More from: flatbed trucker

The Incredibly Versatile Headache Rack

The headache rack is one of those pieces of equipment with a very descriptive name suggesting just how important it is. It protects the backside of a tractor cab against cargo that might shift forward on a flatbed trailer. Truck drivers do everything they can to prevent cargo shifting, including securing their loads with chains and straps, but sometimes things happen. The headache rack is there as an added layer of protection when something does go wrong.

Your standard headache rack is made of a premium, high-strength aluminum alloy. It can be as simple as a rectangular panel attached to two mounting arms that are then affixed to the frame of the tractor. Once in place, this seemingly simple piece of equipment can end up being a lifesaver. But here’s the thing: headache racks serve multiple purposes.

The beauty of headache racks is that they are versatile as well as being sturdy and protective. For example, just about every flatbed trucker in the country has used a headache rack to store chains, bungees, and straps. Some have built-in toolboxes because, as truckers know, you can never have enough storage space.

Personal Protection and More

One of the things we enjoy about working with the trucking industry is seeing how creative drivers are with their equipment. We see a lot of interesting things with headache racks. For example, we had a trucker stop by our Aurora, OH retail location to pick up some tarps and straps. On the back of his tractor was a typical headache rack you wouldn’t think much about under normal circumstances. But on this day, something was different.

On top of his headache rack was a custom-made bike rack. That’s right, this trucker mounted a bike rack on top of his headache rack so that he could take his bike with him. We assume he used the bike for exercise and leisure. Regardless, utilizing the headache rack to carry his bike was an ingenious use of a little bit of space that would otherwise go to waste.

Another ingenious use of the headache rack is storing a ladder or two. This is actually pretty common. Truck drivers can use foldable aluminum ladders to make it easier to work on their trucks, secure unusually high loads, and so forth. But if you are going to carry a ladder on board, where do you put it? Attaching a ladder frame to the headache rack is the perfect solution. The frame is attached to the aluminum plate; the ladder folds up and attaches to the frame during transport.

Built-In Toolboxes

One of the most common strategies for headache rack modification is adding toolboxes. Mytee Products carries three models with toolboxes already built in, but we know there are truckers who prefer to purchase a basic headache rack and build their own toolboxes to go with them.

Toolboxes are like gold to truck drivers. They can never have too many. As for the headache rack, most flatbed drivers are never going to have an incident requiring it to save their lives. They invest in the headache wrack just in case they need it. Assuming the need will never arise, truck drivers might just as well utilize the extra space the headache rack affords. That’s where built-in toolboxes come into play.

The utilitarian headache rack provides extra protection against shifting cargo. It is foolish to not have one. But a good rack is a lot more versatile. The most creative truck drivers do some pretty interesting things with their headache racks. We have seen just about everything here at Mytee Products.

Easy Care and Maintenance Tips for Ratchet Straps

Your ratchet straps are among the most important tools you own as a flatbed trucker. Without ratchet straps, you would be left to secure everything you haul with chains and ropes. Imagine the amount of work that would be! Be that as it may, you need to protect your investment in ratchet straps by taking care of each one as though it were gold.

The thing about ratchet straps is that they are not invincible. They can wear out and break over time. A good goal is to maximize the life of your straps by taking care of them as best you can. To that end, we recommend a handful of easy care and maintenance tips gleaned from experienced drivers who have visited our warehouse.

Keep Straps Out of the Sun

The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down both nylon and polyester fibers. This is what causes ratchet straps to discolor and become brittle. It is best to keep straps out of the sun when they are not in use. For our money, the best way to go is to either store your ratchet straps in an exterior toolbox or somewhere in the back of your cab.

Note that the sun will eventually damage webbing material to a point of reducing its strength. Keep an eye on discoloration as the first signal. When a strap looks unusually pale, be extra vigilant in your visual inspections. Webbing material that has lost almost all its color is probably on its way out.

Don’t Store Wet Straps

Mold and mildew are never a truck driver’s friends. They are especially damaging to ratchet straps inasmuch as mold and mildew can weaken fibers over time. Therefore, treat your ratchet straps the same way you treat your tarps in terms of moisture. Never store a wet strap except in an emergency situation. Instead, let it thoroughly dry before putting it away. If you do end up with mold on a strap, do not use a chlorine-based product to clean it. Use a product that is friendly to the webbing material the strap is made of.

Remove Webbing from Handles

When taking ratchet straps out of use, be sure to remove webbing from the handles. This prevents the webbing from getting too tightly wrapped around the spindle or catching on the teeth of the ratchet. You’ll find that your ratchet straps last a lot longer just by following this one simple tip.

Wrap Webbing around the Ratchet

With webbing removed from the handle, we recommend wrapping it entirely around the ratchet and securing it with a rubber band. This protects the ratchet from road vibration while also keeping everything in your toolbox neat and tidy.

Lubricate the Ratchets

Finally, be sure to lubricate your ratchets with a dry silicone spray or industrial lubricating oil. We recommend against solvents like WD-40, as their lubricating properties are rather short-lived. Whatever your lubricant of choice, use it carefully and sparingly. Do your best to avoid allowing lubricant to come in contact with strap webbing.

As always, thoroughly inspect ratchet straps as you are tying down your load. If you ever question the integrity of a strap or ratchet, don’t use it. You are better off being safe than sorry. Remember that it only takes one failure to create big problems. Those are problems you do not need.

Mytee Products is your source for everything flatbed trucking, including ratchet straps. Before you take to the road for your next job, make sure you have all the straps, tarps, and protectors, and bungee straps you need.

