A Look at the Towing Industry | Different Categories of Tow Trucks

A Look into the Towing Industry: Different Categories of Tow Trucks

Nothing puts a damper on your day quite like having your car break down as you’re trying to make your way through your day. When that does happen, you depend on towing companies to get your vehicle somewhere where it can be repaired safely. This is likely the extent of many people’s knowledge when it comes to tow trucks. They’re an industry that the everyday person wouldn’t think much of, until they are forced to Google the phone number of the nearest one, to save them from their rotten day.

Did you know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all tow truck? Towing companies often have a variety of vehicles on hand, each made for a different type of job. Tow jobs aren’t just limited to picking up small broken down cars on the side of the road, they also have to serve larger vehicles like RVs, box trucks and even the heaviest 18 wheelers. Even beyond the load size, tow companies have to be prepared to get vehicles out of hard-to-maneuver situations in the unfortunate case of an accident.

Tow trucks can be sorted into three basic types, light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty.

Light-Duty Tow Trucks

Light-duty tow trucks are used for the majority of incidents and are sent out to tow cars, motorcycles and smaller trucks. They are capable of performing a variety of tasks such as removing abandoned vehicles, private property towing and accident recovery. They have the ability to maneuver through small lots or parking garages, but usually stick to jobs that are located on paved and flat terrain.


Light-duty tow trucks are Class A vehicles that are often either conventional or rollback wreckers. They are capable of towing between 7,000 and 11,000 pounds and often rely on winch & cable systems and wheel lifts to do their work.

Medium-Duty Tow Trucks

Medium-duty tow trucks are used for heavier duty jobs involving vehicles like box trucks, RV’s and farm equipment. They are also the choice for certain recovery operations for smaller vehicles because they have a larger range of configurations such as: lowering platforms or landolls, automatic trailers, low-profile trailers, and boom lifts. However, since they are a bigger vehicle, they are not ideal for tighter environments like parking lots.







Medium-duty tow trucks are Class B vehicles that often feature some varying styles of flatbed. They are capable of towing between 7,000 and 17,000 pounds and feature at least a 12-ton capacity boom lift, 5-ton winch, and 5-ton wheel lift.

Heavy-Duty Tow Trucks

Heavy-duty tow trucks are the big guys. They are used for vehicles like garbage trucks, dump trucks and semi-trailers. These tow trucks handle the biggest loads and the most complicated recoveries. These are the tow trucks that vehicles like 18 wheelers depend on because not only are they capable of getting large vehicles themselves out of sticky situations, but also whatever that vehicle was hauling. They are also the tow truck used for vehicles that have gone off the road or down an embankment.

These are Class A vehicles that are required to feature at least a 25-ton boom lift, 25-ton winch and 6-ton wheel lift. They are capable of towing any load greater than 17,000 pounds!

The jobs that these tow trucks perform rely on more than just the truck itself. As we’ve mentioned above, each truck uses a different type of lifting and towing equipment. Especially when dealing with heavy-duty tow jobs, it’s extremely important that the tow truck is outfitted with high-quality lifting gear that won’t break under the pressure.

That’s where YOKE comes in! Since 1985, YOKE has been manufacturing durable, reliable & high-quality hardware that keeps your load secure, and your team safe. No need to choose between quality and affordability, YOKE provides top safety certified lifting equipment without the big price tag. Products like the Grade 100 Clevis Grab Hook, when used attached to wire rope or welded chain, is sturdy enough for the toughest tow jobs. When purchasing your towing gear, don’t sacrifice quality for price – Choose YOKE instead. Learn more about YOKE at Hercules SLR by clicking here.


We Pull Anything! ATV Towing Tips

atv towing tips

We Pull Anything! ATV Towing Tips

You’ve probably heard us mention that we lift anything, but we also pull anything. 

Many of us on the Hercules SLR team are enthusiastic ATV-ers—That’s all-terrain vehicles for all you newbies out there. 

There’s a couple additional things you’ll need before you hit the road, though—You have to get your ATV to the trail, woods or wherever you ride, and it’s illegal to use your ATV on public roads. There’s also a good chance you’ll get stuck in the mud, so it’s essential to have reliable chain, ropes & winches to haul yourself out of a rut. 

atv towing gear

Often, ATV’s are transported in a trailer, sometimes a truck (however, most professional sources recommend a trailer to keep your vehicle secure) and a winch (a device used to pull or let a load out) to move your ATV for transport. Many ATV’s come with winches pre-installed, and aircraft cable is commonly used with them. However, some synthetic winch lines have started to appear and rise in popularity. 


The job’s not done when it’s on the ramp—Now comes securing your ATV. 

