More from: flatbed truck tarps

Vinyl Cement Is Not Your Typical Contact Cement

Flatbed truck drivers routinely have to repair torn and otherwise damaged tarps. It is part of the job. Here at Mytee Products, we sell both tarp repair kits and individual containers of vinyl cement. We believe it is important that truckers understand the difference between vinyl cement and typical contact cement. While contact cement can be used to make tarp repairs on a short-term basis, it is not recommended for permanent repairs. Suffice it to say that contact and vinyl cement are not the same things.

Vinyl Cement

Contact cement is a kind of adhesive that bonds two surfaces together after they have been coated with the cement. You apply the cement with a brush or roller, give it time to dry according to the specifications on the container, and then press the two surfaces together. The molecules in the cement bond rather quickly and almost permanently.

Differences Between the Two Types of Cement

Your typical contact cement, also known as the contact adhesive, is made either with natural rubber or polychloroprene. Both substances are elastomers that can be used to bond a lot of different surfaces including laminates, rubbers, and even fabrics. At a pinch, they can also be used to bond vinyl as well. However, repairing truck tarps with standard contact cement is not recommended.

The chemicals in vinyl are known to break down the elastomers in typical contact cement. A trucker may repair his or her tarps using contact cement only to find after just a few months that the repairs don’t hold. This is because the cement has been compromised by the chemicals leaching out of the vinyl.

Vinyl cement is a waterproof, solvent-synthetic resin that is unaffected by the chemicals in vinyl. In addition, it is highly resistant to a long list of chemicals found in the manufacturing and industrial environments. When a truck driver repairs his/her tarps with vinyl cement, he/she can be confident that the repairs will likely be permanent.

Vinyl Cement for Strong, Lasting Repairs

It can be hard to find vinyl cement at your local home improvement or hardware store. This is one of the reasons Mytee Products sells one-gallon containers. We know our customers don’t want to be caught on the road with damaged tarps and no means to repair them. And as we mentioned above, drivers should avoid using contact cement to repair tarps.

As explained previously, the chemicals in vinyl breakdown contact cement. But there’s another thing to consider: even when contact cement is fresh, it does not provide the same level of strength you get from vinyl cement. In other words, vinyl cement is so strong that it can be used on tensioned structures including tents, domes, and awnings. It will hold up just fine with truck tarps even at highway speeds. The same cannot always be said about generic contact cement.

As a truck driver, you invest a lot of money in the flatbed truck tarps that keep your cargo safe. You want repairs that are strong and long-lasting so that you are not constantly putting money into new tarps that could just as easily be repaired. For strong, long-lasting repairs, you need vinyl cement.

A tarp that is completely separated into two or more pieces will likely have to be sewn back together along with using vinyl cement. Also bear in mind that attempting to repair a truck tarp without cleaning it first may compromise the integrity of your vinyl cement considerably. When repairing tarps, always follow the instructions on your repair kit or the container of cement.


How to Withstand the Big Challenges of Flatbed Cargo Control

It is a generally accepted rule in the trucking industry that flatbed loads are worth more money than dry van loads. The reason is simple: truck drivers have to put a lot more effort into protecting cargo being carried on the back of a flatbed trailer. They cannot simply hook up and go. They have to safely secure the load at a minimum; in some cases, loads also have to be covered with flatbed truck tarps.

It is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to make sure cargo arrives at its destination in perfect condition. As you might expect, there are plenty of things along the way that can cause problems. Drivers need to choose the right kind of cargo control equipment, and deploy it correctly, to prevent damage to whatever they are carrying.

weather-conditions

Here are the three biggest challenges of flatbed cargo control:

1. Weather Conditions

The biggest foe  for flatbed cargo is weather. For example, what appears to be a light rain standing in a stationary position instantly becomes driving in rain at 60 mph. New flatbed drivers are often surprised by how much damage a bit of rain can do. But it’s not just rain. Snow, sleet, ice, wind, and even sunshine can all cause problems.

A truck driver’s best protection against the weather is the standard truck tarp. Mytee Products carries a variety of truck tarps in different sizes and configurations. Our steel tarps are ideal for steel coil and tubing while lumber tarps come with side and back flaps to fully cover sensitive lumber loads. We also carry machinery and smoke tarps as well.

A driver’s choice of tarps can mean the difference between keeping cargo safe and delivering it with damage. That’s why we encourage investing in a full selection of high-quality tarps. The better a truck driver’s tarps, the less risk to his or her cargo.

2. Road Vibration

Most people do not understand the destructive power of road vibrations. Experienced flatbed truckers know full well that these vibrations can cause significant problems. It doesn’t take much to damage cargo, which is why flatbed truckers make use of things such as blocks, edge protectors, and pads to protect cargo from vibration-related damage.

