Roll tarps are indispensable for specific trucking jobs involving loose loads such as stone and grain. They are easy to apply, easy to remove and very effective at preventing debris from flying into the roadway. However, the mechanical nature of the spooling systems used with them is such that things can go wrong. Knowing how your system works, and how to fix it, can save you a lot of aggravation and downtime.
You can encounter many potential problems with a roll tarp and spooling system. We have put together a list of the three most common problems and how these problems can be fixed. Thankfully, a little knowledge goes a long way.
1. Frame Arms Not Centered and Parallel
A roll tarp spooling system requires frame arms to be centered and parallel in order to work properly. When arms are out of position, a truck tarp will not roll evenly. This is a problem whether you are applying or removing your tarp. Fortunately, the issue is usually a bad spring or tube arm. Both can be fixed relatively easily.
The first thing to do is to check the tension springs on both arms. The arm that is in the more forward position is likely the one that is operating properly; the one that is lagging behind is usually the one with the problem. You will know a tension spring is bad when it is fully compressed with little or no tension. Replace that spring and your system should be fine. If all of your springs are extended equally, you likely have a tube arm that is bent or broken. Bent tubes can be straightened; broken tubes must be replaced.
It should be noted that a single failing tension spring could be a sign of more failures to come. Remember that the springs installed when your unit was first manufactured all have the same shelf life. When one spring fails, it is only a matter of time before the rest follow suit. You might be better off replacing all of your springs at the same time.
2. Tarp Is Not Square
It is possible to have problems with frame arms not being centered or parallel even though all of your tension springs and tube arms are just fine. What is the culprit in this case? It could be a tarp that is not square. Although this is rare, it is possible – especially if you purchased a used system that was previously repaired by its owner. If all of your springs and tubes appear to be in good working order despite an off-center or unparallel condition, you may have to remove the tarp and check it for squareness.
3. The Motor Struggles to Unroll Tarp
Systems equipped with motors may struggle at times to unroll the tarp. Sometimes the motor itself is failing, but the problem is more likely to be related to the arm pivot mounts. You can adjust the tension at the pivot mounts to make the arms tighter or freer. If your motor is struggling, consider loosening the tension a bit. As a side note, electric motors usually fail completely rather than gradually. This is why we say that a motor struggling to roll a tarp probably has to overcome too much pivot tension.
Mytee Products carries roll tarps in a variety of lengths and widths for grain trailers. All of our tarps are made of durable 18-ounce vinyl with webbing strips every 3 feet. They can be used with any standard roll tarp system fitted to your trailer.