Applying Hay Tarps in Colder Weather

If old man winter were an actual person, he might be nice enough to warn you of what he has planned over the next several months. He might ask farmers if they have enough hay tarps to protect what they plan to store. In truth, old man winter cannot ask questions, but we can. So, how are you looking for hay tarps?

The thing about hay tarps is that getting them in place as early as possible works to your advantage. It is a lot easier to properly deploy a tarp in warmer, drier weather than it is in the middle of that first winter storm. Therefore, it also works to your advantage to recognize the signs of the weather to come early enough to get those tarps in place.

Life in the Old Days

Long before there was an internet, cellphones, and all the other comforts of modern life, farmers looked for natural signs that winter was coming. They paid attention to the thickness of the coats of their livestock, knowing that those coats would fluff out as winter weather approached. They paid attention to migrating birds and foraging animals like squirrels who were busy stockpiling their winter food.

At the earliest signs of the approaching winter, farmers knew they had to get their hay in from the field. Out came the wagons and horses for a multi-day marathon of bailing, transporting, and stacking. Then all that hay had to be covered with some sort of protection.

Today, life is a lot easier. We have tractors to bring hay in from the field. We have advanced weather equipment that more accurately predicts when winter weather is coming. And, of course, there is the internet. Farmers can order their hay tarps online and have them delivered right to their doors. The convenience of modern life makes it a lot easier to protect a crop from moisture, mold, and pests.

Cover That Hay Now

The calendar has turned to November and the holiday season is fast approaching. That means the time for planning has long since passed. Now is the time to put those plans in motion and the time to get that hay covered.

Remember that the biggest enemies of hay at this time of year are pests and precipitation. Hay tarps alone may not be enough to keep the pests out, so you will have to look at other solutions for that. But well-deployed tarps held down with strong ropes and anchor points should be enough to keep the precipitation away from your crop.

There are lots of different methods for stacking hay prior to being covered. One of the more common methods is the A-frame. An A-frame stack is usually 3 to 4 bales high with a single row at the top to create a peak. You then throw your hay tarps over the stack and secure them to anchor points that you have driven into the ground. The resulting frame helps snow and rain run off rather than pooling.

Regardless of your stacking method, make sure your hay tarps extend over the edge of the stack far enough to allow moisture to fall away from the hay. If you run your tarps right down the side of the stack, you are inviting precipitation to pool at the base, which is to defeat the purpose of tarping.

Old man winter is knocking. If you are a farmer, he’s asking whether your hay tarps are ready. If you are not ready for winter, don’t delay. Order your hay tarps from Mytee Products today.


A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.


Gifts to Fill the Trucker’s Tool Boxes

The average 18-wheeler is equipped with multiple aluminum tool boxes packed full of equipment and supplies. This time of year, truck drivers appreciate receiving the kinds of gifts that can fill their tool boxes for the coming year. Below are some suggestions of items you can purchase here at Mytee Products.

Bear in mind that each of the items on our list is something a flatbed trucker needs on a regular basis. Unfortunately, truckers can get so busy at times that they forget to restock their supplies. If you have a trucker in your life that you are planning to buy for this holiday season, why not get some of the items he or she needs to keep his/her tool boxes fully stocked?

Sliding Winches

Sliding winches run across rails fixed below the bed of a flatbed trailer. Truckers use them to attach the winch straps they use to tie down cargo. Sliding winches do not break all that often, which is why a lot of truckers fail to keep a couple of spares on hand. You can save your favorite trucker hours of frustration by gifting a few sliding winches.

Chain Binders

Chain binders are another specialty item truckers don’t have to replace all that frequently. Having said that, there is a varierty of chain binders for different purposes. The trucker in your life might appreciate you asking if there is a specific binder he or she needs. You could then make the purchase and surprise your loved one on Christmas morning.

Tarp Repair Kits

A trucker’s aluminum tool boxes are likely to include a selection of truck tarps for all sorts of loads. What might be missing is a tarp repair kit. This may not seem like a big deal, but having a tarp repair kit on board could mean the difference between getting a load right away and having to wait until repairs can be made. Truck tarps are an important part of the trucker’s livelihood, so a good repair kit can be invaluable.

Corner and Edge Protectors

It might be hard to imagine that something so seemingly insignificant as a plastic corner protector is like gold to a truck driver. But it is. Truckers use corner and edge protectors of all shapes and sizes to keep cargo safe during transport. Furthermore, the truck driver can never have enough of these handy little devices lying around. Consider stocking your favorite trucker’s tool boxes with a good selection of corner and edge protectors.

Reflective Tape

Reflective tape is another seemingly insignificant item that people just don’t think about. Even truckers do not give reflective tape much thought until they actually need it. You can help your favorite trucker avoid unnecessary down time by throwing a roll or two of reflective tape in his/her stocking this Christmas.

Air Brake Hose

A failing air hose can mean big problems for truckers. That’s why it’s common for them to carry extra hose on board. At the first sign of a potential air brake failure, it doesn’t take much to swap a hose. Thus, gifting air brake hoses to your favorite trucker this holiday season means one less thing he or she needs to worry about on the road.

Bungee straps

If all else fails, the tried and true bungee strap is a fail safe gift for your favorite trucker. Truckers can never have too many bungee straps in their tool boxes. Bungee straps are used every day for a long list of purposes, but they wear out and break all the time. We are positive the trucker in your life would appreciate a bag of bungee straps.


