Robust infrastructure facilities are the main foundation for an efficient propane and refined fuel delivery system. And truck transportation is the last leg of the journey before fuel can finally reach its end-users.
Since 2016, Custom Truck One Source, North America’s largest single-source provider of specialized trucks and heavy equipment, has been offering every solution a fuel delivery business might need to transport actively managed materials, like propane and refined fuel, to its customers.
• Bobtail trucks
• Refined fuel trucks
• Cylinder trucks
• Knuckle boom trucks
To help customers find the right equipment in this category, to rent or to buy, we will take a closer look at the company’s portfolio by talking to Wayne Terpstra, Propane Product Manager at Custom Truck One Source.
What is a bobtail truck?
A bobtail truck is a chassis and a tank that carries propane to a customer’s location and fills their apparatus with propane.
There are different types of bobtails?
Yes. Typically, bobtails are 33,000-lb GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) trucks, but they can carry different sizes of tanks. For example, 2,600 and 2,800 gallons for smaller tanks to about 6,000-gallon tanks. The size can even go up to 11,000 gallons for tractor trailer tanks.
Are bobtail trucks all made of steel?
Yes, they are all steel MC 331, Code DOT tanks.
What are the advantages of buying bobtails from Custom Truck instead of a competitor?
Custom Truck offers a variety of advantages for customers who come to us with their bobtail truck needs. Firstly, our units have an open deck and not an enclosed one, which means they are easier to clean. Just take your truck to a car wash and all dirt and debris are removed easily off of the vehicle’s back deck.
The decks are made of stainless steel, which means they last longer because they are made of a heavy, durable metal. Our paint job is great and comes with a multi-year guarantee on it. Our production team has a cumulative work experience of over 100 years, and we take great pride in the high quality of our workmanship.
We also have everything engineered with CAD drawings. We give these CAD drawings to our customers, so if they need any aftermarket parts they can easily find the part numbers on the drawings.
A standout option Custom Truck offers that none of its competitors do is rentals. Can you elaborate on that?
Custom Truck announced the launch of its national propane rental program in July of 2016. The rental program was the first of its kind in the United States. Bulk propane bobtail units were made available for weekly and monthly rental, and the program allowed propane marketers to better control operational truck-related expenses, enhance deliveries during peak periods, and continue deliveries during equipment breakdowns.
Four years have passed, and we are still the only provider of bobtail truck rentals in the country. It’s still an untapped market, even though there aren’t just big companies out there, but small mom-and-pop establishments who haven’t purchased a bobtail truck because rentals are making the most financial sense for them.
Tips on how to choose a bobtail truck?
The first consideration is what size tank our customers need. The scope of their business and their routing and scheduling practices are major factors in determining that size, so they can drop off as many gallons of propane as they can in a single delivery run.
For example, a 500-gallon tank will carry 300 gallons to 325 gallons of propane for an optimal delivery. A 1,000-gallon tank will carry 600 gallons to 700 gallons. They can only fill a propane tank up to about 85% capacity because gas expands in the tank as it warms up.
Another consideration is geography. If they are operating in a mountainous area, for instance, they want a smaller tank which will make it easier to drive uphill and downhill on roads with a tight turning radius.
It’s a truck with a tank designed to carry gasoline, diesel fuel, and sometimes kerosene. Unlike a propane tank, which is an MC 331 pressure tank that’s probably a half-inch thick and made out of durable steel, our refined fuel tank is made of aluminum, which is much lighter and will not spark if it overturns. And it can be “brim full,” which means you can put about 4,300 gallons in the 4,500-gallon tank, leaving just a little bit of vapor space at the top of each compartment. A refined fuel tank can also be compartmentalized to carry different types of liquid loads at once.
The refined fuel trucks we build at Custom Truck have 4,500-gallon, 4-compartment tanks, and they’re employed in various niche jobs around the country, such as warehouse fleets and agricultural equipment fueling.
Firstly, we’re putting out an extremely high-quality product. Refined fuel trucks are sensitive builds. You don’t want to risk cracks and leaks due to the flammable nature of the cargo.
We use quality equipment and we hard pipe it. For the fuel coming from the tank, we use hard pipes instead of flex hoses which develop rub points and can wear out over time. Most of our competitors will also use steel that’s heavy and rust prone. Our units are made of aluminum, which is rust-free and light, and therefore carries more payload.
Finally, our rental program. Again, like bobtails, it is uncommon for companies to rent refined fuel trucks, but we offer that option.
Cylinder trucks are units that deliver cylinders for forklifts that run on propane fuel. They can carry different sizes, too. The typical aluminum cylinder that goes on a forklift is called a 33-lb forklift cylinder. But there are other sizes of cylinders, including the small 20-lb grill bottles that fuel your barbecues at home.
Typically, these trucks are used in an industrial/commercial setting and will carry about 240 cylinders (when they are full) to locations like warehouses, where pallets of groceries and other goods are being moved about by forklifts running on clean-burning propane.
It used to be a 33 GVW truck with a single axle that we would put the cylinders on, but the bed was made of steel. Now, we have moved to lighter, aluminum beds to increase payload and allow delivery companies to stack more cylinders than before for a single delivery run. Big propane retailers, however, like AmeriGas, Ferrellgas, and Surburban Propane, have particular specs they want for their trucks and we customize to meet their needs.
Most of the ones we build for Ferrellgas are the 33-lb forklift cylinders, but we have built smaller and medium-sized cylinder trucks and are penetrating the market catering to mid-sized regional companies. In fact, we were going to showcase a smaller aluminum bed at the NPGA (National Propane Gas Association) Expo in April that was cancelled because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
I would say go with aluminum for the bigger load you’ll be able to carry and the money you will save in the long term by not having to make return runs to reload. After that, consider technologies like hand-held GPS devices, automated routing and scheduling, etc. to furnish your unit with modern amenities, depending on your budget.
We used to buy the bed and the crane and then put them onto a chassis. But we wanted to build our own units (made by Load King, the manufacturing arm of Custom Truck) which would be multi-purpose and replace steel with aluminum. So, we developed an aluminum crane truck that would have the same type of boxes, open-floor plan bed, and a crane on the back.
The Voyager P has a Rumber rubberized floor for no-slip bed access, and on the driver’s side, there is a 60-inch toolbox with trays in it. There are two or three more boxes on the side with drawers for fittings, tools, etc., and also an underbed box that carries concrete blocks needed to put under propane tanks. These stop the bottoms of cylinders from settling in the mud and developing rust when placed on the ground.
The Voyager P is part of the `Voyager’ collection of high-performance mechanics bodies we designed to serve an array of heavy equipment industries. There is the Voyager I and Voyager II with mechanics bodies, and the Voyager P propane service body, built specifically for the propane industry.
Custom Truck One Source has you covered!
We’re America’s first true single-source provider of specialized truck and heavy equipment solutions and we’re standing by to help you!
Call us at 844-282-1838 or email us at email@example.com.