More from: Flat Bed Truck Tarps

How to Not Abuse Your Roll Tarps

The arrival of spring brings with it increased road construction. And with that increased construction comes more dump trucks filled with gravel, dirt, broken concrete, and fresh asphalt. Truck drivers will be relying on their roll tarps to keep the loads in place during transit. Used properly, a roll tarp can provide years of reliable service.

A brief, three-paragraph article recently published by the ForConstructionPros.com website suggests that normal wear and tear is not the biggest enemy of roll tarps. Abuse is. It is an interesting perspective that certainly bears further investigation. Of particular interest is what constitutes abuse. Figure that out and it is only a short step to understanding how to not abuse roll tarps.

Watch Out for Those Loaders

One of the first points made in the article is that roll tarps can suffer damage at the hands of loader operators. There were two things associated with this point, the first being that loaders sometimes dump debris directly on tarping systems. This is an obvious no-no. The other point was that loaders sometimes make contact with roll tarps, rails, etc.

The idea here is that it is the responsibility of both truck drivers and loader operators to pay attention. No tarping system is going to survive constant impact with loaders. Tarps will rip prematurely if loaders are dumping debris on them.

Deploy Against the Wind

Anyone who has ever attempted to deploy a roll tarp knows that wind is the enemy. The ideal way to do it is to turn the truck so that the cab is facing into the wind. That way, the wind is technically behind the tarp as it starts to unroll. Do it in the other direction and the wind will catch the tarp like a sail. If it is strong enough, it can rip the entire system apart.

Deploying a roll tarp against a cross wind is only marginally better. Any wind allowed to get up underneath the tarp is bad news. So again, point the truck into the wind before deployment begins.

Keep the Tarp Taught

The third point of the article is the suggestion to keep roll tarps taught at all times. We assume this is in reference only to when they are actually deployed. When not deployed a roll tarp is obviously rolled up.

Why keep the tarp taught? For starters, that prevents it from being caught by the wind and ripped away. Keeping it taught also reduces the stress on the tarp in transit. Less stress means the tarp will last longer. If you do not make a point to keep it taught, you may be actually encouraging the tarp to wear out faster.

As an added bonus, keeping the tarp taught and rolled up when not in use improves fuel mileage. You can also improve fuel mileage by deploying the tarp over an empty dump. Just keeping the flow across the top of the truck could extend fuel mileage by as much as 10%, according to the article.

Buy Replacement Tarps Here

We present this information about not abusing roll tarps for educational purposes only. We suspect you know how to best care for your tarps better than anyone else. At any rate, even the best cared for tarps will eventually wear out. No worries, though. Mytee Products has you covered.

Everything you need for your roll tarp system is available here on our site. Feel free to browse our complete inventory in advance of your next purchase. And as always, do not be afraid to ask for something you don’t see listed here.

 


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.


3 Reasons to Use Edge Protectors with Parachute Tarps

The ripstop nylon fabric used to make parachutes is a great material for truck tarps. It is just amazing that it took so long for tarp manufacturers to figure it out. But that’s a different topic for a different post. We want to use this post to discuss the necessity of using edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps.

Since parachute fabric is quite durable, there is a tendency to treat it differently. Smart truck drivers know their parachute fabric tarps need just as much care as their vinyl counterparts. As such, the proper care of parachute fabric includes using edge protectors whenever necessary.

Here are three reasons to use edge protectors despite the extra strength and durability of ripstop nylon fabric:

1. Ripstop Does Not Mean Rip Proof

One of the distinguishing characteristics of parachute fabric is that it is classified as ripstop fabric. Whether a parachute is made of nylon, canvas, or some other material, its ripstop designation comes from its cross-weave pattern that prevents rips and tears from growing. The last thing you would want as you are falling through the sky is to have a small rip become a huge, gaping hole.

