TIE-DOWN SOLUTIONS

— New hauling  products & helpful tips —

By the staff of Dirt Wheels

There are several manufacturers of racks that allow you to drive a UTV onto the top of your truck. Obviously, the suspension must be robust enough to handle the load. That may require special tires with a high load rating, helper springs, an air-bag setup or a rubber spring helper like a Timbren. This one is made by Toy Up. www.toyupindustries.com

Every person who spends time off-road on four wheels faces challenges when it comes to transporting the machine. Even if you ride on your own property, or have legal riding right out of your driveway, at some point it is likely your machine will need to be hauled somewhere. The ideal situation is to haul the same machine with the same truck or trailer every time. It is relatively easy to set up your hauling situation in that case.

Before you can think about tie-downs, you need to have anchors to attach the straps, too. There are a variety of anchor methods to choose from. E-track is one of the most popular. The track mounts easily for light-duty use. For a more extreme use at the WLL limit of the track, the E-track needs to be attached to the frame members under the wood flooring in some way. That would not be needed if the floor was solid aluminum or steel.

The absolute best method for tying down a machine is to use specialized strap arrangements called wheel baskets or tire bonnets. These are specific arrangements of straps that go over each wheel. The straps are secured to the trailer deck behind the wheel, and ratcheted down to the deck on the other side of the wheel. It isn’t usually necessary on our machines, but the ratchet end can pass through an idler or roller, and the strap hook attaches out in front of the machine. This is almost required on low sports cars. The problem is that wheel baskets must have tie-down points directly in front of and behind each wheel. It is a very precise and specific setup.

There are other track systems. They have various names, but the generic one is usually O-track. Ours is from www.superclamp.net, and the company calls it Super Trac. It has a surprising working load limit (WLL) for an aluminum track. We’ve used it for several years on open trailers and inside enclosed cargo trailers with excellent results. It is easy to move the anchor point around, and you can purchase extra ones if needed.

We transport many types of machines. Our entire trailer deck would have to be tie-down points for this to work on every machine. Your next-best option is to too tie the machine pulling four ways. Our trailers have fairly tall rails, so when we have two machines on the trailer, we pull the front machine up against the front rail. We still tie the rear of the machine down.

These are our minimum requirements to feel safe hauling:

A. Heavy-duty straps with working load ratings well above what is actually required.

B. Tie-downs and axle straps with closed hooks so the straps can’t come off if they loosen for some reason.

C. Tie-down points that are attached to the truck or trailer and not merely to the wood deck.

You can use all sorts of tie-down points while you are setting up your hauling vehicles. Some folks simply use easily found eye bolts. Like all of the parts of your tie-down system, you must pay close attention to the load ratings of each component in the chain. These two eye bolts are similar in size and thickness. The forged one with the complete and closed eye is rated at 2200 pounds, while the other is rated at 170 pounds. One might work for small dirt bikes, and the other can safely tie down UTVs.
Our new PlayCraft trailer has small, weld-on anchor points. These are commonly available at trailer supply houses. Ours are difficult to use, and once we get our safety-clipped tie-down hooks inserted in the tie-down loops, they are difficult to remove.

If you carry your machine in a truck bed or enclosed trailer, you may have limited options for tie-down points or room to run tie-downs. Obviously, tie-down methods are more important on a flat-deck trailer than for one with tall sides or that is completely enclosed.

There are a variety of purpose-built anchor points for both trucks and trailers. Again, you must pay close attention to the load ratings of the various anchors. They can have all the capacity you need, or only enough to tie a tarp down. Note that this reasonably stout one has square holes in it. It is made to take stove bolts that have a built-in square spot in the shank directly beneath the bolt head. The idea is that you don’t need to hold the bolt while you tighten the nut. Stove bolts can easily be long enough to go through the deck and into the frame, or a backing metal section that spans frame members.

Now that UTVs are gaining in size and weight, many people are finding it counterproductive to carry them inside their existing toy hauler trailer, and they have opted for those racks from companies like Toy Up that allow you to drive a UTV up on top of your truck. Those pesky California 55-mph trailer towing speed limits don’t matter to a rack on a truck bed.

Our favorite Mac’s tie-downs have a soft-strap/axle strap built in. We find them so handy that we bought the axle straps for the other ends. We much prefer to use tie-downs that have these safety hooks on both ends. That way the tie-downs cannot pop loose. The Mac’s tie-downs are pricey, but well worth the cost. Mac’s sells tie-downs, ratchet straps, axle straps, wheel bonnet straps, tie-down anchors, E-track and O-track. www.macscustomtiedowns.com
We typically use these axle straps as attachment and anchor points to the trailer rails. We find them super secure and easy to use. We have long ones like this and some shorter ones. These are super strong and work well to tie to the trailer rails.

Other tie-down solutions range from wheel chocks to and every innovation in between. Whatever your choice of transport for taking your machine to the trails is, you are hauling weight, so caution should always be taken.

