"I got the tractor stuck, dad" or "The pickup just sank on me, dad." Who hasn't heard those words? Worst of all, it's usually on a busy day when you're itching to get equipment moving. So dad comes down to pull son out, with frustration in his voice and whatever tow chain or strap was handy in the bed of the pickup.
Will he free the stuck farm implement or tractor without incident? Maybe – it's been done many times. But what about the one time something goes horribly wrong? Are you willing to risk it?
Fred Whitford, Purdue University pesticide coordinator, believes so strongly in following proper procedure that he authored a publication, PPP-98, Extracting Stuck Equipment Safely. Here is the first half of his 28-step process for freeing stuck farm equipment safely, straight from the publication.
*Know how deep it's buried. Is the frame dragging the ground?
*Know the size of what's stuck – how much does it weigh?
*Ensure towing vehicle is large enough. You need enough weight for traction or wheels will spin.
*Make certain chains, cables, straps or ropes are properly rated and in good condition.
*Keep the tailpipe uncovered. Otherwise exhaust gases could build up inside the stuck vehicle.
*Dig around tires if necessary. Once free they may help with the extraction.
*Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case the stuck vehicle bottoms out and lines break, leaking fluids.
*Unload to reduce weight when warranted.
*Consider disconnecting trailers or implements. It's a last resort because the trailer or implement could get damaged and the tongue is hard to get out of the mud.
*Get towing vehicle as close as possible – the shorter the distance, the less chance flying debris is an issue.
*Position the towing unit on higher ground if possible. Pulling 'up' works better.
*Make sure the towing vehicle has better traction – get them both stuck and you've got bigger problems.
*Pull in a straight line if possible, even if it means pulling it backwards.
*Make only two attachment points, one on each vehicle.
Check back tomorrow for the 'rest of the story.' Meanwhile, if you get stuck tonight, think through the pull before you begin. You can find more information at www.ppp.purdue.edu.