More from: truck driver

How to Fit Truck Tarps Perfectly

You see a lot of interesting things traveling down the interstate. For example, flatbed trailers carrying all kinds of loads are commonplace. Some of those trailers looked to be carrying pretty impressive cargo, though you might never know what it is hidden under all those tarps. That leads to the following question: how do truck drivers get those tarps fitted so tight?

Covering a load with truck tarps is not as easy as it sounds. Anyone can throw a couple of tarps over the top of a load and secure them with bungee straps, but that does not mean the cargo underneath is safe from all that could potentially harm it. That’s why truck drivers go to such great lengths to guarantee their tarps are tightly secured. They do not want their tarps flapping in the breeze at 60 mph.

So, how do they do it? It is a combination of a number of things.

1. Years of Experience

First and foremost, there is no substitute for experience. Every truck driver learns on the job regardless of how much training he or she received in CDL school. Simply put, learning the best ways to deploy truck tarps for any given load is a matter of book knowledge, time, and plenty of time actually doing it.

Imagine hauling an oddly shaped load consisting of industrial machinery and supplies. You might get it wrong the first time out, failing to get your tarps tight and secure. Rest assured you would hear about it on delivery. Whatever mistakes you made that first time are unlikely to be repeated the next time. You will find a better way to do it on the next run. Load after load, you’ll get better at tarping.

2. Daily Observations

The laws of physics are a wonderful thing in that they can be learned through simple observation. A truck driver may not have taken high school or college physics prior to beginning his or her career but watching how loads and tarps respond during travel can make any truck driver a physics expert in no time at all.

Truck drivers with the best tarping skills are the same drivers who pay attention to the smallest of details. They pay close attention to how each load is tarped and then, during transport, how the load and its tarps respond. They pay attention to tarp movement at highway speeds; they pay attention to how tarps handle bad weather; they pay attention to how temperature extremes affect their tarps.

3. Advice from Others

Finally, the smart truck driver doesn’t turn away any advice offered by others. No trucker lives on an island, and no trucker knows everything about tarping. So receiving and offering sound advice is in the truck driver’s best interests. Drivers get advice from other truckers, from shippers, and even from police officers and DOT inspectors.

Imagine being at a roadside inspection when a state trooper notices one of your tarps isn’t as tight as it could be. If that trooper offers a word of advice based on his past observations, how would you respond? Smart truckers take the advice for what it is. If it is usable, great. If not, it is dismissed. No harm, no foul.

Next time you drive down the interstate and see a flatbed trailer with a tightly tarped load, don’t assume that the deploying of the tarps was an easy task. Truck drivers put a lot of work into securing their loads prior to departure. If you observe an exceptionally good tarping job, be confident that driver knows what he or she is doing.


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.

 


Tips for Using Loading Ramps Safely

Truck drivers with loading ramp experience know that it is all about physics. The laws of physics dictate that it’s easier to roll something up a ramp than lift it straight up. But the same physics that make loading ramps so efficient also constitute their greatest weakness. Therefore, it pays to know the physics in order to use loading ramps safely.

Loading ramps make moving objects to a higher point easier by distributing the weight of the load across a larger area. Furthermore, pushing or pulling an object up a set of ramps requires less work than lifting that same item. Thus, you can get some pretty heavy objects onto the back of an open deck trailer with a pair of inexpensive loading ramps from Mytee Products.

With all of that said, here are some tips for using loading ramps safely:

1. Work on a Level Surface

Whenever possible, you should work on a level surface. Your trailer deck should be parallel with the ground and the ends of the ramps touching the ground should not be lower than the trailer’s rear wheels. A level surface provides for maximum efficiency during the loading process. It also reduces the risks of the load tipping backward or falling off the side of the ramps.

2. Watch the Load Angle

As efficient as loading ramps are compared to direct lifting, they are not capable of working miracles. Loading can be terribly unsafe if the ramp angle is too high. Therefore, watch the load angle. Keep it as low as possible on every single job.

This might facilitate purchasing new loading ramps if your current set is too short. Also bear in mind that you will need longer ramps and a lower angle for heavier loads. Remember the physics. The key is to get your load up onto the deck with as little work as possible. Load angle influences the amount of required work more than any other factor.

