10 Things (Other Than Tools) to Keep in Your Toolbox

Aluminum toolboxes are part and parcel to working in the trucking industry. They are especially important to flatbed truckers who are ultimately responsible for maintaining their trailers and protecting cargo. That’s why you see flatbed truckers having multiple toolboxes mounted on their tractors, headache racks, and even their trailers.

So what do they keep in those toolboxes? If you’re a veteran truck drive, you already know the contents of those boxes. However, If you are new to the industry, it may take you a while to assemble everything you want to have with you on board. In this post, we’ve put together a list of things to help get you started. Each of these items might miss your checklist until you actually need them.

1. Spare Headlamps

It is illegal for you to run your truck in the dark without both headlamps functioning properly. Driving down the road as a ‘one-eyed bandit’ is a good way to get yourself pulled over and subjected to a roadside inspection. You can minimize such risks by carrying one or two spare headlamps at all times. It only takes a few minutes to change one.

2. Assorted Bulbs

Along with your headlamps, you should have an adequate selection of miscellaneous bulbs on hand. That way you always have a replacement when any of your lights go out. Have whatever sizes you need to accommodate taillights, running lights, trailer lights, etc.

3. Spare Parts

Owner-operators tend to carry a larger selection spare parts to keep themselves rolling. Examples include a spare alternator, pulleys and belts, air boots, filters, and the like. Any parts that tend to have a need for frequent replacement and can be handled on the road would be candidates for your toolbox.

4. Extra Fluids

It goes without saying that the trucker should have extra fluids in his or her toolboxes. This includes motor oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluid.

5. Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Your truck’s electrical system is not going to function properly if there’s a failure in one of the fuses or circuit breakers. Not only should you carry an ample supply in your toolbox but you should learn how to quickly identify which fuses and circuit breakers match the various electrical systems on your rig. The faster you can change them, the faster you can get back on the road.

6. Flares or Emergency Flasher

Breaking down on the side of the road at night can be a dangerous situation. To increase your safety, carry flares or an electric flasher or to save up on space a flare and flashlight combo in your toolbox.

7. An Assortment of Fasteners

You know that old coffee can full of nuts and bolts your grandfather used to keep on his tool bench? You should keep a similar can in your toolbox. An assortment of fasteners – including zip ties – will prove to be a lifesaver many times over the course of your career.

8. Extra Bungee Cords

Every flatbed trucker uses bungee cords to tie down tarps. Most of the time, those cords are kept in a single location so they can be found easily. Keep a spare pack of 50 in the bottom of your toolbox to guarantee you will never run out. There’s nothing worse than falling a couple of bungee cords short of a load.

9. Heavy-Duty Flashlight

A flexible, plastic flashlight is good for most emergencies. Still, keep a heavy-duty flashlight in your toolbox just in case your cheap plastic model fails.

10. Tire Thumper

Last but not least is the trusty tire thumper. The tire thumper represents a quick and easy way to check tire inflation on the go.


Mesh Tarps: Perfect for Dump Trucks and Trailers

Flatbed truck drivers are not the only ones requiring an ample supply of tarps. Dump truck drivers need tarps to secure their loads too. We recommend mesh tarps for dump truck and trailer loads rather than solid poly or canvas tarps. Why? We will explain the reason in this post.

Our heavy-duty PVC mesh tarps have been specifically designed for dump trucks and trailers. They are your best bet for securing loads whether you apply tarps manually or use a mechanical tarping system.

Federal and State Regulations

The first question to ask is why dump truck drivers use mesh tarps. The answer is simple: federal and state regulations require that all loads being carried by commercial vehicles be properly secured en route. Even though a dump truck might be carrying gravel, stone, or in aggregate material, that material must be kept secure.

Federal regulations require that all dump truck loads be kept in place so as to prevent debris from flying off and striking another vehicle. However, please note that federal regulations only apply to vehicles involved in interstate travel. That’s why the states have their own regulations for cargo control. In many cases, state regulations are either identical or very close to their federal counterparts.

In the simplest possible terms, any load being transported in a dump truck or trailer has to be prevented from causing damage to other vehicles. The easiest way to do this is to simply cover the load with a tarp. Mesh tarps are the perfect choice because these provide adequate load control without the need for keeping the elements out.

Durable and Reliable

PVC mesh tarps specifically made for dump trucks and trailers are durable and reliable enough for even the toughest jobs. Our mesh tarps are made with the heavy-duty PVC-coated vinyl for maximum durability. Tarps include 6-inch vinyl pockets, tough brass grommets installed at 2 foot intervals, and webbing-reinforced seams.

While some dump truck operators use generic blue poly tarps purchased at the hardware store, we still recommend purpose built mesh tarps. These are going to last much longer. PVC mesh tarps are also less likely to develop mold and mildew because they are highly breathable, unlike generic blue tarps.

