The Transporter Takes Jetter Hose to Hard-to-Reach Places

Easement machine helps contractor clean sewers in otherwise inaccessible locations

The Transporter Takes Jetter Hose to Hard-to-Reach Places

Great Lakes TV Seal co-owner Greg Healy (right) operates the KWMI Equipment Transporter easement machine while technician Matt Schwartz holds a portable light for him.

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Great Lakes TV Seal has established a reputation for tackling sewer cleaning jobs that other companies won’t even consider. And a tracked easement machine that the company purchased more than a decade ago played a big role in building that reputation.

“We do a lot of remote-access jobs,” says Brett Healy, who co-owns the Green Bay, Wisconsin-based company with his brother, Greg Healy. “A lot of sewers in our area were placed in easements and other hard-to-reach locations, so we needed a machine that could help us access those lines.”

The brothers found a solution in the Transporter, made by KWMI Equipment in Alabama.

For a project that exemplifies the machine’s value, consider a sewer cleaning job Great Lakes TV Seal performed in 2007 in Kaukauna — in the middle of the Fox River. After the Army Corps of Engineers shut down a nearby dam to expose the riverbed, a crane lowered the easement machine about 20 feet down onto the riverbed. Then it was used to clean roughly 1,000 feet of a 48-inch-diameter interceptor line.

“The job just wouldn’t be possible without the easement machine,” Healy says. “In fact, a lot of the jobs we do involve lines that haven’t been cleaned in decades because the manholes are so inaccessible.”

On another project, the machine helped clean about 3,500 feet of sewer line running under a heavily wooded ravine in a suburb of Green Bay; the line’s diameter fluctuated from 8 to 10 to 12 inches. “There was no way we were going to get a combo truck back there,” Healy says. “You couldn’t even get a pickup truck through there.”

The machine proves its mettle on indoor jobs, too, such as cleaning sewer lines in factories where a vacuum truck can’t get close enough to work. “Back in the day, we would’ve hauled hose in off a combo truck, with three or four guys pulling it by hand,” Healy explains. “Now we just drive the easement machine inside. We put what’s called a scrubber on the exhaust system, which superheats the exhaust and burns off the carbon monoxide, so we can use it indoors.”


The machine basically acts as an extension of a combination vacuum truck. Great Lakes TV Seal owns three Vactor combination vacuum trucks, all 2100 Plus models; one of them runs on recycled water. They all feature 12- to 15-cubic-yard debris tanks, 1,500-gallon water tanks and blowers made by Roots (Howden), and they carry 800 feet of 1-inch-diameter hose.

The Transporter’s standard variable-speed reel can carry 600 feet of 1-inch-diameter hose, but Great Lakes TV Seal spec’d an 800-foot-capacity reel on the model it purchased about 15 years ago. Powered by a 25 hp Kohler gasoline engine, the machine also features a water-pressure gauge, a footage counter and two 10-inch-wide rubber tracks. Great Lakes TV Seal also added a hydraulic tilt-bed option.

The machine weighs about 3,200 pounds and measures 5 1/2 feet tall, 46 inches wide and 9 1/2 feet long. And the reel is removable, which allows Great Lakes TV Seal crews to use it to transport heavy tools and equipment to remote areas.

Many of the manhole locations are so inaccessible — think swamps and remote areas in parks — that getting to them would require a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources, as well as expensive post-job landscape restoration.

“No one likes to do that because it’s expensive and carries a lot of unknowns and risks,” Healy says. But the tracked Transporter can usually traverse such terrain, even in mud and snow, without damaging it. “We’ve never run into terrain it can’t handle.”

On the other hand, Great Lakes TV Seal also uses the Transporter on landscape-sensitive jobs that require driving on golf courses and lawns in residential subdivisions. “As long as you’re careful, it’ll do almost no damage to grass while turning,” he says. “And it’s small enough to fit through a 4-foot-wide fence gate.”


The machine also provides labor-saving and injury-reduction benefits, which boost productivity. Most jobs now require just two employees — one on the vacuum truck and one on the easement machine — as opposed to four or five employees before the machine was purchased.

“Less labor means lower costs for our customers, which helps us be more competitive on pricing,” Healy says. “And the guys appreciate it because they’re less likely to slip or fall and get back injuries. So along with helping us do jobs other companies can’t, it also makes jobs easier for our employees.”

Jobs go faster, too. Pulling hundreds of feet of hose by hand might take two hours, but with the easement machine, it’s only half an hour, he adds.

To clean long-neglected sewer lines, Healy uses higher-end jetting nozzles made by Enz Technik AG, StoneAge and KEG Technologies.

At a cost of around $30,000, the Transporter represents a significant capital investment. But the return on investment is substantial, both in terms of the contracts it helps Great Lakes TV Seal win and the reputation it has helped the company build as a go-to contractor for difficult jobs.

“That machine has more than paid for itself,” Healy says. “It also helps pay for our combination vac trucks. I don’t know where we’d be without it.”


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