More from: tarps

3 Ways to Temporarily Install Shade Tarps

Most of the tarps we sell at Mytee Products are intended for use by truck drivers looking to protect the cargo they transport. Yet, we also carry a couple of other kinds of tarps as well. Among them are shade mesh tarps available in black and green. Construction companies often use shade tarps to create privacy screening around building sites. As a truck driver and homeowner, you could use shade tarps around the house for several reasons.

In this post, we will describe three ways to install shade tarps for temporary use. In every case, the point is to provide a level of shade. Installations are temporary in nature because the idea is to take the tarps down just before winter weather hits. You are really only trying to provide shade during the hot summer months.

Method #1 – Using Trees or Structures

Let’s say you want to install a shade tarp to park your truck under during your two-week summer vacation. Some truckers do this to prevent excessive heat buildup while they are away. In either case, you need to get the tarp up high enough to accommodate the height of your tractor. Tent poles are probably not going to be suitable for this situation.

The easiest way to accomplish this idea, is to string the tarp between trees or building structures on your property. Just tie a rope to each of the four corners and away you go. The only tricky component to this installation is determining the right tie down locations without having to run ropes too far. The longer the ropes, the more difficult it will be to maintain good tension.

A suggestion is to pull your truck up next to a garage or barn with trees nearby. You could attach one end of the tarp to the structure and the other ends to a couple of trees.

Method #2 – A-Frame Installation

The second method of installation is one that campers use all the time for erecting tarps above their tents. It is known as A-frame installation because you are creating a shape similar to an A-frame house. It is simple to do, so it’s pretty effective for a lot of different uses.

To begin with, string a piece of rope between two trees or structures near the area you want shaded. Next, lay the tarp over the rope exactly where you want it. Finally, secure the tarp with additional ropes and stakes driven into the ground. You now have an A-frame shade structure that you can sit under, park your bicycles under, etc.

Method #3 – 4-Pole Installation

To create a shaded sitting area, there is no better installation than the 4-pole installation. For this installation, you just need four tent poles, a sturdy rope, and a few stakes. You can make your own tent poles pretty easily if you don’t already own them.

Installation is a simple matter of placing a tent pole at each of the four corners, attaching a rope to each pole, then pulling the ropes till they are taut and staking them down. For extra structural integrity, you can add more poles around the perimeter or just stake the tarp directly to the ground with rope.

The beauty of this installation is that you can set the height of your shade tarp as you desire. If you want it higher, you can go as high as your tent poles allow.
Shade tarps make great temporary shelters from the hot, summer sun. Mytee Products is happy to carry both black and green shade tarps in nearly a dozen different sizes.


Aluminum Toolboxes: Organization Tips for Truckers

The average flatbed trucker has at least one toolbox affixed to his or her rig. Some have a large trailer toolbox and two aluminum step boxes to maximize storage space, and some drivers have even more. The thing to remember is that proper organization of aluminum toolboxes maximizes storage space and reduces the frustrations of not being able to find the tool you’re after when you need it.

What constitutes the right number and size of toolboxes isn’t for us to say. Every flatbed trucker has his or her own preferences. But Mytee can offer a few organizational tips to help truckers make the most of their storage space. Keep in mind that we carry a full inventory of aluminum toolboxes for truck drivers and pickup truck owners.

 

Organizing Tarps

Assuming you are the kind of trucker who stores tarps and toolboxes, the first rule of thumb is to consider which tarps you use most often. Let’s say you regularly haul lumber loads that require coverage on all sides. You are going to want those tarps easily accessible at all times.

You may have a selection of smaller smoke tarps or general purpose canvas tarps that you only use every once in a while for machinery loads. Because they are used less frequently, you can store them on the bottom of your toolbox in favor of putting your lumber tarps on top.

One thing to note is that tarps should never be put away while still wet. If throwing a wet tarp into a tool box is unavoidable at the time, it should be retrieved and dried out as soon as possible. Leaving tarps in long-term storage with moisture trapped in the folds is a good recipe for mold.

Organizing Tools

When it comes to tools, truckers need to separate things like ratchet straps and binders from the hand tools used to perform regular maintenance. It’s a good idea to keep them in separate toolboxes if you have the space. If not, divide existing toolbox into two separate compartments using a piece of scrap wood or metal.

Ratchet straps can be rolled up and stacked very neatly in one corner of the box. Chains can be coiled and stacked in another corner. Binders, hooks, and other similar tools can then be placed in the center of the compartment. As for those hand tools, keep them separated according to tool type. Put all your sockets in one location, all the wrenches in another, etc. Organizing hand tools is a lot easier if you invest in some shelves and smaller boxes that can fit inside your main toolbox.

Everything in Its Place

It should be obvious that the strategy we are promoting here follows that old adage that says, ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. The hard part is not necessarily finding a place for everything that needs to be stored. It is finding the most efficient place and then making sure that the items are returned to their places after use.

Few things are as frustrating as having a journey interrupted by some sort of failure and then not being able to find the tools you need to fix the problem. Equally frustrating is the task of securing a load and having to dig through your toolbox looking for the right straps or chains. Organizing your toolboxes changes all that.

An organized toolbox – where everything has a fixed place that never changes – is one that lends itself very well to efficiency and productivity. Take it from us; you’ll be glad you organized your equipment once you do it.


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.


Save Time with a Cargo Control Checklist

Working as a flatbed truck driver involves spending time waiting for cargo to be loaded and secured before hitting the road. This is time a driver is usually not compensated for, so getting things done as quickly as possible is paramount to getting the wheels turning again. Still, drivers have to be thorough in their cargo control procedures so as to not jeopardize their loads.

