Heavy-Duty Haulers and Pumped-Up Dumpers
Workhorses of the construction industry, trailers move materials to the site, saving man-hours and money.
No matter what you’re building, there’s a dump truck onsite. Whether taking or bringing soil or carting aggregate, trash, or hot asphalt, a dump truck does the job. To save trips and costs, many firms are using long-bed dump trailers; such vehicles can do the work of two, or more, traditional ones.
In its previous incarnation as Benson Truck Bodies, Benson International (www.bensonintl.com) began building steel and aluminum dump truck bodies in the 1960s. Since that time, the West Virginia firm has expanded its product line to include steel and aluminum dump truck, all-aluminum platform, steel drop deck, 35- to 70-ton lowboy, moving floor and refuse, and specialized equipment trailers.
DemoBusters, a Long Island, NY, construction firm, has been a Benson customer for more than a half-dozen years. DemoBusters owns several Benson aluminum dump trailers as well as a couple of steel trailers, which it uses to haul sand and other construction material to and from New York City.
“As the name states, we first started with demolition seven years ago,” DemoBusters’ owner Stanley Morabito says. “Now we’re in sand and gravel, hauling sand and stone, and we do a lot of excavation out of New York City. For carting heavy concrete, big pilings—we use Benson steel-sided trailers for that. Right now, we own four smooth-sided aluminum, two steel, and six sheet-post trailers. They’re all rear-end dump; we use them only for hauling and dumping.”
DemoBusters’ trailers, which are 20- and 30-footers, carry loads of up to 38 cubic yards, with a gross weight of about 120,000 pounds. “From our first purchase in 2001, we also own ’03, ’04, ’05, and brand-new 2007 models,” Morabito explains. “We expect to get 10 years [of work] out of them, but you could probably use them longer if you wanted to.”
|Being lighter in weight does not stop aluminum trailers from doing hard work. |
Despite being lighter in weight, Benson International’s smooth-sided aluminum trailers are built for hard work; they feature 6061-T6 extruded posts, 4-inch boxed crossmembers on 14-inch spacings, and top and bottom rails. The trailer features a quarter-inch 5454-H34 floor, three-sixteenths-inch 5454-H34 sides, and a one-piece bulkhead; among other options, customers have a choice of suspensions and axles. The company’s steel trailers are constructed for the jobs they’ll perform; for example, the sand-and-gravel trailer is built with a three-sixteenths-inch A-36 floor and bulkhead, with 10-gauge sides and tailgate. The “demolition” version of this trailer features quarter-inch A-36 floor, with a three-sixteenths-inch A-36 bulkhead, sides, and tailgate.
Morabito is quite pleased with his Benson purchases. “I think they’re the ‘Rolls Royce’ of trailers. They don’t crack, and they dump very well; they’re good-looking—all the welds have been done nicely. Maintenance on the rigs is very easy—we don’t put anything but brakes and tires on them—they’re well built. Oh, we have had to replace tailgates from time to time, and their tailgates are pre-drilled for ease of installation—all the holes line up all the time. Amazing!”
Negotiating heavily trafficked New York streets is no problem for the trailers: “We run 11 trucks, seven loads a day. Knock on wood, in seven years we only turned one of them over when dumping—and that was the driver’s error.
“I couldn’t do my everyday job if I couldn’t use Benson trailers—they’re very, very reliable,” Morabito concludes.Involving the Customer Creates Better Products
Iowa’s L.L. Pelling Co. works trailers from the local manufacturer Highway Equipment Co. (www.highwayequipment.com
). Pelling Supervisor Barney Finnegan has hauled a variety of items in his trailers during the past 22 years.
“We use Highway’s Flowboy trailer to haul asphalt, sand, and gravel,” Finnegan says. “The Flowboy has a live bottom on the floor and a chain with a belt on top of it, which helps the trailer unload from the rear.” The Flowboy, 45 feet of steel, with low-clearance 13-foot-high stainless steel sides, “works well under power line wires, under bridges and trees—it’s also good for highway use.” Finnegan’s crews work on a variety of paving projects, from interstates and highways to city streets and parking lots.
L.L. Pelling, which operates in locations all over Iowa, creates its own asphalt product. “We recycle used motor oil, to use in paving. We also recycle asphalt—after digging up the old, we grind it and add it to new material to pave roads. Pelling also picks up used antifreeze; we process it into the stuff that defrosts airplane wings,” Finnegan proudly points out.
