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Cargo Control 20 | Does it really Matter?

May/June 2012

24 | Collins Hi-Speed) Dollies

Winches 12 | Winch Basics and Not-so-Basics 16 | Which Winch is Which?

Safety 26 | What Safety Regulations apply to me?

company spotlight

Lighting 30 |Light Bar Basics

Industry NEWS

33 | SEFAC 32 | Ranger 5 | 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced 37 | Battery Testing – Three Reasons Why It Makes 5 | Bilt USA Manufacturing Sense to Go Digital 6 | Dispatch Anywhere Expands GPS Support Capabilities IN EVERY ISSUE 6 | In The Ditch Towing Products recieve new load rating on their Aluminum Tire Stands 4 | Publisher Letter 34 | HOOKED UP 7 |United Road Towing Donates 8 | Dynamic Industries Welcomes TruckMax of Miami 8 | Zip’s Truck Equipment opens second location 9 | Who Helps the Families of our Heroes? TOW T I P S


10 | Care & Feeding of your winch Cover Image Courtesy of Steven Weil from Weil Wrecker


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 | | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional





Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery

May/June 2012

PUBLISHERS Darian Weaver President & Co-Publisher


s we move through Spring and into Summer, time is absolutely flying past me- Monday turns into Friday and Friday into Monday…

Jack Hartsfield Vice President & Co-Publisher

In April, Darian and I went to the Florida Tow Show which was very well attended. The weather wasn’t quite as good with showers coming in the afternoon both Friday and Saturday. Half of the show was inside the Downtown Disney Hilton with the other half being outside in the parking lot. We met a lot of the operating audience, customers/potential customers (advertisers), and several of the people from the other magazines within the market. It was a pleasure meeting you all. This past April 27th marked the anniversary of more than 60 tornadoes that that destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, killing near 250 people in the state of Alabama. As we are based in Alabama, I would like to recognize and give thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Vincent “Bo” Jackson and his efforts to raise $1 million for the Emergency Relief Fund. From April 23rd-28th 2012, Bo had a fundraiser dubbed “Bo Bikes Bama”. Jackson rode a specially made bike painted orange and blue (the colors of his alma mater, Auburn University) which bears the name of every person who died in the twisters. The ride began in Henagar, Alabama and ended in Tuscaloosa, Alabama- a 300 mile path of destruction that the tornadoes ripped apart. Hundreds joined Jackson for the ride, including celebrities such as Lance Armstrong, former major leaguer Ken Griffey Jr., NBA star Scottie Pippen and downhill skier Picabo Street. Riders could join Jackson for $200 a day. The ride was a success- THANK YOU BO!


PRODUCTION Clint W. Cabiness Art Director Hal K. Huber Graphic Designer __________________________

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tom Bray Fritz Dahlin Richard Farrell Philip H. Halt Curtis Hassell Todd K Jim Shellhaas __________________________

In this issue you will find feature editorials on Winches, Cargo Control, Safety Regulations and Lightbar Basics. Also, see company profiles on Ranger SST, and SEFAC.

Have a great Summer,

Executive and Advertising Offices P.O. Box 26308 Birmingham, AL 35260 Toll free: 888-802-8544 Fax: 205-978-1550

Jack Hartsfield and Darian Weaver Co-Publishers

For a new free subscription, address changes or corrections, please visit and click on the “subscribe” tab.


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

Tow Professional is published seven times a year on a bimonthly basis by Over The Mountain Media, Inc., P.O. Box 26308, Birmingham, Alabama, 35260, USA. Tow Professional is distributed free to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscription rates are $57.00 per year in the U.S. and Canada and $84.00 per year for foreign subscribers (surface mail). U.S. Postage paid at Birmingham, Alabama and additional mailing offices. Tow Professional is distributed to qualified Towing & Recovery's Top Decision Makers. Publisher is not liable for all content (including editorial and illustrations provided by advertisers) of advertisements published and does not accept responsibility for any claims made against the publisher. It is the advertiser’s or agency’s responsibility to obtain appropriate releases on any item or individuals pictured in an advertisement. Reproduction of this magazine in whole or in part is prohibited without prior written permission from the publisher.

........................................... 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees Announced >>> Industry NEWS TOWING & RECOVERY

April 10, 2012/CHATTANOOGA, TN – Ten outstanding industry leaders have been selected for induction into the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame as the Class of 2012. Robert G. Birrell, Jr. (Kinsman, Ohio), Paul M. Bressi (Olympia, Washington), Darrell H. Mansfield (Cheshire, England), Michael P. McGovern (Knoxville, Tennessee), Nicholas J. Ovenden (Ashford, Kent, England), Alex Robb (Glasgow, Scotland), Jeffrey P. Roskopf (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin), James Satterfield (Sikeston, Missouri), Robert E. Schatzman, Jr.-Deceased (Spring Hill, Florida), and Robert Sommers-Deceased (Canoga Park, California) were nominated by mem-

bers of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum for their many contributions to the towing and recovery industry, their families and their communities. “Each year, the inductees share common strengths which have led to their nomination into this prestigious group,” says Bill Gratzianna, President of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. “This year’s inductees share a dedication to their state and local towing organizations as well as the national towing and recovery community.” Hall of Fame members will be recog-

nized at an induction ceremony to be held at 6 p.m. on September 15th, 2012 at the DoubleTree Hotel of Chattanooga. A full weekend of activities will be held to celebrate this year’s inductees. For more information on the induction ceremony, or to order tickets, call Cheryl Mish at 423-267-3132. The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum is the only one in the world for the Towing Industry. It was opened September 22, 1995. There are 18 antique tow trucks on display along with memorabilia from the industry. Chattanooga, Tennessee was the chosen site for the museum as Ernest Holmes, Co. built the first wreckers there in the early 1900’s. The museum is currently located at 3315 Broad St., Chattanooga, TN. 37408.

.......................................................... Bilt USA Manufacturing >>>

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce Bilt USA Manufacturing. Bilt USA Manufacturing is a company that is new in name but not new in nature. We have leased the plant and offices once owned by AATAC, a leader in the towing industry for years. Bilt USA Manufacturing builds a product that is second to none and

we stand by our products offering a 2 year

warranty on our carrier beds and tow trucks. We offer continued customer support and our goal is to provide our customers with great customer satisfaction. Not only do we build these products, we have parts to help you with your current situation should the need arise. We understand that time is money. While we do not build AATAC products, we know that some of the products still exist and we have the capability to service and provide parts for the majority of the AATAC line. We are here to assist you in any way to help you with your tow truck needs and if you need anything, please do not hesitate to call. | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional


............................................... DISPATCH ANYWHERE EXPANDS GPS SUPPORT CAPABILITIES >>>


Beacon Software’s new GPS and Smartphone/Tablet support for its popular DispatchAnywhereTM Visual Dispatch let you know where your drivers are at all times.

“A lot of owners share that they get frustrated when it’s busy and they are trying to locate a driver to send on another job,” says Todd Althouse, President of Beacon Software. “We’re seeking to eliminate some frustration and provide a viable business management tool that can be used with a variety of GPS options.” The Visual Dispatch module, coupled with GPS, enables you to SEE the location of each truck/call. And with the recent addition of Wireless Matrix, Fleetmatics and mobile phone support, you can select from a variety of GPS options that include GPS systems from Teletrac, TomTom, iTrak, VehiclePath, AVLocate, DriverLocate, EliteTrak, Contigo (Fleetboss), StreetEagle, and C3 Location Systems. Visual Dispatch also tracks iPhones, iPads and most Andriod based phones and tablets. Beacon will continue to add other popular GPS systems as requested by their customers. With Visual Dispatch, you can choose to have

only the map or the map and Dispatch Grid windows open at the same time. Some users elect to have the dispatch grid displayed on one monitor with the map displayed on a second monitor for a complete picture. Visual Dispatch also supports Road, Aerial and Bird’s Eye Views to allow a company to accurately see a job so they can better direct the driver. Visual Dispatch is very affordable for any size company: only $20/Dispatch Anywhere user/month (in addition to your GPS monthly fees) and a mobile data plan is required. “Unlike many of our competitors, we do not charge by the truck or driver,” Althouse says. “Our goal is to be a part of the solution, not an addi-

tional problem.” Watch for Beacon’s New Dispatcher APP for iPhone, iPad and Android coming July 2012. It will incorporate many of the features of Dispatcher Anywhere’s Visual Dispatch to allow tracking while on the go. For more information on Dispatch Anywhere Mobile Apps, or how Beacon Software can help your company, visit, stop by our booth at the Florida Tow Show, or follow us on Facebook.

