L-track tie down rails are incredibly versatile. With lengths ranging from 2″ single points to full 96″-length track, you can easily add a few tie down points to a small space on an open utility garden trailer to tie down a mower, or create several tie down anchor points in a full-sized enclosed trailer to secure multiple motorcycles.
In this video, we installed six 48″ rails and two wheel chocks to convert a snowmobile trailer to a dirt bike trailer that can accommodate two motorcycles.
Also keep in mind that even though it’s tempting to just throw straps in a pile or bucket, taking the time to wind up a strap is also an ideal time to inspect the webbing for rips, tears, and abrasions.
Some of the great tie down storage ideas we received:
Plastic zip ties. Traditional zip ties are generally a one-time use, so these are great if you intend to secure and store away your tie downs for awhile. If you use your straps repeatedly, pick up the reusable zip ties that have a release mechanism.
Plastic stretch wrap. Popular in the moving industry, stretch wrap is great because it can secure cargo compactly, yet is re-positionable and doesn’t have sticky adhesive to leave residue behind. For tie down straps, simple wind up tightly and roll a few layers of stretch wrap around it to keep it in place.
Rubber band. Simple, fast and easy, but these can quickly become brittle and break, especially with extended sun exposure or extreme temperatures, so you may need to replace often. Another variation that will last a bit longer: elastic hair bands.
Plastic freezer bags. Gallon-sized plastic bags work great to not only secure the strap in a loop, they’ll keep them dry too. Gallon-sized bags will accommodate 1″ straps. Larger-sized bags with 2-gallon, 3-gallon, and larger sizes are becoming more common and are great for storing straps with wider webbing.
Bungee balls. These handy ties come in a bulk package of 100 so you’ll have plenty to wrap up your tie down straps, and some left over for other uses: securing canopies, keeping box lids closed, anchoring yard ornaments, bundling tent poles, etc.
Tackle box. Pick up one with dividers; they’re great for storing smaller 1″ straps. An old briefcase is another idea for larger straps. The narrow height keeps them rolled and intact.
Bungee cords. Like bungee balls, the uses are endless with bungee. Our bungee cord selection comes in a wide range of sizes, sure to fit around even your largest 4″ winch straps or ratchet straps.
Plastic storage boxes. These are a great idea if you’ll be keeping them on a shelf in a garage or shed. Plastic storage boxes come in so many sizes, find one that’s small enough to keep the strap wrapped compactly. Be sure to purchase boxes with clear sides so you can easily see what’s inside without having to open the box. Most have a molded lid design that makes them easy to stack, too.
With winter weather pretty much over (we hope!), it’s a good time to clean and inspect your tie down straps for wear and tear.
Whether you use 1″ ratchet straps to tie down a motorcycle in an enclosed trailer, or you’re a flatbed truck driver using 4″ winch straps, it’s important to regularly inspect straps, clean them, and store properly when not in use. Not only will these best practices extend the working life of the strap, they can also be the difference between a safe trip and a disastrous haul.
Inspecting a tie down strap
Besides holes, tears, and knots, check for these sometimes less-obvious indications of wear:
Broken stitching in the stitch patterns
Weld splatter, or any areas of melting or charring
Damage caused from UV rays: color looks bleached or webbing feels stiff
Small particles embedded in the webbing
Burnt areas caused by acid, alkali, or other chemicals
Cracks, pits, or corrosion on ratchets, cam buckles, hooks, and other fittings.
Unusual wear patterns of webbing at the point of contact with the fitting
After a thorough inspection, create a record with dates to keep on file. Write your notes in a notebook, or keep an electronic file on your computer; either way, it’s a good idea to also take photos of straps so you can refer to them if needed during the next inspection.
How often should you inspect tie down straps? The WSTDA suggests an initial inspection before the strap is placed in service; then again each time before the strap is used. Periodic inspections should be based on: how often the straps are used and the severity of the conditions the strap is used in. You can also use your experience of using tie downs in similar applications to know how often a strap should be inspected.
How to clean tie down straps
Keeping straps clean is one of the best ways to extend their working life. Mix a mild detergent with warm water and scrub with a quality scrub brush to loosen any dirt and debris. Avoid bleach-based cleansers or any with acid additives.
Even though the polyester fabrication of tie down strap webbing limits water absorption, it’s still best practice to hang straps to allow for thorough air drying.
Tie down strap storage
Straps can be hung on walls, stored in plastic bags or fabric bags, etc., but a good rule of thumb is to be sure and keep them in a dry area away from sunlight.
An endless ratchet strap is designed to bundle or band items together, so it’s great for use on a pallet, moving dolly, etc. Sometimes called “endless loop ratchet straps” or just an “endless strap,” they’re available in a variety of widths, lengths, and colors.
Because a ratchet can be tensioned tightly, it’s a good idea to add corner protectors if you’re strapping together loads that may have delicate or crushable edges. Another option to consider for more fragile loads is an endless cam buckle strap since a cam buckle cannot be over-tightened the same way a ratchet strap can.
