More from: truck tarps

How to Identify Different Types of Flatbed Trailer Parts

One of the things we’ve come to learn over the years with regards to flatbed trucking, is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for every kind of load. Just browse our inventory of truck tarps and you will see what we mean. Lumber requires one kind of tarp while steel coil is better protected with another. The differences in load carrying and cargo control go beyond just tarps, though. There are even different types of flatbed trailers that carriers and drivers can choose from.

load-leveler

People with some flatbed experience tend to think of the standard flatbed trailer most often. This trailer is typically no more than 48 feet long with a bed that is between 4 and 5 feet off the ground. Standard flatbed trailers are suitable for all kinds of loads that do not qualify as wide or tall.

Carriers and drivers have several others to work with:

Removable Goosenecks

Also known as RGNs, these trailers have removable goosenecks that allow them to drop down so that the front can be used as a ramp. It is a good trailer option for construction equipment.

Step Decks 

Step deck trailers have a lower deck to accommodate loads that are too tall to fit under standard overpasses. These trailers can be coupled with trailer loading ramps to allow construction equipment to be driven into place before being secured.

Side Kit Trailers 

The side kit flatbed trailer is one with removable sides. The sides can be deployed for loads that would normally fit inside the width of a dry goods van, then removed again for loads that do not work well in confined spaces. They are very popular for transporting steel.

Stretch Trailers

Stretch trailers are usually removable goosenecks with built-in extensions that can be deployed to carry extra-long loads.

Double Drops

A double drop trailer has higher decks at the front and rear and a lower deck in the center. Like step decks, they are ideal for loads that are otherwise too tall based on legal limits.

Each of these trailers can accommodate unique loads that do not fit well inside dry goods vans. But the cargo being hauled still has to be protected. That is where the different kinds of truck tarps come in.

Securing and Protecting Cargo

Truck tarps are just one component of a much larger system of cargo control and protection. State laws require truck drivers to properly secure their cargo prior to departing on a journey. Cargo must be routinely inspected to make sure it remains secure throughout. As for protection, it is up to drivers to make sure their cargo gets to its destination in good condition.

Truck tarps serve to provide the protection drivers need. A good, high-quality truck tarp will provide years of reliable service protecting cargo from road debris, sunlight, moisture, and other sources of potential damage. Yet maximum protection means choosing the right tarp for the right kind of load.

Mytee’s inventory includes every kind of truck tarp the flatbed trucker needs. We carry lumber tarps, steel tarps, coil tarps, and machinery tarps. We also offer smaller smoke tarps designed to protect cargo from exhaust stack soot. All our tarps are made with high-quality materials and to the most stringent standards.

Flatbed trucking is by no means a uniform enterprise. There are different kinds of trailers used to carry different types of loads, and a full range of truck tarps that drivers can deploy to protect those loads. Here at Mytee we have all the truck tarps and cargo control supplies you will need. You’ll have to handle the trailers yourself.


3 Easy Steps To Replace Dump Truck Pull Tarps

Replacing pull truck tarps is not something dump truck drivers enjoy, but it is part of the game. The good news is that tarping system manufacturers do their best to make tarp replacement as easy as possible. A truck driver with a little bit of handiness can replace the pull tarp pretty quickly and without much effort. With the help of a partner, it’s even easier.

dump-truck

Pull tarp replacement is a straightforward, three-step process:

Step #1 – Remove the Old Tarp

Tarping systems differ from one manufacturer to the next, so keep that in mind as you work through the replacement process. The first step is to obviously remove the old tarp. In order to do that, the tarp should be fully extended and pinned in place. If your system is a manual system, it is as easy as pulling the tarp all the way out and temporarily fastening it to the back of your truck so it doesn’t move.

Where the truck tarp meets the spool, there should be a steel rod that holds everything in place. Pin the spool in place so that it doesn’t retract, then you can release the tarp from the back of the truck. Now it’s time to slide the tarp out of the slot in the spool. It should be attached to that rod, so be careful that you don’t let the rod hit you as you are pulling the tarp out.

Step #2 – Clean and Lube the System

As long as you have everything apart, now is a good time to clean and lubricate the system. There is no need to disassemble it piece-by-piece; just clean surface areas and lubricate the joints. An all-purpose lubricant should do the trick.

If any of the components show excessive wear and tear, you may want to consider repair or replacement before you put everything back together. Mytee has a full selection of tarp system replacement parts if it turns out you need something.

Step #3 – Install the New Tarp

Some drivers attempt to install a new tarp without fully unfolding it first. We do not recommend that as it takes longer. Your best bet would be to have a partner help you to stretch the tarp out on a flat surface and install it. If that is not an option, unfold your tarp on top of the cargo area and get it as flat as you can. To install, simply reverse the process you followed to remove the old tarp. Your new tarp should slide right into the slot on the spool.

