More from: tarp

Bulkhead or Penalty Strap: You Make the Call

The common trailer bulkhead can be viewed as a multipurpose tool. A driver can use it as an anchor point for tarps or the starting point for installing a side kit. But at the end of the day, the primary purpose of the bulkhead is to prevent forward movement of cargo. For the flatbed trucker, it is either bulkhead or penalty strap.

We are not quite sure where the term ‘penalty strap’ comes from, but it does a good job of describing how some truck drivers feel about having to use extra tie-downs to prevent cargo from shifting forward. Extra tie-downs means extra work. To that end, a driver might feel that he or she is incurring some sort of penalty for choosing to not use a bulkhead.

There is no right or wrong choice here. It is a matter of driver preference. Knowing the finer points of both options gives drivers a clear understanding of what is best for them.

The Kinds of Loads Carried

Let’s face it, some loads are easier to secure with penalty straps than others. A load of brick stacked on wooden pallets does not need a whole lot of extra effort to prevent forward movement. Do a few calculations, grab an extra strap or two, and the driver is good to go. Not so with a load of rail.

Rail doesn’t benefit as much from gravity and friction as brick does. Therefore, preventing its forward movement is a little more complicated. The extra time and effort it takes to deploy penalty straps could easily be avoided with a bulkhead.

Doing the Math at Load

A good case for installing a bulkhead is to avoid having to do the math at loading time. For instance, check out these starting calculations:

A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight of 1,100 pounds or less = 1 tiedown.
A load of 5 feet or shorter and a weight in excess of 1,100 pounds = 2 tie-downs.
A load between five and 10 feet, regardless of weight = 2 tie-downs.                                                    A load longer than 10 feet = 2 tie-downs with an additional tiedown for every 10 feet.

These numbers just tell the driver how many tie-downs to use. The driver also has to consider the working load limits of each strap. It is a lot easier just to install a bulkhead with a high enough rating to cover most of the loads the trucker will haul.

Straps and Chains Wear Out

One final consideration is that straps and chains wear out. It is conceivable that a trucker can use the correct number of tie-downs and properly account for working load limits and still be found in violation. That’s because inspectors can take straps and chains out of service if they observe what they believe to be unacceptable wear and tear.

Bulkheads are subject to wear and tear as well, but not nearly as much. Therefore, it stands to reason that taking penalty straps out of the equation in favor of a bulkhead reduces the chances of being found in violation. The fewer tie-downs in play, the fewer opportunities for wear and tear to cause problems.

We understand that there are very valid reasons for declining to use a bulkhead on a flatbed trailer. Yet, there are some very definite advantages to choosing a bulkhead over penalty straps. It’s really up to each driver to decide what’s best for him or her. Should you decide to go the bulkhead route, Mytee Products can get you squared away.


The Secret to Preventing Tarp Billowing

After spending 20 to 30 minutes tarping a load, nothing aggravates a flatbed trucker more than looking out the mirror 25 miles down the road and seeing one or more of those tarps billowing in the wind. Billowing tarps reduce fuel efficiency and risk both straps and cargo. Truckers hate billowing tarps.

The question many new truck drivers struggle with is how to prevent billowing. After all, moving down the highway at 65 mph creates a lot of air movement around a flatbed load. Any natural wind added to the equation just makes things worse.

So, what is the solution? The secret to preventing tarp billowing is in how tarps are applied at various points of a load.

In the below post, we will explain how to secure tarps that will not billow as you drive down the road. You can use ratchet straps, bungee straps, bungee rope, or even nylon rope as you see fit. A combination of bungee straps and ratchet straps is the best way to go for efficiency and speed.

Tight at the Front

Physics and common sense dictate that air flows across a load from front to back. Therefore, common sense also dictates that tarps should be getting the most attention at the front of the load. Veteran truckers who tarp well, will tell you that the front of the load is key.

The most important thing for preventing billowing is to make sure the tarp at the front is as flat and tight as possible. If you do not give air a clear path under the front of the tarp, you will reduce the likelihood of billowing across its entire surface. So think tight and flat.

One suggestion from veteran truckers is to start by securing the front corners of the tarp with bungee straps. Pull the tarp tight and secure the rear with bungee straps as well. Then go back to the front of the load and apply one ratchet strap across the top of the tarp as far forward as possible. You can then use bungee straps or bungee rope to go around the front edge of the tarp, hooking to a strap on either side, to keep the vertical surface of the tarp lying flat.

Work Your Way Back

Once the front of the tarp is flat and secure, work your way back. Use additional bungee straps at key points to secure the tarp to either your trailer or the load itself. Another ratchet strap across the middle of the tarp will keep that section flat. Finally, wrap the entire perimeter of the load using bungee rope from corner to corner. This keeps the edges of the tarp secure against the load.