.......................................................... In The Ditch Towing Products receives new load rating on their Aluminum Tire Stands >>>

Mountain Home, Idaho – April 2, 2012 – In The Ditch Towing Products of Mountain Home, Idaho announced today that their Aluminum Tire Stands, Part # ITD1132, have received a higher load rating. Until recently, the tire stands have been rated at 6,000 lbs. each. The new stronger design is now rated at 10,000 lbs per tire stand. Chuck Ceccarelli, President of In The Ditch said, “With the large number of towers from the US, Australia and Europe requesting a higher 6

rating, we gave our engineers a challenge and they answered it with an all new design that now supports 10,000 lbs. each’. With the stronger design, the Tire Stands have passed the stringent ASME PALD-2009 standard…which is the “Safety Standard for Portable Automotive Lifting Devices”. In The Ditch Towing Products is the manufacturer of towing equipment and truck accessories. Find out more by going

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

CONTACT Jake Reynolds In The Ditch Towing Products 3195 Industrial Way Mountain Home, Idaho 83647 Toll Free: 1-888-993-4824 Local: 208-587-7960

................................................................ United Road Towing Donates >>> May 1, 2012/CHATTANOOGA, TN – United Road Towing (URT) recently donated $45,000 to the Survivor Fund (SF) on behalf of its employees. The Survivor Fund founded in 2006 and managed by the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum was started to offer financial support to the families that have lost a loved one in the line of service within industry. Since 2006 the Survivor Fund has approved and paid out over 150 claims to support families in their time of need due to tragic accidents. As a follow up to URT’s donation, the Survivor Fund Committee voted to increase the death benefit paid to each approved application from $1,500 per incident to $2,000 per incident. If the deceased was employed by a member company of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum, the benefit increases to $2,500. “We are thankful for URT’s overwhelming generosity in helping the Survivor Fund reach a significant goal in funds raised while operating in such a difficult economy. The committee decided based on past averages and current investments on hand that now was the time to increase funds for those who apply for assistance. This has always been the Survivor Fund’s goal and to achieve this in the first six years speaks mountains for the support the industry has shown.” said Jeffrey Godwin the SF Committee Chairman. “On behalf of all of our employees and their families as well as our three fallen employees who are recognized on the Wall of The Fallen, we couldn’t think of a more meaningful charity for which to contribute. Our hope is that the funds will lessen the pain for the families left behind when these tragedies occur,” said Jerry Corcoran, CEO of URT.

Company currently operates out of 13 major markets and is headquartered in Mokena, IL

About ITRHOFM The International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame & Museum host the Wall of the Fallen Memorial, the only one in the world for the Towing Industry. It was unveiled September 22, 2006. The museum is currently located at 3315 Broad St., Chattanooga, TN About URT United Road Towing, Inc. is the leader in towing, recovery, impound, and vehicle management solutions in both the private and public sectors. Through an extensive portfolio of local and regional brands, the Company dispatches approximately 500,000 tows, manages over 300,000 impounds and sells over 60,000 vehicles annually across the United States. The | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional


............................................... Dynamic Industries Welcomes TruckMax of Miami >>> Industry NEWS TOWING & RECOVERY

dealer for Isuzu Trucks, Volvo Trucks, Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks, Hino Trucks, Cummins, Allison, and Babco Truck Bodies. Shelly Schultz, Dynamic Towing’s Vice President, noted, “TruckMax has proven their success in commercial truck sales, and with their 3 locations Dynamic customers now have a variety of locations to purchase trucks, as well as receive service. I’m excited about our new partnership.”

Dynamic Towing Equipment and Manufacturing, a leading manufacturer of self loading wreckers and carriers, announced today that they have welcomed TruckMax of Miami, Florida to their growing distributor network. This collaboration is part of Dynamic Towing’s effort to expand their distribution services to

the growing repossession/towing market in Florida. TruckMax is a major player in Florida commercial truck sales. TruckMax provides new and used box trucks, refrigerated trucks, landscape trucks, tow trucks, flatbed trucks, dump trucks, class 8 tractors, utility trucks, bucket trucks and much more. TruckMax is an authorized

TruckMax of Miami is located just off the Palmetto Expressway and NW 58 Street. They also have convenient locations on US HWY 1 in Ft. Pierce, Florida and in Homestead, Florida. Questions, contact TruckMax 1.888.815.1900 or Dynamic Towing Equipment 800.831.9299 toll free.

........................................................... Zip’s Truck Equipment opens Second Location in Detroit Metro >>>

May 9, 2012 - Detroit, Michigan - On May 4th and 5th Zip's Truck Equipment held the Grand Opening for their newest branch located in Taylor, Michigan,just a mile from the Detroit Metro Airport. Multiple product and equipment vendors, the owners of Zip's Truck Equipment, and the new team from the Taylor location were present. Nearly 200 guests from all over the region, came to see for themselves; Zip's Truck Equipment's state of the art Parts Store, Indoor Truck Showroom, and 12 Bay Service Facility. Towing owners and operators explored the virtual communication capabilities of the showroom kiosks, and shopped the aisles of specialized towing and truckequipment parts and accessories. Zip's Truck Equipment opened in Taylor, Michigan in late March. This 28,000 square foot facility

was built to replicate the first-class services offered at Zip's headquarters in New Hampton, Iowa. Zip's specializes in the sale and financing of automotive towing equipment, including a wide variety of tow trucks, wreckers, rollback car carriers, multi-car haulers, and related equipment. 8

In addition, Zip's has expanded many product lines to include snow plows, trucking related accessories, andmore. The metro Detroit location offers a complete body upfit service department with experienced wrecker mechanics, a full sales and service staff, a large parts and accessory store with in-stock availability on most products, over 30 new and used in-stock wreckers, carriers, and trailers, and financing for trucks and other equipment. This new location relies on a combination of knowledgeable and hardworking people with modern technology to keep their customers on the cutting edge in the towing industry. Zip's strives to provide the highest level of service, before and after the sale. It is our mission to create a market place for new and used tow trucks and towing equipment providing the services necessary for its purchase, maintenance and disposition. It is our goal to raise the quality of life of those in the towing industry by helping to implement innovations and technological advances through "World Class" service, workmanship and support. Originally, Zip's Auto Body was established by Harry and Vivian Zipse in1955 in New Hampton,

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

Iowa. In 1974 Paul Rottinghaus began working for Zips. After12 years of being involved in all aspects of the business, Rottinghaus purchased the company and changed the name to Zip's Truck Equipment. Since1986 Paul and Margo Rottinghaus have expanded the product lines, added over 80 employees, and built a custom facility in Iowa to meet the unique needs of the business and their customers. The Michigan location was a huge step towards accommodating Zip's new and existing customers east of the Mississippi. David Rottinghaus, son of Paul, along with his wife Tiffany, relocated to Michigan in late 2011. The building which is within 1 mile of the Detroit Metro Airport, went under extensive renovations before being open to the public. David and Tiffany work at the location full-time and manage the daily operations of the branch. "We hope to prove to this new market that the quality of our product, dependability of our staff, and service to our customers is top-notch. We invite any and all towing operators and owners to visit our new location and learn more about what we do, what makes us different, and how we can help you become a leader in your industry", says David Rottinghaus.

