If you have the need to load cars on and off flatbed lorries, then it is probably a safe assumption that these cars are important to you. Whether that is from a collecting or business standpoint is fairly inconsequential as neither is going to want to see any harm come to the vehicle being loaded. Now, car transportation is an expensive thing to pay for, with proper car transporters being very expensive to hire and even more expensive to insure. As such, transporting single cars yourself on your own flatbed is a sensible and cost-effective solution, if you are happy driving the lorry, but getting that expensive car onto the flatbed is an art all of its own. There are a few solutions to this problem, such as a flatbed with a hydraulic tipping tray or a loading dock platform, but we feel that our SureWeld loading ramps offer the most convenient and cost effective solution.
Using aluminium car ramps is really easy, but there are definitely a few safety precautions you should be taking to ensure you and your vehicles are not harmed when using them. Firstly, make sure that you have a clear, flat area to load your car; the flatbed should never be parked partially on an incline as this will give an uneven loading surface. It does not matter if the entire vehicle is on an incline, just as long as the tray or loading space is parallel to the ground.
With your loader in position, you can get your ramps out. We would recommend aluminium loading ramps for almost every purpose as they are lightweight, more cost effective and will weather far better than steel ones will. That being said, for the truly heavy-duty jobs, steel is stronger and more durable, but it is unlikely that anyone in a domestic or non-specialised business setting would require this level of strength in their loading ramps.
Positioning your ramps
Positioning car ramps can be a little tricky until you get the hang of it. Firstly, they need to be set the same distance apart as the wheels of the vehicle you will be loading. It is important that the car being loaded is able to roll up the center of the ramps with little to no room for variance so that it doesn’t become unstable and risk slipping. This is normally a standard size, but if you are at all unsure it is definitely worth checking, if nothing else than for peace of mind. A good approach is to measure from the center of one wheel to the center of the other and then use this to position the center of your ramps at the top, where they join your vehicle and remember this measurement for later.
Securing your ramps
Depending on the ramps you have purchased, the type of securing method used will vary. There are several different types of bracket that can be used to provide extra support to your ramps; these work by having extra pieces of metal around the connecting plate that slide onto and into various seams and joins on the loading vehicle. By having these extra points of contact, the ramp is given less maneuverability and it eliminates its ability to slide straight back off of the lorry. All of our ramps here at SureWeld use a steel pin securing system where the connecting plate of our ramps have a special hole drilled into them that is intended to line up with a corresponding hole in your vehicle. This provides an instant grip and prevents the tops of the ramps from moving in any direction.
Anchoring your ramps
Now that your ramps are in position and anchored to your loading vehicle, we need to add a measure of security and extra safety. We need to fully anchor the ramps, so that we remove as much movement potential as possible, and we are going to do this using either a fixing bar or an anchoring strap.
Given that the ramps are secured at the top and cannot move in most ways, we need to ensure the lower end is similarly fixed the simplest way of achieving this is by using an adjustable fixing bar that will attach to the inner edge of each ramp that you can then set to the correct width. This is where remembering our measurement from earlier will come in useful, but if you have forgotten it or didn’t write it down, then it’s not much effort to simply remeasure the tire centers. Just remember that if you are using a bar, you are not setting it to the distance you measure, you are setting the ramp centers to this distance.
If you do not have an adjustable fixing bar, then the next option is to use anchoring straps just like the ones you would use to hold items to the wall inside vans or on to roof racks. If you use these, you will not get the same stability that you would have with a fixing bar, but if done correctly, this will still give you added stability. You will need to loop the unhooked end through the second to top rung of the loading ramp, one for each side, and then secure the hooked end to a suitable point on the loading vehicle. Any metal piece of bodywork should do the job nicely, but make sure it is sturdy and do not use plastic bumpers and trim as these will bend and snap under the pressure. Once you have your securing point, tighten the strap as much as you can and then check to see if your ramps have any vertical movement in them; if they do, you need to tighten the straps some more until it has all gone. Once this is done you can check the distance between the ramps at the ground end.
Load ‘em up
Now you have everything secured and ready to go, slowly drive your car up to the base of the ramps. You really should have a banksman guiding you through this loading process, but if not get out and check you are lined up properly. Slowly roll up the ramps at a consistent speed and try not to stop until you are fully on the back of the lorry. Once your car is loaded you can secure it to the lorry and remove your ramps with a brilliant, neat and safe load completed.