More from: Flatbed

The Physics of Trailer Loading Ramps

We take trailer loading ramps for granted. In other words, we just assume that a good set of ramps is going to do the job without issue. We usually don’t give any thought to how they actually work, or how they make our lives easier for that matter. If we did, we would be delving into all sorts of things related to physics.

As human beings, we are capable of using tools to do all sorts of work. Trailer loading ramps are just one example. When you understand the physics behind how these ramps work, you come to appreciate how much they enable us to do. There are plenty of loads truckers could not carry if it were not for the work done by loading ramps.

The trailer loading ramps we sell are intended for both straight flatbed trailers and those with multiple deck levels. They affix to the back of the trailer using clips to hold them in place. On the other end, wedges make the transition from ground to ramp a smooth one, allowing operators to easily drive or push cargo up onto the trailer.

The Key: Force and Distance

We will not get into all the physics of using trailer loading ramps, but we do want to cover some of the basics. The first thing to talk about is how ramps make it possible to load extremely heavy cargo on the back of a flatbed. Imagine a trailer carrying a heavy piece of construction equipment.

Without loading ramps, that piece of equipment would have to be lifted onto the trailer using a crane. Why? Because it takes a tremendous amount of force to overcome gravity when lifting an object by pulling it from above. All that dead weight requires a heavy-duty crane to get it off the ground. Furthermore, greater downward force is exerted on the object the higher it goes.

Using loading ramps still require some amount of force to get the piece of equipment onto the trailer. But rather than pulling it straight up, the operator is moving the equipment across an inclined distance. Spreading gravitational force across a surface plane at distance allows the operator to more easily overcome that force at any given point during travel. The result is less energy required to move the same object.

Other Physical Forces at Play

While the force and distance equation is the key equation for trailer loading ramps, there are other physical forces in play. For starters, you have both the potential and kinetic energy stored in the piece of equipment being loaded. That energy affects how the cargo is moved.

Kinetic energy is energy in motion. It puts increased stress on the ramps the further up the piece of equipment goes. Combined with gravitational energy, kinetic energy also puts stress on the rear of the trailer. That’s why ramps have to be firmly affixed and trailers have to be locked in position.

Potential energy is stored energy. It exists in the piece of equipment even as it is moving up the ramps. If one of the two ramps are unsteady, that potential energy could be transformed into kinetic energy, causing the piece of equipment to tip and fall off the ramp.

Rest assured that engineers work out all the physics before attempting to load a piece of heavy equipment onto a trailer. Operators know the size of the ramps they should use, how to anchor the ramps in place, and how to actually move equipment up those ramps. If it weren’t for physics, none of it would be possible.


How Tough Is Your Headache Rack?

A story appearing last year on the automoblog.com website described two ‘autobots’ vehicles being sold at the 2016 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona. One was a tractor that was custom built to portray the Optimus Prime character of Transformers fame. One of the things that caught our attention was the description of the headache rack mounted on the back of this truck. The article described it as being an “armor-like headache rack.”

Describing something as armor-like is a complement to its strengths and toughness. That led us to wonder about the toughness of the headache racks on the real-life trucks that traverse our nation’s highways. If you are a flatbed trucker, ask yourself just how tough your headache rack really is.

Up to the Task

There is a purpose for having a headache rack that goes above and beyond aesthetics.A headache rack is intended to protect both cab and driver in the event that cargo breaks free and shifts forward. The headache rack is supposed to prevent the cargo from crashing through the back of the tractor. With that in mind, a good headache rack has to be up to the task. It has to be strong enough to withstand the forces of physics in the event of an accident.

The purpose of a headache rack dictates that function is the priority when buying one. Yes, a clean and polished headache rack is a visual chrome feast for the eyes on a tricked-out truck that looks as good as it drives. But all the aesthetics will not mean much if that freshly polished rack cannot hold up to the forces of a shifting load during a forced hard stop. Truck drivers should buy their headache racks first and foremost as a safety device. After that they can talk about aesthetics and peripheral utility.

Shopping for a Rack

The headache rack is one area where it does not pay to skimp. So what do you look for while you’re shopping? Start by looking for something made with high-strength, premium alloys. An alloy is a material derived by combining multiple metals or a single metal with other elements.

Alloys are defined by their bonding characteristics. Thus, their superiority is found in their strength and durability. An aluminum alloy headache rack is going to be tougher and stronger than a pure aluminum alternative. Likewise for any other alloys a manufacturer might use.

Finally, make the effort to visually inspect any headache rack you choose before you buy it. If you are forced to purchase online because you cannot get to the supplier in person, make sure your purchase comes with a reasonable return policy just in case it arrives in less than perfect condition. Your visual inspection should include looking at all the welded seams and the entire face of the headache rack. There should be no cracks or breaks of any kind.

The Optimus Prime truck sold in 2016 is nothing but a Hollywood showpiece. As such, whether its headache rack is truly armor-like doesn’t really matter. It is just for looks. The same cannot be said for your own truck. If you are flatbed truck driver, you absolutely have to have an armor-like headache rack to protect yourself and your truck.


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.


Driving into Canada – Watch Your Flatbed Trailers

American truck drivers hauling flatbeds in Canada during October and November should pay close attention to their trailers and cargo control techniques. Canadian officials are preparing to launch their annual falls blitz, with a special emphasis on flatbed trailers. Although the campaign targets shippers and receivers instead of truckers, some drivers could incidentally be caught up in the blitz if they do not secure cargo properly.

