The Land Rover Writer

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When You Have to Admit Defeat

It pains me to write this but there are times when a Land Rover enthusiast must admit defeat. Yesterday night, confront by a pickup truck with its plow buried in snow and right wheels off a path, I had to admit I was no going to rescue this truck. 

My buddy Phil has requested me to extricate his vehicles with my "Jeep" on several occasions over the years and I have always responded like a puppy offered table scraps. So when Phil told me at rehearsal that he buried his pickup on a private lane called the A.O. Smith Road, I was thrilled.

So at 5:30 pm last night, we jumped into the QE I and drove the several miles to the northwest side of the island. On the way, Phil told me of his efforts at plowing the road, and those of another caretaker named Charlie, on the same road. Charlie had to abandon his truck and get a larger truck to pull out truck #1; he never did finish his plowing before dark. Phil had to walk out of the lane and another 1/2 mile before arriving at an occupied house, where the owner gave him a ride back to the village.

When we turned onto the A.O. Smith Road [the term 'road' here is wildly optimistic] I could feel the Rover struggling through the soft snow. I could also see that the depth of the snow was substantially higher in this wooded area than the drifting in other parts of the island. I also noted we were heading down the lane without any place to turn off or around. Phil helped construct this road to he's warning me constantly about where the road drops off into ditches. 

As we drive along I ask Phil to describe how his truck sits on the lane. That's when I learned that the pickup sat on the right side of the road, its left side wheels spinning in air, and facing us as we progressed up the lane.  Now I realize that at best, I'm going to have to try an extrication pulling in reverse - which means only one transmission speed which would likely be too low to get an effective pull.

The last challenge was a series of snowdrifts left by Phil's unsuccessful and incomplete plowing. Whenever his plow pushed too much snow, it stopped his truck cold. I had to ram through five of these artificial drifts before reaching his truck.

But at this point I also realized that my traction, adequate to move the Land Rover forward and backwards, was totally inadequate to gain traction sufficient to pull the front heavy pickup. I could barely move the Rover, let alone the dead weight of a pickup and plow.

So we gave it a try with a tow strap and shackles. The temperature had plummeted to 18 degrees and my hands hurt as I maneuvered the shackles. We tired a couple of pulls before I admitted this truck was going nowhere. I could barely get traction to pull the Rover rearward. What I needed - and lacked - was a winch and a snatch block. Phil's truck needed to be winched out at an angle, using a tree to provide the necessary triangulation.

Now we confronted several hundred yards of rearward driving before a turnaround spot appeared off the road. To do this, I had to open the rear door as Phil, with his flashlight, led me backwards down the lane. With the steering wheels in the rear, the Rover yawed from side to side along the lane, but we finally made the turnaround, and headed for the village.

Maybe tomorrow we can borrow a backhoe, or the electric company's boom truck and winch, to pull the truck back onto the lane. The Rover - sadly - cou

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