1.) Feed the strap through the bottom of the pallet, keeping the strap going the same direction as the fork truck tines. This will prevent the strap from being damaged by the tines.
2.) Bring the loose end of the strap over the top of the pallet and feed the webbing onto the mandrel take up spool of the ratchet. Pull the extra webbing through so that the slack is out of the strap. Failure to perform this step will result in too much webbing being spooled onto the take-up spool and will cause it to jam before the strap is fully tightened. In severe cases you will damage the ratchet assembly and/or you will have to cut the webbing off.
3.) Place corner protectors as needed over the edges of the cargo. This is especially useful if you have cardboard boxes or fragile cargo that will cave in or break when the strap is tightened. Corner protectors are also good for protecting the strap from abrasive cargo such as bricks to increase their life expectancy.
4.) Once you’ve removed the extra slack from the strap, you can begin to ratchet it down to your desired tension.
For more information or to purchase products in this video, click on the links below:
Some of the most common questions we receive from our customers are about the use of a ratchet strap. Along with questions about break strengths, working load limits, and safety guidelines, are those about how to use these versatile tie down straps: “How to thread a ratchet strap,” “How to release a ratchet strap,” or something similar. If you’ve never used one of these versatile tie down straps, assembling one for the first time can be confusing.
You can check out this video about ratchet straps and cam straps, which shows how to put together an assembly. We’ve also created the handy photo demonstration below for quick and easy reference.
All of our ratchet straps are DOT-approved and are manufactured with labels attached that include break strength and work load limit information. They also meet several requirements, including:
If the webbing on your ratchet straps, cam straps or winch straps is showing signs of wear and tear, they need to be replaced. According to the Web Sling and Tie Down Association (WSTDA), web tie down straps should no longer be used if tears, holes, snags, cuts or embedded particles are evident that could raise doubt about the tie down’s strength. They should also be replaced if the work load limit (WLL) information is no longer visible on the webbing.
Replacement tie down straps
Replacement tie down straps are a great choice for because you’ll need to buy only the end that needs replacing. Several options are available, including wire hooks, chain extensions, and flat hooks. Replacement straps can also be used to easily turn a winch strap into a ratcheting strap. Polyester webbing replacement straps can be purchased in 2″, 3″ and 4″ widths.
Polyester cargo webbing
If you only need to replace the webbing on your current ratchet straps, cam straps or winch straps, you can purchase polyester cargo webbing by the foot. This way you only buy the lengths that you need. It’s available in a range of colors and in 1″, 2″, 3″, and 4″ widths.
Like ratchet straps, cam buckle straps are great for securing a load. But the method of tightening with a cam buckle strap makes it less likely that you’ll over-tighten and damage cargo. Cam buckles are tightened by pulling the strap rather than with a ratcheting action, so the strap can be tensioned only as tight as your strength allows.
Cam straps are ideal for securing cargo on a pallet, trailer, or in a truck, but they’re also a great all-purpose strap for use around the home, shop, garage, farm, etc. An endless cam buckle strap is a one-piece design so it’s easy to use and to store.
Webbing tie down straps like ratchet straps and cam buckle straps should be marked with a tag indicating the break strength and working load limit.
What does the break strength mean on tie downs?
According to the Web Sling and Tie Down Association (WSTDA), breaking strength is the load in pounds or kilograms at which point any load bearing part of the synthetic web tie down fails.
What does working load limit mean?
The working load limit, also marked at WLL, is the maximum allowable load assigned to each synthetic web tie down by the manufacturer which is not to exceed one-third of the complete assembly breaking strength. This means a strap with a break strength of 16,200 lbs. would have a WLL of 5,400 lbs.
There’s no question that e-track can add incredible versatility to an enclosed trailer, van trailer, truck or flatbed trailer. By creating numerous tie-down points, you can safely secure and haul a variety of cargo- from motorcycles and ATVs to pallets and construction supplies. But what are the differences between horizontal E track and vertical E track and which is the best choice for your needs?
Vertical e-track has rectangular slots that run parallel with the e-track rail. Vertical e-track is commonly used in van trailers and is an excellent way to provide a support system for shoring beams (or “decking beams”), which creates a second level for cargo. Compared to horizontal e-track, vertical e-track has a narrower profile and permits d-rings to be mounted perpendicular to the floor.
Our vertical E-track is sold in 5′ sections.
Horizontal e-track has rectangular slots that run perpendicular (at 90 degree angles) to the track rail, which provides more anchor points per foot.
Horizontal etrack installed on the walls of a trailer gives you not only anchor points for tie-downs, but also allows you to secure equipment such as spare tires or other objects flat against the wall.
Our horizontal E-track is sold in 2′, 5′, 8′ and 10′ sections.
Both horizontal etrack and vertical etrack are available in galvanized steel and a dark green powder-coat finish, and can be mounted on the floor or bed of a trailer as well as on the walls of enclosed trailers and cargo vans.