You’re a Good Candidate for Parachute Tarps If…

A typical week here at Mytee Products sees us answering questions about parachute tarps from at least one flatbed truck driver. Sometimes we get half-a-dozen or more inquiries. One of the things drivers ask is why they should buy parachute fabric instead of vinyl. Maybe it’s because truckers have been so used to vinyl for so long that they just have no idea there are alternatives.

There is no single thing we can point to that says parachute fabric is better than vinyl or canvas. It has been our experience that truckers prefer different kinds of tarps for different kinds of jobs. The best we can do is offer a few suggestions that might help them figure it out.

Let us try that here. You are a good candidate for parachute tarps if…

1. You’re Not As Young As You Used to Be

It has been said that truckers never die, they just downshift. Whether or not that’s true, truckers do get old like everyone else. And with age comes aches and pains. We say that you might be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you are an older driver who no longer has the strength and stamina to wrestle with vinyl.

The biggest benefit of a parachute tarp is its weight. Parachute fabric is lighter, so you have a lot less weight to throw over the top of a load with a parachute tarp.

2. You’re an Expert at Tarping

It’s not unusual to caution new truck drivers against using parachute tarps given that they don’t offer the same kind of protection against moisture. By the way, that’s why parachute tarps have vinyl tops. The vinyl will hold back standing water where parachute fabric won’t.

Be that as it may, parachute tarps might be right up your alley if you’ve been trucking long enough to be a tarping expert. You know what works and what doesn’t. You don’t have to practice tarping overkill to protect your loads.

3. You Have a Tendency to Rip Vinyl

Next, you might also be a good candidate for parachute tarps if you have a tendency to rip vinyl. This is not to say that parachute fabric never rips or tears; it does. But parachute fabric is ripstop fabric. That means it is made with a special weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing.

Bear in mind that using edge protectors is still a wise idea even with the tarp made of ripstop nylon. But at least a minor tear or rip will not become a major disaster before you get your load to its destination. You cannot necessarily say the same thing about vinyl.

4. You Want to Try Something New

You’ve been on the road now for decades. In all your years you have used nothing but vinyl and canvas. Now you’re looking for something new, something that will shake things up a bit. Perhaps it’s time to give parachute tarps a chance. Parachute fabric certainly does take some getting used to, and you might welcome the challenge of tarping with a lighter material that can sail away in the wind.

Please note that all of our parachute fabric tarps offer the same quality and durability as our vinyl and canvas tarps. Parachute fabric tarps come in a variety of sizes and styles designed to meet the needs of the modern trucker. If you have any questions about our parachute tarps, don’t be afraid to ask. And if you need something you don’t see in our inventory, let us know. We’ll do what we can to get it for you.


Rigging Basics: The Snatch Block

A typical rigging set up includes any number of components including blocks, hooks, chains, ropes, and slings. The snatch block is but one of those parts. Snatch blocks are usually manufactured with either shackles or hooks for connecting them with other parts of the rigging set up.

This post will discuss the basics of the snatch block. You will learn what snatch blocks are used for, how to use them safely, and so forth. We hope you will take a few minutes after reading this post to check out our entire inventory of rigging supplies.

Snatch Blocks and Winches

A snatch block is a very simple piece of equipment. Generally used with either a winch or boom, the snatch block is essentially a pulley with an accessible side plate that alleviates the need to thread rope or cable through the pulley. You may think this is not a big deal until you are presented with a piece of cable with a loop on the end; a loop you cannot thread through the pulley.

There are two purposes for including snatch blocks in a rigging set up. The first is to increase pulling power by distributing the weight of a load over more area. The second is to change the direction of the pull if necessary. A direction change can be accomplished by offsetting the anchor point of the snatch block in question.

Increasing Pulling Power

The first use of the snatch block is something you have probably observed more than once in your lifetime. Snatch blocks are added to a rigging set up in order to increase pulling power. The more blocks in the setup, the less power required to lift the load. However, the downside is that more blocks require more rope or chain.

The science behind this principle is actually quite simple. Introducing a block evenly distributes the force of the load being lifted. Rather than lifting dead weight, you are applying just enough force to carry the load along the pulley of the block. The block takes the remainder of the load on the other side. Adding additional blocks further reduces the needed lifting power by further distributing the load.

