Issues Archives: Volume 3 - Issue 4

Is It Time to Seek a Towing Dispatch Service?

Stranded Driver

Making the decision to seek “off-site” dispatch services can be difficult. Finding the right one can be daunting. When you have worked hard to build your business, whether it be for 1 year or 50, giving up your phones can be terrifying. Although, when you find the right one, and gain your life back, you may decide it was the best decision you ever made.

Weigh your options

There are several methods of dispatching Towers are accustomed to:

  1. Employee Dispatcher: One daytime and one nighttime dispatcher. Taking and dispatching calls is their only job.

Benefits: On-site and local familiarity. Your dispatchers know your area, your drivers, your pricing and are only working for you.

Drawbacks:  Hourly or salary employee paid to “wait for the phone to ring,” health insurance, sick pay, vacation pay, covering hours when employee is sick, late or on vacation.

  1. Owner Dispatcher: Office phones are forwarded to the owner’s home or cell phone so either Mr. or Mrs. Owner can answer and dispatch every call 24/7.

Benefits: Owner is aware of every call coming into his business. Owner controls who gets the call, as well as whether to take or deny it.

Drawbacks: Owners are on 24/7. Family events are often missed or interrupted; holidays are spent on the phone. 365 days a year, the owner expects and experiences interrupted sleep.

  1. Driver Dispatcher: Typically, at night and on weekends, phones are forwarded to the driver on-call. He answers the call, he does the job.

Benefit: Owner doesn’t have to pay a dispatcher.

Drawbacks:  No accountability for jobs being done. Interrupted work, and answering a call while on the road can lead to injury. Lost calls due to a driver’s phone being left in the truck, or being in an area of poor cell phone service risks lost revenue, low motor club ratings, and the loss of rotation contracts.

Those who found the above methods to be costly, cause frustration or be inefficient may have already discovered another option. For those that have not taken the leap, consider #4.

  1. Outside Dispatch Service: Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Multiple work stations fielding calls on behalf of small to large towing companies. Regardless of weather, a holiday, or time of day, dispatchers are standing by ready to dispatch directly to your drivers.

Benefits: Cost savings. No more paying by the hour, health benefits or scrambling to find coverage when your dispatcher is sick. Freedom! Forward your phones when you want, answer yourself when you want. Be with your family and friends! Go to the movies or get a full night’s sleep. Get all your calls…not just the one your driver feels like answering. Instantly, have multiple dispatchers at your fingertips. Multiple calls coming in at the same time are no longer an issue. Most importantly, keep your drivers safe while on the road.

Drawbacks: Preparation takes time. It takes work on your part to get a service up to speed on how you want things done, and communicating it to them. Most likely, the dispatcher is not sitting in your hometown. Distance can be intimidating. An owner “giving up” his/her phones also means relying on someone else to project their image. This can be scary.

Do your homework

When seeking an outside service, as a Tower, you want to find a reputable Dispatch Service. Someone with experience in the Towing Industry, someone who understands the importance of immediate dispatching, never putting the PD on-hold, answering fast, and who takes the time to find out who you are, what you do, and how you want your calls handled. Do your research and ask questions over the phone or, if local, in person! This company will be your voice at the times you choose to use them. Hear that voice!  “Email shopping,” although appropriate for initial contact, or to request a call, does not substitute an interview. Take the time to get to know them, and let them get to know you.

  1. How long have you been dispatching for Towers?
  2. Can you give me references of current customers?
  3. Are you part of or associated with any Towing Associations?
  4. If the service is not local to you, how will you know our service area?
  5. If you are using dispatch software, can this service dispatch through that software for you?
  6. What are all of your options for dispatching?
  7. What type of reporting is offered so that you or your manager can keep track of jobs going directly to drivers?
  8. What types of back-up systems do they have in place to make sure their phones/equipment is always up and running?

If you are happy with what you’ve heard, and find yourself ready to take your life back, save money, attend a family function (and actually stay for the whole thing), and let your drivers be drivers, not dispatchers, then it’s time to start “training” your dispatch service.

Training a successful off-site dispatcher: How much can they do from afar?

Just as you would show an in-house dispatcher the ropes, you also have to provide your service as much information about your company and its operations as you can. The only difference is you may be educating from a distance, and in writing.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Define your service area (unless you go anywhere all the time) by zip codes, county, city or town names, mile markers, or landmarks. You know your service area like the back of your hand! Help your off-site dispatchers learn it, too. If you have multiple locations, define each location’s area.  There is nothing worse than wasting time and gas by sending your drivers on a wild goose chase. Give your dispatchers the opportunity to succeed from the start.

Providing a price list to your service will prevent multiple calls to you, or your drivers, when quoting a job. There are always exceptions based on unusual situations, but taking a standard motorclub, road service, or cash call, based on your pricing, should flow smoothly and take little time on the phone when your service is provided this information. Little time on the phone means faster dispatching and happy customers!

