View Poll Results: Can you flatbed successfully without using tarps?

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Thread: Can you flatbed without tarping?

  1. #1
    tracer's Avatar
    tracer is offline Senior Board Member
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    Default Can you flatbed without tarping?

    Call me weird - I don't like tarping. If you choose only the loads that don't require tarping, would it be possible to stay afloat? Or does "flatbed" automatically means "be ready to get dirty with a 130 lb tarp"? Can you specialize in loads that don't need tarping? I know Gman loves his sidekit... Any comments would be greatly appreciated... Currently pulling dry van and planning the next move...

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  3. #2
    rank is offline Senior Board Member
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    You can pretty much forget about hauling steel. Especially in the winter.

    I don't like tarping either but I like it when it pays well....say $150 for zero miles.

    I always quote the rate without mentioning tarps. Then when the broker say it needs a tarp, I say that will be $150 extra. Lots of times (magically) it doesn't need tarps anymore. They just tell you to tarp because it doesn't cost them anything.

    Would you spend an hour tarping for $150?

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    Quote Originally Posted by rank
    Would you spend an hour tarping for $150?
    rank, you make it sound so simple why, of course - if the load is small and lies low it wouldn't b too hard to tarp. my worst nightmare was tarping a 14.2" tall load of lumber in delaware, which had irregularly shaped and stacked bundles. after a trucker parked near me said the load looked too tall - i got my tape out and discovered he was right. i had erroneously thougth the shipper knew what he was doing but I was wrong. so i buttonholed the shipper and he moved the load around to make it legal. he succeeded but i had to take my tarp off and then put it back on. it required two 30 ft tarps. took me probably six hours (!) since i still had little experience tarping A guy who works for the same carrier I do leases a stepdeck and he says he doesn't have to do as much tarping as with a flatbed. Maybe a stepdeck IS better in this regard?

  5. #4
    GMAN's Avatar
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    If you pull a flat bed you will likely tarp at least 50+% of your loads. Unless you are willing to tarp, I would stay away from a step deck or flat bed. Most people don't care for tarping, but it is some exercise. We don't get much exercise when we drive a truck. After you gain some experience, it won't be too bad. I have known some flat bed drivers who actually enjoy tarping. Unless you are willing to tarp, you will lose some good paying loads and do a lot of sitting.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    If you pull a flat bed you will likely tarp at least 50+% of your loads. Unless you are willing to tarp, I would stay away from a step deck or flat bed. Most people don't care for tarping, but it is some exercise. We don't get much exercise when we drive a truck. After you gain some experience, it won't be too bad. I have known some flat bed drivers who actually enjoy tarping. Unless you are willing to tarp, you will lose some good paying loads and do a lot of sitting.
    GMAN is teling you the way it is !!!! I hate tarping but I had a side kit and that wasn't bad ??? But when I put the kit up it stayed up for at least 3 loads and when it went down it stayed down for a few as well !!! After you get some experience it will be easier. All that tall stuff usually doesn't pay that well anyway (lumber and Insulation) . Most of the higher dollar tarp stuff would fit in my side kit !!!!

  7. #6
    klleetrucking is offline Member
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    Default Tarping

    These guys are right. If you want to stay moving expect to tarp at least 50% of the time.I hate it too, but after awhile you gain the experience to do it kinda' quickly and right. I guarantee you'll learn something everytime you tarp. About the only thing I shy away from is open machinery (ok guys, let cyber spanking begin), this stuff will almost always give you fits.
    Just get ready for "I don't know why they make you tarp this stuff", or you untarp and they set the freight in the mud. Go figure. :shock:
    When you're good,your work will brag for you

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    Default Re: Tarping

    Quote Originally Posted by klleetrucking
    Just get ready for "I don't know why they make you tarp this stuff", or you untarp and they set the freight in the mud. Go figure. :shock:
    I hauled aluminum logs a couple of times in the summer and of course the shipper in Brampton, ONT wanted them tarped. When I was unloaded at this place somewhere in Pennsylvania, the receiver put all logs .... onto the ground. There were tons of logs all sitting under the open sky. When I asked him what the deal was with making drivers tarp, the guy was honest: "Well, technically you don't need to tarp them in the summer. You only have to do it in winter when there's salt on the road. But if we tell you to tarp only in winter - you guys are going to carry them without tarps year round. So, we tell the shipper to have them tarped!"

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    Default Re: Tarping

    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by klleetrucking
    Just get ready for "I don't know why they make you tarp this stuff", or you untarp and they set the freight in the mud. Go figure. :shock:
    I hauled aluminum logs a couple of times in the summer and of course the shipper in Brampton, ONT wanted them tarped. When I was unloaded at this place somewhere in Pennsylvania, the receiver put all logs .... onto the ground. There were tons of logs all sitting under the open sky. When I asked him what the deal was with making drivers tarp, the guy was honest: "Well, technically you don't need to tarp them in the summer. You only have to do it in winter when there's salt on the road. But if we tell you to tarp only in winter - you guys are going to carry them without tarps year round. So, we tell the shipper to have them tarped!"
    I've heard this same story before on Aluminum !!!!

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    I always tell a shipper or broker that it will cost them extra for tarping. When you add services, you need to expect to pay more. I find it interesting when I tell them about the extra tarp charge that it can sometimes suddenly NOT really need to be tarped. :roll: On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons why some loads need to be tarped. I have known owner operators who refuse to take any load that needs to be tarped. If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.

