More from: Auto Hauling

10 Things (Other Than Tools) to Keep in Your Toolbox

Aluminum toolboxes are part and parcel to working in the trucking industry. They are especially important to flatbed truckers who are ultimately responsible for maintaining their trailers and protecting cargo. That’s why you see flatbed truckers having multiple toolboxes mounted on their tractors, headache racks, and even their trailers.

So what do they keep in those toolboxes? If you’re a veteran truck drive, you already know the contents of those boxes. However, If you are new to the industry, it may take you a while to assemble everything you want to have with you on board. In this post, we’ve put together a list of things to help get you started. Each of these items might miss your checklist until you actually need them.

1. Spare Headlamps

It is illegal for you to run your truck in the dark without both headlamps functioning properly. Driving down the road as a ‘one-eyed bandit’ is a good way to get yourself pulled over and subjected to a roadside inspection. You can minimize such risks by carrying one or two spare headlamps at all times. It only takes a few minutes to change one.

2. Assorted Bulbs

Along with your headlamps, you should have an adequate selection of miscellaneous bulbs on hand. That way you always have a replacement when any of your lights go out. Have whatever sizes you need to accommodate taillights, running lights, trailer lights, etc.

3. Spare Parts

Owner-operators tend to carry a larger selection spare parts to keep themselves rolling. Examples include a spare alternator, pulleys and belts, air boots, filters, and the like. Any parts that tend to have a need for frequent replacement and can be handled on the road would be candidates for your toolbox.

4. Extra Fluids

It goes without saying that the trucker should have extra fluids in his or her toolboxes. This includes motor oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluid.

5. Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Your truck’s electrical system is not going to function properly if there’s a failure in one of the fuses or circuit breakers. Not only should you carry an ample supply in your toolbox but you should learn how to quickly identify which fuses and circuit breakers match the various electrical systems on your rig. The faster you can change them, the faster you can get back on the road.

6. Flares or Emergency Flasher

Breaking down on the side of the road at night can be a dangerous situation. To increase your safety, carry flares or an electric flasher or to save up on space a flare and flashlight combo in your toolbox.

7. An Assortment of Fasteners

You know that old coffee can full of nuts and bolts your grandfather used to keep on his tool bench? You should keep a similar can in your toolbox. An assortment of fasteners – including zip ties – will prove to be a lifesaver many times over the course of your career.

8. Extra Bungee Cords

Every flatbed trucker uses bungee cords to tie down tarps. Most of the time, those cords are kept in a single location so they can be found easily. Keep a spare pack of 50 in the bottom of your toolbox to guarantee you will never run out. There’s nothing worse than falling a couple of bungee cords short of a load.

9. Heavy-Duty Flashlight

A flexible, plastic flashlight is good for most emergencies. Still, keep a heavy-duty flashlight in your toolbox just in case your cheap plastic model fails.

10. Tire Thumper

Last but not least is the trusty tire thumper. The tire thumper represents a quick and easy way to check tire inflation on the go.


What It Takes to Be a Good Tow-Truck Operator

On any given day throughout the country, an army of tow-truck operators takes to the roads with a single mission of helping stranded motorists recover their cars. It is often a thankless job that does not get enough attention when folks are talking about career options. Nonetheless, tow-truck operators contribute to the fabric of the U.S. economy by providing a very valuable service.

 

tow-truck

What you may not know is that being a good tow-truck operator requires more than just knowing how to load a car onto a flatbed or hook it with a tow bar. It also requires the right equipment. It requires knowing how to use that equipment within a variety of  towing and recovery scenarios.

Towing and Recovery Equipment

There are many kinds of jobs that fall under the towing and recovery banner. The most common jobs involve towing broken down cars to the garage for repairs. Drivers need a full box of tools and auto towing and hauling equipment, such as:

  • Chain bridles with J-hooks
  • Long shank J-hooks
  • Tow chain clusters
  • Cluster hooks
  • Safety chains

Using any of the items listed above requires a good understanding of working load limits (WLL). Pieces should be stamped with a WLL, which should not be exceeded. Experienced tow drivers know that WLL can be maxed out when you are talking about securing a stationary vehicle for transport. The same cannot be said during a recovery operation when pulling a vehicle out of a ditch or through a snow drift adds to the load. A general rule dictates you need more equipment with higher WLLs for recovery than for transport.

Transport Equipment

In the arena of vehicle transport, there are multiple scenarios to account for, each with a unique equipment list. A tow operator may be hauling a wrecked vehicle on a flatbed or with a tow bar, and have no real need to protect the car due to it being a total loss. Then there are repossessions and basic transport of classic or exotic cars.

