Industry News & New Products

  • Choosing & Caring for Winch Lines

    by Brittany Stange | Dec 07, 2018

    Learn the different strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of winch lines, as well as how to properly care for winch lines.

    Winch Lines

    Wire winch lines are the heart of our recovery operations. A damaged line is a serious safety issue and a broken one removes a recovery vehicle from service. Unfortunately, winch lines are often misunderstood. In this article I will cover the basics of winch lines (commonly called wire ropes). I will discuss both what to look for during an inspection of your winch line and how to select a new winch line.

    Rope Cores: Rope cores serve as the foundation for the strands. They keep the rope round and strands properly positioned. There are 3 different core types: fiber core, independent wire core (IWRC) and strand core. Fiber core offers the greatest flexibility. It is commonly made of polypropylene fibers, but natural fiber options are also available. Independent wire rope core (IWRC) is made of wire rope. It is the strongest type of core available and is 10-15% stronger than fiber core. Strand Core is made of stands of wires. It is least flexible of the three types discussed and is mostly used on utility cables.


    Rope Grades: The most common rope today is extra improved plow steel (EIP or XIP). It is typically used on winch lines and is generally 15% stronger than improved plow steel grade (IPS). Extra extra improved plow steel grade (EEIP or XXIP) is also available for added strength in higher rated equipment.

    Rope Types: Bright wire is un-coated and is the most commonly used winch line. Another option is galvanized wire, which improves corrosion resistance. However, galvanization can reduce a wire’s strength up to 10% compared to bright wire unless the wire is drawn again. Stainless steel wire contains chromium and nickel. It is very corrosion resistant and used primarily on yachts or as control cables.

    Construction: Construction determines how the wire rope performs. For instance, a 6 x 19 rope will have 6 strands of rope that have between 19 to 26 wires. Each added wire makes for better abrasion resistance. A 6 x 37 construction has 27 to 49 wires and is more flexible, while a 19 x 7 construction is rotation resistant.

    Lay: There are two categories of lay, directional lay and lay orientation. Directional lay refers to what direction the strands of the rope face when you are looking down the rope, and lay orientation refers to the direction the wires within the strands are twisted. Directional lay is either right or left. Lay orientation is either regular or lang. In regular lay, the wires are twisted in one direction while the strands are twisted in the opposite direction. In lang lay, the wires are laid in the same direction as the strand in the rope. Regular lay ropes are less likely to untwist. They are also less likely to fail because of crushing and distortion; however, they are less flexible than lang lay ropes. Wire winch lines use right regular lay construction.

    Design Factors: Design factors are safety factors required by government and industry organizations for wire rope. While they vary depending on application, typical towing winch lines have a 3:1 design factor, while lifting wire ropes have a 5:1 factor.

    During a winch line’s “useful life” all wire rope will gradually lose strength due to surface wear and metal fatigue. Metal fatigue is caused by normal use of the winch line but is made worse by excessive bending, which can be caused by a sheave that is too small. Inspecting your winch lines periodically for damage can save you many headaches on the road. Unfortunately, I suspect many can relate to having a winch line break that’s connected to a car with its owner watching. It’s never a pleasant or inexpensive experience! Below is mechanical damage to look for when inspecting your winch line and determining whether to remove it from service.

    • Hook damage: Look for any cracks or deformation of hooks. If the throat opening has been enlarged by 15% or twisted out of plane by 10%, it needs replacing.

    • Broken Wires: Pulling winch lines across edges, fatigue or overload can all break individual wires. If you find five or more broken wires in a single strand or 10 or more in one lay, the wire should be replaced.

    • Wear: Dragging a winch line on the ground or loading over the winch line will cause flat areas on individual wires of the cable. If these wires have lost 1/3 or more of the original diameter the line needs to be taken out of service.

    • Corrosion/Heat Damage: Any discoloration from rust or lack of lubrication promotes fatigue. If the wire rope is severely pitted or individual wires rusted through, replace the line. Fiber core slings need to stay below 180°F and steel core below 400°F. Exceeding these heats greatly reduce wire rope strength.

    • Kinking: Shock loading or forcing the line against an edge causes bent strands. This prevents the rope from rotating properly and greatly reduces its strength, making it necessary to replace the rope. Use load pads to protect the line and prevent this.

    • Crushing: A load set on top of a winch line can flatten the cable. This has the same effect as kinking, making it necessary to remove the line from service.

