Few farm experiences compare to the dread of calling a family member or coworker from the cab and telling them, “I’m stuck”. Equipment stuck in the field is a total disruption of what is already a challenging and difficult season.
Pulling out stuck equipment can never be done without risk. Many fatalities and serious injuries have occurred due to the recoil of a tensioned chain, rope, or cable when a failure occurred. Additionally, hooking higher than the drawbar on the tow tractor can cause a tractor to flip over backwards.
Prepare ahead of time. Purdue Extension has prepared a guide entitled: “Extracting Stuck Equipment Safely”that explains the danger and accident prevention techniques. Spend a few minutes now preparing for what can be a very trying, stressful and dangerous event.
Some points to consider:
- Discard your old chains, ropes and clevises and start fresh with properly rated towing devices for your heaviest combination of equipment. Store your towing devices properly and inspect before each use.
- Only attach to points approved by the equipment manufacturer.
- If using more than one towing vehicle, hook them side by side with a towing device for each towing vehicle. Hooking them end to end puts too much stress on the final towing device.
- Hang a heavy canvas or heavy coat in the middle of the towing device. The weight of the canvas or coat will create drag and slow/redirect the recoil should failure occur.
- Keep all bystanders back.
- Coordinate driver action/effort to maximize traction.
- Use the slowest gear possible.
If the equipment is more than mildly stuck, bring out a professional tow service. Their chains, cables, clevises and pins are designed and tested to handle the heavy load. Moreover, they have likely safely handled situations like yours dozens of times.