3. Send the Drive Wheels First

It doesn’t matter which direction you load all-wheel drive vehicles in. But if you’re loading a vehicle with only two-wheel drive, send the drive wheels first. This means a front-wheel drive vehicle goes up the ramp forward; a rear-wheel drive vehicle goes up in reverse. Again, it is all about physics.

If the drive wheels are to the rear of the vehicle as it’s loaded, those wheels are pushing the load rather than pulling it. This creates a natural pivot point over the axle. Too steep an incline or too much power to the engine could flip the vehicle backward. On the other hand, it’s impossible to flip backward if the power wheels are in the front.

4. Make Sure Ramps Are Tightly Secured

Even keeping the drive wheels to the front of the load doesn’t eliminate all risk of tipping over. There is a point just after the drive wheels reach the deck where the entire setup is inherently unstable. If ramps are not securely fastened to the back of the trailer, they could slip away and send the load crashing to the ground.

Always make sure your loading ramps are properly secured before you begin loading. What’s more, don’t cut corners here. Loading ramps come with fittings and pins for this very reason – use them for their intended purpose.

Loading ramps are must-have tools for open deck drivers. If you own a pair, please do right by yourself and your shippers by always using them safely. If you need a pair, Mytee Products has what you’re looking for. We carry a complete line of loading ramps and accessories.


Good Truck Tires: More than Just a Brand

Your tractor is equipped with 10 of them. Every time you drive, you sit on a platform mounted directly over them, trusting they will get you where you need to go. We are obviously talking about tractor tires. What may seem insignificant to people who do not drive a truck for a living are objects that are incredibly important to you. Good truck tires can be lifesavers.

It is with that knowledge that a quick perusal of tire discussions on trucker forums becomes a fascinating endeavor in anthropology. It can be quite entertaining to read comments left by trucker’s arguing over who makes the best and worst tires. One guy will swear by Yokohama while another prefers Goodyear and so on.

Still other truck drivers argue over whether to buy cheap tires more often or expensive tires less often. At the end of the day, it all boils down to choosing the tire that gets the job done safely. Unfortunately, though, there is no black and white rule for saying one brand of tire is better than another.

It’s All about Traction

Peeling away the manufacturer claims and dealer promotions reveals that tire safety is really all about traction. Isn’t that why you put deep tread tires on your tractor anyway? Of course. You are depending on those treads to channel away water, snow and ice, and debris that could throw off the handling of your truck. You are expecting that tread to give you the traction you need to get going from a full stop on a slick road.

Manufacturers and dealers are fully aware of how important tread is to tire sales. As such, they make a lot of noise about tread depth and pattern. Deeper treads essentially mean longer-lasting tires while specific tread patterns are more advantageous under certain weather conditions. But note that traction and safety do not stop there.

There is television programs which¬† feature truck drivers who make their living on the icy roads of Alaska and northern Canada. If you’ve ever watched the show, you may have observed drivers reducing the air pressure in their tractor tires. They do this for a reason.

Lower air pressures increase the amount of tire surface that comes in contact with the road. Under icy conditions, this affords extra traction that could be a lifesaver in an emergency. Of course, you wouldn’t want to drive on dry pavement with low tire pressure but running a rig on an icy road is another matter.

Your Driving Habits Matter

Another thing that is frequently lost in the discussion over which tires are best is the reality that driving habits matter. How fast a trucker accelerates and brakes partly determines how quickly his tires wear. The same is true for cornering and backing. Tractor tires are under a tremendous amount of stress even when the driver drives perfectly. But how many drivers do that all the time? Very few.

How a driver drives also affects the rest of the rig in ways that indirectly affect tire wear. That previously mentioned TV program featured a driver in its first season who was extremely reckless with his equipment. The way this guy ran his rig had him spending more time in the repair shop than on the road. The damage he caused would have undoubtedly affected tire wear had it not been repaired.

Tractor tires are indeed lifesavers. When you choose new tires for your truck, consider more than just the brand. There is more to tire safety than a mere name emblazoned on the sidewall.