More from: Ratchet straps

How the Ratchet Works: A Simple Explanation

Shopping the Mytee Products website affords you the opportunity to buy all sorts of parts and tools; this includes ratchets. Just in the cargo control section alone you will find ratcheting winch bars and ratchet straps. Making all of these pieces work is a bit of technology that has been around for centuries.

The tried and true ratchet is one of the most used tools in the world. Socket wrenches utilize them. So do clocks, locking mechanisms, and so much more. If it weren’t for the ratchet, a lot of the tools we now take for granted wouldn’t be possible. To illustrate just how important the ratchet is, we will explain how it works in reference to some of the cargo control supplies we carry.

A Basic Definition

The word ‘ratchet’ is sometimes used incorrectly to refer to a socket wrench. While a socket wrench certainly relies on a ratchet, the term is a lot more general than that. A ratchet is literally a mechanism that allows for continual rotary or linear motion in one direction only. Its design prevents motion in the opposite direction.

With this definition to hand, just look around your truck and see how many ratchets you can identify. Believe it or not, the winches bolted to the side of your trailer employ a ratchet mechanism to keep webbing straps tight.

Look at the side of the winch and you’ll see a gear with multiple teeth. You will also see what is known as a pawl. This is the small metal piece that catches on the flat side of a tooth in order to prevent the gear from moving in the opposite direction. The combination of these two pieces is all that’s necessary to make the device a ratchet.

When you tighten your straps down you know you can only tighten in one direction. Every time the pawl passes another tooth, the strap gets tighter. Get it tight enough and the pawl will catch under one of the teeth to prevent the strap from unwinding.

The Ratchet Winch Bar

The ratchet winch bar we carry works on the same basic principle. At the end of the bar is a square housing that holds a ratchet device. You insert the ratchet into the handle of the winch and secure it with a pin. Now you can tighten down your winch straps without ever removing the bar. When you’re done, pull out the pen and remove the bar.

For truck drivers who already have a standard winch bar they like well enough, there’s no need to purchase a ratcheting bar. We also carry ratcheting winches and adapters that convert standard winches into ratcheting winches.

In both cases, the same principle explained above applies. The ratchet mechanism consists of a gear and a pawl that allow for motion in only one direction. You use the standard winch bar to crank down on the winch, then you remove the bar at the bottom of the stroke. Slide the bar back in at the top of the stroke and repeat the process.

In order for the ratchet to work as a cargo control device, there has to be a way to release it. Thankfully there is. The pawl on nearly every kind of winch device can be released with a spring-loaded lever. This allows for motion in the opposite direction so that you can loosen webbing straps enough to detach them.

Now you know the basics of how ratchets work. It’s a good thing we’ve got them in stock, or your job as a truck driver might be a bit more difficult.


A Reminder about Those Ratchet Straps

The holiday season that time of year when truck drivers are under more pressure than they deal with the rest of the year. As such, there might be instances when attention to cargo control equipment is not as it should be. We strongly encourage our customers to prevent such instances from taking place in their cargo control routine. Being diligent about cargo control this time of year as you are any other time always pays off.

A recent accident in Minnesota underscores what we are referring to in this blog post. In early November, a woman driving on I-494 in Maple Grove found her car struck by a piece of metal that broke loose from a nearby truck. The piece of metal bounced off the pavement and went through the windshield of her vehicle.

Fortunately, the woman walked away with just a few minor cuts. Things could have been worse. As for the truck from which the metal piece dislodged, it has not been located. That did not stop the Minnesota State Patrol from using social media to post a reminder to drivers to make sure any non-contained cargo is properly secured during transport. The post specifically mentioned using toe or ratchet straps. Whether intended or not, the post speaks directly to truck drivers.

No Room for Error

Without locating the truck involved in this accident, there is no way to know what went wrong. What we do know is that there is no room for error when tying down cargo. Any non-contained cargo can pose a danger to other drivers if not properly secured. This is why every state includes specific legislation in its motor vehicle code requiring drivers to secure their cargo and fully control it throughout transport.

Where ratchet straps are concerned, the two biggest issues are related to working load limits and operational conditions. Both are things that should never be neglected by truck drivers.

Beginning with working load limits (WLLs), every ratchet strap should have its WLL printed on it. This number tells the truck driver how many tie-downs are needed based on the total weight of the load. Having said that, there are some important things to understand:

• If the WLL of a ratchet strap is either missing or illegible, the law requires assuming the lowest possible rating. If a driver assumes a higher rating which is then observed during a roadside inspection, the driver could be cited for a violation.
• Even if WLLs are clearly displayed on ratchet straps, drivers can still be cited if they don’t use enough tie-downs to accommodate the total weight of their loads.

