Here’s Why You Keep Your Tow Truck Fully Stocked

One of the things we try to consistently do here at Mytee Products is remind our customers to pay attention to their inventories. For example, consider tow truck operators. We are thrilled to be able to serve operators across the country who rely on us for towing chains, straps, lights, and a whole host of other supplies. We do our best to remind them to make sure their trucks are always fully stocked.

This really is a no-brainer for most tow operators. But every year there are new operators joining the industry and just getting started in their careers. Their lack of experience may lead them to take a job without having the proper equipment to do it safely and completely. If there is one thing that we have learned from working with tow operators over the years, it’s that you never know what you’re going to come up against on any recovery.

An Example from NC

We will be well on the way toward rough winter weather by the time this post is published. So let’s use a recent example from the past to illustrate why it’s necessary to keep a tow truck fully stocked. The example comes out of Maple Hill, North Carolina in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

On September 19 (2018), a truck pulling a mobile home behind it was blown over by hurricane-force winds. That mobile home was destined to be a rest station for hurricane recovery workers in need of rest. Unfortunately, Florence saw to it that the trailer never made it to its designated location. The state Highway Patrol had to call for assistance to right the trailer as quickly as possible.

Under normal circumstances, this would have been difficult enough. The job probably would have required multiple tow trucks using chains and winches to get the trailer back in an upright position. But this was no ordinary circumstance. Florence pounded the Carolinas for some 30 hours in total. By the time tow trucks were dispatched, the trailer was already under 10 feet of water.

The team of four tow operators all arrived on scene and realized it was going to be a tough job. Even after the water had receded, righting the trailer/mobile home required precise techniques and the proper use of the right equipment. It’s a good thing the tow operators knew what they were doing. Even with 4 feet of water still inside, they managed to pull the trailer upright and move it to the shoulder.

It’s About Being Prepared

The success of these four tow operators is a testament to their abilities, experience, and equipment. Their story is also a reminder that tow operators have to be prepared for anything. No one knew just how bad Florence was going to be, but every person who knew that he or she was going to be involved in the cleanup had to be as prepared as possible.

As a tow operator yourself, you may never experience anything like the damage caused by Hurricane Florence. But you’ll still see your share of stranded cars, highway accidents, repos, and municipal tows. Your truck needs to be fully stocked with everything you need to do your job safely and correctly. Mytee Products has you covered.

We have a complete inventory of towing chains, mesh straps, tire nets, hooks, winches, and even towing lights. If you need it to stock your tow truck, we probably have it. And if we don’t, we’ll still do our best to get it for you. Don’t head into the busy winter season without knowing full well that your truck is fully stocked.

 


Your Electrified Fence May Someday Auto Adjust

To our friends who routinely purchase electrified fencing supplies from Mytee Products, how do you feel about having to move your fencing in order to accommodate feeding patterns? It’s a big job. We know of quite a few farmers who don’t bother. They build multiple fences around different areas of pasture land so that they don’t have to move anything.

The good news for you is that you may someday have access to electrified fencing that automatically adjusts itself. As crazy as it sounds, the idea is currently under development at a farm in Ireland. Two brothers, tired of having to move their fences in step with strip grazing practices, set about inventing a device that automatically moves fencing for them.

A Painstaking Job

We promote electrified fencing as an alternative to barbed wire for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that moving fence is a painstaking job regardless of the fence type you use. Electrified fencing is a lot easier to move. Why? Because there are fewer posts and wires involved. You also do not have to anchor posts as deeply.

Even so, it is a lot of work. So the two Irish farmers decided to do something about it. They figured they could come up with something better by combining their electrified fencing with GPS technology and cheap robotic drives. It turns out they were right.

The two brothers invented a system that lets them use what they call a ‘hot wire’ extending across an entire run of fence to determine how much grass is available to cattle. The fence is connected to a pair of robotic drives that constantly control the perimeter in response to grazing. This not only solves the problem of having to move fencing, but it also allows the brothers to guarantee that a given patch of grass land is fully consumed before the animals are moved to a new location.

For the record, the entire rig sits atop a series of spider wheels that can be controlled remotely. The system runs on rechargeable batteries that can go for up to two full days without being recharged. Its inventors always know the exact location of the fence thanks to on-board GPS.

An Award-Winning Invention

The brothers say it’s going to be several years before their invention is ready for mass market sales. In the meantime, they are just happy to know that it works. And does it ever. Their automatic fence is so impressive that it recently won two awards at a prestigious agricultural show in Ireland.

