It’s been a while so what have you all been up to? I hope you all had a good Xmas and New Year break. At the site I look after in Kent so many of us were bored watching the same old rubbish on TV. So, I opened the site on the 28th Jan for the day and a few of us had a day out in the fresh Kent country air. The Facebook page for the site is now showing that we have just under 200 people posting etc, but of course they don’t all turn up at once. At least I hope they never do. I have had my pal Barrie on the site to tidy up one of the trails with his small digger. As you drove down it when it was wet after rain it had a sideways lean to it, and if you were not careful it would start to slide you over into some bushes. So, we dug a trench on the up side so that you could put your wheel into it and now as you drive down you are level.

You Can't Please Them All

Over the years I have run a few trials for clubs and it’s a difficult thing to do and you cannot please everybody. Some will say that its not hard enough and it is too easy, and as many others will tell you it is too hard. It is the same with the site, so I have to try to get a happy medium to try to satisfy every driver that turns up. I have also in the past designed and built some off-road courses that as far as I know are still being used. The same applies there are they too hard or too easy? One course I did was on an old disused Royal Air Force airfield that was a former USAAF base in North Essex back in the 1950/60s. All the old wooden barrack rooms had all the doors ripped off and the windows broken and there were bullet cases everywhere. The area was used by what we were told were special forces and police for training purposes. They wanted to hold a country fair there for charity and they contacted me to come along with members of the Range Rover Register to build an off- road course and to give courtesy rides to members of the public. We had the use of a JCB on the Saturday and the show was on the Sunday. We did our best in a hard day’s work and there was also a small wood where we hacked a track through it and built a bridge over a small trickle of water with old sleepers. The show was a great success as the locals remembered what it was like when the Yanks stationed there used put on great open days in the past, and we did our bit and all the donations we collected added to the charities. A friend contacted me a few years back and told me that the course is still there and being used for off-road driver training. Which is nice!

Together with Willie Henderson, and Barrie Holt we also went up to the Newark Showground and spent 10 days there with 2 diggers and 4-ton dumpers and built a course there out of an old ploughed up field. This was for Land Rover Monthly magazine who hosted some shows there. However, I don’t know if that course is still there being used.

The Home Fleet

A new bit of kit came my way when I spotted a new type of winch hook, a Factor 55 Prolink rated to 16000 lbs. A friend of mine Nick Jennings had one for sale and has he was using them I though I would give them a try as well. This is what the manufacturer has to say about their new product.

CLOSED SYSTEM WINCHING™ is a winching technique using rigging comprised entirely of closed link hardware. The non-closable opening of common winch hooks prevent hooks from qualifying as secure closed links. Poorly constructed sheet metal safety latches of hooks do not qualify as a secure means to contain loads and are prone to failure, especially during momentary slack conditions where winch loads often shift and apply high forces to these weak non-structural latches. Hooks often come loose during vehicle recovery operations due to hook safety latch failures.

The elimination of the winch hook and the subsequent substitution to a Factor 55 ProLink, FlatLink, or UltraHook shackle mount and commonly found screw pin shackles/D-Rings does qualify as CLOSED SYSTEM winch tackle. Once a shackle screw pin is installed, the common screw pin shackle becomes a continuous closed link that securely contains the winch load until the pin is unscrewed and removed.

The ProLink, FlatLink, and UltraHook patented winch shackle mount products by Factor 55 address this winch safety issue by providing a secure screw pin shackle mounting interface to all steel winch cables and synthetic winch ropes. The Factor 55 unique double shear pin design provides a simple trouble free method of attaching existing cable and rope eyes to the ProLink, FlatLink, and UltraHook products. Installation requires only minutes. Once installed, the ProLink/Flatlink/UltraHook products provide a precision mounting hole for screw pin shackles and also provide a large rubber protected flat surface to cushion against all fairlead mounting surfaces. Whether the winch line is in tension or a dangerous momentary slack condition, CLOSED SYSTEM WINCHING™ keeps all winch tackle secure and is by far the safest method of operating your vehicle recovery winch.

I snagged from a pal that does house and garage clearance, a galvanised roof rack for a Defender 90. As I got it cheap as chips, I was planning to sell it, but as I ran a tape measure over it, I noted that it was only a quinge on the brackets from being able to sit and clamp on the gutter to VAM my Discovery 2 TD5. So, Simon my pal came up to mine and we placed it upside down on the drive and with some persuasion with a few taps outwards on the brackets it went in a treat. Bit of a fiddle but it’s a solid job for what I need it for, and as I already had a rear ladder on the D2 back door, Groovy Baby we now got racked.

Still riding the mountain bike in an effort to keep fit and I recently did a 16 mile run followed by a hard windy and wet 20 miler a few days later, which was a bitch whenever I turned into the wind head on. It was like riding against a polythene sheet stretched out across the tracks, but when I got back home knackered, it felt like I had accomplished something worthwhile and I was chuffed to bits and proud of meself.

Until we Blogg again my muddy chum’s cheerio and Happy Rovering.