Dear Santa

A PRO wants suggestions for vacuum truck accessories he can wrap up and put under the Christmas tree

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QUESTION:

It’s going to be Christmas soon (seems like it’s always close to Christmas) and my wife was asking me what I would like for my truck. I know that might sound strange, but I like my truck and I take care of it. That’s how we pay for Christmas. Anyway, what accessories would you recommend I add this year?

Graham Starkey

Ames, Iowa

 

ANSWER:

Four items come to mind as typically standard features on vacuum trucks. They are all beneficial and some depend on your wants more than your needs. But then, it’s Christmas, right? Here they are:

Rear-View TV Camera with Cab Monitor

I have always been impressed with drivers who have to back up pump trucks without being able to see behind them. I don’t know how many accidents occur or how much damage is done by trucks backing up (Yes, there’s a backup alarm, but that won’t save a tired bicycle lying in the path of a retreating truck), but a monitor in the cab takes the worry out of being close. There are varying types of monitors on the market and, like anything else, the more you spend, the better the equipment. From black and white to color and from low definition to high definition, how well do you need to see the real estate behind the truck? It’s a nice extra if you can afford it.

Electronic Sight Gauge

Although there is no real “sight’’ gauge, the electronic gauge is installed inside the tank and electronically signals to the cab precisely how much liquid is in the tank. A digital meter in the cab displays the volume in gallons. During installation, it will need to be calibrated to the right diameter and length of the tank. You also can have a digital readout on the exterior of the truck so you can track tank levels while loading. Electronic gauges are somewhat pricey but they’re nice. It’s a bit more than a stocking stuffer.

Exterior control panel

Having your switches outside the cab to control your pump and PTO can be a nice luxury, and possibly a great thing to have in emergencies. The on-off switches can be located under the trays or in a place that is easily accessible to the operator without going back to the cab. It simply needs to be located in a place that will remain dry and protected from road slop. Starting the system from the cab can be a waste of time, gas and money. Having exterior controls allows the operator to run when ready and quickly shut down machinery in case a strange noise is heard or something goes wrong. This doesn’t discount the cab controls. It allows operations to be controlled from inside or outside the cab.

Flashing yellow beacons

Some states require flashing beacons, and in others they are considered an optional accessory. They offer an extra safety factor so passing motorists are aware your truck is stopped and at work. The feature shows you care about safety. In today’s world of texters and talkers, you can’t be too safe in alerting people you’re working on a jobsite. Many PROs have to pull over on the road to pump restrooms, and for passing drivers, the beacons can make a difference.

In the litigious world we live in, not having beacons may make the difference between winning and losing. So, if your state doesn’t require beacons, they become a thoughtful accessory: one on top of the tank in the rear or another on top the tank at the front. Some PROs even locate them on the cab.

 

IT’S GOOD FOR BUSINESS

These accessories make a nice wish list for any PRO. Proper care and maintenance of your truck will be noticed by customers and competitors. Good appearance and efficient, safe operation can make a big difference in your bottom line. Yes, these things, if not provided by Santa, will cost money, but hopefully the return will be bigger than the investment.



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