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GRUMPS The Towman

Had To Break Out The Ol' Holmes Tree

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Had one of my regular customers get his plow truck stuck pretty good down a side trail on his property yesterday during a storm. The Holmes tree made quick work of it of course!!!!

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There are Tow Truck Drivers, Then There is Towing and Recovery operators...... Which one are you??🤨

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Hey Grumps ... thanks for the pictures as it leads me to a different question ... has anyone every BROKE a Holmes Tree? If you have a, "yes", answer, what happened?    Also, may I have your permission to use the last picture in a PowerPointe on carriers?  R 


Randall C. Resch

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You certainly can use the pic Mr. Resch. I personally have never had a tree break on me, but I have heard of guys breaking them. I always search out the beefiest, healthiest tree i can find when it is needed. i also NEVER wrap a strap any higher than maybe 8" from the base of the tree. Keep it low, use a STRAP or round sling and not a chain. i dont want to hurt the tree at all, I just need its help a lil.


There are Tow Truck Drivers, Then There is Towing and Recovery operators...... Which one are you??🤨

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9 hours ago, rreschran said:

Hey Grumps ... thanks for the pictures as it leads me to a different question ... has anyone every BROKE a Holmes Tree? If you have a, "yes", answer, what happened?    Also, may I have your permission to use the last picture in a PowerPointe on carriers?  R 

Loaded propane tank truck on a 33k chassis, snow, slid off the steep hill roadway, only had a F550 with a Chevron 408 at the time, I knew I could not anchor enough to winch him so I decided to put the load onto the only tree around. Nearest thing for a winching anchor was a 10" fir tree, I knew it was questionable, 2 lines from my truck to the tanker/snatchblocks then 4 lines to the tree, got the job done but the tree was leaning at a 45 degree angle once completed, driver & me agreed to just look the other way. 

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2 hours ago, Orcas Tow said:

Loaded propane tank truck on a 33k chassis, snow, slid off the steep hill roadway, only had a F550 with a Chevron 408 at the time, I knew I could not anchor enough to winch him so I decided to put the load onto the only tree around. Nearest thing for a winching anchor was a 10" fir tree, I knew it was questionable, 2 lines from my truck to the tanker/snatchblocks then 4 lines to the tree, got the job done but the tree was leaning at a 45 degree angle once completed, driver & me agreed to just look the other way. 

That is some scary stuff. Glad to hear it held up for you. Sometimes you just dont have any other choices and you have to roll the dice.


There are Tow Truck Drivers, Then There is Towing and Recovery operators...... Which one are you??🤨

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21 hours ago, GRUMPS The Towman said:

That is some scary stuff. Glad to hear it held up for you. Sometimes you just dont have any other choices and you have to roll the dice.

In this case the worst that could happen is the tree would come down, no chance of the propane truck becoming a projectile if the tree failed so proceed on.

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On 2/8/2020 at 11:22 AM, rreschran said:

Hey Grumps ... thanks for the pictures as it leads me to a different question ... has anyone every BROKE a Holmes Tree? If you have a, "yes", answer, what happened?    Also, may I have your permission to use the last picture in a PowerPointe on carriers?  R 

I haven't personally had an issue, but I do remember a story from Ray at Sanner's Towing of Downingtown PA (now closed up).  Ray always warned me about using trees.   They had something big overturned on a tight road many years ago.  I want to say a tractor trailer or a cement mixer maybe.   They used a couple of trees in the in the heavily wooded area in the rigging to upright it.   During the recovery he broke a tree or two.  The property owner ended up creating a big stink over it and it cost him a few thousand dollars to keep the guy happy. 

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I've never had one break but I've had a few that if I kept going I would have. I always load a tree slowly so you can get an idea of it's going to work with you or against.

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Just now, dperone said:

I've never had one break but I've had a few that if I kept going I would have. I always load a tree slowly so you can get an idea of it's going to work with you or against.

Agreed, keep an eye on the top of the tree for movement during the recovery, the lower you run the strap on the tree the easier on the tree it will be.

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I've seen the Holmes trees that Orcas has to his avail ... we're lucky even to have something like that around here. There's an old wive's tale that says, "If a tree if 50-feet tall, its tap root will be half its height." I don't believe that one for a second. Maybe I'll add the topic, "Tree Roots 101", in my CHP safety classes? Ark.    R.


Randall C. Resch

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3 hours ago, ESC said:

I haven't personally had an issue, but I do remember a story from Ray at Sanner's Towing of Downingtown PA (now closed up).  Ray always warned me about using trees.   They had something big overturned on a tight road many years ago.  I want to say a tractor trailer or a cement mixer maybe.   They used a couple of trees in the in the heavily wooded area in the rigging to upright it.   During the recovery he broke a tree or two.  The property owner ended up creating a big stink over it and it cost him a few thousand dollars to keep the guy happy. 

It is a good Idea if possible to get the land owners permission before strapping up to one of his or her trees. You do have to watch the tree like Orcas tow stated. It will let you know pretty quickly if it is not up to the task. The nice thing about it is usually if your in a situation using a holmes tree, your usually not in a high traffic area ( at least around here ) so you dont have to worry too much about looking out for that texting teeny bopper barreling straight through your work site.


There are Tow Truck Drivers, Then There is Towing and Recovery operators...... Which one are you??🤨

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Back in the day (60-70s) used many Holmes trees in the Prescott, AZ area, to lift tractor/trailer rigs that had gone over the side of US-89 (called the white spars area). They were all US Forest Service trees, so never thought of calling anyone in those days. Can tell ya one thing though, when winter rolled around we didn't have to go hunting for firewood, we just cut up the stack of trees in the yard !!  😂

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I have never broke a Holmes tree but I have had the ground around the base of the tree lift up as the root mass started to come out of the ground ....time to stop  !!!.

 

I dont  totally agree the root goes down half the height of the tree.....in a lot of cases it all depends what type of tree is ....

 

I always worked on the basis .....if it was a pine or a fir,   the root mass  goes out fairly shallow and is likely to be less than 2ft deep  .....strap at the base of the trunk no less than 8 .10 inch diameter  if  possible share off with  2 or 3 other trees nearby ....not too near though ....or the strain might dislodge them all.....

 

The root of a tree is looking for water .....so if it is  near a stream or watercourse it is likely the roots will be fairly shallow even for a long established tree and care must be taken if applying a heavy pull..

  but if is away from any obvious source of water  it  is likely the roots go deep.... and will act as a good anchor 

If possible always use a sling round the trunk at the base  .....chains will damage the bark and could cut into the trunk and weaken it ...

If you can share off with other trees that reduces the risk of breakage ....

Most importantly,  ensure the tree appears healthy  and not full of dead branches ....one could fall on you whilst working underneath ...or the centre of the trunk could be rotten and could break under a heavy load..

Keep a close eye on the top of the tree you will likely get a better indication if it is on the move ...

I' m not saying that is the correct way  to do it but it worked well for us .....

 

I am not a tree expert...    but we always exercised common sense before committing...and carried out numerous successful recoveries...

 

Be safe and well out there..

John.

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