More from: Ratchet straps

Winch Winders: 5 Tips for Maximum Efficiency

Sometimes the brilliance of a particular tool lies in its simplicity. Oftentimes the most efficient tools are those with the simplest design and just a few moving parts. That certainly is the case with the humble winch winder. As a tool for truckers, the winch winder is brilliant in its simplicity and efficient in its design.

As you probably know, winches are fixed to flatbed trailers for the purposes of holding and winding webbing straps. When you use them, you don’t have to use ratchet straps or chains to secure cargo. You simply run the straps through the winch and wind them in place. When it is time to secure a load, straps can be stretched over the top and secured on the other side. Post-delivery, the straps are wound up and secured again.

 

If you are new to the whole winch winder concept, here are five handy tips that should increase your efficiency:

1. Apply a Bit of Tension

You will get a tighter wind and less crimping if you put a bit of tension on the strap as you’re winding. If you are using a two-handed winch winder, apply the tension with your foot. You could also put a wood block on the ground and run the strap underneath it. The block should be just heavy enough to do the trick but not so heavy as to prevent you from winding.

2.Consider a One-Handed Winder

If using your foot or a block doesn’t tickle your fancy, you can opt for a one-handed winder instead. This particular kind of winder is really just a smaller handle that can be cranked with a single hand while you apply tension with the other.

3. Mount According to Favored Hand

This next tip is one that truck drivers normally don’t think of until after they’ve installed their winches. Here it is: install each unit according to your favored hand. If you are right-handed, install your units with the handle to the right side (as you face it). That means the handles will point to the rear of the trailer on the driver’s side but toward the front on the passenger side.

If you are left-handed, install them in reverse. Make sure the handle is on the left side while facing it. Why do this? Because if the handles are on the opposite side, you will either have to use your non-favored hand to wind or you’ll have to turn sideways to use your favored hand. Neither option is all that efficient.

4. Install Every Foot or So

Next, we recommend installing a winch unit every 12 to 18 inches. Although this may seem like overkill, you know that the size and position of your loads is never the same from one trip to the next. If you do not have enough winches in place, you may find that you’re back to using ratchet straps because certain loads don’t line up with your winches.

5. Maintain Your Equipment

Last but not least, treat your winches and winch winders like every other piece of equipment you have. Maintain them by regularly checking for any kind of damage. Oil them periodically and, should one eventually rust, brush it off and seal it to prevent further rust.

Winch winders are a simple but ingenious invention that makes using webbing straps as easy as can be. With the right number of winches on both sides of the trailer, you will be ready for just about any load. Strap down your cargo with confidence and then, following delivery, quickly wind your straps and get back on the road.


What To Do When You Don’t Have a Winch Winder

We at Mytee Products believe that winch winders are simple but ingenious tools. Winch winders certainly qualify as those little things that make truck drivers jobs easier. It could also be coincidence that they are a popular product with our experienced truck drivers.

A winch winder is essentially a tool you attach to your winches in order to wind up straps post-delivery. It makes strap winding so easy that you can get a strap wound up and secured in under a minute. If you are not using a winch winder, then what? What are your other options?

A Winch Bar?

Let’s assume you use a standard winch bar to tighten down your straps when securing cargo. Winch bars are pretty common. You could, at least in theory, use that same bar to wind your straps back up again. But that would take forever and a day. Not only that, your arms would be pretty tired by the time you get finished. Even a ratcheting winch bar is not all that great for winding straps.

A winch bar is a good tool for tightening straps over the top of cargo. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to get straps tight enough without a winch bar. But it’s not the right tool for winding straps no longer in use. A winch bar is just too inefficient for this sort of thing.

Winding by Hand?

Your second option is to wind the straps by hand. You place your hand over the reel and rotate it while you guide the strap with the other hand. This gets old really fast. A lot of drivers will only do this for so long before grabbing a screwdriver and sticking it through the pinhole in the winch axle. The screwdriver solution certainly works, but it’s not a whole lot better than using a winch bar.

