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SEMA 2014: Bubba Rope Talks “Gator-Jaw” Soft Shackles For 4x4s
The inaugural day of the 2014 SEMA Show was a lively hustle and bustle that saw thousands of media folks, vendors, buyers, and sellers roaming around to see or show off their latest wares. The South Hall’s second floor was the place to be for fresh off-road products and designs, which was where we found Bubba Rope’s booth and with it, the “Gator-Jaw” soft shackle line.
On hand for our interview was the company’s general manager, Jim Flowers, who was able to shed light on the product and its features. “The whole idea around this was to get the metal out of the recovery,” said Flowers.
What he was referring to was the common practice of using recovery chains or tow hooks that had the possibility of snapping and flying off at high speed, “to the point that it becomes like shrapnel,” said Flowers. To fix this issue, Bubba Rope utilized HMPe (high modulus polyethylene) to construct the new design, which could handle a much greater amount than its size seemed to hint at.
“Using the same materials that winch lines are made out of, our Gator-Jaw is able to handle up to 32,000 pounds,” said Flowers. “It locks over the loop, and then it won’t come off, which was how we arrived at the name.”
Flowers went on to explain that during testing, the 12-ton steel shackle (which was part of the booth’s display) that was hitched to the test bed gave way and bent, emphasizing just how strong the Gator-Jaw truly was.
Topping all this off was the 2014 New Product Award from SEMA, which Flowers and his team were very proud of. “We believe this is going to revolutionize people using this kind of technology rather than steel, because it’s less dangerous and far more reliable than conventional methods.”
Bubba Rope has its Gator-Jaw available now, and you can find out more by contacting the company by either a ring on the phone or visit to the website.
Rich Conlon’s company drives into the unknown with its vehicle work for the Ultimate Adventure
The day before the wheeling adventure started was the most nerve-racking for Rich Conlon.
It was late June, and Conlon was about to embark on a 1,500-mile off-road trek through several southeastern states.
“I honestly had no idea what to expect,” said Conlon, owner of Dubuque-based Complete Off Road. “I didn't know what terrain we were getting into, didn’t know if we built the vehicle right.
“All we knew was we’re leaving Oxford (Alabama) and we’re ending up in South Carolina.”
The trip was part of Petersen Media Group’s Ultimate Adventure, an annual trek planned by the off-road magazine. Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine editor Rick Pewe determines the trip course, shunning technological tools to lay everything out on paper maps.
“Nobody’s going to steal it from him,” said Conlon, who said the trip is lined out turn-for turn.
The adventure is the cornerstone event for the magazine, which picks a vehicle every year then chronicles the build, in addition to a write-up of the trek.
“The Ultimate Adventure trip is a bucket-list trip for everyone in the wheeling world,” Conlon said. “It’s a very select group of people that get to go, it’s kind of the who’s who of the off-road world.
“To meet these guys and hang out with them was really a lot of fun.”
Complete Off Road was contracted by Florida-based Bubba Rope to build a vehicle. Conlon had met members of the recovery rope company previously, so when he heard they were an Ultimate Adventure sponsor looking for someone to build them a vehicle, the connection proved helpful.
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I have been experimenting with a Bubba rope now for a few months. The one I have is the recently released Renegade model. It is designed primarily for 2 door jeep size vehicles. This one is rated at 19,000 lb. breaking strength and is 20 feet long.
The Bubba rope is representative of the higher end manufactures in that they have a tag attached on one end of the rope with all the specs. This is important – don’t use anything for recovery if you do not know the ratings for which it is designed. If you buy any recovery gear that does not have a tag, write, carve or engrave the information from the package onto the product.
The Bubba rope is the brand name for a class of ropes referred to as KERR – kinetic energy recovery rope. Kinetic energy recovery ropes have been around for a long time. I made my own version back in the 70’s and am a firm believer in using them.
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