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All driveways are not created equal. Gravel driveways are in a league of their own. Inexperience in plowing gravel driveways can result in what looks to be success until the sun comes out and temperatures rise. No one wants to discover there’s more gravel in the yard or ditch than the driveway when the snow melts away. 

Here are a few tips to help remove snow, not gravel, and have success with your snow plowing business when plowing gravel driveways.

Skid Shoes Can Help

When a driveway is relatively level, setting skid shoes close to the ground can help you avoid most of the gravel. One key to successfully plowing gravel driveways is finding the right balance to get most of the snow with as little gravel as possible is important. Skid shoes are a great plow accessory to help keep the blade from going all the way down to the drive which results in less displaced gravel.

It is also important to get to know your client and their individual preferences. Some clients may be stricter than others about how much gravel is displaced. If you know a certain client is quite particular about their lawn, that client may appreciate your efforts in keeping as much of the gravel as possible out of the yard. An extra inch or two of snow on the drive may be a welcome trade for the condition of their drive – and especially their lawn – in the springtime.

Keep the Blade Higher Than Normal

Sure, snow removal is just that…removing snow. But plowing gravel driveways is difficult because you are removing as much snow as possible while trying to avoid picking up gravel. When you plow gravel with snow, it’s often found after the spring melt and can disrupt residential or business areas while it’s moved.

The higher you keep your blade while plowing gravel driveways, the less gravel you’ll pick up. Making blade-height adjustments based on how level the ground is for each location is important as well. There is not a one-height-fits-all adjustment for plowing gravel driveways as they are by nature uneven.

Plan to Make Multiple Passes

It may be more time consuming, but planning to make multiple passes when plowing gravel driveways is the most efficient way to remove more snow and less gravel. Aim your blade high to make your initial pass and avoid gravel. This means that each pass will leave snow behind. Then, to clear the excess snow, you’ll need to lower the blade slightly and make another pass. 

It may not be the quickest method, but when you plan to make multiple passes, you can move more snow while being less likely to move excess gravel. A little extra time for multiple passes can really pay off in the long run with satisfied clients.

Start at the Center

Another helpful tip when plowing gravel driveways is to work your way out from the center. Then angle your blade or use an angled blade to help push the snow to the sides. This technique will help you push displaced snow further to the edges with each pass.

You May Not Clear It All

The final thing to keep in mind about plowing gravel driveways is accepting that gravel driveways aren’t about perfection.  In order to keep from ruining the gravel, you will have to trade perfection for leaving a thin layer of snow. If you keep plowing, you will eventually start taking more gravel than snow from the driveway.

It can be very helpful to get out and do a quick check of the snow depth. You may not clear it all, but you’ll be able to confirm how close you are to the gravel and if the driveway is clear enough to call it a day.

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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The post Tips for Plowing Gravel Driveways Safely & Efficiently appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Winter weather introduces a host of safety issues for even the most seasoned drivers. Plummeting temperatures, icy roads, and blinding snowstorms are just a few of the hazards that come with driving through during the snowy season. Just because you may have reduced visibility or a number of other factors working against you doesn’t mean you can’t be safe. Besides knowing the severe winter weather laws in each state, here are some winter driving tips for truckers to keep in mind when driving in inclement weather.

Best Winter Driving Tips for Truckers #1. Stay on Top of Maintenance

Keeping your vehicle properly maintained is important for a number of reasons. Besides, a poorly-maintained vehicle is dangerous in any condition. However, during wintery weather, little problems that have been left unaddressed can create a catastrophe.

Keep your vehicle up-to-date with regular maintenance. Underinflated tires may negatively impact your gas mileage, but compounded by icy roads, can lead to an impact of epic proportions. Similarly, if you have braking or steering component problems, address them right away. The small issue that you put off can not only grow into a larger issue over time but add in a good snowstorm and you are compounding the problem and putting your safety, and the safety of others on the road, in jeopardy.

Never skip your pre-trip inspection for items like fluids, tire condition, and wiper blades. It only takes a short time in winter conditions to drastically reduce your visibility if your wiper blades are in poor condition.

#2. Increase Your Stopping Distance

You don’t need a physics degree to know that momentum is always working against bigger vehicles. Even in the most ideal driving conditions semi-trailers have a much longer stopping distance than passenger vehicles. One of the most important winter driving tips for truckers is to increase your stopping distance.

When roads look like they’re clearing up, ice could be anywhere. And even the best braking system can’t help you if your vehicle has no traction on the road. It is always best to treat winter roads like the hazards they are and be sure to create enough distance for safe stopping. It will not only keep you and other vehicles safe, but will decrease the likelihood of damaged or shifting cargo.

#3. Avoid Impromptu Convoys

Highway travel tends to drift into packs. Whether with other trucks or with major pockets of traffic, these groupings of vehicles form naturally but can be dangerous when the road conditions are less than desirable. 

When there are more vehicles around you, there is an increased risk to you, your truck, and your cargo if they lose control.  Additionally, you also pose more of a risk to nearby vehicles if you happen to lose control as stopping distances increase not only for semi-trailers, but for smaller passenger vehicles as well.

Keeping safety first and foremost, another of the winter driving tips for truckers is try find a legal speed that keeps you separated from major groupings of traffic.

#4. Shoulder Parking Is Dangerous

It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to need to pull off to the shoulder to deal with maintenance issues or handle other problems. However, winter weather and icy roads makes this routine practice exceptionally dangerous.

Very often, snow plowed off roads and highways results in narrower shoulders. Slick conditions can make it hard for cars to avoid you, especially if plowed snow results in the shoulders having less space for you to pull off than usual. Keeping these factors in mind and doing your best to avoid pulling off on a shoulder is also included in winter driving tips for truckers.

