More from: trailer parts

Students Modify and Build a Custom Headache Rack

When students at Laurel Oaks High School in Wilmington, Ohio got their hands on a 2013 International Pro Star, they were given an opportunity to do something truly special. The students spent months customizing the truck before sending it to the recently-held Cavalcade of Customs Auto Show in Cincinnati. Needless to say, the truck was a big hit – both with show attendees and school administrators.

One of the things we appreciate about the students’ efforts is that they went to the trouble of building a customized headache rack for their rig. The choice to do so shows us just how ingrained it now is within the trucking industry to put headache racks on the backs of tractors. It wasn’t always this way. So building a custom headache rack enabled students to learn about its function as an indispensable part of trucking.

Learning the Tools of the Trade

The truck was originally purchased in 2017 to give students in the high school’s diesel program the opportunity to learn by working on a late model vehicle. But instructor Gary Bronson saw a lot of potential above and beyond just diesel mechanics. He took the class through the process of replacing brakes, wiring new lighting, and even completing the truck’s required safety inspection. In all of it, students had the chance to learn the tools of the trade.

Outside of the diesel program, other students worked hard on customizing the truck for the Cincinnati show. The school’s welding students were the ones responsible for customized headache rack. In the process of designing both it and the truck’s rear fenders, students were able to learn firsthand how to use a CNC plasma cutter. That is pretty impressive for a high school program.

Even digital arts and computer science students pitched in to get the truck ready for the show. They were responsible for designing the truck’s paint scheme and the graphics that were printed on a banner displayed with the truck at the Cincinnati show. All in all, the work these students did is nothing short of amazing.

A Functional Headache Rack

To see the headache rack in pictures is to see something that doesn’t look like much. But if you’re a trucker, that’s what you want to see. A headache rack is functional first and foremost. You worry about aesthetics later. And in terms of function, the students hit the nail right on the head.

Their headache rack sits flush against the back of the sleeper cab and pretty much runs its height. The truck itself has fairings on either side to improve aerodynamics, so the students designed the headache rack to fit nicely within their profile. This adds to the fuel efficiency of the vehicle without taking away from the functionality of the headache rack.

We don’t see any kind of cables or air hoses in the picture but that’s only because there is no trailer attached to the truck. However, we can clearly see the fittings built into the headache rack. Students undoubtedly had to learn what each of the fittings was for and how to build them into the rack.

Our hats are off to the students at Laurel Oaks and their dedicated instructors. What they have done with this truck is incredible. Without the Laurel Oaks Banner displayed on the back of the tractor, you would not know the truck was customized by high school students learning the trades that will fuel their futures. From the headache rack all the way to the custom fenders and artwork, this is truly a special truck.


Tips for Using Loading Ramps Safely

Truck drivers with loading ramp experience know that it is all about physics. The laws of physics dictate that it’s easier to roll something up a ramp than lift it straight up. But the same physics that make loading ramps so efficient also constitute their greatest weakness. Therefore, it pays to know the physics in order to use loading ramps safely.

Loading ramps make moving objects to a higher point easier by distributing the weight of the load across a larger area. Furthermore, pushing or pulling an object up a set of ramps requires less work than lifting that same item. Thus, you can get some pretty heavy objects onto the back of an open deck trailer with a pair of inexpensive loading ramps from Mytee Products.

With all of that said, here are some tips for using loading ramps safely:

1. Work on a Level Surface

Whenever possible, you should work on a level surface. Your trailer deck should be parallel with the ground and the ends of the ramps touching the ground should not be lower than the trailer’s rear wheels. A level surface provides for maximum efficiency during the loading process. It also reduces the risks of the load tipping backward or falling off the side of the ramps.

2. Watch the Load Angle

As efficient as loading ramps are compared to direct lifting, they are not capable of working miracles. Loading can be terribly unsafe if the ramp angle is too high. Therefore, watch the load angle. Keep it as low as possible on every single job.

This might facilitate purchasing new loading ramps if your current set is too short. Also bear in mind that you will need longer ramps and a lower angle for heavier loads. Remember the physics. The key is to get your load up onto the deck with as little work as possible. Load angle influences the amount of required work more than any other factor.

3. Send the Drive Wheels First

It doesn’t matter which direction you load all-wheel drive vehicles in. But if you’re loading a vehicle with only two-wheel drive, send the drive wheels first. This means a front-wheel drive vehicle goes up the ramp forward; a rear-wheel drive vehicle goes up in reverse. Again, it is all about physics.

