5 Interesting Things You Might Not Know About Wire Rope

Anyone looking for rigging supplies here on our website will find several varieties of wire rope to choose from. Wire rope is one of the primary materials for managing complicated lifts. It is preferred by experienced lift masters because of its strength and reliability.

As with most things in the Mytee inventory, there is more to wire rope than meets the eye. How it’s constructed, where it comes from, and many other aspects of wire rope remain hidden for the simple fact that there is really no need to know. We want to change that for our readers. To that end, there are five interesting things about wire rope you might not know, listed below.

1. It Was Preceded by Wrought Iron Chains

Before there was wire rope, lift masters and engineers relied on wrought iron chains to do the work. But as you might imagine, failure was a common problem with said chains. All it took was one bad link to create a disaster. So engineers had to find a replacement that was both up to the task and would greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic failure. They looked to the engineering of spiderwebs to eventually come up with the design we now know as wire rope.

2. A Helix Design Provides the Strength

One of the things engineers learned by studying spiderwebs is that a helix design offers incredible strength. The helix design starts with a single wire that acts as the core of the rope. Additional wires are then twisted around the core and fastened together. This design spreads the force of a load across multiple wires instead of a single link of chain.

3. The Helix Also Limits Failure

If there is one flaw to the helix design, it is the fact that the individual wires that make up a rope can wear out over time due to friction. But it is not a big deal for the most part. Why? Because individual wire strands rarely fail at the same time. Initial failure is generally limited to one, in which case the remaining wires are more than capable of carrying the load.

4. The First Wire Ropes Appeared in the 1830s

Historically speaking, the first wire ropes were manufactured to support mining operations in the 1830s. Lift masters in Germany used them to replace metal chains and hemp ropes. The first wire rope produced in the U.S. appeared in the early 1840s. Its purpose was to provide support for suspension bridges.

By the late 1840s wire rope was used heavily in the railroad industry for a variety of different purposes. That led to a number of manufacturing plants opening across United States producing wire rope in ever increasing volumes.

5. Wire Ropes Are Classified According to Use

Just like there is more than one way to construct a wire rope, said ropes are classified according to their use. There are four generally recognized classifications as follows:

1. Running Ropes – Stranded ropes used over sheaves and drums that will bend them.
2. Stationary Ropes – Spiral ropes capable of carrying fluctuating tensile forces.
3. Track Ropes – Fully locked ropes capable of handling the kinds of forces typical of crane lifting.
4. Wire Rope Slings – Stranded ropes used as harnesses for lifting.

So, how did you do? If you knew all five things mentioned in this post, you know more about wire rope than the average person. One last thing to know is that you can get the wire rope you need for your rigging jobs here at Mytee Products.


Safety Tips for Using Demolition Tarps

It used to be said that having to remove construction debris was a problem that was never adequately solved. Dumpsters were no doubt a workable solution, but they involve a lot of time, labor, and expense. Yet that is all people had access to until the invention of the demolition tarp.

Fans of demolition tarps say these are superior to dumpsters in a lot of different ways. We don’t know if that’s true, but we can say that demo tarps certainly have their place in the arena of construction and debris removal. They are effective, easy to deploy, and usually do not require permits.

Having said that, there are certain dangers associated with demolition tarps. A safety-first mindset demands that they be used in ways that minimize risks and protect workers. We recommend using demolition tarps with the same care and precision planning that goes into rigging and lifting. Below are a few tips for doing so.

Webbing Always Down

Demolition tarps are constructed with a combination of vinyl tarp material and a number of webbing straps. The straps perform the same function as the legs of a rigging sling: they provide underlying support for the material being lifted as well as providing the actual lifting points.

We say all that to say this: a demolition tarp should always be laid out with the webbing facing the ground. If you lay it out with the webbing face up, you lose the support of the straps during the lift. Material can break through an unsupported tarp or even cause the tarp itself to break loose from the webbing.

Never Overload

A demolition tarp only has a limited capacity. It should be marked on the tarp itself. If a tarp is brand-new and still in its packaging, its maximum weight capacity should be printed on the outside of the package as well. Pay attention to this number so that you do not overload the tarp.

Overloading a demolition tarp creates a dangerous situation that could be potentially harmful. Too much weight could split the tarp material, break one of the webbing straps, or even cause problems for the crane operator. Under no circumstances should you ever overload a demolition tarp, even by a few pounds.

