Full Metal Broad-Slide

Submitted: Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:27
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Imagine your driving alone slowly up a small incline with a gully on your passenger side and sudddenly the whole car is pushed sideways and you slide full broadside on to ,and then over the edge.

It happened just like that and I'd be interested in any helpful analysis as I can guarantee its a heart stopping few seconds to experience.

The track ahead cuts through the side of a moderate hill, a large tree is down and a long standing diversion goes up a slight incline to the right forming a drop-off to the main track.

The rain before a big storm is starting and the track surface is wet on top but dry underneath.
I'm crawling along at 5kmh. My almost unroadworthy Cooper ST tyres on down at 20psi.
Noting the tree, I head up the diversion track to the right.
2 car lengths up, the car starts an imperceptable drift to the edge of the drop-off on the left, next second I realize the front is beginning to slide towards the edge, I'm still moving forward as
the car takes a lean. The front goes over the angled track edge the side slope increases dramatically and the back starts to slide left as well.
Another second later and the whole car is just sliding sideways and its over the edge.

You can't live in the high country without the odd out of control forward slide, but fully broadside is another dimension.

The angle of slip quickly increased but the slide was slow. Inside the car I fell sideways against the fridge between the cars front seats and grabbed the door trying to keep my weight on the highside.

Patrols have probably the best tipover characteristics of any 4wd at some 48 degrees.
I had used up just about all of them in the 5 meter slide.
But its the end of the slide thats the problem.
I noted the trees getting closer on the passenger side and braced.
Instead of the car stopping and perhaps going over, as it reached the bottom of the slide it just sort of ozz'ed into the mud and levelled slightly.
I felt it go light but then it settled back down.
Not-so my heart beat !

I had instinctively keep the foot on the clutch and the engine was still running.
I took a few seconds for stress relief as I had fully expected a soft roll.

The car was sitting dangerously on about a 35 degree sideslope, ever so gently I played with the clutch edging the car back and forward a few inches.
Strangely it settled a little to a bit over 30 degrees.

I have since come to believe that it may have had a small branch under the front wheel and the car settled off this as I played with clutch.

I was sort of safe inside the car and decided then to contact a nearby property owner and arrange for regular calls back to me incase things got worse.

Its hard to get out of a car tilted so, and worse in rain and mud espically as the door wouldn't stay open.
With a struggle I sort of half fell out of the car scrambling to stay clear in case loss of my weight on the high side could have initiated a roll.

Assessing the situation, the car looked sort of stable but I noted
that the back tyre was badly squashed and taking most of the load.
It was unsafe to get near it espically as I was on my own !
What to do ? I grabbed a twig, sat down in the mud and let air out of both the highside tyres.
Then with a matock I dug a little dirt out from under the wheels.
These actions dropped the sideslope angle a bit and I was brave enough to take some photo's.
Then I made a gentle track to assit with reversing out.
Gingerly I reversed and the side angle dropped and I was dripping relief, not yet realizing that I would be there for another nearly two hours in almost constant drizzle.

The rear tyre was down to about 6psi so I cross linked it to the other rear wheel with the transfer hose and soon stablized all wheels at about 13psi.
The unexpected slipperyness of the track meant I had to be careful about a second possible slide further down.

OK, where safe, can't go forward, track is narrow behind me but its only about 100m to get out of this gully and I may be able to back out the way I came in.

1/2 an hours rain since I entered the gully didn't help and as I half expected, I tried but failed to reverse up the hill I had come down.
It had ruts, with little steps in them, its not a hard track, but needs momentum and good steering control to negotiate normaly. I new better but I had to try it, so tried to reverse
up the hill with both lockers engaged but steering control was non-existant.

Ok, that was a setback so I had to turn around.
If I could, I might be late for a dinner date but I'd get out, even if I needed to use chains or winch.
I get out of the car and walk the 100m of track looking for a turning point.
One side is a 3 meter high embankment and the other side is the gully.

