Stored Energy

May 31st, 2013 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

When you’re winching a heavy load, there is a tremendous amount of stored energy on the winch line and one of three things will happen as you continue the process. Either the load moves, which releases some of the energy, or the winch stalls, which stops the process entirely, or the wire rope breaks. In the latter case, the stored energy can send the broken line flying around removing trees, fenders, even body parts (I’m talking about the tower’s), so the latter option is very dangerous.

Now the younger generation doesn’t have to worry about this much because their hydraulic wrecker system should shut down before the line breaks if everything is in good working order. However, if the service line is old, kinked, rusty, etc., its strength has been significantly reduced, raising the possibility of a broken line at the worst possible time.

The old Holmes mechanical wreckers had a wire rope boom support system that would absorb most of the stored energy whenever a line broke. The 750 was famous for breaking lines, so much so that customers would complain about inferior service lines when, truth be known, they were just winching far beyond the line’s “safe” limits. Yes, it was only a 25-ton wrecker.

The point of this story is that T & R is very dangerous, but that danger doesn’t reveal itself until something goes terribly wrong and then the damage can be significant.

Be safe. Work smart and live to do it another day.