Towbar Incident Report

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stumps

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I have to wonder about several things:

First, the TM's I have read all seem to indicate that towbars are meant for low speed emergency recoveries. I haven't seen anything that says they are rated for towing a deuce, 6 wheels down, down the highway at highway speed.

Second, lynch pins, and all of the tractor style implement and trailer hitches that are sold by TSC, are meant for low speed off road use. None of it is rated for highway application.

And third, wire ties are flimsy plastic doo-dads. They really can't be relied upon for anything more than tying down electrical wires, and as cheap handcuff's for n'aer do'wells.

Comments?

-Chuck
 

Ferroequinologist

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Thanks DH, and thanks for changing the title of the thread to better reflect the content.

Oh, when I say wire tie, I mean actual metal wire, like lock wire, that I tie.

The lynch pins were not from TSC, they were from Fastenal. I've seen several trucks still in service in a convoy on the same type towbar, going highway speed.
 
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doghead

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I have 2 different Medium tow bar TMs. The latest issue I have is TM 9-4910-593-12&P

It does not mention speed limitations.

I have used black electrical tape, and wrapped it around the whole pin, covering the head and lynchpin, as an aditional security measure. Not sure if that's a great idea or not
 
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stumps

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The lynch pins were not from TSC, they were from Fastenal. I've seen several trucks still in service in a convoy on the same type towbar, going highway speed.
I understand that. I was commenting on things that were brought up in the thread.
I have 2 different Medium tow bar TMs. The latest issue I have is TM 9-4910-593-12&P

It does not mention speed limitations.

Does it say anything about use and applications?

I read of the speed limitations in one of the TM's for the deuce that discussed towing... but I can't remember which one. Time to search my archives...

I first went to TM-55-2320-209-15-1, which is a guide to transporting deuces. They say a lot about transporting deuces on planes, trains, ships, and under their own power, but nothing about towing with tow bars...

Curious?

I next went to FM-20-22, which is a guide to recovery of vehicles, and bingo! On page 114, paragraph (c), subparagraph(2), it states: "Never exceed 15 miles per hour while towing any type of wheeled vehicle."

I've included screen shots of the appropriate pages.

-Chuck
 

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mudguppy

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... First, the TM's I have read all seem to indicate that towbars are meant for low speed emergency recoveries. I haven't seen anything that says they are rated for towing a deuce, 6 wheels down, down the highway at highway speed.

...
thank you, Chuck - i couldn't agree with you more.



yes, everything i have been taught about vehicle recoveries (H8 school) is that tow-bars are not your primary recovery plan [for wheeled vehicles].
  • self-recovery is always option #1 (but is rarely possible); contact maintenance is used to assist this.
  • lift-tow is your next option and is considered the preferred method of vehicle recovery or transport.
  • tow-bars are considered the next best option at assisted recovery by a like vehicle when it is infeasible to wait for lift-tow or the risk does not warrant putting additional elements in harm's way: basically, battlefield conditions.
  • worst-case: push with another vehicle or pull using chains, straps, rope, seatbelts, barrel of monkeys, whatever.
i've run dozens of recoveries and probably planned 100 more: wrecker support and contact maintenance was always the #1 option after self-recovery. always.

even when we go to the field during exercises on post: we take customer vehicles out and continue our maintenance mission in the field. we don't tow-bar customer's vehicles out - we used wreckers. even if we had to make several trips (done that :roll:), we used wreckers. and it's not a customer vs organic vehicles; we'd use wreckers for all.

lastly, in the recently posted MRAP Recovery TTP, it outlines the different recovery options for each of the MRAP series. i know we're not talking about recovering MRAPs, but this document was shared because of it's comprehensive procedures outlining the towbar hookup process. in each section of warnings (pages 6, 12, 19, 27, 33, 42, 53, 60), it lists the maximum offroad towing speed as 15mph and that paved road speeds could be increased to 25mph if conditions permit... however some vehicles (i.e. buffalo) did not even have the 25mph notation.

this may not be viewed as an apples-apples comparo, but as has been said on here time and time again: just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

personally, i'd use a towbar in some offroad circumstances, and that's about it. recovering a vehicle - i'd use transport. broke down roadside - AAA wrecker service. it's worth it to minimize risk as much as possible.

2cents
 

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doghead

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I would expect that any manual that preceded that one(posted by Stumps), would either say the same thing or it no longer applies.

I also think what you posted above is for "cross country" towing ie. off road.