Finally, define a very clear protocol as to how calls are to be dispatched. Delivering all calls verbally, making verbal contact followed by a text message, or sending a text and asking the driver to text back confirmation are all options to be considered when determining what is most effective for your company. For the owners who aren’t quite ready to get that full night’s sleep, requesting a copy of every call sent out (at the same time as the driver) may be a good way to ease into relinquishing your phones.

Most importantly, when making this sometimes difficult decision, choose someone who knows Towing and takes pride it accommodating the hard-working individuals that make up this industry.

Holly’s Message Service
(888) 809-6182

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To Optimize Your Switch to Synthetic Winch Lines, Enlist the Pros

Rope Tow Truck
By Bill Putnam

On the winch drums of tow trucks nationwide, high-performance synthetic cordage is rapidly replacing wire line. It’s a change driven dually by efficiency and safety: synthetics are lighter, easier to handle, and just as strong as their steel counterparts; yet if they do fray or part, they don’t carry the same threat of bodily injury from razor-sharp kinks and some fiber choices offer less chance violent snap-backs.

But the most groundbreaking trait of synthetic ropes is their potential to be customized and optimized. Among the thousands of fiber, size, diameter, and construction combinations available today, application-specific synthetic rope manufacturers and certified distributors help users select or design the safest, best rope for the job – and train them on how to use it for maximum safety and product life.

Unitrex Vectrus
Here are just some of the specific tasks your rope rep can help you do:

Determine the right synthetic fiber for your workload, budget, and climate

Unlike wire, which is fairly synonymous with steel, the synthetic winch line category includes a vast array of fiber compositions. Environmental conditions (temperature and precipitation) and the primary workload of the winch (weight, volume, and frequency of use) largely determine which fiber will work best. Since towers need reliability in all weather conditions, high-tenacity polyester jacketing is commonly used to protect the load-bearing core of the line. The core can be made of polyester; or for heavier lifts, a high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) or liquid crystal polymer (LCP) core can bolster breaking strength.

Choose the construction most conducive to your environment.

Weather is also a primary driver when it comes to rope construction. Rain, freezing temperatures, sand, wind, heat, and sun exposure all play in to the type of braid you need.

In environments where abrasion is less likely to occur, a 12-strand single-braid rope might be a worthy option, though any 12-strand rope should still have a protective coating to prevent premature wear. Example: Yale Cordage’s Ultrex™.

In environments where the rope is likely to come in contact with plenty of sand, dirt, salt, sunlight, and other abrasive forces, a popular choice is a balanced double-braid, wherein a polyester core is protected by a high-tenacity polyester sleeve. Even if the sleeve experiences surface abrasion or UV damage, the independent core retains its strength. Example: Yale Cordage’s Double Esterlon™.

For ropes used in all conditions and for heavier lifts, core-dependent double braid construction provides the next level of performance. A core of Spectra™ HMPE, one of the strongest fibers available, protected by a high-tenacity polyester sleeve, provides ultimate strength and optimum protection. HMPE is also lighter than polyester, offering excellent maneuverability and sheave cycling capabilities for high-stakes recovery tasks. Example: Yale Cordage’s Maxibraid Plus™.

Align the strength of your rope with the capacity of your rig.

The breaking strength you choose for a synthetic winch line typically needs to be five or more times the rated working load or lifting capacity of your truck winch. Making a correct match is essential to preventing accidental overloads out in the field. But since acceptable working load to breaking strength ratios can vary, particularly with newer rope constructions, this is an area where it can be very helpful for your rope manufacturer or certified distributor to weigh in.

Analyze your work practices to determine energy absorption needs.

A rope of any breaking strength can be compromised if asked to absorb a dynamic load beyond its energy absorption capability. A rope’s energy absorption capability is not related just to its breaking strength; rather, it is ascertained by studying a stress strain curve of load versus elongation. Rope manufacturers understand the metrics involved, and can help you determine which fiber and construction will offer the energy absorption characteristics you need for the loads you typically handle, as well as how much rope you will need to deploy to avoid shock loads.

Understand the splicing requirements of your lines.

When switching from wire, or even older synthetics, to a new synthetic fiber or construction, you may need to change your splicing protocols. Whereas the techniques for older rope styles may have been fairly straightforward, many newer constructions require product-specific techniques. Most rope manufacturers and distributors offer splicing, splice training, and technical support for these proprietary products. Take them up on it.

