More from: trailer parts

How to Easily Enhance a Headache Rack

If you are a flatbed trucker working without a headache rack, you really need to rethink your strategy. You are but one accident away from a load coming through your cab in a hard-braking scenario that exceeds the tensile strength of your straps or chains. Having said that, truckers with headache racks can enhance those racks with a quick and dirty trick that is easy and inexpensive.

Get more out of your headache rack by securing stacked railroad ties at the front of your trailer with 5/16 chain and a break-over binder. Railroad ties are pretty easy to come by, and in some cases, you can get them for free if you know where to look. You can use 4 x 4 timbers if you don’t have access to railroad ties.

Truckers who haul freshly harvested timber use this trick all the time. Why? Because logs are among the most unruly pieces of cargo you can put on the back of a flatbed trailer. Being careful to stack timbers securely helps to some degree, but you never know when a log is going to shift forward. Adding the bulkhead just makes a driver safer.

How and Why It Works

At first glance, it might seem like building a bulkhead to enhance a headache rack is a waste of time and effort. After all, the whole point of the headache rack is to provide a tough barrier between tractor and load. But here’s the problem: cargo shifting forward on a trailer has to cross that open space between trailer and cab in order to do damage. Any cargo that does manage to traverse that empty space unimpeded has momentum behind it. Momentum is the killer.

A log with enough momentum can severely damage a headache rack to the point of requiring replacement. In a worst-case scenario, a log can send pieces of the rack through the cab. Building a bulkhead on the front of the trailer prevents deadly momentum.

The laws of physics dictate that stacking a load flush with a wooden bulkhead greatly reduces the risk of cargo striking the back of a tractor because the bulkhead provides a surface area capable of absorbing and dispersing the energy of moving cargo. Thus, a bulkhead prevents cargo from getting the momentum it needs to do damage to the tractor.

Easy to Remove

The suggestion to use railroad ties and chain to build a bulkhead is not coincidental. The design is intended to create a bulkhead that is easily removable when it is not needed or it might be in the way. It’s a lot easier to remove chains and railroad ties than to break the welds of a permanently affixed bulkhead system.

If you know you have a month’s worth of loads that do not involve any timber, you can quickly remove your bulkhead and go on your way. The same goes if you have to take an oversized load that needs a few extra inches off the trailer. It only takes a few minutes to reinstall the bulkhead when you need it again.

Here at Mytee Products, we sell a variety of headache racks in different sizes and configurations. Headache racks are great tools for protecting your truck and providing a bit of extra storage at the same time. For those loads when your headache rack may not be enough to protect you, consider building a quick and dirty bulkhead using railroad ties and chains. This simple but effective fix could make a difference in protecting both you and your truck.


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.


How to Identify Different Types of Flatbed Trailer Parts

One of the things we’ve come to learn over the years with regards to flatbed trucking, is that there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution for every kind of load. Just browse our inventory of truck tarps and you will see what we mean. Lumber requires one kind of tarp while steel coil is better protected with another. The differences in load carrying and cargo control go beyond just tarps, though. There are even different types of flatbed trailers that carriers and drivers can choose from.

load-leveler

People with some flatbed experience tend to think of the standard flatbed trailer most often. This trailer is typically no more than 48 feet long with a bed that is between 4 and 5 feet off the ground. Standard flatbed trailers are suitable for all kinds of loads that do not qualify as wide or tall.

Carriers and drivers have several others to work with:

Removable Goosenecks

Also known as RGNs, these trailers have removable goosenecks that allow them to drop down so that the front can be used as a ramp. It is a good trailer option for construction equipment.

Step Decks 

Step deck trailers have a lower deck to accommodate loads that are too tall to fit under standard overpasses. These trailers can be coupled with trailer loading ramps to allow construction equipment to be driven into place before being secured.

Side Kit Trailers 

The side kit flatbed trailer is one with removable sides. The sides can be deployed for loads that would normally fit inside the width of a dry goods van, then removed again for loads that do not work well in confined spaces. They are very popular for transporting steel.

Stretch Trailers

Stretch trailers are usually removable goosenecks with built-in extensions that can be deployed to carry extra-long loads.

