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  #1  
Old 12-21-2004, 02:55 PM
ferreed ferreed is offline
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Tow straps vs. chains

Hey, y'all.

I was reading in the tow hook installation thread earlier about the fellow who killed/injured his buddy with an improperly installed tow hook. I was taught that any kind of tow strap is inherently dangerous. Tow straps are springy enough that when they break they can sling-shot bits and pieces forward with tremendous force. Not only that, but those synthetic materials break down in sunlight over time (and with exposure to some chemicals) such that given storage and usage conditions they can degrade to the point of being dangerous without folks realizing it. On the farm we use heavy-duty tow chains whenever we have to pull something big and heavy. Spend the extra $30 and get a good chain-- they last a lot longer and when they break they don't have the same tendency to shoot bits and pieces of hardware. Even a cheap HF tow chain is infinitely safer than a tow strap. It may break, but at least it won't frag your buddies. I'll get off the soapbox now.

BTW, thanks for the great threads and responses in the forum. I've learned a lot from you guys.
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2004, 07:37 PM
jim henderson jim henderson is offline
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I have read(4 Wheel Mag? long ago) that throwing a blanket over the chains is good, if you are trying to haul something that is stuck. While a chain doesn't sling shot like a strap it can still whip around a bit if it breaks and will at least damage the vehicle. The blanket kind of muffles it and causes the chain to drop instead of snap back.

I have never had a chain break but have heard of it a few times.

I only use straps for tieing things down. I don't trust them for a hard pull. A rope is better at least psychologically, could be wrong.

Just my opinion,

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  #3  
Old 12-21-2004, 08:06 PM
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A Valuable Lesson

A friend of mine, being a good samaritan, helped a guy who went in the ditch a few winters ago. The tow strap wasn't long enough, but the guy he was helping had a chain, so he hooked them together. He hooked the strap to the hooks on the front of his pickup, BTW it was a Chevy. Tugging him out, you guessed it, the chain broke, the strap sligshot the remains of the chain into his grill, skidded over the hood, cracked the windsheild and still had enough energy after all this to bang the chain over his tailgate and mess it up too. The guy did say "thanks for pulling me out".

Superdave57
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  #4  
Old 12-21-2004, 08:47 PM
SoCalDesertRider SoCalDesertRider is offline
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I much prefer a chain to a strap, for all the reasons already discussed. My chain has outlasted a few straps so far and never let me down.
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2004, 08:48 PM
ibf250 ibf250 is offline
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--about the fellow who killed/injured his buddy with an improperly installed tow hook.

you can kill anybody with an improperly installed anything. blame the person that used it improperly, not the tool.

--Tow straps are springy enough that when they break they can sling-shot bits and pieces forward with tremendous force.

that is precisely why they are better than chains. they have enough spring in them to slingshot the stuck vehicle out of whatever its stuck in, instead of putting all the force on your trucks tow hitch/bumper/etc. chains have no give to them, and any breaking force is going to be applied to the bumper/hitch/or chain.

--Not only that, but those synthetic materials break down in sunlight over time (and with exposure to some chemicals)

if you leave them in the bed they will. tow straps fold up nice and neat and fit behind the seat. and they dont clang around everytime you hit a bump like chains do. and why are you pouring chemicals on your tow strap? if salt gets on them, wash them and hang them up to dry. mud washes off too. unless youre pouring acid on them they should be fine.

--chain-- they last a lot longer and when they break they don't have the same tendency to shoot bits and pieces of hardware.

if you buy a tow strap with the safety hook on it, the only thing that can flail around if it breaks is the nylon. id rather my truck get hit by flying nylon than flying chain. and whatever dummy is standing next to a tow strap/chain deserves to get hit in the head if it breaks. if both people are in their vehicle, there is no way the nylon can come crashing through their windshield and hurt them like it can with a chain.