You likely dropped a pretty penny on your ATV and don’t want it to come crashing down somewhere on the highway. This is why it’s so important to take the same approach with the tie-down process, equipment included. 

To secure your ATV, you’ll need:

  • Ramp and/or Trailer 
  • Webbed nylon tie-down straps/Ratchet Straps 
  • Metal hooks (Snap, wire, flat or delta hooks/rings if strap isn’t equipped with them)

Once your ATV is secure, it should look like it’s supporting a rider, and the wheels should be firmly placed against the trailer. 

It’s also important to make sure your trailer or towing vehicle has the proper rated-capacity to hold the ATV, it has an appropriate amount of tie-down points and your tie-down method complies with the owner’s manual. Take your time loading it onto the trailer, so you don’t over-shoot the trailer and ‘jump’ it, and be sure the trailer, and the ATV are aligned straight with your vehicle. 

Keep the length of your trailer in mind when driving on public roads, take it slow and try to avoid passing other cars if possible. 


Here’s a few members of the Hercules SLR team having fun on their ATV’s.

Okay, so your ATV is secure and you’ve made it to your favourite muddy trail. What else would you possibly need?! 

Like we mention, many ATV’s do have winches, but this isn’t always enough if you’re truly stuck. Their reach might not be enough or they could fail. Some sort of towing line will be invaluable during these situations.

There are many benefits of using a synthetic strap—For example, synthetic strap snapback tends to be less severe & hazardous than say, chain snapback. It also tends to break less than rope, be more durable AND much easier to de-mud. There’s also less risk of cuts on the hand from handling chain or steel, versus synthetic rope, like AMSTEEL Blue.    

Here are some more safety tips for safe muddin’: 

  • NEVER ride alone 
  • Bring or wear at least one piece of hi-vis clothing. Why? Well, if something were to happen and you’re suited-up in camoflauge, it will be extremely difficult for first-responders or search parties to easily locate you. 
  • Keep the distribution of weight in-mind when towing your ATV to avoid tip-over 
  • We can’t repeat this enough—Bring a towing strap and don’t get stuck in the mud! 

What other equipment is beneficial to bring on your ATV rides? Here are some of our suggestions: 

  • Water 
  • Safety gloves
  • First-aid kit 
  • GPS/Phone/Compass 
  • Water-resistant gear (Jackets, ponchos, etc.) 
  • Tools for repair (Tire repair, etc.) 



  • Standard chain
  • Grade-70 Transport Chain 


  • Standard Nylon & Polyester Round Slings
  • Polyester Round Slings 


  • Amsteel Blue Rope 
  • Manila Synthetic Rope
  • Nylon Synthetic Rope 


  • Ratchet Straps 
  • Tie-down Cargo Strap with Ratchet
  • Tie-down Cargo Strap with Ratchet 
  • Rubber Tie-down 


  • Aircraft Cable 
  • Standard Wire Rope 







INFO@HERCULESSLR.COM  1 (877) 461-4876


Hercules SLR is part of Hercules Group of Companies, with locations and unique businesses coast-to-coast. We provide securing, lifting and rigging services for sectors in Canada and Internationally. Hercules SLR serves the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any hoisting solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876 or email info@herculesslr.com

Columbus McKinnon Guest Blog: CM Experts Talk Load Securement

load securement columbus mckinnon at hercules slr

Columbus McKinnon (CM) creates popular, durable hoisting equipment for rigging like the Bandit, and Loadstar—Today, we have a two part piece by two rigging experts from CM on the Hercules SLR talking load securement, and the benefit of ratchet binders versus lever binders. 

Read on and learn load securement tips from Henry Brozyna, Corporate Trainer for CM to tie-down loads safely and securely.

In many cases, the importance of tying down a load on or in a truck is underestimated. It’s interesting to talk to trucking people and find out that they are very in tune with what is expected of them with regards to the vehicle they drive and the maintenance of that vehicle. But when it comes to tie downs and load securement, they usually fall short.load securement columbus mckinnon hercules slr

Securing loads in and on trucks is very important – not just to the driver, but to their customer and most importantly the general public. 

LOAD SECURMENT | Good tie downs go a long way to ensure cargo being hauled on a truck stays on the truck.

A pre-use inspection of the tie downs must be done to ensure the working load limit (WLL) of that tie down is intact. All tie downs have markings to indicate what grade they are or they will be marked with a working load limit. The higher the grade, the stronger the product – as you typically see with chain. Grade 30 is the lowest grade and is not as strong as say, grade 70 or grade 80.