Custom-fit ropes keep you efficient. These five maintenance tips will keep you safe:

  • Inspect before every use – Check the working eye and the area adjacent to it for any movement. The rope should have a Whiplock® or lock stitching at the eye to prevent movement. If the locks are not intact, or you notice the eye becoming larger or smaller in service, replace the rope.
  • Use slings – Never choke back on the winch line by securing it around the load and attaching the rope back to itself with a hook or shackle. This will wear out the rope, and may create visible damage for the first four to eight feet above the eye. If you notice such damage, either replace the rope or end-for-end it, placing the new end on the drum.
  • Invest in a certified splicer – A certified splicer who is trained on your rope will ensure you get a proper splice every time, with the added benefit of each splice being tagged and recorded for you under the rope’s serial number. This data can help large tow companies effectively track the condition of their ropes and replace them on time.
  • Consider proactive replacement – Because a line’s life expectancy can be shortened by shock-loading incidents, and because it’s difficult to definitively know how much damage each incident causes, many users proactively retire their lines immediately after any shock loading occurs. Another common practice is to end-for-end all ropes every 12 months and retire them after two years.
  • Dispose of retired lines properly –It is important to properly dispose of a retired rope before it reaches the hands of a user who could overestimate its strength. All too often, used commercial lines get recycled for personal use – thrown in the back of a pickup truck as a tow line, or boat line, or to haul a moose out of the woods. To prevent resultant accidents, retired lines should be cut into short lengths and recycled or repurposed for non-critical uses.

Bill Putnam is president of Yale Cordage.

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Cutting Corners Part 2


Let’s do a little recap from the first half. Last month, I showed the reduction in strength when loading a web tie down strap, a 2 inch lifting sling, a V strap leg and a 3/8” steel core wire rope over a 90 degree corner, and not necessarily a sharp one. The average reduction in strength was 37% when loaded over the outside corner of a piece of 2 inch angle iron.

I also showed what the same towing tools look like when they are cut, as opposed to being overloaded. In this article, I want to show how chain reacts when loaded over a corner, talk about some methods of preventing the same tools from being damaged, and, finally, what to look for when inspecting your straps, wire rope and chain.

I also need to repeat the disclaimer: Please be aware that this testing was done with new product under controlled conditions. NO product should EVER be used above its WORK LOAD LIMIT. Minimum break strengths should NEVER be used to determine the suitability of a product. Failure to follow these warnings may result in property damage, personal injury or death. The intention of this article is to show the effect of improper loading over a corner has on the product.

Time to talk about chain. While chain is arguably the most durable of the tools we are testing, it does have its limitations. When misused or abused, it can fail. Unlike web and wire rope, chain can tell a story. As our National Sales Manager Chip Kauffman has explained before, through testing, it can be shown what the highest load a piece of chain has been loaded to. When chain is made, it is proof tested to twice its Work Load Limit. This stretches the chain very slightly. For a section of 3/8” Grade 7 chain, the Work Load Limit is 6600Lbs, so proof test is 13,200 Lbs. Let’s say this same piece of chain is loaded to 19,000 Lbs, nearly three times its WLL. The chain has already been slightly stretched when it was proofed at 13,200 Lbs, so it will not stretch until the load passes 13,200 Lbs. Once the load exceeds 13,200 Lbs, the chain begins to stretch. This can be seen on the graph when the indicator line changes direction. The same effect happens when the chain is overloaded. It will not stretch until the load exceeds the point at which it was overloaded.  Once again, the indicator line on the graph will be nearly vertical until 19,000 Lbs is passed. The chain will begin to stretch, the indicator begins to move horizontally, and the point at which it does is the maximum load the chain has seen. To illustrate this, I loaded a piece of 3/8” G7 chain to 18,400 Lbs. Proof test on this pieces was 15,100 Lbs. The same piece of chain was pulled to destruction. The previous load of 18,400 Lbs is visible on the graph.



Graph on left shows 18” section of 3/8” G7 chain loaded to 18,400 Lbs. Mark 1 is proof test load of this chain, 15,100 Lbs. Graph on right shows same section of chain loaded to destruction. Mark 1 shows previous maximum load of 18,400 Lbs. Chain has a memory.

In addition, chain has what is known in the industry as a preferential failure. Chain is designed to be pulled in a straight line, end of one link against the end of the adjacent link. When a chain is loaded in other than a straight line, such as when a grab hook is hooked over a link to form a loop, the chain will fail at that point, and by as much as 20% below the minimum.

Enough talk, let’s do some testing. I set up the test bed the same way as I did for the previous tests, with a piece of 2” x 2” x 3/16” angle iron. I then attempted to load the chain so the link was pulled over the angle. For these tests, I used 5/16” grade 70 chain with a Work Load Limit of 4700 Lbs, and a minimum break of 18,800 Lbs. I pulled one chain to use as a control sample; it failed 19,875 Lb, a shear at the end of the link.


The photo shows the test set up. The links were marked showing which were in contact with the corner of the angle.

The 3 samples tested over the angle failed at 15,055 Lbs, 12,803 Lbs and 15,574 Lbs, for an average of 14,477 Lbs, an average 28% reduction in breaking strength. If you look at the links that failed, a pattern emerges.




All of the links failed in the middle of the link, unlike the control that sheared on the end. All three also failed where the link was in contact with the angle. While it appears to be a weld failure, the failure occurred adjacent to the weld. There are also contact marks from the adjacent links and the angle. In addition, there is no “necking down,” a reduction of the links diameter commonly seen in straight pull tests. Due to the load being concentrated on one side of the link, and the mechanical damage caused by bending the link over the angle, the chain failed below minimum.


