Skip to main content

Low Tech Cheap Tricks

Low Tech Cheap Tricks from Jerry Dupree

Have you ever been stuck or helped someone else out of a jam? There are so many ways to get stuck, such as in sand, snow, mud, or high centered on a large rock, sand dune, or a wash out. At one time or another I have experienced most of them. Of all the things to bring with you, such as a winch, a good set of tools, a Swiss Army knife and a Leatherman multi tool, consider some light weight low cost or free items that take very little room and are very useful. “If I had only brought a..., or some...“

I have a real shovel and not one of those folding military fox hole “E tools.” It could mean the difference of minutes vs. hours of digging. I also carry a garden hoe because it is a lot easier to pull dirt or sand from under a vehicle than dig and lift it. I also use it for reaching my equipment from the truck. I have seen or helped a lot of people who have ended up in very difficult situations to extricate a vehicle. I have seen two vehicles that were high centered on huge rocks. In one case the owner dug a hole big deep enough that the rock dropped into the hole enough to allow the vehicle to clear. The other one raised the vehicle high enough to place scraps of lumber under the front wheels to form a ramp and free the vehicle up and over the rock.

I recommend carrying some lengths of 2” x 4” and 4” x 4” boards that can make a bridge or ramp, and some scraps of 1/2” to 3/4” plywood to jack up a vehicle and place under a wheel to drive out. We came across a vehicle with the body lifted and had huge tires so the vehicle was too high for even a high lift jack to raise it up. I have a 3 ton floor jack that lifted it with ease from the axles with the help of a couple of pieces of plywood. I have two nylon tow straps. One is beaten up from helping others and the other is saved for me if I need help, and I have.

My son and I rescued a couple one year on Memorial Day weekend. They had been stuck for three days and were desperate and out of everything. If they had a few simple necessities they could have driven out of their predicament. The funny part is the guy was trying to tell me how to get him out. We gave them food and water. I carry military MRE’s (Meal Ready to Eat) for such emergencies.

I have a tool set of special tools for off roading. I drove a long way only to find a locked gate when I was low on fuel and time. I unbolted the gate, drove through, and put it back together and was on my way. I carry fence wire and two special fence tools in case I need to cut a fence and repair it in an emergency. Always bring duct tape and bailing wire. (Note: Rebar tie wire from Home Depot,

You can build a bridge over wash outs.

Storing scraps of lumber

Foot for jack

Variety of 2” x 4” and pieces of plywood

Real shovel and hoe

Harbor Freight or Lowes is a good substitute.) I knew a guy whose fuel tank fell out and he fixed it with bailing wire and some Okie ingenuity. A very simple piece of “equipment” that is light weight and doesn’t take much space are coat hangers. They are good for a lot of things besides roasting marshmallows. One time an off roader’s battery hold down broke due to corrosion and he made a sufficient one with a coat hanger and a piece of rubber fuel line. Another time a man wrapped a piece of a hanger around a water hose to replace a broken clamp and twisted it with pliers. Pack electrical wire and tools to repair things and plastic tape and fuses.

I asked an EMT and a nurse for advice on what to pack in a first aid kit. Be sure to check the supplies once in awhile and replace things such as dried up rubber gloves.

If anyone has had a flat and had to lower a spare tire from under a truck with the tools that came with the vehicle, they know it is difficult especially at night. Mine came in three pieces that made it nearly impossible to aim for the part that lowers the spare. I tried finding a better one in junk yards with no success until I found one laying in the street. I had a lug nut welded to it so I didn’t have to use the silly crank that came with the truck. I use a lug wrench.

An easy way to start a fire in any kind of weather or wind condition with wet or any kind of wood or charcoal; use a flare. You can make a fire regardless of conditions. I didn’t learn that in the Boy Scouts. There are lots of other tricks, but we are running out of space... more later.

– Jerry Dupree

4wd tips