Once the tarp is slid into place, securely fasten the tarp to the back of the truck before you release the spool. Failure to do so, could cause the spool to snap back, potentially damaging your system and injuring you. Fasten the tarp securely, release the spool, and then retract the tarp as normal. That’s it; you’re done.

Repairing Dump Truck Tarps

Assuming you are replacing an old tarp because it is damaged, you may be able to repair it for future use. It really depends on how severe the damage is and what kind of tensioning arrangement your tarping system uses. If you are ever concerned about the integrity of a repaired tarp, do not use it on your dump truck. Use it for another purpose where tension is not a primary concern.

Under the right conditions, you should be able to replace your dump truck tarp fairly quickly and easily. As always, Mytee has a selection of replacement tarps that fit most systems. Our range includes PVC mesh, vinyl, and hot top asphalt tarps in multiple sizes.


Tax Deductions for Trucking Supplies: What You Need to Know

The arrival of fall means truck drivers start seeing things pick up on the business side as well, especially in advance of the holiday season, which always brings with it, more loads to haul. The increased activity makes fall the perfect time to start thinking about taxes.

Truck drivers file their taxes as either self-employed independent contractors or employees of their carriers. How they file determines the kinds of deductions they can take for the trucking supplies they purchase. Those supplies can include everything from truck tarps to protective clothing to in-cab electronics.

 

winch-straps

Before we get into the differences between filing as a self-employed individual and a company employee, we need to first discuss state and federal taxes. The IRS is the primary taxing authority in this country. States do assess their own taxes, but they tend to defer to the federal government. For example, those that collect income tax will often rely on federal calculations for things such as deductions and taxable income. Therefore, it is of vital importance that truck drivers understand the federal regulations to keep the IRS happy and correctly file state returns.

Filing as an Independent Contractor

The IRS regards independent contractors as self-employed individuals operating their own businesses. There can be some gray areas depending on the relationship of the truck driver to the company or companies he or she hauls for, so any questions about tax status should be referred to an experienced tax attorney.

The independent contractor who truly qualifies as self-employed under the law can essentially deduct any and all trucking supplies obtained for the purposes of conducting business. This would immediately bring to mind things like truck tarps and cargo control equipment such as bungee cords, chains and straps, wide load flags, etc. But it also includes other things as well.

For example, a trucker required to invest in steel-toed boots and a hard hat in order to haul certain kinds of loads would be able to deduct those expenses as long as the purchased items are used exclusively for work. The same holds true for things such as GPS units, hand tools, and so on.

Filing as a Company Employee

The number of deductions allowed for company employees can be significantly less depending on how trucking supplies are obtained. Anything an employer gives directly to the driver is obviously not deductible. A driver also cannot deduct the cost of any trucking supplies for which he or she is reimbursed by the employer.

With those restrictions understood, the same kinds of things qualify for deductions. Drivers can deduct cargo control supplies, protective clothing, electronics, hand tools, and even limited transportation expenses. For example, if a trucker has to fly to some specific destination to pick up a truck, the cost of airfare and accommodations can usually be deducted if not reimbursed by the employer.

The one thing to be aware of for both independent contractors and company employees are deductions for meals. This is one area where IRS regulations are ambiguous. The reason is simple: truck drivers have to eat just like every other kind of worker. The fact that they eat while on the road does not change that. So just like an office worker cannot deduct groceries as a business expense, truck drivers can only deduct meal expenses under certain conditions.

Truck drivers can use work-related expenses to reduce the tax liabilities. This is actually a smart thing to do. But truckers need to be careful, too. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they should leave their taxes to the professionals.


Understanding Why Tarps Get Brittle in Cold Weather

Experienced truckers are well aware that extreme cold weather and truck tarps do not necessarily play well together. The colder the temperature, the more brittle tarp fabrics become. Tarps tend to tear or break with just the slightest amount of pressure in extremely frigid conditions. But why does this happen?

To someone not familiar with the science, it may seem strange that a poly or vinyl tarp can hold up very well in hot summer weather but then become fragile in the dead of winter. But knowing the science suddenly clears things up.

tarp-winter

 

The Nature of Plastics

Vinyl, polyethylene, and polypropylene are all plastic polymers that can be used for multiple applications. Some finished materials are engineered to be extremely rigid while others are a lot more flexible. The flexible plastic polymers owe their flexibility to something MIT calls ductility. What is ductility? It is the ability of the molecules in a polymer to stretch.

Plastic polymers consist of chains of molecules bound together to form a particular substance. If it helps, think of a standard chain-link made of rubber rather than steel. The rubber link can be stretched fairly easily while a steel link cannot. The molecule chains of plastic polymers are similar to a rubber chain-link except on a molecular scale.

The thing to understand about plastic polymers is that the molecule chains only remain flexible in warm temperatures. The colder it gets, the less flexible the chains become. It is possible, under extremely cold conditions, for molecule chains to be frozen in place. When this occurs, a vinyl or poly material becomes extremely fragile. But even if the chains do not freeze, vinyl and poly materials do get more brittle as the temperature falls.

