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Mastering Tarping Techniques for Loads of All Shapes and Sizes

Mastering Tarping Techniques for Loads of All Shapes and Sizes

As a flatbed hauler, being able to effectively secure any type of cargo is a crucial skill. Irregularly shaped loads pose a particular challenge when it comes to proper tarping and containment. Having the right techniques and gear in your toolkit enables you to adequately protect even the most awkwardly-shaped freight.

Technique #1: Cap and Trap for Rectangular Loads

For standard rectangular loads like pallets, boxes, or bundles, the fundamental tarping method is the cap and trap. Start by fully laying out the tarp over the top of the load. Allow enough excess tarp to drape over all four sides. Gather up the sides straight up and over the top surface, using the natural rectangularity of the load to create tight tarp corners. Secure all four corners tightly with load locks, ratchet straps, or binders. This method creates an enclosure that fully contains the load while presenting a smooth, aerodynamic surface.

Technique #2: Drape and Lash for Irregular Shapes

When dealing with irregular shapes like construction equipment, machinery, or odd pallets, a drape and lash technique works better. With these loads, suspend the tarp over the top and drape it down around the protruding sections. Use edges of the tarp, ropes, straps or chains to create lashings or "tent" lashings that cinch the tarp snugly around curved areas. Additional girth lashings can be applied vertically, horizontally, or diagonally to tighten down bulges or voids. For extra wind resistance, fold and secure loose tarp ends underneath the machinery.

Technique #3: Choke and Cap for Cylindrical Loads

Posing a different tarping challenge are loads with minimal surface area or containment points. Examples include buckets or cradles of poles, pipes, rods, rebar or other cylindrical items. Here you'll need to focus on choking or capping techniques to secure the load lengthwise. Use centered loops of strapping, chains, or tightly wound tarp windings at each end to contain the lineal bundle. The ends can then be capped by creating a "tarp sack" using similar methods as tying down a converter dolly.

Keys for Any Irregular Load

For any irregular load, the key is using a variety of lashings, chokes, suspensions, and end caps to mold the tarp snugly around its unique shape. Having adequate anchor points on the trailer to lash tarps directly provides additional reinforcement. A sufficient supply of tarps in various sizes, winches, chains, straps, edge protectors, and load locks is essential.

Load Securement Principles

When applying your tarping techniques, always account for the key principles of effective load securement. This includes upward reinforcement to prevent bouncing, forward reinforcement to prevent breaking forces, and rearward reinforcement to prevent shifting. Adequate blocking, bracing, and hitch-mounting may also be required.

Master the Techniques

With practice perfecting fundamental skills like draping, suspending, choking, and tarp sack capping, you can properly immobilize even the most irregular freight. Mastering core techniques allows you to safely and confidently deliver any cargo that comes your way.

Find the Perfect Tarp for Any Job

No matter what shape or size load you need to tarp, we've got you covered with a huge variety of tarps to choose from. From lightweight stock sizes to super-duty oversize tarps, we have all the options to get the perfect fit. Contact us today to discuss your tarping needs!

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