Tarping and Un-Tarping with Canvas Tarps

A brief perusal of a few online trucker forums suggests that tarping loads is the least appreciated aspect of flatbed hauling. Tarping takes time, the weather does not always cooperate, and, in some cases, it can even be a bit dangerous. In such cases, canvas tarps can be a lot easier to work with than vinyl or poly.

Truckers use different kind of tarps for different jobs. For example, a lumber tarp with flaps might be chosen for a tall load requiring protection down the sides. A small smoke tarp is a good choice when the driver only needs to protect the front of the load from exhaust. When weather and height are a concern, canvas could be the way to go.

canvas-tarp

Tarping with Canvas

One of the first things you notice about canvas is that it is a bit heavier than vinyl. This makes it a better material choice when you are trying to tarp in windy conditions. The key is placing the folded tarp in the right position on the load so that it can be gradually secured as it is unfolded. A gradual unfolding and securement is not 100% foolproof, but it does reduce the chances of wind gusts posing a problem.

Truckers also find canvas more forgiving in cold weather. Why? Because canvas does not get stiff and brittle in cold temperatures like vinyl does. It will unfold just as easily during the winter as it does in the summer, so you will have less to deal with when you are trying to secure your load in bad weather. The same properties that keep canvas pliable during cold temperatures also mean fewer adjustments as a result of changing weather conditions and temperatures.

Un-Tarping with Canvas

Tarping your load in windy conditions is not only made easier by canvas – so is tarp removal. Again, the heavier weight of canvas makes it less likely to flap in the breeze. Canvas is also less likely to become stuck on edges or corners, making it more forgiving when you are uncovering your load.

When it comes to folding your tarps, the benefits of canvas are immediately observable. Canvas folds easier, is more likely to stay in place during subsequent fold-overs, and less likely to move in the breeze during the folding process. This makes canvas a lot easier to be folded into a tight, neat package that fits into your utility box as it’s supposed to.

It should be obvious that removing a canvas tarp in cold weather is easier as well. Just like tarping, uncovering a load using a vinyl or poly tarp can be a real hassle when the temperatures dip below freezing. Truckers have to be more concerned about rips and tears as well, due to cold temperatures making poly and vinyl more brittle. There are fewer such worries with canvas.

Of course, canvas is not the right material for every job. There are times when poly or vinyl tarps are a better fit. This is why truckers typically have several different kinds of tarps stored in their boxes. One thing we will say is that canvas should be part of every truck driver’s collection. There are times when tarping and un-tarping with canvas is safer, faster, and more efficient.

Things to Consider When Using Flatbed Truck Tarps

Tarping a load is usually a necessity for flatbed trailers. Heavy-duty flatbed truck tarps are used to protect the cargo and keep it a bit more secure, providing maximum protection and safety from the start of a trip to its conclusion. Would it surprise you to know that effectively using heavy-duty tarps is more complicated than simply applying the fabric across the load and securing it with a few bungee cords?

Using tarps effectively, efficiently and cost-effectively is a matter of understanding the dynamics between tarps and the loads they cover. Experienced flatbed haulers know how to tarp loads correctly; inexperienced truckers have to learn through practical experience.

Here is a short list of things a driver must consider when tarping:

1. Load Profile

How a load sits on a flatbed trailer really determines how the tarp is applied. There are times when a driver has no say in how a trailer is loaded; he or she must apply and secure their tarps the best they can. However, when drivers can give their input on trailer loading it is beneficial to have cargo loaded in such a way as to maximize tarp capabilities. The idea is to get the most protection with the least amount of tarping possible.

Flatbed Truck Tarps

2. Tarps Securing

Tarps are secured to flatbed trailers using bungee cords, straps, ropes, and chains. Bungee cords are the easiest and fastest to use, but these are not always the wisest choice. Drivers must always consider the size and weight of the load, potential weather conditions, and the strength of any tie down option. It is not true that any means of tying down a tarp is acceptable.

A second thing to consider when securing tarps is having loose fabric that can flap in the wind. This is never a good scenario. Loose fabric can damage cargo through repeated friction or abrasion. Loose fabric can also create air pockets, resulting in the wind slowly, but gradually, getting under a tarp and compromising its position. A compromised tarp no longer protects the cargo underneath from the elements.

