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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMarch 20 - March 26, 2019

Boxed In

0 e45f1By Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

In 1991, Uzek Susol established Orcas Auto Tech/Orcas Towing in Eastsound, on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

On Nov. 19, 2018, at approximately 9 a.m., Uzek was called by the company driver stating he was just off the roadway and needing a short pull. He asked how far off the road and he replied within 50' of a paved surface.

Uzek responded with his Truck No. 1, a 2001 Ford F-550 4x4 with an 8-ton Chevron 408 twin-line integrated boom wrecker on the business end. It has dual 9,000-lbs. planetary winches with 150' of steel core swaged wire rope on each. It is equipped with Chevron's AutoGrip II wheel-lift system that allows the retainer arms to hydraulically rotate from fully closed to an open approach position and then rotate, tightly gripping the vehicle tires.

"It's my 'Little Monster,' " Uzek declared. "I went out with my son Joey Susol, who is a professional woodsman and a wiz with a saw. ... What I found was a box truck 100-plus feet off the roadway with the lake to the right. Following (the) GPS, the driver ended up on a swamp goat trail buried in the mud, about two feet from Killebrew Lake on [state-owned] Fish and Wildlife land with trees on top of the box roof and more trees blocking the path out."

In order to remove the stuck-run-amuck box truck from the front, they would need to remove some trees.

"There was no way to get him out the way he came in as it was around a curve and too swampy for any of my trucks to access without getting stuck myself," Uzek said. "I advised the driver I would need to trim a few trees to get him out, but would have to contact [Fish and Wildlife] to get their blessing before touching any trees.

"There are no [Fish and Wildlife] representatives on Orcas Island," Uzek, said, "so after two hours and many phone calls I did get the blessing from Fish and (Wildlife) to cut/trim what was needed to remove the truck from the situation. They advised I needed to leave it looking as natural as possible when finished."

Uzek returned with "the Big Girl," a 1981 Kenworth W900A with a 1962 Holmes split-boom 750 that he purchased in 2016. The Big Girl has hydraulic spades and a Z-30 30,000-lbs. Zacklift. Uzek restrung the 200' pair of 5/8" wire ropes on the drums and also replaced the wire rope for the booms.

Uzek proudly stated, "She's a good old girl that has served me well on my small island. This old girl 750 will do everything I need her to do and handle it all with no problem!"

Joey went to work cutting the offending trees on and in front of the truck.

"Joey fell two trees," Uzek said, "cut the tree from the top of the box, and trimmed some limbs to allow clear path for extraction.

Once they had the trees cut out of the way, Uzek backed the old girl into position, lowered the hydraulic spades and started to pull cable.

"I rigged a single line from the 750, hooked on to the box truck with the Big Girl and pulled the truck to the roadway with no damage," Uzek explained.

After inspecting the undercarriage and clearing the mud and debris from the box truck, it was able to drive away under its own power.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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