Even safer than the simple tire tie-down is a sewed arrangement called a tire bonnet. This one is from Harbor Freight, but Mac’s has extremely nice ones, and we have seen them at other companies including Lowe’s hardware. It has a hook at the rear and the front side has a ratchet strap. Together they do an excellent job holding the wheels to the trailer deck. On their display, Mac’s hangs a UTV upside down with tire bonnets holding the machine to the inverted deck.
Drive Over Chock is another company we have had success with. Once you install these chocks in the correct placement on your trailer, all you have to do is drive your UTV in place. You still utilize tie-downs with this setup. Go to www.driveoverchock.com for more info.
You should always avoid having any of your straps wrap around a corner or edge that could wear or damage the strapping material. This axle strap has a wear-resistant cover sleeve that allows wrapping corners without hurting the straps.
You can add an e-fitting like this to improve or adapt your tire bonnet/wheel nets. It is called an E-track idler with a webbing swivel. It has a WLL of 1100 pounds. You run the strap through the idler, and it lets the strap change directions. It is primarily used to get the ratchet strap handle out from under a low machine.
Our tie-downs have large, safety-snap tie-down hooks. We often run into problems with clearance on E-track or L-track fittings. We added a quick-link to make it easier to connect our tie-down straps. Be aware that is might reduce the working load of the combination of parts in the tie-down setup.

HAULING OPTIONS

California provides the Dirt Wheels editors the ability to drive wide and fast machines. We can’t fit those in our truck beds, so we have an assortment of trailers. Karel relies on a trailer with a 24-foot-long deck. Collin employs a 16-foot-long trailer. Both trailers have front and side rails, and the 24-footer has a ramp gate. Since we utilize multiple machines, we can’t rely on fixed methods to tie machines down. We use ratcheting tie-downs of different styles and lengths to get the job done. Companies like Moose Utility, High Roller, ShockStrap, Mac’s Custom Tie-Downs and many more offer ratcheting versions that have a 1200-pound-or-more load limit. You don’t want to get a tie-down that can break at a lower rating for UTVs. They are heavy machines that all weigh more than 1100 pounds and require tie-downs stronger than ones to secure a sport quad. Four tie-downs on a UTV give you 4800 pounds of capacity. That is plenty for a machine to transport safely.

If you have a machine that fits snugly in a truck bed or an enclosed trailer, you may have limited tie-down options. In this case, we were most concerned with holding the machine back from the cab. We didn’t want to damage the truck body or rear window if we had to brake hard.
Many people are convinced that the tie straps should cross like this. There are loud opinions on both sides of the dispute, but for quads and UTVs we haven’t noticed much difference. Modern UTVs have shockingly few good tie-down points. We’d prefer some part of the frame rather than this integrated bumper, but all of the frame points are as sharp as a knife.
A ratchet-strap tie-down holds with friction. The more wraps the strap has around this axle, the better the hold. Mac’s says that you should make sure there are at least three complete wraps of the strap for the best hold.
You should check to make sure that ratchet straps lock when you use them. The angle of this tie-down prevents the handle from latching all the way down. Pay attention to those types of details.
It is of primary importance that you tie all four corners of the machine down. Ideally, you want to attach the tie-downs at a 45-degree angle. Here we are connected to the top rail of the trailer—a very strong anchor point—and both the tie-down strap and the axle strap/soft-tie have a WLL well in excess or requirements.

Tie the machine so that it is secure against vertical, forward, rearward and side-to-side movement. It may be tempting to use the winch cable to tie down a machine. You should not do that without straps as a backup. The planetary gears may strip. All tie-downs and anchor hardware should be labeled with a “WLL” (working load limit). Use the WLL number to find the load limit on the straps and hardware you choose. Make sure that you have more than enough capacity for safe hauling. While we are on the subject of safety, make sure that all of the equipment on your trailer or in your truck bed is secure. Tie-down or secure ramps, fuel containers, toolboxes, gear bags or other equipment.

It is a good idea to tie the loose ends of the straps or bundle them. We bundled them and used a reusable hook-and-loop strap to secure the loose strap. It is a safety issue, but it also keeps things looking tidy.
If you want something a little different in a tie-down strap, look at ShockStrap tie-down straps. These patented straps incorporate a heavy-duty molded elastic unit. The straps work normally, but the strap will never come loose. The elastic unit keeps absolute tension on the tie-down at all times. www.shockstrap.com
Most off-roaders will benefit from fixed systems to tie their UTV down. It is widely accepted that tying a vehicle’s wheels down directly to the floor of the hauling vehicle is the preferred method. The most convenient way to tie-down a vehicle’s wheels is to mount a track system that accepts a tie-down over the tire.
In addition to the safety hook on the tie-downs, the handles lock as well. When the handle is fully closed, and this area is completely shut, the handle and the strap itself are locked. The little bump (arrow) keeps the release from moving backward when the handle is locked all the way down.

SUPPLIERS

These are a few, though certainly not all, of the suppliers of tie-downs and anchors. Note that local sources, like Home Depot, Harbor Freight Tool, Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Company, are all excellent sources.

TheATVSuperStore.com: Mighty Tite UTV tie-down system. All-metal tie-down system requires no tie straps.

ImmiOutdoors.com: Cargo buckle Retractable tie-down straps that stay attached to the truck or trailer.

SuperClamp.net: tire strap systems, tie-downs

HarborFreight.com: Tire straps, E-track, ratchet straps and anchor points.

MacsCustomTieDowns.com: Super-high-quality tie-down straps, tire bonnets, soft ties, axle straps and tie-down anchor systems and equipment.

EricksonMFG.com: Erickson wheel chock tie-down kit, E-track and O-track, tie-downs and tie-down anchors, ramps.

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