A close up of one of the links, showing the weld intact.


Top: Graph of the above link. Bottom: Graph showing reduction of break strength of 5/16 G7 chainover angle


Every now and then, I get lucky. Usually when a failure occurs, the parts go flying. In this example, a quick hand on the switch stopped the tester at point of failure, and the parts remained in place. While the load was being applied, only one leg of the link was in contact with the angle. At failure, the link rotated 90 degrees towards the camera and came to rest as you see here.

So once again, I have shown that loading over a corner can reduce the ultimate breaking strength. How do we prevent this from happening? There are some general things that can be done that apply to all the tools I have tested, and some specific things for each product.

General Precautions:

First thing is to NEVER exceed the products Work Load Limit. In all of the tests I did, the samples failed above the WLL, and in 3 out of 4, at twice the WLL. This is not to say that corners or sharp objects will not damage these tools if the WLL is not exceeded, but it will help reduce damage, and is good practice.

Watch how the strap, chain, or wire rope is routed, and avoid contact with anything they may cause wear or damage. This includes the load or cargo that is being secured or moved.

Regularly inspect and maintain your straps, wire rope and chain. I’ll go into specifics for each product, but regular inspection can prevent a small problem from becoming a large one.

Make sure your tie down or tie downs have sufficient Work Load to restrain the object being moved. If not, add tie downs until they do. In addition, make sure the tie down points you are hooking to are rated for the tie down. A strap and ratchet with a 3300 Lb WLL hooked to a D ring with a 1000 Lb WLL is only good for 1000 Lbs!

NEVER shock load any of the tie downs we are discussing.

Product specific precautions:

Web slings and tie downs:

Of all the items I tested, web is the most easily damaged. Any place that web contacts the cargo, the load being moved or the tow vehicle itself must be protected or moved. I have shown that tensioning a load over a corner, even on as seemingly innocent as the corner of a piece of angle iron, can damage the web. A hand ratchet can tension a piece of tie down web to about 1400 Lbs, well below the WLL of most tie downs. If the strap is tensioned over an edge, the vibration on the vehicle going down the road can and will wear and possibly cut the strap. In addition, when hauling a vehicle, the can be some movement, which will also accelerate wear. This can also happen with V straps. If they are under tension and in contact with the under frame or suspension, the vibration and movement will wear the web.

I did a quick test to show the effectiveness of three different sling pads on a tie down strap. I tested one sample each of a cordura sleeve, a cordura pad sewn to the strap and a rubber pad. I’ll let the results speak for themselves:

three different sling pads

sewn cordura pad over angle

cordura sleeve over angle

: rubber pad over angle

sewn cordura pad failed at 8623 Lbs

cordura sleeve failed at 8922 Lbs


Top: rubber pad failed at 11,319 Lbs Bottom: graph showing average increase in break strength padding provides

While the strap still failed where it contacted the angle, the average failure was 9621 Lbs, a 30% increase over the unprotected strap. While further testing is required to validate the results, I think I can predict that the protected strap will break at a higher load.

Wire Rope:

Wire rope is the second most easily damaged. Improper drum winding, which can lead to crushing and flat spotting, will quickly turn a new wire rope into a useless piece of scrap metal. This is commonly seen on roll backs. Once the wire rope crosses over itself and a load is applied, the layer underneath is irreparably damaged.

Wire rope also has a minimum bend radius. Whether the wire rope is being bent around a sheave or another object, wear, fatigue and reduction in strength is occurring.  The smaller the radius the wire rope is bent around, the greater the wear and the greater the reduction in strength. This is commonly referred to a D/d ratio, where D is the diameter of the sheave or other object the wire rope is wrapped around, and d is the diameter of the wire rope. The higher the ratio, the lower the wear, fatigue and reduction in strength, and the lower the ration the higher the wear, fatigue and reduction in strength. For example, a 3/8” wire rope being pulled around an 8” sheave has a D/d ratio of 21.3, and this rope would have about 92% of its breaking strength. The following graph shows the effect the D/d ratio has on the strength of the wire rope.

Graph shows the effect of D/d ration on ultimate strength of wire rope

It is also vitally important that when wire rope is used over sheaves, such as in a snatch block or at the end of a wrecker boom, that the sheave grooves be correctly sized for the wire rope being used. Sheave grooves that are too small can pinch the rope and prevent the individual wires and strands from adjusting (necessary movement within the rope itself; grooves that are too large will not support the rope, allowing it to flatten and restrict free movement. When a change in direction is required in a run of wire rope, it should always be routed over a sheave or roller. Pulling a wire rope over an edge (such as the end of a roll back bed) will damage the rope. Yes, I have seen this done. Finally, lubrication of wire rope can increase its life. There are several lubrication products specifically for wire rope.