How much of a problem is road vibration? Well, consider the principle of wrapping stemware and porcelain dishes in newspaper before moving. The reason for doing so is to protect them from vibration. Just a few miles of minor vibration can cause sensitive stemware to reach a frequency that causes it to shatter. The same principle holds true for flatbed trucking. Road vibrations have to be dampened to protect cargo with effective cargo control equipment.

3. Load Shifting

Hand-in-hand with road vibration is the third big challenge of cargo control: load shifting. Flatbed truck drivers take steps to ensure the cargo they are carrying is loaded onto the trailer in such a way as to keep weight evenly distributed across the platform. Even weight distribution is critical to both safety and fuel mileage.

What should be understood is that even a shift of just a few inches can compromise safety. Load shifts also carry the potential of making cargo less secure to the point that it could be dropped. This is why truckers use things like blocks and chains to keep cargo in place.

The three big challenges of cargo control are weather, road vibrations, and load shifting. The good news for truck drivers is that Mytee Products has everything needed for effective cargo control. From tarps to chains to winches and straps, you will find everything you need for protecting cargo here on our website.


5 Things to Have on Hand for Winter Flatbed Driving

Severe winter weather is just weeks away in parts of the country where storms can begin in late November and last all the way through March. In the past, we have written blog posts detailing safe winter driving tips and how to apply tarps and other cargo control components in winter weather. In this post, we want to focus on some of the equipment drivers should have on hand if they are planning to haul flatbeds over the next several months.

Obviously, tire chains and a good selection of high-quality flatbed truck tarps are prerequisites for winter weather. Departing without them wouldn’t be a good idea. But what else does a trucker need? Are there any other pieces of equipment truckers should be considering about above and beyond  tarps, ratchet straps and bungee cords? Absolutely.

winter-tarping

 

Here are five things you should have on hand for winter flatbed driving:

1. A Heavy-Duty Tool Box

No flatbed trucker should ever think about hitting the road without a solid, heavy-duty toolbox on board. During the winter, it’s worth carrying the extra weight to have a second tool box. The tool box is the prime storage area for everything from tarps to bungee straps to those extra hand tools that might be necessary to keep a truck going in bad weather.

We obviously recommend aluminum as the construction material of choice. Aluminum is lightweight on one hand, durable on the other. If you have room on your truck, two tool boxes would be ideal for winter driving. You can never have too much storage for all the extra gear you need for the season.

2. Work Lights

With the onset of winter is less daylight to work with. As such, flatbed truckers may find themselves loading or unloading in the dark. A good collection of work lights is indispensable. Work lights come in different sizes and shapes; they can be permanently affixed to a truck or moved around and used as needed.

3. Trailer Stabilizer Dolly

The presence of snow and ice in freight yards can make parking and stabilizing a trailer a bit tricky. If you have room in your toolbox, a good tool to have on hand during the winter is a trailer stabilizer dolly. This handy piece of equipment makes it possible to add extra support underneath a trailer to keep it stable on uneven ground. This isn’t something to leave behind, though.

4. Air Brake Tubing

Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on air brake hose when temperatures get really low. More than one trucker has found cracked tubing that renders air brakes useless. Therefore, it goes without saying that the flatbed trucker needs a healthy supply of air brake tubing in the toolbox at all times, more so in the winter. You never know when an emergency brake repair going to be necessary.

5. Beacon Lights

The relatively low profile of flatbed trailers makes them harder to see in inclement weather. Every flatbed trucker should have a supply of beacon lights to increase visibility. A couple of lights mounted in strategic positions could be the key to keeping you safe on the road.

Winter is coming and with it a long list of extra challenges for flatbed drivers. Here at Mytee Products, we have everything you need to keep your cargo safe and secure in all kinds of weather. From truck tarps to chains to beacon lights and reflective tape, you can find everything you need quickly by browsing our online store. We make shopping for your truck driving supplies easy and convenient.


Treating Trucking Supplies as Capital Investments

Owner-operators and independent contractors driving leased equipment are considered under federal law to be self-employed business owners. As such, they are required to keep track of all of their business-related expenses for the purposes of filing accurate reports and tax filings according to federal and state schedules. Unfortunately, some independent truck drivers do not treat what they do as a business. This is a mistake. We can illustrate just why this is by talking about the supplies needed to be a trucker. Those supplies should be treated as capital investments.

 

flatbed

Capital investments, sometimes known as capital expenditures, are defined in the business world as investments in equipment or supplies critical to maintaining or improving the useful life of existing assets. In terms of a flatbed trucker who owns his/her own trailer, the trailer itself would be an existing asset. Installing new tires on that trailer in order to improve its performance and comply with the law would be considered a capital investment.

