01 October, 2013

Rescue Trip in the 5 Ton!

This photo is not from today's trip--it's from some other trip.
      So, today, around 2:45, my department manager came to me and asked about doing a rescue.  "Some local guys have a big Hyundai truck (HD65) that needs work--they've left a K1,000 deposit and they want to know if we can go get the truck now--they are afraid to leave it parked where it is overnight because people might vandalise it or steal parts off of it."  I wasn't really in the mood, so I tried to push the job off on another guy, but he was otherwise engaged, so I asked Evan if he wanted to go on a rescue and away we went.  We took the 5 ton, (M813A1 cargo truck) because the admittedly sketchy details of where the Hyundai was parked made it sound like it would be too big of a job for the decrepit shop Land Cruiser.  I felt just a twinge of foreboding as we left in a huge cloud of dust (it's been super dry here for months).

      We eventually found the Hyundai parked on the side of a narrow dirt road just above a pretty steep incline.  When we got out of the truck to survey the situation, we were told "oh by the way, the Hyundai has NO brakes."  Swell.  That meant that simply towing it out of there wasn't going to be an option.  Another problem was that the Hyundai (and the 5 ton) were both pointed the wrong way on the narrow road.  They were both pointed UP hill when we needed to go DOWN hill.  We scouted around for a good place to turn around, then finally decided that backing the 5 ton down the hill and turning it around at the first hairpin curve would probably be okay.

       So I cautiously backed down the hill, putting the transfer case into LOW range (which gave me better control as the speeds were much slower and also engaged drive to the front wheels).  At the curve I backed into the bush at the side of the road on the outside of the curve, then carefully (with lots of help from Evan directing me from outside) pulled forward into the bush on the inside of the curve.  The road was quite steep right here and the whole truck seemed to be listing to the right about 30 degrees.  Reverse once more, then turn down hill and voila! we were pointed the right direction.  By this time, a pretty good sized crowd had gathered, maybe 50 people?  Men, women, children, we were apparently the best show in town this afternoon.

      Now I got Evan to stand on the passenger side running board and help direct me as I reversed up this steep hill, squeezing past the throngs of curious onlookers and past the disabled Hyundai.  Once we were past it, we stopped, tied a tow strap between the Hyundai and the truck and then the fun began.

      Naturally, the Hyundai was parked at the only flat spot on the hill, so naturally it wouldn't roll.  Also naturally, whenever a disabled car needs to be moved here, throngs of men rush in and start pushing.  So now we've got 10-15 men pushing this Hyundai, which has no brakes and which is tied to the M813 with a short tow strap.  Naturally this means that I need to keep the 5 ton moving whenever I see the Hyundai moving!  So, with EXTREME caution, I carefully pulled forward while the men pushed the Hyundai until it finally started to roll.  Once it started to roll, I gently lowered it backwards down the hill to the same curve where I had turned the 5 ton around.

      Of course this was not without its own share of difficulties.  Before we had quite managed to get the dead truck turned around, it got stuck on ruts in the road and had to be muscled back into motion while I ever so carefully followed along behind, trying to keep some slack in the tow strap and not to run over any of the men pushing the Hyundai.  It was mildly nerve wracking.

       Bear in mind that during this whole process the Hyundai has NO brakes, which is why we had to be so careful about not letting it run away.  We eventually got the Hyundai more or less pointed down hill with the 5 ton attached to it with a tow strap, but unfortunately, because of the curve in the road and the wide turning radius of the M813, we were no parked 90 degrees to the rear of the Hyundai.  Eventually we realised that we were driving a 12 ton truck and that the rear end of the Hyundai was probably pretty light, so we just put the 6x6 into reverse and pulled the rear end of the Hyundai across the dirt road until we were all lined up a bit better.  Evan and I were pleased with how easy this was to do, I don't think the 5 ton even realised that the Hyundai was even out there.  It simply backed up and dragged the rear end of the Hyundai behind it.

      So now we're all lined up and pointing down hill.  I put the truck into 1st gear, LOW range and away we go.   1st gear LOW is waaay too slow (about 2 mph) so I went up to 2nd LOW and that was a bit better, though men jogging along next to us still had no trouble overtaking us.  They jogged along the road in front of the Hyundai, waving pedestrians off of the road hollering for people to get out of the way.

       This method of lowering a brakeless vehicle down a rough dirt road worked quite well.  The road never really leveled out, only got more steep in some places and less steep in others, so gravity assisted us all the way to the bottom.  We were quite popular all the way down, people waving and smiling, everybody loves the 5 ton.  Every time we take it out it's a Public Relations boost.

       Once down on the flat we moved around to the front of the Hyundai and dragged it the rest of the way back to the shop.  In the rear view mirror I could see that the rear tires on the Hyundai were spinning forwards on one side and backwards on the other, which meant that the driver was trying to use his seized-up engine and clutch as a crude brake, but the 5 ton was just overwhelming his available traction.  We slowed down a bit and carried on without incident UNTIL...

       Home again, home again, we picked a place to park the dead Hyundai in front of the shop, on a slight downhill.  As I braked gently to a stop, the Hyundai plowed straight into the rear of the 5 ton!  The only way I knew that anything had happened at all was because I heard somebody shouting about it from the side of the road, never felt a thing in the truck.  I guess the driver must have forgotten about his crude brake and just coasted right into the back of us without remembering to stop.  I felt bad for him, but I didn't want to shame him, so I pretended not to notice anything, even though the front of the poor Hyundai now has a massive dent in it.  Thankfully his windscreen was already broken before we started, so the extra damage that happened to the glass when he ran into us won't really make a difference.  I was surprised to see that we made it back in almost exactly 2 hours--it sure felt longer than that.

       Another interesting trip in the M813!  That truck is 12 tons of Adventure Mobile.  Since we left in such a rush, I didn't have time to run home and get a camera.  I may try to get a photo of the front of the Hyundai in the next couple of days.