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More from: flatbed tarps
Vinyl tends to be the material of choice for truckers in need of new tarps. It is an ideal material for flatbed truck tarps because it is lightweight, rugged, and extremely flexible. However, there are times when vinyl might not be the tarp of choice. These are times when truckers need canvas tarps. The good news is that Mytee Products carries a selection of canvas tarps to suit every driver’s needs.
Canvas tarps are ideal for certain kinds of loads because they are breathable and less abrasive. Experienced flatbed truckers will keep at least a few on board at all times. The objective of this post is to familiarize you with some of the key aspects of canvas tarps so that you are better informed when it comes time to buy.
Here are five things you need to know:
1. There Are Different Grades
Like vinyl flatbed truck tarps, canvas tarps come in various grades from light to heavy duty. Heavy-duty canvas tarps are ideal for industrial environments where loads can be exposed to harsh conditions, including certain kinds of chemicals and extremes of either hot or cold. Heavy-duty canvas is usually not something the average trucker needs, but it is out there for those who want it.
2. Waterproof Versus Water-Resistant: There Is a Difference
When you look at the canvas tarps in our inventory, you will notice that they are water-resistant. After manufacture, the material is coated with wax to help repel moisture. However, the material is not 100% waterproof. This is by design. The whole point of using canvas is that it is a breathable material. If it’s made waterproof, it loses much of that breathability. If you absolutely do need a waterproof canvas tarp, they can be specially ordered.
3. Canvas Is Complementary to Vinyl
This third point may be the most important of the five: canvas is intended to complement vinyl, not replace it. In simple terms, the average flatbed trucker needs a complete selection of vinyl flatbed truck tarps to be able to cover just about any kind of load. Canvas is a material that is not suitable in all situations. So it’s a good idea to have a few canvas tarps on board for when you need them, but maintain a larger selection of vinyl tarps for most work.
4. Canvas Requires a Bit More Care
Canvas is not the primary material choice for truck tarps because it requires a bit more care than vinyl. Let’s face it; every flatbed truck driver knows he or she doesn’t have to pamper his/her vinyl tarps to keep them in good condition. Vinyl can withstand a lot of punishment. Canvas, though, is another matter. Canvas tarps are easier to tear and are more prone to mold growth. So while you don’t have to handle them with white gloves, you do have to be more deliberate about applying a canvas tarp and be very careful to make sure it’s completely dry prior to folding.
5. Canvas Is Excellent for Equipment Loads
The most common load hauled with a canvas tarp is an equipment load. Canvas is an ideal material for hauling construction and farm equipment, industrial equipment, and the like. Canvas is also flame-retardant. This makes it a safer option in some environments where combustible materials are in proximity.
Every independent trucker should have at least a few canvas flatbed truck tarps in the toolbox. You never know when a load calling for canvas will come up. Having a few on board means that the trucker will always be ready to go when any such loads are available.
Flatbed trailers are used to haul loads that do not fit well in dry goods vans. Consequently, cargo on the back of a flatbed trailer does not enjoy the same protection offered by four walls and a roof. Drivers have to take the responsibility of protecting cargo themselves, using truck tarps and other cargo control supplies to protect what they are hauling.
The most common flatbed loads in the industry are:
- Construction equipment
- Finished machinery
- Lumber and construction materials
- Steel coil and tubing
- Mining and drilling equipment
- Auto parts.
Construction equipment generally needs no protection as long as you consider machinery that is built to be out in the weather. Backhoes, loaders, and the like can simply be secured to the trailer and taken where they need to go. The same is true for most pieces of mining and drilling equipment. However, just about everything else needs to be covered and protected in some way.
Finished machinery loads which include CNC machines, boilers, and industrial air conditioning units, must be covered to prevent damage from road debris and the elements. The best way to do this is with rectangular machinery tarps that provide full coverage across the top and all sides. As an added bonus, machinery tarps tend to be the most versatile. They can be used with the widest range of loads.
Lumber and Construction Materials
Finished lumber and construction materials usually have to be covered with tarps even if shippers have covered them in plastic. Lumber tarps are the perfect tool as they are designed with flaps so as to cover the entire load – even in the rear. The only thing to watch out for with lumber tarps is that applying them can take longer so it would be best to have another set hands to help cover the lumber load.
Steel Coil and Tubing
Flatbed truckers know that steel coil and tubing comes in many different sizes and configurations. A trucker might haul four or six spools of steel coil on one run, then turn around and carry industrial-grade tubing laid flat across the length of the trailer for the next job.
Steel tarps are the best option for these kinds of loads. They come in multiple sizes, and their rectangular shape makes it easier to cover loads regardless of the configuration. Tarps can go over the top of chains and winch straps or be secured underneath.
Deciding whether or not auto parts have to be covered depends on the shipper. New and used parts intended for installation will have to be protected from road debris and the elements; old parts destined for the scrap heap can usually make the journey uncovered. It has been our experience that standard machinery or steel tarps are the best choices for auto parts.
The Occasional Odd Load
Another thing flatbed truckers know is that there are those occasional odd loads that do not fit standards. For example, a trucker might have a trailer loaded with a combination of mining equipment and a vehicle for mine operations. The vehicle does not have to be covered, but the mining equipment does.
Odd loads require a bit of creativity from the drivers who carry them. It is up to the driver to figure out the best way to protect the cargo with tarps, straps, and other cargo control supplies. Drivers are always required to protect their loads no matter how odd these tend to be.