The thing to understand here is that ripstop fabric is not rip proof. If you are not sure that this is true, get yourself a piece of scrap material, lay it on top of a cardboard box, and see if you can put your utility knife through the center of it. Trust us when we say you’ll succeed.

The point we are trying to illustrate here is that using edge protectors with parachute tarps still helps prevent rips and tears that could occur when tarp material comes in contact with sharp edges. The possibility of such rips and tears isn’t diminished simply because a tarp is made of parachute fabric.

2. Fragile Cargo is Still Fragile

Sometimes truckers are forced to use edge protectors in order to protect the cargo underneath their tarps. In other words, you do not want fragile pieces of cargo rattling around and bumping into one another. So you secure each piece as tightly as you can and then use edge protectors as an extra insurance policy.

Choosing parachute fabric tarps over regular nylon has no effect on the tendency of cargo to rattle around. So use edge protectors to keep individual pieces from damage during transit. Your customers will be happy on the other end.

3. Webbing Straps are Still Vulnerable

Another important reason for using edge protectors with standard vinyl tarps is the fact that sharp edges can wear away webbing strap material – even if said edges actually pierce the tarp material. This is an even bigger problem when you are dealing with parachute fabric, given that it is lighter and thinner than standard vinyl.

Wherever there is likely to be friction between webbing straps and cargo, you should consider using an edge protector – even if there’s tarp material between cargo and strap. An edge protector mitigates friction and reduces the likelihood of a strap being cut. As an added bonus, the edge protector will also help keep your tarp in place to some extent.

As you can see, truck tarps made of parachute fabric are not perfect or indestructible. They certainly do have some benefits over traditional vinyl tarps in terms of weight and durability, but they are prone to the same kinds of things that damage vinyl tarps. So do yourself a favor and protect your investment. Use edge protectors with parachute fabric tarps in the same way you would with canvas or vinyl.


Parachute Tarps: The Fuzzy History of Ripstop Nylon

Sometimes, knowing the history of a product helps us to utilize it to its fullest potential. As such, we tried to figure out the history of ripstop nylon as it relates to the parachute tarps we sell. Unfortunately, that history is somewhat fuzzy. What we do know tells us just what makes ripstop nylon such a great material for truck tarps.

For the record, ripstop fabric does not have to nylon. You can buy ripstop fabric as canvas, polyester, and even silk. Nylon is the preferred choice for ripstop fabric because of its unique properties relating to weatherproofing and weight. With all that said, let us talk a little bit about history.

Ripstop and WWII

As best as we can tell from our research, the idea behind ripstop fabric was first proposed during World War II. Those in charge of making combat uniforms and parachutes wanted a material that would be more resistant to rips and tears on the battlefield. They also wanted a material that was lighter.

A year before the start of the war, DuPont introduced a revolutionary synthetic thread it called nylon. This revolutionary thread turned out to be the first commercially successful synthetic thread despite its predecessor, rayon, having been pushed as a replacement for expensive silk.

DuPont’s original plan for nylon did not involve military applications. Instead, it was thought that nylon revolutionized the fashion industry. That didn’t stop the military from looking at it as an option for parachutes.

Parachutes but Not Uniforms

Nylon did end up taking off as material for parachutes during the war. Parachute designers came up with a new ripstop weave that became the precursor of modern ripstop, but nylon fabric would largely disappear from the fashion scene following World War II. It was never seriously considered as a material for uniforms.

At the same time, DuPont really wanted nylon thread to be its mainstay for women’s hosiery. That was their original plan for nylon. So they began pitching the thread, eventually deciding to license it to third-party producers in 1951. Although it enjoyed fairly good success in the hosiery market, nylon thread wasn’t seen as practical or attractive for the rest of the fashion industry.

Nylon’s use as an industrial material continued through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, until the outdoor industry brought it back to front and center as a material for all sorts of camping gear. By the late 1970s, nylon was everywhere.

