While much of the country has had to shut down during the pandemic, the propane industry and its trucks have kept rolling. The companies that build and service those trucks, too, have been busy refining existing products and adding new ones.
Since the industry was not able to gather at spring trade shows this year to see the latest trucks and transport trailers firsthand, we asked several builders to share with BPN readers the options they are currently promoting.
Several mentioned that one feature to be highlighted during these unusual times is product availability. Production of many of the chassis used to build propane trucks was halted for several weeks during the pandemic. As this was written, the plants of the chassis manufacturers had just reopened. The truck builders said there may be lingering effects on lead times for new propane trucks, because many suppliers of truck components were shut down as well.
Arrow Tank and Engineering Co.
(Minneapolis) has expanded its products to include bulk storage vessels, skid tanks, porta-pacs, and transport trailers.
When designing its new “Standard” LPG Transport Trailer, Arrow focused on preventing corrosion. “We all know what the road salts do to vehicles and equipment,” said Nate Jacobsen, transport trailer manager. “So, as standard, front and rear framing is constructed of stainless steel.” Another highlight is a suspension that includes stainless hangers and shock-less air ride suspensions. “We also provide custom design trailers to optimize bridge and weight requirements per customer tractor layout and states of operation,” he added.
Among the porta-pacs now offered by Arrow is a 20,700-gal. unit that is street legal and NFPA compliant. “Our tank design sets it apart from the others by eliminating the need to apply for ‘oversized load’ permits, making it street legal when transported empty on most roads throughout the country,” explained Tim Schweppe, general manager, propane division. “Limiting the overall width to 102 inches meets the federal size limit and lowers the center of gravity. Likewise, the overall length and empty axle weights are under the maximum threshold for most states.”
For more information about the new product lines, visit www.arrowbobtails.com
(Morris, Minn.) planned to introduce three bobtails and one transport at the NPGA Expo in Nashville. All have features that are either refined or new, said Milt Swenson, territory manager, vessel sales and special projects.
Westmor’s new LP4 system was fitted to the Mid-Delivery 3200-Gallon Blueline BX Bobtail. The new system provides both high-flow and low-flow deliveries, with flow rates from 5 gpm to 100 gpm, using only one meter, and allows for delivery from either side in front of the tank or from a rear-mounted delivery hose reel. It also features Westmor’s patented Ergoload filling system with the sprayfill at waist height instead of chest height.
The Stainless Ergoload Enclosed Deck is another new offering on a Westmor Bobtail. Previously, the Ergoload was only available on an open deck.
A new lightweight 6400-gal. tank rounds out the new bobtail offerings, needing only a tandem axle chassis to meet weight limits in most areas of the country.
Optional metered delivery was added to an 11,500-gallon 250-psi Proline Transport. This transport trailer was designed to make weights and measures-approved deliveries to larger sites while metering the delivery when necessary.
These products will be on display in a Westmor Virtual Trade Show, available starting May 27 on the company’s website, www.westmor-ind.com
H&H Sales Co.
(Huntertown, Ind.) is emphasizing the new options now available from Ford. The automaker’s Super Duty chassis cabs are now offered with a new 7.3-liter gasoline engine, an updated 6.7-liter diesel engine, and a new 10-speed transmission.
The truck bodies H&H Sales adds to those chassis, to build cylinder delivery trucks and crane/service trucks, have also been fine-tuned. “We have upgraded the quality of the manufacturing process and the finish,” said CEO John Hawkins. The company has improved its welding process and begun using improved brands of paint and painting equipment, he explained. For the end user, that means a truck with better welds and an upgraded paint finish.
Looking ahead, H&H Sales will soon be offering Ford’s all-new F-600 Super Duty chassis cab. Due to arrive late summer, the F-600 will be the same size as the F-550 but will have a maximum GVWR of 22,000 pounds. “That will allow an additional 2500 pounds of payload capacity on the chassis, for customers who want to put a lot more equipment on their truck,” Hawkins explained.
He noted that truck buyers should expect longer lead times. Ford, GM, and Fiat Chrysler halted production at their North American plants in March in response to the pandemic. As this was written, they were planning to begin a phased restart May 18. “It’s going to take time to get back to normal,” he added.
For current details, visit www.hhsalescompany.com
The key item JARCO
(Salem, Ill.) is currently promoting is the availability of both its transport trailers and bobtails. The Big 3 makers of chassis for bobtails (Kenworth, Peterbilt, and Freightliner) were shut down for several weeks in response to the pandemic.