Double Drops

A double drop trailer has higher decks at the front and rear and a lower deck in the center. Like step decks, they are ideal for loads that are otherwise too tall based on legal limits.

Each of these trailers can accommodate unique loads that do not fit well inside dry goods vans. But the cargo being hauled still has to be protected. That is where the different kinds of truck tarps come in.

Securing and Protecting Cargo

Truck tarps are just one component of a much larger system of cargo control and protection. State laws require truck drivers to properly secure their cargo prior to departing on a journey. Cargo must be routinely inspected to make sure it remains secure throughout. As for protection, it is up to drivers to make sure their cargo gets to its destination in good condition.

Truck tarps serve to provide the protection drivers need. A good, high-quality truck tarp will provide years of reliable service protecting cargo from road debris, sunlight, moisture, and other sources of potential damage. Yet maximum protection means choosing the right tarp for the right kind of load.

Mytee’s inventory includes every kind of truck tarp the flatbed trucker needs. We carry lumber tarps, steel tarps, coil tarps, and machinery tarps. We also offer smaller smoke tarps designed to protect cargo from exhaust stack soot. All our tarps are made with high-quality materials and to the most stringent standards.

Flatbed trucking is by no means a uniform enterprise. There are different kinds of trailers used to carry different types of loads, and a full range of truck tarps that drivers can deploy to protect those loads. Here at Mytee we have all the truck tarps and cargo control supplies you will need. You’ll have to handle the trailers yourself.


Truck Air Brakes and Jake Brake: Not the Same Thing

Our role as a leading provider of truck tarps, cargo control equipment, trailer parts and other trucking supplies gives us the opportunity to speak to a lot of people within the trucking industry. It also gives us the opportunity to explain some of the finer points of how trucks work. For example, we sometimes have to explain that a truck air brake and Jake brake are not the same thing. What confuses people is the fact that the Jake brake releases compressed air when activated.

It’s true that both truck air brakes and Jake brake are related to compressed air in terms of function. But that’s the only similarity. The standard air brake is the truck’s equivalent to the hydraulic brakes on a standard passenger car. The Jake brake is not really a break at all. It is a mechanism that helps slow down a truck by manipulating how the diesel engine fires. Both kinds of brakes are explained below.

brakes

Truck Air Brake System

A typical truck air brake system utilizes a combination of storage tanks, pumps, and valves to pressurize and depressurize the system. When the tank is empty, the system is depressurized. This results in brakes being fully deployed. In order to release the brakes, the storage canister must be filled with air. This is what we call recharging. The need for recharging explains why truckers have to let air tanks fill up before they can engage first gear and drive away.

Inside the cab, deploying the brakes works the same way as it does in a standard passenger vehicle. The driver simply depresses the brake pedal to stop the vehicle. What’s different is this: instead of forcing hydraulic fluid into the brakes, depressing the brake pedal releases air from the storage tank, thereby moving a piston that forces the brakes to engage. Releasing the brake pedal allows the system to recharge itself, releasing the brakes.

Jake Brake

A Jake brake is a compression release engine brake attached to a diesel engine. Activating the brake opens exhaust valves on the engine to release some of the compressed air inside. This slows the vehicle by slowing down combustion. The Jake brake can slow an idling vehicle substantially.

To understand this better, think of your own passenger vehicle. Even when you take your foot off the accelerator, power is still being transferred from your engine to your transmission and wheels. The only way to interrupt that power is to either shift the car into neutral or shut off the engine. The same is true for big trucks.

The Jake brake slows the truck by reducing the amount of power transferred to the wheels. It allows the truck to slow even when it is still in gear, which is why you might sometimes hear the loud noise caused by a Jake brake as a truck rolls through a lower speed zone. Rather than disengage the gear and apply the standard air brake, a driver may simply choose to take his/her foot off the accelerator and temporarily activate the Jake brake.

The main downside to the Jake brake is that it can make a tremendous amount of noise when deployed. For that reason, some municipalities have limited the use of Jake brakes within their jurisdictions.

As for the standard truck air brake system, it also makes a unique sound. Deploying air brakes tends to make a whooshing sound followed by a hard squeaking. Neither of these noises is terribly loud as long as the system is functioning properly.