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    Default Towing/cluster hooks

    I'm starting to see more rescue companies carrying the cluster hooks used by tow companies for vehicle transport. These are the hooks that fit into the various cutouts and holes built into vehicle frames for attachment to car carriers and flat beds. They seem like a great idea for securing vehicles that are on their sides, but I have a few questions: 1) do chains have to be used, or can 1/2" rope be used with them? 2) how secure are they in those frame cutouts? If not kept under constant tension, will they pop out?

    Does anyone else use equipment from the towing and recovery industry?

    -John

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    Default Towing Clusters

    We carry towing clusters and utilize them for attachment points during stabilization. The serve as attachment points for our ratchet straps, chains and cam buckle straps with our Res-Q-Jack Struts. When buying them try and find the ones that have a double grab hook on them. This also lets you utilize them as miny chain shorteners. We also utilize the small and large J hooks for rigging during stabilization.

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    The ones I use are Transport grade 70.Yes,you can use rope with them.Yes,if you don't pay attention or make the wrong hook choice(R,mini J,or T)they CAN slip out.A VERY handy tool but like any other tool you need to practice before you hit the streets with them.I use them daily and have put some pretty substantial pulls on them. T.C.

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    Arrow

    Tow clusters are good tools to use with restrained buttress systems. Typically these are Grade 70 and are rated for "tie-downs". Simply words of caution...use the clusters as base restraint tools and not for lifting operations. Actually the openings used with the clusters are not rated for towing or lifting a vehicle. Anything used for overhead lifting should be minimally Grade 80.
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    The only problem I see with that is that NOTHING you're going to hook to under the piece of schit is Grade 80 or even grade 3(0)INCLUDING the frame.So once again we have a REGULATION(standard)written by someone who doesn't know what we're hooking to or doing with.Hence you need Grade 8(0)product(or greater)when you could be using a Hi-test(of proper size)or Transport with the same results(A safe lift).As we did for years before the wonderful world of Osha.Is 80+ a bad idea? Certainly not,but it's helpful to have a rough Idea what you're lifting with a margin of safety added on. Look CAREFULLY at fixtures and endments; Tell me how many are ACTUALLY RATED for recovery or lifting. Easy answer:.......Not many! Nor are there many vehicles on the road today with a rated tow point on all four corners. Now there's a idea than would make for a MEANINGFUL piece of legislation. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-20-2009 at 06:15 PM.

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    Granted, it is unlikely you'll find a 'rated' Grade 80 attachment point on a vehicle. Generally left to the judgement of the responder as to where connections are made.

    The lifting gear should be rated at Grade 80+, and best practice followed for actual vehicle connections.
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    While I don't disagree,a LOT of vehicles were lifted on Hi-test(43)with NO issues.It's important to remember WHAT you are lifting,WHAT it weighs and the rating on your fixments PLUS an allowance for wear.I personally have lifted MANY loads with 43 before Osha entered the pictuire and demanded alloy for such purposes.In most vehicular cases,there isn't anything you're going to hook to that even resembles alloy.And since that piece becomes the WEAKEST LINK,guess what? So much for that ol' alloy theory.I would hazard an EDUCATED guess and say that a piece of rated Transport would do any lift you'd ever do and quite safely.Keeping in mind of course to use the proper size. But thanks to your friends in Government,it doesn't matter what you know or how long you've been doing it,it's gonna be their way or Fines. Just another way of looking at things,I guess. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-24-2009 at 08:54 AM.

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    As of right now, we're carrying ratchet straps with the large "J" hooks and chains with standard chain hooks.

    I talked with a towing company owner (happens to be an uncle) and talked about the clusters. His recommendation was stay with standard chains/hooks or "J" hooks, as he rarely even uses some of the stuff on the clusters and couldn't foresee why we would under the conditions we work in. He felt the slinging chains or using the "J"s would be more than enough and cheaper.

    On our chains, we're currently using the Grade 8(0), I think 3/8".

