More from: flatbed trucking

Your Choice of Bungee Straps Matter

Our regular customers know that Mytee Products carries heavy-duty bungee straps made with 100% EPDM rubber. They also know that EPDM bungee straps are ideal for flatbed trucking, where straps are expected to withstand a tremendous amount of punishment day in and day out. In light of that, we want to use this post to point out that your choice of bungee straps really does matter. As a truck driver, it would be a good idea to choose a bungee strap that is appropriate for the kind of work do.

 

There are basically three kinds of bungee straps you can buy:

• Natural rubber
• EPDM rubber
• Nylon wrapped rubber.

The first two options were detailed in a Mytee Products blog post a while back. At the time we excluded the Nylon wrapped rubber. We feel it is time to include that third option now that it is more readily available at DIY stores.

Natural vs. EPDM Rubber

When Charles Goodyear first developed vulcanized rubber in the mid-19th century, it revolutionized the way natural rubber would be used for industrial and manufacturing purposes. His vulcanization process led to the development of rubber car tires along with an extensive list of utilitarian items such as hoses, gaskets, and belts. Natural, vulcanized rubber was critical to the war effort in World War II as well.

As a material for bungee cords, natural rubber is strong and fairly resilient. It holds up well in most kinds of weather with the exception of excessive heat. High temperatures and direct sunlight can cause natural rubber to lose some of its elasticity.

EPDM rubber is a synthetic product that was created to make up for the severe shortage of rubber during World War II. It proved to be a better material for a lot of different uses, and it is the predominant form of rubber used today. Most of the bungee straps truckers use are EPDM rubber.

The strength of the EPDM is that it holds up exceptionally well in hot temperatures and under direct sunlight. But unlike natural rubber, it does not do well in extremely cold temperatures. Cold EPDM is prone to getting brittle and breaking or tearing.

Nylon Wrapped Rubber

Nylon wrapped rubber bungee cords are those cords you see being sold in different colors. Some are red, others are blue, and still others are yellow or green. The most important thing you need to know about these bungee cords is that they are not suitable for the trucking industry. They are intended primarily for light-duty use.

Campers and hikers love nylon wrapped rubber because it is very flexible and easy-to-use. It is great for securing a camping tarp or attaching a sleeping bag to a backpack. However, nylon wrapped rubber is not sufficient for holding down truck tarps at speeds approaching 60 mph.

You should also know that nylon wrapped rubber is not nearly as thick and it has a significantly lower tensile strength. Attempting to secure truck tarps with these kinds of bungee cords is asking for trouble. Do not use them for anything other than light-duty applications not involving cargo control.

We Have Bungee Straps and Rope

The good news for Mytee Products customers is that we have all the EPDM bungee straps and rope you need. You don’t have to go anywhere else to keep your truck well-stocked. You can buy bungee straps in packs of 50, with or without crimped hooks. We also carry rubber rope hooks ideal for drivers who want to construct their own bungee ropes when more length is required.


3 Things You Should Never Do with Bungee Straps

Bungee straps have been compared to duct tape in terms of their versatility. Truck drivers use them for everything from securing tarps to replacing a broken curtain rod in the sleeper cab. Their extreme flexibility, resistance to weather, and ease of use, make bungee straps one of the most important tools in the flatbed trucking industry.

Here at Mytee Products, we are thrilled to be able to offer bungee straps in various lengths along with solid core rubber bungee rope. You can purchase straps or rope in bulk to save on our already reasonable prices. And don’t forget replacement hooks; we carry those as well.

Given the popularity and necessity of bungee straps in flatbed trucking, we thought it might be helpful to address some key aspects of using these versatile tools. Below are three things you should never do with bungee straps. Avoiding them will minimize the risks associated with bungee strap use.

1. Shortening Strap by Tying Knots

There are times when the amount of distance between hook points is so short that the average bungee strap is too long. You might think about getting around this by tying a knot or two before deploying a strap. Don’t do it. Tying knots in bungee straps increases the stress on them while at the same time decreasing usable life. It is better to stretch the cord to a different anchor point on the trailer or load.

