New Hazmat Regulation: Drive Smart and Safe

CaptureWhenever a new hazmat rule is rolled out there’s no question that you want to make sure you’re fully up to date and in compliance.  “I didn’t know about the new rule,” isn’t an excuse that’s going to buy you a lot of leeway.  So when a new hazmat regulation came out starting on October 25, plenty of people took notice.  The language reads:

“Drivers hauling hazmat may no longer cross a highway-rail grade crossing unless there is sufficient space to drive completely through without stopping.

This rule was made in collaboration by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).  The rule change had been considered since 2011, but it was only recently that this regulation was put into effect for haulers of various toxins, hazardous materials, and other similar agents.

A need for signage

While both the National Tank Truck Carriers and American Trucking Associations prefer that appropriate signs should be added to the 21,000+ railroad crossings across the country where it’s not possible for a driver to pass through completely without stopping, the PHMSA and the FMCSA have stated that they do not have the authority for such a mandate.

The concerns have been heard

There’s been some grumbling that it’s not always easy to know ahead of time when a route is appropriate or not and that certain routes might not have appropriate detour routes especially in extremely industrial or port areas.  The good news is that officials recognize that these issues can happen and they even suggest that enforcement of the rules shouldn’t be iron clad 100% of the time, but should be enforced at discretion based on the circumstances.

Photo source: iTunes.com
Photo source: iTunes.apple.com

Technology can help

Another effort to help hazmat drivers obey the new rule comes in the form of a free mobile app that can be used by any iPhone or iPad.  The Federal Railroad Administration created the Rail Crossing Locator app to help provide hazmat-friendly routes to drivers, as well as a clear understanding of the grade crossings that were known. The app can locate crossings by Crossing ID, address, or geo-location. Crossings can also be identified by special characteristics. Users can also check accident history for each crossing.

 

 

 

 

2013 Holiday Gift Guide for Men from US Cargo Control

We know it can be hard to find us guys a great gift…so we thought we’d help offer up a few ideas since our US Cargo Control website has a lot of items men would like to add to their “collections.”

Presenting our top five great gifts for men:

2" ratchet strap from USCargoControl.com

This 2″ x 18′ Ratchet Strap is a great all-purpose ratchet strap. With a universal wire hook end fitting, a working load limit of 3,335 lbs. and an assembly break strength of 10,000 lbs., it will hold down most anything.  This would work for strapping down ATVs, large motorcycles, even cars on a trailer.  Two straps make a great gift, but pick up four for that Dad of the Year recognition. Coming in at $12.99 each, it’s a great deal. To see more tie downs, see check out this page on our website: Ratchet straps and tie downs.

 

image of TeamStrap moving strap from USCargoControl.com

Moving straps are an ingenious invention. If the guy you are buying for ever needs to move something big and heavy, TeamStrap Furniture Moving Straps is the way to go.  A time saver, and a back saver, it’s designed to make the strong muscles of the body take the brunt of the lifting and saves the back in the process.  They are priced at a fraction of the cost of a chiropractic adjustment at just $19.95.  A couple of similar options are also available, you can see them on this page: Moving straps and mover bands.

 

2345-moving-blanket-supreme-mover-cotton-blanket-sold-ind_1_375 Staying in the moving theme – no guy should be without a few moving blankets. These can be used to move large pieces of furniture, to protect and cover items in transport – or just left in the back of the car or truck for a great last-minute cover when hunting, tailgating, etc.  These are so strong – one customer shared how he used one to move a 1200 lbs. safe across a cement floor, after the moving dolly broke.  This super strong supreme moving blanket is only $17.99, and other lighter weight options are also available here: Moving blankets and moving pads.

 

image of recovery strap / tow strap from USCargoControl.com

Always topping the list as an absolute must-have: the 2″ x 20′ recovery strap.  O.K., now we’re getting serious. Some people also call this a tow strap – either way, they are awesome and if the guys you’re buying for have a truck…they need to have one of these.  It’s mandatory to keep their man card.  These are a steal at $26.99.  If you do decide on the recovery strap…don’t forget to add a couple of shackles, he will need them to attach to the strap when pulling cars and trucks out of the ditch in the winter – or mud in the summer.

