Ladies Training Day with Citywest 4×4

Early morning October 12th we headed out to the 4WD training park at Lerderderg.  Today was to be a recovery training day for the ladies!  Four of us were in training, Linda came long to help out and Christine was there to learn as well.  The ladies were well supported with Mick running the day and Lloyd, Larry, John & Rick all lending a hand.

I had my personal photographer Stacie along for the day, testing out her new Canon.  This freed up my time for the hands on stuff as I’m usually the person behind the camera so most of the photos are hers – thanks Stacie!!

Once at the quarry we were into it, all pulling out our recovery gear so Mick could run through each of the items and explain what they were for.  We had a good look at the snatch straps, checking out the information on the labels and how to look for signs of wear and tear.  Jamie’s hot pink strap was admired by all!

We soon found a short, steep, rutted track perfect for practicing recovery and Ally was first up, pretending to get Paul’s Ranger stuck for the purpose of the exercise – winch recovery.  Mick talked us through all aspects of the recovery while we donned gloves, ready to get dirty.  Lloyd’s car was positioned at the top of the track as recovery point.

The winch up the track went smoothly and Ally was soon up the top.  Next – Monica’s turn in the Patrol.  We all know Larry’s Patrol only ever gets stuck if it’s in 2WD and it would easily have walked up this rut, but we all had to have a shot at the different roles in recovery.  With this one I walked the winch cable up the track and safely fixed it to Lloyd’s Colorado, then placed the dampener over the cable.  We also had a small log at the “cusp”of the hill (thanks Ally) to protect the cable from rubbing on the ground.

Next it was my turn and the photographer was on board so we only have pics from inside.  It took a while to work out why the winch remote wasn’t working but after a bit of trouble shooting the lads realised that there was an isolator under the bonnet that needed to be switched.  Glad they realised as I had no clue!  It felt like ages to get pulled up the track but eventually we were at the top and wound the winch cable back in.

Last but not least, Yvette in the Pajero.  As there wasn’t a winch on the car (soon to come I believe), we took the opportunity to try using max tracks, then doing some track building.  Neither of these methods were really working in this situation so another tactic was needed.  Yvette backed up a bit down the hill, then hit it again with more momentum.  After a few goes, the Pajero roared up the track, getting massive wheel lift before the traction control kicked in and it powered up the rest of the track while most of us stood there gobsmacked.  Stacie and I were right in front but were both standing there with our jaws open and didn’t take a photo so Yvette had to do it again!   Not quite as much wheel lift second time around but still impressive.

Mick took this opportunity to explain how the different set ups in cars worked and we took it in turns to drive up the track to see how each rig handled it.  The Pajero had standard, modern track control, the Ranger struggled a bit until Ally engaged the rear lockers, Larry’s Patrol walked up easily and after a few run ups and a little technical driving advice from Mick I made it up and had some nice wheel lift too.

With the exciting stuff done and dusted it was time for lunch.  After a bit of a break it was time to practice snatch recoveries and as with the winching we all took it in turns to be stuck, to pull someone out, and to be in charge of the recovery.  It was good to learn the process and the necessary hand signals and commands which ensure all parties are on the same page to ensure a safe recovery.

With 4 learners this took a little while to get through but it was important that we all had hands on training of all aspects. (Thanks Lloyd for snapping a photo of me getting dirty).

We were nearly at the end of our day but Mick had one last thing he wanted to show us all – how to secure a car so a wheel could be changed while on a hill.  He demonstrated this with Lloyd’s Colorado, using the winch to secure the vehicle from the front and a snatch strap to the side. Once the vehicle was secure they jacked it up from the front with a high lift jack (explaining the safety concerns of this equipment and a number of different ways in which it can be useful).  It was possible to lift the car high enough to spin the wheel, effectively being high enough to change it while also being stable and safe.  To get some more room we could also have dug out from under the tyre but as we weren’t actually changing it today it wasn’t necessary.

Once all the training was done we set off for a bit of a drive around, tackling a couple of steep descents and hill climbs before we gathered round to thank Mick and the rest of the crew who came along to help out.  It was a really well planned day and I’m sure all the ladies feel the same as I do in that we learned some valuable skills.  Who knows, maybe next time we’re out on the tracks it may be us doing the recoveries!!

Until next time!

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