More from: Flatbed Truck Tarps

Are Parachute Fabric Tarps Good for Lumber Loads?

We were talking about some of the past conversations we’ve had with truck drivers when we remembered one particular conversation from about seven or eight years ago. The topic was parachute fabric and whether or not it was a good choice for truck tarps. Believe it or not, parachute fabric tarps were available back then. They were just not very popular.

This particular discussion was more about whether or not parachute fabric was appropriate for lumber loads. The driver in question didn’t know much about the fabric, nor did we at the time. His concern was that it was too light to withstand over-the-road travel. He also questioned whether the fabric would flop around enough to damage the load.

We did not have the answers back then, but we do have them now. Are parachute fabric tarps good for lumber loads? Absolutely. Like anything else, it is simply a matter of using them the right way.

How Parachute Tarps Are Constructed

Let us first discuss how parachute tarps are constructed. They are made of a ripstop material, generally nylon, chosen for its weight and strength. The material is designated as ‘ripstop’ because of the special weave pattern that prevents small holes and tears from continuing to grow.

Note that ripstop nylon will not hold back water forever. As such, most parachute fabric tarps still rely on a vinyl top panel to keep out moisture. Only the drops are made of the ripstop fabric. You still get a lighter tarp without sacrificing water resistance on the top.

Using Edge Protectors

Next, it’s important to use edge protectors when you’re deploying parachute fabric tarps. Even though these tarps are made of ripstop fabric, they are still susceptible to being punctured on sharp edges. There is no point in risking the integrity of a tarp based on the notion that ripstop fabric makes it stronger than vinyl.

Should you end up unintentionally puncturing a tarp, you can repair it. There is less risk of that puncture becoming a major problem due to the ripstop nature of the fabric.

Securing the Tarp

Finally, it is true that parachute fabric will flop around in the breeze more readily than vinyl. It has two things working against it in this regard. The first is its lighter weight. Second is a weave pattern that is specifically designed to catch the air. What does this tell truck drivers? To secure a parachute fabric tarp all the way around the load.

Some drivers go around the perimeter using webbing straps or a series of bungee straps. Others use long lengths of rubber rope. Still other drivers attach bungees at each grommet and secure them to the trailer. How you go about it is entirely up to you. The point is to secure the tarp in such a way as to prevent as much movement as possible.

We Carry Parachute Fabric Tarps

At the end of the day, parachute fabric is an appropriate material for lumber loads. It is also great for steel, cable, machinery, and just about anything else you could carry on the back of a flatbed trailer. Just know that you have to be a little more careful at deployment and removal. Parachute fabric tarps are easily caught by the wind, so you have to be more deliberate in order to maintain control while you’re tarping.

We are happy to say that Mytee Products carries a selection of parachute fabric tarps. We invite you to look over our inventory whether you’re looking to add to your existing tarps or replace those that are worn out or damaged.


You’re a Good Candidate for Parachute Tarps If…

A typical week here at Mytee Products sees us answering questions about parachute tarps from at least one flatbed truck driver. Sometimes we get half-a-dozen or more inquiries. One of the things drivers ask is why they should buy parachute fabric instead of vinyl. Maybe it’s because truckers have been so used to vinyl for so long that they just have no idea there are alternatives.

There is no single thing we can point to that says parachute fabric is better than vinyl or canvas. It has been our experience that truckers prefer different kinds of tarps for different kinds of jobs. The best we can do is offer a few suggestions that might help them figure it out.

Let us try that here. You are a good candidate for parachute tarps if…

1. You’re Not As Young As You Used to Be

It has been said that truckers never die, they just downshift. Whether or not that’s true, truckers do get old like everyone else. And with age comes aches and pains. We say that you might be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you are an older driver who no longer has the strength and stamina to wrestle with vinyl.

The biggest benefit of a parachute tarp is its weight. Parachute fabric is lighter, so you have a lot less weight to throw over the top of a load with a parachute tarp.

2. You’re an Expert at Tarping

It’s not unusual to caution new truck drivers against using parachute tarps given that they don’t offer the same kind of protection against moisture. By the way, that’s why parachute tarps have vinyl tops. The vinyl will hold back standing water where parachute fabric won’t.

Be that as it may, parachute tarps might be right up your alley if you’ve been trucking long enough to be a tarping expert. You know what works and what doesn’t. You don’t have to practice tarping overkill to protect your loads.

3. You Have a Tendency to Rip Vinyl

Next, you might also be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you have a tendency to rip vinyl. This is not to say that parachute fabric never rips or tears; it does. But parachute fabric is ripstop fabric. That means it is made with a special weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing.

Bear in mind that using edge protectors is still a wise idea even with the tarp made of ripstop nylon. But at least a minor tear or rip will not become a major disaster before you get your load to its destination. You cannot necessarily say the same thing about vinyl.

4. You Want to Try Something New

You’ve been on the road now for decades. In all your years you have used nothing but vinyl and canvas. Now you’re looking for something new, something that will shake things up a bit. Perhaps it’s time to give parachute tarps a chance. Parachute fabric certainly does take some getting used to, and you might welcome the challenge of tarping with a lighter material that can sail away in the wind.

Please note that all of our parachute fabric tarps offer the same quality and durability as our vinyl and canvas tarps. Parachute fabric tarps come in a variety of sizes and styles designed to meet the needs of the modern trucker. If you have any questions about our parachute tarps, don’t be afraid to ask. And if you need something you don’t see in our inventory, let us know. We’ll do what we can to get it for you.


