More from: flatbed tarps

How to Choose the Right Class of Beacon Lights for Flatbeds

Beacon lights are tools flatbed truck drivers can use to warn other drivers of potentially hazardous conditions. They are required for certain kinds of loads, such as oversize loads, for example, but drivers can use them to indicate any number of hazards. The type and number of beacon lights a driver chooses depends on the load being carried and the amount of danger it represents.

Manufacturers make beacon lights in three classes which are discussed below. Most modern products are made with LED bulbs to maximize both efficiency and illumination. If you are in need of beacon lights, Mytee Products carries an excellent selection for you to choose from.

 

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Class 1 – The Strongest and Brightest

Class 1 beacon lights are the strongest and brightest of all three classes. These are the lights typically found on police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and so forth. Think of class 1 beacons as warning lights for the most hazardous situations. They are up to four times brighter than class 2 lights.

For flatbed truck drivers, class 1 beacons would be the ideal solution for extremely oversized or hazardous loads. At least one would be mounted on the tractor; two or more would be mounted on the trailer or the cargo itself. And, of course, any escort vehicles traveling with the tractor-trailer would be equipped with class 1 beacon lights as well.

Class 2 – Medium-Range Lighting

A typical class 2 beacon light is about twice as bright as a class 3 product. These lights are used for warning traffic at an intermediate range that potential hazards are present. They are the light most normally seen in road construction settings. They can be solid, rotating, or strobes.

Class 2 beacon lights in a trucking scenario would be used for hazardous loads that don’t necessarily qualify as being oversized. The driver wants to alert the public of the potential hazard, but other drivers do not necessarily have to be cognizant of the size of the load. Class 2 beacons are very helpful for timber loads, especially when driving in limited visibility.

Class 3 – Light Duty Beacons

Class 3 beacon lights are considered the light duty beacons for warning purposes. They are the least bright and normally not used by flatbed truckers for anything other than increasing visibility during inclement weather. More often than not, class 3 beacons are the domain of forklift trucks and small industrial vehicles. However, yard tractors may be fitted with them to increase safety in the freight yard.

Mounting Choices for Beacon Lights

Flatbed truckers who routinely haul oversize or hazardous loads will probably want to mount permanent beacon lights on their tractors. One or two on the roof and perhaps an additional light on the front bumper would be appropriate. Permanently mounted lights are not suitable for trailers due to load variations.

Here at Mytee Products, we carry beacon lights with magnetic mounting systems. These are designed to be temporary. They are ideal for the trucker who only hauls oversize and hazardous loads occasionally; they are also ideal for trailers because their location can be determined by the load.

If you haul hazardous or oversize loads, you should have at least a basic supply of beacon lights in your toolbox. We recommend a combination of strobes and steady-on lights to accommodate different needs. Note that some of our lights feature dozens of flash patterns that can be customized for purpose. And remember, beacon lights are about safety. Do not settle for inferior quality products that may not hold up.

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Tips To Remove Flatbed Tarps Easily

Applying and removing tarps is part of the job for the flatbed trucker. It can be a bit tedious when the wind is blowing or loads have sharp edges to contend with, so the best thing any trucker can do in this regard is pay attention to what works for other drivers and learn the little tricks that make flatbed tarp application and removal easier.

We have addressed applying tarps in other posts, however in this post, we will concentrate on tarp removal. Needless to say that most truckers get better at tarp removal with time and practice. Below are a few examples of little things you can do to remove tarps easily.

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Fold Sides up First

After 500 miles of interstate driving, there is a big temptation to undo your straps, grab one corner of the tarp and start pulling. You may get lucky on a load that has no sharp edges and is not oddly shaped but more often than not, the “yank and hope for the best” method can cause more trouble than imagined. Before you do anything, your best move is to fold the sides of your flatbed tarp up onto the load.

Folding creates a flat surface on the top of the load that is much easier to deal with. As a side note, you may have to get on the load to do this. Be careful.

Move from Front to Back

The second thing you can do to make your life easier is to move from front to back as you pull the tarp. There are two ways to do this. First, if you have someone willing to help, you can both grab a corner on either side of the trailer where it meets the cab. Then walk toward the rear of the trailer, pulling up and pushing forward as you go. This will essentially fold the tarp on top of itself as you pull it off the trailer.

