Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Magazine December 2014

The Family Of Ditch Hitch Saving Lives With Their Revolutionary Product

Date PublishedDecember 18, 2014
CompanyDitch Hitch
Article AuthorGeoff Lee
Article TypeDecember 2014 Issue
Tags, ,
PULSE Interactive

The Family Of Ditch Hitch Saving Lives With Their Revolutionary Product

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive December 2014

Anybody that uses the Ditch Hitch system has eliminated towing-related incidents 100%



Ditch Hitch Vehicle Recovery System

A stuck pickup truck in the mud or snow won’t stay stuck for long with the Ditch Hitch vehicle recovery system designed for a shock load. That’s a promise from Vern Sparkes, the product inventor and president of Ditch Hitch in Calgary. His company’s product is in high demand from the oil and gas, mining, forestry, agriculture and utilities industries as a safe and easy to use vehicle recovery system for remote or off road towing in all seasons.

“Very brisk” is how Sparkes describes sales of Ditch Hitch in Western Canada and northern U.S. states. “Probably within the next year to two years, we will be the industry standard for vehicle recovery in the oil industry,” said Sparkes in an interview from Calgary.

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014Several workers have been killed and seriously injured by unsafe towing devices and practices. “Unofficially, we are the industry standard in my opinion because everybody’s using them,” said Sparkes.

“Anybody that uses the Ditch Hitch system has eliminated towing-related incidents 100%.”

“We’ve got 22,000 systems out in the industry right now without fail and without incident in 10 years, so it’s proven itself.”

Ditch Hitch is a truck to truck system that retails from $585 and comes with two hitches that attach to a standard frame mounted receiver on the recovery vehicle and the stuck vehicle. Fleet pricing is also available.

“That’s the only way we sell them now because if a guy has only one, he’ll tie onto something that isn’t safe,” said Sparkes.

“So our system has to be from Ditch Hitch to Ditch Hitch only.” The pulling is done by a two inch by 25 foot long nylon Fuse Link strap that connects to a pivoting U-bar on the Ditch Hitch unit.

New Products


The Snap Trap is a kinetic energy diffuser that will capture a failed recovery strap to ensure the safety of personnel and eliminate vehicular damages.


Ditch Hitch System Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014


Unique to Ditch Hitch, the Lock Ring ensures the receiver pin can never be dislodged by tall grass or improper installation.



Ditch Hitch System Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014


The Son of a Hitch is the smaller version of the Ditch Hitch that fits into the 11⁄4 inch receivers in quads, argos and small SUV’S. The Son of a Hitch was tested at the University of Calgary. The breaking strength of the Son of a Hitch is 35,000 lbs.. These units will be available by mid 2015.


Ditch Hitch System Oilfield PULSE Interactive December 2014

Safety First: Ditch Hitch System

The Ditch Hitch used along with the Fuse Link strap eliminates the danger of flying metal objects such as chains, slings with tail chains, shackles or tow ropes with hooks commonly used during vehicle recovery.

Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014

Ditch Hitch also eliminates the need to attach to points such as trailer balls or bumpers that are not made to withstand shock load forces in vehicle recovery situations. Sparkes also says to remove the front tow hooks that come with the trucks and install a front receiver. The front tow hooks will fail between 4,000 and 12,000 lbs.

The Fuse Link strap is engineered with a breaking strength of 19,000 lbs while the aluminium Ditch Hitch has a breaking strength of 78,000 lbs for a four-to-one safety ratio.

“We make sure that if anything from the system fails, the strap fails and nobody dies,” said Sparkes who just launched a new fail-safe Fuse Link protector called the Snap Trap.

Ditch Hitch System Vern Sparkes“These Fuse Link straps, when they let go, they’ve got enough kinetic energy that could knock a grill out of a truck or dent a tail gate,” said Sparkes. The Fuse Link strap feeds through the Snap Trap which also hooks on to the U-bar pivot on both trucks.

“When that Fuse Link strap lets go – it’s doing its job if it fails. We want it to fail before anything else in the system fails. When it fails, the snap trap captures the strap,” explained Sparkes. Husky Energy, Encana, Shell Canada, Atco Electric and Vermilion Energy are among the major companies that have purchased the Ditch Hitch system for company wide use in Western Canada.

