Bernie Swart phoned me a few months ago and asked if I would pop around as he wanted to show me a form of recovery equipment and wanted my opinion. I pushed a bit but he remained tight lipped, he wanted to see me and show me himself so that I would not have preconceived notions about the equipment.
When we got together the first thing he asked was what type of winch I preferred, my response was simply that I had not fitted a winch for some years preferring my resourceful hand winch which has helped me many times albeit slowly and with a good deal of manual exertion.
Bernie then asked me what I knew about hub winches and I had to cast my mind back (a long time ago) recalling the capstan type winches fitted to some of the game viewers I had been on in the Sabi Sands area. They were bolt on drums with a grooved slot into which a length of thick rope was inserted when the vehicle was stuck, the driver then pulled himself out using his wheels and the rope which was attached to a tree or other form of anchor, they worked but were very utilitarian and had various drawbacks.
The New Hub Winch
Bernie then revealed his version, a highly engineered version I might add and it was immediately apparent that a good deal of thought had gone into his design.
And he has thought through all the permutations re vehicles with traction control, diff-locks etc as well as the types of wheels, studs and wheel size.
He has even considered the protection of very expensive alloy rims and his drums and attaching bolts are all covered in polypropylene and rubber so as not to scratch the rims.
The drums are neatly packed in flat cases with the attachment system and the necessary straps and the so called ‘dwarsbalk’ which is broken down into three interlocking tubes with recovery points, the straps are attached to this keeping them parallel when you are recovering, this in turn is attached to a recovery point – all the standard safety would need to be applied when in use as with any form of recovery.
Okay enough said, a few folk felt it was old technology and in his garage it seemed easy to fit under ideal situations but what about under real conditions, will it work and are the components all of a sufficient strength( rating ) to handle the weight of a vehicle? Well even though the model Bernie showed me was a prototype we threw down the gauntlet and challenged him to get suitably stuck and show us how it worked.
Testing the Design
At the duly appointed time Bernie arrived and we took him to a nice grassed section with plenty of water and black turf underneath, then we watched. Like a true sportsman Bernie duly got his vehicle stuck and then the fun started ,he quickly jumped out, opened the back and within 10 minutes had the two drums bolted onto the rear wheels, the straps paid out and the whole arrangement attached to the ‘dwarsbalk’ and a recovery vehicle. And I must say he was well and truly stuck, he then engaged reverse the straps took up slack and within 30 seconds they had rolled up on the drums and Bernie was on solid ground, all that remained was to clean the equipment and pack it away. And that did not take long either.
Now why am I writing about Bernie and his hub winch? Well it’s quiet simple he is one of us and he is trying something that may be to our benefit, yes it’s an engineered take on an old concept but for many reasons it has merit and will definitely cost a lot less than a winch and replacement bumper. But Bernie would love feedback and your thoughts about the concept; he would obviously like to take it to market but would love readers to contact him and let him know what they feel, would you use one, do you think it is viable –let him know, he’s one of us.
Bernie is available on 083 492 9210 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.