According to truck accident investigation company Evidence Solutions, Inc., “When a commercial vehicle driver parks an 18-wheeler or other large Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in this ‘recovery zone’ the driver has placed an eminent hazard to any vehicle which may depart, for whatever reason, from the travel portion of the roadway.”  There may be an emergency scenario where pulling off onto the shoulder is unavoidable, nevertheless the ideal scenario is finding the nearest rest stop.

#5. Don’t Risk a Low-Fuel Finish

It’s a fact that getting stranded on the road during the dead of winter isn’t just bad for business; it’s a risk to your safety. Any number of unplanned things such as accidents and other impasses can make trips take longer than expected. It’s important to have enough fuel for your trip no matter the weather.

One of the most basic winter driving tips for truckers is to keep your fuel topped off whenever possible. This can be achieved simply by being more proactive about refueling than you may be during better driving conditions. More frequent fuel stops can also have the added benefit of increased alertness and reduced joint and muscle fatigue as you get out and move around your vehicle.

#6. “Aim High” When Watching the Road

It’s not a surprise to anyone that snow storms can reduce visibility. So, make sure you’re ready for anything that might appear suddenly. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to keep sight as far ahead as possible to avoid surprises. A good rule of thumb and one of the winter driving tips for truckers is to “aim high,” or look down the road 12-15 seconds further ahead of you. This allows you to recognize any potential hazards and react in a timely manner – before they become actual hazards! 

Remember to operate your vehicle relative to your viewing distance. In ideal weather, 12-15 seconds down the road may equate to a quarter of a mile or more but in severe weather, that distance becomes drastically reduced.

#7. Stay Visible

When driving in less-than-optimal conditions, seeing other vehicles is only half the battle. Being sure that you are staying visible for other drivers keeps you just as safe as it keeps them, and is an important winter driving tip for truckers. One way to accomplish this is to be sure to clean the lights on your vehicle and your trailer at every stop.

Keep an eye out for snowy weather and expect it to continually cover the lights on your vehicle. It can accumulate quickly and nearly “erase” you from the view of the other drivers – especially at night. “Stealth mode” may be great for action heroes in the movies, but it is not safe for truckers or any vehicle on the road. Be sure your lights are all working properly and take whatever precautions you need to be sure you can be seen.

#8. Hope for the Best, Equip for the Worst

When it comes right down to it, no matter what the weather, driving safely is the best thing you can do to decrease your chance of an accident. One of the best ways to stay safe is to be aware of other drivers on the road and their potential mistakes. However, even the best intentions and the most careful driving can’t guarantee an accident or breakdown won’t occur. Knowing that, you can always hope for the best, but the final driving tip for truckers is an emergency kit.

Even the best drivers should be prepared with emergency road kits that include everything from flares to blankets in case you need to hold out in the cold until emergency services can arrive. The best emergency kit is the one that is always ready but never needs to be used because the combination of all your safe driving tips and skills has kept you, your semi-trailer, and the other vehicles on the road safe.

Contact Semi Service Today

Don’t get left out in the cold, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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The post Winter Driving Tips for Truckers to Stay Safe on the Icy Roads appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Communities rely on businesses like yours to help keep the roads safe and their daily drive clear. That means you need to keep your snow removal equipment in working order to avoid getting snowed in yourself! Proper salt spreader maintenance is a must for anyone working in the snow removal and de-icing field.

If you’re new to de-icing or salt spreading, or if you just aren’t sure you’re maintaining your equipment correctly, read on to learn tips to keep your spreader in ideal condition throughout the season!

Pre-Season Salt Spreader Maintenance

Though many snow plow companies have other trucks or services they perform in the warmer months, it’s still a time to be thinking about your salt spreader maintenance! Pre-season care for your spreader helps you identify issues before the first snowfall, and helps you prevent small repairs from growing into massive issues.

Inspection

A thorough inspection is always worth the time spent. The more closely you look, the more likely you are to identify issues or ensure your spreader (and vehicle) are in working order! Here are a few parts you don’t want to overlook:

  • Check lights – Checking the lights on your spreader is easy and helps keep you safer on the roads.
  • Check drive belt – Drive belts are susceptible to wear, look for cracks or other signs of distress.
  • Check electrical plugs – Corroded plugs are a common source of spreader issues due to their direct contact with salt. Make sure they’re in good condition before the season starts!
Greasing

Salt spreader maintenance requires proper lubrication all season long. But that means your pre-season maintenance is the best time to get grease along all the moving parts. You can also use this time as part of your inspection, looking at the parts most likely to experience wear and tear.

Not only will it help you spot issues, it will let you identify areas that you may have not been greasing thoroughly in the previous season!

Winter Salt Spreader Maintenance Daily Cleaning

Salt is effective at clearing away snow – but it’s also aggressively corrosive! While most of the salt will be in the hopper, any other parts that move the salt or the salt moves through will be caked in it too. Metal hoppers are particularly vulnerable!

Cleaning salt off your spreader is a daily task. The longer salt is left to sit, the more damage it will do. In the short-term, you may not notice anything. However, especially with metal, you may start to identify rust or corrosion on key parts of your spreader.

Greasing the Spreader

Hopefully you greased the spreader as part of your pre-season maintenance. But that’s far from the last time you’ll need to do it. Like washing, greasing your spreader is something you’ll be doing throughout the season.

Failure to properly lubricate bearings and other key aspects of your spreader will guarantee they wear out sooner than they should. This cuts into your snow plow business’s long-term profits!

Engine/Hydraulic Inspection

Depending on the type of spreader you use, you also have some specific additional maintenance you can’t ignore. If you haven’t purchased a spreader yet, it’s worth looking into different types to see their benefits or drawbacks. It’s one of the many things you should know before buying any attachment for your snow plow truck.