I'd bet if we look hard enough, we can find some contradicting statements in various TMs. The Tow Bar manual I referenced should include any restrictions. imho
 
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doghead

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    • self-recovery is always option #1 (but is rarely possible); contact maintenance is used to assist this.
    • lift-tow is your next option and is considered the preferred method of vehicle recovery or transport.
    • tow-bars are considered the next best option at assisted recovery by a like vehicle when it is infeasible to wait for lift-tow or the risk does not warrant putting additional elements in harm's way: basically, battlefield conditions.
    • worst-case: push with another vehicle or pull using chains, straps, rope, seatbelts, barrel of monkeys, whatever.
Travis, is that paraphrased(your summary from training) or copied directly from a manual?
 

mudguppy

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my personal [paraphrased] summary.

we didn't have patrols go out in OIF3, but we did provide continuous convoy support. we always had two recovery teams on stand-by, in total: 4 gun trucks, 2 HMMWVs, 2 HEMTT wreckers, 2 contact trucks, 2 M1088 tractors, 1 PLS, 1 HET.

my point is that even under conflict conditions, tow-bars were not the primary option. but we weren't in many 'hot' situations. nearby patrols would secure the area and we'd come and recover the vehicles via wreckers or HET.
 

DUG

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The ability to tow bar is the only thing keeping some folks in the hobby. If it weren't for the ability to flat tow, a lot of deuce owners would be SOL. Imagine if you had to get a flatbed or a wrecker every time you needed to move a broke deuce or when you bought three from GL and only have two drivers?

I'm sure the mere mention of not tow baring over 15 mph might make some very uncomfortable.
 

stumps

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The ability to tow bar is the only thing keeping some folks in the hobby. If it weren't for the ability to flat tow, a lot of deuce owners would be SOL. Imagine if you had to get a flatbed or a wrecker every time you needed to move a broke deuce or when you bought three from GL and only have two drivers?
Imagine if one of these beasts was towed, got loose, and and rolled through a school, or a playground.
I'm sure the mere mention of not tow baring over 15 mph might make some very uncomfortable.
I'd bet it would, and does. I fully expect that I will get tarred and feathered for even mentioning it.

As Travis said, "Just because you can doesn't mean that you should."

-Chuck
 

DUG

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Imagine if one of these beasts was towed, got loose, and and rolled through a school, or a playground.
I'd bet it would, and does. I fully expect that I will get tarred and feathered for even mentioning it.

As Travis said, "Just because you can doesn't mean that you should."

-Chuck
:beer:

Luckily for you the current price of quality tar is probably too high for someone to bother.

Nice discussion though. If tow baring over 15 (or even 30) were "illegal", what impact would it have on the hobby?

I don't completely agree that all it will take is one deuce to get loose from its tow bar and there goes the hobby. There are plenty of crazy redneck towing accidents involving all sized trailers, toys, trucks and gear and entire hobbies don't get shut down. I've passed rigs leaving Stodard Wells out near DIRTBAG that were painful to look at, let alone share the road with.

No, it'll take at least two, maybe three tow bar mishaps before we get shut down.

:mrgreen:
 

mudguppy

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The ability to tow bar is the only thing keeping some folks in the hobby. If it weren't for the ability to flat tow, a lot of deuce owners would be SOL. ...
i completely understand this viewpoint. my view point is that if i can't afford to purchase a vehicle from GL (that probably doesn't run and is in essentially unknown condition) and the costs to have it transported to me, then i probably can't truly afford to buy the vehicle.

in my opinion, the total cost of ownership including regular and unexpected maintenance should also include infrequent recovery cost.

playing with big trucks is cool and fun. MVs are the same. this hobby is truly unique, but i believe it can be financially mis-leading at times: it's very inexpensive to enter the hobby based on the initial cost of purchase. however, most things outside of initial purchase are not in the discounted or surplussed pricing market; these things become seemingly 'expensive' because they are compared to the initial purchase cost, not true value cost.

i compare it to owning a class A/B/C RV - if you can't afford a tow when your RV breaks down, can you truly afford an RV? what else would you do - tow-bar it with another RV?

just my view point...
 

DUG

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i completely understand this viewpoint. my view point is that if i can't afford to purchase a vehicle from GL (that probably doesn't run and is in essentially unknown condition) and the costs to have it transported to me, then i probably can't truly afford to buy the vehicle.

in my opinion, the total cost of ownership including regular and unexpected maintenance should also include infrequent recovery cost.

playing with big trucks is cool and fun. MVs are the same. this hobby is truly unique, but i believe it can be financially mis-leading at times: it's very inexpensive to enter the hobby based on the initial cost of purchase. however, most things outside of initial purchase are not in the discounted or surplussed pricing market; these things become seemingly 'expensive' because they are compared to the initial purchase cost, not true value cost.

i compare it to owning a class A/B/C RV - if you can't afford a tow when your RV breaks down, can you truly afford an RV? what else would you do - tow-bar it with another RV?

just my view point...
Seems like we have the exact SAME view points.

Every time I hit the road I carry a decent set of tools, a few spare parts, a sense of humor and several credit cards.
 

stumps

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I would expect that any manual that preceded that one(posted by Stumps), would either say the same thing or it no longer applies.