If the drive wheels are to the rear of the vehicle as it’s loaded, those wheels are pushing the load rather than pulling it. This creates a natural pivot point over the axle. Too steep an incline or too much power to the engine could flip the vehicle backward. On the other hand, it’s impossible to flip backward if the power wheels are in the front.

4. Make Sure Ramps Are Tightly Secured

Even keeping the drive wheels to the front of the load doesn’t eliminate all risk of tipping over. There is a point just after the drive wheels reach the deck where the entire setup is inherently unstable. If ramps are not securely fastened to the back of the trailer, they could slip away and send the load crashing to the ground.

Always make sure your loading ramps are properly secured before you begin loading. What’s more, don’t cut corners here. Loading ramps come with fittings and pins for this very reason – use them for their intended purpose.

Loading ramps are must-have tools for open deck drivers. If you own a pair, please do right by yourself and your shippers by always using them safely. If you need a pair, Mytee Products has what you’re looking for. We carry a complete line of loading ramps and accessories.


Bulkhead or Penalty Strap: You Make the Call

The common trailer bulkhead can be viewed as a multipurpose tool. A driver can use it as an anchor point for tarps or the starting point for installing a side kit. But at the end of the day, the primary purpose of the bulkhead is to prevent forward movement of cargo. For the flatbed trucker, it is either bulkhead or penalty strap.

We are not quite sure where the term ‘penalty strap’ comes from, but it does a good job of describing how some truck drivers feel about having to use extra tie-downs to prevent cargo from shifting forward. Extra tie-downs means extra work. To that end, a driver might feel that he or she is incurring some sort of penalty for choosing to not use a bulkhead.

There is no right or wrong choice here. It is a matter of driver preference. Knowing the finer points of both options gives drivers a clear understanding of what is best for them.

The Kinds of Loads Carried

Let’s face it, some loads are easier to secure with penalty straps than others. A load of brick stacked on wooden pallets does not need a whole lot of extra effort to prevent forward movement. Do a few calculations, grab an extra strap or two, and the driver is good to go. Not so with a load of rail.

Rail doesn’t benefit as much from gravity and friction as brick does. Therefore, preventing its forward movement is a little more complicated. The extra time and effort it takes to deploy penalty straps could easily be avoided with a bulkhead.

Doing the Math at Load

A good case for installing a bulkhead is to avoid having to do the math at loading time. For instance, check out these starting calculations:

A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight of 1,100 pounds or less = 1 tiedown.
A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight in excess of 1,100 pounds = 2 tie-downs.
A load between five and 10 feet, regardless of weight = 2 tie-downs.                                                    A load longer than 10 feet = 2 tie-downs with an additional tiedown for every 10 feet.

These numbers just tell the driver how many tie-downs to use. The driver also has to consider the working load limits of each strap. It is a lot easier just to install a bulkhead with a high enough rating to cover most of the loads the trucker will haul.

Straps and Chains Wear Out

One final consideration is that straps and chains wear out. It is conceivable that a trucker can use the correct number of tie-downs and properly account for working load limits and still be found in violation. That’s because inspectors can take straps and chains out of service if they observe what they believe to be unacceptable wear and tear.

Bulkheads are subject to wear and tear as well, but not nearly as much. Therefore, it stands to reason that taking penalty straps out of the equation in favor of a bulkhead reduces the chances of being found in violation. The fewer tie-downs in play, the fewer opportunities for wear and tear to cause problems.

We understand that there are very valid reasons for declining to use a bulkhead on a flatbed trailer. Yet, there are some very definite advantages to choosing a bulkhead over penalty straps. It’s really up to each driver to decide what’s best for him or her. Should you decide to go the bulkhead route, Mytee Products can get you squared away.


How to Buy Loading Ramps

You have landed on the Mytee Products website in your search for a good pair of trailer loading ramps. That’s great. We can get you hooked up not only with the ramps, but also all the other equipment and supplies you need to be a safe and successful flatbed trucker. Having said that, note that not all loading ramps are equal.

There are multiple manufacturers you can look to for quality ramps. There are also multiple designs to choose from. We recommend giving careful consideration to exactly what you need before you buy. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.

The Loads You Typically Carry

Like everything else in flatbed trucking, you have to consider the kinds of loads you typically carry in relation to the loading ramps you need. Loads with heavier axle weights are going to require larger loading ramps with higher ratings. If you routinely haul the heaviest construction equipment, then you are going to need some pretty heavy-duty ramps.

