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.


Cohesion and Adhesion: The Chemistry of Drip Diverters

There are some people in this world who like to explore beyond the basic or expected functions of any object. They want to know how and why it works as well. If you belong in that specific group of knowledge seekers, we want to talk to you about drip diverter tarps. Also known more simply as drip diverters, these are small vinyl tarps that are deployed to divert water away from sensitive areas.

We have customers who buy drip diverters to protect hay or equipment stored in a barn with a leaky roof. We have sold them to commercial property owners looking to protect sensitive equipment while maintenance crews are trying to figure out why an air-conditioning unit is leaking. We have even sold them to truck drivers dealing with leaky trailers and sleeper cabs.

In terms of the science behind what makes drip diverters effective for task, it is all about chemistry. In fact, it is all based on two properties that water possesses: cohesion and adhesion. If not for these two properties, a drip diverter tarp would be a useless piece of vinyl suspended from the ceiling.

Water Molecules and Cohesion

In chemistry, the property of cohesion is the ability of identical molecules to attract one another. One water molecule sticks to another water molecule to form a drop because of this property. Indeed, cohesion is what makes a water drop a drop.

Water’s cohesive properties are found in the way the two hydrogen atoms are aligned in relation to the single oxygen atom. Opposite charges keep the molecule together. As an added bonus, those same charges also attract other water molecules. Why does this matter when using drip diverters? Because it is cohesion, combined with gravity, that causes water to run off a drip diverter.

Gravity begins the process before cohesion takes over. It is a lot like a siphon. Once water molecules start flowing out of the drip diverter and down its tubing, each water molecule flowing in a downward motion pulls other molecules along with it. This is what prevents water from pooling inside the diverter.

Water Molecules and Adhesion

In chemistry, the property of adhesion is the ability of different molecules to attract one another. Have you ever seen a drop of water stuck to the edge of a pine needle? That happens because the surface of the water is attracted to the surface of the pine needle due to the alignment of electrical charges. That is adhesion. The two surfaces attract one another.

Adhesion plays a role in drip diverters inasmuch as water does not adhere to vinyl tarp material as well as it does to other surfaces. In fact, water tends to bead up and run off as long as there is an outlet. That’s because the cohesive bond between water molecules is stronger than the adhesive bond between water and vinyl.

This is not to say that water does not adhere to vinyl surfaces. It can and does. It’s just that it is not so easy. Compare vinyl to other fabrics – like cotton. Water will run off vinyl a lot more readily than it will cotton. In fact, the adhesion between water and cotton is such that a cotton cloth will absorb more water than it repels.

Now you know how cohesion and adhesion work together to make drip diverter tarps useful. Isn’t science fascinating? Perhaps you don’t care, and that’s okay. The most important take away here is that Mytee Products carries drip diverters. If you need to temporarily divert water away from something until permanent repairs can be affected, a drip diverter is one option.


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.


5 Interesting Things You Might Not Know About Wire Rope

Anyone looking for rigging supplies here on our website will find several varieties of wire rope to choose from. Wire rope is one of the primary materials for managing complicated lifts. It is preferred by experienced lift masters because of its strength and reliability.

As with most things in the Mytee inventory, there is more to wire rope than meets the eye. How it’s constructed, where it comes from, and many other aspects of wire rope remain hidden for the simple fact that there is really no need to know. We want to change that for our readers. To that end, there are five interesting things about wire rope you might not know, listed below.

1. It Was Preceded by Wrought Iron Chains

Before there was wire rope, lift masters and engineers relied on wrought iron chains to do the work. But as you might imagine, failure was a common problem with said chains. All it took was one bad link to create a disaster. So engineers had to find a replacement that was both up to the task and would greatly reduce the risk of catastrophic failure. They looked to the engineering of spiderwebs to eventually come up with the design we now know as wire rope.

2. A Helix Design Provides the Strength

One of the things engineers learned by studying spiderwebs is that a helix design offers incredible strength. The helix design starts with a single wire that acts as the core of the rope. Additional wires are then twisted around the core and fastened together. This design spreads the force of a load across multiple wires instead of a single link of chain.