Parachutes, hang glider wings, etc. were dominated by ripstop nylon. And by the 1980s, ripstop weaves had been perfected. The same weaves preventing rips and tears in parachutes were making tents, backpacks, lean-tos, and camping chairs lightweight and strong. It was only a matter of time before ripstop nylon became a favorite material for tarps.

Modern Ripstop Nylon

Fast-forward to 2019 and the modern ripstop nylon we use today is the best iteration of the product ever. Not only is ripstop nylon still the material of choice for parachutes, it is also used heavily throughout multiple industries, ranging from outdoor gear to logistics.

Ripstop nylon is changing the way we do things in the trucking industry as well. For the longest time, truck drivers have been looking for a tarp material that is lighter and easier to deploy under a variety of weather conditions. Ripstop nylon is that material. It is more durable than vinyl and significantly lighter than canvas. It offers the best of both worlds.

How fascinating that a thread originally intended for the fashion world evolved to become a fabric used in parachutes and truck tarps. And now you know.


A Basic Guide to Parachute Fabric

Mytee Products recently introduced a line of truck tarps made of parachute fabric. Our parachute/airbag tarps are a great alternative to both canvas and vinyl thanks to their lower weight and greater strength. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about these tarps prior to purchase.

In the meantime, we thought a basic introduction to parachute fabric was in order. This guide should help you to better understand the fundamentals of parachute fabric and why it is such a great option for truck tarps. Feel free to browse our complete inventory of parachute/airbag tarps if you are ready to buy.

Multiple Textile Options

Contrary to common perceptions, parachute fabric is not a specific type of textile. Manufacturers can choose any number of textiles to make parachute fabric. Most frequently used textiles include canvas, Kevlar, nylon, Dacron, and silk. Our parachute fabric truck tarps are made with ripstop nylon.

This material is ideal for truck tarps for multiple reasons:

• It is lightweight but strong
• Ripstop nylon is interwoven with reinforcing threads for additional strength
• It is woven with strong warp and filling yarns to reduce tearing
• Ripstop nylon is water resistant, fire resistant, and tear resistant
• It offers an attractive strength-to-weight ratio compared to other materials.

The strength-to-weight ratio is very important to truck drivers tasked with covering their own loads. As you already know, tarping a load is a lot of work – even under ideal weather conditions. Throw in a little wind and rain and tarping can become a nightmare.

A lighter tarp is easier to handle and deploy under such conditions. Still, the driver does not have to compromise on strength with a ripstop nylon parachute tarp.

Characteristics of Good Parachute Tarp

All the parachute/airbag tarps we carry are of the highest quality and craftsmanship. You can depend on them just as you do any other product purchased from us. Should you decide to shop elsewhere, be very careful about what you buy. A good parachute fabric is identified by the following characteristics:

Strength – The strength of any material determines its usefulness as a truck tarp. Our tarps are made using ripstop nylon because it is one of the strongest options. It offers a rather high breaking strength that holds up well at highway speeds.

Tear Resistance – If there is one thing that truck drivers cannot afford during transit is a tarp that tears away. A good parachute fabric is extremely tear resistant. Even where a small tear already exists, it will not easily spread except under extreme conditions.

• Elasticity – The elasticity of parachute fabric influences how easily it unfolds. This is key when a truck driver is attempting to get a load tarped as quickly as possible. With a flip of the wrist and a quick swing of the arms, a good parachute tarp will generally unfold without issue.

• Low Permeability – Permeability is the characteristic of allowing liquids and gases to pass through a substance. Parachute fabric has low permeability, which is good for truck drivers. Tarps are intended to keep moisture and debris away. Parachute tarps do an excellent job.

We are thrilled to have been able to add parachute/airbag tarps to our inventory. Doing so was yet another way for us to serve our customers with the latest and greatest products in the industry. We invite you to take a serious look at parachute tarps as you prepare to restock your truck this winter. Give them a try. Who knows, you may decide to never go back to vinyl or canvas after using a parachute tarp just once.