“What that means to us and to propane marketers is that if they order now, we’ll get the chassis in August or September and then have to build it up,” explained Tim Thrash, sales manager at JARCO.
“Most marketers like to have their new truck in early September so they can put it through its paces before the start of the winter heating season,” he added. “That is why it’s important that we have stock units; marketers can have them now rather than in October or November.”
In mid-May, the stock bobtails included 3200-gal. tank units on Kenworth, Freightliner, and Peterbilt chassis, and 3400-gal. tank units on Kenworth and Freightliner chassis. Stock bobtails in production included 5000-gal. tank units on Kenworth and Freightliner chassis. Stock transport trailers included 10,600 gallon (265 psi) MC-331 and 11,600 gallon (250 psi) MC-331.
“With everything being uncertain, some people waited,” Thrash said. “We went the opposite way, we went bigger rather than scaling back. We wanted to keep our guys busy and have trucks ready to go. So, now, we have chassis and we have built-up units.”
For more information, visit www.jarco.com
At Ransome Mfg,
backup cameras and strobe lights are options that are chosen so often, they are virtually standard equipment, said Arch Hudelson, special projects director, western region.
“Cameras take some of the worry out of being in close proximity to objects and other vehicles,” he pointed out. “Especially given that our propane industry is operating in winter months with inclement weather and shorter daylight hours, these cameras appear to have better visual low-light sensitivity than normal vision.”
As for strobe lights, he added. “These identify and heighten notification of delivery status for other vehicles in the area.”
Three other options have also seen growing popularity, Hudelson said. One is a protective coating that reduces corrosion and dents and adds soundproofing. Another is mounting systems for computer hardware.
The third fast-growing option is manufactured by STAC Inc. “This is a heat exchanger that circulates engine coolant through one side and propane through the other segment,” Hudelson explained. “A portion of heat from engine coolant boosts the pressure/temperature values, thus eliminating some of the low-temp pumping issues one might encounter in extreme cold conditions.”
Ransome planned to display these options on three bobtails at the spring trade shows: a Peterbilt, a Kenworth, and a Freightliner.
For more information, visit www.meeder.com
(Roberts, Ill.) offers two features influenced by engineering seen on fire trucks. The company had planned to highlight them while displaying a 2020 Kenworth T370 bobtail at the spring trade shows.
The company’s mandrel-bent plumbing package provides improved delivery flow through less product turbulence. On fire trucks, the fewer hoses and couplings used, the lesser the turbulence and the greater the flow of water. Similarly, on bobtails, Rocket Supply uses straight pipe with a mandrel bend that creates a jointless 90º angle. “That eliminates as many as six to eight turbulence points in the plumbing,” explained Steve Bloomstrand, sales and marketing manager. “Eliminating restrictive joints improves flow.”
The second feature is a custom-engineered electrical system with weatherproof connectors and a blueprinted harness for long-term reliability and ease of repair. This was designed for Rocket Supply by a company that also makes systems for fire trucks. It uses braided harness that is black but has different colored braids embedded throughout the harness. If a part needs to be replaced, it can be identified by the color. The wiring comes together in a power distribution box that is made from stainless steel and is easily accessible on the exterior of the truck. LED burn fuses located in the power distribution box, make it easy to see which part has failed.
For more information, visit www.rocketsupply.com
Fisk Tank Carrier
(Columbus, Wis.) has developed a new truck meant for use in both the propane industry and related fields.
Called the TX-4, the truck has a 12-ft bed, 16-in.-deep boxes on the driver side, 22-in.-deep boxes on the passenger side, and room for a 500-gal. tank in between. It is also equipped with a crane, a liftgate, a staircase, an all-enclosed bed, and it rides on a 19,500 GVW chassis.
“Our clientele were looking for new-style functionality in a truck; they wanted a truck that can set a tank but also be used for HVAC and plumbing work,” said Josh Budworth, director of sales and operations. “There are many uses for this truck.”
“It has our E-track system all the way around the inside, as well as six additional 5000-pound tie downs in the bed floor, so they can strap things down securely,” he added.
The new TX-4 joins two other crane trucks in the Fisk Tank Carrier lineup that are mainly used in the propane industry: the TX-1 knuckle boom and the TX-2 stick boom.