Lightweight and Flexible

Another great benefit of PVC mesh tarps is that they are lightweight and flexible. Their lighter weight makes it easier to affix them to tarping systems as compared to solid poly tarps. They are easier to handle even if you tarp your loads by hand.

As far as flexibility is concerned, a PVC mesh tarp rolls and unrolls easily. Mesh tarps are flexible enough that they do not tend to bunch up or get tangled in tarping systems either. They roll out and back up again with very little effort.

Usable with Tarping Systems

Last but not least is the fact that PVC mesh tarps for dump trucks are made to be used with most standard tarping systems. That’s why we market these tarps as purpose built for dump trucks and trailers. Why does this matter? Just try fitting a generic blue tarp to your tarping system and you will quickly figure it out.

Tarping a dump truck load is supposed to be as effortless as possible. Fitting your tarping system with a purpose-built tarp designed specifically for that use ensures easy and reliable operation. You will not be fighting your tarp with every load.

Mesh tarps are the perfect solution for dump trucks and trailers. If you are not using them on your rig, now is a good time to change that.


How to Fix a Dented Aluminum Toolbox

A trucker’s investment in aluminum toolboxes can be pretty significant. High-quality aluminum trailer toolboxes can run you upwards of $500 or more. The last thing you want is an accident that leaves dents in one of your boxes. But things happen.

So, what do you do if a toolbox is dented? First, you don’t panic. There is a possibility you could remove that dent easily and without any further damage.

The following post provides a suggestion of how you could possibly fix a dented aluminum toolbox. Bear in mind that Mytee Products offers no guarantee that this procedure will work 100% effectively or that you will still be able to use your toolbox afterward. Also, please bear in mind that you need to be extremely careful when you are trying a quick fix to get a dent out and you have no other options. Otherwise, you might have to look for a suitable replacement.

 

 

All About Heat and Force
Aluminum is a very pliable metal that is easily dented. A wayward forklift or a poor backing job can easily dent a toolbox in seconds. The keys to getting the dent out are heat and force.

If you search online, you may come across recommendations that include pounding away on the tool box with a hammer. You do need the force of a hammer, but what you don’t need are brute force and to keep hammering away at the tool box to repair it. A few strokes of a hammer could do the job quickly if the dent isn’t deep.

However, if the dent is too deep for a hammer you could make your life a lot easier if you heat the metal with a blowtorch for as little as 2-3 minutes. Heating the aluminum will also reduce the chances of breaking welds or cracking the metal at the site of the dent.

Take a blowtorch and gradually heat up the metal at the site of the dent – and maybe a half inch all the way around. Once the metal is hot, begin gently tapping and with a hammer to see how it responds. Gradually increase the force of the hammer until you start pushing the dent out. You may or may not have to continue heating as you hit the metal. It all depends on how severe the dent is.

Before we proceed any further, we want to reiterate that you need to be extremely careful while following this method of fixing a dent. You do not want to damage your tool box.

What you absolutely want to avoid is continually heating and cooling the aluminum. This will cause unnecessary stress that could make the problem worse. It is better to keep a low flame going while you are pounding out the dent than having to reheat the metal numerous times.

Once the dent is out, you’ll need to inspect the metal for any cracks or broken welds. Depending on how serious a broken weld is, you may have to take the box to a welder for additional repairs. If the break is minor, you can use a brazing rod to repair it. Brazing rods also do wonders for cracks occurring at the site of the original dent.

Why Try to Fix a Dent?

Now that you’ve read our simple procedure for fixing dented tool boxes, you might have two questions at the back of your mind; a) as a supplier of tool boxes, why would we want to offer a solution and b) why a trucker would bother to fix a dent over just buying a new one. Well, it comes down to a few things; firstly, we want to offer our customers solutions to make their life on the road easier. Secondly, being on the road constantly doesn’t give truck drivers to option of just making a pit stop in the middle of the road and buying a new box that fits perfectly. Last but definitely not the least is space. The amount of storage on an 18-wheeler is limited to the number of available toolboxes installed on the rig.

Truck drivers have to fill their tool boxes with an endless supply of items ranging from bungee straps to tarps to hand tools and spare parts. Any experienced truck driver will tell you that there never seems to be enough storage space. Seeing that space is at a premium, truckers cannot afford dents in their toolboxes as it results in wasted space.

A small dent or wear over time may be fine, but larger dents that prevent the trucker from storing items they absolutely need to be there are no good.


How to Build a Quick Hay Storage System

There are lots of different ways to store hay using tarps. In this post, we will outline the steps for building a quick and dirty hay storage system that will keep your hay safe and dry without the need for a permanent structure like a pole barn or garage.

Bear in mind that this description is just a general guide. You may want to modify what you read here to better suit your circumstances. Also remember your main goal: to protect hay from the elements so as to reduce spoilage as much as possible. Unprotected hay can suffer spoilage rates of up to 20%, making for significant losses in an exceptionally bad season.