Monitor Construction Debris

Next, monitor the construction debris that ends up being tossed into a demo tarp. Anything with sharp edges should either be blunted or disposed of in another way. As tough as demo tarps are, they are not completely immune from rips and tears. A piece of waste with a sharp edge could cut the tarp on lift, causing the entire thing to break open. Not only will you have a mess to clean up, but you will also have a demo tarp that cannot be used again.

Keep Clear

Just as would be the case loading cargo on the back of a flatbed trailer, lifting a full demolition tarp should never begin until the area is cleared. Anyone present at the time of the lift should be well away from the danger zone – just in case something goes wrong. You can never be too cautious by requiring workers to keep a distance of 20 feet or more.

Inspects Tarps Regularly

Finally, if you deploy reusable demo tarps, make sure to inspect them regularly. An inspection prior to each use reduces the risks of you accidentally deploying a tarp starting to show excessive wear. And if you do find one that’s showing wear, don’t take a chance. Demo tarps are cheap enough that it is worth replacing them at the first signs.


Grille Guards: Is Chrome or Black Better?

As grille guards are becoming more popular on big rigs, truckers are asking for advice on the best guard to buy. We frequently hear questions about finishes. Drivers want to know if a chrome-plated grille guard is better than one plated with black oxide. That depends on what you are after.

Grille guards are functional pieces of equipment first. They are intended to prevent damage to the front end of a truck in the event of contact with an animal, another vehicle, a guard rail, etc. Beyond function is aesthetic value. Some truckers install grille guards just because they look awesome. That’s okay.

The Chrome Grille Guard

A chrome grille guard will not perform measurably better than a black oxide guard for the most part. Black oxide finishes are a bit more ductile as compared to more brittle chrome, but the average trucker isn’t going to notice the difference. So why go with chrome? Aesthetics.

There is no denying that polished chrome is stunning. That’s why truckers whose rigs are mainly showpieces include as much chrome as they can fit on the body. You have chrome toolboxes, headache racks, exhaust, bumpers, and grille guards.

Although black oxide looks pretty slick in its own right, it doesn’t quite shine – literally or figuratively. That makes it an unpopular choice among showpiece owners. A possible exception are those owners hoping to achieve a different kind of look.

The Black Oxide Grille Guard

Black oxide is not as common an option for big rig grille guards as compared to those made for pickup trucks and jeeps. Nonetheless, you can still find them if you know where to look. Black oxide compliments trucks with dark colors like black, navy blue, and so forth. It doesn’t look so good on lighter colored trucks.

Just like chrome plating, black oxide is applied through a process that creates an electrical charge on the surface of the metal. The black oxide powder adheres to that surface due to an opposite charge. The two charges create a bond that is nearly impossible to break.

Black oxide is more resistant to chips and scratches than chrome, so that is something to think about. If the grille guard you choose is all about utility and nothing less, you cannot go wrong with either plating choice.

The Brushed Steel Grille Guard

We mentioned in the introduction of this post that deciding to go with chrome or black oxide is really a matter of determining what you are after. As such, it might be that neither one is your best choice. The best grille guard for you might be made of polished stainless steel.

Polished stainless steel is as durable and functional as chrome and black oxide plating. It looks darn good too. The best part is that it doesn’t require nearly the same level of maintenance as chrome. And it is even better than black oxide in terms of scratch and chip resistance.

The thing with polished stainless steel is that there is no exterior coating. That means it is not going to show chips a few minutes after installation. It is not going to tarnish as quickly or easily, either. So while you might be constantly polishing chrome to keep it looking good, there is significantly less work involved with polished stainless steel.

At the end of the day, there is no functional advantage to either of the three options. Whether you choose chrome, black oxide, or polished stainless steel really boils down to your aesthetic standards and how much effort you want to put into keeping your grille guard looking good.


Rigging 101: 3 Fundamental Questions about Shackles

Mytee Products carries a complete range of shackles as part of our rigging inventory. Customers use them to perform heavy lifts, particularly when loading unusual cargo onto flatbed trailers. We know how dangerous such lifts can be, which is why we do our best to encourage customers to adopt a safety-first mindset.

Where shackles are concerned, an important part of safety is thoroughly understanding what they are and how they work. There is not enough space in a single blog post to talk about shackles in detail, but we can offer a few basics. We have done so by way of three fundamental questions that we often hear from customers purchasing shackles for the first time.

 

What are the different kinds of shackles?

Shackles are defined by their shape and the pins they utilize. The purpose in classifying them this way stems from the fact that the shackle has two main paths through which energy travels: the main body and the pin.

In terms of shape, you are looking at anchor-style and chain-style shackles. The former is more circular in shape with the legs tapering toward the center of the shackle’s main body. The latter looks just like a chain link. For purposes of description, these kinds of shackles are sometimes referred to as D-shape shackles.

