Securing Tarps for Potentially Bad Weather

Powerful storms that included tornadoes swept through Illinois in early April (2015), leaving a line of devastation in its wake. Perhaps you even saw the viral video of a tractor-trailer being blown over by the wind. Interestingly enough, the tornado being filmed by storm chasers was still a few miles away when winds toppled the truck. It just goes to show how vulnerable trucks are in bad weather.

Flatbed trailers do have a slight advantage over dry vans and reefer trailers in that their profiles are not as high with most loads. However, an oversize load can be just as prone to high winds as a refer or drive van. And, of course, the tarps used to protect a load are always a concern. The potential for bad weather dictates that flatbed driver take extra precautions to secure their tarps.

bad-weather

Preparing for Bad Weather

When a driver knows bad weather is imminent, he or she understands the urgency to make sure loads and tarps are well secured. Cargo should have already been properly secured at the shipping yard prior to departure; this is something drivers routinely check before hitting the road. Having said that, it is still a good idea to check that the chocks are in place and that tire chains are tight, prior to driving out into adverse weather conditions.

Insofar as truck tarps are concerned, any air pockets allowing the fabric to move could become a real problem in the event of extraordinarily high winds. Tarps should be readjusted to eliminate air pockets and prevent any material from flapping. A trucker should check his/her tarps within 50 or 60 miles of departure and then with every stop after that.

Rubber straps may be sufficient for securing steel tarps under normal driving and weather conditions. Nevertheless, when the potential of severe weather arises, extra straps might be required for more strength. Likewise, rubber rope could be used around the entire perimeter of lumber tarps to keep everything in place.

The main antagonist for truck tarps in extreme weather conditions is wind. Doing everything possible to make sure wind does not get underneath a tarp is the best thing a trucker can do. Truck tarps should never be secured to the outside of the rub rail. Under normal driving conditions, this allows debris and soot to get in under the tarp. And if debris and soot can get in, so can air. This could prove quite problematic in the event of foul weather.

Applying Better Judgement

Truck drivers should take necessary precautions to secure cargo and tarps in the anticipation of severe weather. However, no tarping system is a substitute for better judgement. An experienced truck driver knows when not to challenge the wrath of adverse weather conditions.

Spring and late summer can be volatile in the Midwest due to the threat of tornadoes. Being mindful of weather forecasts while choosing driving routes is not just wise but potentially lifesaving. In the Northeast and upper Midwest, winter storms can be as violent as severe summer thunderstorms, including whipping winds that could pummel a tractor-trailer on the freeway.

At the end of the day, weather can be unpredictable. It is up to a truck driver to gauge the weather conditions and determine the best way to secure their vehicles appropriately. The goal is to make sure the load makes it to its intended destination with both the cargo and driver unharmed.


Hay Tarps: A Wise Investment

The arrival of spring means that cattle farmers across the US will be making plans for spring, summer and fall grazing. Properly managing grazing lands and hay storage, especially during the summer months, is an important part of the farmer’s preparations for the coming winter. According to the University of Tennessee’s Gary Bates, storing hay under tarps is one of two strategies farmers can use to reduce their wintertime hay needs as much as 50%.

The primary purpose of hay tarps is to protect stored product from moisture. As any farmer knows, excessive moisture trapped inside hay causes two problems. First, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, mold and fungus that can make the hay unusable as feed. An entire crop can be lost very quickly if it is not covered properly.

The second reason, although not as common as bacteria and mold growth, is the real potential of spontaneous fire. Moisture trapped within a stack of hay encourages activity among bacteria, an activity that generates heat as the bacteria multiply and grow. Heat can build up until the stack eventually catches fire.

hay-tarps

Preventing Hay Rot

In a recent interview with the Leaf Chronicle, Bates said that the combination of hay tarps and stockpiling tall fescue in the fall could reduce the farmer’s hay needs by 30%-50%. The fescue is used to extend the fall grazing season so that less hay is used throughout the winter while using hay tarps reduces waste by protecting against rot. Given the fact that feeding cattle hay during the winter is a costly proposition, anything farmers can do to reduce the amount of hay they need ultimately helps the bottom line.

For hay tarps to fulfill their purpose, a farmer needs to make sure that any surface potentially exposed to rain is covered. There are multiple ways to accomplish this. Some farmers completely wrap their haystacks, covering the top and all four sides and staking the tarp to the ground. Others use a series of hay tarps suspended over ropes or an aluminum frame to create an easy-to-access hay house. Still others might stack hay up next to a barn, on the leeward side, and then cover only the top of the stack. At the end of the day, the hay bales or stacks need to be properly covered.

Spend More for Quality

Just as a trucker needs quality tarps that will last a long time, farmers should think twice about spending as little as possible on the cheapest tarps available. It is better to spend a little more for a quality product that will be durable for years over a cheaper product that might just make it through a season. Even the most expensive tarp will pay for itself in a season or two if a farmer is capable of reducing his/her hay waste by 30% to 50%.

A good quality hay tarp is a UV-treated piece of polyethylene fabric with heavy-duty threading and webbing every 4 inches or so. Reinforced brass grommets provide for easy tie-down with 16-inch spiral anchor pins. Double stitched seams and reinforcements around webbing make for a tarp that can withstand tough weather conditions.

As for color, today’s tarps are usually silver on one side and black on the other. The silver side is placed up to reflect sunlight while the black under surface underneath absorbs heat. This provides maximum protection on those hot, sunny days that could potentially rob hay of all its moisture. Hay with no moisture is no better than hay with too much.

Spring is here, and cattle farmers are making plans for summer and fall. Those plans should include hay tarps along with strategic planning of fall fescue. Combining the two could save the farmer substantially during next winter’s hay feeding season.

Sources:

  • Leaf Chronicle – http://www.theleafchronicle.com/story/money/business/2015/03/26/farm-decisions-today-will-affect-tomorrow/70503522/

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