If you are working alone, start at the rear of the trailer and grab your tarp (with the sides already folded up) at the center. Slowly drag it off the load in an even, continuous motion. The idea behind both of these methods is to cause the tarp to move from front to rear across the top of the load, thus avoiding sharp edges that can rip tarp fabric.

Get Some Air Underneath

Experienced truckers know that getting some air underneath flatbed truck tarps can help considerably. This is obviously not a problem on windy days, but what if the weather is still or you in an enclosed terminal? Grabbing one corner of your tarp and flapping it a couple of times gets just enough air underneath to separate the fabric from the cargo. This will make dragging the tarp off a bit easier.

Always Use Edge Protectors

New flatbed drivers tend to stay away from edge protectors unless they have reason to believe they are in danger of ripping their tarps. Why take the time to apply edge protectors if there are no real sharp edges? There is actually a very good reason: it makes tarp removal a lot easier. Edge protectors create space between your flatbed tarp and the cargo underneath. That extra space reduces friction and makes it easier for you to get the tarp off.

Flatbed tarp application and removal are an integral part of the job for those who hauls flatbed loads. So rather than continuing to struggle, the trucker is better off learning all those little secrets that make tarp application and removal easier.


Protection Not the Only Use for Flatbed Truck Tarps

Truck drivers invest in flatbed truck tarps primarily to protect the cargo from road debris, extreme weather, and other unforeseen situations. That’s why tarps have to be made of durable materials that can withstand the punishment of heavy over-the-road driving. That notwithstanding, there might be other reasons a shipper may require a flatbed trucker to cover a load with a tarp. In other words, cargo protection is not necessarily the only purpose of flatbed truck tarps.

A case in point was a flatbed recently photographed traveling down Route 77 in eastern Arizona. Not only was the truck carrying an oversize load, but it was also accompanied by a rather impressive convoy that included a number of other trucks and plenty of black SUVs. The rather large object underneath the massive gray tarp was pretty much unidentifiable.

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This is a case in which the flatbed truck tarp used to cover the object was both protecting it from damage and preventing onlookers from knowing what was underneath. Although it is not for us to determine what the cargo was, however, It was covered for a reason- to protect it.

Keeping Cargo Secretive

There is plenty of speculation about what might have been under that massive flatbed truck tarp. The popular ideas range from, it might have been new equipment being transported to the Air Force Base to old equipment on its way to bone yard out in the desert.

Another possibility is that the cargo was totally unrelated to the military. It could’ve been a satellite dish or a piece of high-tech equipment or even construction equipment. We will never know, thanks to a massive gray truck tarp that effectively served its purpose.

Regardless of what was being transported through the desert, there are times when shippers demand secrecy of their cargo. Such cases would require flatbed truck tarps to completely cover all visible surfaces of the cargo, with no exception. Not only would these tarps have to be capable of protecting the cargo from road debris and weather, but they would also have to be secured in such a way as to prevent any parts getting loose or falling off during shipping

These kinds of loads travel across our roads more often than most of us realize. We just don’t know because truckers do such a good job of covering them entirely. They get where they are going with an intact load while shippers and receivers enjoy the benefit of keeping their precious cargo from eyes they don’t want seeing it. It is a win-win for everyone.


Beveled Hardwood Lumber Better Than Scrap for Coil Loads

Hauling steel coil requires a different approach to cargo control for obvious reasons. When coils are loaded with the eye either to the front or side, the rolls have a tendency to shift back and forth on the trailer. To prevent this, drivers use lumber pieces as chocks to hold coils in place. We recommend beveled hardwood lumber rather than relying on scrap dunnage.

Mytee carries a selection of task-specific lumber with beveled edges in sizes ranging from 4 to 6 feet. These boards are ideal for hauling loads of steel coil up to 30,000 pounds. Lumber pieces can be used for cargo control of other types of cargo was well. Being that they are hardwood, they should last much longer than scrap.

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Loading with Beveled Lumber

Shippers all have their specific requirements when it comes to how they want to load their coil onto trailers. Regardless of their chosen procedures, the finished product on any coil load must meet federal safety standards. Coils must be secured in such a way as to prevent movement in any direction. Beveled lumber is utilized on either side of the rolling edge.

