With the right-sized equipment, sealing cracks can be very profitable. A setup designed to seal cracks on small driveways will not profitably make the transition to parking lots. The same logic holds true transitioning from small municipal street projects to sealing cracks on roads and highways. Having the right equipment will help deliver the optimum performance and profit margin.
Count the Ways and Pounds
If you’ve been using a small melter and pour pot, putting down 20 to 30 lbs. of sealant would be a good day’s work. At the far other end of the job spectrum, crews employing a large melter/applicator like the Crafco EZ Series II 1500 can go through 2,800 lbs. per hour while sealing between 5,000 to 10,000 ft. of cracks.
“If you’re not interested in sealing 10,000 ft. of cracks a day, then it wouldn’t pay to have the Series II 1500,” says Crafco marketing manager Mark Manning. “It’s not only the excess kettle capacity and cost that would be issues, but large kettle applicators require larger trucks to tow them around and store sealant. The loaded weight of the 1500, for example, is 10,600 lbs. and the smaller but still sizeable models 1000 and 500 weigh 7,700 lbs. and 5,400 lbs. respectively.”
As he points out, it’s very important to understand the application before buying equipment, and there’s plenty of cracksealing equipment on the market to make the right match. In addition to the three Series II models, what Manning calls the newest generation in the Crafo line, the company offers three models in the smaller yet still very productive Super Shot Series, with 60-, 125-, and 250-gal. capacities.
The Super Shot 60 is designed for pavement maintenance contractors who look to apply up to 2,000 lbs. of sealant per day. This unit features a melt rate of 480 lbs./hr. and is available as a skid-mount unit. The diesel-powered Model 125, with a melt rate of 900 lb./hr., is suited for both medium-sized and large projects. With a melt-rate of 1,700 lbs./hr., the Model 250 is designed for larger projects.
Among key features, Manning says all Super Shot models have digital control to accurately control and regulate sealant heating temperature and an internal pumping system. “Mounting the pump inside the melter eliminates outside plumbing, high pressure lines, and the need to re-circulate sealant,” Manning points out. “This saves on pump wear, as does the micro-switch on the applicator wand that allows the operator to run the pump only when applying material.”
Rule of Thumb
Stepp Manufacturing offers five melter/applicators, two vertical and three horizontal units. Of the three horizontal models, Jason Stepp, national sales manager, says the OJK 250, with a 250-gal. capacity, is the most popular. “The rule of thumb is that operators can apply 212-times the material capacity of the kettle in a day. So our OJK 250 is capable of applying 625 gal. or 5,600 lbs. of product in a day.
“The obvious reason to upgrade to a larger melter/applicator is to gain productivity, to be able to crackseal larger projects and have the ability to keep a crew busy. Larger melting kettles also keep temperature differential to a minimum, very important when applying rubberized sealant. This product is difficult to heat and it has to be applied quickly. Keeping sealant at the ideal temperature of between 350°F to 400°F is a requisite to ensure it adheres properly to the asphalt.”
The OJK 250 features a large 26-hp Kubota diesel engine and a 60 gpm pumping system. Stepp notes that the former has plenty of power to run the melter/applicator and is quieter than many smaller engines. The large pump has capacity well beyond what would be required for applying sealant but that, too, has its advantages, he adds. “Bigger pumps last longer.”