During a roadside inspection by law enforcement, they will look for these markings. If they cannot find any, they will automatically rate the tie down as grade 30, the lowest option. This de-rating may cause him/her to take you and your vehicle out of service due to lack of adequate tie downs. Therefore, it may be helpful to conduct a pre-use inspection, per the manufacturer’s specifications, to ensure the proper type and number of chain tie downs is used.

LOAD SECURMENT | Straps need attention too.

The condition of synthetic straps is one of the most overlooked load securement items. When straps are purchased, the manufacturer assigns a working load limit. That WLL is for straps that are intact and undamaged. This is where a pre-use inspection is needed. Straps that have damage in excess of the manufacturer’s specifications must be removed from service.

LOAD SECURMENT | Take time to check your load securement equipment.

All too often we are in a hurry to get from one place to another. This is usually when we take chances and cut corners. This is also the time that an accident is most likely to happen. It is important to take extra time to make sure the equipment you want to use is in good condition and meets the requirements for use as a load securement device. 

Read on for part two from Columbus McKinnon expert Troy Raines, Chain & Rigging Product Engineering Manager and learn more about using ratchet binders and lever binders for securing loads, and the benefits of each.

LOAD SECUREMENT | People frequently ask, “What type of chain binder should I use?” 

Being an engineer gives my outlook on life an odd slant. I frequently think of things in terms of simple machines and how they can make my life better. Where am I going with this and how do simple machines relate to chain binder selection? Let me explain. 

LOAD SECURMENT | What is a chain binder?

Also known as a load binder, chain binders are tools used to tighten chain when securing a load for transport. There are two basic styles of chain binders – lever binders and ratchet binders. The method of tightening the binder is what differentiates the two.

Lever Binders

load securement lever binder, columbus mckinnon at hercules slr
Lever Binder

A lever binder is made up of a simple machine, a lever, with a tension hook on each end. The lever is used to increase the force applied to a tie down. The lever is hinged and takes up the slack by pulling on one end of the tension hook and will lock itself after a 180-degree rotation of the lever around the hinge. Some of the advantages of choosing a lever-type binder include:

  • Easy installation
  • Fewer moving parts
  • Quick means to secure and release

Ratchet Binders

load securement, ratchet binder by columbus mckinnon at hercules slr
Ratchet Binder

A ratchet binder uses two types of simple machines and has two tension hooks on each end and handle. The handle again serves as a lever plus there is the screw thread. Having both simple machines can multiply the force manually applied to the tie down assembly.

When using a ratchet binder, the lever and screw work together and increase the force manually applied to the tie-down assembly. The result is that it takes much less pulling force on the handle to apply tension than you would need with a lever binder.

Ratchets also allow for slower, steadier loading and unloading of forces. This reduces any undue stress or strain on your body. Since ratchet binders are designed with a gear, handle, pawl and end fittings, they will not store up as much energy in the handle as a lever binder will.

Another advantage of ratchet binders is that take-up is safer. The take-up distance of a ratchet binder is typically eight to ten inches – twice that of a lever binder. While take up with a ratchet binder may take a few extra minutes, it is more controlled and ultimately a safer process.

LOAD SECURMENT | In Conclusion

Both lever binders and ratchet binders work in a similar fashion and should be chosen based on the preference of the operator. As with any type of load securement gear, safe practices need to be followed, including:

  • Always wear gloves to maintain a good grip on the binder handle.
  • Never use cheater bars on the handle in an attempt to increase the tie down tension. Cheater bars can put excessive force on the tie down. This force can be enough to damage or even break the tie down. This energy may be further increased by shifting loads. The stored energy resulting from this force could injure you or someone nearby.
  • Ensure that the lever binder is fully locked and make sure the load doesn’t shift after it is applied.
  • When releasing lever binders, stay clear of the handle to avoid any potential kickback.
  • Specifically on ratchet binders, don’t rush the ratcheting process. Slow and steady is the best way to tension.






Need more information on Columbus McKinnon equipment and load securement? We’ll lift you there.

Click here to learn more about our Columbus McKinnon at Hercules SLR. 


Hercules SLR is part of the Hercules Group of Companies which offers a unique portfolio of businesses nationally with locations from coast to coast. Our companies provide an extensive coverage of products and services that support the success of a wide range of business sectors across Canada including the energy, oil & gas, manufacturing, construction, aerospace, infrastructure, utilities, oil and gas, mining and marine industries.

Hercules Group of Companies is comprised of: Hercules SLRHercules Machining & Millwright ServicesSpartan Industrial MarineStellar Industrial Sales and Wire Rope Atlantic.

We have the ability to provide any solution your business or project will need. Call us today for more information. 1-877-461-4876. Don’t forget to follow us on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn for more news and upcoming events.