3. Protection Flaps

D-ring protection flaps are an important part of flatbed trailer tarps. These protection flaps provide a heavy-duty fabric shield between the D-ring and the surface beneath it. The flap prevents damage to cargo in some cases; in other cases, it prevents the webbing holding the D-ring in place from being exposed to sharp edges. Any new flatbed tarp you purchase should have protection flaps at all D-ring positions.

4. Tarp Application

Applying flatbed tarps is one of the most dangerous jobs in the trucking industry. Tarps can become caught in the wind, whipping around and causing injury. In addition, straps and bungee cords can break or a driver could easily slip and fall while moving around on top of the load.

Before beginning the tarping process, it pays to step back and take just a few minutes to assess the situation. By all means, ask others to help if they are available. Moreover, if you can avoid climbing on top of the load, do so.

Tarping a load is a complex process if you are doing it right. Learning how to tarp properly is a skill that requires a combination of knowledge, time, and experience.

Securing Your Flatbed Trailer with a Heavy Duty Truck Tarp

Securing a flatbed trailer and its load with a heavy-duty truck tarp is just part of the routine for the American trucker. For new truckers, or those who have never hauled flatbed loads before, learning how to effectively tarp is not the easiest thing in the world. It is an acquired skill that takes time and experience to master.

Before tarping ever begins, the trucker must purchase the right kinds of tarps for the loads he or she intends to haul. It is best to choose heavy-duty tarps that can withstand the punishment of the open road; we usually recommend 18-ounce vinyl or a PVC product. Canvas and poly tarps do not tend to hold up very well over multiple long hauls.

With the correct tarp in hand, securing your trailer is a three-step process:

1. Load Balance

Making sure a load is balanced does a number of things. First, it keeps the trailer evenly weighted for maximum safety and fuel efficiency. Second, it allows for tarping the load in such a way that it provides as much protection as possible. Experienced truckers know that how a load is placed on a trailer goes a long way toward determining how it is tarped.

If you have any say in how your trailer is loaded, try to make sure the profile is as even as possible across the entire surface. Also, try to make sure that no part of the load sits higher than the top of the tractor if at all possible. Doing so reduces drag and protects your tarp against unnecessary wind.

2. Tarp Application

Despite the introduction of automatic tarping machines, many of today’s drivers still apply their tarps manually. The key is to make sure a tarp is spread evenly across the load to ensure as much protection as possible on all sides. The amount of drop a tarp offers plays a big role in this, so having enough drop to completely cover your load is usually beneficial.

securing-tarp

3. Tarp Securing

Flatbed trailer tarps come with both grommets and D-rings. Securing a tarp with bungee cords and the D-rings is okay for short trips across town – provided the load itself has been secured by other means – but it is an inappropriate way to secure a tarp for a long-haul trip. Such trips require the use of ratchet straps, ropes, or chains.

Ratchet straps are preferred because these are very easy to use and strong at the same time. A hook on one end of the strap is connected to a D-ring, while the fabric of the strap is pulled through a winch system. This enables you to get the straps as tight as they need to be to secure the tarp. They can also be used to provide extra strength for securing the load.

As always, it is important to make sure there is no loose material able to flap around in the wind. If any of the surfaces of the tarp will be exposed to sharp edges, it is wise to use other materials to soften the edges. The idea is to protect your load and your tarp at the same time.

Tarps in Agriculture: Protecting Livestock

Livestock is an important asset to the American farmer. Some farmers deal exclusively in livestock, including cows and goats, while others work with livestock as a complement to producing fruits and vegetables. In either case, livestock represents an important investment the farmer cannot afford to take lightly.

Though animals are not as susceptible to environmental conditions as human beings are, inclement weather can still be harmful to livestock. That’s why farmers will build barns and other structures to keep animals out of the weather. However, sometimes a large animal barn is simply not feasible. Such cases are perfect for poly tarps. With a little creativity and the right tools, the farmer can build a tarpaulin shelter able to provide much needed protection for his or her animals.

Protection from the Sun

In warm weather states, particularly in the South and the Southwest, the hot sun can be just as dangerous to livestock as it is to humans. Yet building multiple barns out in the middle of grazing fields is impractical. A poly tarp can be used to provide adequate protection that is both temporary and portable.

Often times you will see these portable shelters constructed in a classic “U-shape” form. The tarp may be supported by an aluminum frame that can be quickly disassembled and moved to another location, or part of a permanent wood structure that remains even when the tarp is removed. In either case, this type of shelter is open on either end. Its only purpose is to give animals some much-needed shade.

agricultural-tarp

Protection from Wind and Rain

Believe it or not, livestock is susceptible to ill health if persistently exposed to wind and rain. Where outbuildings are not practical, a farmer might construct a three-sided shelter using poly tarps and metal framing. Such a structure would be positioned to block the wind and rain in whatever direction it normally comes from.

