Then & Now Ag Hauling, part 2

Bunge Fairmont City IL grain line. The St Louis Arch can be seen in my mirror

Most of the advancement, I have witnessed, in Ag support have been better equipment utilized. Electronic tools have started to making a driver’s work more efficient.

Tarping has major improvement in my time. I didn’t start to work with tarps until I started driving semi trucks. My first encounter was major work and unsafe by today’s standard.

I literally had to manipulate the tarp on a loaded dump trailer very much like a flat bed operator still covers freight. There were no supporting metal “bows” the load was covered by a large one peice canvas that was fitted to the trailer. Rubber straps held it in place and the only fixed point was on the center front of trailer. This method, of cover, is dirty and labor intensive. Climbing and throwing the tarp had its fall risks. The major trick was folding and rolling up the tarp properly to fit in a basket designed to hold it when not in use. I’m glad I was young and more agile when I worked this method.

The next type of tarp method I learned was much safer since the driver stayed on the ground….in ideal circumstances anyway. The tarp was fastened down the right side of the trailer. Generally there would be four two inch straps that buckled down the left side to hold it secure. Some tarps had a front and rear cap that was secured with rubber straps. These caps had to be flipped over onto the main body before the tarp could be rolled over to the right side. To roll the tarp, a handle is carried that could be inserted into the end of the rolling pipe. Most have a rope fastened to the roll pipe midway to bring the tarp back over and secure it again

Strap style haven’t become obsolete yet. Here’s one on a tri axle dump

Using permanent mounted front and rear caps make a strap tarp safer like the one pictured. The driver can keep his feet on terre firma.

Sounds pretty simple and efficient? Well it may look good on paper, but let’s talk about real life. This method has pros and cons. There is a little more give way when hauling bulky product. Think of it like an over packed suitcase. This tarp style is more forgiving.

A driver learns to sling the return rope back and forth across the trailer with practice. Leaving the rope draped across during the loading tended to bury the rope. That makes for a difficult chance to cover the load. I learned to stow the tarp handle securely, that tool is very necessary to uncovering a load.

Sure lock tarps are generally the most widely used now in the industry. This method is fastened down the right side. The secured tarp is rolled and tucked under a ridge down the left side. The handle is the locking device to hold the tarp tightly. This method is quick and effective.

Sure lock style in the open position

Sure lock tarps recieved a great improvement in recent years. Manually manipulating is becoming obsolete now. Electric motors now do the labor and a driver can control opening and closing the tarp with a remote control.

A labor savor! The electric motor making manual tarp rolling become obsolete

This convenient option saves time, and effort. Hopper trailer gates can also be controlled via a remote as well.

Tarp remote

The control is similar to a all in one remote we enjoy controlling our home entertainment.

The cellular phone made a major difference in ag support. Now a day drivers can stay in touch with dispatch far easier. I really dont remember life before the technology. Before I had a phone I could be contacted with a pager when I hauled feed. Cell phones are more than modes of communication though. Smartphones are great to defeat boredom when committed to a wait in line.

Part 3 will be my final sharing of this article. I will be explaining the technical advancement of most terminals, quarries, and even some local elevators.

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