If you are a flatbed trucker working without a headache rack, you really need to rethink your strategy. You are but one accident away from a load coming through your cab in a hard-braking scenario that exceeds the tensile strength of your straps or chains. Having said that, truckers with headache racks can enhance those racks with a quick and dirty trick that is easy and inexpensive.
Get more out of your headache rack by securing stacked railroad ties at the front of your trailer with 5/16 chain and a break-over binder. Railroad ties are pretty easy to come by, and in some cases, you can get them for free if you know where to look. You can use 4 x 4 timbers if you don’t have access to railroad ties.
Truckers who haul freshly harvested timber use this trick all the time. Why? Because logs are among the most unruly pieces of cargo you can put on the back of a flatbed trailer. Being careful to stack timbers securely helps to some degree, but you never know when a log is going to shift forward. Adding the bulkhead just makes a driver safer.
How and Why It Works
At first glance, it might seem like building a bulkhead to enhance a headache rack is a waste of time and effort. After all, the whole point of the headache rack is to provide a tough barrier between tractor and load. But here’s the problem: cargo shifting forward on a trailer has to cross that open space between trailer and cab in order to do damage. Any cargo that does manage to traverse that empty space unimpeded has momentum behind it. Momentum is the killer.
A log with enough momentum can severely damage a headache rack to the point of requiring replacement. In a worst-case scenario, a log can send pieces of the rack through the cab. Building a bulkhead on the front of the trailer prevents deadly momentum.
The laws of physics dictate that stacking a load flush with a wooden bulkhead greatly reduces the risk of cargo striking the back of a tractor because the bulkhead provides a surface area capable of absorbing and dispersing the energy of moving cargo. Thus, a bulkhead prevents cargo from getting the momentum it needs to do damage to the tractor.
Easy to Remove
The suggestion to use railroad ties and chain to build a bulkhead is not coincidental. The design is intended to create a bulkhead that is easily removable when it is not needed or it might be in the way. It’s a lot easier to remove chains and railroad ties than to break the welds of a permanently affixed bulkhead system.
If you know you have a month’s worth of loads that do not involve any timber, you can quickly remove your bulkhead and go on your way. The same goes if you have to take an oversized load that needs a few extra inches off the trailer. It only takes a few minutes to reinstall the bulkhead when you need it again.
Here at Mytee Products, we sell a variety of headache racks in different sizes and configurations. Headache racks are great tools for protecting your truck and providing a bit of extra storage at the same time. For those loads when your headache rack may not be enough to protect you, consider building a quick and dirty bulkhead using railroad ties and chains. This simple but effective fix could make a difference in protecting both you and your truck.