More from: flatbed trucker

Bulkhead or Penalty Strap: You Make the Call

The common trailer bulkhead can be viewed as a multipurpose tool. A driver can use it as an anchor point for tarps or the starting point for installing a side kit. But at the end of the day, the primary purpose of the bulkhead is to prevent forward movement of cargo. For the flatbed trucker, it is either bulkhead or penalty strap.

We are not quite sure where the term ‘penalty strap’ comes from, but it does a good job of describing how some truck drivers feel about having to use extra tie-downs to prevent cargo from shifting forward. Extra tie-downs means extra work. To that end, a driver might feel that he or she is incurring some sort of penalty for choosing to not use a bulkhead.

There is no right or wrong choice here. It is a matter of driver preference. Knowing the finer points of both options gives drivers a clear understanding of what is best for them.

The Kinds of Loads Carried

Let’s face it, some loads are easier to secure with penalty straps than others. A load of brick stacked on wooden pallets does not need a whole lot of extra effort to prevent forward movement. Do a few calculations, grab an extra strap or two, and the driver is good to go. Not so with a load of rail.

Rail doesn’t benefit as much from gravity and friction as brick does. Therefore, preventing its forward movement is a little more complicated. The extra time and effort it takes to deploy penalty straps could easily be avoided with a bulkhead.

Doing the Math at Load

A good case for installing a bulkhead is to avoid having to do the math at loading time. For instance, check out these starting calculations:

A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight of 1,100 pounds or less = 1 tiedown.
A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight in excess of 1,100 pounds = 2 tie-downs.
A load between five and 10 feet, regardless of weight = 2 tie-downs.                                                    A load longer than 10 feet = 2 tie-downs with an additional tiedown for every 10 feet.

These numbers just tell the driver how many tie-downs to use. The driver also has to consider the working load limits of each strap. It is a lot easier just to install a bulkhead with a high enough rating to cover most of the loads the trucker will haul.

Straps and Chains Wear Out

One final consideration is that straps and chains wear out. It is conceivable that a trucker can use the correct number of tie-downs and properly account for working load limits and still be found in violation. That’s because inspectors can take straps and chains out of service if they observe what they believe to be unacceptable wear and tear.

Bulkheads are subject to wear and tear as well, but not nearly as much. Therefore, it stands to reason that taking penalty straps out of the equation in favor of a bulkhead reduces the chances of being found in violation. The fewer tie-downs in play, the fewer opportunities for wear and tear to cause problems.

We understand that there are very valid reasons for declining to use a bulkhead on a flatbed trailer. Yet, there are some very definite advantages to choosing a bulkhead over penalty straps. It’s really up to each driver to decide what’s best for him or her. Should you decide to go the bulkhead route, Mytee Products can get you squared away.


How to Buy Loading Ramps

You have landed on the Mytee Products website in your search for a good pair of trailer loading ramps. That’s great. We can get you hooked up not only with the ramps, but also all the other equipment and supplies you need to be a safe and successful flatbed trucker. Having said that, note that not all loading ramps are equal.

There are multiple manufacturers you can look to for quality ramps. There are also multiple designs to choose from. We recommend giving careful consideration to exactly what you need before you buy. Below are a few suggestions to help you get started.

The Loads You Typically Carry

Like everything else in flatbed trucking, you have to consider the kinds of loads you typically carry in relation to the loading ramps you need. Loads with heavier axle weights are going to require larger loading ramps with higher ratings. If you routinely haul the heaviest construction equipment, then you are going to need some pretty heavy-duty ramps.

The thing to keep in mind here is that loading ramps can be quite heavy. It is not unusual for a single heavy-duty ramp to be upwards of 100 pounds. If you don’t routinely carry loads requiring the monsters, you might be better off with lighter ramps that are easier to handle.

How You Intend to Store the Ramps

Flatbed truckers who use their loading ramps regularly – think construction equipment haulers here – are likely to keep them on board. The question is, where? How you intend to store your ramps may be a factor in the actual ramps you choose.