Wind Adds to the Problem

Cold temperatures automatically reduce the flexibility of vinyl and poly tarps by reducing the ductility of plastic polymer chains. When you throw in the wind caused by a truck driving down the highway, conditions deteriorate even further. It’s a matter of the wind displacing surface heat.

Although wind chill does not apply to non-biological materials, the wind chill principal is similar to what happens with truck tarps when exposed to cold. The wind displaces any surface heat a vinyl or poly tarp may hold, thus causing a further reduction in temperature. Any heat that might be absorbed by sunshine will also be displaced by the wind.

As you can see, combining already cold temperatures with the wind of highway travel exposes vinyl and poly tarps to the kinds of conditions that would significantly reduce ductility. The more drastic the combination of cold and wind, the less flexible a tarp is.

Tarp Maintenance in Winter

Now that you know the science behind brittle truck tarps, the obvious thing to do is to take extra good care of your tarps during the winter months. We highly recommend being more careful when applying tarps in cold and windy conditions so as to avoid tears and rips. Make sure to use edge and corner protectors. The right combination of cold and wind could cause a sharp edge to rip right through a cold tarp.

Tarping loads indoors would be ideal as the temperatures will be warmer and it is easy to apply the tarp by oneself. If that’s not possible, it’s always a good idea to enlist any available help to get tarps on and secured as quickly and safely as possible. Also avoid standing on top of a load after a tarp has been applied because cold tarps can be slippery.

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Sources:

1. MIT – http://engineering.mit.edu/ask/why-do-plastics-get-brittle-when-they-get-cold


Factors Benefiting the Trucking Industry

It is commonly understood by economists that the state of the trucking industry in America reflects the state of the overall economy. Why? Because 70% to 80% of the freight we move completes at least part of its journey by truck. Trucking is the most cost-effective way to move freight. Therefore, a robust trucking industry is a sign that the economy is doing well. In light of that, economists sometimes look at new truck orders in an attempt to forecast what things will look like in the coming year.

Some economists were concerned because new truck orders were off in January (2016). According to Bloomberg, year-on-year sales were down some 48% as compared to the previous year. It did however raise the question whether or not falling new truck orders are a key indicator of the trucking industry. We don’t think so, as there are a variety of reasons that help the trucking industry.

trucking-industry

Freight Volume Is More Important

The first thing to understand is that, freight volume is a much more reliable indicator than new truck sales. The more disposable income consumers have, the more money they spend on buying things. This results in higher inventory levels at distribution centers and warehouses and in turn increases the volume of freight being moved closer to the consumer.

Due to this fact, what we should consider is whether or not trucking companies are still moving the same volume year-on-year, combined with forecasts for economic growth. According to Bloomberg, economic expansion for 2016 should be slightly more than 2%. The trucking industry should be able to absorb such a modest amount of growth without substantial investments in new equipment.

As long as truckers are still moving the same volume of freight, the situation is fine. Falling new truck orders do not necessarily translate into lower volume any more than falling profits for diesel fuel makers.

Shifting Logistics

Another reason to be optimistic despite fewer new truck orders can be found in shifting logistics. We have noticed a trend beginning to emerge involving trucking companies and shippers relying more on regional distribution rather than coast-to-coast freight forwarding. Moving to a regional model reduces travel time between destinations, keeps truckers closer to home, and makes logistics more flexible in adapting to a quickly evolving on-demand marketplace.

What does all this mean to truck manufacturers? It means fewer orders. Trucking companies that rely more on a regional distribution model do not need to invest as much equipment on an annual basis. Equipment lasts longer under this model, and replacement schedules can be adjusted accordingly.

Constant Economic Cycles

The US economy is no different than any other major world economy undergoes similar economic cycles. Some economists concerned about falling new truck sales point to a 2014 surge that saw near record numbers of new trucks manufactured and sold. What they may have not accounted for are new equipment purchases made by companies emerging from the last recession. Those same companies might not be replacing equipment as aggressively.

The cyclical nature of any economy dictates that there are ebbs and flows in nearly every industry. Truck manufacturing is not unique in that sense. Economists who might be concerned need only look at the outlooks of each of the major manufacturers who supply the trucks both domestically and abroad. None of them are panicking, so there is no need to be concerned.

As an existing truck driver, the ordering of new trucks doesn’t mean more road time and translates to more higher wager. In fact, well planned logistics result in improved driving schedules and the ability to choose better route options, both, for the driver and the load being transported. That being said, if you are conscious of your trucking gear and truck tarps, a look through our complete inventory of flatbed truck tarps, truck tires, cargo control equipment, and other accessories you would need for the coming year and change in seasons.

Sources:

  • Bloomberg – http://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-02-08/truckmakers-skid-doesn-t-mean-recession