Gas Engine Salt Spreader Maintenance

Every engine is a little different, but your owner’s manual should clarify it in detail. Regular maintenance of a gas engine includes filters, oil, spark plugs and more. Just like your vehicle, any lapse in proper maintenance will speed up the likelihood of equipment failure – the cost of which can greatly outweigh the time and money compared to a little preventative maintenance!

Hydraulic Salt Spreader Maintenance

Like gas engines, hydraulic spreaders have a maintenance schedule that you should learn and remember. Replacing the hydraulic fluid is a critical step in keeping your hydraulic spreader functional.

Belt Maintenance

Many spreaders use belts or similar systems like chains and conveyors. Wear and tear can damage the belts or chains, and over time they will need tightened.

Whatever type of system your spreader uses to get salt into the spinner, it’s not something you can overlook! If it fails to function properly, you won’t be getting salt on the roads. That’s a big problem!

Do You Need Salt Spreader Maintenance?

If you’re worried about your de-icer or salt spreader, we can help answer your questions! The snowy season is here, so let our experts help you sooner rather than later.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post Salt Spreader Maintenance Tips to Help Keep Your Traction During the Snow Season appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Snow isn’t the only challenge that you deal with during the frigid winter season – you also have to worry about ice. Even the most veteran snow plow drivers know ice can’t be underestimated. When you hit the road to keep them safe for everyone else, you need the best ice melt available. But what is the best ice melt: salt or liquid alternatives?

Learn the pros and cons of these two major de-icing solutions to discover which may be better for your snow plowing business.

Salt (And Other Granular/Solid De-Icers)

Easily the most commonly known ice melt is rock salt. Solid de-icers like rock salt and calcium chloride are scattered across roads and pathways to help remove ice. Businesses and homeowners alike have used them for decades to melt ice or prevent it from forming.

Pros of Granular Ice Melts:

Fast-Acting – Salts and similar ice melts work quickly to remove ice build-up. During the worst days of the icy season, roads can be dangerous. The faster your ice melt works, the fewer risks your client and the public will have to worry about.

Works on Tough Ice – Thick ice can be difficult to remove, but salt melts are uniquely effectively against them. Where liquid melts might not be able to clear through an entire layer of dense ice, salt can handle it.

Long Lasting – Solids slowly dilute over time, allowing for applications to continue protecting the surfaces they’re on for hours. When snow starts falling early and continues throughout the day, this can be a huge benefit.

Cons of Granular Ice Melts:

Salt is Damaging – Excessive salt can be wildly damaging to the area. It can negatively effect trees, bushes and grass. More importantly, it will slowly weaken even the tough surfaces it’s intended to protect. When tracked inside via shoes, it can even damage the interior of your clients’ buildings!

It Can Be Displaced – The physical pellets of salt are extremely light and often subjected to outside forces like traffic. As more traffic disperses them, they may become less effective at melting ice consistently across busy roads.

Liquid De-icers

While less popular, partially due to being newer, liquid ice melt has continued to gain popularity over the years as an alternative to road salt. It primarily functions in the same way that solid de-icers do, both preventing new ice formation as well as removing existing ice. It has unique benefits and drawbacks versus traditional solid salts.

Pros of Liquid Ice Melts:

Safer for Spreading – Liquid ice melts are more easily applied on the surfaces you want without risk of being displaced by traffic. This means fewer issues with damaging nearby vegetation. In the long-term, it can save businesses expensive landscaping costs from replacing trees or grass damaged by excessive salt.

Potentially Less Expensive – Salt spreading is often done through saturation, spreading a large amount of salt to help cover as much area as possible. Liquid ice melt spreads more accurately, allowing for far less being used on the same surfaces. Despite liquid de-icers costing more upfront, this could save you money through cost-effectiveness per square foot covered.

Lower Labor Expenses – Liquid ice melt is typically easier to spread over large areas than bags of salt. You can potentially save yourself from needing to hire more seasonal labor, saving yourself labor costs too!

Cons of Liquid Ice Melts:

Not Effective on Thick Ice – Salt remains king when it comes to cutting through thick sheets of ice. Liquid de-icers aren’t as effective, making them ill-suited for certain conditions.

Higher Upfront Costs – If you plan to use liquid ice melt, the cost is initially higher. Liquid ice melt itself costs more than bulk salt, and you need special storage containers to hold it. This can be off-putting for smaller snow plowing operations.

Which is the Best Ice Melt for Your Needs?

It depends! Certain small business owners will find that their contracts involve plowing and de-icing in areas that would be better suited for one type of ice melt over the next. In these cases, it’s not necessarily the case of looking for the best ice melt, but rather the best fit to remove the snow and ice!

If you plan to de-ice areas with heavy landscaping or are concerned about the longevity of the lots, liquid ice melt may be the better option! However, if your area is in constant battle with thick sheets of ice, you may need salt to get the job done.

If your fleet can manage it, it never hurts to be prepared to use both! You’ll need different equipment to do so, but it can increase your versatility – giving you the edge when it comes to getting new customers.

The most important thing is to do you research before you buy any equipment for your snow plow vehicle! If you have questions, we can answer them!

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on Facebook

The post Choosing the Best Ice Melt: Liquid vs Salt De-Icing appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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The next massive snowfall could be days away. While your snow plow may be at the ready, it’s a good idea not to take it to the roads alone. There are several snow plow accessories that can help improve your safety, your efficiency and your profits!

If you’re thinking of buying your first snow plow, or just aren’t familiar with every way you can customize your snow plow, read on to learn more!

Snow Deflector

One of the most common snow plow accessories for serious snow plow companies, a snow deflector helps you maintain visibility when clearing roads or pathways. In typical plowing, snow will climb up the plow and momentum will allow it to leap up over and onto your windshield. Deflectors sit on the top of the plow and catch it before it makes that hop.

