Rigging Basics: The Snatch Block

A typical rigging set up includes any number of components including blocks, hooks, chains, ropes, and slings. The snatch block is but one of those parts. Snatch blocks are usually manufactured with either shackles or hooks for connecting them with other parts of the rigging set up.

This post will discuss the basics of the snatch block. You will learn what snatch blocks are used for, how to use them safely, and so forth. We hope you will take a few minutes after reading this post to check out our entire inventory of rigging supplies.

Snatch Blocks and Winches

A snatch block is a very simple piece of equipment. Generally used with either a winch or boom, the snatch block is essentially a pulley with an accessible side plate that alleviates the need to thread rope or cable through the pulley. You may think this is not a big deal until you are presented with a piece of cable with a loop on the end; a loop you cannot thread through the pulley.

There are two purposes for including snatch blocks in a rigging set up. The first is to increase pulling power by distributing the weight of a load over more area. The second is to change the direction of the pull if necessary. A direction change can be accomplished by offsetting the anchor point of the snatch block in question.

Increasing Pulling Power

The first use of the snatch block is something you have probably observed more than once in your lifetime. Snatch blocks are added to a rigging set up in order to increase pulling power. The more blocks in the setup, the less power required to lift the load. However, the downside is that more blocks require more rope or chain.

The science behind this principle is actually quite simple. Introducing a block evenly distributes the force of the load being lifted. Rather than lifting dead weight, you are applying just enough force to carry the load along the pulley of the block. The block takes the remainder of the load on the other side. Adding additional blocks further reduces the needed lifting power by further distributing the load.

Changing Load Direction

A less common use of the snatch block is to change the direction of a pull. Let’s say you are a toll operator trying to recover a vehicle on the side of a busy highway. You might use a single block along with two chains to pull the vehicle up. But what if you also wanted to pull it out?

You could use a second snatch block with an offset position to accomplish just that. By carefully placing your snatch blocks in the right position, you can lift the car both up and out at the same time.

Using Blocks Matches Safely

As with all things rigging, safety is a top priority with snatch blocks. The first thing is knowing where to place them within the rigging set up to ensure maximum efficiency with the least amount of risk. Suffice it to say that it does matter where blocks are placed.

Second is knowing the working load limits of each block in your configuration. Blocks have to be capable of sustaining the load being placed on them, so it’s not good enough to merely guess.

Finally safety requires understanding the direction a load will be pulled in based on block configuration. It is a lot like understanding the direction a tree will fall as you cut it. Safely using snatch blocks means planning ahead of time so that your load moves in its intended direction.


How a Grille guard Helps Protect Your Truck

The laws of probability dictate that professional truck drivers have a greater chance of being involved in collisions than your typical driver. More miles increase your chances of being in an accident. It is just that simple. As such, a grille guard is a nice piece of kit you can install on the front of your truck to protect it in the event of a low-speed collision with an animal, another car, etc.

Suffice it to say that grille guards are not merely cosmetic accents. They serve a functional purpose as well. The goal of this post is to introduce you to that functional purpose by way of physics. In short, let’s discuss how a grille guard actually helps protect the front of your truck.

Uni-Body Versus Frame-on-Body

There are two ways to construct the frame of a vehicle. Uni-body construction combines both car body and frame in a single package that is often compared to the exoskeleton of a lobster. Frame-on-body construction creates two separate components: a strong steel frame and a body that goes on top.

Your truck was manufactured according to the frame-non-body concept. Its heavy-duty frame is much tougher than the softer body panels that make up the exterior of your rig. The idea behind the grille guard is to protect those softer body panels by taking advantage of the strength of the frame. It works based on the physics of energy transfer.

Transferring Energy to the Frame

In the absence of a grille guard, the energy involved in a collision with a deer would be transferred directly to the softer body panels. Those body panels would crumple as the energy of the impact is transferred from the animal to them. Putting a grille guard between the animal and the body panels changes the game.

Grille guards are attached directly to truck frames in order to facilitate the proper transfer of energy. In the event of a collision, the energy of that collision travels through the grille guard and down into the frame by way of the connection points. The frame is better able to withstand the impact as energy dissipates throughout its entire surface.

Successful energy transfer is key here. Why? Because one of the fundamental rules of physics dictates that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred. You see, it is the transfer of energy that causes the damage sustained during a collision. Transferring energy away from softer panels and to stronger frame components dissipates the energy and reduces impact damage.

