Headache Racks: 5 Reasons why your Semi Truck should have one

Headache racks for semi trucks are a smart investment for any serious truck driver looking to maximize their truck’s protection, their own personal protection, or to increase storage and truck accessory options.

 

What is a Headache Rack?

A headache rack is commonly fabricated using aluminum, steel, or stainless steel. They are installed right behind your truck’s cab mainly to protect you and your truck from loose objects that may fly through the back glass. However, this is just one benefit to having a headache rack.

 

heavy duty headache racks for semi
This 70″ wide aluminum headache rack features an E-Z view window for rear window visibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is it Called a Headache Rack?

It’s unclear whether the name headache rack originated from the fact that they prevent cargo from flying through and hitting you in the head, or because they help prevent a headache you would experience if your truck is damaged. Another theory is that the rack itself can cause a headache if you are not careful when climbing around the back of your cab.

 

5 Benefits of a Headache Rack

Despite the potential for a self-inflicted head bump, there are 5 huge benefits to installing a truck headache rack.

 

1. Safety

Heavy-duty headache racks are the best way to prevent tools, cargo, or road debris from flying through your rear window and causing damage to your truck or to yourself. Another cool benefit is the fact that headache racks help reflect sunlight, so less heat gets into your cab.

 

2. Hauling Tools

installing aluminum headache rack with lights
This 80″ wide heavy-duty headache rack features two locking chain racks and a full tray.

Many semi truck headache racks come equipped with tool racks or trays that allow quick but secure access to your roadside tools and cargo securement supplies. This Merritt® headache rack comes with two locking chain racks and a full tray to keep transport chains secured.

 

3. Mounting Lights

Installing a headache rack on your truck also provides an additional mounting surface for lighting and other accessories. Once the rack is in place, it’s easy to mount LED beacon lights, light bars, warning lights, or even radio antennas.

 

4. Mounting a Toolbox

Even though many semi truck headache racks have storage options built-in, there’s no such thing as too much tool storage. And just like with lighting, a headache rack also provides a sturdy mountable surface for an additional toolbox. Since many semi truck toolboxes have locks, they are a great accessory to have right behind your cab.

 

5. Cool Looking

Last but not least, let’s talk about how cool these headache racks look. A new headache rack adds a fresh look to any truck and can even be powder-coated to color match your rig (if you’re not into the base metallic silver look). They add a more rugged look to your rig, while also serving multiple highly useful purposes.

understand the benefits of an aluminum headache rack
Headache racks add a rugged look to your rig and also serve multiple useful purposes.

 

Types of Headache Racks

Headache racks are commonly made of aluminum, steel, or stainless steel (or a composite).

Aluminum headache racks are popular due to their low weight, corrosion resistance, and affordability.

Obviously, stainless will beat aluminum in overall corrosion resistance (ideal for those salty winter roads), but the low weight of aluminum will help keep your rig’s total weight much lower.

 

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.

 

Proof that Truckers are the Backbone of America (with infographics)

September 9th – September 15th, 2018 is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Here’s why it’s so important to show your appreciation all year long.

 

Imagine waking up to no coffee, milk, or juice. Trying to get to work with no gas in your car. And going to sleep with no blankets, pillows, or pajamas. The fridge is continually empty and there’s not a single pen or piece of paper around to make a grocery list. Even if there was, store shelves sit empty. Hospitals are without medicine, and assembly lines have no parts or raw materials.

No, it’s not a zombie apocalypse. It’s what would happen if we had no truck drivers and it would happen faster than you think.

what would happen if we had no truck drivers
source: CDL Life

 

Luckily we don’t have to face these challenges in America. Why? Because we have millions of dedicated truck drivers who drive billions of miles each year to deliver just about every good imaginable. Day in and day out they sacrifice time with their families and the comforts of home to make sure our families have everything they need. And what do they get in return?

