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Truck Tarp Terms Every Flatbed Driver Should Know

The internet is a great source of information for new flatbed drivers trying to figure things out. But it can be somewhat amusing to read online conversations between veterans and newbies. The newbies are desperately looking for answers while the veterans are using terms the rookies just do not understand. Sometimes they have to go back and forth for a while before both are speaking the same language.

One of the hardest things about mastering flatbed trucking is learning how to cover loads. Truckers call this tarping, and it is a critical skill for succeeding as a flatbed driver. It helps new drivers to learn the terminology so that they can have productive discussions with veterans.

 

Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

To that end, here are some truck tarp terms that every flatbed truck driver should know:

1. Tail

Sometimes known as a flap, the tail is an extra piece of material that hangs off the back of the load. Some tarps have an additional flap for the front, in cases when a trailer doesn’t have a bulkhead. The point of the tail is to provide that added protection at the rear. As an added benefit, the tail also helps truck drivers better position their tarps by giving them a centering reference point.

2. Drop

Every flatbed load has to be accounted for in terms of both width and height. The term ‘drop’ refers to the height of the load – from the bed of the trailer to the top. Let us use some simple numbers to illustrate this. A load that sits 8 feet high and 8 feet wide has a drop of 8 feet on either side. Covering the load entirely would require a tarp at least 24 feet wide. Remember that you have to account for the top surface as well as both drops.

3. Gusset

Seamstresses and tailors know the gusset as an extra piece of material sewn into a garment to allow for movement. In the truck tarp arena, a gusset is also one extra piece of material. But it is not there to allow for movement. Rather, the gusset serves as an extra rain flap.

Gussets are sewn into each side of the tarp, along the back edge. Once the tarp is folded down to cover the drop, gussets are folded across the back of the load and over the top of the tail. It is a lot like that extra paper you have when wrapping a Christmas present. You fold it over on the sides and tape it down.

4. D-Rings

D-rings are just what their name implies: rings manufactured in the shape of a ‘D’ and sewn into tarps at regular intervals. They are reinforced by extra material and stitching so that they do not pull out under load. The purpose of the D-ring is to provide an anchor point for bungee straps or a loop through which a webbing strap can be threaded. D-rings help keep tarps in place.

5. Tarping System

Last but not least is the tarping system. This term is used to describe a complete system consisting of aluminum frame, tarp, and motor used to deploy tarps automatically. Such systems are found most often on dump trucks and trailers. But they can be used with side kits as well. A tarping system virtually eliminates all the work of deploying tarps.

Now you know some of the most common tarping terms in the flatbed trucking industry, it is time for you to start stocking your truck with the tarps, straps, and edge protectors necessary for doing your job. You will find everything you need right here at Mytee Products.


Tips for Maintaining Side Kits and Tarps

With winter fast approaching, you may find yourself using your side kit more frequently. Winter weather has a way of doing that. A good side kit with the right tarps may be just what a shipper is looking for before it releases that load you have agreed to carry. As with anything else you might purchase from Mytee Products, we always recommend taking good care of your side kit and tarps by paying attention to routine maintenance.

Below are some tips for maintaining side kit equipment. Note that side kits come in standard sizes and configurations. Make sure you are using the right parts with your kit. Also make sure you’re using the right kinds of tarps. Remember that a tarp design for a site kit is a fitted tarp. It should fit tightly over the frame with no leftover material to flap in the wind.

Check Rails for Abrasion Points

The rails that form the top of a side kit carry most of the weight of the tarp on top. They also provide plenty of contact points that could cause tarp damage. We recommend routinely inspecting rails to make sure there are no sharp points or areas of abrasion. Such hazards are pretty common in flatbed trucking.

Perhaps you are not extremely careful about laying rails down on the bed of your trailer during disassembly. You may toss your rails into a pile as you’re working. That’s fine, except that it’s a good way to damage them. All we are saying is that you should routinely inspect side kit rails in order to preserve your tarps.

Replace Damaged Posts

The posts that came with your side kit should offer you many years of reliable service without issue. But posts wear out like anything else. They can also be damaged by rogue forklifts, shifting cargo, road debris, and a lot of other things. So routinely inspect them along with your rails. Any that are damaged should be replaced as soon as possible.

Posts that are bent might be salvageable as long as the angle is not too severe. But note that the best way to straighten a bent post is by putting it in a vice and applying pressure evenly. If you simply slip a bent post into a trailer housing and yank on it in the opposite direction, you run the risk of harming its integrity.

Inspect Side Kit Tarps

As previously mentioned, side kit tarps are fitted tarps. Every time you deploy one you should be checking to make sure that the fit is good and tight. Any loose fabric is a sign that the tarp might be wearing out. Of course, you should also be looking for rips and tears at the same time.

If you notice an area of the tarp that seems to be wearing out at a particular junction where it makes contact with rails or posts, it’s a good idea to deploy a few edge protectors at that particular area until you can figure out exactly what’s causing the problem. It may take you an extra minute or two but inserting edge protectors could save you the cost of buying a new tarp.

In closing, keep in mind that severe winter weather can do a number on your side kit. Just be extra vigilant during the winter months to do routine inspections and address any minor maintenance issues. Handling minor issues right away will keep them from becoming significant issues later on. With all that said, feel free to browse our inventory of side kit tarps in preparation for the coming winter.


