There’s nothing more frustrating than getting equipment stuck in the mud. It’s a huge inconvenience, and you don’t have time to waste. Every moment impacts your yield at harvest time, so you need a solution now.
But don’t rush to free your equipment by grabbing the first set of chains or ropes you can find, hopping in your truck, and trying to tug it free. Not only is it unlikely that you’ll be successful, but you’re also endangering yourself and everyone around you.
So what’s the solution? A combine stuck in the mud isn’t easy to excavate. But where do you start?
1. Assess the environment
How deeply is your equipment embedded in the mud? It’s important to consider whether the frame of your combine is touching the ground and the slope of the terrain.
If your tires are buried up to the axle, dig them out the best you can. You most likely won’t be able to completely free your combine, but less force will be required to pull your equipment free if you are no longer working against the force of suction caused by the sticky mud.
2. Choose the right vehicle
You’ll need to know the weight (GWVR) of your stuck equipment. To pick the right vehicle to pull yourself free, you’ll need to know its towing capacity.
3. Gather the right equipment
Tow ropes, cables, and chains can all be used. But consider that each of these choices are inelastic, meaning they pose a significant safety threat if they break. If a chain snaps, debris can go flying through the air, damaging equipment, shattering windshields, and even injuring or killing people in its path.
Always check the condition of any ropes or cables before use. Don’t use them if there are any signs of deterioration or weakness. You also must know the strength rating of any equipment used: are your cables strong enough to pull your combine free?
If your chains are rusted, worn, or look anything like this one, don’t use them! You’ll endanger yourself, your equipment, and those around you.
4. An even better option for towing
Elastic recovery straps are designed to stretch until they reach the proper tension point to pull equipment free. They’re safer and more reliable than static cables or chains.
5. Preparing to pull
Do not connect multiple chains or straps. They’ll be far more likely to snap, because they’re now depending on a knot or fastener. And you won’t be able to pull with as much force, anyway. Never tie straps together and never connect multiple towing vehicles.
Alos, remove the combine head before trying to tow it free. Because you’ll be towing from behind, you won’t have to worry about it being in the way, and you want the combine to be as light as possible.
6. Where to attach
Pull from behind, but do not attach directly to the rear of the combine. The force required to pull your equipment free is so great, you risk tearing it in two.
Instead, attach to the front axle, the most solid part of the combine. Pull cables or straps all the way under the equipment. You’ll also get more leverage this way.
Always tow in a straight line. Whenever possible, tow from a higher elevation than the stuck equipment. And finally, cover any chains or cables in a heavy cable blanket, in case they snap.
7. Pulling your equipment free
Don’t accelerate too quickly. That greatly increases the risk that any towing straps will break apart, endangering everyone in the vicinity. Start in the lowest gear.
If your tires are spinning, don’t force it. Either the vehicle you’re using to pull your equipment free isn’t powerful enough or it’s not on firm enough ground to gain traction.
Remember: you always can get help from a professional towing service with the right equipment to safely free your valuable equipment.
Just avoid getting stuck in the mud in the first place!
If you operate a front-wheel drive combine, you run the risk of getting stuck any time you work in wet soil conditions. Your time is valuable, so don’t take that risk.
Upgrade your combine with a Mud Hog hydraulic rear-wheel drive system. Not only does it increase speed and traction in any weather conditions, but it will also minimize field tracks, improve handling and control, and enable you to access additional torque in steep grades.