During heavy snows, visibility can already be an issue. Safety is the most important part of successful snow plowing, so it’s no surprise that a deflector is a common accessory for anyone with a plow.

Rubber snow deflectors are resilient enough to last through the seasons, without being so rigid that they’ll break from the heaviest snows.

You can find deflectors for any type of plow, from straight to v-plows.

Cutting Edges

Without a cutting edge, a snow plow is just a big hunk of metal. Cutting edges are integral to efficient plowing. They function as the first point of contact with snow, to peel it up and into the plow.

There are three main types of cutting edges, and the type you choose often depends on the type of plowing you expect to do:

Steel Cutting Edge – The classic cutting edge, effective and durable. Steel cutting edges dig into ice and cut through snow effortlessly. However, they’re loud and can damage the surface you’re plowing, forcing some businesses to prohibit steel cutting edges when plowing their property.

Rubber Cutting Edge – If the snowfall in your area doesn’t typically pack tight or freeze into hard ice, a rubber cutting edge may be a good option. These are gentler on the surfaces they plow but won’t cut through ice. They can last longer than steel but cost a bit more.

Polyurethane Cutting Edge – The perfect middle-ground, polyurethane cutting edges are resilient, quiet, penetrate ice and don’t damage surfaces like steel. While they’re more expensive than alternatives, they last much longer and perform well in all settings.

Plow Shoes

While plowing over paved roads or driveways can be straightforward, snow falls indiscriminately over gravel, dirt and grass. If you must plow these types of paths, you’ll want snow plow shoes.

Shoes on your snow plow help raise the plow slightly and prevent it from digging into soft ground surfaces that could be upended by your plow. Likewise, it prevents your plow from getting forced into the ground and stuck.

Proper use of snow plow shoes over gravel surfaces can dramatically decrease the wear-and-tear on your plow and speed up your plowing service, too!

Lighting

While lighting isn’t a unique aspect of snow plowing, it is a critical one. Preparing for the business day has snow plow drivers working through the night and into the early morning hours before the Sun rises. Mounted lights are a necessity to see past your plow and maintain visibility on the road.

Drag Blade

When you need a little finesse with your snow plowing, a drag blade is the snow plow accessory for you! These sit on the rear-bottom edge of your snow plow and let you clear snow away from edges like doors, walls or curbs.

For snow plow companies, these are helpful tools to simplify the process of clearing pathways to doors or other critical areas after clearing the snow. It’s not always easy or possible to push snow the direction it needs to go, so a drag blade gives you a clean way to manipulate remaining snow and clear it away.

Plow Wings

Not every job is the same. If you’re clearing narrow roads, you may want to keep your plow a reasonable width. But if you’re clearing a massive parking lot, some extra surface area could tremendously speed up your task.

Plow wings let extend the edges of your plow quickly and easily. These plow wings can add over 20 inches to your overall plow! The flexibility of adding or removing plow wings gives you a lot of control over your plow.

Plan for the Snowy Season

The full force of winter is coming. Don’t wait until you’re stuck in two-feet of snow to make sure your truck and plow are ready! Whether you need de-icing equipment, snow plows or snow plow accessories, Semi Service has been serving you in the Salt Lake area in Utah.

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post Key Snow Plow Accessories for Your Snow Plow Vehicle appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Knowing how to tarp a trailer safely is a necessity as tarps are a part of everyday life for many flatbed truckers. They protect loads from wind, weather and dirt. Tarps can, and do, make the difference between a perfect, on-time delivery and one with damaged freight; which makes a huge impact to your bottom line.

There are many reasons that tarping is a dangerous procedure. Heavy tarps, as much as 150 pounds, are large and difficult to handle. Improper tarping can lead to injuries – from muscle strains to fatal falls – especially in inclement weather. Every operator needs to know how to safely tie-down a tarp, drive with it and remove it once they’ve reached their destination. While safety should be priority number one, also keep in mind that OSHA may fine businesses with unsafe practices.

Tarps can be unwieldy and the tarping process can be problematic and tedious. However, many jobs that require them pay well. Read on to learn tips on how to tarp a trailer safely, for experienced operators or those looking to purchase their first flatbed.

What Types of Loads Require Tarps?

Various types of loads require tarps. The most common are: finished machinery such as boilers or CNC machines, steel coil and tubing, lumber or construction materials, some types of construction equipment, vehicle parts (unless it is a load headed for scrap), and certain drilling and mining equipment.

There is also the occasional mixed load in which part of the load requires tarping and the other does not. The best tarping option for mixed loads is up to the driver, often times requiring a certain amount of creativity ensuring that either the entire load – or at least the part that must be covered – is tarped correctly.

Investing in a quality tarp can make a big difference in the condition of your load upon arrival. On-time arrival means next to nothing if the goods are damaged from low-quality tarps or poor tarping procedures.

Common Hazards for Tarping

It may be great for flying a kite, but the ultimate hazard for tarping is wind. Wind makes tying down tarps very difficult. It can cause the tarp to flap against your trailer or your cargo. This flapping can cause damage to your tarp, trailer or cargo.

Another hazard can be an unusual cargo shape. Properly balancing out cargo for shape and weight is a learned skill that’s critical for safety. An unbalanced load can ruin an operator’s day.

As a trailer operator it’s hard to escape oil or grease. Generally one thinks of grease or oil as something to make things run smoothly, but they can make a tough job tougher – trying to tarp your truck in a slippery, unsafe environment exacerbates the risks.

