More from: Flatbed

5 Things Truckers Should Know about Moving Blankets

A lot of what we write about in our blog deals with flatbed truckers and various types of cargo control equipment such as, tarps, winches and straps, bungees. This post is a little different. We know that a considerable number of our customers haul dry goods vans instead of, or in addition to, flatbed trailers. As such, they come to us for moving blankets and other related cargo control supplies better suited for dry vans.

moving-blanket

Mytee Products carries two different kinds of moving blankets as well as filler pads. We want to make it clear that the quality of a driver’s moving blankets is just as important as the quality of his/her straps and winches. A low-quality product is not going to perform as well or last as long as a high-quality product.

If you are a dry van trucker who uses moving blankets, here are five things you need to know about them:

1. The Difference Between Woven and Non-Woven Blankets

When you look through our inventory of moving blankets, you will see that we sell both woven and non-woven products. What’s the difference? It is how the fabric used to create the blankets is manufactured. A woven fabric utilizes long threads that are actually woven together on a mechanical loom. Non-woven fabrics are made of fibers that are bonded together through some sort of heat, chemical, or mechanical process. There is no weaving or knitting involved in creating them.

Woven moving blankets are more expensive. They are more durable and longer lasting than their non-woven counterparts, and they tend to hold up much better under tremendous stress. Non-woven blankets are designed for more routine use and are less expensive.

2. Moving Pads Are Not the Same

In addition to moving blankets, we also sell moving pads. Drivers should note that pads and blankets are not the same things. Pads are meant to fill empty space between objects to protect them from damage that might be incurred during travel. Some truckers simply buy pads and use them both for filling space and doing the job of the moving blanket. This isn’t a better choice when hauling fragile loads.

3. Moving Blankets Are Not Weather-Resistant

There are legitimate uses for moving blankets on flatbed trailers. For example, you might cover fragile cargo so that it’s not damaged by straps winched down tightly. But moving blankets are not weather-resistant. When using them on flatbed trailers, the entire load must be covered with tarps to provide protection against the elements.

4. Buying in Bulk Is Cheaper

Truck drivers can save money by purchasing their moving blankets in bulk. Companies like ours receive inventory directly from manufacturers in preset packages. Rather than break up a package of blankets, we prefer to sell them intact and at a lower price. It is better for our customers and easier on us for inventory purposes.

5. It’s Best to Have a Variety

As with truck tarps, it’s best to have a variety of moving blankets on hand in order to accommodate any kind of load. The average trucker will probably have mostly economy blankets with a smaller number of premium blankets and moving pads. Variety gives a driver the most possible options for any given job.

Truck drivers who haul dry goods vans need to secure their cargo every bit as much as flatbed drivers. When the job calls for it, moving blankets can be invaluable for cargo control. We invite you to shop with Mytee Products for your cargo control equipment , for both flatbed trailers and dry goods vans.


When To Use Smoke Tarps

It is fascinating to dig around in trucker forums to see what flatbed drivers say about smoke tarps. This is one area with lots of differing opinions, that’s for sure. Truckers generally agree that smoke tarps are easy to use and cheap to buy. What they do not tend to agree on is whether or not to use smoke tarps for particular kinds of loads. From our perspective, it comes down to this: use smoke tarps when your customers want and or need them.

A good case in point is a load of PCV pipe. Most receivers are incredibly picky about the condition of the pipe when it arrives in the freight yard. The last thing your customer wants is a load of pipe covered in soot from your exhaust stacks. If it gets inside the pipes, that’s even worse. This is why PVC pipe almost always requires the use of some kind of smoke tarp, be it a flat tarp or a fitted one.

smoke-tarp

‘Must Tarp’ Loads Not Always a Must

Nearly every flatbed trucker has been dispatched to pick up a load deemed a ‘must tarp’ load, only to see the receiver take the load and leave it out in the yard fully exposed. In such cases, it is not uncommon for drivers to blame receivers for unnecessarily requiring smoke tarps. Yet often, the problem lies with dispatchers or the trucking companies themselves.

It is easy for a trucking company sales associate to promise to tarp every load, whether it needs it or not, at no additional charge. This is a sales tactic to gain new customers. Experienced truckers know enough to check with the shipper and receiver prior to accepting a ‘must tarp’ load to see if it really does need to be tarped. If it does, the driver should tarp it without question. If not, it is up to the preferences of the driver.

Fitted and Flat Tarps

Smoke tarps come in two basic styles: fitted and flat. Fitted smoke tarps are often known as nose tarps because they fit over the front nose of the load to guarantee all of the necessary surface area is covered. Unfortunately, fitted smoke tarps do not always work well with loads that are not perfectly rectangular, square, or circular. Irregular loads tend to be better protected with flat tarps secured with bungee cords or straps.

A typical flat smoke tarp is a 10 x 12 or 12 x 12 piece of vinyl. Some truck drivers recommend going to your local big box store and purchasing one or two cheap blue tarps for use as smoke tarps; we do not recommend this practice at all. Why? Because blue tarps are not meant to withstand the punishment of the open road. They fall apart very quickly and, in the end, cost more money by having to be replaced so often.

Mytee Products carries a 10 x 12 heavy-duty smoke tarp made with 18-ounce vinyl. It is rugged enough to withstand a good deal of punishment and sufficiently durable to last for years. If you regularly transport loads requiring smoke tarps, we highly recommend this product.

In the end, drivers use smoke tarps because the load they are driving requires it and that’s what their customers want. If that’s what it takes to keep the customer happy, that is what you do. Happy customers mean repeat trips and additional business. It is just that simple.


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.


