Building or remodeling a house may require loading and unloading equipment onto a truck or trailer. This usually requires the use of loading ramps. Here is some information about the various types of ramps and safety tips for using them.
Metal Ramps: Aluminum loading ramps are common for moving lawn tractors and all-terrain vehicles. Steel ramps are also available. These ramps are adequate for light machines. Some come in separate pieces; others fold up for hauling. Some aluminum ramps are curved; this can add strength and also provides a flatter angle that the top. Do not exceed the rated load capacity of the ramp.
Wooden Ramps: You can make your own wooden ramps from 2-by-12 lumber. Purchase a kit with brackets for the top, or bevel the boards at the top and bolt a piece of angle iron underneath to latch onto the truck or trailer. Wooden ramps tend to be slick-especially when wet-so add something such as ribbed rubber or mesh fencing to the surface to provide traction.
Integral Ramps: Many small trailers have a combination tailgate/ ramp that drops for loading. These are usually designed only for light lawn and garden equipment are ATV’s. In some ways, they are securely fastened and are generally full width. Larger trailers sometimes have to integral ramp; these also offer the advantage of being fastened to the trailer.
Here are some things to think about when using ramps.
Length and Angle: The longer the ramp, the lower the loading angle will be. Obviously, lower loading angles are safer, but longer ramps are heavier and more different to store. With many mowers, a low loading angle is needed to avoid having the mower bottom out on the top ramp.
Anchor: Most ramps have a lip or flap that hooks over the bed of the truck or trailer, but many of the lips or flaps are flat and do not keep the ramp from moving backward. A common accident occurs when a driver starts down a ramp and suddenly hits the brakes. The momentum of the tractor or ATV can move the ramp backward away from the truck or trailer and cause it to drop to the ground.
It is important to fasten the ramp to the truck (for example, with anchor chains or a locking lug on the flap to prevent the ramp from coming off the truck or trailer bed. Also, be sure to set the parking brake on the truck to keep it from moving while loading or unloading.
Support: Some machines are light enough that no support is needed, but when loading heavier lawn and garden equipment such as compact tractors onto trailers, the weight of the machines going up the ramp can raise the rear of truck. This can be prevented by putting blocks or jack stands under the rear of the trailer. Do not put the blocks or jacks stands under the ramps; that can allow the ramps to come loose from the trailer when the machine rolls onto the trailer. You should not stack the blocks up to the trailer; leave room for some lowering under load.
Direction: Always keep the drive wheels uphill when loading or unloading. For a tractor, a mid-deck zero turn radius mower or an ATV, that means you should back up the ramps and drive down.
Loading lawn and garden equipment onto a truck or trailer is intrinsically dangerous, but you can reduce the risk of an accident by using good ramps, anchoring the ramps correctly and backing up the ramps.