The other area of concern is operational condition. In other words, a driver should never use ratchet straps that are frayed or demonstrate excessive wear and tear. Inspectors can downgrade a strap to zero if they observe any such issues that they believe compromise the integrity of the strap.

In short, truck drivers are required to use ratchet straps that are in good operational condition and appropriate to the load being transported. Drivers have to pay attention to working load limits, the operational condition of their ratchet straps, and the methods used to tie down cargo.

Make the Holidays Safe

The holiday season is supposed to be one of good cheer and happy times. Do your part to make the 2017 season safe by not slacking off on cargo control. Everyone else on the road is depending on you to make sure your straps and chains are in good condition and that you use appropriate methods to keep your cargo under control.


Easy Care and Maintenance Tips for Ratchet Straps

Your ratchet straps are among the most important tools you own as a flatbed trucker. Without ratchet straps, you would be left to secure everything you haul with chains and ropes. Imagine the amount of work that would be! Be that as it may, you need to protect your investment in ratchet straps by taking care of each one as though it were gold.

The thing about ratchet straps is that they are not invincible. They can wear out and break over time. A good goal is to maximize the life of your straps by taking care of them as best you can. To that end, we recommend a handful of easy care and maintenance tips gleaned from experienced drivers who have visited our warehouse.

Keep Straps Out of the Sun

The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down both nylon and polyester fibers. This is what causes ratchet straps to discolor and become brittle. It is best to keep straps out of the sun when they are not in use. For our money, the best way to go is to either store your ratchet straps in an exterior toolbox or somewhere in the back of your cab.

Note that the sun will eventually damage webbing material to a point of reducing its strength. Keep an eye on discoloration as the first signal. When a strap looks unusually pale, be extra vigilant in your visual inspections. Webbing material that has lost almost all its color is probably on its way out.

Don’t Store Wet Straps

Mold and mildew are never a truck driver’s friends. They are especially damaging to ratchet straps inasmuch as mold and mildew can weaken fibers over time. Therefore, treat your ratchet straps the same way you treat your tarps in terms of moisture. Never store a wet strap except in an emergency situation. Instead, let it thoroughly dry before putting it away. If you do end up with mold on a strap, do not use a chlorine-based product to clean it. Use a product that is friendly to the webbing material the strap is made of.

Remove Webbing from Handles

When taking ratchet straps out of use, be sure to remove webbing from the handles. This prevents the webbing from getting too tightly wrapped around the spindle or catching on the teeth of the ratchet. You’ll find that your ratchet straps last a lot longer just by following this one simple tip.

Wrap Webbing around the Ratchet

With webbing removed from the handle, we recommend wrapping it entirely around the ratchet and securing it with a rubber band. This protects the ratchet from road vibration while also keeping everything in your toolbox neat and tidy.

Lubricate the Ratchets

Finally, be sure to lubricate your ratchets with a dry silicone spray or industrial lubricating oil. We recommend against solvents like WD-40, as their lubricating properties are rather short-lived. Whatever your lubricant of choice, use it carefully and sparingly. Do your best to avoid allowing lubricant to come in contact with strap webbing.

As always, thoroughly inspect ratchet straps as you are tying down your load. If you ever question the integrity of a strap or ratchet, don’t use it. You are better off being safe than sorry. Remember that it only takes one failure to create big problems. Those are problems you do not need.

Mytee Products is your source for everything flatbed trucking, including ratchet straps. Before you take to the road for your next job, make sure you have all the straps, tarps, and protectors, and bungee straps you need.


Tips for Hauling Sensitive Industrial Machinery

As a flatbed trucker, have you ever had the experience of hauling sensitive industrial machinery that the shipper expects to arrive with nary a scratch? If so, you know how challenging this can be. Road vibration can be an absolute killer when it comes to industrial machinery. Just a little vibration can do a lot of damage, even if you are not going thousands of miles.

To say that hauling industrial machinery is more than just tying it down with bungee straps is to state the obvious. These kinds of loads require a little TLC along with a basic understanding of how road vibrations affect different kinds of cargo. It can take years to learn all the tricks of the trade for protecting sensitive machinery.

If you are new to the flatbed industry, don’t be afraid to take sensitive industrial machinery loads. Consider such loads a challenge. Then do what you can to learn how to transport them safely, including heeding the tips explained below.

Prepare Machinery Properly

The first step in hauling sensitive industrial machinery is to prepare the cargo for loading. The good news is that shippers often take care of this stuff themselves. It is fairly common for truckers to arrive at the yard and find machines already wrapped in cardboard and plastic, and secured to pallets. If that is not the case, the driver should insist that the shipper prepare the machines properly.

