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Trailer Ratchet Straps – A Guide

Ratchet straps are a vital trailer accessory. Able to be used for almost any type of trailer load from pallets to cars and motorcycles, they are not just hugely versatile but also vital for trailer and trailer load safety.

When strapped down to the trailer, the load cannot move about to cause trailer handling problems and potential accidents, and there is also a minimised risk of any damage to the goods themselves.

We always supply ratchet straps with our trailer hire fleet, and one of the most repeated questions we get asked is on how to use them properly.

With this in mind, please read on to see our guide which includes a how-to on ratchet strap use.

RATCHET STRAP TYPES

Standard Ratchet Strap:

These straps have metal claw hooks for strength – the triangle space in the middle of the claw can also be used for external rope hooks on the trailer for more versatility.

These have S-Hook attachments, which are plastic coated to prevent accidental damage. These would be ideal if strapping items to, for example, a set of roof bars on top of a car where claw hooks could scuff the roof.

At Trident Towing we have a vast selection of these ratchet straps, from 3 to 15 metre length and 25mm to 50mm width.

Car Wheel Ratchet Straps:

Standard Car Wheel Straps:

We supply these either with claw hooks or with swivel hooks as a great-value pack of 4, with a carry bag included.

The straps above use a soft polyester sleeve which fits over the front of the wheel (the soft material prevents wheel rim damage); the strap fits through the sleeve and loops round the back of the car wheel to secure it in place.

Overwheel Ratchet Straps:

Overwheel car ratchet strap systems are now being used more and more and we also have these for the car trailers on our hire fleet. Instead of looping round the rear of the wheel, these straps fit directly over the top circumference of the tyre. This ensures that suspension parts at the back of the wheel are not affected.

Motorbike Ratchet Straps:

The above strap set is specifically designed for use with motorbike handlebars to strap the front of the bike down to the trailer. This reaches down both sides of the bike to be ratcheted to the trailer floor. The black sleeve goes over the top yoke to prevent any scuffing, and the two hoops fit over the handlebar grips.

This strap is to secure the rear of the bike to the trailer. The purple section on the strap is another protective sleeve, again to prevent damage to the bikes’ saddle or bodywork.

RATCHET STRAP LOAD RATINGS – A GUIDE

This is a typical label on one of our ratchet straps, showing the load ratings. Knowing the information on this will be helpful in choosing the correct strap required.

Date: This is the manufacture date of the strap. This does not have any bearing on the shelf life of the strap.

Length LGL: The length of the strap while it is loose, and not being used/under tension. This is the length of the strap only and does not include the end hooks and fittings.

Lashing Capacity: This is the safe load limit for the strap when in use. The strap would be able to take more load (see the Minimum Breaking Force) – however this LC is lower to account for any additional forces and strains on the strap from winds, weather conditions and sudden vehicle/trailer movements.

Minimum Breaking Strength: This is the full strength of the strap. This, and the Lashing Cpacity are measured in daN (dekanewtons) – this is a force measurement related to Newtons, where 1daN = 1kg. Thus, 5000daN in the strap picture above can be translated as 5000kg.

Webbing Type: The vast majority of straps are made from polyester: this is hard-wearing and weather resistant while also being soft enough to minimize potential damage to the strapped goods.

Elongation of Web at LC: This is a measurement of how much the strap can typically stretch when tightened down up to the Lashing Capacity.

The amount of stretch can vary depending on environment, condition of the strap and any vehicle or cargo movements. For this reason there is potential for the strap to slacken while in transport – it is advisable therefore to check the tension of the straps periodically during the journey.

“Not for Lifting”: Only dedicated lifting straps are to be used for direct lifting purposes. Our ratchet straps are for restraint use only.

CHOOSING THE CORRECT RATCHET STRAP

The first thing to do is to look at the load you are securing to the trailer. You would need to know:

Load Weight: Once you know the weight of the load you are securing, you would need your straps to have a Lashing Capacity (LC) equal to or greater than this weight.

Ratchet Strap Length: Find the best place to fit the strap over the load to secure it down. Once this is established you would then need to find the length of strap required. A strap which is longer than required is ok, as the excess length can simply be tied up out of the way.

Risk of Load Damage: If your trailer load is made of an easily-damaged material, for example a fibreglass boat hull, it would be best to choose a ratchet strap which is as wide as possible. The extra width spreads the strap pressure more than with a thinner strap and thus reduces the possibility of damage.

We have a selection of ratchet straps which are 50mm width.

RATCHET STRAP FITTING

  1. Have the ratchet handle completely closed. Locate the end of the strap into the slot in the ratchet centre spool.
  1. Pull the strap through the centre slot and place the ratchet and ratchet strap in the position needed on the load.
  1. If securing a delicate load or a load which is easily damaged, it is a good idea to place a protective layer in between the strap and the load object. For example, on car wheel straps there is protective sleeve to prevent damage to the alloy wheel trims, and on motorbike handlebar straps another sleeve is used to prevent scuffing the handlebars and top yoke.
  1. Once the position of the ratchet assembly has been established, keep pulling the strap until ALL THE REMAINING SLACK HAS BEEN REMOVED and the strap is tight.

NOTE: This step is important – this ensures that there is only a minimum of ratcheting for the correct load tension, and that there is no risk of the ratchet jamming from too much strap around the handle spool.

  1. With all the slack removed, begin ratcheting the handle back and forth until the strap assembly is the correct tension to keep the load in place. Ideally there should only be 1 – 2 turns of strap around the handle spool when the correct tension is achieved.

RATCHET STRAP RELEASE

  1. Pull the release catch on the ratchet handle and keep holding the catch in order to over-ride the ratcheting action.
  2. Keeping the catch open, open the handle out until it is completely flat.
  3. Hold the strap and pull so the strap comes out from the handle back through the slot in the spool. The less strap turns around the spool will make this step will be much easier.
  4. With the strap and ratchet now separated, pull the release catch on the handle and close it completely.

We hope this guide will be of help and we currently have a wide range of straps available on our website. We also have other straps at our depot in Parkwood Industrial Estate, Maidstone – you are more than welcome to contact us if you need a particular ratchet strap and we will be of help straight away.

Thank you for choosing us at Trident Towing Kent.

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