The judges were impressed with the system’s ability to automatically move according to a programmed schedule that calculates the best time for moving. As for the brothers, they say their invention prevents selective grazing and contamination, leads to better use of grasslands, and makes cattle management more efficient.

Buying Electrified Fencing Supplies

If the brothers eventually succeed in getting their invention to market, it could change the way you buy electrified fencing materials in the future. It will certainly change the way you handle installations. Maybe in addition to purchasing fencing wire and energizers from Mytee Products, you’ll also be buying the robotic drives too. We wouldn’t mind that at all.

In the meantime, rest assured that you can continue buying your electrified fencing supplies from Mytee Products. We carry fencing rope, tape, and wire, along with both solar and traditionally powered energizers. Also don’t forget to check out our hay tarps and temporary storage buildings while you’re here. You might find them useful as well.


Could You Use a Cargo Control Cheat Sheet?

Our position as a supplier of cargo control equipment to the trucking industry affords us the opportunity to hear a lot of stories. Some of those stories involve roadside inspections that pit truck drivers against police officers and DOT inspectors in a battle of wills. It’s funny, but we have never gotten the impression that inspectors are purposely trying to make the lives of truck drivers miserable.

In our regular perusal of trucking industry news, we ran across a CDL Life article featuring a cargo control cheat sheet developed by an Indiana state trooper. It reminded us that there are police officers who genuinely want to help truckers avoid violations. The trooper who put out the cheat sheet seems to be one of them.

Our question to you is this: could you use the cheat sheet? Being that we are not truck drivers ourselves, we cannot answer the question for you. But even with our limited knowledge, the cheat sheet looks like it could be very useful.

Working Load Limits Chart

At the top of the cheat sheet is a chart that acts as a handy reference for working load limits (WLLs). The chart is based on standard sized chains from grades 30 through 100. These would be chains used to tie down coil, heavy equipment, and the like. Below that chart is a second, smaller chart with references to webbing straps.

We assume that truckers could use both these charts as a quick reference to determine whether they are using enough tie-downs or not. We realize that federal law requires a certain number of tie-downs based on the weight of a particular load. Drivers are also required to deploy those tie-downs in such a way as to prevent all forward and lateral movement.

To work out the math, the cheat sheet includes a handy table that a driver can fill out by hand. This facilitates doing the math necessary to make sure he or she gets it right. The chart accounts for:

•Operating weight
•Chain WLL
•Number of chains
•WLL percentages
•Current WLL load
•WLL still needed.

We imagine that using this table would offer a clear visual representation of what is actually going on. We can see how it might be helpful to those truckers trying to understand the tie-downs they need to maintain compliance.

Cargo Control Checklist

Underneath the WLL information is a checklist that asks drivers five basic questions. Those questions are as follows:

•Have you covered 50% of the weight of the load?
•Have you covered the length of the load?
•Have you determined if there is a specific commodity item?
•Are there any edge protection violations?
•Is the load prevented from shifting during transport?

We do not claim to know what all that means, but we trust truckers do. If there are any questions, the trooper who put the cheat sheet together went to the trouble of including the specific regulations pertaining to all five questions. There is no reason any trucker should use this checklist as intended and still get it wrong.

Kudos to the Indiana state trooper who did the work in preparing this cargo control cheat sheet. We hope it turns out to be a very useful tool to flatbed truckers. Heaven knows they could use as much help as they can get to maintain cargo control compliance.

For our part, we are here to supply truckers with the chains, straps, binders, and any other equipment they need to secure their cargo for transit. We offer high-quality products at great prices.


How Headache Racks Save Lives

A good-looking headache rack polished to brilliant perfection can make any tractor look like a million dollars. After all, what’s more attractive on a truck than lots of clean and polished chrome? That said, headache racks are not really intended to be showpieces. They provide a vital function. Indeed, headache racks save lives.

No one is really sure where the term ‘headache rack’ comes from. Some say it is so named because it prevents head injuries to flatbed drivers should cargo break loose and slam into the back of the tractor. Others say the name comes from the tendency of truck drivers to hit their heads on the racks when hooking and unhooking trailers.

Regardless of the origins of the name, the point of the headache rack is to protect the back of the tractor from shifting cargo. A headache rack can be nothing more than a steel plate welded to the frame of the truck in just the right position. However, it can also be much more. Headache racks can include cabinets and hooks that increase a tractor’s storage capacity.

