Trailer Talk

Oil boom needs special equipment on trailers and trucks

December 13, 2011

No one wants to haul a load that's going to be rejected, so checking the commodity before loading makes a lot of sense. That's why Rush Enterprise's Peterbilt store in San Antonio has been installing a special piece of gear on tank trailers at a customer's request.

Crude oil analyzer was installed on this Heil tanker by Rush Peterbilt's shop in San Antonio as part of its work to support the oil boom in the region, says Service Manager Fred Scott.

The device, mounted in a tool box on the tanker's left side, samples crude oil at the well site and determines its makeup so the driver knows if it's OK or will likely be rejected by the refinery. If it's too contaminated, the driver rejects it.

This is an odd example of the specialized work now done by the dealership's service department to support the oil boom going on here, says Fred Scott, the service manager. The dealership doesn't sell trailers, but does repair and service work on customers' units.

Most equipment installations are on vocational trucks that are outfitted for oil field service with heavy duty winches, cranes, specialized flatbed bodies and fifth wheels. Most trucks are new Peterbilts ordered by customers, while others are various used trucks, sometimes ex-road tractors, that are converted for oil field work.

The device being put on tank trailers includes a centrifuge which spins out solid particles from a sample of crude oil, part of the analysis needed to determine all its ingredients. Oil is in a vial and has been treated with a solvent from a small steel tank mounted ahead of the box. After running the sample, the driver knows whether to accept or reject the load.

The new tanker in the photo is a Heil, and Rush of course sees other makes, too. "They can't make enough of them" to haul everything to support oil exploration and production in this region, Scott says. Tankers are one trailer type that led builders out of the recent recession starting in 2010, and oil producers continue to take most of them.

For Scott and his colleagues at Rush, this specialized work compensates for a continuing slump in sales and servicing of medium-duty trucks and construction trucks. "We are blessed by the South Texas oil boom," he says.