Canvas Tarps Are Tough Tarps

Vinyl is the material that makes up the vast majority of our truck tarp inventory. But Mytee Products also carries a selection of canvas tarps as well. We understand that canvas tarps are tough tarps, and sometimes drivers need that extra toughness. There are times when vinyl will just not do.

This post will explore just why canvas is such a tough material and what that means to truck drivers. So let’s start by first discussing the difference between plain and duck canvas. They may look the same to the naked eye, but they are distinctly different products.

A standard canvas tarp is made from a fabric constructed of heavy fibers (usually cotton) woven together in a plain weave. The weave is tight enough to be water-resistant and reasonably tough under most circumstances. Duck canvas uses a similar weave, but the density is greater. The advantage of duck canvas is that the tighter weave makes it more resistant to weather. The downside is that it is not as breathable.

Both types of canvas can be treated with wax to make them waterproof. This is obviously not necessary to protect the fabric itself, but it is a big plus for truckers who need to keep moisture out. Waxed canvas tarps do need to be retreated every now and again.

Why Canvas Is So Tough

The toughness of canvas is really a matter of physics. To understand this, first ask yourself what it is that causes damage to truck tarps. Usually it is things like sharp edges, airborne debris, and weather. All these things exert force on the tarp fabric that can lead to rips, tears, etc.

Resisting damage is a matter of resisting those external forces. What makes canvas so tough is the weave. By using a high concentration of fibers woven together in an over and under pattern (this is the plain weave pattern), canvas makers are creating a surface that absorbs energy and dissipates it across its entire surface. Each one of those little fibers handles some of the energy directed at the surface of the tarp. The more fibers there are, the more effectively energy is absorbed and dissipated.

As for the weave, it allows energy absorbed in one portion of the tarp to be transferred across the entire surface by way of the fibers touching one another. Furthermore, each fiber supports the ones around it through the over and under contact of the weave. When external force is exerted on the fabric, the fibers that initially absorb it are supported by the surrounding fibers even as the energy begins to dissipate across the entire surface of the tarp.

Life after Trucking

If you have ever wondered just how tough canvas is, consider what might happen to your tarps after they are no longer usable for trucking. Canvas tarps can be recycled and used to create all sorts of things. For example, there is a company in Europe that recycles rubberized canvas truck tarps by turning them into full size travel cases.

The tarps are cleaned, cut into smaller pieces, and sewn together into large travel bags with inflatable frames made out of bicycle tubes. Using canvas as the main material allows for rolling the bag up into a fairly compact package when not in use. When unrolled and inflated, the combination of bike tube and canvas creates a durable, water tight suitcase that rivals any hard-shell product on the market.

We love canvas tarps because they are tough tarps. If you need one or two to fill out your inventory, Mytee Products has what you need.


How Tough Is Your Headache Rack?

A story appearing last year on the automoblog.com website described two ‘autobots’ vehicles being sold at the 2016 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona. One was a tractor that was custom built to portray the Optimus Prime character of Transformers fame. One of the things that caught our attention was the description of the headache rack mounted on the back of this truck. The article described it as being an “armor-like headache rack.”

Describing something as armor-like is a complement to its strengths and toughness. That led us to wonder about the toughness of the headache racks on the real-life trucks that traverse our nation’s highways. If you are a flatbed trucker, ask yourself just how tough your headache rack really is.

Up to the Task

There is a purpose for having a headache rack that goes above and beyond aesthetics.A headache rack is intended to protect both cab and driver in the event that cargo breaks free and shifts forward. The headache rack is supposed to prevent the cargo from crashing through the back of the tractor. With that in mind, a good headache rack has to be up to the task. It has to be strong enough to withstand the forces of physics in the event of an accident.

The purpose of a headache rack dictates that function is the priority when buying one. Yes, a clean and polished headache rack is a visual chrome feast for the eyes on a tricked-out truck that looks as good as it drives. But all the aesthetics will not mean much if that freshly polished rack cannot hold up to the forces of a shifting load during a forced hard stop. Truck drivers should buy their headache racks first and foremost as a safety device. After that they can talk about aesthetics and peripheral utility.

Shopping for a Rack

The headache rack is one area where it does not pay to skimp. So what do you look for while you’re shopping? Start by looking for something made with high-strength, premium alloys. An alloy is a material derived by combining multiple metals or a single metal with other elements.

Alloys are defined by their bonding characteristics. Thus, their superiority is found in their strength and durability. An aluminum alloy headache rack is going to be tougher and stronger than a pure aluminum alternative. Likewise for any other alloys a manufacturer might use.

Finally, make the effort to visually inspect any headache rack you choose before you buy it. If you are forced to purchase online because you cannot get to the supplier in person, make sure your purchase comes with a reasonable return policy just in case it arrives in less than perfect condition. Your visual inspection should include looking at all the welded seams and the entire face of the headache rack. There should be no cracks or breaks of any kind.

The Optimus Prime truck sold in 2016 is nothing but a Hollywood showpiece. As such, whether its headache rack is truly armor-like doesn’t really matter. It is just for looks. The same cannot be said for your own truck. If you are flatbed truck driver, you absolutely have to have an armor-like headache rack to protect yourself and your truck.