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    Catch,As time goes on there is less and less stuff you can use the full size J's on.We use the clusters,A LOT.The cluster hook set is ideal for tieing off the butress systems.We stopped using J's on a regular basis over ten years ago.And this is from a Towing company owner.........Me. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Catch,As time goes on there is less and less stuff you can use the full size J's on.We use the clusters,A LOT.The cluster hook set is ideal for tieing off the butress systems.We stopped using J's on a regular basis over ten years ago.And this is from a Towing company owner.........Me. T.C.
    I'm not going to say they aren't useful in our line of work, it's just that we're still not seeing the number of the "new" cars a lot of areas are. I'm sure someday we'll start implementing some of them, but for now we're getting along good with the J's and using chains as slings, espeically on our limited budget.

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    Once you get used to the clusters(hooks)you'll never look back at the big J hooks.I have at least 2 Cluster hook assemblies on every one of my Tow trucks. I have 12 on my flatbed.They are truly a tool of many purposes. So versatile when you have to secure your struts and have limited access,you can ALWAYS find a hole on the vehicle that the mini-j will fit into.Like Mikey says: Try it,you'll LIKE it,hehe T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 09-30-2009 at 09:36 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Once you get used to the clusters(hooks)you'll never look back at the big J hooks.I have at least 2 Cluster hook assemblies on every one of my Tow trucks. I have 12 on my flatbed.They are truly a tool of many purposes. So versatile when you have to secure your struts and have limited access,you can ALWAYS find a hole on the vehicle that the mini-j will fit into.Like Mikey says: Try it,you'll LIKE it,hehe T.C.
    I'd imagine we're going to move that way at some point. I do like the looks of that mini-J. But some of the other stuff I've seen on those clusters, the T-looking one in particular, looks like it could come loose too easily if not put in right.

    I like the "firefighter-proof" kind of things like hooks and slings.

    Speaking of towing equipment and such, got any good online resources for pricing or anything? I had a couple at one time, but lost the links when my computer crashed.

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    I buy quite a lot of stuff from AW Direct.Good quality and outstanding service.With the clusters,you need to practice a little bit but they are VERY versatile. You cab get the BA version for about $20 per cluster.THE t hook is very reliable if used properly.With a little practice these clusters are pretty close to foolproof. T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 10-03-2009 at 05:28 PM.

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    101, I have been trying to convince my Rescue Company captain to get a set of the tow hooks to use with our chains, and he has always been hesitant. do you have a favorite brand/make and model that you have found that works well for rescue ops? of course, a good price always helps make the deal sweeter
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

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    Doc,See above answer.I use these daily,and I stress 'em more than you guys EVER will. T.C.

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    we use tow chains and hooks. the don't cost much and are very handy. We just find what works under the car, that's why I like having some options.

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    There is less and less places on these schitboxes to hook a chain,SAFELY.Since most of the suspension components are being made of recycled beercans,the cluster hooks will become more important as time passes.At $20 a piece for good quality clusters,I wouldn't consider that an extreme expenditure.The advantage to the clusters is that they are built to actually support and add a little strength to the attachment point.That is to say they won't "rip"the attaching point as quick as some other methods.While I too favor a good piece of quality chain,I find the clusters allow more potential hook points and make hooking up your struts,winch etc MUCH easier.T.C.

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    We have a complete set of chains that we are starting to use.
    http://jfd39.com/fullstory.php?89608

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    I/we do some training and rescue work with the local fire & rescue here and for ALOT of the newer cars/vehicles we use "K - Straps" through the alloy/open wheels as an attachment point to stabilize the vehicles

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    Harold,Congrats on your 6/7. While you can often use a strap with the wheels you need to be cognizant that not ALL wheels are suited for this application.Some have a sharp area around the spokes that while pleasing to the eye can be very detrimental to the strap in a life safety rescue. Certainly a tool for the toolbox but around wrecks I still prefer a rated chain as it is much less susceptable to cut damage. Since FD rescue works differently than towing(towing-do the least damage to the vehicle while working)to FD(do whatever is necessary to SAFELY free the occupants,Including reducing the vehicle to the base frame), The methodology can be different. The BEST systems use the talents(combined)of both agencies.WM is BIG on straps,and they certainly have their place. I prefer other means and I have both the history,training,and experience to justify WHY. Now if we could only get the vehicle builders to understand WHY there needs to be a substantial hook point on all fote corners ANS put them there,how easy life would be. Don't expect it anytime soon,T.C.

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