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My "recovery wheel thingy"

Orcas Tow

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This Topic was originally created on Tow411 in July of 2008:


There's been a few times when I get called for a wreck where PD says the tires are flat & or suspension is ripped out & its on or near the roadway & does not require a wrecker so I bring the flatbed, well I'm sure we have all been there when we get there its over an embankment on a narrow road & we wish we would have brought the wrecker, being a primarily one man show going back for the wrecker is usually not a timely option.

I have been looking into the side pullers but too expensive (for my small operation) for the limited use & up fitting, I called 2 NRC distributors to price/buy their unit as they seem to have it figured out with their tailboard transformer but no return calls (maybe they don't want to sell an NRC product for use on a non NRC bed???)

I took a couple 4 ton snatch blocks & a winch guide roller, welded the blocks together, cut a 7/16" slot in the top for the wire rope to slip down in, put 1/4" plate reinforcements inside the blocks for pin support & side load strength, welded a 1/4" angle on the sheave end for a place for the bottom roller ears to mount & a place to catch the end of the deck for side load strength, a 1/4" plate gusseted under the angle capturing the bottom of the deck, drilled a couple 5/8" holes in the deck where the original snatch block release bolts went & bolted the unit from under the deck with 2 5/8" grade 8 bolts, after a couple practice pulls I think it will work great when needed, heres some pic's because I have a hard time following what I just posted.

All done for under $150 worth of supplies.

The block works well for rewinding the wire rope onto the winch with one person too, bonus!


auto rescue said:

That came out looking first rate, I've been using the snatch block with a chain attached that is sold by a few vendors and it's worked out good for me.


Reliable Towing said:

Very nice, looks great and very user friendly


Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:

Thanks John, I have one of those also but the problem here is the roads are so narrow most of the time there's no room to diagonal the truck, lower the bed & winch, have you figured out how to use that for a side pull with the deck up?

This should work well for a higher pull point also, we have lots of deep ditches here also, just another tool to get the job done when you get bad info.


auto rescue said:

Our roads up here are very limited as to shoulders, when I side pull I roll the bed back out of the locks, tilt it up a bit, run it back over the locks, then set the bed back down this gives me enough clearance to run the line out the side of the bed with out rubbing the bed, I also have a "side" rail that was installed when the bed was made which runs the length of the bed underneath it with stake pockets every foot or so down each side where I can put the chain through and hook the rail. Bear in mind a few things were built heavier on this truck and the whole thing weighs just over 22K unloaded.

Next project hopefully this summer is to build a heavy headache rack to run my line back to or a separate winch set up similar to a side puller, I'm like you there is just not enough use to justify the cost of a side puller.


Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:

Yeah, I'm impressed with some of the twin line recoveries posted here from the carriers with sidepullers, 2 winches are always better than 1, even if only for a safety backup, keep us up to date on your headache rack project, your projects in the past have been top notch, I would much rather see a quality engineered home built piece of equipment than a mass produced unit any day.


wreckerman0920 said:

how much and when can you ship it out??????????????? 693.gif


Jim Lunsford said:

Looks great Uzek emoticonthumb.gif LOL in viewing the pics I was thinking a set of wheel chocks would be nice for holding the truck when useing that thingy.....then I remembered I already have a set on my rollback and had completely forgot about haveing them ...could have used them just the other day instead if haveing the deputy hold my brakes emoticonthud.gif my 550 wrecker has all wheel micro lock but rollback doesn't


TOwBoY88 tubegreen.gif said:

Very nice. Just like everything else from you.


slim santa tubebronze.gif said:

Uzek, my N.R.C. roller is built about the same. Once in a while I would wish my roller was about 6"s longer on each side. After you use that a few times I think you will see what I'm talking about. Nice job and great workmanship. emoticonthumb.gif Al


Rod Midkiff said:

the roller looks like a cool tool.. I would be concerned about how well you anchor a roll back. they are already a bit light for recovery work... and with that in mind.. it's not the worse thing in the world if your truck moves.... instead of breaking in two..

auto rescue said:

Two of mine weigh over 22K unloaded when working cars & pickups They DON'T move I don't think Uzek is going to really run into a problem with his either.