Bungee straps are designed to evenly distribute tension from end-to-end. When you tie a knot in the middle, that portion involved in the knot is only subject to minimum tension. You can tell just by observing how the strap stretches. The part tied up in the knot barely stretches at all, signifying there is very little energy or tension in the material. The free material on either end stretches more as it absorbs more of the tension and energy.

2. Hooking More Than Two Straps Together

The other side of the knot-tying coin is hooking multiple bungee straps together to create a single chain long enough to span the gap between hook points. We recommend never hooking more than two straps together. Even under tension, the hooks on the ends of bungee straps constitute their weakest link.

Remember that metal ‘S’ hooks do not stretch. To make up for this, bungee straps usually have to be stretched a little further to prevent the sag that results from hooking too many together in a single chain. This creates a safety concern as well as reducing the usable life of all the straps in the chain. If you need length, use bungee rope.

3. Cutting an End and Making a New Hole

Bungee straps wear out and break over time. Sometimes, the hole into which the metal hook is inserted breaks clear through. Do not be tempted by the idea of cutting off the end and making a new hole. Doing so compromises the strength of the strap.

If you look at the average bungee strap, you will notice that the two ends are thicker. They are reinforced with extra rubber material to absorb the additional tension placed on the material by the hook. Cutting off a broken end and making a new hole for the hook results in too much tension on the rubber at the point where the hook is inserted. This is just asking for trouble. Bungee strap altered in this way can easily break without warning.

Bungee straps are an invaluable tool for the flatbed trucker. Used correctly, they offer a tremendous amount of functionality and flexibility.


Winter Tarping Tips for Truck Drivers

A flatbed truck driver’s tarps are among the most important tools of the trade. Without a proper selection of tarps of different sizes and materials, protecting valuable cargo would be considerably more difficult. In light of how important tarps are to flatbed trucking, it is equally important for drivers to use extra care during the winter months. Winter tarping is a lot more challenging than using tarps in the summer.

The key to surviving the winter season with all of your tarps intact is to remember that rapid temperature changes make tarping materials brittle. Snow, ice, and road salt do not help either. Drivers need to be extra careful in order to protect their investments; they need to make sure their tarps last through the winter and into the following spring.

winter-tarping

Here are some winter tarping tips you might be able to use yourself:

1. Warm Tarps in Your Cab

If you know that you will need certain tarps from your inventory on the way to pick up a load, bring them inside the cab and let them warm up as you drive. Warm tarps are certainly easier to apply than cold ones. You will also find them less prone to tearing as well.

Once you reach your destination, you might be used to immediately unloading, folding your tarps, and storing them away in preparation for your next trip. But if you have 15 to 30 minutes of paperwork to do before departure, see if there is an open warehouse space where you can let your tarps warm up before folding. Once again, you will find them a lot easier to deal with.

2. Check D-Rings and Grommets Regularly

D-Rings and grommets are especially prone to damage from road salt during the winter. Make a point to check yours several times during a trip and at the start and conclusion of every journey. If you find even a minimal amount of damage, winter is not the time of year to press your luck. You are better off taking a tarp out of service until the damaged the ring or grommet can be repaired.

3. Avoid the Voids

Experienced flatbed drivers know that voids create a great place for water to pool. This is bad enough during the warm months, but water collecting on a tarp can be very damaging during the winter. Let’s say a bit of water pools in a void at the center of a load in temperatures hovering just above freezing. When the sun goes down and the temperatures fall, that pool can easily freeze and rip a hole in your tarp. Do not allow for any voids where moisture can collect.

4. Use Rubber Tipped Gloves

Rubber tipped gloves are an excellent choice for applying tarps during the winter months. The rubber fingertips make it easier to grip cold canvas and vinyl, even when you are dealing with ice at the same time. You can wear them alone or over the top of a set of leather gloves and, best of all, rubber tipped gloves are relatively cheap. You can buy them by the dozen at the local DIY or auto repair store.

The winter season brings with it extra challenges for flatbed truckers to overcome. You can make your own challenges more tolerable by remembering how winter weather affects tarps. The more proactive you are in winter tarping, the less trouble you will have this season.