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Old 05-29-2013, 03:59 PM   #1
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Stuck in the mud

Flash flooding led to the arrival of 4" of silt in our campsite and in the area between the campsite and the road this weekend. We ultimately had to extend our stay by a day to await the arrival of help. We were camped at a designated site at a municipal campground; ours was one of two sites where flooding created serious traction problems.

The TV had been parked separately and we went to town and bought 2x10 lumber to provide a firm base to allow us to reach the trailer and hitch up. Once hitched we did not have enough traction to move the trailer.

There are a number of lessons/reminders to take from all this:

1) The "roadside assistance" type plans will not help you -- at all -- if you are stuck more than 25 feet from the road. It's not a matter of them paying -- they won't even dispatch help. (Ours is through our credit card and administered by Allstate; I imagine others have similar fine print)

2) On holiday weekends there is absolutely no guarantee that 24 hour towing places will call back. We went through the phone book and called six of them on Monday afternoon (Memorial Day) and did not receive any callbacks.

3) Come Tuesday morning we found that most towing places are not interested in or equipped for difficult recoveries. A 3/4 ton 4x4 Suburban with a 30' trailer that is stuck in the mud is something that gets referred to specialists.

4) In today's world people generally do not help strangers. We did ask around the campground and despite it being a relatively straightforward pull could not get anyone to help us. All my life I've pretty much stopped and helped people when they ask but I think that the prevalence of cell phones and roadside assistance has changed the culture.

5) Good tires and 4wd made a big difference. Without them we would have been unable to reach the trailer at all and in fact probably wouldn't have been able to get the TV out of the location where it was parked.

6) We did have to skid the front of the trailer a little bit, and the ProPride hitch made this more difficult than it otherwise would have been since it was impossible to set the trailer tongue down on the ground.

Ultimately the "day crew" managing the campground contacted a nearby farmer and had them bring a small tractor over. It didn't take much to get us out.

I downsized my "recovery kit" some years ago and don't carry much more than a shovel and a tow strap these days. I'm reevaluating that. With a come-along or a hi-lift jack, and some chain, we could have pulled ourselves out.
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:19 PM   #2
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Bummer, bummer, bummer.

Glad you made it out.

We learned some of those hard lessons after trying to sit out snow and ice in Missouri a few years ago. Could not get a tow. After 3 days, it warmed up a bit and we dug ourselves out with a hatchet and a folding camp saw.

One of the things boondockers are warned about at beautiful Padre Island is that if the truck has to come onto the sand, it is a $$$ recovery, not a tow.


Maggie
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:23 PM   #3
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Think something like this would get you out of most trailering situations? pretty light weight, 2000lb pull. I would think one could fabricate a temporary mounting system for front tow hooks or receiver.

ATV Winch - 12 Volt ATV Winch with Load-Holding Brake
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:29 PM   #4
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Ah yes, a farmer was there to help!
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Old 05-29-2013, 04:41 PM   #5
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Awww. That looks like a good time! slingin' mud, gettin' dirty!

Bummer someone wouldn't come over and help. I would be there in a second, but I like this kind of stuff. Although I don't know how much help I would be. My tow strap is only about 20-25ft. long. I carry tire chains in my truck for winter snow that I've used in mud to help someone out of a hole. But I'd hate to make it 3 stuck vehicles.

I agree about the "stand by" mentality these days. Although I don't think it's because they don't care or don't want to get involved, I think they just don't know what to do. I see grown people that don't know how to change a flat all the time. Blows me away.

All I think of is when the zombie apocalypse happens, these will be the first victims.

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Old 05-29-2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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I have a 2 wheel drive truck (DON'T make that mistake if you're buying a new vehicle!) but of course even a 4 wheel truck can get stuck, and slick wet grass can do it! I've found that my little orange leveling blocks also make a darned good traction source IF i go very slowly and let the differential slip do the dirty work. I have two bags of the things and can move about 6 to 8 feet before I have to move the blocks forward for the next leg. Your situation though - that would be marginal because 4 inches of mud in front of the trailer wheels would act like glue. I don't have a big that fits under the canopy - but if I had one I'd make it a sacrificial offering for the trailer wheels to roll over.

Hooray for the farmers of America. Glad the tractor got you out.

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Old 05-29-2013, 05:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dznf0g View Post
Think something like this would get you out of most trailering situations? pretty light weight, 2000lb pull. I would think one could fabricate a temporary mounting system for front tow hooks or receiver.

ATV Winch - 12 Volt ATV Winch with Load-Holding Brake
I've had winches on some of my pickups. Based on line size, that one is good for around 800 pound pull, less than some of the hand winches (come-alongs). I suppose it would help some of the time.

I'm currently thinking that a somewhat heavier hand winch is the way to go. NH and some other sources have a 2500 pound capacity one (9/32 cable) for around $150. Combined with a pulley block (snatch block) and the right combination of chains and straps they can do a pretty good job.

The thing with winches is that they're heavy and expensive (by the time you get a mount and wiring) and require maintenance if they're going to be there when you need them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by outofcontrol View Post
Awww. That looks like a good time! slingin' mud, gettin' dirty!
With the right attitude we would have had fun with it. Unfortunately, we had work and family obligations that we missed that kept us from cultivating the right attitude.