It begins to slowly dawn on me that I can't turn around, and hence I can't get out.
An hours gone by and its time for scheduled radio call and re-assessment.

At one point the gully is a cars width wide, except its heavily bushed and with a 30 ft sappling blocking the edge.
I move in with an axe only to realise the bush on the gully edge is thorn bush and it takes a few pricks before I retreat.
Out comes the chain saw and gloves, back on goes the soaking wet parka and I begin cutting back the bush branch by twig.
Another 1/2 hour and I'm at the base of the gum tree, then down it comes and it gets cut up into small manageble bits as I'm now dam cold, wet and the light is fading.

Chuck everything into the car and after several tries, get the car into position to turn.
With the nose into the dirt embankment and tail hanging over the gully edge the car slowly comes round. I had to get in and out several times but the relief I felt when the car finally got over centre on the turn was just so sweet.

Its all over, I should make it now, with tyres right down and lockers in I exit the way I came in but only just as 2 hours of rain had changed the situation and I could feel wheels
front and rear loose it now and then as the car crawled out.

3km later and I'm given some really appreciated strong coffee, pick up my wife, clean up a bit and turn for the drive back to Melbourne. No way ! the back tyre is now dead flat.

Close inspection shows that tyre wasn't stuffed but an old bung in the sidewall couldn't handle being driven at low pressure and was leaking badly.

Dark now and weather is building, but a new bung went in and off we headed - into the storm and the worse driving conditions I can remember in a long time.


------------------------------------
img 2509 First picture .
(black stripe is a camera cord dangling just above the wheel track)
You can see how the car went up and just drifted over the left track edge. Its settled now , but the drag chain and shovel on the back wheel still shows a 30+ degree angle.
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img 2520 2nd picture
This picture scares me, the cars out but the wheel marks shows that the slide occurred just before a small ledge
i.e. the result could have been even worse.
Image Could Not Be Found


Img 2517 3rd picture
Could the unexpected slip have been started by these small branches on the track ?
Image Could Not Be Found

img 2523
Its a bit tight turning around here, even with the bush gone.
Image Could Not Be Found
Robin Miller

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Reply By: Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:44

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:44
G'day Robin,

Nothing like a bit of 'water' to make things interesting! Is this location in Gippsland? We've had a fair bit of rain over the last couple of days - may be a bit of a change to dust for our Boy's trip next month.

I went into Talbotville the other weekend - DSE have been smoothing out the Crooked River track, presumably for Easter, the surface was 4" of bulldust - might be impassable now.

....are you going to replace the tyres with coopers??? :-)


Tim
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Follow Up By: Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:45

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:45
PS...Good photos showing the angle!!!

Tim
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:04

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:04
Hi Tim

Not gippsland, its in black range, north of melbourne near Alexandra.

I could imagine the dust , now sloppy mud on Talbotville rd , up near heli-pad at Xmas it was already deep in dust.

Should have had my muddy's on, the Coopers are shot with only 45k on them and I'm trying to get a last few k out of them before the wet sets in.
But I will get more - only because no-one else makes 255/85 in an AT.
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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:21

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:21
Robin, I am glad there were no damages to you or the car, but I thought you must be taking us to a Cooper tyre post. LOL

I note they have taken the road tyres off one of the utes here at least. I think the Nissan still has them and the Falcon of course.

Tim, have to get back to Gippsland again before too long
Cheers,
Who?
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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:49

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 08:49
Now you know the benefit of lockers.
Judging by the pics you did well to get out without any damage.
WELL DONE.
This incident would have been a great lesson, so maybe next time you will think twice before setting out in inclement weather.
I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

Cheers Dodg.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:05

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:05
Hi Dodger

Yep, the weather sort of came on quicker than expected up here.
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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Thoughtfully- Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:06

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:06
Gee Robin, you have put the wind up me with that recount of an adventure as I have come to call them. It looks to me like the passenger side wheel got over centre on the LHS of the track and our friend gravity did the rest. Sure would have been a pretty pickle, still being only 3km away from coffee and help would be walkable and safe.