Loading and Positioning

Once the loading process begins, the truck driver is in control. The driver is ultimately responsible for the cargo from the moment it touches his/her trailer to the moment it is taken off, so make the effort to protect yourself by taking the lead in the loading process. The idea is to guarantee machinery is loaded in a way that allows you to protect it through your cargo control procedures.

The general rule for sensitive industrial machinery is to keep individual pieces from making direct contact with one another, if possible. Keep them as far apart as you can. If the number of pieces being loaded dictates that they have to be placed relatively close to one another, you’ll have to use your best judgment.

Edge Protectors, Blankets, and Tie-Downs

This next part of the process is the most critical of all. After machinery has been put into position, it’s now up to you to eliminate all risk of damage. You should immediately begin thinking about corner and edge protectors. Wherever you can place one, you should. Use corner and edge protectors to prevent direct contact among multiple pieces of machinery. You also want to prevent contact between machinery and your tie-downs and tarps.

If need be, you may want to throw moving blankets over the top of the machinery and into empty spaces. Then securely tighten everything down with ratchet straps. There should be something between every strap and the machinery it secures, whether that be an edge protector or blanket.

Keep Tarps Taught

Our last tip is to keep your tarps taught throughout the entire journey. There is nothing more frustrating than going to great lengths to protect sensitive machinery only to find that a tarp left flapping in the wind caused some damage.

The trucker’s best friend for this job is the bungee strap. Tarps can be secured to the bed of the trailer using bungee straps at every grommet. The driver can then use bungee rope or a series of straps connected to go around the perimeter of the cargo. Securing the perimeter at the top and bottom will keep tarps tight and in place.

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Interesting Things You Might Not Know about Ratchet Straps

Ratchet straps are very familiar to flatbed truck drivers who use them to tie down everything from steel coil to landscaping products. You might even make the case that ratchet straps are among the most important cargo control tools a trucker can have on board. But there is a lot to know about these straps, how they are made, how they are rated, and so on.

As a leading provider of cargo control supplies for truck drivers, we thought it might be interesting to help our customers test their knowledge of ratchet straps. Below is a selection of interesting things you may or may not know about these incredibly useful tools.

The Differences in Webbing Material

The polyester material from which ratchet straps are made is known in the industry as webbing. If you are even remotely observational, you have probably noticed that the webbing of a ratchet strap is fairly similar to the webbing used to make seat belts. You may have even noticed that webbing material is used in the manufacture of tarps, tents, backpacks, etc. But did you know that not all webbing is equal in terms of strength?

Polyester seat belt webbing is nearly identical to polyester ratchet strap webbing in terms of the material used. The main difference between the two is the strength of the webbing. Seat belt webbing is considerably thinner than its ratchet strap counterpart, and its tensile strength is much lower as well. Remember that a seat belt only has to stop a few hundred pounds, at most, moving in a single direction. Ratchet straps have to hold thousands of pounds in place by preventing cargo from moving in multiple directions.

Webbing’s Environmental Resilience

Webbing is the material of choice for all sorts of things because of its resilience. It holds up very well to an extensive list environmental conditions that would damage other materials. For example, it resists mildew and mold because it also resists moisture. Webbing does not shrink, it stands up to direct sunlight, and it is not affected by a number of acids found in industrial environments.

Not All Webbing Is Polyester

While polyester is one of the more common materials for making webbing fabric, it is not the only material. Webbing can be made of polypropylene, nylon, and even high-strength materials like Kevlar and Dyneema. Each of these materials has specific properties manufacturers are looking for when they create new webbing products.

Polyester is usually sufficient for typical cargo control applications within the flatbed trucking industry. But where extremely high tensile strength ratings are required, truckers might choose a more expensive product.

Webbing Construction Methods

Finally, the webbing material used to make ratchet straps can be constructed based on one of two weaves. The first is the solid weave. Solid weave is not the preferred process for ratchet straps because it is not as strong as the other process, known as tubular weave.

A webbing material constructed with the tubular weave utilizes flattened tubes of fibers instead of individual fibers in the weave. Using flattened tubes provides extra strength and shock absorption. Tubular weave webbing material is a bit more expensive, but you do get what you pay for when it comes to ratchet straps.

Yes, the trusted ratchet strap is one of the more important tools that flatbed truckers keep in their toolboxes. Ratchet straps are one of the keys to successful cargo control that is still efficient at the same time. Without ratchet straps, truckers would be left to secure their cargo with chains, ropes, and inadequate bungee straps.