More from: headache rack

That Moment Your Expensive Headache Rack Pays for Itself

CTV news in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada) aired a shocking story back in December 2014 following an accident involving a flatbed rig carrying steel beams on Highway 1. The truck driver was lucky to walk away with only minor injuries in what could have been a fatal incident. His experience serves as a reminder of why headache racks are so important.

The tractor-trailer headache rack is a lot like those drop-down oxygen masks in commercial airliners. They are there if you need them, but you hope you never have to actually use them. But life doesn’t always go that smoothly.

All across the country there are tractor-trailer drivers who do their jobs with the peace of mind that comes with being protected by a headache rack. But there are trucks not fitted with headache racks. More often than not, they are used mostly for local delivery operations.

A Life-Saving Investment

We get it that some motor carriers do not believe investing in headache racks is a wise use of valuable financial resources. If you’re running a local or regional operation that dictates most of your trucks travel fewer than 100 miles per day, it’s easy to view the headache rack as an unnecessary accessory. But the moment a headache rack saves a driver’s life, you realize just how important the investment really is.

For the record, the driver in the 2014 Vancouver accident was not charged in the mishap. Local police said that his load was properly secured and that his truck was not overweight. Still, two of the steel beams on his trailer shifted forward when he hit the brakes too hard on an off-ramp.

One of the beams slammed through the back of the truck, the front windshield, and across the hood. The front of the beam landed on the pavement while the rear of the beam remained inside the cab. In what can only be described as a miracle, it completely missed the driver’s head. Just a few inches to one side and the driver could have been decapitated.

The point to make here is that even a properly secured load can break free under the right conditions. Here in the States, flatbed truckers have to use extra straps when there is no bulkhead on the flatbed trailer, but even extra straps are not foolproof protection. The headache rack isn’t foolproof either, but having one is still safer than not having one.

Added Storage Space to Boot

From our perspective as a dealer in trucking equipment and supplies, we see an added benefit to outfitting all your trucks with headache racks. That benefit is extra storage space. As long as you’re investing in headache racks, you might just as well spend a little more on models that include storage space for straps, chains, bungee cords, and more.

It is true that you can get just a plain headache rack with no storage built in. And if budget were your primary concern, that would be understandable. But you still need storage space for all those cargo control supplies your drivers use to keep their loads secure. All those things have to be stored somewhere.

A headache rack with built-in storage reduces the need for externally-mounted toolboxes. They definitely eliminate the need for you to store equipment on the back of the trailer; equipment that also needs to be tied down to keep it secure.

That moment a headache rack saves a driver’s life is the moment you realize how important headache racks are. So, are your trucks properly equipped?

 


Tips for Buying Headache Racks Online

Mytee Products is thrilled to be able to offer our customers a range of heavy-duty headache racks that offer both protection and extra storage options. Customers can purchase our headache racks in person, at our Ohio headquarters, or online. We make both options available because we understand that truck drivers need flexibility.

Perhaps you are thinking about a new headache rack for your truck. If so, we invite you to stop by and see us in Aurora next time you’re passing through Northeast Ohio. If you can’t get to our warehouse, you can still order what you need online. We have a great selection.

Buying a headache rack online does come with a few risks. Therefore, we want you to be smart about your purchase. Below are some tips you should find helpful. If you are not planning to buy from Mytee Products, we urge you to be extra cautious. It would be a shame to invest a lot of money in a headache rack only to find that what you purchased doesn’t suit your needs.

Measure Twice, Then Measure Again

The construction trades have a saying: “measure twice, cut once.” The point of the saying is to remind tradesmen to be absolutely sure about their measurements before they begin cutting materials. Otherwise, improper measurements can lead to all sorts of problems, including waste and poor fits.

There is a similar principle when it comes to headache racks. Although headache racks tend to be universal for the most part, your rig might be an exception to the rule. Perhaps you already have other pieces of equipment affixed to the back of your truck that could get in the way of a new rack. Or maybe you want your headache rack positioned a certain way. Here’s the deal: measure twice, then measure a third time – just for good measure, so to speak. Know exactly what you need before you place your order.

Choose a Trusted Brand

Brand means a lot in the trucking business. As such, your choice of headache rack should come from a brand you know and trust. The best brands generally offer the best quality and performance over the long run. And yes, the best brands cost a little bit more. But this is one area in which getting what you pay for is important.

