Material Choices: Not All Ratchet Straps Are Equal

Makers of winch and ratchet straps for cargo control can choose from a number of different construction materials. The three most common are propylene, nylon, and polyester. Of those three, propylene is not recommended for the trucking industry because it does not handle heavy loads very well. Among the remaining two choices, the latter is the best choice for cargo control.

To say that all ratchet straps are not equal is obvious if you understand the differences between the three materials. Propylene is material generally reserved for needs that do not require heavy load limits. For example, you might find it used to make bag straps, belts, and other similar things. Winch and ratchet straps for flatbed trucking are rarely, if ever, made with propylene.

Five Reasons Nylon and Polyester Are Better

Before you buy new winch or ratchet straps for your truck, we encourage you to consider material choices. The material you choose could end up having a significant impact on how securely your cargo is carried. Below are five reasons nylon and polyester are far better choices than propylene.

1. UV Protection

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can do damage to cargo control products without a truck driver ever knowing it. Ultraviolet rays can dry out and crack rubber bungee straps; they cause significant discoloration of truck tarps; they can reduce the life of the stitching material used to hold tarp material together. Where ratchet straps are concerned, polyester is the most resistant to UV rays. Nylon is fairly resistant as well.

2. Overall Strength

The biggest reason propylene is inappropriate for heavy loads is because it stretches considerably. Stretching of up to 50% is not abnormal for propylene. Nylon can stretch up to 30% under the heaviest loads while polyester is not likely to stretch beyond 15%. Once again, that makes polyester ideal for ratchet straps.

3. Tensile Strength

Tensile strength is defined as the maximum load a material can bear before breaking. Once again, propylene does not hold up very well. The average propylene strap is good only for about 700 pounds whereas nylon and polyester can manage loads of up to 7,000 pounds and 10,000 pounds respectively.

4. Resistance to Abrasion

Abrasion is a big problem in the trucking industry. From the sharp edges of cargo to the flatbed trailers that carry it, there are a lot of things that can cause abrasive friction on ratchet straps. Neither propylene nor nylon stand up well to abrasion. Polyester does.

5. Water Resistance

Lastly, water resistance is something truckers have to be concerned about. If a strap that were to become saturated it would automatically be weaker under load. It would also be prone to mold growth and more rapid breakdown under continual cycles of saturation and drying.

Believe it or not, the worst performer in the water-resistant category is nylon. Propylene actually does better in this regard, which is why it is used for things like lifejacket straps. Ultimately though, polyester is again the clear winner.

Winch and Ratchet Straps from Mytee

Hopefully you have detected a pattern here. Polyester is the material of choice for winch and rapid straps because it is far superior to its alternatives. It is the material of choice used by our manufacturers.

Mytee Products carries a full line of winch and ratchet straps ideal for flatbed truckers and their cargo control needs. You can shop for your straps by browsing our inventory like a catalog, or by using the handy search tool now available on our website. Search by price, load limit, brand, etc.


How to Easily Enhance a Headache Rack

If you are a flatbed trucker working without a headache rack, you really need to rethink your strategy. You are but one accident away from a load coming through your cab in a hard-braking scenario that exceeds the tensile strength of your straps or chains. Having said that, truckers with headache racks can enhance those racks with a quick and dirty trick that is easy and inexpensive.

Get more out of your headache rack by securing stacked railroad ties at the front of your trailer with 5/16 chain and a break-over binder. Railroad ties are pretty easy to come by, and in some cases, you can get them for free if you know where to look. You can use 4 x 4 timbers if you don’t have access to railroad ties.

Truckers who haul freshly harvested timber use this trick all the time. Why? Because logs are among the most unruly pieces of cargo you can put on the back of a flatbed trailer. Being careful to stack timbers securely helps to some degree, but you never know when a log is going to shift forward. Adding the bulkhead just makes a driver safer.

How and Why It Works

At first glance, it might seem like building a bulkhead to enhance a headache rack is a waste of time and effort. After all, the whole point of the headache rack is to provide a tough barrier between tractor and load. But here’s the problem: cargo shifting forward on a trailer has to cross that open space between trailer and cab in order to do damage. Any cargo that does manage to traverse that empty space unimpeded has momentum behind it. Momentum is the killer.

A log with enough momentum can severely damage a headache rack to the point of requiring replacement. In a worst-case scenario, a log can send pieces of the rack through the cab. Building a bulkhead on the front of the trailer prevents deadly momentum.

The laws of physics dictate that stacking a load flush with a wooden bulkhead greatly reduces the risk of cargo striking the back of a tractor because the bulkhead provides a surface area capable of absorbing and dispersing the energy of moving cargo. Thus, a bulkhead prevents cargo from getting the momentum it needs to do damage to the tractor.

Easy to Remove

The suggestion to use railroad ties and chain to build a bulkhead is not coincidental. The design is intended to create a bulkhead that is easily removable when it is not needed or it might be in the way. It’s a lot easier to remove chains and railroad ties than to break the welds of a permanently affixed bulkhead system.

If you know you have a month’s worth of loads that do not involve any timber, you can quickly remove your bulkhead and go on your way. The same goes if you have to take an oversized load that needs a few extra inches off the trailer. It only takes a few minutes to reinstall the bulkhead when you need it again.

Here at Mytee Products, we sell a variety of headache racks in different sizes and configurations. Headache racks are great tools for protecting your truck and providing a bit of extra storage at the same time. For those loads when your headache rack may not be enough to protect you, consider building a quick and dirty bulkhead using railroad ties and chains. This simple but effective fix could make a difference in protecting both you and your truck.