For more information, visit www.fiskinc.net
White River Distributors
is offering truck buyers several finance plans. The company had planned to discuss these plans with buyers while displaying a Kenworth with a 3400-gal. tank at the spring trade shows. Then, the pandemic began and made these terms even more valuable.
“The gloom and doom with COVID-19 has created a difficult situation,” said Danny McElroy, executive vice president and general manager of White River Distributors Southwest Sales Center (Dallas). “So we can help customers out with these unique finance plans.”
Same-day approval: “If you are in dire need, and you need a truck right now, we offer same-day approval,” he explained.
Deferred payment financing: “We defer payments for three months. If business is slow for a customer during the summer, we offer deferred payments during those months, at no cost to the customer.”
Terms out to 84 months. “Terms up to 84 months and no pre-payment penalty with credit approval.” Finance tax, title, and delivery: “We add tax, title, and delivery all into the one note. To my knowledge, no one has ever done that before.”
Reservations: “We also can hold a truck, build it, and deliver it when they are ready. The customer doesn’t have to take it now or pay now; we will build it now and deliver it when they need it.”
“We have chassis inventory to reserve today,” McElroy added. For more information, visit www.lpgbobtails.com
’ dealership locations throughout the U.S. offer the LPG Bobtail and the LP Crane Truck. Both are manufactured by Summit Truck Bodies, a sister company of Transwest that has manufactured more than 10,000 trucks.
“They come loaded with lots of features and also many options for customization to meet each customer’s specific needs,” said Shawn Kellen, tank specialist at Transwest Trailers.
On the LPG Bobtail, Hannay hose reels are available in a variety of materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, and carbon. A Guidemaster reel can be added so drivers don’t have to manually hold the hose. All LPG bobtails include remote controls at the back; openings that are covered to keep debris out of the cabinet; and wiring to the cabinet that is covered. “A lot of the focus is on durability and ease of serviceability,” Kellen added.
On the LP Crane Truck, features that come on every model include auto hook release on the crane; a capacity rating of 6000 pounds at 5 feet; a backup alarm; a reach of 29 feet; and remote engine start-stop.
Videos about the two trucks are available on YouTube: the LPG Bobtail is at https://youtu.be/oPc_wUlVw7g
and the LP Crane Truck is at https://youtu.be/ixFo8WnJcyE
To see available inventory and specific dealership location information, visit https://www.transwest.com/trailers/
Kurtz Truck Equipment
(Marathon, N.Y.) had planned to highlight the safety features of a bobtail that was going to be displayed at the spring trade shows. The bobtail is a Kenworth T370 with a 3499-gal. tank from Arrow.
Roger Smith, general manager and vice president of marketing, propane sales, highlighted two safety features on the bobtail. The first is the STAC hydraulic drive pumping system that eliminates the need of a power take-off (PTO) shaft. “There is a safety factor with a rotating PTO shaft, if someone crawls underneath the truck with the PTO engaged (which no one should ever do), which could result in serious injury or death,” Smith explained. “With this system, there is no PTO shaft.”
The other safety feature is a transmission interlock on the truck filler valve and the nozzle holder, which prohibits engagement of the transmission unless both are properly stowed away.
A second truck is a custom aluminum body crane truck specifically designed for the propane industry. This is mounted on a Ford F-550 chassis. It is equipped with a 6800-lb crane, hydraulic outriggers, a wireless crane remote, and a rear liftgate. “It also has many storage compartments, a heavy duty concrete block box, and underbody tool boxes; storage and more storage, that’s what people want nowadays,” Smith added.
For more information, visit www.kurtztruckequipment.com
has developed aftermarket autogas systems for two new engine platforms. Both are products that can benefit propane marketers’ own fleets.
First is the 2021 Ford 7.3-liter V8. This engine is standard equipment in the F-450, F-550, new F-600, F-650, and F-750. The F-450, F-550, and F-600 may be used as tank set and service trucks, while the F-650 and F-750 are used as cylinder delivery trucks and bobtails. “Our bi-fuel offering has already been chassis certified and we are beginning to ship now,” says Ed Hoffman, president of Blossman Services (Swannanoa, N.C.), the distribution partner for Alliance AutoGas systems.
Second is GM’s new 6.6-liter direct injection V8, the workhorse engine for the automaker’s 2500-3500 truck line. “For marketers that enjoy GM platforms, this engine has increased torque and horsepower over the 6.0 V8 it replaces,” Hoffman explains. “With the increases in performance of these engines, there is really no need to buy diesel for these Class 2-5 vehicles.”