The thing to keep in mind here is that loading ramps can be quite heavy. It is not unusual for a single heavy-duty ramp to be upwards of 100 pounds. If you don’t routinely carry loads requiring the monsters, you might be better off with lighter ramps that are easier to handle.

How You Intend to Store the Ramps

Flatbed truckers who use their loading ramps regularly – think construction equipment haulers here – are likely to keep them on board. The question is, where? How you intend to store your ramps may be a factor in the actual ramps you choose.

There are drivers who store their ramps on the upper deck. They may have to move them from time to time to accommodate other loads, but they find that upper deck storage makes for easier deployment. On the other hand, other drivers store them underneath using brackets mounted to the trailer.

The Kind of Trailer You Use

Different styles of trailers can indicate different uses for loading ramps. Are you hauling with a straight flatbed, or are you more likely to use a step-deck with your loading ramps? In a step deck scenario, you may need to use the ramps both to get the load onto the trailer and then to move it from one step to the next. You have to have loading ramps that work both ways.

Your Available Budget

We realize that price plays a role in the choices truck drivers make. We do not expect you to buy loading ramps you cannot afford. As such, your available budget is something else you have to think about. But think about it in both the short and long terms. For example, you might be looking at just a set of ramps right now. But will your needs change in the future?

It might be more cost-effective in the long run to purchase an entire loading ramp kit that includes ramps, mounting brackets, a ramp dolly, and everything else you need. The initial outlay will be more, but you will spend less by buying everything in a kit now rather than trying to piecemeal it down the road.

Mytee Products as a full selection of trailer loading ramps and supplies ready for purchase. We invite you to take a look at our complete inventory before you buy. We offer everything from loading ramps to truck tires and tarps and straps. Anything you might need as a flatbed truck driver is probably in our inventory. And if not, ask us about it. We will see what we can do.


5 Things To Remember When Loading Ramps

We’ve all seen those epic fail videos online; videos showing people doing some pretty silly things. You don’t want to be included in that group when you are using trailer loading ramps. So learn how to use your ramps correctly. Otherwise, you could find yourself appearing in a viral video.

For the record, trailer loading ramps take advantage of a few key laws of physics that make it possible to get heavy loads up onto a trailer without having to use a lift boom. Those laws can be just as much your enemy as your friend. It pays to know how physics relates to the ramps you are using and the load they will carry.

Securing Ramps

The trailer ramps we sell are designed to be used with an aluminum skid seat and a locking rod. The reason here should be obvious: ramps need to be secured in place before any loading begins. Insecure ramps are almost guaranteed to fall away from the back of a trailer.

Before securing ramps, check to make sure the skid seat and locking rod are in good working condition. Any abnormalities that even look like they might compromise skid seat integrity should be dealt with before loading begins.

Loading at too Steep an Angle

The laws of physics dictate that less force is needed to move a load the lower the angle of ascent. As such, avoid the temptation of trying to load at too steep an angle. If the angle of load is too high for a particular job, either use longer ramps or find a higher surface you can use as an intermediate step in the loading process. If neither are possible, another method of loading will have to be considered.

Check Clearance

Clearance is a big issue when loading heavy equipment onto flatbed trailers. The clearance we are talking about is the clearance that exists between the bottom of the load and the top edge of the flatbed. A lack of sufficient clearance could mean a load gets stuck half-way on to the trailer, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

The way around clearance issues is to use ramps with arches built in. The arches lift the back of the load as it approaches the trailer, solving the problem of limited clearance.

Control Speed

Moving a load up a set of ramps too quickly is a dangerous proposition. Uncontrolled speed could cause a piece of heavy equipment to veer out of control once it reaches the flatbed. It could cause the equipment to jump, subsequently leading to damage on impact with the trailer.

There are just so many things that could go wrong here. So, whatever you do, make sure to control your speed when you’re using loading ramps to load heavy equipment. It is better to go too slow than too fast.

Always Ask for Loading Assistance

It is better to load ramps with assistance versus going solo. Flatbed drivers should always have the help of at least two other people who can keep an eye on the ramps from either side. If you can get two more to watch the trailer as well, that’s a bonus.

Trailer loading ramps are great tools for getting loads onto flatbeds. But they have to be used with caution and according to the laws of physics.