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 Much Time Can You Really Save with a Winch Winder

We recently began carrying two kinds of winch winders designed to make it easier for flatbed truckers to use webbing straps. These handy little devices wind up your straps right in place. There is no manual rolling or toolbox storage necessary. With a winch winder, you are spending less time taking care of straps and more time driving.

So, how much time can you really save with a winch winder? It may not seem like much in the moment, but it is quite a bit when you add it up over an entire year. Remember that every minute you spend doing something other than driving, you are not making money. So keeping your wheels turning is critical to your livelihood.

winch winder

Save Hours Every Year

You can visit our YouTube channel and see both of our winch winders in action. You’ll see that it’s easy to wind up a strap in under a minute. But for easy math, let’s just say it took you one minute per strap and you’re using four straps to secure a load.

It would take you a total of 4 minutes to wind and secure all your straps. Now what if you were rolling those straps manually? We will be generous and say it takes you 3 minutes to tightly wind each strap for storage. Now you’re looking at a total of 12 minutes as opposed to just 4 with a winch winder.

A total of 8 minutes difference doesn’t seem like much. But if you saved that amount of time every single week for 50 weeks (you are on vacation for two), you would be saving 600 minutes annually. That works out to 10 hours. You save a full day of additional driving every year. How much is that worth to you?

Winch Winding Is More Efficient

We bet you’ve probably never stopped to think about how long it takes to manually roll straps and store them away. Likewise, you’ve probably never considered how much time winch winders can save you over the course of a year. In the end though, it really boils down to efficiency.

Winding a strap in place is far more efficient than pulling it off the truck, stretching it on the ground, and manually rolling it up. The efficiency comes by way of eliminating several steps. For starters, you are not actually removing the strap from the truck. It remains attached to the winder throughout.

Second, you’re not having to stretch out the strap along the ground in order to manually roll it. And third, you’re not carrying the straps to your toolbox for storage. Everything occurs in place for the most efficient storage option of all.

It All Adds Up

Again, we understand you probably don’t think a couple of minutes per strap is all that important in the grand scheme of things. And maybe it’s not. Perhaps you don’t haul enough flatbed loads to warrant, at least in your mind, investing in winch winders. But consider this: it’s all of those little things that add up.

Truck drivers do a lot of things that have nothing to do with driving. There’s the pre-trip inspection, checking manifests, planning routes; and on and on it goes. All of those extra things add up to a lot of time the driver isn’t earning any money.

The point of installing winch winders is not to save you $1 million on strap storage. It is to reduce the time spent doing one of those mundane tasks for which you don’t earn any money. And the end, every little bit helps.


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.


How to Increase Efficiency Outside the Truck

It is no secret that truck drivers are not all that thrilled about having to do work that doesn’t keep the wheels turning. They are not getting paid for the time it takes to load a trailer, secure the load, and cover it with tarps. They only get paid while the truck is in motion. So it should be obvious that efficiency outside the truck is key to making money.

The most efficient truck drivers limit the amount of time they spend doing things other than driving. The more efficient a trucker is, the more miles he or she can cover in a given day. It is with this in mind that we want to offer a few suggestions for increasing efficiency outside the truck.

1. Use Better Tools

We are fortunate enough to be part of an industry that continues to evolve. We are seeing all sorts of new tools entering the market every year, including the revolutionary ratchet winch bar. This tool takes the basic concept of a winch bar and makes it even better by combining it with the ratchet.
A ratchet winch bar works just like a ratchet wrench. Pulling up resets the bar; pushing down creates the force necessary to tension winch straps. Just reverse the action to use the ratchet winch to safely release straps on the other end.

2. Learn How to Use Your Tools

All the best tools offer only limited efficiency if you don’t know how to use them. So with every new tool you buy, make the effort to learn the best ways to use it. Read owner’s manuals; watch videos online; ask other drivers about their own experiences.

A good example of this principle is using the winch winder. The winch winder is a tool that reduces the time it takes to wind your winch straps after unloading. Using it is a lot faster than manual winding. But beware, you can create bigger problems for yourself if you’re careless. There is a right and wrong way to use the winch winder. Use it the right way and you will also increase your efficiency.

