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The Basics of Cargo Tie-Down Straps

Transporting cargo can be a tedious process even more so secure cargo with cargo tie-down straps and help avoid damages from occurring. There happens to be a wide selection of fasteners that can be used to secure cargo safely. Some fasteners are preferred over others while some are common in most commercial vehicles.

It does not matter what kind of cargo that is being pulled. Tie-down straps will always be valued. Tie-down straps are available for a very wide range of different applications. A strap’s strength depends on what kind of work the strap will be handling. For example, for those who need to move small items in a pickup truck will use the lighter weight straps. Whereas commercial trucks will use the much stronger straps that can withhold thousands of pounds.

Though straps can be strong and useful, they are still straps made of threads. This means that if the straps are stretched over sharp edges all the time, fray and wear could occur. While extreme exposure to sunlight, heat, and exhaust can also make straps break down or damaged.

Choosing the correct kind of strap for the right kind of application isn’t too hard either. The things that need to be considered are: the WLL (Weight Load Limit), length of the straps, what kind of tightening method should be used (cam buckles, ratchets, or winches), and what kind of hook will be used (S-hooks, J-hooks, flat hooks, or E-tracks).

The Weight Load Limit

The WLL is an important thing to remember because if the straps are not strong enough for what is needed, they could break while working with them. To safely secure cargo loads, the WLL of the straps need to be greater than the weight of the cargo. It is advised that straps be used in pairs. Straps will fail when the maximum load (or break strength) is met. This is usually three times that of the strap’s WLL.

Length of the Straps and their loose ends

Straps need to be long enough to reach tie-down point A to tie down point B on a truck or trailer. If the straps are too short, they will not work, and if the straps are too long, then there will be long, loose straps. Even if the strap is an ideal length for the application, it is still best to avoid having loose ends flapping around in the wind.

Some manufacturers make straps that include a built in wrapper that is permanently attached to the strap. Once the strap has properly secured the cargo, the loose ends can be rolled up and then secured with the wrapper. Retractable ratchet straps come with housing for loose straps. It reels in the straps at it is being tied down and prevents as much loose straps from flapping around.

Cargo Tie-Down Straps – Tightening Methods

The buckles on straps are what pull the straps tight across the cargo that is being secured. There’s a choice between cam and ratcheting buckles:

  • Cam Buckle Straps are the most basic of all straps. To use this, the end of the strap must be fed through the buckle and pulled tightly. Then the strap is secured with teeth that are angled so that the strap can be pulled at, but does not let the strap go after being pulled. One downfall to this kind of strap is that the teeth can cause wear.
  • Ratchet straps are straps that tighten better and can hold things tighter, as well as pull the strap tighter than a cam buckle strap can. To tighten this strap, open the ratchet all the way and pull the lose end of the strap through until it is pulled tight. Then, close the ratchet and work the lever, opening and closing it repeatedly. Each time the lever is cranked, the strap gets pulled tighter. Because ratchet straps put greater tension on the strap, they usually come as a standard high capacity tie-down straps.
  • Retractable ratchet straps are standard ratchet strap, however this one allows for the loose end of the strap to be pulled into the housing of the ratchet, meaning no loose ends!
  • Heavy-duty winch straps and winches are specially made for those in the trucking industry. A strap made for this type of heavy duty use does not have a built in tightening buckle. Instead, one end of the strap has a hook that secures to an anchor point, while the other end is fed through a winch that is permanently secured to one end of the trailer. To tighten the strap you crank the winch with a removable handle.

Cargo Tie-Down Straps – Hook Types

A tie-down strap is usually made with one end having one of several different types of hooks attached to it. Always make sure that the type of hooks that are being used will work with the tie-down anchors available.

  • S-Hooks and Double J-Hooks can be attached to thin areas of metals on trailers or car bumpers, or they can be secured to truck bed tie-down points. Both hooks will work with most anchors. An S-Hook lies in the same plane as the strap while Double J-Hooks lie in a 90 degree angle to the plane of the strap. This means that one hook will cause a twist in the strap during the application while the other will not.
  • Flat Hooks consist of a flat piece of metal that is bent double. It fits over thin, flat anchor points like the end of a square stock or the edge of an angle iron. These straps are typically used to tie down cargo over the road flatbed trailers.
  • Customizable E-Track Systems can also include straps. They attach to E-Tracks or Snap-Loc anchors. These types of straps and anchors can help create a versatile, customizable tie-down system.

Truck-N-Trailer stocks an assortment of different straps and hooks for different trucking needs. If there are any concerns or questions about straps or hooks, give Truck-N-Trailer a call at 405-912-5800.

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