Toolboxes: 5 Reasons Newbies Shouldn’t Leave Home Without One

Aluminum toolboxes are just one of the many items we carry to accommodate flatbed truckers. It is interesting to hear the stories every time a newbie comes in looking for that first toolbox that should have been purchased weeks or months ago. Unfortunately, some newbies just do not understand how important toolboxes are until something happens.

Drive down any U.S. interstate and you will see flatbed rigs with all kinds of toolboxes. Some drivers mount step boxes on the sides of their cabs while others prefer the larger, rectangular boxes mounted to the back of the cab or directly on the trailer itself. The type of toolbox a driver prefers is not as important as the fact that he has one. A lot of truckers have more than one.

If you are new to flatbed trucking, there are plenty of reasons to never leave home without at least one toolbox affixed to your rig. Five such reasons are listed below.

1. Something Is Bound to Break

When you put in as many miles as a professional trucker, you are guaranteed that something will break at some point. It could be as serious as a brake line or as minor as a mirror mount. The point is that the driver is his or her own best mechanic for keeping a truck on the road in emergency situations. But fixing your rig requires a toolbox with the right tools and supplies.

2. Mechanics Are Expensive

Minor repairs that can be accomplished on the road can save a trucker a tremendous amount of money. On the other hand, mechanics are expensive. Why spend a ton of money paying a professional to replace a hose when you can easily do it yourself? Of course, this is assuming you have spare hoses in your toolbox.

3. Waiting for Mechanics Wastes Time

A lot of the newbies that come in for their first toolboxes talk about having to wait hours for a mechanic to rescue them. This is not good. Truck drivers are paid by the mile, not the hour. Waiting on a mechanic is like flushing money down the toilet. Time spent waiting is time not spent driving.

4. Tools Are Dangerous in the Cab

Another rookie mistake is storing tools right in the cab. This is a dangerous practice that should be avoided. Why? Because anything stored in the cab can easily become a projectile in the event of a crash. More than one driver has sustained serious injuries from in-cab projectiles, when he or she would otherwise have walked away unscathed.

5. Toolboxes Protect Cargo Control Supplies

Even if a flatbed trucker has no interest in carrying things like wrenches, duct tape, and extra bulbs, aluminum toolboxes are rather useful for protecting cargo control supplies. In fact, that’s why veteran flatbed truckers have multiple toolboxes. Some of their toolbox space is reserved for things like tarps, straps, ratchets, and edge protectors. You can never have too much storage space if you are flatbed trucker.

It is hard to argue how valuable aluminum toolboxes are to flatbed truckers. They are so valuable that we wouldn’t think of serving truckers with an inventory that didn’t include them. We currently offer several different toolboxes in assorted styles and sizes to accommodate any need.

Once you buy your first toolbox, do some online research into what you should carry. Trucker forums are a great source of information. Veteran truckers would be happy to share years of knowledge with you. Remember, a well-stocked toolbox is your friend on the road. Do not leave home without one.

What Can Happen When You Don’t Use Corner and Edge Protectors

Some of the products Mytee Products sells are universal among flatbed truck drivers. Tarps are a great example. There are other products that some drivers would rather work without. Corner and edge protectors would be among them. For some reason, there are flatbed drivers who do not want to invest in these rather inexpensive devices that could mean the difference between getting a load to its destination safely and having to explain to the shipper why damage occurred in transit.

You will find that we consistently recommend corner and edge protectors to every flatbed truck who asks. We have a variety of corner and edge protector products in assorted sizes and materials. Most importantly, all of them are comparatively inexpensive. When you understand what these little devices can save you from, investing in them is well worth every penny.

Not convinced? Then consider what can happen when you do not use corner and edge protectors:

You Rip Your Tarps

Even the most innocuous looking cargo can be deadly to your tarps. All it takes is one semi-sharp edge and a good breeze to put a hole in a brand-new tarp you just invested hundreds of dollars in. On the other hand, you could have invested in 4-inch corner protectors for as little as $0.99 each.

The fact is that corner and edge protectors save tarps. Even if you were not interested in protecting your cargo – and that is something we do not recommend – you should at least be concerned about your tarps. You invested in them; why would you not protect them?

You Damage Your Cargo

Obviously, the other side of the coin is damaging your cargo. Corner and edge protectors prevent different pieces of cargo from coming into direct contact with each other. They prevent tarps and straps from rubbing on cargo surfaces as well. For especially sensitive cargo, contact with any other surface can be harmful.

If you ever wondered why some shippers and receivers mandate the use of edge and corner protectors, this is the reason. A lot of damage can be done over just a few hundred miles at 65 mph – damage that could otherwise be prevented simply by using plastic, leather, or metal edge protectors.

You Find Yourself Improvising

In relation to the previous point, you may find yourself improvising if you don’t have corner and edge protectors that a shipper is demanding. Of course, you’re not going to turn down a load if you can improvise. But what do you have to work with?

You might find yourself ripping apart a couple of cardboard boxes in a pinch. We’ve known drivers who have used pieces of PVC pipe, ripped up T-shirts, foam coffee cups, spare work gloves, sneakers, and a whole host of other stand-ins. Such resourcefulness is okay in rare emergency situations, but you’ll never make it as a career trucker if you’re always having to keep shippers happy by improvising on corner and edge protectors.

Shippers and receivers love drivers who are prepared for any kind of load. They want to see rugged edge and corner protectors designed specifically for the job at hand. They do not want to see drivers improvising just because they don’t want to invest in the right equipment.

As a flatbed trucker, it is your responsibility to protect cargo from start to finish. It is smart to protect your own investment in tarps and straps. So do yourself and your customers a favor and purchase a collection of corner and edge protectors. We have never known a driver to regret doing so.

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.