Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s)

   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #1  

Sodo

Elite Member
Joined
Apr 21, 2012
Messages
3,198
Location
Cascade Mtns of WA state
Tractor
Kubota B-series & Mini Excavator
Consider strapping down a small load of 2x4s to your lumber rack.

=================

There was a time when I cursed ratchet straps. Then a friend said "this is a really cool mechanism, you need to understand it" (fightin' words :mad:). I like ratchet straps now. There are more than a few things you need to understand to be happy with using them. Its kind of surprising how many details there are, not surprising that people are frustrated by them.

1) How to thread it (the loose strap end comes out the top)
2) How to set the slot angle to pull tight first (before ratcheting)
3) What can you let the strap "touch" under tension? (ideally NOTHING, but sometimes it MUST touch the load)
4) Should you release it under full tension? Or back it off a few clicks first? (smaller units become a "one-use" if released under tension)
5) Occasional lubrication is essential. You will never learn how it works (or like them) if its simply "stuck".

The little orange ones (packs of 4 for $15$) can be damaged by releasing them under tension ONE time. Not surprising for an item you paid $4 for. Often a newbie will be trying to "learn" on a ratchet strap that he just destroyed. Thats no way to learn - it's damaged, the mechanism no longer works and now you can't can't possibly learn from it (unless you take the time to repair it). The 2" (yellow) ratchets are pretty tough and can survive release under tension. It's a violent release - I don't do it, I back it off a few notches before using the release cams.

At work --everyone-- releases them under full tension, then proclaims "they don't last". Nor will they consider backing off a few notches first. This is because they don't really understand how it works, they have no choice but to destroy them. They seem embarrassed to be told there is a better way to operate ratchet straps and are not willing to listen. Such is life under the love/hate relationship with ratchet straps. Like knots - nobody has time for knots or demonstration of knots (except if you learned knots young).

I've watched a few videos and haven't seen one that explains all the details you need to know, to fully understand them. And some are "wrong" too! Can anybody recommend a really good video that explains EVERYTHING about operating ratchet straps? The guys at work will watch a video, and I want it to be a good one.
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #2  
I'm finally getting to like ratchet straps after a bad experience, many years ago, with the first one I tried, in a store. The ratchet mechanism fell apart into pieces in my hands as I started to tighten it. I avoided them for many years.

Now I have about a dozen, but no small ones. All are about 1.5 to 3 inch wide. The cheap little 1 inch ones still make me nervous. The steel ratchet mechanism looks like tin can recycling in most I've seen.

Bruce
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #3  
I love ratchet straps and have for many years. I always assumed your steps 1 through 5 were common sense, but am then amazed by the amount of people that have no clue how to use one.
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #4  
Wait, newb question here - how do you "back it off a few clicks" when it is ratcheted down real tight (under tension) ? Don't they only ratchet one direction, tighter and tighter until you release it?

I always just release mine from tight, and I've never had one break on me in the last 10 years.

Hmmmm.....
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #5  
Wait, newb question here - how do you "back it off a few clicks" when it is ratcheted down real tight (under tension) ? Don't they only ratchet one direction, tighter and tighter until you release it?

I always just release mine from tight, and I've never had one break on me in the last 10 years.

Hmmmm.....
Most of mine I can open it up fully, squeeze to release then roll the ratchet handle forward and it will "back up".
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #6  
I always release them under full tension. I have never broke one even the $4 ones.
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #7  
None of mine release a little bit, it's all or nothin'. The art to ratchet straps is also looking at the load and making sure the straps are applied correctly. A pile of 2x4's with a strap across the top will have loose boards in the center. Instead, I'll run the strap all the way around the pile so it chokes the boards. Now they're tight!

Tip: Tie a knot in the dead end of the strap so it doesn't pull back through the mechanism.
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #8  
Wait, newb question here - how do you "back it off a few clicks" when it is ratcheted down real tight (under tension) ? Don't they only ratchet one direction, tighter and tighter until you release it?

I always just release mine from tight, and I've never had one break on me in the last 10 years.

Hmmmm.....


Releasing slowly. Sodo, is this a good-method video?

Bruce

 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s) #9  
I've used ratcheting load straps for a long time now, 3 decades, and never had a problem with any of them (regardless of size) caused by releasing them from full tension. Over tensioning a cheap unit will damage it and having a dynamic load come onto one can also damage it but I've never experience any damage from a full tension release. I have seen a strap break right at the slotted drum when there wasn't enough strap wrapped around the drum to cushion it.

A tip (for those who might not have seen it before) is to fold up the extra strap sticking out of the back of the drum and slip the bundle between the load and the strap that's under tension before you tighten it down fully.
 
   / Operation of "Ratchet Strap" tiedowns (a few 2X4s)
  • Thread Starter
#10  
Thanks Bruce,

The video shows what you need to do, to back off the tension click by click, but he makes it look tedious. It's not. In real use, you just have to relieve 3 or 4 clicks, until the heavy tension subsides. Then you can swing the handle full open and let the 'cams" release it fully (under reduced tension).

==============

To release fully, you open the lever to 180degrees. This employs cams that release both ratchet pawls almost simultaneously. If you let it go back a little (say 170degrees) while it's releasing, the cams allow the sliders back into the ratchet pawls one of which catches and bends one or both latch sliders, and sometimes bend the frame too.

The $4 ratchets don't "break", they bend the little spring loaded "slider" catches. Sometimes it bends the frame too. Basically if you are going to release it under full tension do it quickly and purposefully.

If you want these to last longer you should manually back it down a couple notches first, IMHO. But if you're OK with releasing all at once, open the lever to the 180degrees "release position" QUICKLY. All or nothing, don't let it close a little while its spooling out or you'll bend stuff.

Heres a how-to video where the guy shows you how to release it half-heartedly, and notice that it snaps back a few degrees (from 180degrees). The ratchet pawls are re-engaging & this is where you bend stuff. A lot of people operate their release like this, and its the WORST way to use ratchet straps. When you open to 180degrees to release, you should go ALL the way open, don't let it catch. (better yet, back off a few clicks of tension first).

 
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