Jul 26th, 2013 | By | Category: Jack Schrock's Blog

A HD wrecker is a “balancing” act in more ways than one. In addition to balancing a heavy load on the underlift, it is a combination of function, weight and appearance.

In terms of function, the wrecker must have enough size, mass and power to do the job it’s called on to do. Then, it must have sufficient weight to serve as its own anchor during a heavy recovery, but not too much to legally get through the scales. Finally, and most importantly, it must have the appearance of a superstar.

For recovery work it must be equipped and work-ready in all respects with a minimum of two long service lines wound on powerful winches, preferably multi-speed planetaries. In towing, some towers prefer a 330-inch wheelbase to maximize the leverage effect, but for many that’s much too long to maneuver so they tend to compromise on 300. Then comes weight. A big wrecker is heavy, which can easily exceed weight laws when towing. If the weight on the drivers approaches the maximum allowable, there is precious little left for payload. Also, the heavier the wrecker, the less likely for it to go off-road for recoveries.

And finally, the matter of appearance. When Holmes introduced its railroad crane some 50 or so years ago, the first was mounted on a six-man industrial chassis/cab and I can’t recall a single piece of chrome anywhere. As the size and ratings increased, Holmes switched to a tandem steering axle crane carrier chassis/cab, again without any chrome or fancy paint. And in my opinion, it is primarily on this point that the Holmes crane failed to be accepted by the T & R industry. Back in the Friends of Towing days, several of our board members journeyed to England to attend the AVRO show, which of course included displays of wrecker equipment. Without exception, they all complained about the “appearance” of that equipment because it was far more practical than beautiful.

Perhaps it’s time to consider HD wreckers and rotators as “machinery” — because that’s what they are — and leave the beauty part to their little brothers.