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    Tarp or no tarp can also depend on the broker. Last week I hauled a load of drive bogeys for the railroad from MT to MI. My load was from Landstar and they said no tarp. There was another truck there who got his load from a different broker (can't remember who now) that required a full tarp. Needless to say he was pretty pissed when he saw me pull in, load, chain, and go all while he was still there tarping his load of the same items.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.
    What about stepdeck trailers? If 50% of flatbed loads require tarping the number cannot be as high for stepdecks, right? I was thinking, if I bought a 53 foot stepdeck with ramps, then it can be loaded with most flatbed loads (45 ft deck) plus you can haul machinery and oversize.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    I always tell a shipper or broker that it will cost them extra for tarping. When you add services, you need to expect to pay more. I find it interesting when I tell them about the extra tarp charge that it can sometimes suddenly NOT really need to be tarped. :roll: On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons why some loads need to be tarped. I have known owner operators who refuse to take any load that needs to be tarped. If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.
    But with side kits you can only take low loads like steel, aluminum logs, or coils. you'll have to say 'no' to lumber and most construction materials, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    I always tell a shipper or broker that it will cost them extra for tarping. When you add services, you need to expect to pay more. I find it interesting when I tell them about the extra tarp charge that it can sometimes suddenly NOT really need to be tarped. :roll: On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons why some loads need to be tarped. I have known owner operators who refuse to take any load that needs to be tarped. If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.
    But with side kits you can only take low loads like steel, aluminum logs, or coils. you'll have to say 'no' to lumber and most construction materials, right?
    Why are you so cranked up on this tarping issue ??? If your going to run open equipment then it's going to be required from time to time it's that simple !!! Running open equipment is more work than a box trailer and theres not much way around that !! Why do you see so many dirty flatbed drivers verses box drivers ??? Now mind you they (or myself) don't stay dirty but after we have tarped n tied some-thing down we are dirty'r than a driver thats just stood there n watched them load palletized product inside their van trailer !!! Thats also 1 of the reasons that this type of freight tends to pay more than a box !!!

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.
    What about stepdeck trailers? If 50% of flatbed loads require tarping the number cannot be as high for stepdecks, right? I was thinking, if I bought a 53 foot stepdeck with ramps, then it can be loaded with most flatbed loads (45 ft deck) plus you can haul machinery and oversize.

    It depends on the type of freight you haul. There are a lot of step deck loads which will go on a flat. Even a lot of step deck loads will require tarps. My 53' step deck has a 42' bottom deck. I prefer a 11' top deck. Risers or elevators would also be good to have along with ramps on a step deck. There are some companies that manufacture ramps which are also used as risers or elevators. You do have some versatility with a step deck. I have gotten loads with a step deck that would not work on a flat. I have also lost flat bed loads when I have had my step deck. Not all shippers will load both types of trailers. If you pull a flat, step or other type of open trailer you will either need to tarp much of the time or sit quite a bit.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    I always tell a shipper or broker that it will cost them extra for tarping. When you add services, you need to expect to pay more. I find it interesting when I tell them about the extra tarp charge that it can sometimes suddenly NOT really need to be tarped. :roll: On the other hand, there are legitimate reasons why some loads need to be tarped. I have known owner operators who refuse to take any load that needs to be tarped. If you don't want to deal with the tarping, then I suggest you check into pulling vans or buy a flat with a curtain-side, Conestoga or similar tarping system. Those will add about $17,000 to the price of your trailer. You can haul almost anything with a Conestoga. You may also want to check into side kits. They run from about $1,800-3,600. The lightweight kits are more expensive than the plywood kits. You will usually need to break down part of one side to load and unload. A side kit is more versatile than other types of tarping systems. And then there is also the difference in purchase price.
    But with side kits you can only take low loads like steel, aluminum logs, or coils. you'll have to say 'no' to lumber and most construction materials, right?

    You are not limited at all with a side kit as long as you are willing to break it down and stow it on or under the trailer. I usually stow mine on the front of the trailer. There are companies that make storage compartments that fit underneath the trailer. If you are unwilling to break the kit down, you will limit yourself to some degree with lumber, etc. To me it isn't a great sacrifice since wood products are usually cheap. I rarely haul lumber. In fact, I am not sure that I have hauled a load of lumber in more than a year. With a side kit you can still haul over width loads as long as you break down the kit.

    Each trailer has it's benefits and drawbacks. Flats and steps cost more than most vans, and then there is the cost of tarps and securement equipment. Any type of open trailer will require some physical effort. Each load is somewhat different. If you don't want to tarp I would suggest not getting into open trailers. You may be happier with a van or reefer. All you usually do with either is drive. There are some exceptions where you will need to assist in unloading, however you can choose to hire a lumper to do that work for you.

  17. #16
    rank is offline Senior Board Member
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    I make it sound easy because it is.

    Just like the story about the aluminum billets in the summer....if they would have been quoted a reasonable line haul rate + a high tarp fee, they would not have been tarped. :lol:

    As far as SD's getting fewer tarped loads, this is most likely because machinery often doesn't require a tarp.

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    My 53' step deck has a 42' bottom deck. I prefer a 11' top deck. Risers or elevators would also be good to have along with ramps on a step deck. There are some companies that manufacture ramps which are also used as risers or elevators. You do have some versatility with a step deck.
    GMan, why did you get a 53 foot stepdeck? does it offer advantages over the regular 48 ft one?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by GMAN
    My 53' step deck has a 42' bottom deck. I prefer a 11' top deck. Risers or elevators would also be good to have along with ramps on a step deck. There are some companies that manufacture ramps which are also used as risers or elevators. You do have some versatility with a step deck.
    GMan, why did you get a 53 foot stepdeck? does it offer advantages over the regular 48 ft one?
    Is this a trick question? Oh wait, I'm not G-man. :roll:

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