Flowboy maintenance is not a pressing issue. “Mostly, we just have to grease the bearings weekly,” he states. “We like them; we have seven of them right now. They’re lightweight trailers, so you can haul more, plus they unload fast. They last a good long time, too—we run them up to 13 years.”
He described a “typical day” in the life of his Flowboy trailers: “First, we go to the asphalt plant, get the trailer loaded. We end up taking 10 loads a day. We then also haul five to six loads of rocks a day. The trailer’s working about 13 hours each day.”
Hauling rocks in the same trailer that just held asphalt? Doesn’t that create a sticky mess? “The asphalt is 325 degrees; it doesn’t stick to the sides; it all comes right on out. Then when the gravel goes in, it doesn’t stick, either,” Finnegan explains. “There isn’t too many places for stuff to get wedged; the trailer is shaped like a V, although the bottom of the V is flat. I guess it’s more like an upside-down A. Every so often, we do have to clean the trailers. We scrape the sides out and keep it clean.”
Why did Pelling pick Highway Equipment Co. as its trailer supplier? “We’d bought from their prior company in Oklahoma,” he says. “Then, about three years ago, they had this tandem trailer, the T-6034, like a dump truck chassis, and they asked me to demo it. I didn’t think it would work—but it worked phenomenally. Highway was making road grading equipment; after they bought out the Oklahoma company they began making trailers.”
Finnegan says his Flowboy trailer “works beautifully, and the company stands behind it. I wish every company would work like they do; any problems, they have the answer for you. I also like that it’s a local company, so I can be a part of it. They’re using me as a local resource—taking my opinions what they should do here and there on the trailer since I’m using it every day. They care and they listen—then go back to the drawing board to see if my suggestions are feasible.” Has Pelling ordered any custom trailers from Highway? “There might be just a few minor things we put on our models; we don’t have to add much, because they do such a good job.”What Moves the Earthmovers?
Northern Illinois’ E.D. Etnyre Co. (www.etnyre.com
) trailers—which include construction trailers with 25- to 100-ton capacities, rear loading, folding goosenecks, removable goosenecks, tandems, tridems, or spread-axles—help keep Ohio’s Kokosing Construction rolling. Located in Fredericktown, south of Cleveland, Kokosing works jobs all over Ohio.
“We own 13 of their trailers,” says Kokosing Trucking Manager Wayne Queen. “We have hydraulic detachable lowboys—35- to 45-ton models, and we recently got a 65-ton. The lowboys haul equipment—bulldozers, et cetera. As far as maintenance goes, we only have to work on normal wear and tear: brakes, tires—maybe sometimes wood decking repairs. We like to see trailers last 15 to 18 years, but every once in a while, one breaks down—usually due to heavy hauls, which can cause steel fatigue and cracking. The Department of Transportation monitors trailers, checks them quite often, and will put a trailer out of service if steel fatigue is evident. You, of course, have time to repair it or get a new one—but we’ve experienced minimal breakage from Etnyre trailers.”
As a general contractor, Kokosing’s projects include building heavy-traffic highways, wastewater treatment plants, water treatment plants, and heavy industrial buildings. It also mines aggregates (gravel). With such a range of projects, Kokosing needs a variety of equipment, and trailers to carry it.
“We of course own excavators, scrapers, dozers—Etnyre’s 627 scraper trailer works very well for us,” he goes on. “A couple other local companies have noticed our Etnyre trailers, and ask us about them. We refer them to the local Etnyre sales rep, SouthEastern Equipment Company.”
|Steel-sided trailers are an excellent choice for carting heavy concrete. |
Etnyre’s “Blackhawk” low-bed, removable gooseneck trailers contain features such as a bucket trough at the rear of the deck, which allows excavator dipper sticks to be tucked into that area, and reducing the vehicle’s overall height—a boon for any machines that have to be transported under “low clearance” areas. The company’s Model SR hydraulic ramp trailers offer users Etnyre’s heavy-duty folding tail design, outside hydraulic controls for easy operation, and a load-carrying rear ramp, which allows loading from ground or dock. The SR is available in 35-ton and 50-ton capacities, with two and three axles.
Queen appreciates Etnyre’s services. “They build a lot of custom trailers for us, which is great, because it’s hard to buy a good customized trailer—to find some company that will be there to service the unit five to 10 years down the road. We look for solidity—our company has been around for over 55 years; Etnyre has been in business for over 50 years. They’re very competitive in pricing and friendly to work with, and their trailers are interchangeable with other trailers. We also like their removable decks.