For more information about Zip's Truck Equipment, and the services theyoffer, visit

................................................................. WHO HELPS THE FAMILIES OF OUR HEROES? >>> The towing business often provides the great satisfaction of a job well done. Unfortu-

nately it also sometimes involves tragic circumstances. The tragedy could come in the form of sudden and dramatic violence from a debtor whose vehicle is being towed. Or the tragedy could be a silent, serious, and life-changing illness that assails the uninsured family of a recovery agent. On November 5, 2007 Greg Hamilton of Alabama Recovery Service unexpectedly died from what is believed to have been a viral infection. On August 9, 2008 Christopher “Fubu” Abbott, a charming and likeable young employee (28) of New England Associates passed away after a brief illness. On November 12, 2009 Brandon Thomas and Willie Thackston were both shot by a debtor while attempting to repossess a vehicle in Georgia. Brandon died. Willie was critically injured. While each of these situations is both saddening and unique, they all share two things in common: In each case the family of a recovery agent faced a tragedy for which it was financially unprepared. And, in each case someone stepped in to help.

That someone was the Recovery Agents Benefit Fund, or RABF. RABF collected $7,470 to help Greg’s family and $7,060 to cover burial expenses for Chris. Willie received over $13,000 from the fund, as did Brandon’s wife Brandy. Police officers and firemen drive into harm’s way every day. So do recovery agents. But unlike policemen and firemen, recovery agents often do not have health, life, or burial insurance. A serious injury, illness, or even death becomes an emotional and financial double whammy for the family of a recovery agent. That’s why in 2002 Ed Marcum established the charitable organization that is now called RABF. Since its founding, RABF has given money to at least 20 families who called on the fund because of financial hardship caused by a debilitating injury, illness, or death. No one involved with the fund gets paid for their time and efforts. As unusual as it may seem these days, the folks at RABF do what they do out of the goodness of their hearts! Key players in the towing industry recognize the importance of RABF. Dynamic Towing Equipment and Manufacturing donates a 601 Slide-In Unit, which gets raffled off so the proceeds can go to the

RABF. The list of other supporters includes Recovery Specialist Insurance Group; Diane Kirzl, CPA; Web Weaver USA, Inc.; Global Printing;; and, Mike “The Tow Truck Guy” Reiter/HAR Inc. RABF needs your donation to continue operating. RABF is recognized as a charitable organization by the IRS, so your contributions to RABF will be tax-deductible. Making a donation is easy. You can do any of the following: • Call them at 703 365 0409. • Fill out a check as you normally would and then fax it to 703-365-0753. • Mail your donation to: RABF, P. O. Box 4012, Manassas, VA 20108. • Donate using PayPal at the RABF website: Many recovery agents are unsung heroes. While you personally may not be a recovery agent who is facing life-threatening situations every day, you still can be a hero to the family of a recovery agent in its desperate time of need. Any contribution, no matter how small, will be appreciated. Please make a donation to the Recovery Agents Benefit Fund today.

........................................................... | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional





OF YOUR W I N C H By R ich ar d Far r e ll


inches are generally one of the most used and abused tools that towers have. Over the years, I have seen some amazing things done to winches and cables. Some left my mechanics wondering how these were done. Some types of winches will take abuse better than others, but all need care and maintenance.

There are two basic types of winches used in the towing industry today. The worm gear and the planetary. The differences are easy to spot and both have their own strong and weak points.

tough, they can take a lot of abuse. Keep them full of gear lube and the will last for years. (there are some out there over 60 years old and more). The basic worm gear winch has but 2

WORM GEAR Input or motor on side (90 deg)to drum This type of winch has been a main stay of the industry for many years. Strong and


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

moving parts. The worm gear and the bull gear. Repairing a worm gear winch is pretty straight forward and not too difficult. This is the same configuration as your trucks rear end gears. The biggest downside is TOO SLOW! There are a couple of things you can do to speed this up a bit. Of course, ramp up the rpm a little. (1200-1400 max) The other thing is to change the hydraulic motor to a faster speed. You will tend to lose a little max-power but for most people this is not a big deal.(I remember a study done by a very large motor club stating the average load pulled by a flatbed was less than 3000lbs.) So a faster motor is no big deal.

PLANETARY Motor on end, in line with drum. This style winch is multi-gear driven . Most all have a cluster or sun gear inside the main housing and a direct (in line) motor arrangement. All will have some type of spring or hydraulically tensioned, internal clutch braking, generally released by the input motor. These winches have the benefit of great speed when pulling with little or no load and slowing down as the weight or load is increased. One thing that should never be done is to hook up to a disabled vehicle and pull by driving rather engaging the winch. This will cause massive damage to the

brake assembly and drive section of the winch. All winches are rated on the first layer of cable. A winch rated at 8000 lbs that is pulling on the third layer has reduced its capacity to approx. 5100 lbs. You can figure about 15% loss per layer. Keeping your cable straight and even on your drum will save you from expensive repair cost. I have seen many cables get wrapped between the edge if the case and the drum. This is only caused by letting the cable wrap up loose and not watching the cable when winching in the load. Cable tensioners and roller guides help, but you still need to start with a straight and neat drum of cable and by keeping tension (and your eye) on the cable while winching. Winches have a cable release device for free spooling the cable. This saves time by letting the cable out without winching. Always remember to completely re-engage the free spool clutch before you start winching in your load. Greasing the shaft and handle pivot should be part of your regular maintenance program. When you do re-

lease all your cable out keep in mind you need to keep at least 5 wraps of cable around your drum. The bolt or set screw is not rated to hold any load. Keeping your winch and cable in good working order will save you time and money. By doing these simple things you can keep your down time and repairs to a minimum. TOW

Detroit Wrecker Sales 19630 Fitzpatrick Detroit, MI 48228 Local: 313-835-8700 National: 877-TOW-0030 Fax: 313-835-4838 Webstore: Email: | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional





By Todd K., AWD ir ect Te ch n ical Pr odu ct S u ppor t

I think back to the beginning of my recovery days when it seemed fine to wrap the wire rope around the frame of an overturned casualty, attach the hook back to the wire rope, idle up and jerk the vehicle back to its Coming from a life working in (and own- correct “top-side-up” posiing) collision centers, repair shops, tire tion. I compare that situation shops and now working in the marketing to the knowledge I have and technical side of the industry, my now of doing it correctly and human hard drive of stories, mistakes, ac- safely, all while saving complishments and knowledge of the money from having to replace damaged parts. It towing industry is reaching critical mass. seems as though it should be easy to teach the new guys not to make the same mistakes I made. WRONG. Now, I do not proclaim to be a psychologist or even know much about the human thought process, but 20+ years in the recovery industry has taught me that most of us have a hard


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

time admitting we have done things wrong or do not know something recovery related. This leads me to why I am writing this article. When we think of winches and wire rope, we assume they’re super-strong and nearly indestructible. WRONG again. That was the impression I had when I started out in the recovery field. For quite some time, I had the impression that if something broke within the winching system then it had to be a manufacturer’s defect. And…I was WRONG again. Are you seeing a pattern here?

LET’S START WITH WIRE ROPE. First off, we need to think of our wire rope as a running machine with moving parts. How’s that you ask? Think of a 4x4 truck on dry pavement. The truck hops and chirps when you make a really tight turn. This is because the outside wheel is


traveling much farther than the inside wheel while being locked together, which wears rubber off of the outside tire. Wire rope behaves the same. When it goes around a sheave or the winch drum, the outside wire strands of the rope rub against the slower-moving inside strands. This wears on the small metal strands of the wire rope the whole time. It’s a sound practice to replace wire rope at least every six months on a regularly used recovery vehicle, even if there are no obvious signs of wear. The wear could be taking place, unseen, inside the rope where the

small wire strands have worn on each other, leaving breakage to occur anytime with no warning. A six-month replacement schedule should keep you, your employees, your equipment and your customers safe. There are a host of other damages and problems one can inflict upon wire rope. These include, but are not limited to: bending, smashing and kinking. For instance, a 3/8" wire rope should never be run around anything less than a 4"-diameter sheave, or across sharp edges (such as the edge of your carrier bed). Plus, we all know we should never wrap the wire rope and hook around an object and attach the hook back to the wire rope itself. Most of these problems can be avoided by using a synthetic rope, but that is an article all by itself and we will leave that for a future writing.