Other than hauling wrecks, vehicle transport is undertaken with the knowledge that the operator must deliver the vehicle in the same condition it was in at pick-up. Drivers use a variety of thing, including:

  • Tire straps with J-hooks
  • Side mount wheel nets
  • Axle straps with snap hooks
  • Cluster ratchet straps
  • Winch straps
  • Grab hooks

Like with towing and recovery, WLLs have to be part of the equation when securing a vehicle for transport. Additionally, tow operators need to know how to hook and secure cars without damaging anything underneath. This is not as easy as it sounds. One car may be okay with grab hooks on the axles and straps around the tires, while another should never have anything on the axles.

It should be clear that the best equipment in the business is only as good as a driver’s knowledge of how to use it. Therefore, the last thing the tow driver needs to be very good at what he or she does is a strong knowledge of how to use every tool in his or her box in the best way possible.

A good tow truck operator is like an engineer. He or she understands the mechanics, he/she has the tools, and he/she knows how to apply both to get the job done. Mytee Products is honored to be able to serve America’s tow-truck operators with a full line of auto towing supplies. We have everything tow truck operators need for towing, recovery, and transport – from chains to hooks to auto hauling straps.

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That Moment When Towing Chains and Hooks Are Your Best Friend

It is probably safe to say that we know very little about the daily job of a tow-truck operator. Sure, we know they drive trucks capable of getting us out of a jam in inclement weather or after an accident, but we don’t know much more than that. It’s also safe to say that we don’t know much about the towing chains, hooks and most auto hauling equipment truck operators invest in.

hooks-chains

Every profession has its ‘tools of the trade’, and towing is no different. Towing chains and hooks are among the many tools of the towing industry. You might even make the case that they are the most important tools. Without them, it would be impossible to tow a vehicle behind a truck, secure it on a flatbed, or even pull it out of the ditch. It is no stretch to say that the towing chain and hook have been a motorist’s best friend on more than one occasion.

Wherever There Is Bad Weather

Retrieving a broken-down car from a department store parking lot or a residential driveway is the easy part of towing. The hard part is heading out onto the interstate to recover vehicles lost in bad weather. No one knows this better than the tow-truck drivers of California. Wherever there is bad weather, you’ll see an army of dedicated drivers recovering vehicles in all kinds of conditions.

California’s recent weather has been all about torrential rains. After suffering through years of extended drought, it looks like Mother Nature is looking to make up the Golden State’s water deficit in one fell swoop. Motorists are paying the price.

One late January storm was significant enough to cause California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for several counties. The governor’s action proved wise. Between flash flooding, mudslides, downed trees and power lines, and a seemingly endless list of closed roadways, it was hard to get around during the storm. But the weather didn’t stop the tow truck operators.

With towing chains and hooks on board, the men and women of California’s towing industry hit the streets in an effort to help stranded motorists. Some cars were pulled out of ditches while others were rescued from raging floodwaters. It was all in a day’s work for the tow operators.

Sometimes Tow Trucks Need Help

That moment when towing chains and hooks are your best friend doesn’t apply only to stranded motorists. For example, parts of California were hit with a late December snowstorm that caused Caltrans to close state Route 38 near Big Bear.

Chains are required on all vehicles driving through this mountainous region of Southern California during the winter, but that particular night saw chains snap on multiple vehicles that were subsequently stranded. The snow was so deep and difficult that even three tow trucks got stuck trying to help. It was quite a scene.

The point to all of this, is that we average motorists rely a lot more on tow truck operators than we realize. Whenever there’s a breakdown or a stranded or wrecked vehicle, it is the tow operator who comes to the rescue. We rely on them just as they rely on their towing chains and hooks to get the job done.

If you are a tow-truck operator, you deserve our thanks and appreciation. Mytee Products invites you to browse our selection of tow chains, hooks, and other supplies for your operation. All our towing equipment is manufactured to the highest possible standards. You’ll find our products tough, reliable, and fairly priced.

Sources:

1. KTLA – http://ktla.com/2017/01/23/showers-to-continue-monday-after-weekend-downpours-break-records-prompt-evacuations/
2. KTLA – http://ktla.com/2016/12/24/more-than-100-cars-3-tow-trucks-stuck-in-snow-near-big-bear-on-state-route-38-road-closed/

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Auto Hauling: A Very Different Kind of Trucking

What is the most lucrative form of trucking? Is it dry goods or reefers? Or maybe it’s flatbed trucking. Perhaps the most lucrative way to make a living as a truck driver is hauling flammable or hazardous materials. The point here is that the definition of ‘lucrative’ has more to do with preference than anything else. Having said that, auto hauling deserves some consideration. If not the most lucrative, it is certainly a very different kind of trucking.

hauling

Auto haulers come in all shapes and sizes, as it were. There are employed truck drivers working for companies that specialize in carrying cars from distribution centers to local dealerships. There are independent operators who carry used cars from wholesalers in the South to small dealers in the North. There are even truck drivers who specialize in moving luxury and classic cars.