The pics are great, and the track looks slippery up to the right, but thats obviously after a bit more rain. Wasnt it a weekend for the fire and a hot toddie?

Great to see you made it with little of no damage.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:06

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:06
Hi Bonz

Yes, trying to analayse things here cause I haven't got caught out
sideways before.

My best guess is that the front slid left on a small wet branch
then gravity took over as you suggest. The actual track surface has less than 10 degree slope so should have been ok.
I suspect I didn't see the small wet branches , because I was turning right onto an uphill section and brancheds were around the corner and couldn't be seen over the bonnet.

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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Thoughtfully- Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:11

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:11
yep for sure, would have been a scary feeling slipping sideways, lucky you were alone hahaha
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Reply By: Member - Fred B (NT) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:09

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:09
Hi Robin,
well written story; the way you wrote the story supplied all the tension and nerves to go with it: I could 'feel' the slide.... even before I saw the pictures. scary. Should put it in your blog page to keep handy.

Glad you and your vehicle came out unscathed physically (what about mentally?) (:
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:07

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:07
Hi Fred

Thanks, it was very scary.
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Reply By: Sir Kev & Darkie - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:12

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:12
Robin,

The joys we have on adventures by ourselves. Lucky you have the camera to back your claims up ;)

It would have been very satisfying to be able to get out of that predicament without any damage.

Look forward to more tales of your adventures

Cheers Kev
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 12:01

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 12:01
Hi Kev

I hope I have no more stories to write for a while.
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Reply By: Mr Pointyhead - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:26

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 09:26
Four O'Clock Track ?

Nice effort to get out. Did you think about using your winch to pull the front of the vehicle around and square on the slope ?

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:27

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:27
Hi Mr Pointyhead.
In my defence it was a 2 o'clock track when started, and was only a 10km loop.
I didn't get to the winch stage, mainly because where I turned around had to be cleared of thorn bushes first otherwise the car would be heavily scratched.
Each time thru the turn though I did put the nose up the embankment and clicked in the back lockers to slide the rear of the car a little and hence assist the turning.
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Reply By: austastar - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 10:33

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 10:33
Great report, I am amazed that you could drive in those conditions. My 4wd experience is limited to bush fire work, and the tracks sure ain't wet doing that.
Thanks for sharing.
cheers
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:27

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:27
Hi Austar
Your bushfire comment reminds me, that there was probably a lot of (now wet) embers covering the track which , with water could have made things more slippery than expected.
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Reply By: Member - Paul F (QLD) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:03

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:03
Gosh Robin,

You should submit this well written account to a publisher and extend it to a novel. I'm still hyperventilating!

Thanks for sharing

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:26

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:26
Hi Paul

Don't want to bore people to much , but it seems some enjoyed reading it.

I probably could have gone a chapter on the subsequent drive home as it was bad, the safest part was getting down off the mountain in the dirt.
On the blacktop it rained heavy and constant with the Belgian Sheppard unsettled by constant lightning.
Tried to stick on anothers tail lights but he was going to fast for me , so to keep him in sight we had to speed up on straights to make up for going slow on corners , using the GPS to look ahead to road curves helped here.
We stopped for dinner at a roadhouse expecting the storm to blow over.
It didn't and we then encountered 3 seperate small mudslides across the road.

Seriously happy to get home last saturday night.
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Reply By: wild dog - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:55

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:55
You did very well to get that out of there, looks like a greasy surface. Must have been a big decision whether to take your weight off the top side or stay in the cab.
Next door neighbour flipped his GQ on it's side on the CREB track north of the Daintree. Called the RACQ to get him out and the driver put a chain through the rear window and around the pillar behind the passenger rear door.
Needless to say that put quite a kink in the pillar. On top of that he had blocked the track and had to pay for a nights accomodation at Daintree for those stuck behind him.
End result insurance wrote it off and he bought it back for$750 and is still driving it around.
Going by the pictures it fortunate that the spare was on the up side.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 17:54

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 17:54
I'd hate to have to make that choice Wild dog.

