Aluminum or Steel for Headache Racks?

Truck drivers in the market for a new headache rack can choose between aluminum and steel models. While the Mytee Products inventory is exclusive to aluminum and other alloys, there are some companies that deal in steel headache racks as well. That begs the question of whether one material is better than the other. We would say ‘yes’, based on the properties of both.

Before we talk about advantages and disadvantages, we should first discuss what steel and aluminum actually are. We will begin steel.

Steel is an alloy made mostly of iron and carbon. It offers an extremely high tensile strength which makes it an ideal material for building construction, road construction, and the manufacture of everything from automobiles to tools. Steel is also very inexpensive to produce.

Aluminum is a natural element and a soft, ductile metal. If you took high school chemistry, you probably remember that the symbol for aluminum on the periodic table is Al. At any rate, aluminum is highly chemically reactive to the extent that it is rare to find it in a pure form in nature. Rather, it is embedded in ore – usually bauxite.

Steel Headache Racks

Steel headache racks used to be the norm for American truckers. Drivers preferred steel decades ago because of its extreme strength and heavy weight. They could bolt a steel headache rack to the back of a truck cab or flatbed trailer in full confidence that it would stand up to virtually any load. That is still true today.

The biggest disadvantage of steel is the fact that it easily corrodes. In order to prevent corrosion, manufacturers can galvanize the steel or add certain chemical additives to slow nature down. In the end though, nature almost always wins. Truck drivers who prefer steel headache racks have to put some effort into routine maintenance in order to prevent corrosion.

Aluminum Headache Racks

Aluminum has its own drawbacks as a material for headache racks. The biggest is that aluminum, in its natural form, is too soft to be used for anything requiring structural integrity. The good news is that aluminum can be combined with other materials to create an alloy that is as strong as steel. In some cases, aluminum alloys are even stronger.

The vast majority of headache racks sold these days are made from high-strength, premium aluminum alloys capable of withstanding the toughest punishment. Better yet, aluminum is not subject to corrosion. In fact, aluminum oxidizes when exposed to the air. Oxidation creates a thin protective layer over the surface of the metal that naturally prevents corrosion.

Aluminum has another benefit that is especially attractive to truck drivers who enjoy entering their trucks in competitions: aluminum can be cleaned and polished to an extremely bright shine. Using a simple technique and a proven aluminum polish, drivers can get their headache racks to shine so brightly that they can see their own reflections in them.

We Have Your Next Headache Rack

Mytee Products carries more than half-of-dozen headache rack models along with installation kits, light bars, chain hangers, and binder racks. Everything you need to protect yourself and your truck against shifting loads can be found here on our site. We invite you to browse our inventory of headache racks and supplies.

If you are in the market for a new headache rack, we recommend an aluminum alloy product from Mytee Products. Aluminum alloys are strong yet still lightweight. An aluminum headache rack will keep you safe without the extra weight of steel or the need to continually maintain the rack to prevent corrosion.


Know Your Tractor Tires Before You Buy

Farmers are as foundational to the U.S. economy as truck drivers. In light of that, we are extremely proud to be able to offer a range of farming supplies for agricultural operations. This includes hay tarps, fencing materials, and tires for both wagons and tractors. This blog post will focus squarely on wagon and tractor tires.

If there is one piece of advice we would give to a farmer looking for tires, then it would be to make sure he or she knows the purpose behind each tire design before making a purchase. There are lots of different tire designs out there, three of which we carry at Mytee Products.

 

The four major categories of tractor and wagon tires are:

• Turf
• Industrial
• Field
• Ribbed

Turf Tires

Turf tires look a lot like standard truck and car tires. They may have a straight, zig-zag, or crisscross tread built on a wide tire surface. These are the tires you want to use if your tractor will be doing most of its work on grassy areas. The wide tire surface and multi-tread pattern provide adequate traction while minimizing damage to turf. Needless to say, these tires are not suitable in muddy conditions or out in the field.

Industrial Tires

Industrial tires occupy the middle ground between turf tires and the heavy-duty tires you would use in the field. Traction is provided by a tread design featuring a series of bars the start at the sidewall, descend diagonally for short distance, and then run horizontally across two-thirds of the tire surface. These tires are ideal for heavy-duty operations when you still want to minimize damage to underlying soil.

Field Tires

Field tires are the granddaddy of them all. These are the biggest, baddest, most heavy-duty tires you will find on the average American farm. They feature a very distinctive and aggressive tread pattern that consists of a series of bars that run diagonally from the sidewall to the center of the tire surface. The bars are offset from one another to provide continual traction.

These are the tires the farmer uses in the field. They work well whether the soil is soft and muddy or hard and frozen. It is not wise to use field tires on grassy areas though, as damage to the underlying turf can be significant.

Ribbed Tires

Finally, ribbed tires are those tires you generally use on the front axle of a 2WD tractor – with either one or two wheels. Ribbed tires are unusual in that they do not have a tread. Rather, they have either 1, 3, or 4 ribs that run parallel with the sidewall. Mytee Products only carries a 3-ribbed tire as it is the most commonly used.

These are the tires you want on the front of your tractor while out in the field. They provide excellent control in muddy and cultivated soil by digging into the soil and holding firm.

Note that ribbed tires are inappropriate for 4WD tractors in that they do not offer any amount of pulling traction. Owners of 4WD tractors will use either industrial or field tires on the front instead.

Get Your Tractor and Wagon Tires Here

Mytee Products is happy to be able to supply farmers with the tires they need for their tractors and wagons. Feel free to browse the entire inventory here on our website, or visit our Aurora warehouse and see them in person. We are confident you will be more than pleased with the quality and price. Our tires come from trusted manufacturers who have been serving the agricultural sector for years.