Truck Tarp Terms Every Flatbed Driver Should Know

The internet is a great source of information for new flatbed drivers trying to figure things out. But it can be somewhat amusing to read online conversations between veterans and newbies. The newbies are desperately looking for answers while the veterans are using terms the rookies just do not understand. Sometimes they have to go back and forth for a while before both are speaking the same language.

One of the hardest things about mastering flatbed trucking is learning how to cover loads. Truckers call this tarping, and it is a critical skill for succeeding as a flatbed driver. It helps new drivers to learn the terminology so that they can have productive discussions with veterans.

 

Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

To that end, here are some truck tarp terms that every flatbed truck driver should know:

1. Tail

Sometimes known as a flap, the tail is an extra piece of material that hangs off the back of the load. Some tarps have an additional flap for the front, in cases when a trailer doesn’t have a bulkhead. The point of the tail is to provide that added protection at the rear. As an added benefit, the tail also helps truck drivers better position their tarps by giving them a centering reference point.

2. Drop

Every flatbed load has to be accounted for in terms of both width and height. The term ‘drop’ refers to the height of the load – from the bed of the trailer to the top. Let us use some simple numbers to illustrate this. A load that sits 8 feet high and 8 feet wide has a drop of 8 feet on either side. Covering the load entirely would require a tarp at least 24 feet wide. Remember that you have to account for the top surface as well as both drops.

3. Gusset

Seamstresses and tailors know the gusset as an extra piece of material sewn into a garment to allow for movement. In the truck tarp arena, a gusset is also one extra piece of material. But it is not there to allow for movement. Rather, the gusset serves as an extra rain flap.

Gussets are sewn into each side of the tarp, along the back edge. Once the tarp is folded down to cover the drop, gussets are folded across the back of the load and over the top of the tail. It is a lot like that extra paper you have when wrapping a Christmas present. You fold it over on the sides and tape it down.

4. D-Rings

D-rings are just what their name implies: rings manufactured in the shape of a ‘D’ and sewn into tarps at regular intervals. They are reinforced by extra material and stitching so that they do not pull out under load. The purpose of the D-ring is to provide an anchor point for bungee straps or a loop through which a webbing strap can be threaded. D-rings help keep tarps in place.

5. Tarping System

Last but not least is the tarping system. This term is used to describe a complete system consisting of aluminum frame, tarp, and motor used to deploy tarps automatically. Such systems are found most often on dump trucks and trailers. But they can be used with side kits as well. A tarping system virtually eliminates all the work of deploying tarps.

Now you know some of the most common tarping terms in the flatbed trucking industry, it is time for you to start stocking your truck with the tarps, straps, and edge protectors necessary for doing your job. You will find everything you need right here at Mytee Products.


Tips for Maintaining Side Kits and Tarps

With winter fast approaching, you may find yourself using your side kit more frequently. Winter weather has a way of doing that. A good side kit with the right tarps may be just what a shipper is looking for before it releases that load you have agreed to carry. As with anything else you might purchase from Mytee Products, we always recommend taking good care of your side kit and tarps by paying attention to routine maintenance.

Below are some tips for maintaining side kit equipment. Note that side kits come in standard sizes and configurations. Make sure you are using the right parts with your kit. Also make sure you’re using the right kinds of tarps. Remember that a tarp design for a site kit is a fitted tarp. It should fit tightly over the frame with no leftover material to flap in the wind.

Check Rails for Abrasion Points

The rails that form the top of a side kit carry most of the weight of the tarp on top. They also provide plenty of contact points that could cause tarp damage. We recommend routinely inspecting rails to make sure there are no sharp points or areas of abrasion. Such hazards are pretty common in flatbed trucking.

Perhaps you are not extremely careful about laying rails down on the bed of your trailer during disassembly. You may toss your rails into a pile as you’re working. That’s fine, except that it’s a good way to damage them. All we are saying is that you should routinely inspect side kit rails in order to preserve your tarps.

Replace Damaged Posts

The posts that came with your side kit should offer you many years of reliable service without issue. But posts wear out like anything else. They can also be damaged by rogue forklifts, shifting cargo, road debris, and a lot of other things. So routinely inspect them along with your rails. Any that are damaged should be replaced as soon as possible.

Posts that are bent might be salvageable as long as the angle is not too severe. But note that the best way to straighten a bent post is by putting it in a vice and applying pressure evenly. If you simply slip a bent post into a trailer housing and yank on it in the opposite direction, you run the risk of harming its integrity.

Inspect Side Kit Tarps

As previously mentioned, side kit tarps are fitted tarps. Every time you deploy one you should be checking to make sure that the fit is good and tight. Any loose fabric is a sign that the tarp might be wearing out. Of course, you should also be looking for rips and tears at the same time.

If you notice an area of the tarp that seems to be wearing out at a particular junction where it makes contact with rails or posts, it’s a good idea to deploy a few edge protectors at that particular area until you can figure out exactly what’s causing the problem. It may take you an extra minute or two but inserting edge protectors could save you the cost of buying a new tarp.

In closing, keep in mind that severe winter weather can do a number on your side kit. Just be extra vigilant during the winter months to do routine inspections and address any minor maintenance issues. Handling minor issues right away will keep them from becoming significant issues later on. With all that said, feel free to browse our inventory of side kit tarps in preparation for the coming winter.