I have winched a car back up again , and when I did I use snatch strap to chassis and thru it right round car - no damage.
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Reply By: Member - Tony V (NSW) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 12:03

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 12:03
Good read Robin,

Did you have your lockers on driving up?

I have seen this happen in front of me with a truck with lockers engaged, both wheels on the axles turning at the same speed and the truck went sideways, once started it was up to gravity (and a mud bank) that stopped him.

Pulled the truck back onto the track an the guy disengaged the lockers and drove up, with a bit of wheel spin.

Well done on getting out without damage.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 18:08

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 18:08
Hi Tony

No lockers on , I've seen that one before - but it wasn't a real decision not to engage, rather the track just wasn't that bad.

That would have been an instructive incident you were in , oh for a camera then.
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Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:03

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:03
G'day Robin,

That is one scary situation! Geez that could have turned ugly and I'm almost sick thinking about what could have happened. Must have given you a fright and I'm pleased it worked out OK.

Got to admit I've not been in that situation myself and I know you're an old hand in that country but as suggested above I was wondering if the winch would have been handy. I don't have a wich on mine and if I ended up like you there I think I'd be hoping I had one on the car and it would have gone out around the nearest tree.

This was a great read and hopefully I've learnt something from this as well, thanks for sharing.

Kind regards
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 18:14

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 18:14
Hi Beatit

I felt a bit sick to, particularly in the last seconds , as I knew what could happen as I slid closer to the edge and had more than enough time to contemplate on it.

I don't think my winch would have been handy in the sense of stopping anything.
I'm just glad I keep the C of G of the car down low.






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Reply By: Moose - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:31

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 13:31
G'day Robin
Must say that most people, me included, wouldn't have been taking photos in that situation. I would have been trying to get out as fast as possible - especially with persistent rain and darkness settling in. You are obviously much cooler under stress than most.

I too have experienced a similar thing but it was totally my own stupid fault. Track was red clay and moist. Slight side slope. Result was bloody obvious - in hindsight! Ended up awfully close to a big stump. Luckily I wasn't alone and my mate had a winch so in the end it was a fairly easy recovery with no damage other than to the ego.

I certainly agree that a 4 wheel sideways slip is most horrible feeling - one of total helplessness.

I tend to agree with your view that the sticks were most likely responsible - because they can be very slimy suckers when they or wheels are wet.

Thanks for sharing - you'll have drivers sending the passengers ahead with a rake to clear the tracks now :-)

Cheers from the Moose
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 07:41

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 07:41
Hi Moose

Well it wasn't that bad when I started , but I don't tend to get stressed very much actually. I sort of look at things and say , well I can only do this or that and thats it , so its illogical to worry.

Good to see you got out of yours , and that hindsight sure is useful - just wish it would come a few minutes earlier sometimes.







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Reply By: Member - Paul W- Esq (VIC) - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 22:45

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 22:45
It gets the ole' heart a goin i tells ya! i had the 100 rocking on opposing wheels at Gembrook a few years ago that had me a bit worried for a while and the bike riders that were sitting in the creek below me were at the ready to scoot if i ended up making in their direction. we were at the back of walhalla on some tracks out there on the weekend and it was the same out there,slippery as and plenty of mud.i have some photos but waiting for the others in the party to send me more of my adventures(or mis-adventures).had the lockers going and the muddies to no avail,had to b recovered.ill post photos when i get them.
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 07:42

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 07:42
Hi Paul

Yep, the old back roads sure greased up in a hurry, still the lockers cost that much its good to see them used now and again - hope the photo's come out ok
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Reply By: Flywest - Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 13:30

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 13:30
Whattaya expect?....its a Nissan! LOL! (Joke!).

Nice account and pics. Well done!

Cheers

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 14:21

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 at 14:21
I agree , Flywest.

Any other car would have rolled.
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