As our illustration demonstrates, capital investments are almost always made in relation to equipment or supplies. The trucker’s tarps, straps, winches, ratchets, cargo control and so on are all supplies necessary to improve the performance of the flatbed trailer. They are also supplies that are required to do the job of a flatbed trucker. Therefore, they are assets that are obtained through the process of capital investment.

Why Make the Distinction?

Making money in any business requires some degree of discipline to control both income and expenditures. This is why successful companies work with annual budgets prepared by looking at history and future expectations. The company without a budget, regardless of its size and scope, is one at a high risk of failure. This is the whole point of treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments.

When you think of buying supplies as a capital investment, you can start looking at future expenditures in relation to your overall budget. Let’s say your gross income – before taxes and business expenses – is $120,000 annually. Some of that will eventually become the net income you put in your bank account as an ’employee’ of your company. The rest of it will be spent on things such as fuel, truck maintenance, and trucking supplies.

The idea is to work with a budget that projects how much you will spend in the coming year based on historical performance and your expectations of the kind of work you will be taking in the next 12 months. Treating your purchase of trucking supplies as capital investments allows you to plug a number into that budget. Let us use truck tarps as an example.

Let’s assume you replace your flatbed truck tarps every 18 months on average. Most of your tarps are already a year old, so you know they will be replaced sometime during the current budget year. Take the average price you pay for each tarp, multiply it by the number of tarps to be replaced, and enter that number into your budget. That number becomes a capital investment that is essential to keeping your business going.

You might be wondering how all of this helps with the business of running a truck as an owner-operator. Simply put, it forces you to acknowledge at least an estimate of how much will be spent on trucking supplies. This is motivation to set that money aside so that you have it when the time comes. Also it keeps you on the path of owning and operating a successful business that wouldn’t get into cash flow problems. As you estimate your income versus your expenses, it gives you a realistic picture of your business’ short and long term requirements.


Tips To Remove Flatbed Tarps Easily

Applying and removing tarps is part of the job for the flatbed trucker. It can be a bit tedious when the wind is blowing or loads have sharp edges to contend with, so the best thing any trucker can do in this regard is pay attention to what works for other drivers and learn the little tricks that make flatbed tarp application and removal easier.

We have addressed applying tarps in other posts, however in this post, we will concentrate on tarp removal. Needless to say that most truckers get better at tarp removal with time and practice. Below are a few examples of little things you can do to remove tarps easily.

flatbed

Fold Sides up First

After 500 miles of interstate driving, there is a big temptation to undo your straps, grab one corner of the tarp and start pulling. You may get lucky on a load that has no sharp edges and is not oddly shaped but more often than not, the “yank and hope for the best” method can cause more trouble than imagined. Before you do anything, your best move is to fold the sides of your flatbed tarp up onto the load.

Folding creates a flat surface on the top of the load that is much easier to deal with. As a side note, you may have to get on the load to do this. Be careful.

Move from Front to Back

The second thing you can do to make your life easier is to move from front to back as you pull the tarp. There are two ways to do this. First, if you have someone willing to help, you can both grab a corner on either side of the trailer where it meets the cab. Then walk toward the rear of the trailer, pulling up and pushing forward as you go. This will essentially fold the tarp on top of itself as you pull it off the trailer.

If you are working alone, start at the rear of the trailer and grab your tarp (with the sides already folded up) at the center. Slowly drag it off the load in an even, continuous motion. The idea behind both of these methods is to cause the tarp to move from front to rear across the top of the load, thus avoiding sharp edges that can rip tarp fabric.

Get Some Air Underneath

Experienced truckers know that getting some air underneath flatbed truck tarps can help considerably. This is obviously not a problem on windy days, but what if the weather is still or you in an enclosed terminal? Grabbing one corner of your tarp and flapping it a couple of times gets just enough air underneath to separate the fabric from the cargo. This will make dragging the tarp off a bit easier.

Always Use Edge Protectors

New flatbed drivers tend to stay away from edge protectors unless they have reason to believe they are in danger of ripping their tarps. Why take the time to apply edge protectors if there are no real sharp edges? There is actually a very good reason: it makes tarp removal a lot easier. Edge protectors create space between your flatbed tarp and the cargo underneath. That extra space reduces friction and makes it easier for you to get the tarp off.

Flatbed tarp application and removal are an integral part of the job for those who hauls flatbed loads. So rather than continuing to struggle, the trucker is better off learning all those little secrets that make tarp application and removal easier.