Well, most commonly they get less-than-friendly gestures from fellow roadway regulars when they switch into the left lane. And trust me, I get it. When you’re hauling down the highway it’s easy to not think about the fact most big rigs are speed governed to go only 60 to 65mph (which means passing a fellow truck driver isn’t so quick and easy). Or that once a truck reaches an incline their heavy cargo loads start to play a huge factor in their speed and acceleration. And I definitely don’t know what it’s like to be strictly limited to 11 hours of driving in a 14-hour period. All this while still having a tight delivery deadline someplace thousands of miles away. My point is it’s easy to not think about all this as a regular driver but, for truck drivers, it’s a daily reality.

Still not sold on the fact that truckers are the backbone of America? Then take a look at these infographics that show the undeniable impact of trucking:

proof that truckers are the backbone of america

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

why are truckers important?
source: Trucker Path

 

US Cargo Control Appreciates Truck Drivers

We proudly support truck drivers all year long by providing them with quality cargo control equipment including ratchet straps, flatbed trailer products, and more. If we don’t carry a product you need, we go out of our way to get you what you want, when you need it. We also share helpful tips with our email subscribers and through this blog. For more insight into US Cargo Control and our dedicated efforts to serve truck drivers, check out our LinkedIn page and Facebook page. Here is an example of a recent video that we created for Trucker Appreciation Week:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlwabcrYFd4?rel=0

US Cargo Control Recognized as “Coolest Place to Work”

At US Cargo Control, we typically prefer to stay laser-focused on ensuring our customers stay successful by ensuring we get you what you want, when you need it. But we are pretty proud of the recognition we’ve recently received.

Cody Smith of US Cargo Control

“Our values are unique because they don’t just focus on work, they highlight how important it is to value our family lives as much as our work contributions.”

– Cody Smith, Warehouse Manager

 

Clickstop, the power behind US Cargo Control, was just named 2018’s No. 1 “Coolest Place to Work” in the Eastern Iowa Corridor. Because US Cargo Control is comprised of the same employees as Clickstop, this award belongs to US Cargo Control just as much as it belongs to Clickstop.

It’s a testament to our leadership, our dedicated staff, and the Core Values which direct us in our daily work. And it’s the fuel that drives us to continue working with steadfast dedication to our customers.

 

US Cargo Control Coolest Places to Work
Because US Cargo Control is comprised of the same employees as Clickstop, this award belongs to US Cargo Control just as much as it belongs to Clickstop.

 

How is “Coolest Place to Work” Decided?

In 2013, the Corridor Business Journal (CBJ) unveiled a new way to recognize businesses for their culture.  Throughout the Corridor, companies of all sizes compete for the prize of “Coolest Place to Work.” The contest identifies and honors Eastern Iowa companies that have created the most engaging and rewarding work environments. Winners are selected based on Worker Satisfaction Surveys and recognized within small (1-20 employees), medium (21-99 employees) and large (100 or more employees) businesses.

 

USCC & Clickstop named Coolest Place to Work in iowa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The consistency with which Clickstop (and US Cargo Control) has fared is unmatched.  Clickstop has made the list each year, and for the second time, the honor of “Coolest Place to Work” is theirs.

 

What Makes US Cargo Control Cool?

US Cargo Control founder and CEO, Tim Guenther has made the message clear from the beginning, “We’re building a business that people care about.”  He isn’t lying.

Genuine dedication is apparent in each US Cargo Control employee.

“We know we all have the best interest of the company and its customers in mind,” said Phil Kramer, Finance Specialist at US Cargo Control. “We work as a team and put the “We” mentality over the “Me” mentality.”

This commitment to workplace excellence may be best explained by our Core Values. These six non-negotiable expectations are more than words on a conference room wall, they are embedded in everything we say and do at US Cargo Control.

 

US Cargo Control win coolest places to work

  • Think Big & Make It Happen
  • Promote A Winning Team Spirit
  • Make Time For Fun & Family
  • Expect Greatness In Yourself & Inspire It In Others
  • Communicate Openly With Confidence & Respect
  • Be Adventurous Embrace & Drive Change

 

“Our core values set individuals up for success,” one employee wrote in their survey. “They are the guiding principles.”

 

What Drives You?

So, now that you know what drives each of us here at US Cargo Control, we want to know about you. What are your wants, needs, and challenges? Our dedicated teams are here to listen and deliver. Let’s roll our sleeves up and get started on something cool together.