Are You Getting a Good Vacuum Truck Deal?

Let’s dissect the three parts of a “good” vacuum truck deal. Here’s what to look for when shopping for your next rig.
Are You Getting a Good Vacuum Truck Deal?
Flat Vac from Amthor International

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Vacuum truck buyers need to be as educated as possible, remembering the most cherished of all economic principles: You get what you pay for. 

There are three basic parts of a complete vacuum truck: the truck chassis, the vacuum body and the pumping system. Manufacturers or distributors can manipulate any of these three components in order to come up with attractive pricing. 

1. Truck chassis

The truck chassis alone can vary by as much as $10,000. All cabs look alike, so what items can actually make the difference? These are the questions buyers should consider: 

What size front axle? Does the enticing truck in the ad have a weight rated 8,000-pound or 10,000-pound front axle? We are strong believers in the 10,000-pound front axle, even though it may cost more money. 

What kind of transmission? There is a great deal of difference between the Allison 2000 and the MD3060, not only in terms of power but also in terms of cost. The MD3060 is a heavier, stronger transmission and costs more. And a standard version costs less than an automatic. 

What about the goodies and the bells and whistles? Power seats? Power windows? Is the interior of the truck simply stripped down or is it loaded? Again, these can add to or reduce the price of the truck. 

2. Vacuum body

When you read about a special package or look at a photo in an ad, consider these questions as part of your research: 

  • How many toolboxes?
  • Is the restroom carrier built to last or is it going to fall apart in two months?
  • How is the wiring to the work lights and the truck lights covered? Are they waterproof? Are they exposed?
  • Most importantly for you as the buyer, does it do what you want it to do? Is it designed to suit your needs or is it designed to suit the manufacturer?
  • Will the manufacturer make changes to suit you or do you have to take the truck on the shelf? 

We’ve simplified your search by compiling this list of top-notch restroom trucks and tanks: 

  • Vacuum trucks from Best Enterprises are built on a 2014 Kenworth chassis and use a 4,000-gallon stainless steel tank.
  • The LC 1500 from Ledwell is available in 900-, 1,500-, 1,750- or 2,000-gallon models, in carbon or stainless steel construction.
  • The newest vacuum truck from Pik Rite Inc. features internal plumbing for a clean look, a 20-inch rear manway with discharge valve and camlock fittings, a vacuum pump and more.
  • The Model 258 from Hino Motor Sales U.S.A. is well suited for portable restroom service.
  • The Princess II from Keith Huber Corporation is an easy-to-operate unit equipped with a high cfm vacuum pump, rear restroom carrier and four water-resistant cabinets with more than 30 cubic feet of storage space.
  • HANCO portable restroom service trucks from Southwest Products can be customized in a variety of sizes and configurations, and include dual-side service, custom lighting, restroom carriers and dual-compartment freshwater/waste tanks.
  • Among Vacuum Sales products are portable restroom service trucks. They feature rotary vane pump options that include models from Presvac, Fruitand, CVS and Jurop/Chandler.
  • The Flat Vac from Amthor International is a versatile multipurpose portable restroom tank truck.
  • The all-in-one rectangular vacuum waste tank from Crescent Tank Mfg., in sizes from 100 to 2,000 gallons, features a low-profile design with low center of gravity for hauling portable restrooms.
  • The PMT980 portable restroom service unit from Imperial Industries is a steel two-compartment tank, with a 680-gallon waste and 300-gallon freshwater capacity.
  • A portable sanitation unit from Mid-State Tank includes a 1,500-gallon stainless steel tank with 1,100-gallon waste and 400-gallon freshwater compartments installed on a 2011 Ford F-750 chassis. 
  • TankTec in partnership with FlowMark offers a finished truck with a 1,200-gallon aluminum tank (900 waste/300 water), Masport or NVE pumps and all the normal options of a well equipped portable restroom service truck. It is available with either a Ford F550 V10  or Ram 5500 Hemi gas engine as an alternative to diesel power.
  • The portable restroom service truck from Lely Tank & Waste Solutions has a 1,200-gallon, two-compartment steel tank with an 800-gallon waste compartment and a 400-gallon easy-fill freshwater compartment. The tank is mounted on a 2015 Ford F-550 with a 300 hp diesel engine and an automatic transmission. The vacuum system includes a Fruitland Eliminator RCF 250 pump package with 195 cfm free airflow.

3. Pump system

The third factor in this vacuum truck package pricing is the pump system. Is the included pump adequate for the size of the tank? Is it the minimum size pump, the maximum, or something in the middle? Is it the pump you want? Can you change the pump or are you stuck taking what they are offering? 

How about the gearbox? There are cheap gearboxes that will get you to work for a while and there are gearboxes you don’t have to worry about. Ask the manufacturer for the specifics on the gearbox. If they simply say it’s a “good one,” ask if there’s a better one. 

There are other ways to cut the quality and price of the vacuum truck within the pumping system. Ask about the quality of components such as primary, secondary and the oil catch muffler. 

We have all the pump options you need right here:

  • The PV750 rotary vane pump from Presvac Systems is designed for continuous full vacuum operation in extreme conditions.
  • The VK650 fan-cooled vacuum/pressure pump from Masport features an integrated inlet filter that includes a washable stainless steel filter for long filter life.
  • The Eliminator 250 vacuum pump package from Fruitland Manufacturing is specifically designed for the portable sanitation service industry, and includes an RCF250 commercial and continuous duty vacuum pump that creates 180 cfm.
  • The PM60A air-cooled vacuum pump from Moro USA weighs 265 pounds, has 29 psi positive pressure capability, 198 cfm free airflow at 1,100 rpm, and a suggested tank size between 500 to 2,500 gallons.
  • The 4307 Challenger Series tri-lobe blower package from National Vacuum Equipment includes a 535 cfm blower that can generate 26 to 27 inches Hg of continuous vacuum power, depending on working conditions.
  • Conde Powerpak preassembled, gasoline- or diesel-powered vacuum pump units from Westmoor Ltd. are installed by simply bolting them down and attaching them to the tank.
  • The Jurop R260 vacuum pump from Jurop/Chandler requires an input of 540 to 1,000 rpm and creates an output of 363 cfm at free air (304 cfm at 18 inches Hg), while producing a maximum pressure of 25 psi and maintaining 92 percent vacuum efficiency.
  • Emperor Pump KFZ Series aggressive environment pumps from Water Cannon are rated up to 112 gpm at pressures up to 21,750 psi.

When comparing steel and aluminum vacuum trucks side-by-side, it is important to understand the truck, tank and pump specifications of both trucks. Any deviation could cause significant changes in the price of the completed units. Before you buy, especially when you buy a pre-built unit off the shelf, find out what you are getting. 

The manufacturer or distributor should be able and more than happy to supply you with answers to any of your questions. You might be getting a low price, but is the truck going to do the job you need done over time? Always hark back to the basic rules: First, it’s your money. Second, you get what you pay for. 

Click here and here for complete product listings and manufacturer contact information.

Bob Carlson is author of Pumper 101: The Complete Guide to Owning and Operating a Vacuum Truck and has spent many years building and repairing trucks for the portable sanitation industry.


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