 

image of motorcycle tie downs from USCargoControl.com

If you have a motorcycle guy on your list – check out the 4 point motorcycle tie down anchor kit.  This will allow him to mount some small anchor points in his truck bed or trailer floor so hauling the motorcycle is  a breeze.  This kit comes will all the hardware to install it too – as well as four complete straps and soft loop handle bar straps.  This is a great all-inclusive kit for the guy who rides- all under $90. We’ve got more kit options, plus individual straps and other accessories on our Motorcycle tie downs page.

 

And there you have it- five great gift ideas for guys on your list. But here’s the best part- if you’re not exactly sure what you need, give our sales team a call at 866-444-9990. They’ll be more than happy to help you. Happy shopping!

 

What’s the Difference Between Moving Blankets?

image of moving blankets from US Cargo Control

We offer nine different moving blankets as well as a thinner “moving skin” so choosing can be confusing. The fabric and the binding of a moving blanket is what determines whether it’s the very best quality or a limited usage blanket.

Choosing a blanket should be based on your intended usage, and we’ve put our blankets into three categories for easy selection:

  • Choose one of our “Best” blankets if you need the best protection possible and intend to use the blanket repeatedly. The cotton and polyester blend fabric and woven polyester binding ensure it will last.
  • Our “Better” blankets can also be used more than once, but the all-polyester fabric and non-woven binding provides less protection than those blankets with a mix of cotton.
  • If you intend to use the blanket for just one or two moves, choose from our “Good” blankets. These have fabric and binding that are non-woven polyester so while not designed for multiple uses, they are more cost-efficient.

Check out this video for more information on how to choose a moving blanket:

 

Flatbed Truck Tarps: Types, Sizes, and Accessories

487577_10152845804082619_26801796_nChoosing the best flatbed truck tarp for your particular needs might not be as clear cut as you think. Flatbed tarps not only come in a wide variety of sizes, but they are made of different materials and designed very differently depending on their intended use.  The best tarp for a dump truck won’t necessarily be the best for covering lumber or steel.

There is no one size fits all type of tarp, which is part of the reason it’s so important to understand exactly what your hauling needs will be.

 

What are the main types of flatbed truck tarps?

image of flatbed truck tarps from USCargoControl.com

  • Lumber tarps. A lumber tarp is designed with flaps at the end to cover the ends of a load, protecting the lumber or other cargo from the elements.
  • Steel tarp. A heavy duty steel truck tarp is four-sided without flaps. This design is most efficient for protecting steel rods, sheets, cables, etc.
  • Dump truck tarps. Roll tarps for dump trucks are waterproof and designed not only for traditional dump trucks, but also many similar style trucks like grain trucks, grain carts, fertilizer tenders, trailers, and more.
  • Smoke Tarps. A smoke tarp serves one very specific purpose: covering the front of a load to protect it from soot, dirt, and especially exhaust smoke.  As an added benefit, it can help stop wind from creating an annoying and distracting whistling sound if you are hauling PVC pipes or steel pipes.

Tarp sizes

While heavy duty lumber and steel flatbed truck tarps often come in 16×27, 20×27, or 24×27 configurations, you’ll find that heavy duty smoke tarps are only 10×12 in many cases.  A dump truck tarp looks much different from both of these configurations coming in at 9’10×41 or 10’6×42.

Tarp tie downs

Just as with tarps, there is also a huge variety of tie downs and other accessories for use with truck tarps. Equipment for securing a tarp can be broken down into a few overall categories:

image of rubber tarp straps from USCargoControl.comRubber tarp straps. These heavy duty tarp tie downs are available in both natural rubber and ethylene propylene diene monomer – M-class (EPDM) rubber. A natural rubber tarp strap is best for cold, Notherrn areas because the rubber won’t crack, tear, or become brittle even in freezing temps. An EPDM rubber tarp strap is best for hot climates as they stand up well to extended sun exposure.

 

image of shock cord from USCargoControl.comShock cord. Also called bungee cord or elastic straps, shock cord is a stretchy rope with a heavy duty polyester fabric covering a rubber core. Shock cord is an excellent choice if you need to make a custom length strap for flatbed truck tarps, simply by adding a coated bungee hook.

