Tow Truck Drivers: Get Ready for a Busy Winter

When the temperatures drop and the snow begins to fly, tow truck operators know the busy season is coming. They know the coming months will have them towing cars that are blocking plows, pulling cars out of ditches, and rescuing stranded vehicles with dead batteries and alternators. It is all part of the fun of operating a tow truck for a living.

Our advice to tow truck drivers is to get ready for a busy winter. The season is still early, and we have already seen a number of pretty significant storms across the plains states, storms that left cars stranded in their wake. If these early storms are any indication, the winter of 2017/2018 is going to be a busy one.

Inspect All Your Equipment

The tools of the trade for tow truck drivers include ratchet tire straps, wheel nets, lasso straps, recovery and towing straps, axle straps, and bridal straps with hooks. It goes without saying that every tow truck needs to be stocked with an ample supply of these tools at all times. A driver never knows when something will be needed.

If you haven’t already done so, take the time to inspect all your auto towing and hauling equipment. You want to check the integrity of each piece along with knowing that you have an ample supply of everything you expect to need. Any straps or hooks that show even minor signs of wear should be addressed. Some will be repairable while others will have to be replaced.

We encourage tow truck drivers to be especially careful with recovery straps. You can make the case that they take the most abuse among all the tools in the tow operator’s toolbox, and it only takes one small defect to create a dangerous situation during a vehicle recovery.

Perform Ratchet Maintenance

Nothing is worse than trying to use a rusty ratchet on a cold winter day. Now is the time to go through and look at all your ratchets for signs that they need routine maintenance. Dirty ratchets should be cleaned and oiled to ensure they continue to function. Worn and damaged ratchets may have to be replaced.

Remember that when threading a ratchet, the strap should come in from underneath, then over the spool and out the top. If you come in from the top you risk jamming the strap in the spool mechanism to the point that you cannot get the ratchet undone on the other end. You would be forced to use a risky tactic that could damage your strap or cause injury. Remember: always thread straps through the bottom of the ratchet.

Get Plenty of Rest

The only tip we can offer above and beyond inspecting and maintaining your equipment is to make sure you get plenty of rest. There are going to be some long days and nights ahead, and you cannot afford to be unnecessarily tired during the peak of the winter season. So leave off the fun times and partying until spring. Your off time during the winter should be spent with family and getting as much rest as you can.

Mytee Products Has What You Need

Rest assured that we have everything you need for a busy winter towing season. Our entire inventory of towing equipment and supplies is available on our website for those who want to order online. If you are anywhere near Aurora, Ohio, we invite you to come visit us in person. One of our helpful towing experts will be more than happy to work with you to complete your towing supplies inventory.


Aluminum or Steel for Headache Racks?

Truck drivers in the market for a new headache rack can choose between aluminum and steel models. While the Mytee Products inventory is exclusive to aluminum and other alloys, there are some companies that deal in steel headache racks as well. That begs the question of whether one material is better than the other. We would say ‘yes’, based on the properties of both.

Before we talk about advantages and disadvantages, we should first discuss what steel and aluminum actually are. We will begin steel.

Steel is an alloy made mostly of iron and carbon. It offers an extremely high tensile strength which makes it an ideal material for building construction, road construction, and the manufacture of everything from automobiles to tools. Steel is also very inexpensive to produce.

Aluminum is a natural element and a soft, ductile metal. If you took high school chemistry, you probably remember that the symbol for aluminum on the periodic table is Al. At any rate, aluminum is highly chemically reactive to the extent that it is rare to find it in a pure form in nature. Rather, it is embedded in ore – usually bauxite.

Steel Headache Racks

Steel headache racks used to be the norm for American truckers. Drivers preferred steel decades ago because of its extreme strength and heavy weight. They could bolt a steel headache rack to the back of a truck cab or flatbed trailer in full confidence that it would stand up to virtually any load. That is still true today.

The biggest disadvantage of steel is the fact that it easily corrodes. In order to prevent corrosion, manufacturers can galvanize the steel or add certain chemical additives to slow nature down. In the end though, nature almost always wins. Truck drivers who prefer steel headache racks have to put some effort into routine maintenance in order to prevent corrosion.