Tying a Tarp Down

Most people think of the phrase, “Location, location, location,” as having to do with Real Estate. However, where your trailer is parked can have a significant effect of tarping your load. It’s much easier to tarp a trailer if it’s parked in a location that is shielded from heavy winds. If there isn’t a sheltered area, try to park near a building or other large wind block to shield you and your trailer from wind, sleet and rain. Tarping is already hard enough without the wind!

Next, evaluate your load to be sure that the weight is distributed evenly and there are no major height shifts. If things are sticking out too far or up too high your trailer can become unbalanced. You also risk poking holes in and/or tearing a tarp if items are sticking out.

Once your load is properly distributed, a forklift is used to place the tarp on the load. If you don’t have access to a forklift, you’re almost certainly going to need help placing the tarp. According to the Department of Labor & Industries, “Tarps should always be set on the load by a forklift.”

Also, note that they state a driver is required to refuse loads high enough that a ladder must be used to shoulder the tarp onto the load. Ladders are there only for climbing atop the load; never carry a tarp up a ladder.

When climbing atop your cargo, be sure that you have a good, sturdy ladder that reaches several feet above the height of the load. Inspect rungs, side rails prior to climbing to ensure your ladder is in good condition.

Other OSHA-recommended safety guidelines include wearing non-skid safety boots and not lifting with your back. You’ll also want to stay close to the load’s center line when unrolling the tarp. Remember, don’t try to be a superhero – it almost always leads to injuries or worse.

Once you are atop the load crawl, don’t walk. You never want to stand on the tarp or your load. Unroll the tarp until the load is covered evenly from side-to-side then secure the tarp to the trailer with rubber tie-downs. Any part of the tarp that is sticking out on the corners should be folded and secured with straps – 4-inch ratchet straps are a good choice – to be sure the wind does not cause the tarp to come loose and flap around.

Check every single corner for loose tie-downs and strap the tarp as tightly as you can without damaging it or the cargo. Loose tarps are a major road hazard.

Some flatbed trailers may have a built-in ratchet system. If so, hook and secure the straps with the metal bar. Tarps with a back flap require that you ensure a solid seal between the trailer and product. Folding the flap of the tongue up and under creates a seal. You can then secure the back flap with a “D” ring.

Tips for Removing a Tarp

Tarp removal requires a safe and efficient procedure – don’t just yank it off! Be sure to wear safety gear and identify any gaps or safety concerns. Sharp edges on loads are common, even if you don’t think there are any. A ripped tarp is money down the drain. You can also potentially damage cargo if the tarp is covering a load directly, instead of a load in a container.

Remove tie downs, lift a corner of the tarp and allow the wind underneath the tarp. Let wind give you a hand. Wind is awful when trying to tie down a tarp, but when you’re removing it, the wind can help you separate the tarp from the load.

If there’s no breeze, a few flaps of the tarp as you’re removing it can help. With the weight of a tarp, though, this isn’t always easy! Once the tarp is off, roll or fold it back up and then get forklift assistance to lift and transport the tarp to its storage place.

All flatbed drivers need to learn the proper tarping and tarp removal process. It is an essential skill and ensures the safety of your freight, tarp(s), trailer, and other drivers on the road. There are some challenges involved, but many drivers welcome the opportunity to get some exercise and break up the monotony of an otherwise sedentary job.

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Semi Service specializes in all types of trailer repairs, maintenance and sales. If you have questions or need a new or used semi-trailer, we can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post How to Tarp a Trailer Safely & Other Trailer Tarping Tips appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Keeping your semi-trailer properly aligned is one of the best ways to improve gas mileage, extend tire life, and prevent other costly repairs.  Misalignment can be the result of pot holes and poor road conditions. Putting off or ignoring routine maintenance and repair for your semi-trailer alignment is Number 1 on the list of trailer repair mistakes.

Why Semi-Trailer Alignment Matters Fuel Efficiency

When your semi-trailer is out of alignment your gas mileage, pardon the pun, tanks. Misalignment causes tire scrubbing and, if both axels are out of alignment, you may not notice it but those axels are then working against each other. This means they are working harder, in essence stealing horsepower and, in turn, robbing you at the pump as much as 10%. Improved gas mileage – about 0.3 mpg – is achieved when a misaligned semi-trailer has its rear axle aligned.

Safety

Driver fatigue can occur when your truck is out of alignment. The constant fighting at the wheel to keep the truck in the lane can wear a driver out. Fatigue can lead to drowsiness and even take a toll on the driver’s overall health.

Driving with improper alignment can also cause suspension component strain. Putting undue stress on the suspension can lead to more costly repairs and compromise the safety of your semi-trailer. If left unchecked for too long, it could even lead to the need for a full suspension replacement.

Maintenance Costs

Tires are expensive and the best way to get your money’s worth is to make your tires last the full length of time they are intended to last. But when they wear unevenly due to improper alignment, you’ll likely have to replace them prematurely.

Generally, by the time you’re able to visibly detect the scrubbing, the wear has become significant. Unfortunately this means you’ll be buying new tires before getting the full life out of your current tires.

The Most Important Axle: The Drive Tandem

If the front end on a truck is improperly aligned, problems similar to those in cars can arise. However, the front end only does a small part of the job. The drive tandem axle is most important to have properly aligned. It can also cause the most problems if misaligned.

Thrust angle problems occur if both axles are parallel but not perpendicular to the centerline of the vehicle. Scrub angle problems occur when the axles are not parallel. Both scenarios cause the driver to turn the steering wheel in order to keep the vehicle traveling in a straight line.

Signs You May Need an Alignment

Having your truck involved in an accident means getting an alignment is necessary. Even a small collision can cause misalignment. Ensuring proper alignment is an important step to getting back on the road. Let’s look at a few other signs that an alignment is in order.

