybe I'm just getting too old, grumpy and picky. Hell I'm not quite 40 yet!
AnswerID: 8249

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Have a look at 90% of the crap on the show... Its ALL wrong, and anyone that cant tell that, should hand their license in!

But point taken, even somethings on his show have warnings, like the how much water to take into the desert.
FollowupID: 3933

Reply By: Surf - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Perhaps some would like to comment on the use of a Hayman Reece style towbar for snatch strap use. I have been to two 4x4 specialist shops that sell a specially designed tongue that allows attachment of a snatch strap, but both advised that the manufactuers of the tow bars wont completely endorse their use.

As I have a Surf, trying to attach tow hooks at the rear in an accessible position is almost impossible due to the chassis rails being so high up under the body. Attaching hooks to this position and using a strap would result in the loss my rear bumper, and I cant afford one of those heavy duty jobs.

Not having a recovery point at the back is always in my mind, and has often restricted how daring I am willing to be. I was hoping that the Reece style bar would overcome this concern.
AnswerID: 8254

Follow Up By: Mikeys - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Surf, in my driver training we were taught that inserting the end of the snatch strap into the end of the Reece type towbar and securing it with the pin was acceptable practice. MikeyS
FollowupID: 3951

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Mikey is correct.

2 clubs Im in both say its the go. Also thats how we did out driver training, usign the rear pin....

FollowupID: 3971

Reply By: voxson - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
Russell Coight is a legend...................
AnswerID: 8266

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 06, 2002 at 01:00
I agree, but repeating them already? thats beyond forgiveness.

there are lots that dislike him believe it or not!
FollowupID: 3970

Reply By: bruce.h - Wednesday, Nov 13, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Nov 13, 2002 at 01:00
hi all
just had jump in on thi s topic may be a bit late but here goes,
as aqualified 4x4 instructor i can answer the question of using tow ball for recovery never never never use the tow ball as it is rated for adead pull only & can not stand up to a shock load deaths have resulted from the use of the tow for removing the pin on a hayman reese hitch the pin its self is mild steel & there for not rated for recovery We have in our postion a writen respons from hayman reesestating under no secumstances do they recommend the use of thier hitch for snatch recovery.proper rated hooks are cheap than the life you may take,please make sure all hooksare attached dirrect to the chassis of the vehicle with high tensile bolts,remember if you are doing the recovery ie not being recovered you are legaly responsible for the outcomes of that recovery & may well be held accountable for your actions
if you wish more info on this subject feel free to contact me
regards Bruce H
AnswerID: 8485

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