Aluminum Headache Racks

Aluminum has its own drawbacks as a material for headache racks. The biggest is that aluminum, in its natural form, is too soft to be used for anything requiring structural integrity. The good news is that aluminum can be combined with other materials to create an alloy that is as strong as steel. In some cases, aluminum alloys are even stronger.

The vast majority of headache racks sold these days are made from high-strength, premium aluminum alloys capable of withstanding the toughest punishment. Better yet, aluminum is not subject to corrosion. In fact, aluminum oxidizes when exposed to the air. Oxidation creates a thin protective layer over the surface of the metal that naturally prevents corrosion.

Aluminum has another benefit that is especially attractive to truck drivers who enjoy entering their trucks in competitions: aluminum can be cleaned and polished to an extremely bright shine. Using a simple technique and a proven aluminum polish, drivers can get their headache racks to shine so brightly that they can see their own reflections in them.

We Have Your Next Headache Rack

Mytee Products carries more than half-of-dozen headache rack models along with installation kits, light bars, chain hangers, and binder racks. Everything you need to protect yourself and your truck against shifting loads can be found here on our site. We invite you to browse our inventory of headache racks and supplies.

If you are in the market for a new headache rack, we recommend an aluminum alloy product from Mytee Products. Aluminum alloys are strong yet still lightweight. An aluminum headache rack will keep you safe without the extra weight of steel or the need to continually maintain the rack to prevent corrosion.


Know Your Tractor Tires Before You Buy

Farmers are as foundational to the U.S. economy as truck drivers. In light of that, we are extremely proud to be able to offer a range of farming supplies for agricultural operations. This includes hay tarps, fencing materials, and tires for both wagons and tractors. This blog post will focus squarely on wagon and tractor tires.

If there is one piece of advice we would give to a farmer looking for tires, then it would be to make sure he or she knows the purpose behind each tire design before making a purchase. There are lots of different tire designs out there, three of which we carry at Mytee Products.

 

The four major categories of tractor and wagon tires are:

• Turf
• Industrial
• Field
• Ribbed

Turf Tires

Turf tires look a lot like standard truck and car tires. They may have a straight, zig-zag, or crisscross tread built on a wide tire surface. These are the tires you want to use if your tractor will be doing most of its work on grassy areas. The wide tire surface and multi-tread pattern provide adequate traction while minimizing damage to turf. Needless to say, these tires are not suitable in muddy conditions or out in the field.

Industrial Tires

Industrial tires occupy the middle ground between turf tires and the heavy-duty tires you would use in the field. Traction is provided by a tread design featuring a series of bars the start at the sidewall, descend diagonally for short distance, and then run horizontally across two-thirds of the tire surface. These tires are ideal for heavy-duty operations when you still want to minimize damage to underlying soil.

Field Tires

Field tires are the granddaddy of them all. These are the biggest, baddest, most heavy-duty tires you will find on the average American farm. They feature a very distinctive and aggressive tread pattern that consists of a series of bars that run diagonally from the sidewall to the center of the tire surface. The bars are offset from one another to provide continual traction.

These are the tires the farmer uses in the field. They work well whether the soil is soft and muddy or hard and frozen. It is not wise to use field tires on grassy areas though, as damage to the underlying turf can be significant.

Ribbed Tires

Finally, ribbed tires are those tires you generally use on the front axle of a 2WD tractor – with either one or two wheels. Ribbed tires are unusual in that they do not have a tread. Rather, they have either 1, 3, or 4 ribs that run parallel with the sidewall. Mytee Products only carries a 3-ribbed tire as it is the most commonly used.

These are the tires you want on the front of your tractor while out in the field. They provide excellent control in muddy and cultivated soil by digging into the soil and holding firm.

Note that ribbed tires are inappropriate for 4WD tractors in that they do not offer any amount of pulling traction. Owners of 4WD tractors will use either industrial or field tires on the front instead.

Get Your Tractor and Wagon Tires Here

Mytee Products is happy to be able to supply farmers with the tires they need for their tractors and wagons. Feel free to browse the entire inventory here on our website, or visit our Aurora warehouse and see them in person. We are confident you will be more than pleased with the quality and price. Our tires come from trusted manufacturers who have been serving the agricultural sector for years.


Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top