Uneven Wear

Wide-base tires used to be more susceptible than dual-tires for uneven wear, but it’s not necessarily the case anymore. They have improved over the years and while some brands perform better than others, overall wide-base tires are better for fuel economy, stability and weight savings. But even though improvements have been made, the lingering perception is that if a tire goes down there might be rim damage or there may not be a replacement readily available.

Sudden Flat Tires (Blowouts)

While improperly inflated tires and overloading tires are two reasons blowouts can happen; worn tires are more susceptible to blowouts. Unevenly worn tires – the result of misalignment – are even more highly susceptible to blowouts. Keeping your semi-trailer tires aligned can go a long way to prevent costly and dangerous blowouts.

Vehicle Pulling to the Side

When your truck feels like it’s pulling to the side, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to get that alignment checked. If not addressed, you will get uneven tire wear and unnecessary driver strain from constantly fighting to keep your truck in the lane.

Overall, keeping your semi-trailer tires properly aligned is a small investment with big returns in safety, fuel economy, and tire life.

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Semi Service specializes in all types of trailer repairs, maintenance and sales. If you have questions or need a new or used semi-trailer, we can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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Owner-operators know, your truck is your livelihood. That’s why on-going maintenance is so important to the success of your trucking business. It’s also why quality semi-truck tires are the best investment to keep your truck running at peak performance. Will you be buying semi truck tires in the near future?

Eventually, even with regular maintenance, all truck tires need to be replaced. Although it can be tempting to go for the lowest-priced option, keep these 7 factors in mind when making your next purchase:

#1 Product Quality

Not all semi-truck tires are the same. There are many new tire companies, several from China, offering cheap tires. Beware of rock bottom prices for new tires as many come into the country with no DOT codes. The EPA’s SmartWay publishes a list of tires. Keep in mind the EPA has a disclaimer that it doesn’t guarantee manufacturer claims. It accepts manufacturer’s test data and does none of its own testing. The saying, “You get what you pay for,” is famous for a reason!

#2 Grip and Performance

The surface of a semi-truck tire can result in performance quality. Harder tires are designed for durability and endurance. They also provide better fuel efficiency. However, in certain conditions, there may be a decrease in traction. They may also affect comfort.

Softer semi-truck tires grip the road better by design.  They provide a smoother ride compared to harder tires, but they also tend to wear down faster. Fuel efficiency is generally lower with softer semi-truck tires as well.

#3 Fuel Efficiency and Resistance

When semi-truck tires aren’t inflated properly, the engine must work harder, adversely affecting the fuel economy. More friction is created when the tire pressure is too low because more of the tire surface comes into contact with the road. Overheating, blowouts and tread separation can be the result of underinflated semi-truck tires.

#4 Stability and Braking

It is estimated that 80 percent of today’s new Class 8 trucks are equipped with auxiliary engine brakes. Aggressive use of these brakes can increase overall tire wear. Typically, twice the tread depth of trailer tires is found on high-mileage drive tires.

Additionally, fewer instances of abusive, brake-induced tire wear will be seen due to electronic braking controls which account for more consistent stopping distances.

#5 Cost and Tire Life

The average semi-truck tire price is in the $500 range. Some are offered for as little as $150. The cheapest semi-truck tire is not necessarily the most cost-effective tire. Keep that in mind when buying semi truck tires!

Factoring in the cost per mile is important when making a purchasing decision. Take into consideration the typical life of a tire. Depending on the brand, a manufacturer’s warranty can extend up to 10 years. In most cases you should consider replacing tires once they reach the six-year mark to avoid accidents or breakdowns.

#6 Warranty and Adjustment Policy

Reputable semi-truck tire manufacturers will clearly define their warranty terms. Warranties can cover time ranges (4 to 7 years average) and may also cover a certain number of miles. Some will offer an adjustment policy based on tread wear.

Cheap tires from an off brand may seem like a good deal but some companies may not stand behind the warranties they offer. Be sure to read through the warranty for your tires. Consider the value of the warranty offered when calculating your cost per tire.

#7 Brand Faith and Delivery Time

Michelin is the No. 1 semi-truck tire brand across the board. Goodyear and Yokohama consistently rate in the top 10 brands according to data gathered from several tire dealers as well as Modern Tire Dealer’s list of 2017 U.S. Replacement…Tire Brand Shares. Other brands with high rankings are Bridgestone, Firestone, and BF Goodrich.

Extend the Life of Your Tires

On-going maintenance specific to tires can help extend the life of your semi-truck tires.

  • Check Tire Pressure

Almost 90 percent of semi-truck tire blowouts can be traced to underinflation. This is the single best way to reduce roadside repairs and reduce needless fuel waste!

  • Signs of Wear and Tear

Worn tread is a sign that your semi-truck tires need replacement. Though knowing how a mechanical condition affects a tire is important as well.  Worn tires are often a symptom of poor alignment or bad bearings. Replacing worn tires without addressing underlying issues simply means a shorter life for the next tire. Tires say a lot about how a truck is treated, keep yours in good condition!

  • Rotation Schedule

Though there is no exact science for semi-truck tire rotation, they should be rotated at least once during the expected life of the tire.  Some drivers prefer to rotate one quarter to halfway through the expected mileage of the tire. Performing regular inspections and rotate when there is a difference of 3/32 or more in the tread is another option.

The key is to make a schedule for rotating your tires and having it done when your truck is already in for service, like scheduling it with every-other oil change. This tip alone could keep you from buying semi truck tires more often!

  • Trucking Routes

The driving conditions expected are a factor to consider when purchasing semi-truck tires.  Softer tires are designed to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations. If you frequently have routes through regions with ever-changing weather conditions, softer tires may be a wise choice.

