Minnesota contractor relies on four identical hydroexcavation machines year-round

When customers call Davids Hydro Vac, they know exactly what they’ll get, no matter which of the company’s four workhorses roll onto their job sites. Davids owns four identical Vactor HXX PD hydrovac trucks built on Kenworth T800 chassis by Vactor Manufacturing (a subsidiary of Federal Signal Corp.).

Mike Morehouse, CEO of Davids Hydro Vac which is based out of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, believes identical trucks create great brand recognition. “It helps with maintenance, too, because we can order items in bulk,” he says.

Each truck carries a 12-cubic-yard debris body, a Hibon blower (5,250 cfm at up to 2,000 rpm), a 1,200-gallon water tank, a Cat Pumps water pump (20 gpm at 2,500 psi), a 940,00 Btu burner for heating water and dual cutting wands for increased productivity and efficiency.

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The burner heats water up to 190 degrees F, hot enough to cut through frozen ground. “We work year-round and we can’t work in winter without hot water,” Morehouse says. “With our burner, we can create a 5-foot-square by 8-foot-deep hole in one day even with 5 feet of frost.” Each truck also has a cold-weather recirculation package in which a pump constantly circulates water so it doesn’t freeze.

The trucks’ Vansco Electronics controls system increases efficiency, enabling operators to perform on-site diagnostics without a mechanic. “Before, we had to use a test light to perform diagnostics, which meant you had to find a place to ground it off and test fuses and connect lines connected,” Morehouse says. “There were so many cords running here and there that made it difficult to do. But with the Vansco system, you can see everything that’s going on with the truck on an external 7-inch LCD screen: blower speed, engine rpm, the temperature of hydraulic fluids and so forth.

“You can narrow down where a malfunction is occurring, where before it was a guessing game. It saves us a lot of time. They all break down periodically because they work in a tough environment year-round.”

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What’s the truck’s most valuable feature? “Everything,” Morehouse says. “That’s why I have four of them.

“I just like Vactor trucks. When I worked for another company, I used a Vactor. They’re very user-friendly and durable, and Vactor provides great customer service. I like the product and how it works — very uncomplicated. And it’s a nice-looking truck, too. It looks like a lighter truck because it has less metal on it.”

Five years ago, Morehouse started Davids Hydro Vac with nothing to his name — except a supportive wife, a strong mentor, technical knowledge and an unshakeable belief in himself. Read, “Persistence Pays Big,” our cover story in the January/February 2015 debut issue of Dig Different.

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