NOW ON TO THE WINCH. The winch is the heart of your truck. Just like the heart that beats in your chest, you are bound to have problems with it if | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional





you neglect it long enough, and probably at the most unfortunate times. You do not have a heart attack at the hospital and your winch will not give out at the shop. So…Lubricate! Lubricate! Lubricate! Lubrication is the lifeblood of your winch. Be sure to change the lubricant at least every season to prolong the internal parts of your winch. The type and weight of lubricant can be found in your winch’s manual. (AHHH! No manual? Manuals for most common name brand winches can be found on the manufacturers’ websites). Check for leaks at the gear and motor side of your winch. The hydraulic motor mount usually has a weep hole. If there is any fluid dripping from it, replace the seal between the motor and the mount. Check for leaks at any gear case seams and replace the gaskets as necessary. Check for loose bolts in the winch frame and for excessive play in the winch drum from side to side. Last, but certainly not least, check the


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clutch side of the winch. This usually has a fairly simple design—a handle hooks to a clutch fork that slides the jaw clutch’s two teeth in and out of the two teeth in the side of the drum. This allows the winch to free-spool. The simplicity of this design is also what causes the most problems with

WINCH user error. That’s right, here is where a lot of us go wrong. There’s that pattern again. Since I was one of the largest violators of the correct clutch disengagement-engagement procedures, I can explain it well! It is 18 degrees outside. We are picking up a stranded mid-size car in 15" of snow. We pull up, hit the MICO lock, engage the PTO and idle up. We jump out, pull the clutch release and raise the bed. We shovel the snow from the front of the car, attach our V-strap and proceed up the bed to pull the winch cable out. We find ourselves sliding down the snow and ice on the bed until we stop abruptly at the snow-covered V-strap and attach the hook. Now shivering and slightly shaken from the unintended luge trip down the carrier bed, we check traffic then hurry back to the side of the carrier. We tap the clutch release lever back in and pull on the “winch in” handle until the clutch engages into the spool. WRONG again. Rounded jaw clutch teeth are the single largest repair to winches that I see and are easily the most dangerous condition to

have with your winch. It all stems from the clutch engagement method mentioned before. When we power in to engage the clutch, the pressure and speed of the drum rotation can catch the jaw clutch before it is fully engaged, leaving only a 1/4" or less of the teeth engaged. This situation causes the teeth to round out if done repeatedly. Once rounded, it may cause the winch to disengage at any time, allowing your casualty to freely roll down the bed and over anything and anyone behind it. The correct procedure for engaging the jaw clutch is to release the clutch lever, then tug on the wire rope until the jaw clutch engages into the drum and stops the free-spooling. Then and only then should power be applied to the winch. I want to stress this: we can prevent damage to our machines and customer vehicles, or even prevent the loss of life by simply using machines the way they were designed to be used—safely and correctly. Give someone a winch and they will pull stuff around. Teach someone recovery and they will be an asset to our industry and society. TOW | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional




W H I C H ?

Merriam - Webster defines a winch as a machine for hauling or pulling. Specifically, a winch is a powerful machine with one or more drums on which to coil a rope, cable, or chain for hauling or hoisting. In industry, winches stand at the heart of machines as diverse as tow trucks, large industrial cranes, heavy hauling equipment and off road vehicles requiring self-recovery. The more elaborate designs have gear assemblies that can be powered by electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or internal combustions drives. 16

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

By Ph ilip H . H alt Marketing Product Manager The two most common designs of winches used in the Industrial Marketplace are the Worm Gear Winch and the Planetary Winch. Worm gear winches, by design, provide a very rugged platform for heavy duty applications. The planetary winch design offers higher speed and higher efficiency when compared to its counterpart. However a separate breaking system is required with the planetary design. Which type of winch is better? It depends on the application. This is where a winch professional comes in; to help with the specification of the proper winch. Most US manufactures design to the Industry Standard: SAE J706 Rating of Winches: SAE J706 is a voluntary standard for intermittent duty winches. Winches meeting this standard must comply with design guidelines for the free spool mechanism, brake holding force, drum diameter in relation to the

cable diameter (8:1), cable anchor pocket and other design guidelines. As part of the testing procedure, all winches must be tested to a two times load test. Worm Gear Winch: Worm gear winches have fewer moving parts than other designs and are known for their superior endurance and high reliability. The gear box of a Worm Gear Winch has two major parts, the worm and the main or bull gear. It is generally accepted in the industry that worm gear winches have a slower line speed and are less efficient than other designs. However, they are also generally self-braking, meaning that they stop when the driving worm gear stops and are extremely robust. Due to some new highly efficient gearing technology, there are some worm gear winches that have line speeds that are equal to their planetary counterparts for the same line pull. Reference: Ramsey Winch HSW 10,000 Worm Gear Winch has the same line speed as the HD-P 10,000. Planetary Winch: The planetary winch has gained popularity because of its compact size, smooth operation and good resistance to torque loads. This design also allows for generally higher efficiency gear ratios than the standard Worm Gear Winch. The planetary winch gear box is made up of the sun gear sur- | March/April 2012 | Tow Professional 17



rounded by a number of planetary gears that engage the ring gear. The planetary winch is also more efficient than its worm gear counterpart. However this device does require a braking system to safely hold the load. Other Major Components of the Winch: Although the basic industrial winch design is named after the winch gearbox, there are other components that make up the total winch product. The major ones of these are the Rope (Synthetic or Wire Rope); the Drum; the Clutch Assembly; the Braking System; and the Driving Motor (generally electric or hydraulic.) Rope and Drum: The winch rope is stored on the drum in layers. The published rating of the winch is the “rated line pull on the first layer of rope on the drum.” The first layer is the layer closest to the drum. Clutch Operation and Maintenance: There are several defining factors in the operation of a winch. One of the most important of these is the operation, inspection and care of the “Clutch Assembly.” The clutch is used to en-


W H I C H ?

gage and disengage the gear and drum assemblies of the winch. Clutch Disengaged: When the clutch is disengaged, the cable on the drum may be pulled off by hand, commonly known as “free spooling”. There are a number of specified ways to disengage the clutch assembly based on the type of winch, its design and the procedure for operation that is detailed in the winch owner’s manual. To Disengage Clutch: Run the winch in the reverse direction until the load is off the cable. Pull outward on the clutch handle, rotate counterclockwise 90 degrees and release. With other designs, the clutch handle can be moved toward the drum until the clutch disengages. The Clutch is now locked out and the cable may be pulled off by hand. (Free Spool.) To Re-engage the clutch, pull outward on the handle; rotate clockwise 90 degrees and release. In the other design shown, to reengage the clutch, the handle is pulled away from the drum to the, “IN” position. The drum is then rotated until the clutch jaws en-

Clutch Disengaged gage the drum jaws. Important Note: The most important rule with respect to winch operation: The Clutch must be fully engaged before starting any winch operation. Failure to do so may result in the dropping of the load, with the potential for injury.