“It’s now written right into their policies and procedures,” said Sparkes. “These companies like many others understand that ‘No Tow’ policies and ‘No Shock Load’ policies do not work because they continued to have vehicle recovery incidents in the field until they implemented the Ditch Hitch system.”

“Some of these companies are now mandating all of their contractors and service providers use them as well. These companies must use a Ditch Hitch system or call a tow truck. That’s the only thing they can do.” Sparkes got the idea for the Ditch Hitch after working for 15 years as a safety consultant for oil and gas companies all over the world.

Ditch Hitch was nominated for this year’s prestigious Manning Award that recognizes and supports Canadian inventors who have marketed their innovations. “If you win the Manning it’s mostly recognition,” said Sparkes who said he would “pay some bills” if prize money comes his way.

The company payroll includes Sparkes’ wife as vice-president and his daughter as production and quality control manager with part-time employees hired to fill large batch orders.

Sparkes brought a Ditch Hitch to a Lloydminster community safety event held at Target Safety Services in May of this year. As well, Ditch Hitch will be attending the upcoming PSAC show in Red Deer and the annual Petroleum Safety Conference in Banff.

“It’s pretty cool. I’ll be standing there talking to a potential customer and somebody will come by that uses our product and they just look at the people and say ‘don’t even think about it – just buy it. It’s the best thing on the planet,’” said Sparkes. “That happens all the time.”

…the necessary evil. Most times in vehicle recovery you need to back up and take a run at it

Ditch Hitch Is Not Only For Commercial Use!

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014Ditch Hitch is mostly targeted at businesses, but consumers who have used the system at work are also buying them for recreational purposes.

“Guys that are hunters, campers and fishermen they get stuck out there all the time,” said Sparkes.

“They use these things at work and they say ‘why don’t we have them for our own personal vehicle’ so they buy them.”

Ditch Hitch is patented in Canada, the U.S. and Australia and comes in a carry bag with the complete system weighing just 20 lbs.

The package includes a reflective Visi-Sleeve to illuminate the recovery strap along with a pre-job check list. “When people rig up our system they put the Ditch Hitch in each of the vehicles. They put the Fuse Link strap in there then they go down the pre-job checklist,” said Sparkes.

“They make sure both trucks have frame mounted receivers, that the lock rings are in place and they’ve got all their ducks in a row prior to commencing vehicle recovery operations. We’ll both sign off on it. It becomes a legal document after that time. It’s a consent form as well”.

“After they’re done with the tow, the white copy goes to the safety department and the yellow copy stays in the book.”

The user instructions advise the rescue vehicle to make two attempts at pulling the stuck truck with no slack in the system.

“If someone’s not stuck too bad and you have a four wheel drive, you can just pull them without shock loading,” said Sparkes. If that doesn’t work, he recommends taking two, four foot runs and if that doesn’t work, take two, six foot runs for more shock loading.

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014“If you take two, six foot runs and the truck moves even inches, then just carry on with six foot runs until the vehicle is unstuck,” said Sparkes. “This is what we call the necessary evil. Most times in vehicle recovery you need to back up and take a run at it. You need some momentum to shock load the other vehicle.”

For more information on how you can get the Ditch Hitch, or other products visit ditchhitch.com, call toll free 1-866-477-2756, and see some of their videos on youtube.

Final Facts

Ditch Hitch System Oilfield PULSE Interactive December 2014• The Ditch Hitch is the only vehicle recovery system that is certified by a professional engineer to be shock loaded.
• The Ditch Hitch unit can be shock loaded to 17,000 pounds for 1,000,000 (one million) cycles before it needs to be inspected. This will not happen in your lifetime or the lifetime of your grandchildren.
• Several oil companies are now mandating that contractors and service providers use the Ditch Hitch or call a tow truck if they get stuck while working on their properties.
• There are presently 22,000 Ditch Hitch Systems out in the industry, anyone utilizing the Ditch Hitch system has eliminated vehicle recovery incidents 100%.

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014

Vern Sparkes
Ditch Hitch

Ditch Hitch Oilfield PULSE Interactive Magazine December 2014







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December 2014 issue of Oilfield PULSE