By far the biggest part of the Union Pacific job was the sealcoating. Sikes Asphalt applied the first coat by squeegee and the second coat by spray, eventually sealcoating more than 5 million sq. ft. of pavement.
"I sealcoat just like you would pave, as many straight pulls as possible," Sikes says. "We always squeegee the first coat and spray the second coat. That hides any squeegee lines and gives a nice finish to the surface. This job looked like an overlay when we were finished."
Sikes Asphalt ran three pieces of sealcoating equipment simultaneously on the job. The sealcoating fleet included a 500-gal. tank on with a 40-ft. hose and hand wand and a 9 ½-ft. spray bar on the Switch-n-Go truck body. The tank features a hydraulic chain-driven agitator and a quantity control lever to control material application. A 300-gal. SealMaster squeegee/spray buggy handled tight areas and edges. A 1993 Peterbilt 3,000-gal. sealer tanker that would fill up from the holding tank would deliver material to both the buggy and 500-gal. tank wherever they were on the job.
Sikes' initial plan, as he was bidding and immediately after he was awarded the job, was to buy a second squeegee/spray buggy because he essentially had two machines that could spray but only one that could squeegee.
"We came very close to buying and running two buggies out there, but then I realized I already had a 500-gal. tank, almost double the volume of the 300 we were looking at, which would provide almost double the coverage of the buggy."
So rather than buy a new piece of equipment Sikes decided to modify his 500-gal. spray tank. He contacted N.I. Wilson and asked them to design a 10-ft. squeegee he could attach to his spray truck. Wilson did and brought the squeegee and all its hydraulics to Sikes, who turned it over to Anthony Terry, Wine Country On-Site Fleet Maintenance, his mechanic on the jobsite. Terry fabricated a hydraulic lift so the operator could raise and lower the squeegee and spray bar, added a seat on the side of the truck so the operator could see better, and Sikes had a 500-gal. squeegee machine that in a matter of minutes could be switched to a spray truck by unhooking the squeegee and hooking up the spray bar.
"We moved the 3,000-gal. truck around according to where it was needed," Sikes says. "The driver on the sealcoating buggy radioed the driver of the 3,000-gal. tanker to drive the tanker close to the area where the other two machines were working to save time."
He says that to reduce handwork and improve the sealcoat finish the 500-gal. tanker and 300-gal. buggy worked in tandem throughout the job, the buggy staggered behind the larger truck.
"That approach became important partly because of the temperature and how fast the sealer was drying," Sikes says. "We were putting it down pretty thick and because it was drying pretty fast we didn't want to leave any windrows out there, off the ends of the squeegee, so we staggered the two machines a little bit and they continually followed each other throughout the job."
He says working the two machines in tandem was also effective at the end of a pull when the 500-gal. machine turned around to make the next pass. "It's easier at the end of the pull, when the truck turns around, for the buggy to clean up behind him," Sikes says. "Once the truck is repositioned the buggy is 50 or 60 ft. behind him and just stays right there on a constant path for long, straight pulls."
He says that on their best day they placed more than 14,000 gal. of sealer. "The first day we started sealcoating we put a guy on a sealcoating machine and he squeegeed all day long with the 300-gal. buggy. It was so big an area that he just did the edges and put down 150,000 to 160,000 ft."
Sikes says the key to their success was largely in the planning and in his employees, who he credits extensively. But having a good process and plan, and making that plan work, were essential to getting the job done in 14 days.
"We thought a lot of stuff through and were ready for just about anything," he says. "We had so many new spray tips out there we just replaced the tips instead of cleaning them. We had four screens on the truck, and if one got clogged we just replaced it right away, putting the bad ones in a bucket to clean and new tips on and then we were right back at it."