  • Load Capacity

Tires are a big investment for your semi-truck. Making sure they properly support your vehicle is critical. Be sure to verify the maximum load limits for each wheel as listed by the manufacturer.  This important step will ensure that your new set of tires can sustain your top carrying capacity – and protect your investment!

What is a Retread & Is It a Good Option When Buying Semi Truck Tires?

Retreading is the process where semi-truck tire casings receive a new tread. Worn tires are carefully inspected and only sound tire casings are used for retreading. The process is very similar to the manufacture of a new tire. Heat, time, and pressure applications are used to affix a new tread.

Safety of a Retread

Most retread plants are franchised, licensed by or affiliated with major brand suppliers and adhere to stringent industry recommended practices. Many trucking fleets plan on having their worn tire casings retreaded at least two times and factor that into their tire budgets. Other industries use retreaded tires as well. In the United States, 80 percent of all aircraft tires are retreads. School buses, fire engines and military vehicles are just a few more examples of retread users.

Initial Cost vs. Ongoing Replacement Costs

Retreads cost less than a new tire – somewhere between 30-50 percent of the new tire price. It is reported that retreading truck tires saves over $3 billion each year in the trucking industry! Retreading can lower your initial costs too, but what are the ongoing costs?  If you are replacing your retread tires every two years, is that a better investment than buying semi-truck tires new?

Truck, Van & Trailer Service in and Around Utah

Semi Service, Inc. is a family owned business that was started in a small, two-bay trailer service and repair facility servicing the Salt Lake Valley in 1972. Since that time, we’ve expanded to offer two locations in the Salt Lake City area! Our certified & experienced Semi Service mechanics can help you with:

  • Maintenance & Parts – We specialize in truck equipment installation and repair, heavy-duty equipment repair, fabrication, all types of trailer repairs, selling new and used trailers, and in CNG conversions.
  • Repairs – Truck, trailer, and snow equipment repair services in Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming!
  • Upfit Equipment – Choose from the top brands for your truck or van!

Are you thinking of buying semi-truck tires or other equipment?

Contact Semi Service for All Your Truck Needs

We service, repair, install, and upfit all types of trucks, vans, and trailers. Don’t know where to start? We can answer your questions and help you find what you need.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

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The post 7 Areas to Consider When Buying Semi Truck Tires appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Safety is one of the key concerns for anyone operating a semi-trailer. Most drivers, and those that share the road with them, focus on safe driving – but that’s not the only thing that matters. In addition to proper trailer maintenance and the driver’s personal health, cargo securement is one of the most critical parts of the job. Properly securing loads on trailers isn’t as straightforward as you may think, and for newer drivers, it’s important to understand the laws and guidelines to prevent a catastrophe.

The Dangers of Shifting Cargo

Proper cargo management is more than just being thorough. It can prevent everything from lost cargo to bodily injury. In some cases, catastrophic failures when securing loads on trailers have lead to death. No matter what type of cargo you’re moving, high speeds and momentum can turn anything into a danger.

Securing Cargo Loads to Your Trailer Flatbed Trailers

Every type of trailer requires you to secure your cargo, but flatbeds offer a unique challenge. They have no sides or tops to help keep your load in position. This makes it easier to load and offload cargo, but much more difficult to keep it on the bed while you’re traveling.

Unsecured cargo is also at greater risk on a flatbed. In other trailers, poorly-secured cargo may get damaged – in a flatbed, it will immediately scatter on the roads. The result is typically lost goods, fees or fines and potentially even harm to near-by motorists.

Securing loads on cargo trailers involves the use of various tools to tie the objects down:

  • Cables
  • Winches
  • Webbing Straps
  • Chains & Load Binders

It’s important to use the right type of tie-down for the job. Chains may work for bigger objects, but you’ll need webbing straps for others. If you do use chains, don’t try to get them tight by hand alone. You need to use load binders to properly secure the cargo.

Because tie-downs need to be tight to keep your cargo from moving, you may need to invest in “V boards.” These help prevent strap damage to your cargo when the load you’re carrying would be easily damaged from the tight straps. They will also reduce wear on your straps, which will extend their lifetime of use.

The last major difference when securing loads to a flatbed trailer is whether you need a tarp. Some cargo requires a tarp to prevent the high-speeds of highway travel from sending loose bits all over the road. Other times, you may need to protect your goods from rain or other weather damage.

Don’t consider the tarp part of cargo securement! It should always be saved for last, after your cargo is already strapped and secured. A tarp isn’t a safe option for holding down a load – one tiny rip could spill your entire payload!

Dry Vans & Reefers

Loading the box of a dry van or reefer trailer is easier than a flatbed, but there are some important considerations:

Shifting Cargo

It’s unlikely that your cargo will fall loose on the road due to the sides and roof of the trailer. But that doesn’t mean cargo won’t move. Movement on the road can cause anything stored in your trailer to move. Too much movement can easily damage the shipping boxes or anything contained inside.

Even if your cargo isn’t likely to be damaged, shifting cargo can significantly impact your ability to drive. If your load slides into the side of your trailer during a turn, it could tip over! Therefore it’s just as important in a dry van to secure any loose cargo to prevent as much movement as possible.

Uneven Distribution

Proper weight distribution is critical. That’s why weigh stations look at the weight load of each axel in addition to the overall weight. Traveling with unsafe weight distribution can even result in your trailer being stopped until it’s corrected.

Poorly loading your vehicle can also increase the wear-and-tear on the vehicle itself. This will eventually raise the costs of trailer maintenance and lead to a decrease in profits for yourself or your company.

Weight-Based Stacking

When loading your trailer, it’s important to get an overview of the entire haul. Items should be loaded based on weight, with heavier cargo being placed on the bottom. In addition to being easier to load, this helps for a variety of reasons:

  • A lower center of gravity aids stability
  • It reduces the risk of a trailer roll-over from shifting cargo
  • It reduces your chances of crushing cargo

Like uneven distribution, overloading a trailer can lead to damage that may leave you stuck on the roadside.