I also think what you posted above is for "cross country" towing ie. off road.
Initially, I thought that the 15MPH might be for the off road section, but on close inspection, I don't think so. Notice that the section I posted has three independent paragraphs about towing:

(a) Highway Tow
(b) Cross-Country Tow
(c) Towing Precautions for Wheeled Vehicles

And that the sub paragraph I mentioned (2) is a sub paragraph of (c) Towing Precautions...

That, and I have seen some incredibly unstable coupled oscillations happen between a towed, and a towing vehicle.... stuff where the front wheels of the towed vehicle start whipping from side-to-side. This behavior has been reported on this board in the past.
I'd bet if we look hard enough, we can find some contradicting statements in various TMs. The Tow Bar manual I referenced should include any restrictions. imho
I'd be interested in seeing them.

The '10 for the deuce tells how to hook up the bar to a wrecker, but is silent on everything about towing... (unlike the way it is about other features of operating the deuce)... preferring to reference you to the FM-20-22 pub I quoted.... which, of course references you to the '10 for the vehicle being towed.

I would expect that the manual for the Tow Bar references you to the '10 for the vehicle that is towing, and the vehicle that is being towed.

-Chuck
 

3dAngus

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Not taking any sides on this one. Just giving another opinion.

I always felt the 15-25mph tow speed on highways was recommended for towed vehicles without brakes. There are so many common sense considerations when towing it could fill up a book. For instance, the vehicle doing the towing should be heavier than the vehicle towed. And, you should have good brakes (DUH!). Heavier MRAP vehicles require greater stopping distances (DUH!) and military recovery operations allow for up to 25mph speeds when towing in field level terrain. So, what would be the speed in an Interstate system. I say, it's not properly covered outside of a contractor CYA.

Manual FM 4-30.31 says;


  • [*]Towing a single vehicle with nonfunctioning brakes must be limited to not more than 25 mph on the highway and 15 mph off road.
So, you have to ask yourself the question, what would be the appropriate top speed if the towed vehicle had brakes to assist in the stopping process.

There are just so many different ways to tow, so many chapters and verse, so many arguments that could be made either way on what is appropriate and what is not. Military vehicles towing manuals are not specifically written for highway driviing or towing, nor all the different variations that could be encountered during any tow operation with all the different vehicles out there. And when they write these manuals, you have to think they do so in order to preclude any kind of situation where it cannot be trusted all readers will utilize common sense in towing.

The bottom line is this. How many times have you seen civilian wreckers and tow vehicles driving down the road carrying a load at 70mph in a 55mph zone. They are insured and certified. And if they can do it, who is to say a professional military man with a great deal of experience could not.

My point is, use some common sense in towing. Most important of all is stoping, not going.
 

DUG

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The bottom line is this. How many times have you seen civilian wreckers and tow vehicles driving down the road carrying a load at 70mph in a 55mph zone.
Flat towing using a tow bar? NEVER.

Your point about certification and INSURANCE is a good one. I wonder what most MV insurers would think about flat towing a deuce down the freeway? I'm not going to call mine and ask, but it does make me wonder.
 

mudguppy

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do the wrecker operator manuals give any direction on towing?

i would not be surprised if they didn't... anything i learned about vehicle specific operation was from the training and training materials on operation of that specific vehicle. i don't remember if any of that stuff was field manuals or training manuals/documents.

of course if i needed to reference anything specific, SOP was to reference someone old (SFC/MSG), someone grizzled (CWO), or someone trained (H8 ).
 
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3dAngus

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Flat towing using a tow bar? NEVER.

Your point about certification and INSURANCE is a good one. I wonder what most MV insurers would think about flat towing a deuce down the freeway? I'm not going to call mine and ask, but it does make me wonder.
The mph quote was for a wheels up tow using a wrecker and towbar as was the tow a vehicle without brakes quote.

The wreckers that do a wheels up tow in the civilian world cannot rely on the towed vehicle to help stop or slow it down. And regardless of size of wrecker, they are not all going 25mph down the highway.
 

DUG

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The mph quote was for a wheels up tow using a wrecker and towbar as was the tow a vehicle without brakes quote.

The wreckers that do a wheels up tow in the civilian world cannot rely on the towed vehicle to help stop or slow it down. And regardless of size of wrecker, they are not all going 25mph down the highway.
Does anyone flat tow a deuce and use the towed deuce's brakes? I haven't seen any discussion on that before, maybe I've missed it.
 

mudguppy

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Manual FM 4-30.31 says;
  • Towing a single vehicle with nonfunctioning brakes must be limited to not more than 25 mph on the highway and 15 mph off road.
what manual is this? and is this for tow-bar or lift-towing with wrecker?

the reason i ask is because in the MRAP towing TTP states "If vehicle has no air pressure, request dedicated wrecker support " as a note under the 'like-vehicle towing' section for every MRAP series.



Flat towing using a tow bar? NEVER. ...
exactly: flat towing and lift towing are not nearly the same animal.
 
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