Clutch Re-Engaged Clutch Inspection and Maintenance: As part of the normal maintenance procedure of the winch, the clutch assembly should be inspected regularly. These inspection procedures are detailed in the Winch Operation Manual 18

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

machined in an attempt to eliminate round edges. If the drum jaws are rounded, the drum must be replaced. This is just one example of a clutch inspection procedure. The pro-

Drum jaws should have square edges

Inspection Plug provided by the winch manufacturer. As an example, on the Ramsey Winch HSW-10000 model, an inspection plug is provided on the top of the clutch housing. During the inspection procedure, this plug should be removed with the clutch engaged. The jaw clutch must be fully engaged with the drum jaw to see if the Jaw clutch shows wear. Drum jaws and clutch Jaw should have square edges. If the Drum jaws are rounded, the drum must be replaced. It is important to note that the drum should not be welded or

Clutch Fully Engaged cedure can and will vary depending on the winch design. See the winch operation manual for the specific winch model and design. The important thing to remember about the Winch Clutch Assembly: ≈ A fully engaged and properly maintained clutch will not release under

If drum jaws are rounded, replace drum

load. The operator is responsible for ensuring the clutch is fully engaged before starting winching operations. ≈ A partial engagement of the clutch can result in a sudden loss of load and damage to the clutch mechanism, and the possibility of injury. Summary: An industrial winch is a robust and reliable device that is used in a variety of industrial applications e.g., towing and recovery, heavy hauling etc. If properly maintained and operated correctly, it will provide service for a long time. TOW | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional



DOES IT By Fr itz D ah lin


B/A PRODUCTS has been manufacturing and distributing towing and recovery products since 1978. We have come a long way since our start, increasing our product line, doing more manufacturing in house, larger space and more employees. Product quality is our top priority, and to ensure quality, we do a lot of testing


have been to one of our open houses, you may have seen some of the testing we do. Random samples of all inbound chain, wire rope and forgings, snatch blocks and more are tested. While we receive documentation from our manufacturers, we test to verify that documentation. Does it matter? Yes! In the course of testing, we occasionally find product that does not meet our specifications. We received a batch of chain that was not breaking properly. While the chain made minimum break strength, there was little to no elongation, the chain was too brittle. After discussing the problem with the chain manufacturer, it was discovered the chain had been heat treated to the wrong specification. The chain was returned, annealed and reheat treated, and now met spec. Did it really matter? In this case, yes. We also test finished product to verify that the ratings we give them are accurate. When we started making tie downs for the auto hauling industry, there was a lot of debate on what the Work Load Limit of the straps should be. One side wanted to rate it based on the weakTESTING OF AUTO HAULER est component. The other side said in use, the TIEDOWN. 15,000 LBS OF FORCE load would be distributed and it would withstand a higher load. How to settle the deIS BEING APPLIED TO THE bate? We built a mock up of a car hauler deck to use on our Crosby National CN22 flat WHEEL/TIRE ASSEMBLY bed tester, strapped a tire in, and tried to pull it out from under the strap. The result? At 15,400 lbs, the test was stopped. The tire was still under the tie down, and as you can see in the photo, we compressed the tire a few inches. The strap got the higher work load limit, and we are confident the strap is suitable for the job. Did it really matter? Once again, yes. We also get customer driven requests. A customer asked us to document the differences in the breaking strength of ratchet type load binders 20

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depending on how far in or out the hooks were relative to the ratchet mechanism. Test parameters were set up, and the testing began. For the first round of testing, a 5/16”-3/8” load binder with a Work Load Limit of 6600 lbs and a Minimum Break Strength of 19,800 lbs was tested. Three samples were tested: one with the hooks wound all the way in, one with the hooks 1/3rd of the way out, and one with the hooks 2/3rd of the way out. The samples were then hooked onto a section of 3/8” grade 80 chain. Each end of the chain had a clevis grab hook, and loops were formed over the hooks of the test bed. Force was applied to the point of failure, the results were graphed and photographed. So what happened? Here are the results:

LOAD BINDER AND CHAIN IN TEST BED Hooks all the way in: one grab hook on load binder opened at 23,275 lb Hooks 1/3rd of the way out: one grab hook on load binder opened at 23,711 lb Hooks 2/3rd of the way out: one grab hook on load binder opened at 21,396 lb


So did it really make a difference? In this case, no. Regardless of the hooks position, the load binders exceeded their Minimum Break Strength, and nearly four times their work load (remember: NEVER exceed a products Work Load Limit!). Just to confirm our results, another group of load binders was tested. These were 3/8” G100 binders, with a Work load limit of 8800 lbs, and a minimum break of 26,400 lbs. The test set up was the same, using 3/8” grade 80 chain. This time the results were a little different: | May/June | Tow Professional




Hooks all the way in: chain broke at 29,889 lbs Hooks 1/3rd of the way out: chain broke at 22,089, where binder was hooked Hooks 2/3rd of the way out: chain broke at 22,029 where binder was hooked 45000





Load o (Lb) L



- 5000 0.00


T Time(sec) e( c 10.00






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So what happened? First, the Work Load Limits were mismatched. Binder Work Load Limit is 8800 lbs, 3/8 Grade 8 chain WWL is 7100 lbs. One test went above the Minimum Break Strength of the chain (28,400 lbs); two were below the MBS. In both cases, one of the links the binder was hooked to failed. This is known in the chain industry as a Preferential Failure. Because of the way force is applied to the link by the grab hook; it can fail at up to 20% below the chains MBS. Chain is designed to be pulled in a straight line, not from the side. Also remember, that an as-



Load o (Lb) L



I’ve asked the question does it really mater several times, and answered some with yes and some with no. The answer to all of them should be yes. We test to make sure you get the best product available, every time. It matters because when we ship a product, any product, we want there to be no question it will do the job for which it was designed., every time. Yes, it really does matter. TOW



- 5000 0.00

T Time(sec) e( c 10.00






sembly is rated by its weakest component, and once again, NEVER exceed the products Work Load Limit. So did it really matter in this test? I’ll have to say yes and no. No because the position of the load binder hooks did not affect the result of the test. Yes because the differences of the Work Load Limit of the components did affect the test, as well as the Preferential Failure.





DOLLIES By Cu r tis H assell


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

Collins offers the heaviest-duty dollies, rated at 4,280 lb static-load capacity. Between their tried and proven HiSpeed3Dollies for the highway, and their new patent-pending Carrier Dolly System, all dolly-towing bases are now covered. Collins' latest innovation, the aluminum Carrier Dolly System, is quite simple where it solves all the problems of Carrier loading: all-wheel drive vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and electric vehicles, whose wheels are locked by the transmissions and won't roll, are now easily moved with the carrier dolly system. The dolly lifts the vehicle and the aluminum tow bar hooks to the dollies. The winch cable is then hooked to the tow bar, not the vehicle, and pulls the dollies up the flatbed. The vehicle simply rides the carrier dollies. This is especially handy when there is no place to hook onto various vehicles -- in fact, nothing ever touches the vehicle.

CONTROL With the tow bar inverted and fitted to either of the carrier dollies, it now becomes a motorcycle dolly for winching up the carrier as well. For vehicles without wheels the Tow Cradle works perfect with the carrier dollies. Rolling the vehicle up the bed is a far superior system versus dragging it up and then back down the bed, damaging both bed and vehicle. Since experience, good and bad, is the premium schoolmaster, hindsight truly becomes the best vision forward. With four decades hindsight and several patents awarded, Collins is the undisputed leader in dynamic dolly design. TOW

For forty years, the unique dolly innovations of Collins Manufacturing Corp are quite numerous. Besides being the first to invent an articulating dolly that actually lifted a car off the ground, without the aid of jacks in 1972, thereby changing the towing industry worldwide, Collins was also first to introduce: * 1977: Safety Ratchets; protects towers from injury while lifting vehicles with dollies; * 1986: Safety Locks; helps prevent dollies from dropping while towing; * 1995: Aluminum Axles; now the industry standard, at only 22 lbs. per axle; * 2000: Greaseable Hubs; more convenient serviceability; * 2006: Aluminum Greaseable Hubs; up to three times lighter than steel hubs; * 2006: Replaceable Components; the only dolly that can be repaired on the spot; * 2006: Lightest-Weight Dolly; as light as 48 lbs. per side; * 2007: Aluminum 8" Wheels; first ever in the world! Fivehole, polished, mags, Cool; * 2009: Two-Toned Zinc Plating; with polished aluminum mag wheels = Eye Candy; * 2010: Square Aluminum Pry Bar; tower input gives back to the industry @ 5.9 lbs; * 2011: Tow Cradles; From Tow Solutions, transports vehicles without wheels and tires; * 2012: Aluminum Carrier Dolly System; addresses issues of loading cars on carriers.