The advantage of using bungee rope here is that you can apply fairly large sections of rope without creating a safety hazard or risking damage to the load.

One veteran trucker we know offers another tip that makes sense. He says that it helps to take a few extra minutes to make sure tarps are applied evenly. An uneven tarp is harder to keep flat and tight because you are working with different amounts of material at various points across the load. An even tarp gives you the same amount of material at the critical points, making it possible to apply even tension with each bungee or ratchet strap you use.

Remember, the secret to preventing tarp billowing is to concentrate on the front of the load in order to ensure the tarp is flat and tight. If you can conquer the front of the load, the rest should be fairly easy.


How to Fix a Dented Aluminum Toolbox

A trucker’s investment in aluminum toolboxes can be pretty significant. High-quality aluminum trailer toolboxes can run you upwards of $500 or more. The last thing you want is an accident that leaves dents in one of your boxes. But things happen.

So, what do you do if a toolbox is dented? First, you don’t panic. There is a possibility you could remove that dent easily and without any further damage.

The following post provides a suggestion of how you could possibly fix a dented aluminum toolbox. Bear in mind that Mytee Products offers no guarantee that this procedure will work 100% effectively or that you will still be able to use your toolbox afterward. Also, please bear in mind that you need to be extremely careful when you are trying a quick fix to get a dent out and you have no other options. Otherwise, you might have to look for a suitable replacement.

 

 

All About Heat and Force
Aluminum is a very pliable metal that is easily dented. A wayward forklift or a poor backing job can easily dent a toolbox in seconds. The keys to getting the dent out are heat and force.

If you search online, you may come across recommendations that include pounding away on the tool box with a hammer. You do need the force of a hammer, but what you don’t need are brute force and to keep hammering away at the tool box to repair it. A few strokes of a hammer could do the job quickly if the dent isn’t deep.

However, if the dent is too deep for a hammer you could make your life a lot easier if you heat the metal with a blowtorch for as little as 2-3 minutes. Heating the aluminum will also reduce the chances of breaking welds or cracking the metal at the site of the dent.

Take a blowtorch and gradually heat up the metal at the site of the dent – and maybe a half inch all the way around. Once the metal is hot, begin gently tapping and with a hammer to see how it responds. Gradually increase the force of the hammer until you start pushing the dent out. You may or may not have to continue heating as you hit the metal. It all depends on how severe the dent is.

Before we proceed any further, we want to reiterate that you need to be extremely careful while following this method of fixing a dent. You do not want to damage your tool box.

What you absolutely want to avoid is continually heating and cooling the aluminum. This will cause unnecessary stress that could make the problem worse. It is better to keep a low flame going while you are pounding out the dent than having to reheat the metal numerous times.

Once the dent is out, you’ll need to inspect the metal for any cracks or broken welds. Depending on how serious a broken weld is, you may have to take the box to a welder for additional repairs. If the break is minor, you can use a brazing rod to repair it. Brazing rods also do wonders for cracks occurring at the site of the original dent.

Why Try to Fix a Dent?

Now that you’ve read our simple procedure for fixing dented tool boxes, you might have two questions at the back of your mind; a) as a supplier of tool boxes, why would we want to offer a solution and b) why a trucker would bother to fix a dent over just buying a new one. Well, it comes down to a few things; firstly, we want to offer our customers solutions to make their life on the road easier. Secondly, being on the road constantly doesn’t give truck drivers to option of just making a pit stop in the middle of the road and buying a new box that fits perfectly. Last but definitely not the least is space. The amount of storage on an 18-wheeler is limited to the number of available toolboxes installed on the rig.

Truck drivers have to fill their tool boxes with an endless supply of items ranging from bungee straps to tarps to hand tools and spare parts. Any experienced truck driver will tell you that there never seems to be enough storage space. Seeing that space is at a premium, truckers cannot afford dents in their toolboxes as it results in wasted space.

A small dent or wear over time may be fine, but larger dents that prevent the trucker from storing items they absolutely need to be there are no good.


How to Build a Quick Hay Storage System

There are lots of different ways to store hay using tarps. In this post, we will outline the steps for building a quick and dirty hay storage system that will keep your hay safe and dry without the need for a permanent structure like a pole barn or garage.

Bear in mind that this description is just a general guide. You may want to modify what you read here to better suit your circumstances. Also remember your main goal: to protect hay from the elements so as to reduce spoilage as much as possible. Unprotected hay can suffer spoilage rates of up to 20%, making for significant losses in an exceptionally bad season.

To build your quick and dirty hay storage system, you will need hay tarps, rope, and PVC piping. Spiral anchor pins are optional if you would rather stake down the tarp rather than running rope under the bales of hay.