Save Money on Bulk Purchase of Corner/Edge Protectors

We know that flatbed truckers have many different choices when looking for a supplier for their cargo control supplies. It is our job to give them a reason to shop with us. We work hard to do just that. One of the things we do for our customers is to strive to always offer the best possible price. Our corner and edge protectors are but one example.When you buy them in bulk from Mytee, you can save quite a bit of money.

Our 4-inch red and blue corner protectors designed for webbing between 2 and 4 inches normally sell for $1.49 per piece. If you buy at least 10, the price falls to $1.19 per piece. That works out to $11.90 for 10 or $23.80 for 20. One of the largest online retailers (whose name you are very familiar with) sells the exact same corner protector in a pack of 20 for $41.90. Their price is almost twice our price.

Both products are the same except for the color of the plastic. Both are designed to protect ratchet straps and cargo from friction damage, and both are suitable for webbing up to 4 inches wide. They have the exact same shape – down to how the outside corners are molded.

Stock Up on Them

As a flatbed truck driver, keeping an ample supply of cargo control products on your truck is all in a day’s work. You buy straps and bungees because you need them to secure cargo to the bed of your trailer. You buy corner and edge protectors to protect both straps and cargo. More importantly, you buy them because they are required by law whenever load conditions could potentially harm your straps. Since you are buying them anyway, it makes sense to purchase in bulk and save money at the same time.

Why purchase in bulk? Because things happen. The flatbed trucker will go through hundreds of corner and edge protectors during the course of a 40-year career. It’s not like you are going to buy half a dozen and expect them to last for decades. As long as you are going to need hundreds, you might just as well buy in bulk and pay less for each piece.

For the record, Mytee does not sell just one kind of edge protector. Our inventory includes more than a dozen different products ranging from the 4-inch plastic corner protector to the 4-inch rubber protector to the steel corner protector with a built-in chain slot. We even carry oil edge protectors appropriate for coil loads of up to 26 inches in diameter.

The Right Protector for the Job
Corner and edge protectors are extremely simple to use. The real trick is choosing the right protector for the job at hand. Some of the smaller models are ideal for things like brick and crated building materials while a larger v-board corner protector would be more appropriate for a piece of industrial machinery.

In closing, we want to offer couple of reminders, including the importance of using corner and edge protectors to prevent your straps from tearing or fraying. The last thing you want is to have to invest extra money in new straps because a lack of corner protectors is reducing strap life. Purchasing corner and edge protectors costs a lot less than constantly replacing your straps.

Also remember your legal responsibility to properly secure cargo. You could be found in violation if you’re not using corner protectors on a load for which an inspector deems them necessary. It is better to just not take any chances.


Ratchet Straps and Palletizing Strategies

On a beautiful spring day in central Florida, a flatbed truck was seen traveling down the road with a load of pallets packed with decorative paver stones. The pallets had been completely wrapped with shrink wrap before being loaded onto the trailer. To keep them secure, the driver ran two ratchet straps over each pallet row with large, plastic edge protectors between the straps and the cargo. This was the perfect setup for this kind of load.

Key to the driver’s strategy was securing the pallets from movement without damaging the paving stones. Now, it might seem a bit of overkill to use the edge protectors in light of the fact that the pallets were wrapped in shrink wrap, but shrink wrap does not cover the tops of pallet loads – just the sides. The highest layer of paver stones was fully exposed on the top surface. Edge protectors were necessary to protect the stones and ratchet straps alike.

Every Situation Is Different

The scenario described here is a perfect illustration of how wide the variation can be in palletized loads. For example, just because the shipper in this case used shrink wrap on the pallets doesn’t mean every shipper will do likewise. Paver stones are heavy enough that they will stay in place pretty much on their own, so some shippers will use a couple of aluminum straps along with large pieces of cardboard rather than shrink wrap.

How cargo is palletized really depends on the cargo itself and what the shipper believes is necessary to provide adequate protection. It is still the driver’s responsibility to get cargo to its intended destination without damage, regardless of how it is palletized. Therefore, it is not wise for drivers to rely on shippers and their palletizing strategies. Every situation is different.

In this case, all the driver needed to do to properly secure and protect the pallets was to have them stacked in rows before securing them with ratchet straps and corner protectors. If the palletizing method had been different, the driver might have had to choose another means of securing them.

This solution was relatively simple because all the pallets were of uniform size and height. Indeed, securing this load was probably one of the easiest things the driver ever had to do. There were no tarps involved, the weight of the pallets prevented them from being stacked, and the cargo itself was heavy enough that it was not prone to excessive movement.

The Right Kind of Equipment

As cargo and palletizing strategies are different, a flatbed driver has to keep a good supply of all the right equipment on board. In this case, it means ratchet straps and edge protectors. In other cases, drivers will need bungee straps, tarps of various sizes and materials, and even wood blocks to prevent cargo from moving. The inventory of necessary equipment can be rather extensive for truckers who are willing to haul just about anything.

Here at Mytee Products, we do our best to maintain a solid inventory of all the equipment and supplies to flatbed truck needs. We also strive to ensure that all the products in our inventory come from trusted brand names truckers know and recognize. This helps us to ensure quality with every product sold.

We have no way of knowing where the trucker in the scenario described here purchased his ratchet straps. But we can say that if they were purchased from Mytee Products, they were made with high-quality bedding material built to last. They were the perfect tool for securing that kind of load.