We already heard a lot about the Vetter pillows for self-recovery, changing a tire or levelling, but we did not see them in real life until the 4×4 Adventure Training that we provided for fellow MAN HX60 owners.
Lisette and Marco brought them and although we did not see a proper testing, we were impressed by the build quality.
As the Vetter pillows cost an arm and a leg (controller and hoses as well) we started looking for a second hand set. We got lucky and bought a batch of second hand V20 and V40 pillows including hoses and controllers.
The V20 pillows fit in the standard boxes underneath the MAN HX60 and we stowed the V40 pillows next to the spare wheel on the side. The controller has found a place in the storage box as well.
We now carry a set of 2xV20 and 2xV40 pillows so we can lift on four corners when necessary, or build a ‘tower’. We can also use the V20 pillows as levelling aids under the tires although we already have two EMUK pillows for that purpose. The V20 pillows measure 49 x 59 cm. and can lift 20 tonnes. Maximum height is approximately 26 cm. The V40 pillows measure 69 x 79 cm. and can lift 40 tonnes. Maximum height is approximately 40 cm. They can both handle a maximum of 8 Bar.
We use a rubber mat for protection of the pillow when we lift the truck. Two V40 pillows will easily lift the entire front or rear axle thus leaving a lot of space around the tires to dig them out and place a tracking aid under them.
Negative on the Vetter pillows
The pillows have a Euro coupling and they only function with the ‘hefty’ controller attached. The moment the controller is loosened the air flows out. This is not a problem in a recovery situation when you want full control of the situation (the controller directs two pillows separately) but when you use the pillows in a levelling situation you do not want to use the controller and have it attached and lying around all the time.
Vetter has a solution for this, a hose with a ball valve and Euro couplings so you can pump up the pillows directly with an air hose without using the controller. Furthermore it is possible to seal the air in the pillows with the ball valve. Unfortunately this piece of kit is also pretty expensive and you need one per pillow.
Custom made stand alone solution
I decided to try to make a construction with a ball valve myself, maybe not as sophisticated, but we tested it and it functions flawless. We can now directly attach an airline with Euro coupling to the construction, air the vetter pillow up to the desired height and close the ball valve, remove the airline and that is all there is to it. Opening the ball valve lets the air out very quickly.
The downside is that we cannot see how many Bar is pumped into the pillows. As we use the trailer air coupling on the back of our MAN HX60 with a maximum of 7,8 Bar, we can never overload the pillows (maximum 8 Bar).
The advantage of being able to use the pillows without the controller attached all the time (especially in levelling situations) totally outweighs the downside in our opinion.
It is even possible to leave the controller at home or buy pillows without the controller with this solution, although not as safe and secure as using the controller.