    When you are inspecting your winch line and have not found any damage that would require replacement, it is an ideal opportunity to lubricate the line to get the maximum service life possible. Be sure to use a lubricant especially made for wire rope. Proper lubrication reduces internal friction within the wires and strands of the wire rope. In addition, it protects the rope from oxidation and corrosion.

    When selecting a new winch line it should be based on the diameter, length and type recommended by the winch manufacturer for the model of winch you own. This information can be found on the winch nameplate, otherwise you can contact the winch manufacturer or local supplier. Beyond making sure your rope is compatible with your winch, there are a few other things you may want to consider. First, swivel hooks will help relieve rotational tension as the rope moves, so you may want to invest in them. Also, keep in mind that imported ropes can provide substantial cost savings without sacrificing quality. To reduce damage to whatever winch line you choose, use roller guides and tension plates. These aid in the proper winding of wire rope on the winch drum.

    Periodic inspections and lubrication of your winch line will save your business money, but more importantly, keep your employees safe and your customers happy. That is the heart of our industry.

    See all our Winch Line Products >>
  • Winter weather is here!

    by Brittany Stange | Nov 28, 2018
    Work King jackets and bibs are some of the warmest and most functional winter wear you will ever own! It's simply the best.

    Work King Winter Wear

    It's not too late! Order your new high-visibility winter wear now at Zips.com. We have great Work King jackets, bibs and more on hand, ready to go to work for you! Order now! 
  • Make your Jump-Start Pack Last!

    by Brittany Stange | Oct 30, 2018

    Tips for Preserving the Life of Jump-Start Packs

    portable jump packs

    Older vehicle batteries show their age in the cold temperatures. Fortunately, the jump-start pack is an operator’s best friend in these types of conditions. A quick boost will get many customers back on the road and you off to the next call. In order to keep your jump packs working when you need them, here are a few tips.

    • Keep the jump pack charged according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Yes, this seems like an easy one, but jump packs have different charging techniques. Some packs have built-in overcharge protection so they can be plugged in all the time while others require charging for a specific timeframe and then must be removed from the power source. Constant charging will damage the battery on packs on units without overcharge protectors.

    • Jump-start packs require cool-down periods between jumps. The high amperage needed to start a vehicle heats up the internal components of the jump pack. The timeframe varies depending on the manufacturer, but in general, after 6 seconds of trying to jump-start start a vehicle, a pack will need 3 minutes of cool down time.

    • Cold temperatures reduce the capacity of the jump-start pack. Keep the pack warm between uses.

    • Train employees on the proper hook-up of the battery hand clamps per manufacturer instructions.

    • Use to charge non-frozen lead-acid batteries only.


    Browse jump-start pack options here >>

  • Top Tire Chain Tips

    by Brittany Stange | Oct 25, 2018

    Helpful Winter Towing Hints

     

    Tire Chains

    In many parts of the country, winter season is not far off. Having the most traction possible for snow and ice covered roads is very important for safety. For those unsafe snowy and icy weather conditions in which tires alone do not suffice, one of the best ways to gain additional traction is the use of tire chains (also referred to as snow chains).

    Tire chains or cables are selected based on the size of the vehicle and the amount of wheel clearance available on the vehicle. The tire chain manufacturer/retailer will have information on the correct size of tire chain while the vehicle manufacturer will have information on the clearance, usually in the vehicle owner’s manual. When first purchased, all tire chains need to be properly fit to your tires for best performance, traction and safety. They need to be as tight as possible by hand and then readjusted after driving a short distance. If needed, rubber or spring chain adjusters can be used.

    Helpful Hints:

    • The maximum driving speed with tire chains is 30 mph

    • Fit and practice installation of tire chains before you need to use them

    • It’s much easier to install tire chains for winter safety before losing traction vs. after you’re stuck

    • If installing chains on the side of the road, always wear appropriate high visibility apparel.

    • Do not deflate tires to install tire chains

    • Extra links can be cut off or secured to the side chain

    • Mount so the cut ends of the cross chain hooks are away from the tire

    • Avoid twists and kinks in the side and the cross chains

    • If a cross chain should break, immediately repair or remove

    Various states have different statutes regarding tire chains, so it is best to check with your state’s Department of Transportation or towing association. In general, most states either allow the use of tire chains outright within certain calendar dates or permit them during hazardous, snowy weather or related incidents as long as they do not damage the highway surface.

