GapVax Combo Unit’s Versatility Justifies Price Tag

Challenging jobs don’t faze this super-sized vac truck that’s built to last

GapVax Combo Unit’s Versatility Justifies Price Tag

Podgurski Corp. uses its GapVax HV55 combination machine for a variety of applications, from hydroexcavation and removing debris from sewer lines to vacuuming out industrial and commercial tanks to cleaning pipelines or components at municipal wastewater treatment plants. 

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Chris Podgurski can sum up in only three words why he ordered a custom-built, super-sized GapVax combo vacuum truck that he calls the “baddest machine around.” Bigger is better.

“It’s a monster of a truck,” says Podgurski, owner of Podgurski Corp., a sewer and industrial cleaning and utility installation company based in Canton, Massachusetts, a southwest suburb of Boston. Founded in 1940 by his grandfather, the company employs 29 people, runs six vacuum trucks and serves customers throughout southern New England.

“The tires are bigger,” Podgurski continues. “The blower is bigger. The brakes are bigger. The water pump is bigger. Virtually everything is bigger. And when you make things bigger, they last longer.”

The company took delivery of the HV55 Series truck in January. The cost? A cool $765,000.

“I did flinch a little,” Podgurski says of the price tag. “But now we have customers that call us and specifically ask for that truck because it can move so much air. It differentiates us in our market, so it was worth the price.”

Can-do machine

The truck is used in a variety of applications, from hydroexcavation and removing debris from sewer lines to vacuuming out industrial and commercial tanks to cleaning pipelines or components at municipal wastewater treatment plants.

“You name it, we do it — except for handling hazardous waste,” Podgurski says.

The truck is especially valuable for its ability to work effectively and efficiently on deep, vertical cleaning jobs.

“High cfm rules in this industry,” he says. “Whether we’re doing wet or dry work, we can move so much more air, so our productivity is so much better. This truck is designed for long, deep and sustained pulls.”

As an example, Podgurski cites drainage systems in Boston’s subway system that the company cleans periodically. The drainlines are 200 feet underground, but that depth doesn’t pose a problem.

“With this truck, we’re not afraid to tackle more challenging jobs that other companies can’t do,” Podgurski says.

Furthermore, it can do both wet and dry vacuuming work, which further enhances its versatility.

“I like to be able to do it all and this truck helps us do that because it can be used for so many different things,” he says.

Big red machine

Built on a Peterbilt chassis, the truck features a 12 1/2-cubic-yard debris tank; a 1,200-gallon water tank; a blower from HIBON (a brand owned by Ingersoll Rand) that generates 5,250 cfm of suction; a Giant high-pressure triplex water pump (2,500 psi at 85 gpm) for jetting; another water pump (2,500 psi at 47 gpm) for hydroexcavating; 600 feet of 1-inch-diameter jetting hose; a 25-foot-long, front-mounted telescoping boom that rotates 330 degrees; and a front-mounted, articulating hose reel.

The truck — which employees have nicknamed “Big Red,” a nod to both its size and its eye-catching, fire-engine-red paint job — also features two front steering axles, each with 22,000-pound weight capacity.

“The sheer weight of the truck, especially with the water system and the front-mounted hose reel, required a design with two front axles,” Podgurski explains.

Other features also reflect the truck’s heavy-duty design: a 565 Cummins diesel engine; a 55,000-pound rear-suspension system; and a stainless steel body and debris tank.

“I did that for longevity,” he says. “This truck is not going to rust out, at least not on my watch. A vac truck we used to own was approaching 10 years old, and some of the carbon steel sheet metal was starting to show signs of wear. The stainless steel costs a lot more, but it’s well worth it in the end.”

Productivity and revenue enhancer

Podgurski believes that the truck eventually will pay for itself by expanding the company’s markets and increasing productivity. It also decreases operating costs, which will help hasten a good return on investment.

“Now we can do both dry and wet vacuuming, which will generate more business,” he says. “None of our other vac trucks are designed to do both.”

The truck’s ability to perform deep vertical runs also expands the company’s market for vacuum services. At the same time, the blower system is designed to keep the blower cool, so there’s none of the lost productivity typically incurred when operators have to stop and give the blower a break to keep it from overheating, Podgurski notes.

“The truck also features a full duty cycle,” he says. “With the GapVax system, you literally can submerge the tube into waste and it’ll keep pumping until the tank is full — no need to stop. That kind of productivity allows us to charge a premium rate for the truck. And it’s another reason why customers keep asking for this truck.

“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime machine and I believe it will last long after I retire and my son is running the company.”


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