Pins can be either screw or bolt-type pins. A screw-type pin is just as its name suggests. It has a threaded end that is screwed into the opposite leg of the shackle after insertion. A bolt-type pin slips through both legs and is then secured by either a nut or cotter pin.

What are the biggest concerns when using shackles?

This question is usually born out of inexperience. It is a fair enough question and getting the right answers could mean the difference between a safe lift and an unnecessarily dangerous situation. From our perspective, here are the biggest concerns:

• Replacing manufacturer pins with generic bolts or unidentified pins. A replacement pin that is not strong enough can bend under load.
• Allowing shackles to be pulled at odd angles, thus allowing the legs to open. This could lead to a broken shackle.
• Mistakenly using deformed shackles or those with bent pins. Disaster awaits.
• Purposely forcing pins, or the shackles themselves, into position. This puts unnecessary stress on a shackle.
• Exceeding a 120° angle between multiple sling legs. This puts too much stress on sling and shackle alike.

Most of the concern over lifting with shackles relates to creating unsafe conditions by not using lifting equipment properly. The best way to avoid accidents is to thoroughly understand lifting principles and abide by all generally accepted safe lifting rules.

How often should shackles be inspected?

General guidelines say shackles should be inspected regularly. We prefer a more defined answer: inspect shackles prior to and after each lift. Shackles should be inspected for:

• pin hole elongation and wear
• any bending in the shackle body
• distortion, wear, fractures, or blemishes on pins
• pin straightness and seating
• any distortion in excess of 10% of a shackle’s original body shape.

It is always better to be safe than sorry where shackle inspections are concerned. Some normal wear and tear is expected over the life of a shackle, but wear and tear should not be enough to significantly alter the appearance or function of a shackle. The presence of any significant distortion is reason to discard a shackle.

We carry a variety of rigging equipment and supplies for your convenience. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions about our shackles, slings, etc.


How to Make Using an RV Cover Easier on Yourself

An RV or trailer cover is a tool used to protect your unit when it is parked and not in use. Like any tool, there are certain things you can do to make using an RV or trailer cover easier. There is no need to struggle with your cover every time you put it on or take it off.

Efficiency is the key with RV and trailer covers. Your goal is to do as little work as possible while still providing maximum protection for your RV or trailer. So just like a truck driver seeks to learn the most efficient way to use tarps to cover flatbed loads, you can make your life easier by learning the most efficient ways to use your RV cover. We have a few tips.

1. Clean Before You Cover

One of the reasons you are using an RV cover is to protect your unit against dirt, debris, mold, and mildew during the off-season. You will not get the best use out of your cover if you don’t wash your rig before you cover it. What’s worse, covering a dirty RV or trailer could mean you’ll be scrubbing it clean at the start of the next season.

It is almost always easier to wash an RV or trailer at the end of the season. So take a few hours and do a good cleaning and drying job. You will be glad you did when you uncover a clean, shiny RV in the spring.

2. Unpack on the Ground

Have you ever tried hauling your RV cover up to the top of your rig slung over your shoulder? It is hard work. Well, there is a better way. Unpack and unfold your cover on the ground rather than carrying it to the top of your rig. You can then connect a strap to one of the corner clips and gently hoist the cover up over your rig section by section. Just go slowly so you don’t catch the cover on something and tear it.

3. Enlist Some Help

Both cleaning and covering your RV is a lot easier when you have help. And guess what? That’s what family members and friends are for. Enlist some help to make the job easier – both at the end of the season and at the start of the new one. If need be, reward your helpers with a pizza and a cold one. It’s well worth the money you’ll spend to not break your back covering and uncovering your RV.

4. Store the Cover in a Garbage Tote

We assume you’ll want to store your cover during the RV season. You can work for hours trying to fold it into a nice, flat rectangle that fits nicely on the shelf – if you enjoy that sort of thing. But there’s a better way. Purchase a plastic garbage tote on wheels.

With a garbage tote, you don’t have to fold your cover up into a perfect rectangle. Fold it twice along the length, then just roll up into a tube. It should fit nicely into your tote along with your straps, cables, hooks, etc. As an added bonus, the garbage tote will keep the cover dry and protected against heat and sunlight.

You have invested in an RV or trailer cover because you want to protect your rig. It is a very wise decision. Do yourself a favor and protect your own physical health and mental sanity by deploying the four tips we discussed here. The more efficiently you use your RV cover, the happier you are going to be.