Changing Load Direction

A less common use of the snatch block is to change the direction of a pull. Let’s say you are a toll operator trying to recover a vehicle on the side of a busy highway. You might use a single block along with two chains to pull the vehicle up. But what if you also wanted to pull it out?

You could use a second snatch block with an offset position to accomplish just that. By carefully placing your snatch blocks in the right position, you can lift the car both up and out at the same time.

Using Blocks Matches Safely

As with all things rigging, safety is a top priority with snatch blocks. The first thing is knowing where to place them within the rigging set up to ensure maximum efficiency with the least amount of risk. Suffice it to say that it does matter where blocks are placed.

Second is knowing the working load limits of each block in your configuration. Blocks have to be capable of sustaining the load being placed on them, so it’s not good enough to merely guess.

Finally safety requires understanding the direction a load will be pulled in based on block configuration. It is a lot like understanding the direction a tree will fall as you cut it. Safely using snatch blocks means planning ahead of time so that your load moves in its intended direction.


How a Grille guard Helps Protect Your Truck

The laws of probability dictate that professional truck drivers have a greater chance of being involved in collisions than your typical driver. More miles increase your chances of being in an accident. It is just that simple. As such, a grille guard is a nice piece of kit you can install on the front of your truck to protect it in the event of a low-speed collision with an animal, another car, etc.

Suffice it to say that grille guards are not merely cosmetic accents. They serve a functional purpose as well. The goal of this post is to introduce you to that functional purpose by way of physics. In short, let’s discuss how a grille guard actually helps protect the front of your truck.

Uni-Body Versus Frame-on-Body

There are two ways to construct the frame of a vehicle. Uni-body construction combines both car body and frame in a single package that is often compared to the exoskeleton of a lobster. Frame-on-body construction creates two separate components: a strong steel frame and a body that goes on top.

Your truck was manufactured according to the frame-non-body concept. Its heavy-duty frame is much tougher than the softer body panels that make up the exterior of your rig. The idea behind the grille guard is to protect those softer body panels by taking advantage of the strength of the frame. It works based on the physics of energy transfer.

Transferring Energy to the Frame

In the absence of a grille guard, the energy involved in a collision with a deer would be transferred directly to the softer body panels. Those body panels would crumple as the energy of the impact is transferred from the animal to them. Putting a grille guard between the animal and the body panels changes the game.

Grille guards are attached directly to truck frames in order to facilitate the proper transfer of energy. In the event of a collision, the energy of that collision travels through the grille guard and down into the frame by way of the connection points. The frame is better able to withstand the impact as energy dissipates throughout its entire surface.

Successful energy transfer is key here. Why? Because one of the fundamental rules of physics dictates that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred. You see, it is the transfer of energy that causes the damage sustained during a collision. Transferring energy away from softer panels and to stronger frame components dissipates the energy and reduces impact damage.

Proper Fit is Crucial

The grille guards we sell are specific to different truck makes and models. There is a reason for this. It’s not just because truck bodies come in different shapes and sizes. It is because frames are different. If you want maximum energy transfer during a collision, your grille guard has to be fitted properly to the frame. It has to be designed with the truck’s frame in mind. This is why a one-size-fits-all grille guard is not a good idea.

It is also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing a grille guard. While it might be easier to cut corners, you may not get maximum energy transfer if you do things your own way. On the other hand, installing a grille guard according to its instructions results in the best protection.

Do you have a grille guard on your truck? If not, you are one accident away from an expensive repair bill. We hope you’ll take to heart what you’ve learned here about physics and invest in one.


What You Should Know About RV Covers and Resale Value

Do you own a motorhome or camping trailer? If so, how would you determine the price if you decided to put it up for sale? A lot of people use something like the Kelly Blue Book or NADA Guide, but is that the best way to go? Maybe not. To understand why, we will talk about RV covers and how they affect resale value.

Official guides can give you a baseline to start with. But the people who write those guides have never seen your RV. They haven’t seen the RVs of any owners who might use their guides to determine price. So how do they come up with their numbers? The estimate value based on best case scenarios.

The problem is that there are a lot of different things that can affect resale value. In the end, the true value of a used RV is what someone else is willing to pay for it. If the market will only support a price of $20,000 for unit, you are wasting your time listing it for $35,000. What the market is willing to pay is the actual value.