A good way to save time and ensure cargo is properly secured is to establish a cargo control checklist that becomes a standard operating procedure. While this may sound obvious, you might be surprised how many drivers have no such checklist in place. They approach every load in a random matter, where cargo control is dictated by immediate circumstances. Having a checklist in place is a better option because it ensures all of the necessaries are addressed in a way that eventually leads to the driver following his or her checklist routine as a matter of habit.

checklist

It should be noted that a cargo control checklist does not have to be a formal document that the driver prints out by the hundreds so that each load has its own piece of paper. A driver may create a document to start with, but after following the checklist routine numerous times, most drivers are going to memorize it. Then it becomes a mental exercise rather than a paper one.

Cargo Control Checklist Basics

How a driver organizes his or her cargo control checklist is a matter of preference. There should be certain categories of things on every driver’s checklist, things that are appropriate to cargo control. For example:

  • Tarps and Straps – Truck tarps and straps should be inspected prior to arriving to pick up a load. Not inspecting cargo control supplies increases the likelihood of getting to a job and finding that damaged equipment cannot be used. Then the driver is slowed down while he or she searches locally for replacements.
  • Inspecting Loads – Flatbed truck drivers are ultimately responsible for how cargo is loaded on their trailers. There should be a process in place for inspecting loads to make sure weight issues are addressed, there is no unnecessary space between cargo items, and that cargo is properly blocked if necessary.
  • Securing the Cargo – Once a trailer has been loaded and securing has commenced, a system should be in place so that tarps and straps are always applied in the same way. For example, some truckers will first make sure all of their straps and/or chains are applied, then walk around the trailer to tighten down each winch consecutively.
  • Final Inspection – Just prior to departure, the truck driver should be performing a vehicle safety inspection as a matter of routine. Within that inspection, he or she can also make provision to do a final inspection of cargo control equipment. Straps, chains, and tarps should all be given the once over.
  • Inspections on the Road – Lastly, an important part of a cargo control checklist that should not be ignored are the inspections done while on the road. Drivers should be checking their loads within the first 50 miles of departure and then with every additional stop along the way. The same checklist used for the final inspection is appropriate to on-the-road inspections.

Cargo control is a normal part of flatbed trucking. Drivers can save time and do a better job of securing cargo by developing a cargo control checklist and following it on every job. A well-designed checklist turns what could be a random exercise into something that becomes routine.


Understanding Why Tarps Get Brittle in Cold Weather

Experienced truckers are well aware that extreme cold weather and truck tarps do not necessarily play well together. The colder the temperature, the more brittle tarp fabrics become. Tarps tend to tear or break with just the slightest amount of pressure in extremely frigid conditions. But why does this happen?

To someone not familiar with the science, it may seem strange that a poly or vinyl tarp can hold up very well in hot summer weather but then become fragile in the dead of winter. But knowing the science suddenly clears things up.

tarp-winter

 

The Nature of Plastics

Vinyl, polyethylene, and polypropylene are all plastic polymers that can be used for multiple applications. Some finished materials are engineered to be extremely rigid while others are a lot more flexible. The flexible plastic polymers owe their flexibility to something MIT calls ductility. What is ductility? It is the ability of the molecules in a polymer to stretch.

Plastic polymers consist of chains of molecules bound together to form a particular substance. If it helps, think of a standard chain-link made of rubber rather than steel. The rubber link can be stretched fairly easily while a steel link cannot. The molecule chains of plastic polymers are similar to a rubber chain-link except on a molecular scale.

The thing to understand about plastic polymers is that the molecule chains only remain flexible in warm temperatures. The colder it gets, the less flexible the chains become. It is possible, under extremely cold conditions, for molecule chains to be frozen in place. When this occurs, a vinyl or poly material becomes extremely fragile. But even if the chains do not freeze, vinyl and poly materials do get more brittle as the temperature falls.

Wind Adds to the Problem

Cold temperatures automatically reduce the flexibility of vinyl and poly tarps by reducing the ductility of plastic polymer chains. When you throw in the wind caused by a truck driving down the highway, conditions deteriorate even further. It’s a matter of the wind displacing surface heat.

Although wind chill does not apply to non-biological materials, the wind chill principal is similar to what happens with truck tarps when exposed to cold. The wind displaces any surface heat a vinyl or poly tarp may hold, thus causing a further reduction in temperature. Any heat that might be absorbed by sunshine will also be displaced by the wind.

As you can see, combining already cold temperatures with the wind of highway travel exposes vinyl and poly tarps to the kinds of conditions that would significantly reduce ductility. The more drastic the combination of cold and wind, the less flexible a tarp is.

Tarp Maintenance in Winter

Now that you know the science behind brittle truck tarps, the obvious thing to do is to take extra good care of your tarps during the winter months. We highly recommend being more careful when applying tarps in cold and windy conditions so as to avoid tears and rips. Make sure to use edge and corner protectors. The right combination of cold and wind could cause a sharp edge to rip right through a cold tarp.

Tarping loads indoors would be ideal as the temperatures will be warmer and it is easy to apply the tarp by oneself. If that’s not possible, it’s always a good idea to enlist any available help to get tarps on and secured as quickly and safely as possible. Also avoid standing on top of a load after a tarp has been applied because cold tarps can be slippery.

So now that

Sources:

1. MIT – http://engineering.mit.edu/ask/why-do-plastics-get-brittle-when-they-get-cold