Tools to Make Tarping Easier

Tarping a flatbed load can be a time-consuming job. Flatbed truck drivers are appreciative of shippers who have invested in automatic tarping machines, as these make using steel, coil and flatbed lumber tarps relatively easier. However, a shipper who uses a tarping machine is not the standard. A flatbed trucker is, more often than not, left to tarp his/her loads manually.

Many equipment makers have recognized the need and have begun developing tools to make tarping easier. Two of those tools, the side kit and the accordion tarp cover, turn what used to be a long and laborious process into something that can be completed in just a few minutes.

Side Kit Tarps

A side kit tarp is essentially a modular frame a truck driver can build over his/her cargo on which to lay and secure a tarp. It consists of a series of aluminum rails and composite panels that easily attach to a flatbed trailer via the built-in pockets most trailers offer. Once the structure is complete, the driver can place a tarp on the top, unroll it and pull the sides down for securement. The side kit works equally well for lumber, coil and steel tarps.

side kit tarps

The primary benefits of a side kit are cost and modular design. A good kit is very affordable and should more than pay for itself in time saved. Furthermore, the modular nature allows a driver to install only what is needed for each load. He/she just inserts the side posts into the trailer pockets, attaches the panels, and it is ready for tarping.

Accordion Tarp Covers

Drivers not afraid to spend in exchange for speed and convenience can invest in an accordion tarp cover frame. As with the side kit, the accordion frame provide the surface on which to lay and tie-down tarps. The big difference is that it only needs to be assembled once. The frame opens and closes like an accordion, making it possible to permanently attach a tarp that expands and contracts with the frame. Tensioners mounted between each section ensure that the tarp is pulled tightly back when the unit is not in use. Accordion tarps are great solution for trailer drivers whose loads are consistent in both size and weight.

In the absence of either tool, drivers should always follow the standard safety tips for tarping a load. Be it steel tarps, coil tarps or lumber tarps, it pays to be careful when walking on top of a load. Windy weather should also be addressed by pulling a trailer behind a building or other blocking structure prior to applying tarps.

In some states, shippers are required to assist drivers in getting their tarps to the top of a load. Even in states where it is not mandatory, it never hurts to ask for a little help. The driver can make things easier by requesting a forklift operator to lay the tarp on top of the load so that he/she may secure it appropriately.

Mytee Products carries a complete selection of tarps and other load securing products for North American truckers. All of our tarps are made of high-quality poly or canvas materials that are long lasting and provide a great return for drivers using them


Tips for Covering a Load You Can’t Stand On

If the world were perfect for flatbed truckers, every load would come already secured and covered with a tarp. The driver would simply hook up and go. However, in the world of a flatbed hauler, tarping a load is an art that requires masterful skills. A good example would be to consider, tarping loads that are too fragile for the driver to walk on. Just how does one tarp these kinds of loads? The simple answer is : Very carefully.

The reality of the situation is that, shippers who routinely deal with fragile or oversized loads tend to invest in a tarping machine that essentially eliminates the labor intensive element of applying tarps. Shippers without machines may have their forklift operators lift tarps and drop them to the top of the load. And, then there are those shippers who leave it completely upto the trucker. These are the ones you to be concerned about. The harder it becomes to cover a load, the more grueling a trucker’s job becomes.

flatbed

Here is a list of tips for covering those fragile loads a trucker needs to secure yet cannot stand on.

Know the Law

The most important tip for loads that require tarps is that, the driver should be well versed with the legal tarping guidelines which he or she may have learnt during their certification process. Some states give drivers the legal right to refuse a load if a shipper will not provide forklift assistance on a load that would otherwise be unsafe to tarp. Many fragile loads cannot be walked on and yet they tend to stack up high enough that, it would be quite impossible for a trucker to apply his/her tarps without some assistance. Knowing the law puts the trucker in a good position to protect him/herself when tarping and untarping.

Use Smaller Tarps

One way to compensate for fragile loads is to use several smaller tarps instead of one large tarp. The smaller tarps are easier to manipulate, especially when the driver is unable to get atop the load. Although the downside of this strategy is that it is time consuming, the flatbed tarps used, do secure the load very well.

Employing a Pulley System

A bit of creative thinking and maybe a small investment would result in employing a pulley system to apply tarps, save time and ultimately secure a load.