Loading typically starts with placing lumber pieces in their approximate location. Coil is then lowered onto the trailer and held in place long enough for lumber pieces to be adjusted appropriately. Then it is a matter of securing the coils using chains, pieces of rubber for protection and additional pieces of lumber to create what is essentially a coil rack surrounding the load.

More often than not, drivers will have to use rubber pieces over the top of the coils and in the eyes to protect the material from damage caused by chains. Some shippers are very particular about their loads, being more than willing to refuse drivers who do not have appropriate dunnage or tarps to cover steel coil. It is always best for a driver to check with a shipper he or she has never worked with before arriving at the yard and finding out the trailer will not be loaded due to a lack of appropriate equipment.

Loading with Scrap Lumber

Drivers who choose not to invest in hardwood lumber for steel coil loads may choose instead to settle for scrap lumber the shipping yard may have in store. A driver may keep that lumber for future use until it is no longer up to the task. Having said that, we do not recommend this practice.

First of all, scrap lumber is just that. Even if a visual inspection would make it seem as though lumber pieces are undamaged, there could be internal damage that could seriously compromise the wood. Second, scrap lumber tends to be more prone to warping and cracking when exposed to the elements. Any such warping or cracking reduces integrity.

Task-specific hardwood lumber with beveled edges is always the best choice for hauling steel coil. When used properly, it meets federal standards without question. Shippers also like to see this kind of lumber used as well. When they know a driver is willing to invest in hardwood lumber, they rest more comfortably in the knowledge that said driver will take better care of the load.

Beveled hardwood lumber for steel coil loads should be part of the flatbed trucker’s equipment supply at all times. Individual lumber pieces will last for years if used properly and taken care of. For a small investment in task-specific lumber pieces now, the trucker can virtually guarantee he or she always has the dunnage necessary when arriving to pick up a load.


Efficiently Working with Flatbed Truck Tarps

Within the flatbed trucking community, a common complaint that arises is the time and effort needed to apply and remove tarps. This time away from the steering wheel – time that pays a driver his or her wage. Therefore, keeping the wheels turning and earning money depends a lot on how efficient a flatbed driver is with tarps.

As a flatbed trucker, you might be wondering whether it is possible to be efficient when working with flatbed truck tarps. It is – you just need to try different options until you find what works best for you. It also helps to keep in mind that efficiency by definition, is doing the same amount of work with less effort and time needed.

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Applying Bungee Straps to Tarps

Applying bungee straps could take quite a bit of time when it comes to tarping a load. Just when you think you have your tarps right where you want them, you find out they are in the wrong position because of the way your bungee straps lay. We have a suggestion based on things we have seen some of our customers do.

Start by pinning all four corners of your tarp with a single bungee cord at each corner. Then do a walk around the entire load, placing a bungee cord in each D-ring or grommet, depending how you intend to fasten the tarp. During this step, do not secure the bungee cords to your trailer. Just walk around and hook the bungees in a ring or grommet.

Now make a second pass around the rig, securing every other bungee cord as you go. A third pass in the other direction wraps up the remaining cords. While this process does take three passes, you will find that you save time by not having to undo straps and readjust the tarp multiple times. You will be applying tension evenly with this process, increasing the chances that you will only have to do it once.

Using the Link Bar with Straps

Securing a load with winch straps can be as cumbersome as using bungee cords. You can increase your efficiency by walking around your load and getting all of your straps started before you ever touch the winch bar. Then you can walk around the rig and tighten each winch one at a time. This way you are not constantly picking up the bar and sitting down again. By the way, you can use the same process in reverse. Use the winch bar to loosen all of your straps in a single pass, then go back and take the straps off.

Color Code Your Tarps

Your flatbed truck tarps come in a variety of sizes and shapes. As you may already know, manufacturers use specific colors of fabric to let customers know important information about strength and durability. This does nothing for you when you are trying to find a specific tarp for specific job. So why not color code your tarps by size? A strip or two of colored duct tape makes it easy to differentiate between small and large tarps. Some drivers use different colored bungee cords the same way.

It is possible to be efficient when working with flatbed truck tarps. As previously stated, it is a matter of trying different things until you find what works for you. If you have tried for years and still cannot get it right, don’t be afraid to ask other truckers for tips and tricks. There are some drivers out there who are very efficient.