Once you've made the decision to upgrade to a big sealcoating rig, say 1,500 gal. or more, you've made only the first of many decisions. But the industry's manufacturers of big rigs say that with early guidance from your equipment supplier of choice it's easy to add a sealcoating big rig to your fleet.
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions to ask is "how big?" Manufacturers such as Able Industries, Nealco, Neal Mfg., and SealMaster all produce a variety of large skid- or truck-mounted sealcoating systems, and Seal-Rite produces a 1,500-gal. skid-mounted unit. So options are plentiful.
"When your company is growing, when you're getting more parking lots and more work that one truck can handle, that's when you need to think about adding a larger unit," says Brian Dye, president of Able Industries. "You know when you're ready to upgrade depending on how many times per week you're getting your sealer. That depends on where your supplier is located, but if getting a larger tank enables you to travel less and sealcoat more then it's time to think about a larger tank."
Steve Rapp, equipment division, SealMaster Inc., agrees. "You know you're ready when you're getting the size of job where your 500- and 1,000-gal. tanks are just going to cause you too many trips to your supplier. It's important to get as much material on the jobsite as possible."
He adds that having a larger tank reduces mix times, which results in more time to sealcoat. "When you have a large tank you mix in sand and additives one time. When you have a small tank you have to measure, add, and wait each time the tank runs low," Rapp says. "You have to stop and mix, stop and mix, and that cuts down on the time for you to seal."
So, how big a tank do you need? Hard to say, but Dye, who runs a sealcoating business in addition to a manufacturing operation, says this: "When I add a truck it's never the same size as the ones I have; it's always bigger."
Skid- or chassis-mounted?
Most sealcoating equipment manufacturers offer trailer-mounted systems holding up to 1,500 gal., but once you approach that size of tank you should at least begin considering truck-mounted systems.
There are two types of truck-mounted systems available: skid-mounted systems and custom chassis-mounted systems. Skid-mounted tanks are self-contained sealcoating systems attached to a skid, and that entire skid is then attached to the flatbed of a truck. Dye says most contractors who want a skid-mounted system already own a truck with a flatbed, so that type of system can be less costly for them. Nealco Equipment's Jason Mixell says most of the tanks Nealco sells are self-contained systems mounted to a flatbed or mounted to the chassis, but not as a part of the truck. But other manufacturers offer customized chassis-mounted systems that are designed into and mounted directly onto the truck chassis.
Rapp says SealMaster almost always recommends truck-mounted units over skid-mounted systems, especially as the tank volume reaches 1,500 gal. and more. He says SealMaster's 1,000-gal. tanks are low and long in design so they work fine when mounted on a skid and attached to a flatbed. He says SealMaster prefers to mount anything larger than 1,000 gal. directly to the chassis.
"The 1,500-gal. tanks and the larger tanks are shorter and bigger around. They have a higher center of gravity so it's best if they are mounted directly to the frame," Rapp says.
Rapp says the contractor needs to look at how the tank is sitting on that chassis to make sure it is safe. "The tank needs to be as close to the truck frame as possible, rather than sitting on a flat deck which raises the center of gravity and makes the truck more susceptible to tipping."
He says that regardless of whether the contractor buys a skid-mounted or truck-mounted system, SealMaster encourages contractors to train their drivers in how to drive these types of vehicles, "especially in how to handle a curve."