Chain: While chain is the most durable of the products I tested, it still requires care in its use. Chain is designed to be used in a straight line, tensioned end of link to end of link. Avoid wrapping chain over itself. Only use hooks and fittings that are sized properly for the chain (1/2” hooks on ½” chain for example). Chain should not be twisted, knotted or kinked. Avoid temperatures above 400 degrees F for grade 70, 80 and 100.


Most inspection criteria I have seen calls for three types of inspection: Initial, Frequent and Periodic. Let’s look at each quickly:

Initial: Before any new product is put into use, it should be inspected by a designed person to verify it is correct of the application and in undamaged condition.

Frequent: Before each use, the person using the product should inspect it.

Periodic: This inspection should be conducted by a designated person. Frequency of this inspection should be based on frequency of the products use, severity of service, and experience gained in the service life of similar products.

While we can debate the need and frequency of inspections, I hope we all can agree that they are necessary. But what are you looking for? And who is this designated person? I did a little searching and came up with the following: “Designated” personnel means employees selected or assigned by the employer or the employer’s representative as being qualified to perform specific duties. The designated person should have some background or training that makes him knowledgeable about the items he is inspecting.

So what is this designated person looking for? I am going to cover out of service criteria for each group of product that was tested.

WEB SLINGS AND TIE DOWNS: A web sling or tie down shall be immediately removed from service and destroyed if any of the following are observed:

If the capacity or material identification tag is unreadable or missing

If any acid or alkalis burns are present

If any melting, charring or weld spatters are present

If any holes, cuts, snags or embedded particles are present

If there are any broken or worn stitches in the load bearing splice

If there is excessive abrasive wear

If there are knots in any part of the sling or tie down

If there is excessive pitting or corrosion, cracked, distorted or broken fittings

If there is any other visible damage that causes doubt to the strength of the sling

(Photos of these conditions can be found on our web site:

WIRE ROPE: A wire rope winch line or sling shall be removed from service immediately and destroyed if any of the following are observed:

Kinks, bird caging or popped core in the working section of the wire rope

Discoloration due to excessive heat

Corrosion with pitting of the wires

More than 11 broken wires in six diameters of length

More than three broken wires in any one strand

More than two broken wires at the end connection

CHAIN: A chain shall be removed from service immediately and destroyed if any of the following are observed:

Any links or components are worn, bent, gouged or stretched

Any links or components are cracked or distorted

Any link measures below the NACM standard thickness as shown in chart XIV found at

I hope you have found this article interesting and informative. It is not intended to be the be all end all discussion; rather, my goal was to make you aware of some of the common signs of misuse and abuse that can reduce the strength and useful life of web, wire rope and chain products. Cutting corners can be dangerous.  I encourage you to use the following links to gain more knowledge:

B/A Products

National Association of Chain Manufacturers

Web Sling Tie Down Association

Associated Wire Rope Manufacturers

Wire Rope Technical Board

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Wireless Technology – The Towman’s New Best Friend

Wireless technology is changing the way tow operators work in the field, making us more efficient and safer. From smartphones to winch control, technology improves your response, hook-up and drop-off times compared to just a few years ago.

There’s no denying smartphones and tablets have greatly helped our industry. The ability to be in direct contact with customers and your home offices improves the efficiency of your businesses. Map out directions for pick-ups with GPS software. Credit card payments can be processed through your phones. Tow instructions via the Internet and receipts emailed instead of paper.

Tow trucks and support vehicles are improving, again thanks to technology. Now, wireless controls can operate your primary warning lights, tow lights, bed controls and winches remotely.

Most smartphones or other wi-fi enabled devices can send a signal to a receiver mounted in the vehicle via a dedicated app. Then the receiver sends control signals to a modular expansion unit that can control your lightbars, sirens, directional lights, horns, etc., all from your phone.




Code3 VLink Receiver and Expansion Unit

Rather than luggingand attaching 30’ to 60’ power cables for tow lights all the time, consider going wireless and eliminate the hassles. These new designs are battery powered and usually last for hours. They’re controlled by a wireless transmitter that simply plugs into the trailer adaptor at the rear of your trucks.  These transmitters forward all directional and braking information directly to the lightbar.

Towmate wireless lightbar with transmitter

Towmate wireless lightbar with transmitter

In a similar fashion, electric winches can now be outfitted with optional wireless remotes. These systems use a wireless receiver plugged into the standard wired remote socket and a keyfob remote.  They aid in loading trailers by eliminating the 15’ or 25’ remote cord normally used on these types of winches.

Superwinch’s Certus Wireless Remote for S-Series Winch

Superwinch’s Certus Wireless Remote for S-Series Winch

For recovery and commercial operation, the next level of wireless remotes can control your winch line and other hydraulic controlled systems, such as raising or extension of the rollback bed. The Lodar and Valve-Mate II systems can control multiple functions from several hundred feet away. They consist of a permanently mounted receiver and a hand-held transmitter.