Driving Safely with Cargo Plan Your Drive

Where you go will impact the safety of your cargo – certain states and highways are more difficult to drive with cargo than others. You can’t know the best ways to secure loads to your trailer if you don’t know the type of driving conditions to expect.

Modern tools have made it easier than ever to plan your trip. Mapping tools can show you the route, speed and time you’ll be taking on your drive – and instant weather forecasts are available on your mobile device all day.

There are certain types of roads you should be paying attention to:

  • Heavy or frequent curves
  • Steep grades
  • Heavy traffic areas

All of these types of routes will play a big role in how you operate your vehicle. Knowing what to expect can prevent a dangerous surprise.

Starting & Stopping Your Vehicle

It’s critical that you understand the impact your cargo has on acceleration and deceleration for your trailer. Even a light load will make a difference in how quickly you can start or stop. No matter how well you know your vehicle, every job will have a different effect on how your truck and trailer respond.

Cargo distribution plays a role in this too! Uneven cargo can cause issues with your tires losing contact with the road. Any time you lose contact with the road dramatically increases your risks and lowers your control over your vehicle. When making a sudden stop, this can be a life or death difference!

Inspect Your Cargo Regularly

On long trips, it may seem like a poor use of time to check your haul frequently. But constant shifting or sliding can cause your cargo to get loose from your initial attempts at securing it. The sooner you catch these issues, the less likely they are to lead to any damage. A few minutes here or there on your trip is well worth it to avoid showing up at your stop with broken cargo!

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

If you’re thinking of buying your first trailer and don’t know where to start, we can help answer your questions and guide you to finding the right trailer.

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Connect with us on social media:

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The post Tips for Safely Securing Loads on Trailers appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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Snow-covered roads can be a major threat to drivers of any type of vehicle. But semi-trailer operators spend a large portion of their time on the road, subjecting them to the worst of the winter’s effects on highways and backroads. It’s important to stay safe, which is why many drivers use tire chains in Utah and other states prone to heavy snows. But do you know the laws and regulations surrounding snow chains in Utah?

Utah’s Tire Chain Laws

Utah, like other states, has specific laws citing the usage of snow tires or tire chains during the winter periods of the year. However, due to the specific nature of Utah’s laws, they can be difficult for newer semi-trailer operators to understand. The most important thing to know is that in certain areas, it’s required to have tire chains for vehicles with four drive wheels or more.

According to Utah statue UCA 41-6a-1636, all drivers must use steel link or cable chains on their tires or use snow tires with an M+S rating during severe winter weather. If you fail to abide by this law, you can find yourself paying up to $1,000 in fines, or even up to six months in jail!

The laws are different for every type of vehicle. If you’re operating a truck for snow plowing, you only need to have two of your tires prepped for winter. Even if your vehicle is all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. However, it’s far safer to chain all your tires versus just the drive tires. Winter weather isn’t the time to limit yourself to just the minimum legal obligation!

Any commercial vehicle with four or more drive wheels are required to have chains. There are also some high-traffic highways in Utah that require them.

Tips for Using Snow Tire Chains You Still Need to Drive Slowly

Tire chains aren’t a miracle for snow driving. While they will help you maneuver on snowy roads, they won’t prevent you from every slip. It goes without saying that a driver should take winter road safety seriously, so don’t overestimate the effect of your tire chains.

Durability is also a concern for you and your organization. Tire chains are designed to handle rugged conditions, but at high-speeds, the chains can suffer catastrophic damage from the impact of the road. If you’re traveling over roads that necessitate snow chains in the first place, stay under the recommended speed of your chain’s manufacturer. Typically, this isn’t much faster than 30 or 40 miles per hour.

Take Off Your Tire Chains on Clear Roads

While you may have heard about the damage snow chains can do to dry roads, you many not be aware that dry roads can do damage to your chains as well! Pay attention to the roads and keep an eye open for clear stretches of road.

Driving on these roads with your tire chains is a sure-fire way to destroy the chains. You’ll be left with the cost of replacing them, as well as being stuck on the road without chains for your vehicle. Roadside repairs are inevitable, but you should still do everything in your power to avoid them.

Inspect Them Regularly

Tire chains take quite a beating every time you use them. The more you drive, the more likely it is that they’ve worn down too far for safety. If your tire chains fail while you’re on the road, you may not even notice until you lose enough traction to cause an accident.

Whenever you use snow chains, take any opportunity you can to stop and inspect them. Just a few minutes spent looking over your chains every stop can be the difference between staying on schedule and getting stuck on the side of the road.

During your inspection, keep an eye out for any potential issues with your trailer. You can always contact us for prompt semi-trailer service!

Know the State Regulations Before You Go

If you travel locally, you’ll only need to know the tire chain laws in Utah. But if you’re a long-haul trucker, it’s important that you understand your obligations wherever you go. The last thing you need is to suffer heavy fines or even time lost in a traffic stop due to a misunderstanding.

In the past, this may have been a huge annoyance. But modern technology makes it easy enough to learn common traffic laws of any state. Most states have very active websites for their Department of Transportation, allowing you to get your information in just a few clicks. There’s no excuse to drive over a border without knowing the legal requirements for semi-trailers!

Contact Semi Service for Trailer Parts & Accessories

Semi Service specializes in all types of trailer repairs, maintenance and sales. If you have questions or need a new or used semi-trailer, we can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at (801) 895-4419 to get started today!

Facebook | Google +

The post Does a Semi-Trailer Operator Need Tire Chains in Utah? appeared first on Semi Services Blog.

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