Quote:
Bummer someone wouldn't come over and help. I would be there in a second, but I like this kind of stuff. Although I don't know how much help I would be. My tow strap is only about 20-25ft. long. I carry tire chains in my truck for winter snow that I've used in mud to help someone out of a hole. But I'd hate to make it 3 stuck vehicles.

I agree about the "stand by" mentality these days. Although I don't think it's because they don't care or don't want to get involved, I think they just don't know what to do. I see grown people that don't know how to change a flat all the time. Blows me away.

All I think of is when the zombie apocalypse happens, these will be the first victims.
I'm not sure what to make of it. One guy we talked to had a 3/4 ton truck and a bunch of rope and chain but declared that he used to be a mechanical engineer and an inactive Marine and based on his engineering experience and time with the Corps it was plain to see that we needed to call up one of those semi wreckers because that was the minimum it would take to get the job done.

Go figure.
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Old 05-30-2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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Hi, glad to hear that you finally got out; I wouldn't want to be in that situation. The closest I have been was in South Dakota in October. The night before we planned to leave, it snowed. The path from our camp site to the main street was slightly up hill. Fortunately my two wheel drive Lincoln got us out.
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Old 05-31-2013, 01:00 AM   #9
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It is hard to wrap my mind around people that will not at least attempt to lend a helping hand. I tend to lean towards the idea above that many in this day and age just aren't equiped with enough experience to be of any help, they are lost at what to do. You would think that they would offer to follow some basic instructions if they were at a loss of ideas on their own, and as for the "engineer" that wouldn't attempt to help, that baffles me totally. Glad you made it out and sorry you missed out on family commitments because of this set back.
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Old 05-31-2013, 08:34 AM   #10
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Have toted chains around for the last 40 something years , the only time I ever had to use them was for MUD , it's a nasty and dirty dripping wet process but they do work extremely well when you have to use them.
sorry that no one would offer help.
Besides the chains I put a 12000 pound winch on the front of the Dodge and an assortment of straps, shackles and snatch blocks in the tool box.
And a high lift jack in the back. an assortment of 2x10 blocks etc.
We will be headed up to Alaska next week and hope that all the extra stuff
will just ride up there and back unused, but would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
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Old 05-31-2013, 09:41 AM   #11
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This is one of those object lessons about "being prepared" like a Boy Scout or the Coast Guard. Lots of naysayers on the Forums about four wheel drive, but when you need it, you need it bad and you need it right now. I learned about this early on in my Airstreaming career, where due to a little mud and wet grass, I literally could not move the trailer without engaging the 4WD. If you only stay in nicely paved places on high ground, your experience maybe different.

Probably thirty years ago I got stuck way off road when fishing, and if it hadn't been for a shovel, a come-along and an axe, my 4WD truck might still be there. Now I carry the axe and come along and shovel and now also a high lift jack and a tow strap and 100' of 3/4" rope. Some folks (including the DW!) scoff at all this gear. But I've pulled out quite a few folks who were pretty stuck. And I've learned that unless you're buried up to the differentials or frame, it really doesn't take a whole lot of pull to get out. A winch is handy IF you can get a good anchor point. But the easiest "out" is a friendly person with a 4WD vehicle in low range, on solid ground, attached to the other end of a tow strap or rope.

Glad you got "unstuck!"
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Old 05-31-2013, 10:11 AM   #12
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Sorry to hear your story. There are times when nothing will get you un-stuck except a tractor. Ask anyone who was at Duluth in 1991. And, you can't carry every tool known to man "just in case". But, I learned long ago from an experienced Airstreamer to carry a folding shovel and a small bottle jack. Those two tools and a lot of patience will get you out of most "stuck" situations. I have found fellow campers to be very helpful. Last September, just days out of the hospital, I had a blow-out. I was too weak to change the tire and Good Sam couldn't figure out where we were. A man camped nearby in a Circle Track Magazine motorhome came to our rescue and changed the tire. We have been full-timers for five years and have found the vast majority of other campers/travelers to be very friendly and helpful. Hope your experiences improve.
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Old 05-31-2013, 10:45 AM   #13
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I read this and got thinking about when Lucy and Desi got stuck in the "The Long, Long Trailer" movie. It was funny when they got stuck, not so funny in real life.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:07 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
With the right attitude we would have had fun with it. Unfortunately, we had work and family obligations that we missed that kept us from cultivating the right attitude.
I can see that. I'm imagining me and my friends having a good time getting a truck unstuck. If you add my wife and a timeline it gets not-so-fun really quick.

Good ideas about the winch. I have a 12,000lb Warn winch that I inherited. I started looking at bumper mounts, and bumpers, and sheesh you could easily spend $2k getting it properly setup. And I might never use it. I like your idea of a $150 hand powered job. I could justify that.

That engineer has governmentitus. I'd give him a break if he's a Vet, but those are weak excuses.

I'd really like to see how you've modified your carry along kit after this experience. Let's say you had a winch and enough rope/chain. Do you lower the tongue onto some wood and drag it that way? I could see myself damaging the tongue jack or burying it in the mud.
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