Auto hauling is very different for a number of reasons. From the equipment to the necessary skills, it is a career a lot of drivers aspire to but never attain. Here’s what makes auto hauling so different:

The Equipment

First and foremost is the equipment necessary for this kind of work. The owner-operator starts with a custom rig. Believe it or not, trucks and trailers for auto hauling have to be matched. You cannot just use any auto trailer on the back of any tractor. As a result, auto hauling rigs are significantly more expensive.

Next, owner-operators have to have a pretty significant supply of auto hauling equipment including hooks, shackles, rope clips, straps, and chains. There may not be any other form of trucking that requires so many pieces of equipment for a single run.

The Skill

Auto hauling is very different in terms of the skills a driver needs. What so many do not realize is that cars have to be loaded and secured in a certain way in order to prevent damage on the road. But loading and securing is not necessarily a cookie-cutter operation. Auto haulers have to account for different makes and models, different weights, potential weather conditions, and more.

Skill also comes into play on the actual journey. Drivers need to take a little bit of extra care due to the precious value of their cargo, especially when they are hauling expensive luxury or classic cars. They should be careful about accelerating and braking; they have to be careful about cornering; they need to be extremely cautious in bad weather.

The Experience

Just about every sector of the truck driving industry is affected by the conundrum of companies only wanting experienced drivers but new drivers not being able to get experience because they can’t find a job. Nowhere is this conundrum more prevalent than in auto hauling. Because auto hauling is so much more involved than simply applying some hooks and shackles, haulers almost always insist their new drivers have at least a couple of years under their belts – even if that time was spent hauling something else.

Drivers with extensive flatbed experience typically have an easier time breaking into auto hauling because they are already experienced with securing loads. They have used things such as hooks, chains and straps for cargo control. Suffice it to say that owner-operators who want to get into auto hauling have to work for it.

Here at Mytee Products, we are acutely aware of what it takes to be a successful auto hauler. We want to do our part by maintaining a solid inventory of auto hauling supplies for America’s owner-operators. From shackles and rope clips to auto hauling straps, we have everything the owner-operator needs.


What Is a Grade 70 Towing Chain?

We recently took the decision to include auto hauling equipment to our product line. We are now in the process of building a solid inventory of auto hauling supplies to include chains, auto hauling straps, J hooks, winches and more. One of the items we already carry is the G70 tow chain. In this post, we will explain what the chain is used for and what the grade 70 designation means.

For starters, a tow chain in the 21st century is not used in the same way tow chains were deployed 30 or 40 years ago. A standard tow chain is not meant to be the primary means of securing a vehicle to a wheel lift or flatbed tow truck. It is intended to be a safety attachment to prevent a vehicle from being completely separated from its tow vehicle in the event the primary attachment fails or becomes detached.

G70

On a wheel lift tow truck, for example, the G70 tow chain is attached to the frame of the car being recovered after the car has already been secured to the hydraulic dolly with auto hauling straps. The tow operator may use axle or tire straps to tightly secure the vehicle. The tow chain is added as a secondary safety device. In the event of primary attachment failure, the tow chain allows for a safe and controlled stop.

Chain Grading

The G70 designation signifies that a tow chain’s tensile strength is rated at 70. A tow chain may be marked with a 7, 70, or even 700 to signify the G70 grade. With that out of the way, let us talk tensile strength for any of our readers who might not understand what that means.

Tensile strength is the maximum amount of force a chain can withstand before breaking. It is also known as break strength. The higher the grade, the greater the tensile strength of the material in question. Where tow chains are concerned, tensile strength is heavily influenced by the volume of carbon in the steel. A lower tensile strength indicates a lower carbon volume.

A typical G70 towing chain possesses enough tensile strength to safely handle a car in the event a tow truck’s primary attachment fails. But G70 chain is not strong enough for overhead lifting. This is why these chains are designated for towing rather than lifting and rigging.

Link Size and Finish

Industrial chains also come with labels indicating the chain-link size and finish. This is not necessarily important to tow truck operators, but we will discuss both just for information’s sake.

Chain-link size deals with the elongated size of each individual link. Chains with longer links might be more useful in some flatbed auto hauling applications because they make it easier to attach shackle bolts anywhere along the length. Chains with smaller links may limit shackle bolts to the ends.

As for the finish, one option is hot dipped galvanized steel. Hot dip galvanization is a process that creates chain capable of withstanding a variety of conditions, including exposure to road salt. Stainless steel and zinc-plated gold chromate finishes are additional choices for tow operators.

Now you know the basics of the G70 towing chain.  Mytee Products carries an excellent G70 safety chain manufactured by Ancra, in two different sizes. It has a working load limit of 4700-6600 pounds and conforms to ASABE and NACM standards.

For all your professional towing needs, Mytee is your leading supplier. Please contact us for anything you need, even if you do not see it on our inventory list.