Value and Overall Condition

With that understood, let us get to RV covers and how they affect resale value. After mileage, the second most important thing buyers tend to look at is the overall condition of an RV. And when you are talking overall condition, understand that the first thing any buyer is going to see is the exterior. It is no different than buying and selling houses.

If the exterior of your RV is in pretty poor condition, it will create a perception in the buyer’s mind that suggests the rest of the RV is in poor condition – even if it’s not. The interior could be pristine; the mechanics could be sound; the engine could be meticulously maintained. But if a buyer sees a faded finish and dried out seals around the windows, the value of your unit could fall by thousands in his mind.

What the Buyer Cannot See

The other thing to consider is that there are things a buyer cannot see without a detailed inspection, things that could be influenced by how you store the unit when it isn’t being used. For example, consider the air-conditioning unit on the roof.

Assuming your RV is stored with a cover, you are keeping the sun and other elements at bay while your unit is in storage. If it’s left uncovered, the air-conditioner spends every off-season exposed to sun, wind, precipitation, and perhaps even the winter freeze-thaw cycle. The inside of the air-conditioner could be prematurely worn due to this exposure.

The fact remains that RV covers protect the units underneath from the elements. They also protect against dirt, airborne debris, animals, and other not so kind forces. Covering your RV protects it against things that could harm it both aesthetically and mechanically.

Maintain Your RV’s Resale Value

When it all comes down to it, the reality is that RV covers help to maintain the value of motorhomes and camping trailers. It’s a lot like storing a classic car in the garage and keeping it covered when not in use. The more you can do to keep the car from exposure to things that can harm it, the more valuable that car will be on the open market. The same is true for your motorhome or trailer.

It is worth the investment in a good RV cover if you intend to sell your RV someday. It will more than pay for itself when it comes time to negotiate price.


Used Parachutes or New Parachute Fabric Tarps?

Not long ago we ran across a post asking opinions about purchasing old parachutes from an army surplus store and converting them into truck tarps. The poster wanted to know if it was a good idea and, if so, what drawbacks there might be.

So, is it okay to convert used parachutes into truck tarps, or should you buy new parachute fabric tarps from a company like Mytee? Sure, it’s okay. But there are some definite benefits to going new instead of trying to cobble together a few old parachutes just to save some money.

Fabric Weight

As far as the weight of the parachute fabric is concerned, it is a wash whether you utilize used parachutes or buy new tarps. Parachute fabric is generally ripstop nylon of very low weight. That’s what you want for your truck tarps anyway. A 1-ounce parachute fabric is the same weight whether it is found in a used parachute or a new truck tarp.

Water Resistance

Depending on how the parachute was used during its normal life, the fabric may or may not have been treated for water resistance. This matters to truckers for the simple fact that standing water will almost always leak through parachute fabric at some point. That is why even new parachute fabric tarps purchased from Mytee are constructed only with parachute fabric on the sides, back, and front. Manufacturers use a standard vinyl material on the top to keep water out.

Even if you were to construct a few truck tarps out of used parachutes, you would have to do something about the top. So that means purchasing vinyl tarp material or utilizing discarded tarps with enough usable fabric. Is it worth the trouble?

Durability

Another thing to consider is durability. You can bet that the seams on both your used parachutes and new tarps are going to be pretty strong. But if you’re making your own tarps, you will be sewing multiple pieces of fabric together. Can you make the seams strong enough to withstand the punishment of the open road?

If you own a commercial sewing machine that is up to the task, you have nothing to worry about. But we suspect most truck drivers are not equipped with that kind of machinery. As such, constructing your own tarps is risky business. You’re probably better off buying new parachute tarps instead.

Usable Life

One last consideration is the usable life of homemade tarps. Unless you find used parachutes in excellent condition and you have the right equipment to construct your tarps, they are probably not going to last as long as professionally made tarps. So while you may save money in the short term, you’ll probably spend more over the long term simply because you have to replace your tarps more often.

New is a Better Choice

We understand the trucker’s desire to save money wherever possible. These days, margins are tight for both carriers and independent contractors alike. Unfortunately, attempting to save money by skimping on tarps is one of the worst decisions a trucker can make.

It is our belief that going new is the better choice. Brand-new tarps are constructed by industry professionals who know what they are doing. The products they make are intended to last, offering years of reliable service under all kinds of driving and weather conditions. Should you opt to make your own tarps of used parachutes instead, you’re probably not going to get the same kind of quality.