Requesting for Assistance

The easiest tip is the one many truckers find the most difficult: just asking for help. It should not take much time to find someone else who can help you get tarps up and over the trucks load. The most important thing to remember here is to find a person experienced with tarping a fragile flatbed load.

Flatbed truckers are a creative group that can usually find a way around even the biggest challenges. When those challenges include loads that cannot be walked on, alternative means need to complete their jobs – apply tarps efficiently and effectively to secure the load.


Cleaning and Storing RV Cover Could Extend Its Life

RV owners who choose to use a cover during the winter, normally do so with the expectation of extending the life of their trailer or motor home by protecting it from the harsh winter elements of snow, sleet and rain. Cleaning and storing your RV cover properly can extend its life as well.

When spring arrives, it is tempting to pull the RV cover off as soon as you possibly can and head off into the horizon. However, bear in mind that , how you remove your cover, and what you do with it once it is removed, will go a long way toward determining how long the cover will last. Here is a step-by-step guide to removing, cleaning, and storing your RV cover:

Step #1 – Clean before Removing

The first step in the properly caring for your RV cover is to clean it before you remove it from the RV or motor home. Why before? Because cleaning while it is on your rig allows you to easily see all of the dirt and grime. It also allows for completely drying it – especially on a warm sunny day. Cleaning can be as simple as hosing down the cover or if there are any stains or ground-in dirt, a bit of warm water and mild detergent will do the trick. Once clean, allow the cover to dry fully.

Class-A-RV-Cover

Step #2 – Inspect for Damage, Repair

A clean cover is ready to be inspected for any damage. If you are looking for tears or holes, separating seams, worn grommets, etc., leaving the cover on as you check it makes identifying damage a lot easier. You will probably find it easier to make repairs while the cover is still in place as well. Once you are sure you’ve checked it well for any signs of wear and tear or damage, it is time to remove your cover.

Step #3 – Remove the Cover

It’s always a good idea to have help to remove your RV cover. Lift the cover straight up in order to prevent it from catching on any corners. Then spread the cover out, be it on the lawn, garage floor, or wherever you have adequate space. You may have to give it the once over with a broom to remove any loose debris. If you plan to lay it on the lawn, make sure it hasn’t been recently watered. Moisture trapped inside the cover while in storage can lead to mold growth.

Step #4 – Fold and Store

Most of today’s covers come with a storage bag and folding instructions. Follow the instructions if you have them. Otherwise, the best way to fold your RV cover is to begin with two straight folds across the length in order to reduce the width of the cover to one-third of its original size. Then fold down the length using a series of z-folds until the cover is folded down small enough to be easily managed. In the absence of a storage bag, a plastic garbage pail or storage bin with a sealed lid would work well too

By taking the time to properly clean, repair, fold and store your RV cover, you will be extending its life for as long as possible. As with anything else, proper care and maintenance means that the cover will last longer. At the end of the day, you’ve invested money in a quality cover; you might just as well spend a little bit of time and effort in taking care of your investment


The Importance of Lumber Tarps

At first thought, it may seem that applying tarps to lumber loads is a waste of time. We just assume lumber is durable enough to handle a trip up the interstate without too many problems. However, that isn’t the case. There is one silent villain of lumber that could cause monstrous levels of damage and ruin the entire load long before it reaches its destination. And that enemy is – moisture. Keeping lumber dry is the primary reason for using lumber tarps.

To be clear, hauling lumber is normally associated with carrying cut wood from the harvest location to the processing location. Nevertheless, hauling lumber can also mean carrying finished products, such as 2x4s, to a construction site. Regardless of the stage of production, all lumber is still susceptible to moisture.

Fungal Growth Equals Worthless Wood

Wood is a pretty durable product, capable of taking a lot of punishment. Nonetheless, under the right conditions, fungus can grow within a load of lumber. Substantial fungal growth can make an entire load worthless. This is why flatbed truckers have to be very careful about protecting lumber on the road.

lumber

In order for fungus to grow, three things need to be present in just the right proportions: moisture, warm temperatures, and air. Any two can be just right and you will still not get fungus if the third is not. This is why rough cut lumber can sit in the bottom of a river for hundreds of years without ever growing fungus or decaying. There is simply not enough oxygen to sustain fungal growth.

On the back of a flatbed trailer however, it is not difficult at all to reach optimum conditions for fungal growth. There is obviously plenty of air, and a fairly warm day with sunshine satisfies the temperature requirements. Add a little moisture from a short rainstorm and you have the perfect conditions for fungus.