Proper Fit is Crucial

The grille guards we sell are specific to different truck makes and models. There is a reason for this. It’s not just because truck bodies come in different shapes and sizes. It is because frames are different. If you want maximum energy transfer during a collision, your grille guard has to be fitted properly to the frame. It has to be designed with the truck’s frame in mind. This is why a one-size-fits-all grille guard is not a good idea.

It is also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a grille guard. While it might be easier to cut corners, you may not get maximum energy transfer if you do things your own way. On the other hand, installing a grille guard according to its instructions results in the best protection.

Do you have a grille guard on your truck? If not, you are one accident away from an expensive repair bill. We hope you’ll take to heart what you’ve learned here about physics and invest in one.


What You Should Know About RV Covers and Resale Value

Do you own a motorhome or camping trailer? If so, how would you determine the price if you decided to put it up for sale? A lot of people use something like the Kelly Blue Book or NADA Guide, but is that the best way to go? Maybe not. To understand why, we will talk about RV covers and how they affect resale value.

Official guides can give you a baseline to start with. But the people who write those guides have never seen your RV. They haven’t seen the RVs of any owners who might use their guides to determine price. So how do they come up with their numbers? The estimate value based on best case scenarios.

The problem is that there are a lot of different things that can affect resale value. In the end, the true value of a used RV is what someone else is willing to pay for it. If the market will only support a price of $20,000 for unit, you are wasting your time listing it for $35,000. What the market is willing to pay is the actual value.

Value and Overall Condition

With that understood, let us get to RV covers and how they affect resale value. After mileage, the second most important thing buyers tend to look at is the overall condition of an RV. And when you are talking overall condition, understand that the first thing any buyer is going to see is the exterior. It is no different than buying and selling houses.

If the exterior of your RV is in pretty poor condition, it will create a perception in the buyer’s mind that suggests the rest of the RV is in poor condition – even if it’s not. The interior could be pristine; the mechanics could be sound; the engine could be meticulously maintained. But if a buyer sees a faded finish and dried out seals around the windows, the value of your unit could fall by thousands in his mind.

What the Buyer Cannot See

The other thing to consider is that there are things a buyer cannot see without a detailed inspection, things that could be influenced by how you store the unit when it isn’t being used. For example, consider the air-conditioning unit on the roof.

Assuming your RV is stored with a cover, you are keeping the sun and other elements at bay while your unit is in storage. If it’s left uncovered, the air-conditioner spends every off-season exposed to sun, wind, precipitation, and perhaps even the winter freeze-thaw cycle. The inside of the air-conditioner could be prematurely worn due to this exposure.

The fact remains that RV covers protect the units underneath from the elements. They also protect against dirt, airborne debris, animals, and other not so kind forces. Covering your RV protects it against things that could harm it both aesthetically and mechanically.

Maintain Your RV’s Resale Value

When it all comes down to it, the reality is that RV covers help to maintain the value of motorhomes and camping trailers. It’s a lot like storing a classic car in the garage and keeping it covered when not in use. The more you can do to keep the car from exposure to things that can harm it, the more valuable that car will be on the open market. The same is true for your motorhome or trailer.

It is worth the investment in a good RV cover if you intend to sell your RV someday. It will more than pay for itself when it comes time to negotiate price.


Used Parachutes or New Parachute Fabric Tarps?

Not long ago we ran across a post asking opinions about purchasing old parachutes from an army surplus store and converting them into truck tarps. The poster wanted to know if it was a good idea and, if so, what drawbacks there might be.

So, is it okay to convert used parachutes into truck tarps, or should you buy new parachute fabric tarps from a company like Mytee? Sure, it’s okay. But there are some definite benefits to going new instead of trying to cobble together a few old parachutes just to save some money.

Fabric Weight

As far as the weight of the parachute fabric is concerned, it is a wash whether you utilize used parachutes or buy new tarps. Parachute fabric is generally ripstop nylon of very low weight. That’s what you want for your truck tarps anyway. A 1-ounce parachute fabric is the same weight whether it is found in a used parachute or a new truck tarp.

Water Resistance

Depending on how the parachute was used during its normal life, the fabric may or may not have been treated for water resistance. This matters to truckers for the simple fact that standing water will almost always leak through parachute fabric at some point. That is why even new parachute fabric tarps purchased from Mytee are constructed only with parachute fabric on the sides, back, and front. Manufacturers use a standard vinyl material on the top to keep water out.

