How To Fix A Lagging Arm On Your Truck Tarp System

Posted on: 16 September 2016

If you have recently expanded your excavation business to include the transport of asphalt, rock, dirt fill, or other materials, then it is imperative that all of your materials end up where they are supposed to be, instead of flying out the back of your dump trucks. This means securing your loads properly, and a rolling tarp system can help with this. These systems are fitted with small motors that force the tarp to extend and retract. An aluminum bow and two separate arms move the tarp across the top of your truck bed. The arms are supposed to sit parallel to one another as the tarp moves. If you notice one arm moving forward more quickly than the other, then the tarp will not extend correctly. This problem can be fixed fairly easily with the information outlined here.

Inspect The Torsion Springs

Most automatic tarp systems with tarp arms will have pivot mounts that attach directly to the sides of your truck. Each mount will be fitted with a torsion spring. These springs hold mechanical energy and release the energy in the form of torque as the spring is twisted. This helps to pull the tarp down over the truck bed when the system is activated. Unlike an extension springs that is pulled open as it works, torsion springs remain tightly coiled as they exert pressure. This helps them to hold energy. As the springs start to wear out, openings may appear in between the spring coils. When this happens, the springs will no longer be able to exert enough energy to move the tarp. The tarp will no longer be pulled along as the motor works, and this can cause lag as the truck bed is covered. 

If you notice that one arm is not moving as quickly as the other when you go to extend the tarp, then one of the torsion springs may be stretched out. Inspect the arm springs carefully and look for gaps between the spring coils. All coils should sit next to one another, with no gaps in between, if the springs are in good shape.

If the spring is worn out or broken, then it can be replaced. Contact the company that makes your tarp system and order a replacement torsion spring. Extend the tarp across the bed so the torsion springs are in a position where they hold the least amount of energy. This will make replacement much easier. Remove the arm and inspect the spring to see how it is placed on the pivot assembly. Prepare your new spring so it sits the same way. While the spring cannot be secured in an upside-down position, it can be installed backwards, with the outside of the spring facing the inside of the truck. You want to prevent installation mistakes, or the tension of the spring will not match with the other torsion spring. 

Install the spring in the right position and then replace the arm.

Look At The Arm

In some cases, the torsion springs will be in great condition. If this is the case, then there is a possibility that the pivot arm is bent. This can create problems with tarp movement. You will most likely see one side of the tarp raised above the other if one of the arms is bent. Also, the bent arm may move more slowly and lag behind the other if the bend has caused a weakness in the aluminum metal. Bent arms will not have as much tension, either. 

Place the tarp in the extended position and remove the arm that has lagged behind the other. Inspect the arm carefully for any bends. You may be able to bend the arm straight, since it will be hollow in the middle. You will need to be careful though, or you may cause the aluminum to buckle. This means that you want to stay away from mallets and other tools that place direct pressure on the arm. Instead, place two pieces of wood on the inside of a vice grip. Place the bent piece of pipe in the grip between the wood. Slowly tighten the grip to bend the arm back into place. Replace the arm when you are done.

If the bending process does not work or if the arm is extremely bent, then contact a company that sells tarp systems, like Glider Systems Inc, for a new one. 


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