Truck Tricks: How To Extend the Life of Your Sewer Cleaner

Combination sewer cleaners aren’t cheap. See how simply following directions lets this contractor run his rigs for 10 years.

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Truck Tricks: How To Extend the Life of Your Sewer Cleaner
Tim Everson of Everson’s Econo-Vac, Inc. in Sumner, Wash., knows how to make a rig last a long time — just follow the directions. Their latest addition is this brand-new 2015 Vac-Con combination sewer cleaner.

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When you spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle, you have to make that rig last a long time. Tim Everson of Everson’s Econo-Vac, Inc. in Sumner, Wash., knows how to do it — just follow the directions. “You do what the OEM tells you to do. It’s honestly that simple, adhere to the service intervals.” 

And he does. Some of his trucks have more than 38,000 hours on them. “That can be 15 years old, and they still run every day,” he says.

“It just kills me to see a municipality invest money in the trucks they buy and get rid of them every six or seven years,” he says. “There’s still a lot of truck left. I couldn’t afford to do that. I have to run these trucks at least eight to 10 years.” 

You have how many?

Everson’s has nine 12-yard Vac-Con combination sewer cleaning machines on the road full-time every day. They include both three-stage centrifugal compressors fan models and the Roots 827 positive displacement blowers. They vary from 50 to 80 gpm with pressures from 2,000 to 3,000 psi. 

The company provides vacuum and hydroexcavating services, commercial sweeping and CCTV video inspection. In his 25 years, Everson has purchased only Vac-Con trucks so all vehicles have common designs and parts. 

All the service parameters for each truck and component are entered into a planning program on his computer to make sure maintenance is done on time. Two full-time mechanics, Fred Kidder and Zach Bush, review the schedule weekly. They do maintenance on the fleet from 4 p.m. to midnight, or longer, to make sure all the trucks are ready to roll the next day. 

Everson created the schedule himself using his planning software from FranklinCovey, and then began adding some predictive maintenance items of his own. A file is kept on every truck from the day it arrives. If a part fails, they look at the miles and hours and adjust the maintenance schedule for the other vehicles to prevent it from happening again. 

Keep on truckin’

“We have two people per truck, so that’s more than $100 an hour in labor sitting in each truck,” Everson says. “If one of them breaks down for something as simple as a belt tensioner or bearing, you then have $150 an hour for a mechanic and truck going out to retrieve those two guys, and you have a customer sitting there waiting for service.

“We’re a service company, we have to eliminate the potential problems we have control of. We’re about 99 percent successful in that.” 

To extend boom life, they are rotated on a regular basis to reduce wear. “When you vacuum every day, you’re going to wear the same part of the boom,” he says. “Every three months, we rotate the boom one set of bolt holes in a clockwise rotation. We can get about four to six times the life out of that boom.” 

That’s important with such a major investment. “My first truck in 1989 was $136,000. My last one was $410,000,” Everson says. 

He buys a new truck about every six years and finances them for five years. That means most of the trucks are paid off long before he’s done using them.

He added a new 2015 Vac-Con this year. “The economy is picking up and things are busy again, so we’re beginning to upgrade our equipment.” 

He’s also looking to upgrade his preventive maintenance system. “We’re looking at fleet software programs that incorporate the use of GPS to take it to the next level.”  

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