Sweetwater Utility Exploration able to access tight spots with custom-made trailer unit.

While most utility locating companies that offer vacuum excavation use large manufacturer-named trucks, Sweetwater Utility Exploration went a different route.

The Troutman, North Carolina-based company wanted something that fit its needs exactly, so co-owner Matt Bellmann went to the drawing board and developed his own vacuum excavation trailer.

“We’re a little bit different than everybody else,” he says. “Our units can get to where a lot of others can’t.”

Related: Hydroexcavation - Vermeer by McLaughlin VX50-500

The main portion of the unit, a Utilivac, is about the size of a 55-gallon drum with wheels and a large bazooka-looking attachment on the top of the drum.

“There is a plate on top of the drum, and that plate has the bazooka-looking thing on it,” Bellmann says. “That bazooka takes in the air and pushes it over the top of the drum.”

Also on the top of the drum is a 4-inch port where the vacuum hose is attached. The unit has a door at the bottom for quick access.

“We have a 375 cfm compressor mounted on a car-hauler trailer, and then we outfitted the rest of the unit from there,” Bellmann says.

The drum portion of the unit can be wheeled out as far as necessary with hose attachments.

“We do a lot of work where guys can’t fit into because they have huge vacuum rigs,” says Bellmann.

One such job was for the City of Charlotte on a gas transmission line where the work was down a remote access road.

“We had to four-wheel drive down that access road. When we got within 400 feet of where they needed the hole, we couldn’t go any farther,” Bellmann says. “We let out the compressor lines and brought the unit out there. The big rigs wouldn’t have even been able to make it down the access road.”

He says he’s been through a few versions of the unit, making improvements along the way: “They’re a great tool and we get plenty of use out of them.”

Subscribe: If you don't want to bring your iPad into the bathroom, we can send you a magazine subscription for free!

Read more about Sweetwater Utility Exploration in this profile from the June 2016 issue of Cleaner magazine.

Related Stories

Like this story? Sign up for alerts!