3. Think Things Through

One of the worst things a truck driver can do is jump right into securing a load without thinking things through. Time tends to be a major factor which could make a driver attack cargo control without giving ample thought to what he/she is doing.
It takes a minute or two to logically think through the best way to secure and cover a load. The few minutes it takes could save you a lot more time by giving you the opportunity to plan what it is you’re going to do before you start doing it.

4. Eliminate Unnecessary Steps

Last but not least, eliminate every unnecessary step from your work. Whether you are working with a ratchet winch bar, a winch winder, or heavy chains, there is no point in creating extra work for yourself. Let’s use tarping as an example.

As long as the conditions are right, don’t unfold a tarp on the ground. Put it on top of the load and unfold it as you go. This eliminates the unnecessary step of having to haul the tarp over the load after unfolding in on the ground. Unfolding from the top of the load is far more efficient.

Increased efficiency reduces the amount of time a trucker spends outside of the truck. It should be every truck driver’s goal to be as efficient as possible, so that more time is spent driving.


What is a Drop Forged Turnbuckle?

Any experienced lift master can tell you that a successful lift is facilitated by a long list of individual components. Lifting utilizes cables, slings, hooks, etc. One such component that doesn’t get talked about a lot is the turnbuckle. We will talk about it in this post, and specifically the drop forged turnbuckle.

In our industry, there are a lot of terms that the average person does not understand. That’s okay. As long as we and our customers speak the same language everything is fine. On the other hand, maybe you are not a lift master. Maybe you are a truck driver who has the pleasure of watching while a lift master gets cargo up onto the back of your trailer. We still want you to know what a forged turnbuckle is.

The Turnbuckle Explained

A turnbuckle is a type of fastener deployed for tensioning purposes. Also known as stretching screws and bottle screws, turnbuckles consist of two threaded bolts contained inside a metal frame with the flat ends facing one another. They can be eye bolts, hook bolts, or even eye and jaw bolts.

The secret to the turnbuckle’s usefulness is opposite threading. In other words, one bolt is threaded clockwise while the other is threaded counterclockwise. This allows the metal housing to be turned in a single direction to either increase or decrease tension. If the bolts were threaded in the same direction, this would not be possible.

When you turn a turnbuckle clockwise, it should increase tension by drawing the two bolts together. Turning it clockwise pushes the bolts apart, thus reducing tension. This simple mechanism makes it easy to control the tension on ropes, cables, and chains with very little effort.

Drop Forging a Turnbuckle

Drop-forged turnbuckles take their name from the process used to manufacture them. Mechanically speaking, they are no different from any other kind of turnbuckle.

Drop forging is a process that turns hot metal pieces into finished parts with specific shapes. If you are familiar with the image of an Old West blacksmith forming horseshoes out of molten metal, you already know what drop forging is.

In the modern era, manufacturing drop-forged turnbuckles requires a lot less human effort than fashioning horseshoes with a hammer and bare muscle. The process begins by cutting the metal to the desired size. It is then heated red-hot to prepare for the first step of forming its shape.

In some cases, the heated metal goes right into a die where weight and pressure form the initial shape. In other cases, the initial shaping is performed by hand before the piece goes into the die. It really just depends on manufacturer preferences.

Finishing the piece is a matter of putting it through a series of dies until it is shaped accordingly. The most important thing to know about drop forging is that the combination of heat, weight, and pressure is that which gives the finished product its strength. Drop forging not only shapes the piece, it strengthens the molecular composition at the same time.

The Right Tool for the Right Job

One thing we appreciate in learning about how things like drop-forged turnbuckles are made is that it gives us a greater understanding of the principle that there is a right tool for every job. Imagine being a lift master trying to adjust the tension on a sling without a supply of turnbuckles. How would you do it?

Turnbuckles are pretty simple in design yet quite effective for their intended purpose. They certainly belong in our rigging inventory here at Mytee Products.