Dos and Don’ts of Ratchet Tie Down Straps

Polyester webbing

Ratchet tie down straps can be extremely useful in many situations. Often made from nylon webbing which is most commonly sold in one-inch thicknesses, or polypropylene, a durable material often used for hiking and rock climbing because of its thermal resistance, ratchet tie down straps are comprised of several parts. These include hooks, a fixed end, a free end, a ratchet mechanism, a handle, and a bale. D rings are also commonly included at the ends and are usually made from nylon to protect against rusting.

What Can Ratchet Tie Down Straps Do?

There are three positions of the handle that will result in diverse outcomes. If the ratchet handle is locked open, the bale will free wheel. This is a good position for loosening a tight strap when removing a strap from use. If the ratchet handle is locked closed, this prevents bale movement and maintains strap tension. Any position between open and closed will allow for strap tightening. Once a strap is tightened, the ratchet handle should be left in the locked closed position. There is only one right way to use ratchet tie down straps, but there are plenty of wrong ways. Let’s take a look.

How Not To Use Ratchet Tie Down Straps

  1. Mis-threading the bale: If the loose end of the strap is fed through the bale so that the handle is covered by the strap, you’ve got a problem. This prevents tightening of the strap and renders the handle inoperable. The strap must be threaded through the bale and back under the handle.
  2. Failure to pull out slack: It’s a common mistake to begin operating the ratchen before pulling out slack from the free end. If to much slack exists, the bale will fill to capacity and prevent further tightening. Then, you’ll need to unwind the strap and start over, which can be quite a chore.
  3. Pulling the slack out toward the fixed end: The proper way to pull slack out of the free end is to thread the free end through the bale and pass it back over the bale, pulling back in the direction of the free end.
  4. Forgetting to close and lock the ratchet handle while the strap is under load: Failure to close and lock the ratchet strap will promote the possibility of bale rewind and loss of strap tension.
  5. Neglecting strap capacity: It’s important to know what each component of the strap is capable of. Not all ratchet tie down strap mechanisms are created equal, so make sure you know what your components can handle.

Careful, informed use of ratchet tie down straps is essential to their proper function. Make sure you know what you’re doing before making use of them in order to be certain that they won’t fail. Helpful sites.

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