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Securing Your Trailer's Load


 this article, we are going to discuss how to properly load and secure your cargo to your trailer. Weather you have a heavy, light, awkward or an oversized load, you need to know the fundamentals of how to strap down the cargo you’re about to haul on your trailer.

It doesn’t matter who you are; weather you are the driver, the owner, the renter, or the manager. If you load the trailer, you are always the person who is responsible for safety of the cargo and the trailer itself. It doesn’t matter if you are hauling something that is very expensive or extremely cheap, weather its yours or someone else’s; it’s not just your own safety that is at risk when strapping down the load on the trailer you are hauling. There are many different types of trailers out there, but knowing how to successfully and safely strap it down will help everyone!

First you need to choose what type of tie down you will be using. Some tie downs will require more effort, and some will require more strategic placement. The main types of tie downs available today are ratchet straps, cam straps, and chains. Chains need little explanation, they are linked chains of metal that will be strong and sturdy for a tie down but do not have a flat non-abrasive surface like a strap. It’s best not to use on items that are fragile or easily breakable. Both Ratchet and Cam straps use polyester webbing as a material for tie downs, but there are fundamental differences between them. A Ratchet’s straps will tighten as you operate a lever. With a ratchet, it is possible to over tighten and damage a load, but ratchet straps are able to hold more tension than a cam strap. A cam strap is a spring loaded multi-toothed cam that prevents the web from slipping after a strap is fully tightened. A cam strap is easier and faster to use, and uses a pulley system where you tighten by pulling the free end of a strap. A cam strap is also generally less expensive because it has less mechanical parts.

The first thing that you need to figure out before strapping down your cargo, is how many tie downs will be necessary for the weight capacity you are hauling or towing. The standard for tie downs is that the strap should have a combined strength of at least 50% of the load being strapped down. For example, if you are towing or hauling a load that is 5,000 lbs, your tie-downs or chains should be able to support at least 2,500 lbs. And for preliminary measures, please always inspect your chains and straps before use. Make sure there are no damages, cracks, splits, frayed ends, or fatigued links. Also be sure that your trailer is up to code on all of the regulations.

Now that you have determined the capacity of your trailer and the correct tie downs needed, you need to determine how and where to place the cargo on your trailer. Always contemplate distributing the weight of the cargo amongst the trailer axels. If you have too much weight towards the front of the trailer it can affect the steering of the trailer. If you have too much weight towards the rear of the trailer it can affect braking, traction and steering, not to mention can make your trailer tires wear unevenly. If your trailer is loaded evenly all the way around the trailer, you can normally determine that your cargo or load is distributed evenly.

When trying to figure out what to strap down when tying down your load, note that it is far easier to know where to strap down onto a trailer than on the cargo itself. If you are trying to link to the cargo, have knowledge of what you are strapping down to, or you may damage a part or item that was not stable enough to tie down to. Another thing to think about while you are figuring out how to tie down your cargo to your trailer is the angle that the straps will be placed at. The best angle to tie down anything on a trailer is at 45 degrees. This will not only help avoid your cargo sliding sideways, it will also hold your cargo down to the trailer, also preventing it from moving, jolting, or slipping.

Overall, no matter what you are hauling or towing, you need to make sure you have safely loaded and strapped or tied down your trailer. Always refer to the trailer manufacturer’s manual when locating proper and secure tie down locations. This will ensure the safety of not only yourself but also the safety of others around you as well. Unsafely loaded trailers can fish-tale, brake unevenly, steer irregularly, and even have a loss of traction. If you center your cargo load over your axles, use necessary straps/chains at 45 degree angles, your cargo will be securely tired down and unable to move around on your journey to your destination.

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