Jim Lunsford said:

my 550 rollback weighs in at 11700 with gvrw of 19500 ... alum jerrdan bed and that includes shop built sidepuller and front winch but no wheellift...it do have a staying planted problem ...side pull isn't a problem with the outriggers... but backward or off to the side of the bed is troublesome at times ....


Rod Midkiff said:

Well instead of saying it's a problem.. look at it as good safety factor.... ....


auto rescue said:

Pray tell what would be the safety factors involved?


Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:

How a bout some pictures of that side puller, don't think I have seen it? My truck weighs 14,500, I don't plan on really testing its capabilities but it has to be better than extending the deck to the ground then winching with a snatch block at the end for a side pull from the ditch as I used to do, I never liked that as 100% of the stress is on the deck hinges with lots of bad leverage on the deck rails, this way it has less leverage on the deck & it is still in the bed locks up front for much more support overall plus a higher pull point.


Spitz said:

Looks pretty good. We used a similar setup for pulling cars out of snow filled ditches. It works well enough but you definatly have to keep in mind what you can pull.. You'll obviously get a feel for what will hurt the truck. We've never damaged ours but then again our wrecker now has a sidepuller to give you an idea..

ps- if you do work in snowy conditions, which i know you do.. Get some old chain you've put out of commision and lay it behind the rear tires and back up on top of them if you're having issues with anchoring your truck.. We had problems anchoring our truck with only 1/2 of snow and im sure you will too if you're pulling anything somewhat heavy.. We've actually anchored the rear of the truck so well this way we started running into problems with the front of the truck trying to swing around when pulling 90* off the back of the bed..


Rod Midkiff said:

by safety factor I mean.. if you pull enough that the truck moves... you can only pull X hard..

the more you anchor... the more you can pull... and at some point.. you could over work the truck.....

Just a comment.. (not trying to say anything negative about anyone..)..


tator said:

That would be when you pulled the winch out of the bed.


Jim Lunsford said:

Uzek last time I posted pics of my puller on here I sorta got in trouble with Chuck (inventor of the sp8k) letter from his lawyer as well so instead of pics i'll simply place a link to the pics 689.gifhttp://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v79/j ... idepuller/ not one of my better fabbing jobs but it works pretty good ....best thing was gettin the headboard off the bed out of the way ...sorta makes a 19 ft bed into a 20 by removing it

i've replaced the elect winch with a hyd ..works much better and stuck the elect on the front of the truck


Reliable Towing said:

Jim, your sidepuller looks great

: ) are the legs hydraulic

: ) how do you switch from side to side w/ that style guide - do you take the hook off?-- if so how many pins have you lost in the snow, I' m sure my clumsy hands would drop them in a snowbank somewhere emoticonthud.gif


Jim Lunsford said:

thanks Steven...the legs are manual...not a big deal as the truck tends to lean a bit when pulling so simply letting the leg down to the surface and locking holds fairly well...harder you pull the more the truck leans into it

changing sides you pull the pin on the hook but there again no big deal as 99 % of the pulls are from the passenger side or at least they are for me
the one winch control valve runs both winchs byway of a divider valve (thinks thats what its called) push knob in and deck winch runs..pull knob out for sidepuller


MNPOOL tubebronze.gif said:

Very nice work !
Seabeetow4u said:

NICE! You have to drill into the bed or just use the chain holes to anchor?
The wheels we have are going thru Towpartsnow.com soon, just shipped a bunch to them.

I still like the idea of being able to move the wheel up the bed as necessary to different chain holes, but you idea rocks too!

Erick - Camarillo Towing - (805)388-1185 - Camarillo, CA

Energizer Bear said:
Uzek, What a great idea. I remember seeing this post this past summer. But got busy with another project in the shop.
I'm interested in a recovery wheel thingy too. Thanks for sharing your idea.
Not Your Average Bear
timjohn said:
Here is one of my NRC tailboard units. You have to modify the century deck a bit, but it works great! We cut a hole in the top deck for the shaft to slid into. Then we cut a hole in the bottom for the pin that holds it in.