Death Mere Inches Away

Neither federal nor state law requires tractors to be fitted with headache racks. Drivers are free to use trailer bulkheads or extra tiedown straps to secure cargo in the absence of a headache rack. Still, a headache rack is a very good idea for any tractor the tows flatbed trailers.

Take the 2014 case of a truck carrying steel girders through Tualatin, Oregon. The truck was cut off by another tractor-trailer, forcing the driver to slam on the brakes. At that very moment, he heard the sound of screeching metal. Knowing what was about to happen, the driver ducked down and hoped he would live to tell the story.

Thankfully, he did. A steel girder crashed through the right side of the cab, missing the driver by mere inches. The truck was not equipped with a headache rack. For that driver, death was just inches away; just a few inches to the left side and that would have been it.

A Headache Rack for Every Truck

One of the best things about headache racks is that there is one for every truck. The racks Mytee Products sells are standard sizes and can be fitted to almost any tractor. But even if none of the models work for your truck, you’re not out of luck. You could have a custom headache rack built just for your rig. You could buy one of our racks and have it modified to meet your needs.

Here’s something else to consider: not all headache racks are designed only to protect the back of the truck. There are cab-over models that can protect the occupants in the event of a rollover. You don’t see these kinds of headache racks on tractor trailers, but they are common for utility vehicles.

A case in point is a truck operated by firefighters fighting a blaze in Colorado earlier this year. The truck was essentially a heavy-duty pickup truck with specialized equipment mounted on the back. Its headache rack covered both the back of the cab and the top of the truck.

While traveling a mountain road thick with smoke, one of the front tires left the roadway and sent the truck plunging down a ravine. Though the vehicle was all but totaled, both driver and passengers walked away from the accident with only minor scrapes, scratches, and bruises.

Headache racks sure do look fine when cleaned and polished. But they also save lives. Which is more important in the long run?

 


Ag Tire Life Is Ultimately About Air Pressure

Tractor and wagon tires take an awful lot of punishment on the farm. They are some of the toughest pieces of equipment farmers own. Surprisingly though, the most important factor determining tire life is not the work tires do or the conditions they are subject to. No, ag tire life is ultimately about air pressure.

Rubber casings and steel belts obviously play a significant role in tractor and wagon tire performance. But casings and belts are really just a house for air. It is the air inside the tires that supports the weight of a tractor or wagon. It is the air that gives an otherwise soft tire its solid structure. Maintaining correct tire pressure maximizes life; not maintaining pressure reduces life. It is all pretty simple.

Tire Pressure During Winter

Your average tractor owner knows enough to check tire pressure during the spring, summer, and fall. After all, the owner is using the tractor just about every day. It is winter that causes the most problems for tire pressure. Tractors and wagons put in storage can be forgotten until the snow melts and the ice thaws. That’s a mistake.

A good rule of thumb is to check tractor and wagon tires at least twice a week over the winter. Note that temperature plays a crucial role in tire pressure. As temperatures fall, so does tire pressure. It goes back up as the temperature rises. What does this tell you? It tells you that prolonged periods of sustained cold could make your tires soft enough to affect both tread and sidewall. Air should be added when temperatures begin to rise.

It is interesting that tractor tires do not hold a lot of air to begin with. Anywhere from 20 to 35 pounds is normal. In terms of cold temperatures though, tractor tires tend to lose a pound of pressure per square inch for every 10° the temperature falls. The time of biggest concern is that the point of the first cold snap of the season.

Liquid Filled Tires

There are times when tractor and wagon owners decide to fill their tires with fluid to keep them in better shape for the winter. That’s not a bad idea for preserving sidewalls and maintaining a good footprint. Yet tires should never be filled with water. Water expands when it freezes, which could be hazardous for tractor and wagon tires.

Experts recommend being very careful when buying used tires from warm weather climates. Let’s say you are buying tires from Florida or Southern California, where freezing is near impossible. The seller you are purchasing from may have filled tires with water, not even thinking about it. One hard freeze on your property in Ohio could mean big problems.

We Recommend New Tires

Here at Mytee Products, we understand that circumstances sometimes dictate purchasing used tires. We recommend buying new whenever possible. New tires are going to offer many more years of reliable service as long as they are taken care of. You never know how long used tires will last.

You might already be making plans to put your tractor and wagons away for the winter. In a couple of more weeks, you’ll be ready to set aside working in the field in favor of getting some of that back-office work done. Just remember that your tractor and wagon tires need to be maintained over the winter. Check air pressure at least twice a week. And if you are going to use liquid to fill your tires, make sure you use something that won’t freeze.