There are drivers who store their ramps on the upper deck. They may have to move them from time to time to accommodate other loads, but they find that upper deck storage makes for easier deployment. On the other hand, other drivers store them underneath using brackets mounted to the trailer.

The Kind of Trailer You Use

Different styles of trailers can indicate different uses for loading ramps. Are you hauling with a straight flatbed, or are you more likely to use a step-deck with your loading ramps? In a step deck scenario, you may need to use the ramps both to get the load onto the trailer and then to move it from one step to the next. You have to have loading ramps that work both ways.

Your Available Budget

We realize that price plays a role in the choices truck drivers make. We do not expect you to buy loading ramps you cannot afford. As such, your available budget is something else you have to think about. But think about it in both the short and long terms. For example, you might be looking at just a set of ramps right now. But will your needs change in the future?

It might be more cost-effective in the long run to purchase an entire loading ramp kit that includes ramps, mounting brackets, a ramp dolly, and everything else you need. The initial outlay will be more, but you will spend less by buying everything in a kit now rather than trying to piecemeal it down the road.

Mytee Products as a full selection of trailer loading ramps and supplies ready for purchase. We invite you to take a look at our complete inventory before you buy. We offer everything from loading ramps to truck tires and tarps and straps. Anything you might need as a flatbed truck driver is probably in our inventory. And if not, ask us about it. We will see what we can do.


The Characteristics of a Good Bulkhead

Few things in the trucking industry offer as much value per square inch as the venerable bulkhead. If you are flatbed trucker, you know exactly what we mean. Bulkheads are one of the most functional pieces of equipment you will ever use. They are also key to your safety.

There is no denying the importance of the bulkhead for safety purposes. As such, Mytee Products is more than pleased to serve our customers with custom-built bulkheads for 102-inch trailers. Our bulkheads are not stock items and may take up to a few weeks to receive delivery. Trust us when we say that the wait is worth it.

What goes into manufacturing or bulkheads? Quite a bit. While we don’t have the space to give you all the details, there are a few characteristics we believe are important.

1. The Right Materials

Choosing the right materials for constructing a bulkhead is imperative for both safety and fuel economy. You want something durable enough to stand up to the punishment of shifting cargo but not so heavy that it adds excess weight to your rig. The obvious choice is a lightweight aluminum alloy with a high strength rating. That is just what you get with our bulkheads.

A Mytee Products bulkhead is made with a high strength aluminum alloy capable of handling a lot of punishment. Furthermore, our bulkheads are DOT rated for maximum safety. You get the lightest possible bulkhead that still meets or exceeds all regulatory and industry standards.

2. A Turnback Design

In general, bulkheads are constructed in both flat and turnback designs. A flat bulkhead is good enough if it is never used on loads that require extra reinforcement along the sides. But how common are those loads? As long as you’re investing in a bulkhead, you’re better off buying a turnback model.

Our bulkheads offer a 10-inch return on either side. This is useful in a number of ways. First, it offers a little bit of extra support that could mean the difference between a load shifting and it staying in place. Second, the turnback makes it easier to entirely enclose a flatbed load with side rails and panels. The turnback provides the support you need at the front end of the enclosure.

3. Extra Features

A bulkhead may look like a pretty plain piece of equipment, but it doesn’t have to be. We like to see bulkheads with extra features. For example, having a rail running across the front side of the bulkhead provides plenty of space for easy location of straps, hooks, and bungees. You can never have too many anchor points in our opinion?

Another excellent feature are extra baffles that provide superior dampening. Baffles are commonly built into bulkheads for this reason, but there are some baffle designs that are better than others. A good baffle design maximizes safety by providing extra surface area to absorb energy.

Order Your Bulkhead from Mytee

Whether you run a single truck and trailer or multiple rigs, the bulkhead is an important part of your safety. We get that, which is why we only sell bulkheads made from the finest materials. We encourage you to order from Mytee Products along with your other trucking supplies.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions. One of our customer service reps would be more than happy to give you the heads up. If you are ready to order now, you can do so right from our website. Just navigate to the ‘Trailer Parts’ section and click on the ‘Bulkheads’ link.


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.