Visit or call 541-774-9220 | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional



safety regulations apply to me? By To m Br ay at J .J. Kelle r

This is a common question asked by many types of motor carriers. Who is a motor carrier? Basically, it is anyone that uses a “commercial vehicle” to conduct business on the roadways. This, in most cases, includes tow operators. 26

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

FIRST QUESTION, ‘DO YOU OPERATE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES’? For the purposes of the federal Department of Transportation and its agency that oversees interstate motor carrier safety (the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA), a commercial vehicle is a vehicle used in interstate commerce that:

• Has an actual or rated weight (single or combination) of 10,001 pounds or more, • Is designed to seat either more than 8 or more than 15 people, depending on how compensation is handled, or • Is carrying a placardable amount of a hazardous material.








“Interstate commerce” is business that crosses state lines. In the case of carriers, it means either the vehicle or the cargo is destined to, or has, crossed a state line as part of the carrier’s movements. In the case of a tow operation, the “cargo” is the vehicle being towed. If the commercial vehicle is used in intrastate commerce, then the state’s definition of a commercial vehicle applies. Many states have adopted the FMCSA’s definition, but other states use their own definition.

SO YOU OPERATE COMMERCIAL VEHICLES. THE NEXT QUESTION IS, ‘WHAT RULES APPLY’? If you operate vehicles that meet the FMCSA or state definition of a commercial vehicle, the FMCSA or state’s safety regulations will apply to your operation. If you are an intrastate carrier, you need to be aware that most states have adopted the majority of the FMCSA safety regulations for their intrastate carriers. Therefore, the FMCSA regulations or a slight variation of them may very likely apply to you. The key areas that these regulations cover are carrier credentialing, driver licensing and qualifications (and possibly drug testing), vehicle parts and accessories, hours of service, and vehicle inspection and maintenance. In this article we will discuss these requirements, and following each requirement will be the FMCSA regulation number involved if you want to look up the details. | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional


What safety regulations apply to me? - - - - - - - - - - - - - CARRIER CREDENTIALS Carriers that operate in interstate commerce must file an MCS-150 and be issued a USDOT number (see §390.19). If the carrier is charging the public for the service they provide (not just hauling cargo the company owns), the carrier must also have “for-hire authority.” Most states have a similar structure when it comes to their intrastate carriers. In addition, some states and municipalities have additional requirements on tow operators under their jurisdiction. In the case of a for-hire carrier, the company may also be subject to specific insurance minimums (see Part 387). Once the company becomes a registered carrier, the vehicles must be marked in accordance with the regulations (see §390.21) and the company must maintain an “accident register” where all accidents the company is involved in are recorded. The FMCSA considers an accident to be an occurrence involving a company vehicle that resulted in a death, an injury requiring immediate treatment away from the scene, or a vehicle having to be towed


away from the scene due to disabling damage (see §390.15).

DRIVERS Drivers must have the correct license for the vehicle being operated. If the vehicle qualifies as a CDL Class A vehicle (a vehicle weighing or rated at 26,001 pounds or more pulling a towed unit weighing or rated for 10,001 pounds or more) the driver must have a Class A CDL. If the unit being towed is a combination vehicle that has multiple units, the driver would also need to have the “double/triple” endorsement as well as a Class A CDL. If the towing unit weighs more than 26,001 pounds and the towed unit is under the 10,001 pound threshold, then a Class B CDL is required. If the combination is 26,000 pounds or less, and the towed unit is 10,000 pounds or less (and is carrying no placarded hazardous materials), a regular driver’s license is all that is required in most states (see §383.91). If the vehicle being towed would require the driver of the vehicle to have a special endorse-

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

ment to his/her CDL (hazardous materials, tanker, etc.) then the tow truck driver would need to have that endorsement as well (see §383.93). The driver must also have passed a physical and have a valid medical card (see §391.43). The company must have a driver qualification file showing that the driver meets the driver qualification requirements. This file would need to include the driver’s application (§391.21), the background checks done when the driver was hired (§391.23), annual MVR checks (§391.25), annual reviews of driver’s performance (§391.27), road test certificate or equivalent (§391.31 and §391.33), and a copy of the driver’s medical card (§391.43). Some jurisdictions have additional driver qualification requirements for drivers of tow truck drivers (such as a tow operator certification). If the driver operates a vehicle requiring a CDL to operate, the driver must have been provided a copy of the company’s drug and alcohol policy (see §382.601), and the company must

-------------------------------have gotten a verified negative test result and have it on file before using the driver (see §382.301). The company must also have the driver on the random drug and alcohol testing selection list (see §382.305). Last, the driver is covered by the hours-ofservice regulations. These regulations limit how many hours a driver can drive, how many hours the driver can be on duty, and how many hours of break time the driver must take. The basic rules include not driving after the driver has reached (see §395.3):

• 11 hours of driving since the last break of 10 hours or more • 14 consecutive hours since the last break of 10 hours or more • 60 hours on duty in the last 7 days (70 hours in the last eight days if the company operates vehicle 7 days a week and the company chooses to use this option) To record their hours-of-service compliance, drivers must maintain a “record of duty status,” better known as a “log” (see §395.8). There are exceptions for drivers that operate in “short haul” operations that can allow the company to use time records in place of the driver having to complete a log. The details of these exceptions are in the FMCSA regulations at §395.1(e). The key is that the driver cannot drive once one of these limits is reached, whether the driver is keeping a log or operating under one of the exceptions that allow time records to be kept in place of logs. The driver can still work, just not drive.

workday and the driver must submit a report stating the condition of the vehicle at the end of the day (this is referred to as a driver vehicle inspection report or DVIR). These requirements are covered in the regulations at §392.7, §392.9, §396.11, and §396.13. Finally, the vehicle must pass a very specific inspection called a “periodic inspection” (commonly called an “annual inspection”) as required by §396.17. If the state has an equivalent inspection that the commercial vehicle must undergo, this can take the place of this required inspection.

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS’ One point about these regulations: If the driver is operating in support of an emergency, then some or all of the regulations do not apply. An emergency in the case of towing includes:

• A request from law enforcement to assist in clearing an accident or disabled vehicle from traffic. • Operating in support of a declared disaster.







When responding to a request from law enforcement or in the case of a declared disaster, the driver and vehicle are only exempted from the regulations when he/she is responding to, operating in direct support of, and returning from the event. In both cases, the regulations in Parts 390 to 399 are the regulations the driver and vehicle are exempted from, meaning that, if the vehicle requires a CDL driver to operate it, the drug and alcohol regulations in Part 382 and CDL regulations in Part 383 still apply. What it comes down to is, if the driver is doing “every day towing” (such as customercalled-in tows, dealer tows, or auction tows) and not operating in one of the two emergency situations discussed above, all of the rules that normally apply to a commercial vehicle and its driver apply. The driver is only exempt from the rules in Parts 390 to 399 when the driver is involved in emergency or disaster relief operations. TOW

VEHICLES Just like the drivers, once a vehicle is a commercial vehicle, certain regulations apply. To begin with, the vehicle needs to be equipped in accordance with Part 393 of the regulations. These regulations mandate what parts and accessories are required and what condition they must be in. The vehicle then must be inspected and maintained by the company in accordance with Part 396, and maintenance records must be kept showing that the vehicle has been systematically inspected, maintained, lubricated, and repaired when necessary (see §396.3). The vehicle and cargo also must be inspected by the driver at the beginning of the | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional


BASICS By Todd K., AW D ir ect Te ch n ical Pr odu ct S u ppor t

Trying to call attention to yourself and your recovery – in traffic filled with cars designed to filter out noise and reduce road glare – can be a very daunting and dangerous task. You would think a lightbar on the roof and some flashing beacons would be sufficient to capture the attention of any driver, on any freeway, in the U.S. But I have memories that suggest otherwise...


