More from: flatbed trucking

Heavy Vehicle Loads: Tips for Loading Ramps and Step Decks

Loading heavy vehicles onto a step-deck trailer is one of the most dangerous jobs in flatbed trucking. Both truck drivers and yard workers have to be especially careful during the loading process. They also have to make sure that they have the right tools for the task, especially heavy-duty loading ramps capable of safely handling the load.

Loading ramps come in multiple configurations based on manufactured design and driver need. Yet they all have a couple of things in common. Knowing the basics of how loading ramps work sets a driver up for safely loading heavy vehicles. We are talking front loaders, cranes, and other pieces of heavy machinery here.

Below are a few tips for loading heavy vehicles onto a step deck trailer. If you have any questions about using your loading ramps, please consult the documentation supplied by the manufacturer as well as federal guidelines from both OSHA and the FMCSA.

Use Two Ramps If Necessary

Light-duty vehicles can often be loaded onto a step-deck with just a single ramp under each axle. Heavy vehicles may require two ramps to spread the weight across a longer loading area. This is where ramp stands and pins come in handy. Start with a level loading area, then attach the first ramp on either side of the trailer extending out to ramp stands. Using adjustable ramp stands will be discussed in just a moment.

Next, extend each of the two secondary ramps from the stands down to the ground. Using a second ramp under each wheel extends the surface area of the load by two times. This will make for easier loading at less of an angle.

Introduce Camber for Low Center Vehicles

Vehicles with a low center of gravity may be more difficult to move the farther up the ramps they go. One way to facilitate a safer and more efficient process is to introduce camber to the loading ramps. This is done using adjustable ramp stands. If your ramp stands have multiple positions secured by pins, they are ideal for this purpose.

Under normal conditions, both ramps on either side of a single stand would be at the same angle. By raising the stand one or two notches, you create a scenario in which the upper ramp is at a lower angle while the lower ramp is at a higher angle. This camber should make it easier to move low center vehicles even as they approach the top of the ramp.

Use Blocks at the Back of the Trailer

Heavy vehicles can cause the back of a trailer to bottom out on loading. Not only is this bad for truck and trailer, it presents a dangerous situation that could send the load toppling off the ramps. The way to avoid this is to put blocks underneath the trailer’s rear bumper structure. This will keep the trailer stable throughout the loading process. Make sure the loading surface is hard enough to prevent the blocks from sinking under the weight of the load.

Using Ramps as Levelers

Some step-deck arrangements require drivers to use their loading ramps as levelers once the load is on the trailer. This is not something we can describe in detail as every load is different. The one thing we can say is to be safe while you are doing this. If you do not know how to use ramps as levelers, talk with somebody who does. Their knowledge and experience could save you from serious injury, or even worse, as a result of misusing loading ramps.


What Does a Good Trailer Loading Ramp Kit Look Like?

Trailer loading ramps are yet another tool that flatbed truck drivers use to get cargo in place. But loading ramps for tractor-trailers are far different from the DIY ramps you might use on a small home utility trailer. They are much larger, much longer, and a lot stronger.

Mytee Products sells trailer loading ramps along with all the accessories truck drivers need to utilize them. If you are new to flatbed trucking, you might need an entire kit to start from scratch. Please note that our kits come with absolutely everything you need for loading ramp deployment. Other kits may not be as extensive as ours.

So what does a good trailer loading ramp kit look like? It contains the following:

Single Ramps

Obviously, every loading ramp kit will come with at least two single ramps; one for the left side and one for the right. Our kits come with two sets of 18″ x 96″ ramps with a capacity of 23,500 pounds. These ramps are sturdy enough to be used as load levelers for timber loads as well.

Adjustable Stands

Ramp stands provide the support underneath while loads are driven up the ramps. They are also sold in pairs; one for the left side and another for the right. Our ramp stands are adjustable from 18 to 24 inches to account for different trailer heights.

Aluminum Skid Seats

Skid seats are mounted on the back of a trailer to provide an anchor for locking ramps in place. Once locked, ramps cannot pull away from the trailer. They are also sold in pairs; one pair for the bottom deck and another for the upper deck.

Ramp Hangers

Ramp hangers make it possible to carry trailer loading ramps from one job to the next without taking up valuable space on the flatbed. They are mounted to the main trailer frame using heavy-duty bolts. The ramp hangers in our kit are double hangers, meaning there are slots for two ramps. Two sets of hangers would allow for carrying a total of four ramps; two on each side.

Ramps Stand Hangers

If you are going to carry loading ramps on the trailer, you’re going to have to carry ramp stands as well. A good trailer loading ramp kit includes one hanger for each stand. Again, these hangers are mounted on the main truck frame, either in front of or behind the ramp hangers.

Ramp Wedges

Finally, ramp wedges are fixed to the lower ends of ramps to provide a smooth transition between the ground and the ramp. This allows for smoother loading while also reducing the risk of ramp movement during loading. Most loading ramps require the use of a wedge.

Mytee Products offers flatbed truck drivers a trailer loading ramp master kit that contains all the above components along with a few extras. For example, we also include a lightweight dolly that makes moving ramps around nearly effortless. Using a dolly is a lot less strenuous than trying to carry unwieldy ramps without assistance.

Please feel free to check out our ramp kit at your earliest convenience. Our website details everything that comes in the ramp kit for your convenience. If you do not need the entire kit, we do sell individual pieces as well. Rest assured that all our loading ramps and accessories are made right here in the USA to the highest possible standards.

If you’re unsure about anything included in our ramp kit, please don’t hesitate to ask. We want you to be fully informed and completely comfortable with your purchase before you buy.


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.