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Articles & Media

Winching from the Side

Published by In The Ditch

Here is a brief history of the research and development of how the SP8000 came to be and how it works in real life situations.

Idaho Wrecker Sales started out in Bruneau, Idaho pop 300. I had a small farm repair shop consisting of myself and one employee. Our claim to fame was metal fabrication. People would come from around the state to have custom projects done at our shop. A towing company in Boise was having frame problems and brought its truck in to us to have the frame fixed. They had been having quite a bit of trouble in the past with parts breakage—problems that we felt should not have happened. One thing led to another and pretty soon it seemed that all we were doing was fixing tow trucks. People were driving a hundred miles or more to have us fix their tow trucks. Business was so good that we decided to become a distributor of Chevron Wreckers, and started Idaho Wrecker Sales. At Idaho Wrecker Sales we are wrecker and towing equipment specialists.

You need to understand that in Bruneau, Idaho, we were 25 miles from the nearest place to receive overnight UPS. Every phone call was long distance. Several towers talked me into getting a tow truck, as there was not one for 25 miles. I bought a ’73 Chevy with a Holmes 440 wrecker and started towing as well as building and selling tow trucks. As my towing company grew, we found ourselves covering a large area of police rotation, over 10,000 square miles. Can you imagine getting a police call at 3 a.m. and having to drive 90 miles one way to an accident? Both Idaho Wrecker Sales and my towing company grew, and so did our need for training.

In 1997 I hosted my first Wrecker Master Class and became infected with the recovery bug. In 1999 I was voted WreckMaster of the year and in 2001 I became a Lead Instructor. One of the many problems that our towing company faced was that the police would send us an accident 30 miles away and tell us the vehicle was slightly off the road, so we would send a rollback. Could you imagine this, they gave us the wrong information!

Chuck Ceccarelli demonstrating the SP8000 at a recent AT Expo.

Working the SP8000 off of the side of a wrecker in a tight space.

We would dispatch a wrecker to assist and tie up two drivers. This became the norm and it seemed to happen over and over. I’m not sure if you can believe this, but as I traveled around the country, I found that most towing companies experienced the same thing. I also found that times were changing. Quick clearance and keeping one lane of traffic open was becoming a requirement. As a business owner it made no sense to keep extra wreckers in my fleet just to be able to satisfy police calls. After all, they don’t let us charge enough to have trucks laying around just in case we need them.

Fleet Size Dilemma

This was a tough issue for me as I wanted to provide great service and stay on rotation but our car carriers were running all the time towing and my wreckers hardly ever moved except for recovery. As a business owner I had to ask myself why would I make payments and insure a wrecker that just sits and waits for a recovery or police call. This made no sense. The other issue is that we can no longer park across the highway and recover off the back of our truck. Almost all of our work is done off the side of our trucks in order to keep one lane of traffic flowing. I had a meeting with our crew about this problem and we set down to design a solution.

Designing the SP8000TM

The first question was if you could have only one truck, what would you want? The obvious choice would be a car carrier with recovery abilities. The other question was how to more effectively recover off the side of a wrecker without tipping the truck.

We started designing what would become the SP8000TM. We installed it on a customer’s carrier in Idaho and a wrecker in Montana. The results were so fantastic that we decided to apply for a patent. The U.S. patent office gave us a patent pending. Both customers loved them, and in fact each The U.S. patent office gave us a patent pending. Both customers loved them, and in fact each one has now had their second one installed. The SP8000TM has proven itself as a way to eliminate that second payment and insurance on that spare truck. I think too many of us were caught up in trying to have the most trucks instead of being the most profitable.

The SP8000TM (SidePuller) is a problem-solver. For example, you’re dispatched to a vehicle, and upon arrival, the vehicle is 20 feet down an embankment requiring a wrecker. Installing an SP8000TM on your carrier enables you to solve any problem that comes along, from towing to recovery. With today’s law enforcement requirement to keep one lane of traffic open, the SP8000TM allows you to do recoveries off the side of the truck without blocking the roadway.

This unit allows you to turn your new or used carrier into a recovery truck and decrease your fleet expense. Use one truck for towing and recovery. The SP8000TM can be installed on existing carriers or wreckers. You will need a minimum of 7 inches between the cab and body to install. Also offered is a wireless remote-control system for the winch. The total unit weighs 700 lbs., adding more front axle weight to your tow truck.

The order for the SP8000TM keep coming in. Customers are still calling us every day with a success story. Several customers have installed the SP8000TM on wreckers and absolutely love it. They now have unbelievable side pulling abilities; they can do recoveries off the side with little or no lane blockage, so law enforcement just loves to see them.

Many people have said since owning a SP8000TM they were able to sell that extra truck that was just sitting as a spare. The insurance savings alone will almost cover the initial purchase price of the SP8000TM on a carrier as a wrecker substitute. Some leaders in the industries have said the SP8000TM is as significant a contribution to the towing industries as the wheel lift was.

Works Cited

Ceccarelli, Chuck. “SidePuller at Work.” American Towman, no. Winching from the Side, July 2005, pp. 17–21.