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

recall a fully loaded tractortrailer sliding past two flashing patrol cars, my casualty in the ditch and my flashing rollback while I stood nearby, all due to the driver not paying attention to the road. This was the first time I thought, “How do people not see this pack of flashing vehicles?” Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time. With cell phones, laptops, GPS screens and a multitude of other distractions in today’s vehicles, it is a wonder more people in the recovery and emergency response industry are not hurt or killed. There are many choices when it comes to emergency lighting these days, but one rule holds true for me: purchase lights that are CLASS ONE RATED! Class One lights are the minimum primary warning devices for use on authorized emergency vehicles (i.e. fire trucks, police cars, etc.) that respond to emergency situations. Still, CLASS TWO rated lighting is all that’s required for an unauthorized maintenance or service vehicles (i.e. tow trucks). However, my experiences have shown me that Class Two may not always be enough in today’s world. There are just as many choices of light styles and foundations as there are locations to put them. LED lights are the newest technology and are the most durable, waterproof and least power-consuming lighting today. Technology has made the newest LED modules super bright and they can be seen at distances previously unheard of. The only pitfall of the LED is that the initial purchase costs more than the older technology of strobes and rotators. However, you’ll eventually see cost savings by not having to replace pricey strobe tubes and power supplies. Plus, the playing field is becoming more level as new manufacturing processes have helped to drastically reduce prices of LEDs over the past few years. Strobe tube-based lighting products are a staple of the emergency response industry. Strobe tubes are intensely bright and have fully directional output without the use of cut mirrors. Strobe-based lighting is mid-priced, with


the drawback of having strobe tubes and power supplies that are prone to expire within a couple of years, depending on usage. These are fairly pricey to replace and create a lot of heat. Finally, there is the Rotator. This light foundation has been used by everyone from Andy Griffith on his Mayberry squad car to some 50ton rotators. These lights have been around as long as emergency service itself and have long

been an affordable staple of the industry. In my experience, LED lighting is the winner for safety, longevity and looks. But whatever lighting you have on your truck, you need to make sure you and your crew are visible. Visibility is one of the most important factors for safety on the roadside. If drivers see you from a distance, they have a much better chance of making the decision to “slow down and move over.” TOW | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional


company spotlight

One more call per day per

truck! By J im S h e llh aas Ranger was formed as a technology development company for another towing software provider. We were excited about the opportunity to use technology to streamline and expedite information flows between motor clubs and towing companies - "Digital Dispatch". The potential to improve call center productivity is 20% to 40%. The complication: to get the maximum benefit requires most of a motor club's service providers to be connected for Digital Dispatch. Connecting larger tow companies via the PC in their office seemed reasonably straightforward, but reaching smaller operators in their trucks was a more difficult "mobile technology" challenge -- which we solved! Our first mobile solution was 2-way digital messaging (not text) to a Nextel PTT phone. However, as the great philosopher Yogi Berra noted: "the future ain't what it used to be". And so it was for Ranger. The anticipated rush to Digital Dispatch turned out to be a slow walk in the park. Fortunately, the pilot programs demonstrated that the solution delivered operational benefits to towers independent of Digital Dispatch. One of our beta customers ran a pilot with two drivers. After the first week, he asked the younger, more progressive driver for feedback. The response was quite positive: "I'm sure I completed at least one extra call on four days this week". Then after putting on a flak jacket, he queried Frank - the seasoned, "seen-it-all" veteran. The feedback was surprising: "These phones are great! I didn't have to talk to the dispatcher, all week!" This of course prompted a conversation with the dispatcher, who enthusiastically said: "These phones are great! I didn't have to talk to Frank, all week!" Solving the interpersonal issues was helpful. But the business implications are huge! Frank was wasting time waiting for his turn to talk to the dispatcher. With the mobile solution, Frank could clear his call without a conversation, and his next call was already waiting for him. Frank earns more commissions. The owner increases revenue at low marginal cost. And the dispatcher is a happy camper. We learned three important lessons that have guided our development over the last eight years: 32

Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

1. 2. 3.

Get the dispatcher off of the radio and on to more important tasks e.g., verifying the locations (GPS coordinates) to which the driver is being sent Make maximum use of the mobile technology in the truck - not just GPS tracking, but also two-way messaging, navigation, pricing, and credit card processing Provide a truly integrated, end-to-end management solution for tow companies - from call taking, to call assignment to tracking/mapping, to storage/impound lot, to accounting and invoicing.

In contrast to others who try and bolt together piece parts, Ranger has the only solution that is totally integrated - by design! For example: • The GPS tracking/mapping shows not only truck location, but also truck type, and truck status/availability • Mapping and dispatching are truly interchangeable - they share the same information database and are always in sync • The mapping solution shows the dispatcher the most logical trucks to assign to a new job, and allows dispatchers to assign calls from the map • All call details are automatically sent to the assigned truck driver. The mobile device automatically confirms receipt • The correct lat-long coordinates are automatically inserted into the driver’s navigation tool - no inputting of address information • The mobile device calculates the correct charges for the driver (using account-specific parameters), and enables credit card processing on-site • The storage lot attendant is equipped with a mobile tablet that begins the “Admit” process with all the information that the driver recorded in completing the tow, and sends updates to dispatch We've come a long way: from Nextel to Android; from just messaging to a total management solution -- one that delivers for tow companies: One more call per day per truck! TOW

company spotlight

ONE-MAN portability By Allis ter Collin gs With one-man portability, a SEFAC lift can be raised in any working bay and even outside. A SEFAC lift takes up no more room than the vehicle being lifted and provides unobstructed access to vehicle underbody. If the lifts are not required for vehicle maintenance duties they can be stored in a compact area. Each column is easily positioned at each corner of the vehicle meaning there is unobstructed access to the vehicle underside making it much easier to complete inspections, oil changes and major mechanical repairs.

SEFAC mobile lifts have an enviable reputation for their robust reliability, at a competitive price and are backed up by the best product support in the business. While the industry standard is to use independent organizations for field service (often not factory trained), the SEFAC team comprises directly employed, factory trained service technicians with more than 40 year experience in the mobile lift industry. We offer a number of service packages from fixed cost packages, annual OSHA inspections and breakdown visits. We also provide free telephone technical support to all of our customers. SEFAC guarantees parts availability for 25 years after a lift is re-

tired from production. Some of our competitors may make this claim, but they were not around 25 years ago.......we were. In capacities up to 18,000lbs (per column) we have just the lift for you. Most models come with an easy to use touch screen pad, the operator selects the operational mode (all lifts, pairs or single), the preferred lift speed (3 settings) and in the unlikely event of an error, on screen instructions walk the operator step by step thru the fault finding process. We have remained committed to the principals of a guaranteed self-locking threaded screw. Without the application of power it

cannot move, and (unlike a hydraulic lift) it does not rely on a locking mechanism to grab the load in the event of a failure. Additionally, a screw lift is proven to last longer than a hydraulic lift and are more environmentally friendly as they will not leak hydraulic oil. SEFAC lifts comply with OSHA, UL-201 standards and are built to the latest ANSI standards. They are also independently tested and certified by the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) to ANSI, ALI/ETL ALCTV–2008 standard. A recent addition to our product line is the Omer range of drive on lifts. The “K Series” Pantograph lift raises the vehicle vertically; saving as much as 5ft of floor space when compared to a parallelogram lift which rises at an arc. There are no mechanical crossbeams linking the runways making it easy for the operators to wheel tools, oil drainer or transmission jacks under the vehicle. It can be installed either surface mounted for your preference. These lifts are available in capacities of 55,000lbs (KAR 250) and 77,000lbs (KAR 350) and in runway lengths up to 36ft. TOW | March/April 2012 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery


Worm Gear Winch Package from Pierce Sales

B/A Products Twist Lock™ Grab Hook Chain Assemblies Eliminates accidental hook release to stop potential dangers before they start This chain assembly utilizes a Twist Lock™ grab hook — once locked in place, it’s not coming loose. Use for everything from equipment safety chains and chain-to-chain hooking to tiedown chains and vehicle stabilization. Features a latch (which may be padlocked) for extra security. Available in Grade 70 or 80 and working load limits up to 12,000 lbs. Twist Lock™ #s TLG01 – TLG19

Pierce Sales is your source for winches from 2,000 lb. to 20,000 lb. capacities, accessories and wrecker installation. Pierce makes ordering winches easy and affordable. Buy the PS654-11HK Pierce winch and get free cable, angle mounts and roller guide. Code: PSTOWDEAL. Offer for call-in orders only. Serving the wrecker industry since 1976.