Sometimes you will see these structures built as lean-tos; three sided shelters with a slanted roof. The lean-to design has been popular for hundreds of years because of its ability to direct water away from the floor. Other times the wind and rain shelter will be constructed more like a three-sided garage or storage shed. This design is better suited in areas where inclement weather can be more severe.

Protection from the Cold

The farmer who chooses to leave his or her livestock in the field 24-hours per day can sometimes run into trouble on cold nights. Thankfully, livestock do not need much to stay warm. They will do fine in the harshest of temperatures as long as they have a shelter capable of containing their body heat. An agricultural tarp constructed for that purpose is the ideal solution.

Protecting livestock from the cold involves constructing a shelter with four sides and a door opening. The opening does not necessarily have to be sealed, but it is typically only large enough to allow the animals to move in and out. Keeping in body heat indicates the space must be closed in as much as possible.

The key to using poly tarps to protect livestock is to embrace their flexibility. Farmers use all sorts of other materials in combination with tarps to build shelters unique to the needs of their animals. Shelters can be square, triangular, U-shaped, or even tent-like structures. Whatever it takes to keep the animals safe.

For Mytee Products to serve the needs of America’s farmers, we have to make sure we always have a good selection of agricultural grade tarps in stock. We offer all kinds of options for just about any agricultural need.

Tarp Inspection Improves Driver Safety

Did you know that heavy-duty truck tarps present professional truck drivers with some of the most serious safety risks in the industry? We tend to think of things like bad weather and carelessness as top safety issues, and they are, yet how many of us stop to think about something as simple as covering a load with a tarp?

Any veteran truck driver can tell you stories about broken bones, chipped teeth, deep lacerations, and other injuries, all relating to load tarping. Accidents involving tarps are all too common in the trucking industry. If you are a trucker, you can help your cause by regularly inspecting your tarps and bindings.

As tough as heavy-duty truck tarps are, they do wear out over time. Seams can start to separate, grommets can develop rust and bindings can lose their strength. Regular inspection of your equipment is the only way you will know that both tarp and binding is suitable for the journey ahead.

Inspecting Your Tarps

The Alabama Trucking Association recommends drivers inspect their tarps at least once a month. This involves spreading them out on the ground completely and then going over them in detail. It is a time-consuming process but one that is necessary to ensure driver safety. During the inspection, one should be looking for:

  • Rusted Grommets – Rusted grommets can be a problem if the oxidation has progressed to the point of causing the metal to no longer be secured within the fabric of the tarp. It only takes one rusted grommet to give way in order to cause a significant injury.
  • Damaged D-Rings – Damaged or insecure d-rings present a real hazard on the road and in the yard. You really do not want to be on the receiving end of a bungee cord if a d-ring gives way. When inspecting, check both the ring and the fabric strap that holds it in place. If either one is worn, consider replacing or repairing it.

Tarp-Inspection

  • Seam Wear – Even the strongest heavy-duty truck tarps are subject to seam wear from time to time. Worn seams can burst at any time, causing a tarp to fly uncontrollably in the wind. On the road, this is dangerous to other drivers; in the yard, it is dangerous to truck drivers and other workers.

Most minor wear and damage can be repaired with a minimal investment. Older tarps might need to be replaced. Generally, it is better to invest in high-quality tarps even though they are more expensive. These offer longer life and greater durability.

Inspecting Your Bindings

Whether tarps are secured using ropes, straps, or bungee cords, bindings need to be inspected right along with the tarps themselves. When bindings fail, disasters happen. It is simply not worth risking driver safety by not regularly inspecting this part of the load securing system.

Bungee cords are the most susceptible to wear caused by exposure to the weather. When a cord begins to fray, replace it. Also keep an eye out for bent hooks and loss of elasticity. Both can be problems.

Drivers who use load straps should check both the straps and the winches used to secure them. Straps tend to be more durable than bungee cords and ropes, so they do not wear out as often, but check them regularly nonetheless. As far as winches are concerned, inspect them for rust, damage, or mechanical malfunction.

Inspecting your tarps and bindings every month will make it easier for you to detect and repair damage before an accident occurs. You owe it to yourself to do so.