--Tugging him out, you guessed it, the chain broke, the strap sligshot the remains of the chain into his grill, skidded over the hood, cracked the windsheild and still had enough energy after all this to bang the chain over his tailgate.

good story, but the way i read it is that the chain broke, not the strap. if the strap is so weak, shouldnt it have broken before the chain? they make tow straps with breaking points of up to 30k pounds. mine is 15k. 15k is 15k whether is a chain or strap. saw a guy with a, ahem, um chain, trying to pull a guy out and he ripped his back bumper clear off the car. even though it wasnt the chains fault and it was improperly used, ill still blame the chain and say that they arent good for anything. same analogy for the guy that improperly used the strap, blame the tool not the idiot using it.

just use common sense when pulling a vehicle. use a strap/chain/rope that has the safety latch on the hook, dont stand next to the chain like an idiot, dont floor it when trying to pull it out, and buy a strap that is strong enough to pull your load. and the key words in your first line-improperly used. anything done improperly is going to go wrong somewhere.
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  #6  
Old 12-21-2004, 08:53 PM
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lbf250, I agree. I'd much rather use a tow strap than a chain. They seem to me a much safer option than a chain, and they are rated for plenty of weight.
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  #7  
Old 12-21-2004, 08:58 PM
ibf250 ibf250 is offline
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--I much prefer a chain to a strap, for all the reasons already discussed. My chain has outlasted a few straps so far and never let me down.

as far as a personal preference thats fine. i just dont like people saying that people who use tow straps are somehow unsafe. ive never had a strap break on me personally, but ive broken other peoples trying to pull them out. and you know where they stored them? in the bed. and they were all dry rotted and falling apart. i told the guys they were going to break before i hooked them up and that i wasnt buying them a new strap if it broke. and yep, they broke. properly maintained, a strap will last longer than your truck will. i just dont like chains because if they break they are going to do some damage, they are heavy, dont fit behind the seat as easily as a strap, and because they rust. a 30 foot strap takes up less space than a 5 foot chain, weighs less than a 1 foot chain, and has breaking strengths on par with any store bought chain. yeah, you can buy chains with 75-90k pound breaking points and straps usually only go up to 30-40k pounds, but how many us are pulling 75k pound cars out of ditches?
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  #8  
Old 12-21-2004, 09:03 PM
ibf250 ibf250 is offline
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--lbf250, I agree. I'd much rather use a tow strap than a chain.

woo hoo, i think this is the first post we have agreed on in here

chains work great for industrial use, like pulling out semis and such. but for the average person pulling out cars and trucks, straps are the way to go. on another note though, i was at an airport a while back and they were moving some planes around the hangers. and they were using straps. if they can pull a jet, ill trust them to pull a car.
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2004, 09:21 PM
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Since I have pulled out over 100 stuck vehicles in winter conditions over the past few years, I feel relatively secure in giving my opinion... I use a strap. I own several (all with loops) but none of them have a hook. I always explain to the person how "my process" works and on a couple of occasions it was mutually determined that the stuck vehicle would be best left stuck.

I have the stuck person attached it to their vehicle frame or trailer hitch (many times I have removed mine & installed it on their vehicle. If they have tow hooks, I have them go through one and attached to the other. Both drivers have their window down- I make it very clear: If one wants the other to stop pulling they are to honk the horn. All spectators are to move away. Then my 8,000 lb 6.0 diesel truck with studded & siped snow tires in 4X4 low slowly creeps along until there is no slack and pulls the stuck vehicle out. On a rare occasion I have to "tug" a bit. That's where the straps IMO are a little more gentle than a chain.

I think the most vehicles I ever towed out in one day was 9 or 10.
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  #10  
Old 12-21-2004, 11:59 PM
grafekie grafekie is offline
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Ditto!!! Have the stuck person attach the rope! That way when they blame you when it breaks (been there, done that, they couldn't say boo because they hooked it to that plastic support). I use straps as well, and I have slingshot them. Didn't scratch any equipment, didn't break any hooks, didn't injure any bistanders. I do want a chain, but I will always use the strap and the winch first. I get very nervous using the winch, but I have NO concerns jerk pulling a stuck vehicle using a strap with people clear. And last time I checked, a 20ft 30k strap was $30, and a 10ft 10k chain was $100... I'd rather use the stronger strap.
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Old 12-22-2004, 09:53 PM
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I have used chains for yanking and towing things stuck, up to tandem axle tractor (class 8) size using logging size chains. I think straps are much safer. You can break the biggest chain just as easily as the biggest strap if the shock load is greater then the tensile strength of the material.