“The gasoline base can decrease upfront costs and maintenance, and the addition of our AutoGas systems allows marketers to use their own fuel,” he concluded. “With today’s wholesale prices and tax rebates, who wouldn’t want to pay 50 cents a gallon (or less!) to fuel their fleet?”
For more information, visit www.allianceautogas.com
Signature Truck Systems LLC
(Clio, Mich.) has added a new crane truck and a new bobtail to its lineup.
The Linebacker crane truck features a 16.5-ft-long by 8-ft-wide heavy-duty Aluminum Linebacker body. “The longer aluminum bed—16.5 feet—allows hauling of two 1000-gal. tanks,” said Mike VanDenBoom, president. This is mounted on a 2020 Chevrolet 6500 4x4 that has a GVW of 22,500 pounds to allow additional payload. The truck is also fitted with a new HT45KX Venturo crane with Venturo Logic Controls (VLC); a Theiman liftgate; a lightweight aluminum flip-down clam step that allows easy access to the bed area; and a remote stow alarm/indicator that prevents the operator from misplacing the remote control.
The second new vehicle, the Easy Load Bobtail, features an Easy Load system that incorporates an all-new lower deck design that lowers the hose reel, meter, and spray fill and vapor line for better ergonomics. The bobtail is also equipped with a spray fill pull away protection sensor; a vapor return pull away protection sensor; and a delivery nozzle stow sensor. Its air-operated Muncie Hot Shift PTO has a cab warning light wigwag feature that flashes when the PTO is engaged.
Both vehicles will be featured in the Virtual Propane Expo (www.virtualpropaneexpo.com
), available starting May 28.
Additional information is available at www.signaturetruckllc.com
Lin’s Propane Trucks
(Dighton, Mass.) is known for using stainless steel rather than ordinary steel or aluminum to prevent corrosion and rust. The company was going to highlight this on a bobtail displayed at the spring trade shows.
“We’ve always built a stainless steel deck and offered stainless steel piping, but we have now been offering the complete stainless solution with a stainless steel engineered bumper system,” explained Scott Swensen, sales. “Customers can now get a stainless steel lowered deck, piping, and valves complete with the stainless steel bumper system. When everything is stainless steel, corrosion is never an issue.”
“We’ve been doing that for about a year,” he added. “In New England, with the salt and chemicals they put on the roads, stainless steel is important for durability, to keep the bobtail looking good, and to lower maintenance costs.”
Two trends Swensen reports seeing among truck buyers are a growing popularity of both disc brakes and heat exchangers. Today, more buyers spec disc brakes on bobtails, he said. More also add STAC heat exchangers, which use engine coolant to heat propane and add vapor pressure back to the tank, stabilizing the tank’s pressure and giving the pump a constant rate of flow.
“People like what they get when they put these heat exchangers on—reduced cavitation, more gallons per minute, and a longer pump life.” Swensen explained. “When they get it on one truck, they like it so much, they spec it on every truck.”
For more information, visit www.linspropanetrucks.com
Mississippi Tank Co.
(Hattiesburg, Miss.) was going to display three transport trailers and a bobtail at the NPGA Expo. All are equipped with options that have been becoming increasingly popular, said Mike Pitts, vice president/sales.
The trailers included wide track axles for increased stability. “Wide base tires are also popular because only one tire at each end of the axle saves weight while improving stability,” Pitts explained.
Other weight-saving options include alloy wheels and aluminum landing gear. “To get the big payloads, some customers will do everything that can be done to reduce the weight of the tractor and trailer,” he reported. (Photo below.)
Also popular are options that prevent rock chips. These include Pro-Tex, which is a coating that is applied to the lower portion of the trailer, and a stainless steel rock guard that is mounted in front of the suspension.
A growing number of customers are selecting a hydraulic drive that replaces a power take-off (PTO). “We try to get customers to go with that,” Pitts said. “The pump lasts a lot longer, and it’s safer because there is no rotating shaft.”
The bobtail Mississippi Tank planned to display features a printer mounted in the cab; a Guidemaster on the Hannay reel; and Betts LED lights. “These are very common in the industry now,” Pitts said. “They have become an industry standard.”
For more information about these and other options, visit www.mstank.com
— Steve Relyea