Mytee Products has everything flatbed truckers need to protect their cargo. Whether it’s steel, lumber or something completely out of the ordinary, we have the cargo control supplies you need to protect it.
Beacon lights are tools flatbed truck drivers can use to warn other drivers of potentially hazardous conditions. They are required for certain kinds of loads, such as oversize loads, for example, but drivers can use them to indicate any number of hazards. The type and number of beacon lights a driver chooses depends on the load being carried and the amount of danger it represents.
Manufacturers make beacon lights in three classes which are discussed below. Most modern products are made with LED bulbs to maximize both efficiency and illumination. If you are in need of beacon lights, Mytee Products carries an excellent selection for you to choose from.
Class 1 – The Strongest and Brightest
Class 1 beacon lights are the strongest and brightest of all three classes. These are the lights typically found on police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and so forth. Think of class 1 beacons as warning lights for the most hazardous situations. They are up to four times brighter than class 2 lights.
For flatbed truck drivers, class 1 beacons would be the ideal solution for extremely oversized or hazardous loads. At least one would be mounted on the tractor; two or more would be mounted on the trailer or the cargo itself. And, of course, any escort vehicles traveling with the tractor-trailer would be equipped with class 1 beacon lights as well.
Class 2 – Medium-Range Lighting
A typical class 2 beacon light is about twice as bright as a class 3 product. These lights are used for warning traffic at an intermediate range that potential hazards are present. They are the light most normally seen in road construction settings. They can be solid, rotating, or strobes.
Class 2 beacon lights in a trucking scenario would be used for hazardous loads that don’t necessarily qualify as being oversized. The driver wants to alert the public of the potential hazard, but other drivers do not necessarily have to be cognizant of the size of the load. Class 2 beacons are very helpful for timber loads, especially when driving in limited visibility.
Class 3 – Light Duty Beacons
Class 3 beacon lights are considered the light duty beacons for warning purposes. They are the least bright and normally not used by flatbed truckers for anything other than increasing visibility during inclement weather. More often than not, class 3 beacons are the domain of forklift trucks and small industrial vehicles. However, yard tractors may be fitted with them to increase safety in the freight yard.
Mounting Choices for Beacon Lights
Flatbed truckers who routinely haul oversize or hazardous loads will probably want to mount permanent beacon lights on their tractors. One or two on the roof and perhaps an additional light on the front bumper would be appropriate. Permanently mounted lights are not suitable for trailers due to load variations.
Here at Mytee Products, we carry beacon lights with magnetic mounting systems. These are designed to be temporary. They are ideal for the trucker who only hauls oversize and hazardous loads occasionally; they are also ideal for trailers because their location can be determined by the load.
If you haul hazardous or oversize loads, you should have at least a basic supply of beacon lights in your toolbox. We recommend a combination of strobes and steady-on lights to accommodate different needs. Note that some of our lights feature dozens of flash patterns that can be customized for purpose. And remember, beacon lights are about safety. Do not settle for inferior quality products that may not hold up.
Applying and removing tarps is part of the job for the flatbed trucker. It can be a bit tedious when the wind is blowing or loads have sharp edges to contend with, so the best thing any trucker can do in this regard is pay attention to what works for other drivers and learn the little tricks that make flatbed tarp application and removal easier.
We have addressed applying tarps in other posts, however in this post, we will concentrate on tarp removal. Needless to say that most truckers get better at tarp removal with time and practice. Below are a few examples of little things you can do to remove tarps easily.
Fold Sides up First
After 500 miles of interstate driving, there is a big temptation to undo your straps, grab one corner of the tarp and start pulling. You may get lucky on a load that has no sharp edges and is not oddly shaped but more often than not, the “yank and hope for the best” method can cause more trouble than imagined. Before you do anything, your best move is to fold the sides of your flatbed tarp up onto the load.
Folding creates a flat surface on the top of the load that is much easier to deal with. As a side note, you may have to get on the load to do this. Be careful.
Move from Front to Back
The second thing you can do to make your life easier is to move from front to back as you pull the tarp. There are two ways to do this. First, if you have someone willing to help, you can both grab a corner on either side of the trailer where it meets the cab. Then walk toward the rear of the trailer, pulling up and pushing forward as you go. This will essentially fold the tarp on top of itself as you pull it off the trailer.
If you are working alone, start at the rear of the trailer and grab your tarp (with the sides already folded up) at the center. Slowly drag it off the load in an even, continuous motion. The idea behind both of these methods is to cause the tarp to move from front to rear across the top of the load, thus avoiding sharp edges that can rip tarp fabric.
Get Some Air Underneath
Experienced truckers know that getting some air underneath flatbed truck tarps can help considerably. This is obviously not a problem on windy days, but what if the weather is still or you in an enclosed terminal? Grabbing one corner of your tarp and flapping it a couple of times gets just enough air underneath to separate the fabric from the cargo. This will make dragging the tarp off a bit easier.
Always Use Edge Protectors
New flatbed drivers tend to stay away from edge protectors unless they have reason to believe they are in danger of ripping their tarps. Why take the time to apply edge protectors if there are no real sharp edges? There is actually a very good reason: it makes tarp removal a lot easier. Edge protectors create space between your flatbed tarp and the cargo underneath. That extra space reduces friction and makes it easier for you to get the tarp off.
Flatbed tarp application and removal are an integral part of the job for those who hauls flatbed loads. So rather than continuing to struggle, the trucker is better off learning all those little secrets that make tarp application and removal easier.