Depending on the vehicle, you can sometimes load right over the top of it. It would be nice like Al said to a little bit longer bottom roller. But all in all, it has been a great addition to the truck.


We used this tailboard adapter all last Winter. It never let us down.
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
For those who have asked. Sorry but I wont be marketing or building these for anybody but myself, too much liability & too many different variables for deck thickness, design, aluminum, steel, etc... to build a universal one. I posted the detailed pics so if anybody one else had a similar issue like me maybe some ideas could be shared as I have learned so much from what has others have shared here.
I have used it a few times & it has worked well, I would like to see the variations if you build them, Slimsanta mentioned a longer roller, I have not had any issues yet but I see his point. I think the NRC design is a more universal unit as it looks like it mounts in a hole rather than mine relying on capturing the end edge of the deck for its strength, I would have liked to have built mine with that style mount for its speedy install but didn't feel comfortable relying on 1 weld where the male pipe would be welded to the bottom of the block.
brattleborotowing said:
thanks for your reply Uzek i understand about the liability ill have to see if i can get time to make on
autorescue said:
I'm slow I just realized after all this time the one Uzek made would work well for reverse pulling a vehicle off the bed as well.
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
I have used it quite a bit & it really is a handy tool, much easier on the truck bed when recovering a vehicle off the side.
if you look at this picture it shows the worst way angle wire rope can enter the block tailboardtransformer017.jpg The casualty would have to be very close to your truck or down a steep embankment for the wire rope to miss the roller, it's possible to miss the center roller but I feathered the end brackets so if it does miss it it will not be on a sharp edge. So, no I have not had any issues but if your building one the longer the bottom roller the better.
auto rescue said:
I had to hunt this post down because no matter how I cut it or try to justify it I can not see myself with a side puller especially with putting a fourth RB together and while it's the same size as the other two Fords it will be heavier yet and while the NRC would be faster since it's already made the reverse pull ability of your design was the winning point.
twinbulls said:
OK ... I am still waiting for mine ........ Where is it ???? I know you have some spare time so just fab up another ... I like yellow and send it my way.. include a bill I will send you payments every 4 weeks or so..... OK ????

Again Very nice job....looks GREAT !!
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
Tim, You fly my family & I down to your sunny state, put us up for a couple weeks, throw in 4 tickets to Disney & I'll hook you up, Uzek
twinbulls said:
Well here ya go ... I can put ya up at Disney and get ya in .... Thats no problem .... But as for the flight ??? sorry You get here and your covered... but ya better bring the TOOL !!
And I will add a dinner in any country you want (Epcot) LOL.......

My son works at Disney so I have a in>>>>>
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
Thanks Tim but seriously if you want to build one & have any questions I am happy to help in any way, its really not that hard just a couple 4 ton snatch blocks, grinder, a decent welder, many trial fittings before final welding & some elbow grease.
I don't use my flatbed for recovery unless I get bad info but if a flatbed was your primary truck & a side puller was out of the question then this is an inexpensive very functional recovery tool.
townomoe said:
Sometimes you just have no choice, but side pulling off the back of the bed will put stress on the pins that the bed hinges on. Some guys say to roll the back and tilt it to the ground, but now you have lost the stability of the bed locks. Still, in my neck of the woods this would be a great tool for getting cars out ot mall parking lots or at the worlds largest building, the Everett Boeing Plant. Nice fabrication, looks good.

tow4fun said:
Any thoughts on just using 1 block up top??

Is there a reason that warrants using two
(beside the convenience of pulling either way)??

I was thinking about using 1 block up top and adding
an extra wide "guide" welded on top (illustrated in yellow).