Remember that your choice of headache rack could end up being a lifesaver at some point down the road. You can buy cheap, but then you might also be risking life and limb as a result. Just be willing to spend whatever it takes to give you the level of protection you are after.

Avoid Buying Used

You might be tempted to save a little money by purchasing a used headache rack from an online classified site for one of the popular auction sites. We won’t disagree that buying used can be a big money saver. But there are risks that come with doing so. First and foremost, you never know what you’re getting if you don’t have an opportunity to inspect the product first.

Another risk that comes with buying used is not being able to return the headache rack that’s damaged, malfunctioning, or just doesn’t fit your rig. Is that a risk you are willing to take to save a few bucks? Buying used is entirely up to you, but it’s not something we recommend.

A headache rack is an important piece of safety equipment every tractor should be equipped with. If you are in the market for a new one, please take a few moments to check out our inventory.


Installing Headache Racks and Bulkheads: A Smart Move

Every now and then if you look up an online trucker forums, you will come across questions from new flatbed drivers asking whether headache racks and bulkheads are required by law. The questions are reasonable given the rules instituted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to regulate cargo control. Thankfully, the questions are easy to answer.

Headache racks and bulkheads are not required by federal regulations. However, using them is still smart as it protects cargo and prevents damage. If a truck owner has the opportunity to install one or both without causing major inconvenience or financial stress, it would not make sense to decline said opportunity.

What the Law Says

A quick perusal of the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook makes it clear that truck drivers are required by law to make sure cargo is properly secured. This includes doing whatever is necessary to prevent forward movement. In a flatbed situation, that means making sure that either tie-downs or some sort of barrier is in place to prevent cargo from moving forward on the trailer.

The handbook includes numerous illustrations along with hard numbers demonstrating what the law requires. It shows the difference between preventing forward movement with a bulkhead and doing it just with tiedown straps instead. The important thing to know is that the law requires a certain number of tie-downs, based on the length and weight of the cargo, if no bulkhead or headache rack is in place.

Drivers also have to pay attention to the working load limits (WLLs) of their tiedown straps. These limits are part of the calculation necessary to determine the number of tie-downs necessary to prevent forward movement of cargo. Too few tie-downs equal a violation.

Meeting the Demands of Customers

Although federal law does not mandate the use of headache racks or bulkheads, there are some shippers who are particular about their usage. Two good examples are rail and pipe loads. A shipper may insist that an owner-operator utilize a bulkhead just for an extra measure of safety.

Such requests do not seem unreasonable for certain kinds of cargo. A contained, rectangular load is fairly easy to secure against forward movement with straps over the top and around the front. But it is not so easy for a load of pipe. And whether or not a truck driver agrees, shippers insisting on bulkheads are not going to release a load until they are confident it will be secure during transport.

From our perspective, insisting on a bulkhead or headache rack for certain kinds of loads is no different than shippers insisting that tarps be used. Their main priority is to protect cargo and limit liability. Preventing forward movement via a bulkhead or headache rack may be the best way to do it in their eyes.

Buy What You Need from Mytee Products

Given the federal mandates for securing cargo and the fact that some shippers insist on bulkheads or headache racks, it just makes sense to install one or both on your equipment. You will be pleased to know that Mytee Products has everything you need. We carry both headache racks and bulkheads, along with the appropriate mounting systems.

Headache racks and bulkheads may not be required by law, but it’s still smart to use them. Both prevent forward movement of cargo and protect you as the driver. Both represent an affordable way to protect yourself as well as your investment in your equipment. After all, it doesn’t take much to cause a big problem. Just a little bit of forward movement could cause you a big headache you don’t really want.

 


Students Modify and Build a Custom Headache Rack

When students at Laurel Oaks High School in Wilmington, Ohio got their hands on a 2013 International Pro Star, they were given an opportunity to do something truly special. The students spent months customizing the truck before sending it to the recently-held Cavalcade of Customs Auto Show in Cincinnati. Needless to say, the truck was a big hit – both with show attendees and school administrators.

One of the things we appreciate about the students’ efforts is that they went to the trouble of building a customized headache rack for their rig. The choice to do so shows us just how ingrained it now is within the trucking industry to put headache racks on the backs of tractors. It wasn’t always this way. So building a custom headache rack enabled students to learn about its function as an indispensable part of trucking.

Learning the Tools of the Trade

The truck was originally purchased in 2017 to give students in the high school’s diesel program the opportunity to learn by working on a late model vehicle. But instructor Gary Bronson saw a lot of potential above and beyond just diesel mechanics. He took the class through the process of replacing brakes, wiring new lighting, and even completing the truck’s required safety inspection. In all of it, students had the chance to learn the tools of the trade.