Detaching and Rolling?

There are some truck drivers who don’t like to leave their straps attached to winches when not in use. They prefer to detach the straps, roll them up, and store them in their toolboxes. This is obviously an option if you don’t want to leave your straps exposed to the weather and driving conditions. But once again, it is terribly inefficient.

Detaching straps and rolling them manually takes time you just don’t have. Furthermore, there’s no need to worry about the straps being exposed to weather and the elements. They will do just fine. You are still better off keeping your straps attached to your winches and winding them up when not in use.

Ratchet Straps Instead?

Lastly, there are some truck drivers who do not use winches on their trailers at all. Instead, they use ratchet straps run through the rails. Yes, it works. No, it is not the best option. This sort of arrangement requires a lot more manual labor than you really want to expend on cargo control. It’s a good option only if your flatbed work is limited and you’re not using a trailer for which you have permission to install winches.

At the end of the day the winch is still the most efficient way to use webbing straps as a way to control cargo. And as long as you’re using winches, you might as well wind your straps and store them in place. A winch winder makes winding a snap. Just attach the handle, crank it for a minute, and you’re all done. You can wind all of your straps in less time than it takes to get a cup of coffee.


How the Ratchet Works: A Simple Explanation

Shopping the Mytee Products website affords you the opportunity to buy all sorts of parts and tools; this includes ratchets. Just in the cargo control section alone you will find ratcheting winch bars and ratchet straps. Making all of these pieces work is a bit of technology that has been around for centuries.

The tried and true ratchet is one of the most used tools in the world. Socket wrenches utilize them. So do clocks, locking mechanisms, and so much more. If it weren’t for the ratchet, a lot of the tools we now take for granted wouldn’t be possible. To illustrate just how important the ratchet is, we will explain how it works in reference to some of the cargo control supplies we carry.

A Basic Definition

The word ‘ratchet’ is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to a socket wrench. While a socket wrench certainly relies on a ratchet, the term is a lot more general than that. A ratchet is literally a mechanism that allows for continual rotary or linear motion in one direction only. Its design prevents motion in the opposite direction.

With this definition to hand, just look around your truck and see how many ratchets you can identify. Believe it or not, the winches bolted to the side of your trailer employ a ratchet mechanism to keep webbing straps tight.

Look at the side of the winch and you’ll see a gear with multiple teeth. You will also see what is known as a pawl. This is the small metal piece that catches on the flat side of a tooth in order to prevent the gear from moving in the opposite direction. The combination of these two pieces is all that’s necessary to make the device a ratchet.

When you tighten your straps down you know you can only tighten in one direction. Every time the pawl passes another tooth, the strap gets tighter. Get it tight enough and the pawl will catch under one of the teeth to prevent the strap from unwinding.

The Ratchet Winch Bar

The ratchet winch bar we carry works on the same basic principle. At the end of the bar is a square housing that holds a ratchet device. You insert the ratchet into the handle of the winch and secure it with a pin. Now you can tighten down your winch straps without ever removing the bar. When you’re done, pull out the pen and remove the bar.

For truck drivers who already have a standard winch bar they like well enough, there’s no need to purchase a ratcheting bar. We also carry ratcheting winches and adapters that convert standard winches into ratcheting winches.

In both cases, the same principle explained above applies. The ratchet mechanism consists of a gear and a pawl that allow for motion in only one direction. You use the standard winch bar to crank down on the winch, then you remove the bar at the bottom of the stroke. Slide the bar back in at the top of the stroke and repeat the process.

In order for the ratchet to work as a cargo control device, there has to be a way to release it. Thankfully there is. The pawl on nearly every kind of winch device can be released with a spring-loaded lever. This allows for motion in the opposite direction so that you can loosen webbing straps enough to detach them.

Now you know the basics of how ratchets work. It’s a good thing we’ve got them in stock, or your job as a truck driver might be a bit more difficult.


A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.


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.