How to Use Recovery Boards | Tips & Tricks for Best Results
Recovery boards, recovery tracks, MAXTRAX, it doesn’t really matter what you call them, so long as you know how to use them.
And let’s face it, there’s not a lot to them. You put them under the tyres and go for it, and that’s about it. Even so, here’s a few tricks we’ve learned to help you get the most out of them.
Recovery Tracks for Assisting a Snatch Recovery
Beach Recoveries Using a Snatch Strap/Kinetic Rope and Recovery Boards
Using recovery boards during a snatch recovery is slightly different to if you’re using them on your own, without a recovery vehicle.
When you’re on your own, you often have to dig the tracks in as best as you can so they fit snugly under the tyres, and remain fairly flat and level, so there’s no aggressively steep angle for the 4WD to try and drive up.
Once a snatch strap or kinetic rope is involved, it changes a bit. Unless you’re bogged to all buggery, we often try and save the labour of digging by using recovery tracks and a recovery vehicle. Here, we want to use the boards as a ramp to get the 4WD being recovered up and out of the sand so it’s not trying to drag the undercarriage through the sand.
While using recovery boards as a ramp, it also means they don’t need to be dug in as far. This isn’t just helpful for saving effort, but gives us more usable length of the tracks to get some traction on the way out and ideally build up enough speed to avoid getting stuck again.
Recovery Boards for Assisting a Winch Recovery
Salt Lake and Tidal Flat Recoveries Using a Winch and Recovery Tracks
If you’ve ever been stuck in bottomless snot that smells like an uncleaned, public toilet built inside a boiled egg factory, then you’ve probably been quite keen to get out of there. I know I have.
The problem with places such as salt lakes, is that the clay is so deep it seems bottomless. Often getting stuck somewhere like that, leaves the car resting very firmly on the entire underbody with the wheels being of absolutely no use. Even with a winch or a snatch recovery, all that is achieved is that it gets dragged through the slop. Often, this just pulls the car in deeper.
Here, we need a very similar approach to using recovery boards on the beach in a snatch recovery. We’re using the tracks not for their traction, so much as their ability to form a ramp and help get the 4WD back on top of the surface, instead of firmly within it.
Again, we don’t need to dig very far and get the tracks right underneath the car, they just need to be in front of the wheels and the winch will pull it on to the boards.
Once the winch is taut, it’s important to help it with a bit of drive to the wheels without spinning the wheels.
If you’re in an automatic, it’s quite easy. If you’ve ever tried to drive your auto slowly up an incline, you’ll be familiar with the small range just before the car moves, where you can load up the torque converter, but not enough so that it drives the car up the hill. This is where we want to be and as the car starts to come unstuck and get up on to the recovery tracks, you can give it a little bit more accelerator.
If you’re in a manual, it will require slipping the clutch a bit to keep usable revs without spinning the wheels. Here, it can be helpful to be in 2nd or even 3r gear, low range. 1st gear has so much mechanical advantage that it will usually spin the wheel too easily. We want to labour the engine a bit, but without cooking the clutch.