The Ontario Ministry of Labor conducts a falls blitz every year in order to improve safety relating to slips, trips, and falls. They look at ladders and other equipment used in mining, construction, healthcare, and industry. This year, the Ontario Trucking Alliance (OTA) has asked the Ministry to pay special attention to flatbed trailers and truck safety.

The OTA and Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) are especially concerned about safety when loading and unloading flatbeds. They say improper cargo control procedures can lead to loads falling on vulnerable drivers. They say that the risk of injury and death among drivers is unnecessarily high.

Also at issue are the many things outside the control of truck drivers. Examples include shipper and receiver ground maintenance, lighting, and tarping policies. For example, the CTA says it is common for shippers to not allow truck drivers to apply tarps in their yards. This forces drivers onto the roads where they have to tarp while worrying about traffic.

Driver Responsibility Still Important

While the trucking industry portion of Canada’s falls blitz focuses mainly on shippers and receivers, truck drivers still have that ever-important responsibility of making sure cargo is properly secured. Regardless of what happens in the shipping yard, a driver is ultimately responsible for his or her cargo once the truck leaves the yard. That does not change regardless of any action shippers and receivers fail to take to improve safety.

As a flatbed driver yourself, you know the importance of sound cargo control practices. You are aware that the federal government requires you to properly secure all cargo prior to departure, and to ensure that said cargo remains secure throughout your journey. You also know there are right and wrong ways to use everything from chains to ratchet straps to tarps.

If you are planning to travel into Canada over the next couple of months, we encourage you to take extra precautions with your flatbed cargo. Once the falls blitz is over, continue to be just as diligent with every load you carry. It only takes one momentary lapse of carelessness to create a dangerous situation.

We Have Just What You Need

As a retailer of cargo control equipment, Mytee Products has everything you need to travel safely. Our inventory begins with basic cargo control supplies like straps and chains. But we do not stop there. We also carry corner and edge protectors, bungee straps, load bars, E-track, and more.

In the tarp department we have everything you need to cover a variety of loads. Coil, lumber, steel, and smoke tarps are just the beginning. We also carry hay tarps for farmers and mesh tarps for construction companies, landscapers, and even homeowners.

Earlier this year, American truckers were subjected to the annual international road check enforcement blitz. Interestingly enough, the 2017 event focused heavily on cargo control pertaining to flatbed loads. Is it a coincidence that the Canadian blitz is also taking a serious look at flatbeds? Maybe, and maybe not. Either way though, do yourself and the industry a favor by being extra cautious with cargo. Give cargo control the attention it deserves and you will have nothing to worry about.

Sources:

Today’s Trucking – https://www.todaystrucking.com/inspectors-should-look-at-flatbed-safety-ota


Why Headache Racks: The Definitive Answer

If we earned $100 every time a new flatbed truck driver asked us how the headache rack got its name, we might not have to sell trucking supplies to stay in business. Be that as it may, the question about the name of headache racks is as old as the rack itself.

For the record, a headache rack is a large piece of steel or aluminum mounted on the back of a truck cab. You see them on 18 wheelers and larger pickup trucks. Professional truck drivers often use their headache racks as a place to hang their chains and bungee straps.

For the remainder of this post, we want to talk about the name ‘headache rack’ and where it came from. If you are looking for a definitive answer, we have it: there is no definitive answer.

Protecting the Driver from Renegade Cargo

The first explanation of the headache rack name has to do with renegade cargo crashing through the back of a truck cab and injuring the driver. For a long time, there was a popular article circulating on the internet claiming that both the name and the device itself goes back to the days when surfing first became popular.

As the thinking goes, the racks were installed on pickup trucks to prevent harm to drivers if a surfboard were to break loose and crash through the back window. There’s only one problem with this theory: headache racks were around before surfing became popular. Second, you can spend all day traversing the roads of California and Hawaii, and you will probably never see a pickup truck with a headache rack carrying a load of surfboards.

There are other stories that use the same general theme without specifically referencing surfboards. The general idea being that headache racks are really the domain of pickup truck drivers attempting to protect their own heads.

Giving the Driver Headache

The second explanation is one that makes more sense where truck drivers are concerned. This explanation suggests that drivers, while working around their rigs securing cargo or doing maintenance, have a tendency to hit their heads on the metal racks. Unwittingly striking your head on such a large piece of metal would undoubtedly result in a headache.

If you are a professional truck driver, you are familiar with the scenario described here. Every truck driver has done it at least once, and many of you know drivers who do it routinely. Some hit their head so often that they have permanent marks. It is not a pleasant experience, to say the least.

We Have What You Need

The definitive answer about why headache racks are called as such is clear: there is no definitive answer. Therefore, there is no need for truck drivers to dispute or debate any longer. Far better to put your energies into being better drivers capable of delivering loads on time and in good condition.

As for the headache racks themselves, rest assured that Mytee Products has what you need. We have seven different models to fit a variety of needs and styles. We also carry installation kits, chain hangers, light brackets, and even tarp trays.

Your headache rack does not have to give you a headache at the time of purchase. Just shop the Mytee Products inventory to find what you’re looking for, make a quick purchase, and relax while we ship it right to your door. You’ll be protecting your head, or injuring it, in no time at all.