One last thing before we get to the build: depending on how you build your system the hay storage system designed here work best with round bales and square bales stacked in a pyramid. Use your own discretion when building your system.

Step-By-Step Process

The first step is to measure out the storage space. A 28-foot tarp should be good for 70-75 bales of hay stacked in a pyramid configuration. You can place the first layer directly on the ground or lay down some gravel first, it’s up to you. Most farmers just go straight to the ground.

Once your storage space has been measured out, lay ropes across the space at 3 foot intervals. You will eventually be pulling these ropes up and using them to secure your tarp, so leave some excess. Now you are ready to begin stacking your hay right on top of the rope.

When stacking is complete, you are going to lay PVC pipe across the top of the stack to prevent the tarp from directly contacting the hay. This is important for allowing air flow to move over the top of the stack. If you don’t do this, you could get moisture build up that could promote mold or mildew growth in the top few inches of the pyramid.

Next, stretch your tarp out on the ground. With someone to help you, you can now lift the outside edge and pull the tarp up and over the entire stack. Do your best to center the tarp before tying it down. Also, do not worry too much if the tarp seems a bit too small. It’s better to have less tarp to work with than too much.

Next, string the ropes through grommets in the tarp and tie everything off. Your ropes should have enough tension to keep the tarp taught. The lower edge of the tarp should be positioned just slightly lower than the widest point of the stack in order to allow rain to run off.

Lastly, insert PVC pipe where the tarp makes contact with the first layer of hay. The tarp should already have enough tension to hold the pipe in place. The idea here is to replicate what you did at the top of the stack: keeping the tarp from making direct contact with the hay.

After Installation

If you did everything correctly, you should have a complete stack of hay properly covered and secured against the elements. After installation though, it is important to check the tension of the ropes every week or so. Your haystack will settle somewhat, so you will need to tighten the ropes throughout the storage season.

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The Real Value of Corner and Edge Protectors

Corner and edge protectors represent a rather insignificant investment on the part of the flatbed truck. They cost a lot less than tarps, winch straps, and just about all the other cargo control supplies you might purchase. They certainly cost less than paying for damaged cargo. However, the real value in corner edge protectors is not found in the retail price. It is found in what they do for the truck driver.

Just to be clear, corner and edge protectors are used to eliminate direct contact between cargo and tarps and, when necessary, other pieces of cargo. They can be made of steel, plastic, or rubber. Mytee Products carries 14 different options in a variety of styles, materials, and colors.

Edge Protectors Save You Money

The first thing corner and edge protectors do for the truck driver is save money. How so? Remember, truck drivers are responsible for the integrity of their loads from the moment of pick up until the time of unloading. If anything arrives damaged, the driver could be financially liable.

Flatbed truckers commonly carry cargo insurance for their own protection. But keep in mind that insurance rates stay low only if the driver does not make any claims. By investing a small amount in corner and edge protectors, drivers are reducing the likelihood of damaged cargo that could result in an insurance claim. They are keeping their insurance rates as low as possible at the same time. That saves money.

Corner Protectors Protect the Driver’s Reputation

As a flatbed trucker, you may not run into too many shippers willing to mandate the use of corner and edge protectors. Yet they still expect you to take good care of the cargo you are being entrusted with. Don’t you think shippers are paying attention to what you do? Of course they are.

When shippers and receivers know a truck driver voluntarily uses corner and edge protectors, they think more highly of that driver. It goes without saying that a driver’s reputation to protect cargo is improved with every effort taken to properly protect cargo. Furthermore, drivers with good reputations for cargo control get the most lucrative loads more often.

Edge Protectors Reduce Driver Anxiety

You can value your edge and corner protectors in dollars and cents simply by keeping track of how much money you spend on them. But those little pieces of plastic and metal can do something for you that cannot be valued in terms of money: they can greatly reduce or completely eliminate your anxiety.

Anxiety over protecting cargo is part and parcel with flatbed trucking. Preventing damage is always at the back of the trucker’s mind, as it should be. But why be more anxious than you need to be? Better yet, why be anxious at all? If you use corner and edge protectors the way they are supposed to be used, the risk of damage from contact with other surfaces is minimal. So is the risk of damage from road vibration.

Purchase Your Corner Protectors from Mytee

The amount of money you invest in an ample supply of corner and edge protectors is relatively minor compared to what you invest in other cargo control supplies. In light of that, there really is no valid reason to not have edge and corner protectors in your toolbox. We recommend a variety of options including steel protectors with chain slots, elongated v-board edge protectors, plastic tarp protectors, and rubber corner protectors.

Before you decide to purchase your next round of corner and edge protectors, browse our inventory. We have everything you need at very reasonable prices.