You could simply lay your rope under either side depending
on which direction you wanted to pull. emoticonconfused.gif

*NOTE: Please don't laugh at my photoshop abilities 641.gif....o.k., go ahead and laugh...
I stink! 648.gif

danielswt said:
one thing to take into consideration is. when using a roller like this straight off of the side you a very limited in what it will do before the winch line rubs on the roller supports.

on our nrc,it works well,but if you go more than 20º downhill straight off of the side it is useless.

in this picture it is at its maximum downhill ability before rubbing.

we are currently in development of new system that will work much better.

you really dont think about it untill you use it in the field, but 80% of everything i have done is straight off the side and not out the back.



" Don't tell us how good you are, show us! "
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
Dave, what if you were winching a car towards you at night with the PD wanting the road cleared & you were not watching the rope through the block or the casualty rolled in the direction of the open end of the block causing the wire rope to be free from the block?
As much as we all like to believe we are in total control & aware of everything going on at our recovery scene I like as many things to be dummy proof as possible just in case I have my eyes on traffic or maneuvering the casualty around an object or watching the rigging, etc...
tow4fun said:
Thanks for the reply, I can understand your point.

As far as this device being hard on a rollback...I'm sure it could but with some common sense I'm sure it can be a very useful tool. My thinking is it has to be better to have the bed in the locks and pull rather than having the bed fully extended and pulling off the corner of the bed with a snach block and chain.
santiam01 tubegold.gif said:
I have seen some very damaged rollbeds of all different brands. The common factors in ALL of the cases seem to be doing something the bed was not designed to do, & or lack of maintenance. With that said, if you are comfortable using the device, & you KNOW what the resistance is & that you are within your ratings (good luck getting ratings from a manufacturer on anything but loading a disabled vehicle in a straight line with the winch & the bed) use one of these.
The construction of the unit looks very nice, & I understand where the desire to have it comes from. All I can say is, we used to focus on building trucks that were driver friendly, today, we try to build trucks focused on being driver proof. This could very well be like giving a stick of dynamite with a half second fuse to person with one arm, then tell them to light it & throw it! The potential for damage & destruction is very real! I don't want to be the "I told you so" guy.
auto rescue said:
How's about not only making the bottom roller wider but have it sitting up more level to the shoulder of the pulley to keep some of the weight or pressure off the thinner part (outside edge) of the pulley?
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
John, in my many trial fits for placement of the sheaves & rollers the closer the roller is to the sheave the better & the closer the sheaves to each other the better.
My initial thought for the ideal block was a sheave & fairlead assembly as you would find on the end of the boom on any light duty wrecker as it would allow for the wire rope to be encapsulated & allow a true 360 degree pull.

I couldn't figure out how to make it so the wire rope was removable from the fairlead, I don't know enough about the side pullers out there to say but I think their fairleads allow the wire rope to be removed from the sheave/fairlead???

Didn't the old Holmes mechanical s allow for the wire rope to be removed from the fairleads, wonder if you could mount a Holmes fairlead to a mounting plate & WALLA, the perfected Tailboard Block?

Looking forward to any blocks in progress pic's.
auto rescue said:
It just so happens I have a New old one sitting (but not that you could easily remove the line) around collecting dust, what an idea! Now back to the drawing board.

edit; thinking about it while doing a job and I've decided not to try that route as there are times I'd want the tail end of the bed on the ground and the line would not sit in the pulley all the time and if I can do something wrong I will, don't even have to try hard to do so 642.gif
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
"edit; thinking about it while doing a job and I've decided not to try that route as there are times I'd want the tail end of the bed on the ground and the line would not sit in the pulley all the time"

I don't follow?
auto rescue said:
I think it's the SP8000 that you have to pull off a snatch block from the side below the head because of problems with the line coming straight off the winch in line with the top off the pulley and when you pull at an angle forwards or reverse (sideways) the line wants to ride up the pulley or something close to that problem (no downward pressure on the pulley).