Tips for Installing Trailer Tool boxes

Few things are as valuable to the flatbed trucker as the tools in his or her toolbox. It is that collection of tools that keeps the trucker on the road even when minor problems occur. But the safety and security of one’s tools is only as good as the toolboxes used to store them. So when you are installing new toolboxes, you want to make sure they are mounted correctly.

There are different kinds of toolboxes that truckers use. Some are mounted on flatbed trailers, others on the back of a cab, and still others on the sides of a tractor. Trailer tool boxes might be the hardest to install as they are usually mounted on the underside of the bed. Their weight and size make under bed boxes a bit more difficult to manage.

trailer-toolbox

A box that is properly installed provides years of valuable service for the trucker. If you are planning to install new boxes on your trailer, here are some tips you might find helpful:

Tip #1 – Choosing Box Size

Installing new boxes to replace old models is easier if you stick with the same size. Toolboxes come in a number of standard sizes, so it shouldn’t be hard to find what you are looking for. By sticking with the same size, you should be able to use the same mounting brackets and hardware.

Installing new boxes where there previously were none leaves you with a few more options. Consider what you will be carrying and how much storage space you will need. Also, determine before you purchase where you want your toolboxes mounted. Then take careful measurements so you end up with the right size.

Tip #2 – Choosing Mounting Brackets

Very few trailer toolboxes come with mounting brackets included. You will have to buy them separately. There are universal brackets that fit just about every toolbox on the market, as well as specialized brackets for custom boxes. That said, do not just assume brackets will work with your box. Check with manufacturers or sellers to ensure you get the right combination.

Tip #3 – Test Before Mounting

The location of hinges and access panels will determine exactly where on your trailer your toolbox will be mounted. Keep in mind you will need some clearance. It’s always best to test the location for a new toolbox before you mount it. Use a hydraulic jack to lift your toolbox into place, then test it by opening and closing the access panel and checking the box’s position against the bed and any other trailer structures.

Tip #4 – Heavy Duty Hardware

Your trailer tool boxes end up carrying a lot of weight over their lifetimes. Furthermore, they will be subject to constant road vibrations as well as the shock of every bump and pothole you hit. Therefore, do not skimp on mounting hardware. This is one instance in which investing in top-of-the-line parts is always a good idea. Purchase heavy-duty mounting hardware you know will stand up to years of abuse and punishment.

Tip #5 – Ease of Access

Lastly, choosing mounting locations for your trailer toolboxes is as much about convenience as it is utility. Only you know what would be the most convenient locations based on how you do things. Try to locate your boxes where they make the most sense, according to the kinds of work you normally take. You want to spend as little time as possible getting to the tools you need at the times you need them most.


The Science behind Flatbed Truck Tarps

Flatbed truck tarps are one of the most important tools a flatbed trucker can own. However, the tarps in the trucker’s toolbox are more than just randomly manufactured pieces of fabric in different colors. There is actually a science behind their design, science you may not be aware of. Flatbed truck tarps are designed in such a way, as to provide maximum cargo protection in a package that is affordable and relatively easy to use.

The science behind flatbed truck tarps begins with the shape. Obviously, steel tarps are long and rectangular where machinery tarps tend to be squares or smaller rectangles. Lumber tarps combine long rectangles with additional flaps that come down over the sides of the trailer.

flatbed

Rectangles Are Extremely Flexible

Rectangles are the preferred shape for flatbed truck tarps because the rectangle offers maximum flexibility. A rectangle allows significant coverage for loads of all kinds, but with a narrow profile that makes it easy to handle across the back of a flatbed or a dump truck box. You can still get very good coverage with a square, but squares need to be bigger to cover the same area. This makes them less flexible and harder to work with. It is for this reason that square tarps are usually reserved for covering machinery or acting as smoke protection. Rectangles are still the preferred shape for most flatbed loads.

Flat vs. Shaped Tarps

Campers and hikers are known to prefer shaped tarps because their catenary cuts and curves provide durability and strength, especially along seams. A good shaped tarp has a very strong spine that makes it ideal as a shelter or hammock. Nevertheless, shaped tarps do not work well for most flatbed applications.

A shaped tarp is limited in coverage by the shape it takes. On the other hand, a flat tarp has no such limits. It works equally well whether the truck driver is covering a set of steel coils or a load of construction materials. The tarp will conform to whatever shape it is applied to with maximum protection at all times. Not so with the shaped tarp. That is why you don’t see shaped tarps used by truckers except in very rare and specialized circumstances.

Material Choices Equally Important

The science behind flatbed truck tarps even covers the materials manufacturers choose to use. For example, all of the tarps we carry at Mytee Products are made with heavy-duty vinyl or canvas manufactured as a woven product. It is the weaving that gives the materials their incredible strength.

A woven vinyl material is as strong as any other commercial or industrial fabric yet still lightweight enough to be easy to handle. Woven canvas is somewhat heavier, but it offers the added benefit of breathability for applications where moisture is a concern. In either case, the fabrics are woven according to detailed specifications that make them ideal for tarp manufacturing.

Grommets and D-rings

Lastly, grommets and D-rings are built into flatbed truck tarps to make securing them to trailers as easy as possible. Nonetheless, neither grommets nor D-rings are placed randomly. Grommets are sewn into the outside edges at specific intervals that offer the maximum number of securement options without sacrificing material integrity. The same is true with D-rings. Designers also place extra D-rings on specific kinds of tarps that make covering loads easier. The D-rings found on your average lumber tarp are a good example.

Tarp design is anything but haphazard. There is a lot of important science behind flatbed truck tarps that make them the perfect tools for their intended purposes.