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Tarp off a Flatbed Trailer in Five Easy Steps

Aug 31, 2008
Vinyl tarps are a valuable tool when it comes to using a flatbed trailer. Regardless of how well the items are stacked, the entire load needs to be protected in order to get it to its destination safely. The high wind pressure created while driving at high speeds becomes very strong requiring a little ingenuity when it comes to tying everything off.

Loading the Flatbed

Before the tarp can be pulled across the load, you need to arrange the load properly. First, you will need to ensure the weight is distributed evenly across the trailer to make it easier to pull and steer. Arranging the load with wind resistance in mind is also important. The more wind hitting it the harder it is to pull and the more stress is put onto the cover itself. This is the single biggest reason tarps tear while in-route to its destination. When loading, try not to have anything high and wide standing over and above your truck.

Tarp Selection

Use the right tarp to cover the load. Polyethylene and canvas tarps are simply not going to stand up to the abuse of the wind and other elements you will encounter on your trip. By the time you make the first mile, you might already see tearing. Instead, select heavy vinyl tarps with a weight of at least 18 ounces that is UV treated and waterproof. They are not only ten times stronger than the typical blue poly covers you see, but they will not break down in the hot sun either.

You also want to look at the actual construction of the cover. Choose a style that has heavy, well-attached grommets. The sewing of the fabric's edges will also make a big difference out on the road. The sewing around the edges of the tarp can also make a significant difference. Look for hems that have two rows of sturdy stitches that go through multiple layers of the material.

Tie Down the Load

Once the products are loaded and you have chosen your vinyl tarps, it is time to start covering the load. Stretch the cover across the load and ensure there is an equal length on both sides. Use sturdy rubber tie-downs to attach the cover to the trailer and start strapping in the centers. When you get to the corners, fold the excess underneath before strapping it down to prevent the wind from catching the edges.

Next, use wide nylon ratchet straps to tie both the tarp and the load down to the trailer. If the trailer is equipped with an enhanced ratchet system, run the hook over the load, set the metal bar across to secure the straps, and lock the ratchet mechanism into place.

Covering your flatbed trailer with a tarp is the single most important step in securing your load for transport. The exposure and wind pressure can have a significant impact, but by loading the trailer correctly and using high-quality vinyl tarps accurately, the products will reach their destination safely.
About the Author
Author is a freelance copywriter. For more information on tarps, visit www.mytarp.com.
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