What I'm thinking is if I set the tail on the ground and the line wants to go to the vehicle say a couple of feet above the ground (above the pulley level) whats to keep the line sitting in the pulley like when the vehicle is sitting below the pulley level when making a pull. I hope that makes sense.
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
Does your Holmes fairlead swivel 360 degrees & also allow the wire rope to be taken out? Can you snap a pic of it?
auto rescue said:
It would swivel 360 but I'm absolutely positive the ends/sides are bolted together and do not allow for quick removal of the line like a 600 or 750 does.

I'm sure the "new" design head has the holes for the bolts but just has a pin or nothing holding the outer edge together, mine is a Holmes from either a 440 or 1200 they both looked the very same to me.
danielswt said:
orcas,wait a little bit before you go making a new design with a holmes sheave guide.

it will work wonders off the side but straight off of the back it will not work. just like on the SP8000's the head will rotate uncontrolably when it has little to no load on it.


" Don't tell us how good you are, show us! "
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
Daniel, Im not making a new one, I have no complaints with mine but just looking to see if there is possibly a better way for the next guy, sounds like John is ready to build one.
auto rescue said:
Actually I'm not really ready to build one but making four of them is another story all together, but they will be done one at a time to make sure the custom fit is correct for each bed.
SP8000 said:

Having an SP8000 that I have used the daylights out of (Tom Luciano was a little suprised with a couple of jobs!), and a 600, the problem that I have seen with the SP8000 is that there is no protrusion on the sheave head. Why are Bill Bottoms sheave heads so long? Simple, to keep the sheave head pointed towards the casualty. This is where the SP8000 comes up "short". It has no protrusion/ tail/ follower tube to keep the sheave head pointed at the casualty. This is why you have to put a block below it to keep it from flipping over, but even then you still have to manually "aim" the sheave head towards the block as the block swings towards the casualty. As for the pin or bolt in the end of the SP8000/ 440/ 1200 sheave heads, I think that they were just there to keep the sheave head from splitting apart if it was side loaded from not being "aimed" properly. Keep up the creative thoughts guys. That's how Ernie Holmes, Bill Bottoms, Norbert Bertling, et al have brought our industry to where it is today.

Jeff Leavitt - 86 Towing - Gabriels, NY - 518-891-6666


BlackAutoload said:

I am looking at making the roller fairlead, stake pocket version rather than this.
http://baileystowinginc.com/srg.htm like this one.
The nrc way seems like an expensive approach if you don't have two spare snatch blocks.


Spitz said:

The head of the sp8000 needs to have more angle upwards, this would solve the issue they have. The axis where the sheave rides is too high in relation to the axis the head can swivel around, any halfway straight pull and the sheave can twist as the line is above that axis where the head can swivel around. I say the outer recovery head needs more upward angle, maybe 15* or so would be alot to help the situation. As for the bolt in the end of the tip, we removed that as you cannot get the line out any other way, we drilled the hole slightly bigger and put a nice pin in with a linch pin to secure the pin. The pin can float in that hole if it needs to.. I dont understand why the bolt is in there to begin with, i dont think it should be.


Detroit Wrecker tubegold.gif said:

I am Impressed! Nice Work!
DodgeTowGuy134 tubered.gif said:
That things looks GREAT, and I want one!
I wondered if anyone have any further comment about tow4fun suggestion of using just one pully wheel instead of the 2....
any luck on making this a item that is marketed for the industry?
Orcas Tow tubegreen.gif said:
I've been using this since the start of this thread & it's worked great & helped me out of a few otherwise difficult situations or trips back to the shop to get the wrecker. The difficulty with mass producing this is all the tailboards are a different shape/thickness, you would have to produce one for each manufacturer.
The strength in securing this to the tailboard is where it wraps the end of the deck, if this is not fitted properly it could be a accident waiting to happen.
I had to change the end cap where it wraps around the tailboard to fit to my new Chevron deck.

Hello from sunny (when its not raining) Orcas Island

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Old topic brought back but man I use the heck out of that thing!. Its made the move from my old International to my next truck & will go on to my new on the way truck, I wouldn't leave home without it:)

Hello from sunny (when its not raining) Orcas Island

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