Top 5 Bungee Strap Hacks for Truckers

You just ordered two packs of bungee straps from Mytee Products. You will eventually go through all of them, but you suddenly realize that having 100 straps on board your truck is a bit of overkill. No worries. Bungee straps are not just for tying down tarps. As a flatbed trucker, you can do a lot of amazing things with those little black wonders.

Below are some of the more creative bungee strap hacks we have come across online. If you have additional hacks not listed here, we would love to hear your ideas. The incredibly versatile bungee strap is to the flatbed trucker what duct tape is to the DIY homeowner. There seems to be no end to how bungees can be used.

1. Hang Your Tarps

Neatly folding your tarps and storing them in the toolbox is the normal thing to do. But you might find yourself dropping one load only to drive just across town to pick up the next one. A quick and dirty way to save time is to fold your tarps into rolls and hang them from the headache rack with half a dozen bungee straps. It is fast, easy, and you are not risking any damage to the tarps.

2. Hang a Quick Clothesline

You may spend your life on the road, but you still need to do your laundry. Save a little money at the laundromat by not using the dryer. Instead, stretch some bungee straps across the inside of your sleeper cab and then hang your laundry. Let it dry as you drive. You can take everything down when you stop for the night.

3. Replace a Broken Curtain Rod

Your sleeper cab hopefully affords you a measure of privacy with the strategic use of curtains. Those curtains are hung on either plastic rods or cords. If one of them breaks, a couple bungee straps works as a good substitute until you can purchase a proper replacement. And if your sleeper cab does not come equipped with curtains, you can make your own with an old blanket or set of bedsheets and a few bungee straps.

4. Secure Things in the Cab

What kinds of things do you carry in your sleeper cab? We have known truckers to bring along things like microwave ovens, crock pots, and trash cans. You can secure any and all of those extra items with bungee straps. And before you say it’s not necessary, just remember that you never know when a sudden stop or start will knock something off a shelf. Even simple road vibration can cause something like a hotplate or coffeemaker to travel across a shelf and fall off.

5. Secure Toolbox Doors

Toolbox doors are going to remain tightly closed when they are brand-new. But time wears on toolboxes just as it does the rest of your rig. Once those toolbox doors start to loosen, just a single bungee strap across the top will keep them place even at highway speeds. You will not have to worry about the door suddenly flying open as you’re cruising down the interstate at 65 mph.

Every flatbed truck driver knows bungee straps are great tools for securing tarps. But the versatility of the trusted bungee strap goes well beyond that individual use. Bungee straps are perfect for a lengthy list of needs inside and outside the truck.

Mytee Products carries a full selection of bungee straps with crimped hooks. We also carry bungee rope cord, replacement S hooks, and rubber rope hooks. We offer great prices on each of our products – especially when you buy in bulk.


Canvas Tarps: To Treat or Not to Treat

One of the main advantages of canvas tarps is that they are made with natural fibers tightly woven together to create a strong, breathable material suitable for a variety of uses. Truckers sometimes use canvas tarps for certain kinds of loads that demand breathable tarp protection.

The question for truck drivers purchasing new canvas tarps is whether to get treated or untreated material. Canvas is an excellent material for truck tarps by itself, but manufacturers do offer tarps that have been treated for water resistance, UV protection, and even fire retardation. So, which is better; treated or untreated canvas?

There is no right or wrong answer here. Both materials have their strong and weak points. For the trucker, it is a matter of understanding those points and then determining which choice is better most of the time. Some truckers carry tarps of both types in order to be prepared for anything.

Water Resistance
Untreated canvas is naturally water resistant thanks to the extremely tight weave of the fibers. But water resistance does not mean waterproof. Treating canvas for water resistance also does not make it waterproof. Rather, the chemical treatment is a wax-like material that causes water to bead up and roll off rather easily. A canvas tarp treated for water resistance is less likely to allow water to pool.
On the positive side, a water-resistant treatment also reduces the risk of mold and mildew. As long as a treated tarp is properly dried before being folded and stored away, mold and mildew should never be a problem. On the downside, treated canvas is somewhat less breathable. If breathability is a concern, untreated canvas may be a better option.

Fire Retardation
It would be unusual to find a canvas tarp treated for fire retardation but not water and UV resistance. This dictates that fire retardation involves an extra treatment above and beyond a water-resistant coating. This extra protection is probably not needed except in cases where a canvas tarp may be accidentally exposed to open flame or sparks.

UV Resistance
The third kind of treatment also applied to canvas tarps is an anti-UV treatment. Because canvas is made of natural fibers, it is subject to break down as a result of UV exposure. Natural UV breakdown can lead to rot if a canvas material is also exposed to mold and mildew.

The reality is that all canvas materials break down over time. It is unavoidable for natural materials. But treating canvas for both water and UV resistance slows down the process of wear and tear. A properly treated material is less likely to fall victim to rot. In addition, retreating canvas every few years can extend its life.

Treating Tarps Yourself
The truck driver who has chosen treated canvas tarps would do well to apply a new treatment on a regular schedule, according to the manufacturers recommendations. A premium finish coat product specifically designed for canvas is the best option. Finishing products can be found at boating and RV centers, trucking supply centers, and even sporting goods outlets that carry canvas tarps and tents.

Our selection of canvas tarps is limited to just two. Furthermore, both products have been treated for water resistance. Our canvas tarps are very good general-purpose tarps that you could use for a variety of purposes. Canvas is an excellent choice for fruit and vegetable loads, exterior building products, highly sensitive machinery, and virtually any other kind of cargo that requires breathable tarp.

To treat or not to treat? That’s entirely up to you. Either way, canvas is great tarp material.


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.