I had a chain go flying over the open hood of my Bronco 2 after ripping apart a bumper of a F-350 stuck in a snow bank. The worse thing was my frame got bent from my tow hook before the chain took off in flight. Just plain lucky it did not smash in the fiberglass tailgate and window on its descent.

Where straps are a hazard is when people link them together with a piece of metal hardware, so when the strap breaks the metal becomes a bullet. What I do is just loop two straps together and insert a piece of small wood between the two loops so they do not knot hopelessly together.

I rather run 60 feet of strap then 60 feet of chain through mud and snow. For anything over 10K that you are going to yank, the chain really should be at least 1/2" links. Try dragging 60 feet of that through snow and ice. It isn't easy.

A 3/8 chain for a full stuck F-250/350 with a weight of 6K+ just is not going to hack it and because a chain has no give it will be brutal on the frame of the lighter vehicle involved in the yank.

> tow strap is inherently dangerous

Anything is, even a ATV to ATV yank, if the proper tools are not used. I rather do a ATV to ATV yank with a 2" 8k strap then a 5/16 sch 30 chain from Home Depot, as a far fetched example.
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  #12  
Old 12-24-2004, 04:33 AM
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For yanking a stuck vehicle a strap is the best choice (properly rated and hooked up).

A properly rated chain is suitable for pulling as long as it is keep tight and never jerked on.

I carry a strap for the numerous times I get my dump truck stuck in the mud or sand. Straps are not limited to 30 or 40K, my truck grosses 105K. Had a 6"x20' strap made with 90K rating for about $110. I know strap is not rated for more than 105K, but I am never hopelessly stuck and I can always dump the load if I think it's too bad, so I don't need the full rating.

A chain could be used to pull the truck out but is too expensive and I never know if there will be any equiptment "big" enough to pull me with out having to yank.

I have also pulled a dump truck( 50K) out of a snowy ditch using my 4x4 van and a strap. Took quite a few yanks but she came out. Wouldn't have tried that with a chain.

BTW, when pulling others out always let them hook up and make sure it is done properly and to a safe point.
I had a guy hook my strap to his tow hook once and I didn't double check it. The strap was not completly "in" the hook. The loop caught one of the mounting bolt heads and tore it pretty good. That strap was usless after that.
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Old 12-24-2004, 08:51 AM
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We had an 80,000 lb concrete shelter dropped in to place earlier this year at work. They used straps. I've also had a number of other heavy things set by crane and in all cases they used straps.

If it's good enough for the pro's then I guess it will work OK for me
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Old 12-25-2004, 02:39 AM
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Well, I have bad stories for both straps and chains. The strap came loose and took out the rear slider of my truck, it had hooks, but the strap didn't fail, nor did the hook, it was my hookup that failed, my fault for improper attachment. The chain however, broke a hook on one fo three chains, and it came back at least 30-40 foot, and hit the fender of the tractor I was operating. That could have really hurt, no cab... it left a dent in the fender. Some of the rope type tow devices are intended to be elastic, in that you pull it tight, and the rope will actually do the pulling, all you have to do is apply the pressure.
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Old 12-25-2004, 08:31 AM
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I broke a chain years ago jerking rocks out of the ground so I could mow the yard. Before the chain broke it streched the links to the point that the center on several was almost closed. My old F-150 was not hurt when the chain hit the tailgate, not enough power to do a lot of damage, not the same as with a superduty. The main thing is to take care of which ever one that you use and inspect it before you use it to make sure it is in good condition. The sling will strech and give you a softer start than a chain so it is easier on the drivetrain. If someone is stuck too bad you can put pressure on a strap and hold it and sometimes aafter a little while it will start moving, you cannot so that with a chain. A chain can jerk them out but a strap will strech instead, but will it damage something. The main thing is to have the correct size and hook it up properly so it don't come loose and go flying.
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Old 12-25-2004, 08:31 AM
 
 
 
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