3. The Helix Also Limits Failure

If there is one flaw to the helix design, it is the fact that the individual wires that make up a rope can wear out over time due to friction. But it is not a big deal for the most part. Why? Because individual wire strands rarely fail at the same time. Initial failure is generally limited to one, in which case the remaining wires are more than capable of carrying the load.

4. The First Wire Ropes Appeared in the 1830s

Historically speaking, the first wire ropes were manufactured to support mining operations in the 1830s. Lift masters in Germany used them to replace metal chains and hemp ropes. The first wire rope produced in the U.S. appeared in the early 1840s. Its purpose was to provide support for suspension bridges.

By the late 1840s wire rope was used heavily in the railroad industry for a variety of different purposes. That led to a number of manufacturing plants opening across United States producing wire rope in ever increasing volumes.

5. Wire Ropes Are Classified According to Use

Just like there is more than one way to construct a wire rope, said ropes are classified according to their use. There are four generally recognized classifications as follows:

1. Running Ropes – Stranded ropes used over sheaves and drums that will bend them.
2. Stationary Ropes – Spiral ropes capable of carrying fluctuating tensile forces.
3. Track Ropes – Fully locked ropes capable of handling the kinds of forces typical of crane lifting.
4. Wire Rope Slings – Stranded ropes used as harnesses for lifting.

So, how did you do? If you knew all five things mentioned in this post, you know more about wire rope than the average person. One last thing to know is that you can get the wire rope you need for your rigging jobs here at Mytee Products.


Safety Tips for Using Demolition Tarps

It used to be said that having to remove construction debris was a problem that was never adequately solved. Dumpsters were no doubt a workable solution, but they involve a lot of time, labor, and expense. Yet that is all people had access to until the invention of the demolition tarp.

Fans of demolition tarps say these are superior to dumpsters in a lot of different ways. We don’t know if that’s true, but we can say that demo tarps certainly have their place in the arena of construction and debris removal. They are effective, easy to deploy, and usually do not require permits.

Having said that, there are certain dangers associated with demolition tarps. A safety-first mindset demands that they be used in ways that minimize risks and protect workers. We recommend using demolition tarps with the same care and precision planning that goes into rigging and lifting. Below are a few tips for doing so.

Webbing Always Down

Demolition tarps are constructed with a combination of vinyl tarp material and a number of webbing straps. The straps perform the same function as the legs of a rigging sling: they provide underlying support for the material being lifted as well as providing the actual lifting points.

We say all that to say this: a demolition tarp should always be laid out with the webbing facing the ground. If you lay it out with the webbing face up, you lose the support of the straps during the lift. Material can break through an unsupported tarp or even cause the tarp itself to break loose from the webbing.

Never Overload

A demolition tarp only has a limited capacity. It should be marked on the tarp itself. If a tarp is brand-new and still in its packaging, its maximum weight capacity should be printed on the outside of the package as well. Pay attention to this number so that you do not overload the tarp.

Overloading a demolition tarp creates a dangerous situation that could be potentially harmful. Too much weight could split the tarp material, break one of the webbing straps, or even cause problems for the crane operator. Under no circumstances should you ever overload a demolition tarp, even by a few pounds.

Monitor Construction Debris

Next, monitor the construction debris that ends up being tossed into a demo tarp. Anything with sharp edges should either be blunted or disposed of in another way. As tough as demo tarps are, they are not completely immune from rips and tears. A piece of waste with a sharp edge could cut the tarp on lift, causing the entire thing to break open. Not only will you have a mess to clean up, but you will also have a demo tarp that cannot be used again.

Keep Clear

Just as would be the case loading cargo on the back of a flatbed trailer, lifting a full demolition tarp should never begin until the area is cleared. Anyone present at the time of the lift should be well away from the danger zone – just in case something goes wrong. You can never be too cautious by requiring workers to keep a distance of 20 feet or more.

Inspects Tarps Regularly

Finally, if you deploy reusable demo tarps, make sure to inspect them regularly. An inspection prior to each use reduces the risks of you accidentally deploying a tarp starting to show excessive wear. And if you do find one that’s showing wear, don’t take a chance. Demo tarps are cheap enough that it is worth replacing them at the first signs.