Even if you were to construct a few truck tarps out of used parachutes, you would have to do something about the top. So that means purchasing vinyl tarp material or utilizing discarded tarps with enough usable fabric. Is it worth the trouble?

Durability

Another thing to consider is durability. You can bet that the seams on both your used parachutes and new tarps are going to be pretty strong. But if you’re making your own tarps, you will be sewing multiple pieces of fabric together. Can you make the seams strong enough to withstand the punishment of the open road?

If you own a commercial sewing machine that is up to the task, you have nothing to worry about. But we suspect most truck drivers are not equipped with that kind of machinery. As such, constructing your own tarps is risky business. You’re probably better off buying new parachute tarps instead.

Usable Life

One last consideration is the usable life of homemade tarps. Unless you find used parachutes in excellent condition and you have the right equipment to construct your tarps, they are probably not going to last as long as professionally made tarps. So while you may save money in the short term, you’ll probably spend more over the long term simply because you have to replace your tarps more often.

New is a Better Choice

We understand the trucker’s desire to save money wherever possible. These days, margins are tight for both carriers and independent contractors alike. Unfortunately, attempting to save money by skimping on tarps is one of the worst decisions a trucker can make.

It is our belief that going new is the better choice. Brand-new tarps are constructed by industry professionals who know what they are doing. The products they make are intended to last, offering years of reliable service under all kinds of driving and weather conditions. Should you opt to make your own tarps of used parachutes instead, you’re probably not going to get the same kind of quality.


Cohesion and Adhesion: The Chemistry of Drip Diverters

There are some people in this world who like to explore beyond the basic or expected functions of any object. They want to know how and why it works as well. If you belong in that specific group of knowledge seekers, we want to talk to you about drip diverter tarps. Also known more simply as drip diverters, these are small vinyl tarps that are deployed to divert water away from sensitive areas.

We have customers who buy drip diverters to protect hay or equipment stored in a barn with a leaky roof. We have sold them to commercial property owners looking to protect sensitive equipment while maintenance crews are trying to figure out why an air-conditioning unit is leaking. We have even sold them to truck drivers dealing with leaky trailers and sleeper cabs.

In terms of the science behind what makes drip diverters effective for task, it is all about chemistry. In fact, it is all based on two properties that water possesses: cohesion and adhesion. If not for these two properties, a drip diverter tarp would be a useless piece of vinyl suspended from the ceiling.

Water Molecules and Cohesion

In chemistry, the property of cohesion is the ability of identical molecules to attract one another. One water molecule sticks to another water molecule to form a drop because of this property. Indeed, cohesion is what makes a water drop a drop.

Water’s cohesive properties are found in the way the two hydrogen atoms are aligned in relation to the single oxygen atom. Opposite charges keep the molecule together. As an added bonus, those same charges also attract other water molecules. Why does this matter when using drip diverters? Because it is cohesion, combined with gravity, that causes water to run off a drip diverter.

Gravity begins the process before cohesion takes over. It is a lot like a siphon. Once water molecules start flowing out of the drip diverter and down its tubing, each water molecule flowing in a downward motion pulls other molecules along with it. This is what prevents water from pooling inside the diverter.

Water Molecules and Adhesion

In chemistry, the property of adhesion is the ability of different molecules to attract one another. Have you ever seen a drop of water stuck to the edge of a pine needle? That happens because the surface of the water is attracted to the surface of the pine needle due to the alignment of electrical charges. That is adhesion. The two surfaces attract one another.

Adhesion plays a role in drip diverters inasmuch as water does not adhere to vinyl tarp material as well as it does to other surfaces. In fact, water tends to bead up and run off as long as there is an outlet. That’s because the cohesive bond between water molecules is stronger than the adhesive bond between water and vinyl.

This is not to say that water does not adhere to vinyl surfaces. It can and does. It’s just that it is not so easy. Compare vinyl to other fabrics – like cotton. Water will run off vinyl a lot more readily than it will cotton. In fact, the adhesion between water and cotton is such that a cotton cloth will absorb more water than it repels.

Now you know how cohesion and adhesion work together to make drip diverter tarps useful. Isn’t science fascinating? Perhaps you don’t care, and that’s okay. The most important take away here is that Mytee Products carries drip diverters. If you need to temporarily divert water away from something until permanent repairs can be affected, a drip diverter is one option.