OIL PAN DAMAGE STOPS HERE For far less than the cost of a single oil pan damage claim, the revolutionary Pan Pillow will virtually remove oil pan damage from your operation. Made from the highest quality components, the Pan Pillow will give you years of worry free towing. Minute to install, the Pan Pillow is simple to use and the ONLY product on the market that solves the costly and wide spread problem of oil pan damage. Don't wait until your next claim before you introduce the Pan Pillow to your operation.

Fuel Your Truck, Equipment and Toys With Transfer Flow’s All-in-one 40-Gallon Toolbox and Refueling Tank Combo

(Chico, CA) Transfer Flow, Inc., a leading manufacturer of aftermarket fuel tank systems, has introduced a 40-gallon toolbox and refueling tank combo - great for manually filling your fuel tank as well as filling other vehicles or equipment. This innovative new product incorporates a toolbox with over six cubic feet of storage space. It fits domestic and imported full-size pick-ups, and comes pre-assembled with a 12-volt refueling pump, 12-foot hose and nozzle, wire harness with dash-mounted power switch and mounting hardware. And because the fuel fillneck is located inside the locking storage compartment, your fuel is kept safe and secure! For more information on Transfer Flow’s 40-gallon fuel tank and toolbox combo, call (530) 893-5209, or visit their website at


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

PRODU CT SPOTLI GHT Steck 4th Wheel Loader

Safely load and secure a vehicle that has a broken ball joint. The 4th Wheel Loader handles wheel failures, such as locked brakes or broken tie rods. Once the wheel is placed in the recessed pocket, chain the wheel assembly to the locking slots on your loader’s platform. Lightweight and compact for easy storage. Tough 24" x 14" hardened aluminum fabricated platform easily holds and secures up to 5 tons. 4th Wheel Loader # STM53

Custom Tool Boxes Highway Products – a highly respected manufacturer of heavy-gauge aluminum flatbeds, service beds, headache racks and grill guards –offers a full line of standard and custom Aluminum Toolboxes. The White City, Oregon, manufacturer of Pickup and Semi accessories builds their unique line of underbody and step tool boxes with non-sag doors and uses thickest grade of aluminum stock utilized in the industry: 1/8″ marine-grade, weather-resistant aluminum. A hefty continuous piano-style stainless steel hinge and “T-handle” stainless steel locks guarantee the safety of stored content. Highway Products tool boxes come with either “L”-brackets for frame mounting or plate brackets for mounting from overhead cross members. Boxes are available in many standard sizes or they can be built to custom specifications to fit any application. A 5-year warranty is standard. For more information, visit; 800-866-5269 | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery



A Paint Marker that Pulls its Own Weight announces its newest addition , the Tow Pro, to its website. The Tow Pro is a permanent, solid paint marker with a 1/4 inch tip, used extensively in the towing and auto auction industry, but also spreading in popularity with other industries as well. The Tow Pro comes in 6 bright colors and contains 30 percent more paint than its competitors. The Tow Pro is smartly priced at $2.50 each and holds the distinction of being one of the few markers in the world that can write under water. Its sleek design and easy application has given the Tow Pro early recognition and praise in the paint marker world. The Tow Pro also works well in extreme weather conditions and outperforms others in tests of durability and reliability. Directions for use: Remove color cap and clear plastic protective plug. Apply paint as needed for your application. Allow to dry. Recap pen firmly after use. Twist pen base to replenish paint stick tip. To view the Tow Pro and other great Paint Markers, visit and select solid paint markers on the left hand side of the home page. The Tow Pro is $2.50 each and $2.25 each in quantities of 48 or more. Additional price breaks are available for bulk quantities. More information can be found online at:


Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |


Three Reasons Why It Makes Sense to

Go Digital By Clor e Au tomotive


igital battery testing provides numerous advantages over traditional methods that improve efficiency and effectiveness in auto repair, fleet service and vehicle dealership environments, among others. Advantages of digital testing approaches include:

1. the ability to effectively assess discharged batteries 2. the ability to properly assess the many battery types found in today’s vehicles

3 the many additional functions offered by digital/ electronic testers as compared to traditional load testers One of the biggest advantages of digital/electronic testers is their ability to test discharged batteries. Traditional load testers require a battery to be fully, or nearly fully, charged to provide an accurate assessment of battery condition and capacity. This means that, with traditional load testing, a discharged battery must be charged prior to testing, taking 30, 60, or more, minutes before the condition of the battery can be determined. Not so for electronic testers. Most electronic battery testers are able to provide an accurate assessment of battery condition/capacity even when a battery is “dead”, or significantly discharged. This is a critical benefit, saving significant time for busy shops. Another major advantage is that many digital/electronic battery testers are calibrated to properly assess the different battery constructions found in the marketplace today. Battery composition and construction has changed more in the last 6-8 years than it had in several prior decades. New battery chemistries, such as AGM and Gel Cell types, are gaining traction with auto manufacturers and are becoming increasingly present as aftermarket alternatives. In addition, new battery constructions, such as Spiral Wound batteries, are gaining in popularity in a wide number of application areas. Many of today’s digital testers are cali-

brated to test different battery types for more accurate assessment of battery condition. This advantage will be even more important as battery chemistries continue to proliferate in the years ahead. Finally, digital/electronic battery testers often also feature vehicle starting and charging system testing functions not found on traditional load testers. Many digital testers provide detailed assessment of starting system performance and charging system output. This assessment is typically far more specific and detailed (such as providing alternator diode ripple detection) than can be inferred from an observation of a traditional load tester. A great example of a digital battery and system tester that provides these advantages and more is the SOLAR BA327, Digital Battery and System Tester with Integrated Printer. It is able to accurately assess the condition of discharged batteries, is specifically calibrated for the different battery types found in the field today and provides starting and charging system testing in addition to its battery testing capabilities. The BA327 also adds the convenience of an integrated printer for easy service documentation, extralong 10’ leads and a protective rubber boot for improved impact resistance. It is capable of testing 6 an 12 Volt batteries and 12 and 24 Volt systems, with a capacity range of 40-2000 CCA and an operating voltage range of 1.5-30V. A counter in the unit enables the shop to track how many tests are performed, and each battery test generates a unique, specific code tied to that test, which helps with warranty documentation.

Charge Smart, Charge Safe with SOLAR | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional




Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

MarketPlace | May/June 2012 | Tow Professional



Professional Your Resource for Towing & Recovery







Access Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Custer Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

NA Bancard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Agero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7

Dangelo's Custom Built Mfg, LLC 15

Pan Pillow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Alexander Insurance . . . . . . . . . .35

Daniels Wrecker Sales . . . . . . . . .38

Ramsey Winch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

all-Grip . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

Detroit Wrecker . . . . . . . . . . . . .10

Ranger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28

Anchor Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Direct Equipment Supply . . . . . . .39

Ratler . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

ATIG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

Dynamic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .BC

Ricky's Truck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

Atomic Led . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30

Flash Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Road Gear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

AW Direct . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31

FlowStop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19

ROI Protective Tape . . . . . . . . . . .39

BA Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21

Golden West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

RV Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

BA Products . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Goodyear Wrecker . . . . . . . . . . .38

Safetyline, Inc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Beacon Software . . . . . . . . . . . . .11

Insurance Auto Auctions . . . . . . . .3

SEFAC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

Bilt USA Manufacturing . . . . . . .IFC

Lift and Tow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

Steck Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . .18

Chester Point Programs . . . . . . .40

Marking Pen Depot . . . . . . . . . . .39

Tow Musseum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

Clore Automotive . . . . . . . . . . . .29

Metro Lift . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

Towmate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Coker Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

Mfr. Express . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

VTS Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Collins Dollies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

Miti Mfg Co . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39

Will-Burt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .IBC



Tow Professional | May/June 2012 |

Tow Professional May/June  
Tow Professional May/June  

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