Systems are classified as either solenoid connected or hydraulic connected.  To determine which type you can use, inspect your truck’s hydraulic valves and winch to see if electric solenoids connections are present.  These are normally located on the backside of the hydraulic valves, either behind a cover plate on the main valve body or on a separate solenoid attached to the valve body.  In general, older wreckers have hydraulic only systems, while newer wreckers have the hydraulics with solenoids.


Lodar Wireless Remote for Solenoids

Mount the receiver box in the best location to operate the transmitter and observe the internal LED’s. That means mounting the receiver as high as possible and in a shaded location where wheel spray and heavy vibration aren’t an issue.  If you have the solenoid-connected type, simply connect the output wires from the receiver directly to the electric or electro-hydraulic solenoid coils on your winch or hydraulic valves.  Connect 12VDC/ground, link your receiver/transmitter frequencies, test and you’re done.

If your wrecker does not have electric solenoids, other options are available. The Valve-Mate II system attaches a valve spool to the spring return side of the hydraulic valves and compressed air is use to operate the system. Lodar uses an actuator, either air-operated or electric, that attaches to linkages to control the hydraulics.




Wireless control systems improve the speed of recoveries, save you money, give you more control of the accident scene at the touch of a button, and, most importantly, keep you safely out of harm’s way.

AW Direct
(800) 243-3194

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Bypass Filtration

By Dan Watson

The advanced exhaust system, including diesel particulate filters, urea injection systems, exhaust gas recirculation and catalytic converters is certainly a step forward in the reduction of emissions into our environment. These controls, however, come at a cost. In a future article, I will explain the how these advanced exhaust systems work.  In this article, I want to take a look at what recycled soot does to the engine oil in the diesel engine and recommend bypass oil filtration as a worthwhile protection for this considerable investment.

Oil bypass filters for large diesel engines are accepted as a necessity and have been recommended by several aftermarket filter companies for many years. As a certified lubrication specialist, I have recommended bypass filtration systems as a solution for many diesel applications, though not for every application. Prior to the advent of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel engines were capable of dealing with soot. Even if they could benefit from a bypass system, they could certainly get by without one. Not so with the new advanced exhaust systems and EGR.  I absolutely recommend bypass filtration for these engines.

What Is Bypass Filtration?

Bypass filtration refers to systems in which a portion of the oil pump output, usually no more than ten percent, is diverted to an auxiliary filter. The system is so-named because in a conventional bypass system, the oil bypasses the engine and returns to the oil pan without providing lubrication to the engine. In fact, some reference manuals refer to such systems as parasitic filtration systems. It is important to note that while the appellation is not totally without merit, bypass systems do not divert enough oil from the engine to fall below manufacturer’s specifications. There is also a second type of bypass system in which none of the oil is diverted from its flow through the engine – more on that later.

ByPass Filter

Courtsey of Amsoil Inc.

A typical single remote (parasitic) bypass filtration system diverts a fraction of the oil in order to remove smaller particles that the full flow filter misses.

The need for a bypass filtration system arises when the filtration provided by the stock, full flow oil filter is insufficient to remove enough of the oil’s contaminants. Because the standard filter must allow sufficient oil flow to the engine to keep it properly lubricated, the filter media inside are, by design, thin enough to allow the oil to flow relatively easily. Of course, it would be no good to make the standard filter media more dense – so that it could handle smaller particles – if this meant that the oil was hindered from getting to the engine. Nobody wants a molten mass of metal under the hood, no matter how clean it might be. This means that standard oil filters, even good ones, cannot deal with particles in the oil that are smaller than about 15 microns. A bypass filtration system, on the other hand – by only filtering approximately ten percent of the oil at a time and leaving the other 90 percent to do the lubrication work – complements the standard full flow oil filter and allows the overall lubrication system to both provide sufficient lubrication and filter smaller particles down to the three-micron range. Even though the bypass system only deals with a fraction of the oil on any given pass through the system, over time, the complete volume of oil is treated by the finer media in the oil bypass filters.


Soot is a byproduct of the combustion process that begins as particles that are sub-micron in size. At that size, they pose no threat to the engine and if they remained that size, there would be no need (and it would be very difficult) to filter them. Unfortunately, soot particles are attracted to one another and join together to form particles that are big enough to cause damage but small enough to evade capture by the full flow filter. Soot is more readily produced in diesel engines than gasoline engines.

Today’s turbo-charged, computer controlled, fuel injected engines are extremely good at mixing air and fuel for clean burning engines. Earlier turbo-charged diesel engines were as good, if not better, at burning cleanly; unfortunately, the requirements to lower emissions resulted in exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Recirculation of exhaust brings up to 35% of soot back into the engine for re-burning. The soot levels for these engines are significantly higher than the preceding engines and the soot inevitably finds its way into the oil through the piston rings. High soot levels increase the viscosity of the oil and interfere with proper oil flow. When soot levels are high, soot begins to drop out of solution and can clog critical oil galleries and starve components of vital lubrication. The requirement to recirculate exhaust gases is one of the bases of the CJ-4 classification for diesel oils. CJ-4 rated diesel oils are designed to carry higher levels of soot and to resist soot dropping out of solution.