Bulkheads: A Better Choice than Penalty Straps

Every professional truck driver knows that he or she is responsible for making sure cargo is properly secured at every step of transport. Both federal and state laws require it. As such, drivers use everything from chains to ratchet straps to blocks to keep cargo in place. Even bulkheads are an important part of cargo control.

The bulkhead is something federal regulations refer to as a front-end structure. Where a headache rack is usually affixed to the rear of a truck’s cab, the bulkhead is affixed to the front end of a flatbed trailer to prevent forward movement of cargo. In the absence of a bulkhead, some other means of preventing forward movement is required on flatbed trailers.

CFR Part 300 Regulations

Federal regulations cover all cargo control for trucks that cross state lines. The particular portion of the federal regulations we are interested in for the purposes of this post is CFR Part 300. It contains regulations dealing with cargo control.

The regulations state in Part 393, section 10 that “when an article is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction by a headerboard, bulkhead, other cargo that is positioned to prevent movement, or other appropriate blocking devices, it must be secured by at least [one or two tiedowns]” depending on the cargo and its configuration.”

The regulations go on to stipulate the number of tie-downs (a.k.a., penalty straps) that must be used per foot and per pound. They are very explicit in this regard. Not using the right number of tiedowns can lead to a truck being taken out of service following a roadside inspection by a police officer or DOT official.

Bulkheads Eliminate Tiedowns

After reading what the federal regulations say, it should be fairly obvious where we are going with this. We believe bulkheads are the better choice because they eliminate the need for penalty straps. Keep this in mind: flatbed truck drivers are normally not paid for the time they spend securing cargo. If it takes an extra 15 minutes to apply a couple of tiedowns in the absence of a bulkhead, that is 15 minutes the wheels are not turning.

A bulkhead is always there. It is affixed to the front end of the trailer prior to load pickup; some drivers leave their bulkheads permanently attached. In either case, no extra time is spent on tiedowns when a bulkhead is involved. This reduces load times and gets the truck driver on the road more quickly.

For our money, bulkheads are also more secure. The reality is that penalty straps can fail in the event of an especially violent accident. Bulkheads can too, but they are less likely to fail than tiedowns. We think bulkheads are a better option just from a safety standpoint alone.

We’ve Got You Covered

One of our goals at Mytee Products is to make sure truck drivers have the necessary equipment to stay safe. Yes, we carry a full line of truck tarps and cargo control supplies to meet the needs of any driver. But we also carry safety equipment like headache racks and bulkheads. We have you covered regardless of your need.

We invite you to take a look at our 102-inch aluminum alloy bulkhead that is both DOT-rated and manufactured to the highest industry standards. The bulkhead is 4 feet high with a 10-foot return. If our standard bulkhead is not suitable for your trailer, please contact us and ask about custom sizes. One of our experienced representatives will help you find exactly what you need.

Sources:

e-CFR — https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#_top


Applying Hay Tarps in Colder Weather

If old man winter were an actual person, he might be nice enough to warn you of what he has planned over the next several months. He might ask farmers if they have enough hay tarps to protect what they plan to store. In truth, old man winter cannot ask questions, but we can. So, how are you looking for hay tarps?

The thing about hay tarps is that getting them in place as early as possible works to your advantage. It is a lot easier to properly deploy a tarp in warmer, drier weather than it is in the middle of that first winter storm. Therefore, it also works to your advantage to recognize the signs of the weather to come early enough to get those tarps in place.

Life in the Old Days

Long before there was an internet, cellphones, and all the other comforts of modern life, farmers looked for natural signs that winter was coming. They paid attention to the thickness of the coats of their livestock, knowing that those coats would fluff out as winter weather approached. They paid attention to migrating birds and foraging animals like squirrels who were busy stockpiling their winter food.

At the earliest signs of the approaching winter, farmers knew they had to get their hay in from the field. Out came the wagons and horses for a multi-day marathon of bailing, transporting, and stacking. Then all that hay had to be covered with some sort of protection.

Today, life is a lot easier. We have tractors to bring hay in from the field. We have advanced weather equipment that more accurately predicts when winter weather is coming. And, of course, there is the internet. Farmers can order their hay tarps online and have them delivered right to their doors. The convenience of modern life makes it a lot easier to protect a crop from moisture, mold, and pests.

Cover That Hay Now

The calendar has turned to November and the holiday season is fast approaching. That means the time for planning has long since passed. Now is the time to put those plans in motion and the time to get that hay covered.

Remember that the biggest enemies of hay at this time of year are pests and precipitation. Hay tarps alone may not be enough to keep the pests out, so you will have to look at other solutions for that. But well-deployed tarps held down with strong ropes and anchor points should be enough to keep the precipitation away from your crop.

There are lots of different methods for stacking hay prior to being covered. One of the more common methods is the A-frame. An A-frame stack is usually 3 to 4 bales high with a single row at the top to create a peak. You then throw your hay tarps over the stack and secure them to anchor points that you have driven into the ground. The resulting frame helps snow and rain run off rather than pooling.

Regardless of your stacking method, make sure your hay tarps extend over the edge of the stack far enough to allow moisture to fall away from the hay. If you run your tarps right down the side of the stack, you are inviting precipitation to pool at the base, which is to defeat the purpose of tarping.

Old man winter is knocking. If you are a farmer, he’s asking whether your hay tarps are ready. If you are not ready for winter, don’t delay. Order your hay tarps from Mytee Products today.


A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.