Custom Portable Sanitation Rig Out-Shines Competition

With hundreds of running lights and a clean, professional appearance, J.R. Thompson’s portable sanitation rig attracts attention day and night.
Custom Portable Sanitation Rig Out-Shines Competition
J.R. Thompson and wife Coale with T & T’s PRO Ride. (Photo courtesy of T & T Port-O-Let)

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THE RIG: 2007 Ford F-750 with 1,100-gallon waste/400-gallon freshwater tank used for running a daily portable sanitation service route

COMPANY: T & T Port-O-Let Service, in Clements, Md., was started in the late 1980s by Joseph “Buddy” Thompson and his wife, Louise, as a sweeping business cleaning up parking lots and construction sites. Their son, Joseph “Ricky” Thompson, started running a dump truck business later, and then father and son were joined by grandson Joseph “J.R.” Thompson in the portable sanitation business starting in 2007. Louise works in the office on the sweeper side of the business and J.R.’s sister, Jennifer, takes care of the portable sanitation side. The company currently has an inventory of about 250 restrooms and four vacuum service trucks serving mostly construction accounts. It does work one big event, the Air Expo every other year at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in California, Md., which requires 200 units.


SPECS: The F-750 is powered by a 5.9-liter Cummins in-line 6 cylinder, 24-valve engine putting out 325 hp and tied to an Allison auto transmission. Abernethy Welding added the split and baffled 1,500-gallon steel tank with dual topside manways and a Masport pump, as well as diamondplate equipment boxes on both sides and a folding restroom rack on the back. The truck runs on polished 22.5-inch Alcoa aluminum wheels and has HID headlights. It was also delivered with spray-on bed-liner on the hose trays and up the bottom half of the tank. J.R. Thompson added 240 running lights, 40 strobe lights and work lights out back for night jobs. A serious truck enthusiast, Thompson also added some bling in the form of 7-inch custom chrome stacks, a windshield visor and lighted aluminum bumper guide sticks. And he added chrome quarter fenders in the back to keep slop from splashing on the underside of the truck.

SHOWING MY COLORS: Every vehicle Buddy Thompson owned since he was a teenager has been white, so the family continued the trend with the F-750. “The orange graphics are something to stand out bright when you’re going down the road,” J.R. Thompson says. “If I had my way, all our restrooms would be white and orange, but they would get torn up quick on construction sites.” The bold T & T logo and a phone number along the hose racks were produced by Double J Graphics. The truck doors are unadorned with advertising, but have accent pinstriping.

WORKIN’ FOR A LIVIN’: In the busy summer season, J.R. services 45-50 restrooms daily on what averages a 100-mile route. His stops include the Naval Air Station, and commercial and residential construction sites. Routes are designed in a circle and all the trucks are outfitted with a GPS to make the job easier.

ROLLING THE ODOMETER: The F-750 has racked up 140,000 miles on the odometer since T & T bought it in 2009, but Thompson put on 52,000 in 2012 alone prompted by an increase in government contract work.

WHAT I LIKE MOST ABOUT MY TRUCK: Thompson is a nut for accent lights, and he’s added all of the running and strobe lights that he says makes the truck stand out like a fire truck at night. He’s working on ideas to light up the tank, which currently doesn’t have any running lights. “I love lights. I want to be noticed when I go down the road early in the morning or at night. When people see me, they’ll remember me.” That’s not always a good thing. Thompson recalls when a sheriff’s deputy – who likely got up on the wrong side of the bed that day – stopped Thompson and complained that the truck had too many lights and could be a distraction for the motoring public. Thompson was given a citation, which a judge promptly threw out. Thompson also likes the maneuverability of the F-750 and the fuel economy, which he says is actually better than a smaller F-550 the company runs.

CREATURE COMFORTS: The cab is driver-friendly, with an aftermarket stereo and subwoofers behind the seat “for a bigger beat,” Thompson says. The truck also sports air-ride seats, cruise control, power windows, tilt-wheel and entry grab handles. Thompson added a Galaxy CB so he can communicate old-school with area trucking buddies. He also added tinted windows all around, with triple tinting in the rear window to reduce glare.

WHY FORD? Thompson and his father wanted to buy a Peterbilt chassis for this truck, but couldn’t find one at the time, and it turned out the Pete’s would be $12,000 more than Ford. They still dream of owning a Peterbilt, maybe when this truck goes out of service. “The truck has been very good. It pulls its weight. When I get it full, it’s got some torque behind it,” he says. “It’s been very reliable, and maintenance is the key.”

PAMPERING MY RIG: Thompson is a stickler for keeping his rigs looking good. In winter and rainy weather, the truck is parked inside the shop. In the summer, he often brings it home where he can give it more attention with weekly washes, monthly waxing and extra detailing, like polishing the wheels. “If I’m not cutting grass at my house, I’m bringing the truck home and I’m stuck on it all evening. I love a truck and like having my hands on them,” he says. In the cab, Thompson sweeps out the vinyl flooring nightly, and often hits it with a vacuum. He wipes down the dashboard with a wet chamois to keep the dust down, and doesn’t use chemicals – like products designed to rejuvenate plastic or vinyl – as he believes they attract dust and lead to discoloration. He does all the typical maintenance, changing the oil every 5,000 miles.

MY BACKUP SERVICE VEHICLE: A 2001 Chevy dually with a 300-gallon waste/100-gallon freshwater Marsh Industrial slide-in tank

WHEN I’M NOT IN THE CAB: Thompson is a “shade tree” mechanic who details trucks for others in his spare time. He’s also into customizing his Chevy Duramax diesel pickup that he drags at a local racetrack. When he’s not under the hood, he’s spending time with his wife, Coale. The pair attends diesel truck events together on weekends.


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