Soot's affects

Soot and other particles as small as five microns are responsible for the majority of abrasive wear in an engine. A good bypass oil filtration system will effectively remove particles to the three micron, and sometimes smaller, range.

Using CJ-4 oil in combination with the highest quality full flow filters will help keep soot in check to a point. However, the only way to ultimately remove the soot that remains unfiltered in a system is to drain the oil. This reality shortens the lifespan of oil and requires a higher frequency of oil changes than might otherwise be necessary, especially for extended drain synthetics. In the future, I believe that improvements in diesel oils and better full flow filters will allow for extended drain periods using the standard oil filter system. Using the technology available today, I recommend using a high quality synthetic CJ-4 diesel oil complemented by an oil bypass filters system that is capable of filtering out a portion of the soot. Excellent bypass systems remove 30 to 40 percent of the soot. Even at this level of efficiency, soot levels are manageable. Full flow filters by themselves essentially remove no soot from the system.

Variations of Oil Bypass Filters

Most bypass filtration systems leave the standard full flow filter in place and add a remotely-located bypass filter. These systems are the ones sometimes referred to as parasitic because they divert some of the oil away from the main oil flow responsible for the lubrication of the engine’s components. The amount of oil diverted is controlled by an orifice or similar restrictor to make sure that enough oil is reaching the engine. An alternate design, patented by Amsoil, locates both the full flow and bypass filter remotely.

The Amsoil dual remote filtration system eliminates the parasitic loss of oil flow to the engine.


This dual remote oil filtration system eliminates the parasitic characteristic of a typical bypass unit by routing all the oil, whether it travels through the full flow filter or through the oil bypass filter, to the engine components after filtration has occurred. As with the single remote bypass filter system, only a fraction of the oil travels through the bypass filter on a given pass.

Regardless of the design or manufacturer, the bypass system is a good investment on any diesel engine. For the modern diesel engine, with EGR, the bypass is a necessity. Soot is a concern in all diesel engines but with the EGR system, soot levels can become destructive. A potential benefit of installing a bypass filtration system is extended oil change intervals. When using properly formulated synthetic diesel oil and a high quality bypass filtration system, it is possible to avoid the impact of higher soot levels and extend oil drain intervals significantly. If you own a turbo diesel with EGR, you are simply protecting your investment by installing a good bypass oil filtration system.
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The 80/20 Rule

80/20 Rule Pie Chart

By D.J. Harrington

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

We have all heard of the 80/20 Rule. This rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. Some people call it the “Pareto Principle,” after its founder, an Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who first wrote about this way back in 1895 (an no, I wasn’t there). Pareto noticed that people in his time seemed to divide up naturally into what he called the “Vital Few,” the top 20% in terms of money and influence, and then the “Trivial Many” will form the bottom 80%.

He believed, and so do I, that virtually all economic activity is subjected to this principle. For example, this principle says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results, 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales, 20% of your products or services will account for 80% of the value of what you do, and it goes on like that.

Now listen up to what this means to all of us in the towing industry. If we have a list of 10 items to do, 2 of those items will turn out to be worth 5 or 10 times or more than the other 8 items put together.

Here is something my dad tried to explain to me and I didn’t catch on to until later in life. Each of 10 tasks may take about the same amount of time to accomplish, but 1 or 2 of those tasks will contribute 5 or 10 times the value of any of the others. My dad would ask me which tasks I like the least, and then proceed to tell me to do that one first to get it off your plate first thing in the morning.

If you know one task means more than the other nine, do that one first. You get what I am saying. My dad would say, “Focus on activities not accomplishments.”

Remember this, “If you have to eat a live bug, it doesn’t pay to sit and look at it for very long.” Do first things first. The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place.

Just thinking about starting and finishing an important task motivates me and helps me to overcome procrastination. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key factor to your success in life and work.

Please remember that effective, productive people in the towing industry discipline themselves to start on the most important task that is before them. As a result, they accomplish more than the average person and are much happier as a result. This should be your way of working, as well.

I know you heard of the 80/20 Rule, but now you know more about it and how it can improve your life and the towing business.

See you next time!

Oh, and one last thing: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” — Mother Teresa.

Correspondence regarding this article should go to:
DJ Says, 2820 Andover Way, Woodstock, GA 10389

D.J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar and Damon Corporation. He may be reached at 800-352-5252 or by email at, 52 weeks a year, we are as close as your telephone, or at

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DJ Harrington and Dan Messina
By Dan Messina

I was giving a seminar in Baltimore to about 70 business owners on the value of the employees that work for you. After the seminar, an owner approached me with a question. He stated that he hates to go to work and that he hates most of the employees that work for him and that the feeling was mutual. He asked what he should do. When you are a small business owner, the company starts and ends with you. However you act or feel, your employees will feel the same.  It was up to him to change how he felt, and the rest would take care of its self.