     

    Shop Tire Chains from Zip’s AW Direct >>


  • A safer and stronger strap

    by Brittany Stange | Oct 24, 2018

    Zip’s AW Direct Straps

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    Our straps are built to be safer, stronger and last longer than any other strap in the industry. We have a variety of products using this patented material, including tie-down kits, magnetic axle straps and lasso straps. Take advantage of free shipping on all orders of $100 and get your straps shipped today! Shop now.
  • Endless reasons to shop at Zips.com!

    by Brittany Stange | Sep 19, 2018

    Seven great reasons to shop with Zip's!

    7-reasons-to-shop
    Zip’s AW Direct is more than just a marketplace for transportation and truck equipment. We sell, maintain and custom-build the truck equipment you need to be successful. Enjoy amazing benefits when you shop at Zips.com or give us a call at 800-222-6047! Shop now.

  • Be seen anytime, anywhere with this chain!

    by Brittany Stange | Jun 01, 2018
    Introducing Grade 100 Hi-Viz Chain Assemblies that come in a high visibility yellow color for safer usage.

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    This Grade 100 Hi-Viz Chain will be seen in any weather, day or night. Grade 100 chain is made from alloy steel and is extremely strong. It has a 25% higher work load limit than grade 80, making it ideal for recovery or lifting as well as overhead lifting. The bright color allows this chain to be seen clearly when in use. Order your hi-viz chain assembly today!
  • Save time with a container eye link

    by Brittany Stange | May 04, 2018
    Create an easy attaching point with a container link

    Container Eye Links

    Be safe and save time when lifting and recovering sea containers with this new alloy, removable pin link. These links will not bind-up nor be “side” loaded like other attachments currently used in the field. The Yoke® Eye Link is intended to be used in the corner eyes of shipping containers as an attachment point for rigging to assist in uprighting overturned containers. Shop container links now! 
  • Stay warm and dry in rain gear from Zip's

    by Brittany Stange | May 04, 2018
    Explore the features and benefits of the ML Kishigo Premium Black Series Rainwear.

    Black Series Rainwear
    Don't let the weather slow you down! Pair the new Class 3 ML Kishigo Black Series Rainwear Jacket and Class E ML Kighigo Black Series Rainwear Pants together for an outfit that will keep you dry and visible in the worst weather! Shop rain gear now! 
  • Introducing Zip's Prime Car Carrier Packages

    by Brittany Stange | May 04, 2018
    Roll out in a Prime rollback

    Prime Truck Packages

    Save Big! Buy now! Zip's Prime Packages offer just the right combinations of steel car carrier body and truck chassis for you. All Prime trucks have the primary features and accessories needed to get the job done - nothing more and nothing less - all at a great value! Shop Prime trucks now or call 800-222-6047!
  • Make the switch to synthetics with Zip's

    by Brittany Stange | Jan 09, 2018

    The use of this recovery rope will drastically cut down on the overall weight of any truck.

    AmSteel-Blue Synthetic Rope
    AmSteel-Blue Synthetic Rope is an excellent alternative to steel winch cables! These synthetic winch lines and rope extensions are very durable with extremely low stretch, have superior flex fatigue and are wear resistant. Size-for-size, it is the same strength as steel - yet it floats in water! Learn more about AmSteel-Blue Synthetic Rope now! 
  • Zip's creates "Slow Down for a Cause" decals

    by Brittany Stange | Aug 18, 2017

    Support the "Slow Down, Move Over" Movement that is spanning across the US.

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    Zip’s has created a “Slow Down, Move Over” vinyl vehicle decal for you to bring awareness to the movement. A portion of the proceeds from these decals will be donated to the Survivor Fund which provides immediate financial support to families of towing operators who lose their lives in the line of service in our industry. View our full inventory of decals!
  • Introducing our LCG Industrial Carriers

    by Brittany Stange | Aug 03, 2017

    Our Low Center of Gravity Industrial Carriers are ready to roll!

    LCG Industrial Carriers

    LCG carriers cater perfectly to a very broad market. They are excellent for hauling equipment such as Ag equipment, construction equipment, rental equipment and much more. These beds are available with a 20,000 lb., 30,000 lb. or 40,000 lb. weight capacity. Learn more about our LCG Industrial Carriers now! 
  • Easy to apply Car Carrier Tie-Downs

    by Brittany Stange | Jul 07, 2017

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    Zip’s wants you to feel safe when hauling equipment - big or small with our extensive product offering which includes tie-downs from B/A Products and All-Grip. We offer a wide selection of dependable car carrier straps and chains for load securement when transporting cars, vans or pick-up trucks. Our variety of ratchet straps and chains are easily applied to your vehicle making for a smooth, responsible trip. Whether you are hauling high-end vehicles or wrecked cars Zip’s has all the straps and chains to get the job done. Click here to learn about Car Carrier Tie-Downs.