“I’ve made several trips to Illinois to see how our trailers have been built,” he continues. “For a special trailer, I might need to go out and spend three or four hours at Etnyre’s factory. In essence, we’re in partnership with them to make sure I get the right product; they’re there to make customers happy for the long term. As for me, I want my new trailer to last. I would rather spend the time up front to ensure the trailer will last 15 to 18 years.”A Lot of Heavy Work on the Side
Everyone’s heard the adage that “time is money”; Nebraska’s Circle R, a division of Thurston Manufacturing Co. (www.blu-jet.com/circler
), has created a dump trailer that saves both. Instead of a trailer that dumps from the end, Thurston’s patented technology dumps from the side, allowing for faster offloading, creating more time for hauling more loads.
|Side dumping places soil over a larger area, reducing hand labor. |
Doug Burnett, “Truck Boss” of Mountain Home, ID’s Corder LLC, is wild about Circle R’s side dumpers. Corder owns two, which has doubled its business—because each haul is now done so economically. “We’re so busy right now, it’s not even funny,” Burnett says. “What’s unique about this trailer is not just this brand, style, this generation—it dumps on the side, the whole length of the trailer!”
Corder LLC is a trucking company, which leases its trucks to different construction outfits in Idaho. “Right now, I’m working on an Air Force base, doing roadwork. We also work on interstates. You see, the driver comes with the truck/trailer. For example, if you’re the lead contractor, you might call me and say, ‘I have all the machines needed to do this job, but not the trucking power.’ So I send a truck, trailer, and driver out to the job. These leases are billed by the hour, and we’re getting more dollars per hour than we used to, because we use Circle R side-dump trailers.
“We can not only haul more material than a dump truck—and they use tandem dump trucks out here—but we also work better because the beds [when raised] are lower, so we can go under power lines. The side-dump feature lets us dump and go much faster than a conventional dump truck.
“One customer has told us he gets three or four man-hours and a loader a day in savings because he can stockpile soil. My truck also doesn’t leave a trail of material behind it.”
Burnett, who has been employed with Corder LLC for three years, offered a specific example of what the Circle R side-dump trailer can do. “On a recent job, a sidewalk had been built, and soil needed to be backfilled up to it. A ‘regular’ dump truck couldn’t unload the soil behind the sidewalk; the pile created would be immediately below the tailgate, meaning that the actual backfilling would have to be done by hand. But our Circle R side dumper could do it! I dumped a trail of soil 40 feet long, missing the sidewalk itself, and spread the soil, just by putting the truck in drive and going forward.”
In experienced, steady hands, the Circle R side dumper can become almost a precision tool. “Say the super wants a load of soil that will end up 1 foot deep and 2 feet wide. A dump truck can’t do that, because he can’t go sideways, and I can.” How much training did Burnett require to gain such expertise? “Within three days of getting the truck, I could do just about anything with it,” he states. “If a driver has any common sense at all, he can do it. I don’t want to pull another trailer; these are so user friendly; they’re unreal. I’ve never experienced something so easy in all my life. Corder is thinking about getting two more.”
How does Burnett know at what angle of dumping he can get a certain depth of material out? “Everything is hands-on; there’s no dial of angle, et cetera; you have to know what you’re doing. I’ve been staying busy with this—unbelievably busy. My driver and I have been working 65 to 70 hours a week since we bought them. I got mine in May 2006; he got his in June.”
Corder can lease these amazing vehicles to other businesses, as well: “Farm commodities we can haul too, not just gravel. We can haul silage, mud, sludge, whatever. They’re waterproof, a half round tub; we can haul liquids in them—just as long as it doesn’t slosh out as you’re driving on the road. Circle R has an electric Roll-Rite tarp that goes over it.” And, according to the Circle R Web site, its rugged side-dump trailers have had “zero chassis or tub cracking since 2001.” Other features highlight the side dumper’s strength and stability: It boasts having no harmonic tub or frame bounce, nor any frame twist distortion. The Circle R side-dump trailer features a driver-side right-hand and left-hand dump change, while it also professes to have the industry’s lowest center of gravity (which helps avoid tip-overs) and the largest payload per foot.
Although parts of the nation may not have seen side dumpers, the trailers have been around/on the market for some time. “This is the third generation of them. This style Circle R is producing now is a new style,” Burnett says. “A lot of people have not seen them here, although units are operating in the Midwest and South; they’re also used in Seattle and California. Since we’ve had ours, people have stopped us on the highway, watched us, want to see and ask how this thing works. We won’t have a monopoly on this time-saving advantage for too much longer, however—another Idaho company has ordered Circle R trailers!”
Author's Bio: Janis Keating is a frequent contributor to Forester Media, Inc. publications.