Using Chain Binders to Safely Tie Down Heavy Cargo

Chain binders are an intelligent securement tool for anyone who transports heavy vehicles and machinery, or for someone who wants a little extra peace of mind when it comes to hauling cargo.

Since the number of tie-downs you need to secure cargo is dependent on the cargo length, cargo weight, and cargo type, the value in using chain binders and tie-down chains increases as the weight of your load increases (you need the working load limits of all your tie-downs to add up to at least 50% the weight of your cargo).

Instead of using a large number of nylon tie-down straps, which are more susceptible to cuts and tears when secured to certain machinery (like a Bobcat bucket), use tie-down chains and chain binders for long-lasting securement.

 

benefit of chain binders over nylon tie down straps

Instead of nylon straps, use transport chain and chain binders to tie down sharp objects. image source

 

What is a chain binder?

Chain binders, also known as load binders, are chain tensioning devices used to anchor down large cargo loads for transport. They are commonly made of forged steel and feature grab hooks or other fittings on each end. Chain binders are available in a variety of styles, sizes, and working load limits to fit your needs.

 

How much does a binder weigh?

A common question we often get about chain binders is, “how heavy are they?” The weight of chain binders varies quite a bit depending on the style and the brand but, in general, chain binders can weight anywhere 3.5 Lbs. up to 20 Lbs. and beyond. Obviously, using a larger chain size will result in a larger and heavier binder.

 

Types of chain binders

There are two general types of chain binders to choose from, lever binders and ratchet binders. Each has different advantages and disadvantages to consider, but the main difference lies in how the binder is tightened.

 

benefit of a lever chain binder

Lever binders are considered easier to use, but not necessarily safer.

Lever Binder

Commonly called a snap binder, lever binders are easier to use and have fewer moving parts (less maintenance) compared to ratchet binders. With a mechanical advantage of 25:1, lever binders use leverage to tighten the chain and lock themselves after the lever rotates 180-degrees around the hinge. The lever stores energy so operators need to be careful not to let the handle recoil back at them.

 

 

 

ratchet binder vs lever binder

Ratchet binders take some strain off the operator but tightening and untightening generally takes longer.

Ratchet Binder

Comprised of a gear, handle, pawl, and end fittings, ratchet binders have a mechanical advantage of 50:1. Compared to lever binders, they have a slower and steadier loading and unloading process, but also cause less strain on the operator. Since the handle does not store much energy, they are generally considered safer to use compared to lever binders.

 

 

 

 

Tie down rules to consider before buying chain binders

According to the FMCSA, vehicles with wheels or tracks that weigh 10,000 Lbs. or more are required to be tied down and secured on all 4 corners (at a minimum). This weight of vehicle also requires a minimum of 4 anchor tie-downs (connections between the load and your trailer) and 4 tightening devices (binders).

Also, length plays a role in determining how many chain binders you will need for a given load. Loads 5′ or less require just one tie-down, however, if the weight of that object is more than 1,100 Lbs. two tie-downs are required. Loads 5′ to 10′ in length require 2 tie-downs.

rules for using tie downs

Length and weight both play a factor in determining how many tie downs you need.

 

How to maintain load binders

To reduce friction and prolong the life of a lever binder, it’s best practice to routinely lubricate its pivot and swivel points. For ratchet binders, you should lubricate both the screw threads and the pawl part.

When it comes to storing your load binders, it’s best to keep them somewhere dry and away from the dangers of chemical or environmental damage. Chain carriers or similar toolboxes are great for this.

 

how to tell if you need new transport chain

This chain has been stretched and bent beyond use. image source

When should you replace a chain binder or transport chain?

Be sure to routinely check your binders for any signs of wear including bending, cracking, nicks, or gouges. If you find evidence of this, it’s best to replace your binder. As for your chains, you should be checking the individual links regularly for twisting, bending, stretching, or elongation. Don’t forget about checking hooks and other attachments as well.

 

Buy quality chain binders

If chain binders and transport chain sound like the cargo securement solution you need, there’s no better place to get them than US Cargo Control. With dozens of different chain binder options to choose from, as well as a variety of chain grades and chain hooks, we have the solution you need to safely and securely transport heavy cargo.

 

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2 Responses to Using Chain Binders to Safely Tie Down Heavy Cargo

  1. Matthew Boggs October 3, 2018 at 4:54 PM #

    Having a discussion with bean counters at work. They say we have to chain using indirect method rather than direct chaining. They claim that direct reduces chain WLL 50%. Never heard of it. We haul 60 to 80 foot platform boom lifts on Landoll trailers. 5/16 grade 70 chain with 3/8 ratchet binders. Your thoughts please?

    • Colton Radford October 4, 2018 at 10:17 AM #

      Hi Matthew,

      Great question. If a tiedown is attached directly to the cargo, or if the tiedown goes around the cargo and comes back to attach on the same side of the vehicle that it is originally anchored, then it has one-half the WLL versus going over the cargo and attaching to the opposite side of the vehicle.

      The FMCSA is the governing body that defines these rules that are enforced by law enforcement across the country. The document that contains this information is CFR49 and the section regarding this is 393.106 (d, 1-3)

      Here is a link to the document:
      https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=1&ty=HTML&h=L&mc=true&=PART&n=pt49.5.393#se49.5.393_1106

      The reasoning behind this is basically; when anchoring directly to the cargo all of the load is put directly on the chain in a straight pull. But when the chain goes up, over, or through the cargo and is anchored on both sides of the vehicle the stress is evenly distributed between the two ends of the chain. Similar to using a lifting sling in a straight vertical pull versus a basket hitch.

      Hopefully, this helps and makes sense. Thanks for reading.

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