 

rubber rope from US Cargo ControlRubber rope. Like a shock cord tie down, rubber rope can also be cut to length to make custom tie down straps. It’s available in a hollow style for lightweight applications or a solid core for more heavy-duty jobs.

 

 

Corner protectorsimage of corner protector for tarps from USCargoControl.com

Corner protectors have a variety of names in the industry: strap protectors, corner guards, etc. A plastic corner protector for tarps has a rounded edge, allowing the tarp to curve around the edge rather than pulled tightly over the sharp corner.

 

Customer Photos: Stainless Steel Shackles for Fishing

shark4These latest photos we’ve received were a little surprising. While we know stainless steel shackles are used in a wide variety of the industries we serve, fishing is not one that immediately comes to mind- especially when you’re used to hearing from customers in the rigging and lifting field.shark1

Dalton from Texas sent us these great photos of a 5’8″ bull shark he caught in Matagorda, Texas. He says he used one of our stainless steel shackles: the 3/16″ stainless steel bolt type anchor shackle to connect the hook drops to the rest of the shark leader.  shackle

This particular type of shackle is a great choice for an application like this since it offers an excellent combination of strength and protection against corrosion due to the Type 316 marine-grade stainless steel. The bolt pin design also allows for added securement since a nut is screwed on the end and a pre-drilled hole allows for a cotter pin to keep the bolt form loosening with extended use.

Dalton mentioned that this is just one of the many sharks he has caught with our shackles. We’re just hoping he keeps sending us pictures!

If you have pictures of our products in use- send them our way! Send us an e-mail at CustomerService@USCargoControl.com or post them to our US Cargo Control Facebook page.

Why Add Zinc to Steel?

*This is the second in a four-part series about steel used in rigging supplies and rigging hardware.

Details_of_rigAs explained in the previous post about carbon steel, there are four main types, and two of those involve a layer to add zinc to steel. These two types are hot galvanized dipped and zinc plated. Both of these styles are extremely popular, and it’s not hard to see why. There are several benefits to doing things this way, but one of the most obvious is that steel can be extremely vulnerable to rust, especially in areas with a heavy exposure to saltwater. Zinc acts as a natural barrier to rust, making the steel more durable to conditions that might otherwise begin to chip away at it.

Why add zinc to steel?

Aside from the obvious benefit of inhibiting rust and protecting the carbon steel underneath, zinc actually does this by oxidizing itself. Think of it as almost as “self-sacrifice” by the zinc that keeps the steel strong. This dramatically increases the life span of the steel, as well. It’s a very short process that takes only minutes to do, and since zinc is common and inexpensive, it’s a natural fit to combine with the steel needed to build a wide variety of goods.

Which is better: hot dipped galvanized steel or zinc coated steel?

There are pros and cons to going either direction.

hot dipped galHot dipped galvanized coatings may not look as smooth but they tend to last a lot longer. Also, the zinc oxidizes before the steel which means that raw steel is still in better shape to hold up against decay. It lasts a very long time and looks more rugged, but it is also more expensive than a simple zinc coating.

 

 

zinc platedZinc coated carbon steel is more economical since it is inexpensive. However the coating is much lighter than with hot dipped steel, so the coating will wear away much more quickly – no seventy years of coating here. It does look cleaner and a lot smoother if appearance matters.

 

 

Which should you choose?

Not everyone needs the additional sturdiness or durability that comes with a zinc alloy being added to carbon steel, however most people like the idea of making sure their investment is much more likely to rust or buckle under the pressure of time. While people may disagree over which method is best for them, there’s no question that zinc is a welcome addition to carbon steel in most instances, and the decision towards one or the other will depend on the applications the zinc-coated equipment will be used in.

 

What Is California Truck Rope?

Trucking rope: California truck rope from USCargoControl.comBefore understanding what exactly sets California truck rope apart, it’s important to understand about the different types of industrial rope out there.

Most rope can be broken into two categories: synthetic (manmade) fiber and natural fiber.  In recent years, many people have gone with synthetic ropes because they are often more suited for the type of work and endurance necessary.  While natural rope is softer to the touch and better holding up against direct sunlight and UV, it is also more prone to wear and rot.

