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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingOctober 18 - October 24, 2017

Oil Tanker Recovery and Memorial

0 4eadcBy Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Jim Rymes is a partner and fleet manager at Rymes Propane & Oil in New Hampshire. He takes care of a fleet of 200-plus vehicles, including oil, propane and service trucks. He is also a trained recovery operator.

On Jan. 28, 2009, after lunch Jim received a call that one of his oil tankers had gone over, about 2/3 full, very close to Winnisquam Lake in Laconia, N.H.

"Fortunately no oil was lost," Rymes said. "When I got there, I noticed that the road had been just plowed and with the wing down, it just looked like more road than was there. The truck just went off the edge and rolled on its side."

They were able to drill the tank and pump the product out. Rymes met with the state's Department of Environmental Services and the local police and received permission to come back in the morning and recover it, as it was dark and still snowing.

The next morning, Rymes showed up with his good friend Jack Lewis and an operator from Pembroke Towing, who came with a 1984 Peterbilt 359 with WeldBuilt wrecker. Another colleague, Bob from Beauchene's Towing, was also on the scene with a newer Kenworth/Century wrecker.

"By this time the town had salted and we had clear pavement to work on," Rymes said.

With the tanker on its side, they pulled the driveshaft and caged the brakes. The tanker was nose-down on a hill, so they positioned the Peterbilt at the bottom in front of the tanker and the Kenworth up the hill connected to the rear.

"We could have done it with the one truck, but decided on the two," Rymes said. "On the Pete we hooked a loop of chain around the spring shackle on the front axle, and used an endless loop between the rear wheels. We started pulling with the winches and the truck started coming up real nice and easy.

"Within a few minutes, we had pulled it up and pulled it right to the wheel lift on the Pete. We were able to hook it up, put the TowMate lights on and then towed it to our shop.

"It was so nice to work with Jack and Bob on this job."

Sadly, Jack Lewis passed away in 2014.

"Jack was always concerned with safety and hands-on, a true tow professional," Rymes said. "He was the first guy to talk about working load limits with me. He taught me so much about towing and recovery. A completely old-school guy who worked hard for everything he had.

"I really enjoyed all of our time together. His face would light up when he smiled. He was like a dad to me and I will miss him every day. They don't make them like him anymore! It won't be the same without him."

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 12, 2014 edition of Tow Industry Week.

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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