The main problem with lumber loads is that any water managing to seep through open spaces can then become trapped between individual pieces of lumber. If allowed to sit long enough in this condition, fungus can grow. Therefore, the best way to avoid the risk is to cover the load with lumber tarps. Tarps keep away moisture and, in the case of finished lumber, prevent any damage from flying debris and insects.

Tarp Quality Important

Providing maximum protection for a lumber load is a matter of using a high-quality lumber tarp. A good tarp will be large enough to cover the top and sides of the load, with flaps on the front and back to completely encase the lumber. Vinyl or poly are the two most common fabric choices, though it’s not unheard of for some truckers to use canvas.

We recommend a high-quality tarp from a reputable manufacturer. The driver will pay a little more for quality, but the higher price is worth it over the long term. A quality tarp will offer maximum protection and last longer than a cheaper alternative. Moreover, given that lumber tarps are one of the most important tools of the trade for the timber hauler, there is no point in doing business on the cheap.

Protecting lumber from moisture is an important part of the job. This makes lumber work the most labor-intensive and time-consuming in all of the industry. Truckers should consider what is involved in order to make sure they are getting paid well enough to make the work worth their while. Considering that the pay is good, applying those lumber tarps is no big deal.


Securing Your Cargo Is a Safety Concern

Flatbed trucker drivers are well aware of their responsibility towards the cargo they carry from the moment they hook a trailer. They also know that load securement is a matter of complying with the law and protecting the interests of both shipper and receiver. However, load security is also a safety concern. It applies not only to the cargo itself, but also to the truck tarps a driver uses to protect and secure the cargo in his charge.

During a recent news story covered by Portland television station KATU, Oregon State Police Sergeant Yvette Shepherd said that truck drivers “do what they are supposed to do” 90% of the time. Unfortunately, it is that 10% that can do the damage. During a ride-along with Sergeant Shepherd, the KATU reporter witnessed a number of serious problems including one truck that lost a tarp at 65 mph. The tarp struck a van following behind it, wrapping itself around the axle.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. Nevertheless, things could have been far worse. Imagine the damage a tarp flying straight off its load and landing on the windshield of a trailing car could do? Add a bit of momentary panic, and that driver could react in a way that sends his/her car off the road and causes harm to himselff or other drivers on the road.

cargo-truck

Take the Extra Time

We realize that a majority of truckers are quite responsible about making sure their tarps are properly applied and secured. We want to encourage our readers to take the required time to protect every load they transport. It only takes a few minutes, but the time spent could ultimately save someone’s life. Before you drive off, make sure you check:

•Tie-Downs – Whatever you use to secure your tarps should be checked one last time before you pull away. This includes ropes, bungee cords, tie down straps, and chains. Being vigilant about cords and ropes helps, because these tend to fray and wear over time.

•Grommets – When grommets come loose from the fabric of the tarp, they begin posing a safety risk. Follow the rule that a loose grommet is a failed grommet, and that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A truck driver does not want a complete small grommet failing his cargo on the freeway.

•Wind Pockets – Pockets that can catch the wind cause truck tarps to flap, come loose and ultimately become a truck drivers nightmare as it affects his/her time efficiency while driving. While it is not possible to prevent every wind pocket, wind pocket troubles can be minimized by applying tarps as tightly as possible and securing them with cargo protectors. An extra bungee cord or two might be all that is required to close a potential pocket.

•Loose Material – Lastly, any loose material that tends to flap in the breeze should be attended to. This is not as much a short-term safety issue as it is a long-term wear concern. Preventing flapping will extend the life of your tarps and better protect your cargo.At the end of the day, the tarps need to last as long as possible.

As always, load securement is something that should be checked within 50 miles of departure. After that, it is always a good idea to check the cargo during fuel stops or rest breaks. One can never check a load too many times during the trip.

If you are among the flatbed truckers who strive to be the best at what you do, we encourage you to keep doing what you do. If you like to do things on the easier side, please consider the repercussions of your actions on others. Securing your truck load is not only a matter of protecting the cargo between the shipper and receiver, is it a concern for safety.

Sources:

1.KATU – http://www.katu.com/news/problemsolver/Rogue-truckers-pushing-the-limits-on-Oregon-highways-292476271.html