 

The most common synthetic ropes fall under three categories:

  • Nylon rope
  • Polyester rope
  • Polypropylene rope

Generally speaking, polypropylene is the least expensive of the synthetic ropes and is known for being very lightweight but still strong.  This is an economic choice that serves the majority of people who find themselves in need of synthetic rope for some type of a job.  California truck rope is a very specific brand of polypropylene that offers the benefits nylon and polyester while keeping the inexpensive benefit of polypropylene.

What makes California truck rope different?

polypropylene California truck rope from USCargoControl.com

California truck rope is made specifically to pass the high expectations put forth by the California Highway Patrol Standards for tying down and hauling.  This means that this specific type of polypropylene rope not only has the same benefits as other polypropylene strands like resistance to mold, rot, mildew, chemicals, and road salts – but California truck rope has one huge advantage over most other synthetics: it has an ultraviolet inhibitor to help resist the sun damage issues that so many synthetic ropes have.

The most apparent difference between regular polypropylene rope and California trucker rope is the color: the three strand twist design features black and orange so it’s easy to differentiate from other synthetic ropes.

Trucker rope: not just for trucking

California truck rope offers so many benefits, it’s great for non-trucking uses as well. Available in multiple sizes from a mere ¼ inch in length to a solid 1 inch, it can be a good choice for water and snow ski rope, pool rope, general utility rope, and more- any task that requires lightweight strength, floating abilities, resistance to abrasions, UV rays, water, road salts, and chemicals.

Not sure which rope is right for your job? Give our sales team a call at 866-444-9990 – they’ll be glad to help.

To purchase California truck rope online, follow these links:

California Truck Rope: 1/4″

California Truck Rope: 5/16″

California Truck Rope: 3/8″

California Truck Rope: 1/2″

California Truck Rope: 1″

 

How to Use an Endless Ratchet Strap

image of endless ratchet strapAn 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:

 

8 Legends In Our Placard Set: What Do They Mean?

Image of truck placard set from US Cargo ControlOur placard set is one of our best-selling items in our vehicle and driver supplies, due in part to its versatility- eight different legends are available with the quick switch of the plates. The hazardous materials placard’s legends cover a wide variety of labels for whatever hazardous materials you find yourself hauling.  These meet the all-important requirements from 49 CFR Part 172.519 of all hazmat codes.  So one question really makes sense: what are the eight legends in the placard set and what does it take to use each?

Dangerous

The “Dangerous” placard needs to be used if the shipment in question has non-bulk packages of two or more of these other placards, meaning multiple signs are required.  This could be if a chemical was flammable and explosive, for example, or chemical and combustible, etc.

Corrosive (Class 8)

To be considered corrosive, the material can be solid or liquid, but its main trait is that if a person comes into contact with it, the “full destruction” of human skin will occur within a certain amount of time after contact.  Also any liquid that can corrode steel or aluminum is also considered corrosive in nature.

Flammable Liquid (Class 3)

A liquid is considered Class 3 flammable when it has a flash point of not more than 60.5°C (141°F), or also for any liquid that has a flash point above 37.8°C (100°F) that is intentionally heated, and is transported at or above flash point in bulk packaging.

Flammable Gas (Class 2)Image of truck placard from US Cargo Control

The Class 2 flammable gas legend is for any gas that is compressed and stored for transportation, and is also flammable when put into contact with an open flame.

Non-Flammable Gas (Class 2)

To use the non-flammable gas legend you’re looking at any gas that is compressed for transportation but is not naturally flammable, according to the HAZMAT Class 2 gas requirements in the United States.

Inhalation Hazard (Class 6)

This designation is for any poisonous material other than a gas that is known to be toxic and possibly fatal to humans.  Toxic gas gets a designation of poisonous gas, so is separate from this one.

Oxidizer (Class 5.1)

You can use the oxidizer legend when hauling any chemical that readily yields oxygen in reactions, which is a fancy way of saying it can cause combustion or enhance any combustion taking place.

Image of semi truck placard from US Cargo ControlPoison (Class 6)

Any material being hauled that is known to be toxic to people and presents a health hazard during transportation (other than gas) is classified as a poison.

You can find more information online at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) page: Hazmat regulations.