  • Tycan Synthetic Chains with Dyneema

    by Amara Thein | Jun 13, 2017
    Tycan Synthetic Chains
    Safety is always the number one priority in any industry—followed closely by quality products you can count on to get the job done. Zip’s is introducing the Tycan synthetic chain made with Dyneema, the world's strongest fiber. What does that mean for your crew, company and cargo? Performance that doesn’t compromise safety. Tycan synthetic chain has incredible working load limits and is a fraction of the weight of a steel chain—light and safe enough for one person to handle confidently. With a chain that makes the the job safer, better and faster, the uses for this chain in any industry are nearly limitless. Click here to learn about Tycan Synthetic Chains made with Dyneema.
  • YOU are a 24/7 Problem Solver!

    by Karen McDonald | May 24, 2017
    24-7Problem Solver
    The term “24/7 Problem Solver” describes YOU—those of you in the towing industry who are dedicated and passionate about what you do! The 24/7 Problem Solver Spotlight is a new movement from Zip’s that we’re launching on Facebook. It is our way to say thank you, give the world a chance to learn a little bit about you and your towing experiences as 24/7 Problem Solvers. Zip’s will regularly showcase an experienced tower and a fun interview about them on our Facebook page STARTING TOMORROW! Look for the first of many 24/7 Problem Solvers in your Facebook news feed! Learn more about the 24/7 Spotlight here!
  • Whelen M and M V-Series

    by Amara Thein | Apr 27, 2017
    Whelen M Series and M V-Series
    Emergency and warning lights are essential for keeping you and motorist around you safe on the road.  Whelen is constantly striving for innovation and delivers lightheads with brilliant, high-intensity output and low current consumption for the safety and life-saving industries. The M Series surface mount Super-LED lightheads create completely illuminate working environments, and the M V-Series is unique light collection with complete coverage in one lighthead, providing 2-in-1 combination warning and scene lighting. These premire light collections come in a wide selection of models, and Zip’s is sure we can help you find the lighting to suite your professional needs. Learn more about the M Series and M V-Series collections here. 
  • Whelen Amber Essentials

    by Amara Thein | Apr 26, 2017
    Whelen Amber Essentials lights
    Emergency and warning lighting is absolutely crucial in any public safety and emergency response industry. The professionals count on those lights to caution motorist for their safety, but their own safety as well.  Zip’s supplies premium light collections for professionals—Whelen Amber Essentials is no exception. These premier warning lights are designed with powerful Super-LED technology that’s built to stand up to the harsh conditions in the industry. Whether for law enforcement, fire departments and first responders or municipality, utility and county fleets, Zip's can help you find the Whelen lighting to suit any warning lighting need. For more information on Whelen Amber Essentials, click here.
  • Miller Light Service Vehicle (LSV)

    by Adam Bauer | Feb 15, 2017
    Light Service Vehicle Driver Side

    Dispatch call needs to be fast, thorough and safe. Wrong information and unanswered questions can leave you sending out the wrong truck from your fleet or without the right tools to handle the job, wasting time and resources. Specifically designed for complete roadside service—from battery replacements and lock-outs to jump-starts and repairs—the Miller Light Service Vehicle (LSV) is a truck that delivers. Customer service improves when you have equipment, like the Miller LSV, that can prepare you for so many scenarios. Click here to learn more about this LSV. Click here to learn more!
  • RimSling Synthetic Recovery Slings

    by User Not Found | Jan 24, 2017
    RimSling Synthetic Recovery Slings

    As tow operators, we want to provide the best service for our customers, and in order to do so, we have to have an arsenal of the best products, ready to take on any service call. By doing our toolbox a service, we can better serve our customers—starting with Rimsling Synthetic Recovery Slings. They are smart in design and unprecedented in performance. Features like the exceptionally strong fiber construction, Condura protective sleeve, reinforcing braid guard, duel eye slings and slim, light build are everything you need for hoisting and pulling for the long haul. As far as the top recovery straps go, look no further than RimSling—and here’s why.