Outside of the diesel program, other students worked hard on customizing the truck for the Cincinnati show. The school’s welding students were the ones responsible for customized headache rack. In the process of designing both it and the truck’s rear fenders, students were able to learn firsthand how to use a CNC plasma cutter. That is pretty impressive for a high school program.

Even digital arts and computer science students pitched in to get the truck ready for the show. They were responsible for designing the truck’s paint scheme and the graphics that were printed on a banner displayed with the truck at the Cincinnati show. All in all, the work these students did is nothing short of amazing.

A Functional Headache Rack

To see the headache rack in pictures is to see something that doesn’t look like much. But if you’re a trucker, that’s what you want to see. A headache rack is functional first and foremost. You worry about aesthetics later. And in terms of function, the students hit the nail right on the head.

Their headache rack sits flush against the back of the sleeper cab and pretty much runs its height. The truck itself has fairings on either side to improve aerodynamics, so the students designed the headache rack to fit nicely within their profile. This adds to the fuel efficiency of the vehicle without taking away from the functionality of the headache rack.

We don’t see any kind of cables or air hoses in the picture but that’s only because there is no trailer attached to the truck. However, we can clearly see the fittings built into the headache rack. Students undoubtedly had to learn what each of the fittings was for and how to build them into the rack.

Our hats are off to the students at Laurel Oaks and their dedicated instructors. What they have done with this truck is incredible. Without the Laurel Oaks Banner displayed on the back of the tractor, you would not know the truck was customized by high school students learning the trades that will fuel their futures. From the headache rack all the way to the custom fenders and artwork, this is truly a special truck.


Could a Modified Headache Rack Make Trucks Safer?

We are always trying to stay one step ahead in terms of safety here at Mytee Products. In light of that, there was a news article published on an Australian website late in 2017 that warrants further investigation. The article is causing some people to wonder if a modified headache rack could make U.S. trucks safer.

The article in question was published by Wildfire Today. This is a website dedicated to those brave Australian firefighters who battle wildfires down under. Like their American counterparts, these men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of their country’s citizens.

The point of the article was to highlight a brand-new firefighting vehicle introduced by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning. One look at the vehicle clearly shows how much effort designers put into safety. It features a modified headache rack along with a roll bar cage to protect the cab of the truck from collapse in the event of a rollover or a tree falling on it.

The Headache Rack

Previous models of Australia’s firefighting trucks were built with a standard headache rack to protect the cab from horizontal penetration. The new model has been extended to include vertical protection as well. Attached to the top of the rack is a frame with a large plate that covers the top of the truck cab. The frame extends rearward over the front portion of the bed as well, thus offering extra protection for what appears to be a toolbox.

In testing, the modified headache rack did very well. When combined with the internal roll bar cage, it proved itself more than capable of preventing a complete cap collapse. The Australian government is so pleased with the design that they are now thinking of other ways they can implement it.

U.S. Tractor Trailers

Looking at the design of the Australian truck leads some to wonder whether we can do something similar with U.S. tractor trailers. We obviously can build modified headache racks that include an extra plate over the top of the cab. The question is, how effective would such a plate be? Moreover, is the extra protection necessary?

Headache racks on U.S. tractor trailers are designed to provide the same protection against horizontal penetration. When used in concert with a bulkhead, the chances of a tractor trailer cab being impaled by moving freight is slim to none. And yet cab roofs are left unprotected against vertical penetration and rollovers.

Photographs of trucks damaged in rollover accidents tend to make it to the front page of newspapers for many to view. Tractor trailer cabs are just as vulnerable to collapse as smaller trucks and even passenger cars. It would seem as though a modified headache rack coupled with a roll bar cage would be more than adequate for most accidents of this type.

Let the Market Decide

At this point, there doesn’t seem to be much demand among truck drivers for a modified headache rack or an internal roll bar cage. Perhaps they’ve never thought of it before, or perhaps the number of serious accidents involving cab collapse is so low that the extra reinforcement really isn’t warranted.

In the end, the market will ultimately determine whether headache racks are ever modified in the future. Manufacturers will make what their customers want. We know that here at Mytee Products. Among all the headache racks we could stock, we have chosen those models most in demand by our customers. If demand is ever there for modified headache racks with overhead plates, we will have to consider them.