To build your quick and dirty hay storage system, you will need hay tarps, rope, and PVC piping. Spiral anchor pins are optional if you would rather stake down the tarp rather than running rope under the bales of hay.

One last thing before we get to the build: depending on how you build your system the hay storage system designed here work best with round bales and square bales stacked in a pyramid. Use your own discretion when building your system.

Step-By-Step Process

The first step is to measure out the storage space. A 28-foot tarp should be good for 70-75 bales of hay stacked in a pyramid configuration. You can place the first layer directly on the ground or lay down some gravel first, it’s up to you. Most farmers just go straight to the ground.

Once your storage space has been measured out, lay ropes across the space at 3 foot intervals. You will eventually be pulling these ropes up and using them to secure your tarp, so leave some excess. Now you are ready to begin stacking your hay right on top of the rope.

When stacking is complete, you are going to lay PVC pipe across the top of the stack to prevent the tarp from directly contacting the hay. This is important for allowing air flow to move over the top of the stack. If you don’t do this, you could get moisture build up that could promote mold or mildew growth in the top few inches of the pyramid.

Next, stretch your tarp out on the ground. With someone to help you, you can now lift the outside edge and pull the tarp up and over the entire stack. Do your best to center the tarp before tying it down. Also, do not worry too much if the tarp seems a bit too small. It’s better to have less tarp to work with than too much.

Next, string the ropes through grommets in the tarp and tie everything off. Your ropes should have enough tension to keep the tarp taught. The lower edge of the tarp should be positioned just slightly lower than the widest point of the stack in order to allow rain to run off.

Lastly, insert PVC pipe where the tarp makes contact with the first layer of hay. The tarp should already have enough tension to hold the pipe in place. The idea here is to replicate what you did at the top of the stack: keeping the tarp from making direct contact with the hay.

After Installation

If you did everything correctly, you should have a complete stack of hay properly covered and secured against the elements. After installation though, it is important to check the tension of the ropes every week or so. Your haystack will settle somewhat, so you will need to tighten the ropes throughout the storage season.

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The Real Value of Corner and Edge Protectors

Corner and edge protectors represent a rather insignificant investment on the part of the flatbed truck. They cost a lot less than tarps, winch straps, and just about all the other cargo control supplies you might purchase. They certainly cost less than paying for damaged cargo. However, the real value in corner edge protectors is not found in the retail price. It is found in what they do for the truck driver.

Just to be clear, corner and edge protectors are used to eliminate direct contact between cargo and tarps and, when necessary, other pieces of cargo. They can be made of steel, plastic, or rubber. Mytee Products carries 14 different options in a variety of styles, materials, and colors.

Edge Protectors Save You Money

The first thing corner and edge protectors do for the truck driver is save money. How so? Remember, truck drivers are responsible for the integrity of their loads from the moment of pick up until the time of unloading. If anything arrives damaged, the driver could be financially liable.

Flatbed truckers commonly carry cargo insurance for their own protection. But keep in mind that insurance rates stay low only if the driver does not make any claims. By investing a small amount in corner and edge protectors, drivers are reducing the likelihood of damaged cargo that could result in an insurance claim. They are keeping their insurance rates as low as possible at the same time. That saves money.

Corner Protectors Protect the Driver’s Reputation

As a flatbed trucker, you may not run into too many shippers willing to mandate the use of corner and edge protectors. Yet they still expect you to take good care of the cargo you are being entrusted with. Don’t you think shippers are paying attention to what you do? Of course they are.

When shippers and receivers know a truck driver voluntarily uses corner and edge protectors, they think more highly of that driver. It goes without saying that a driver’s reputation to protect cargo is improved with every effort taken to properly protect cargo. Furthermore, drivers with good reputations for cargo control get the most lucrative loads more often.

Edge Protectors Reduce Driver Anxiety

You can value your edge and corner protectors in dollars and cents simply by keeping track of how much money you spend on them. But those little pieces of plastic and metal can do something for you that cannot be valued in terms of money: they can greatly reduce or completely eliminate your anxiety.

Anxiety over protecting cargo is part and parcel with flatbed trucking. Preventing damage is always at the back of the trucker’s mind, as it should be. But why be more anxious than you need to be? Better yet, why be anxious at all? If you use corner and edge protectors the way they are supposed to be used, the risk of damage from contact with other surfaces is minimal. So is the risk of damage from road vibration.

Purchase Your Corner Protectors from Mytee

The amount of money you invest in an ample supply of corner and edge protectors is relatively minor compared to what you invest in other cargo control supplies. In light of that, there really is no valid reason to not have edge and corner protectors in your toolbox. We recommend a variety of options including steel protectors with chain slots, elongated v-board edge protectors, plastic tarp protectors, and rubber corner protectors.

Before you decide to purchase your next round of corner and edge protectors, browse our inventory. We have everything you need at very reasonable prices.