When I owned my business, I had many days when it was just not fun to go to work. I use to tell my managers that the stress from our business would kill me if I let it. I was fortunate enough to have a good wife and partner who I could count on to pick me up when I was down. Now I’m not telling you to go and get married, but I am telling you to find someone you can go to when you are down.  Not too long ago, I was consulting with a tow company near Houston. The owner was a female, and she was stressed because her competition was ganging up on her. She was at the point of tears and had no one to turn to who could help. Her husband was a driver, and it was hard for him to help her.

I could see that she was getting burned out and needed help, so the first thing I did was let her break down and cry. That relieved some of the stress and emotions creating the stress. The next thing we did was identify what she wanted her business to look like and created a plan to get her there. Once we had it on paper, it was easy to execute and measure what we were doing. In just three short months, her business was turned around, and her company was moving in the right direction. As you read this article, she continues to grow her company and become successful. I would like to say I made her successful, but all I offered was an ear to listen to her problems, and once she identified them, her and her husband corrected them and moved forward. She has a testimonial on our web site explaining how outside sources can be helpful because they are not close to the problems you encounter.

As an owner of a business, you will always feel stress. The problem is that stress causes burnout. When you let your work get to you, it will create relationship problems at home and at work. Your job will suffer, and therefore your company will not be successful. All of a sudden you create health problems for yourself, and all of this leads to being unhappy. What are the signs you are suffering from burnout?


  1. 1. As an owner of a company, when you hate to go to work
  2. When you start making wrong decisions that hurt the performance of the company
  3. When you start having problems with employees that you never had before
  4. When you start having problems at home with family members or friends
  5. When you get frustrated easily with the way things are going at work or at home
  6. When your job performance falls off, which becomes noticeable by the employees. This will affect the performance of the company.
  7. When you are not motivated anymore. The ideas to grow and compete aren’t there anymore.
  8. Look in the mirror. You stop taking care of yourself and it shows.

I do about 60 seminars a year, and I tell everyone the most important thing as a business owner is to “surround yourself with people smarter than you, and have fun.”  That’s what the young lady in Houston did. It’s not that I was smarter than her; she was just smart enough to bring in a third set of eyes and ears.

Burnout Fatigue

We recently held a two-day class in Dallas on running your business.  We advertised locally to get a few people to attend the class. I received a call from a company in Fort Worth. The owner said he and his wife were talking about how or what they could do to improve or change the way they were doing business. He saw my ad and signed up for the class. Once again, I point out you don’t have to do it alone; there are outside sources like who can help.

The last five years we owned the company, I enjoyed going to work. It was fun and a challenge, but it was encouraging to see my staff develop right before my very eyes. I sometimes would think that 35 people counted on me daily to support their families and pay their bills. Some people would let that stress them out, but I looked forward to it. If you follow those two things, you will avoid stress causing you to avoid burnout. Here are a few steps you can take to avoid burnout:

1. Identify what your responsibilities are daily.

Is there any one thing that could relate to your burnout? If so, give that responsibility to another employee or hire someone to perform that function. Believe me, there were things that I hated to do, but, fortunately for me, those were things my wife enjoyed doing. If there was something she did not like, we would turn it over to a manager.

2. Since you are the boss, go to another employee and discuss stress-related issues with them.

By rearranging a work schedule or reassigning certain responsibilities, I could fix the problem. I informed my employees on everything we were doing. Many times, they would come up with the answerers we needed to fix the problems.

3.  Change your work routine.

Do certain functions at different times of the day when you are more motivated to perform these functions. I was a morning person, so I would address any problems when my energy level was high. This produced the best results. Figure out the time of day you are at a high and make that time for addressing company issues.

4. Take breaks through the day. 

Take a walk or a ride.  If you have time, take a power nap for 20 minutes. Close your door and close your eyes. This could give you a fresh start. I worked for a major computer company, and my boss had a cot in his office. He napped every day. Not only was he a good boss, but we were very productive.

5. Monitor your sleeping hours.

To stay healthy, you need your rest. If you change your sleeping habits, change your eating habits, too. A proper diet and plenty of rest will keep you physically and mentally fit. I enjoy eating too much to help you here. I sleep good, but I love to eat. You are on your own on this one.

Vacation for Burnout

6. Take a vacation, even if it’s just a long weekend.

I can’t begin to tell you how good you will feel and you will learn a lot about your employees.  The owner always thinks the company will fall apart if they leave. Not true; in some cases, it could get better.  You will be surprised what your employees can do when you let them.

7. When you are not working, find a new interest. 

Play a sport or join a community group. Any outside activity not related to work will get your mind off of work. I took up golf.  I was not good, but it got me away from the office twice a week, and it allowed my employees to develop their skills. In the five years of doing this, I never had any major problems that my employees could not handle.

As an owner, you feel guilty when you take time off, but, believe me, it’s needed. Your company will benefit in your absence. You will feel better, your employees will become better employees, and you will avoid burnout.

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