More manufacturers are recognizing that those working in municipal environments have to be especially leery of weight


The hydroexcavation industry has a weight problem.

Trucks are exceeding road weight limits when fully loaded, giving operators two choices: Risk a hefty fine, or greatly underuse the debris tank’s capacity. It’s a problem manufacturers are trying to solve, and many who attended the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show in Indianapolis had their solutions on display.

Take the Rival Hydrovac, built by Canadian-based company Foremost.

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“We built this truck strictly with the idea that you can fill the truck with debris and scale it. That was the whole concept,” says Tim Dell, of Rival Hydrovac. “It’s not just lighter (in terms of components). We started from scratch and designed it completely around the weight loss.”

The Rival Hydrovac has a capacity of 7 yards of debris and 800 gallons of freshwater. The company has built and sold about 30 units since debuting the truck last fall. A key part of the design, says Dell, is a long, narrow debris tank so that the weight is spread out more.

“It’s like a sausage,” Dell explains. “On the big-diameter tanks, most of the weight sits on the back of the truck. We had to try to equalize the weight, so we jammed everything forward, shortened the truck, made the debris tank skinnier, and just kept fiddling around until we could fill it with mud completely and scale it.

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“It’s not for everyone,” he adds. “It’s not meant to replace the big trucks because it is smaller. But in certain markets, where guys are getting hammered on the weights, it will help. Like in Edmonton, where I live, the tickets are $12,000. Our target market is the utility contractor. In the oil patch, the weight doesn’t matter because you’re digging and dumping on site. But nobody in the city is dumping on site. You’re hauling it and say you have 16 yards. Sometimes mud can be 3,000 pounds a yard. That’s 48,000 pounds of just mud on top of your truck. To be safe, the general guideline is to only fill your tank a third full. So you can put more in this truck legally than you can on the giant trucks. But if weight is not an issue for you, you’re not buying it.”

And at one time weight wasn’t a problem for anyone working in the hydroexcavation industry.

“Hydrovac trucks have been around now for about 30 years, but they were initially designed to work in the oil and gas industry. They would go to work and then offload on location, so the hauling of debris wasn’t a big thing,” Dell says. “But now as the industry has grown, trucks are coming into the cities, and most of them are way overweight fully loaded.”

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GapVax HV33 HydroVax

GapVax debuted its new HV33 HydroVax at the WWETT Show. Its design is also aimed at solving the weight problems municipal contractors face.

“This is the first one and we have two more in the production pipeline already,” says Greg Suppes, vice president of operations for GapVax. “We’ve received a tremendous amount of interest. It’s a customer-designed truck. We conducted a round table conversation with our customers over the last two years to identify all the things they’d like to see and problems they’d like to have solved. Being able to work in metro areas was No. 1: Maneuverability and not getting overloaded.”

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The GapVax HV33 HydroVax boasts a 6-cubic-yard debris body and 600-gallon water tank, with a design that creates optimum weight distribution.

“We build a bigger truck already, so if someone has an application where they need the capacity and volume, we have that. This puts us in that market of people who specialize in utility work, and don’t have a place to go dump after they’re done on the job site. They have to carry the load and therefore can’t be overweight,” Suppes says.

It’s not just about payload weight with the HV33 HydroVax, it’s also about more easily operating the truck in a city.

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“We can build trucks with a lot of lift axles and pusher axles to make them legal, but it adds a lot of weight and makes the truck a lot bigger. Then it’s not very maneuverable in an urban environment,” Suppes says.

SchellVac SVHX 11

The newest truck from SchellVac, the SVHX 11, has a larger debris tank than some of its counterparts focused on addressing the weight issue, but it nonetheless meets that objective. The company launched it in January.

“Every state and province has different rules, so it depends where you operate the truck, but you can carry a full load without exceeding the GVWR of the truck,” says company president Alexander Scheller. “And we wanted to achieve the lightweight without compromising the loading capacities and vacuum size.”

The truck has 11 cubic yards of debris capacity and can hold 1,350 gallons of freshwater. Empty it clocks in at 38,500 pounds. The rear axles carry 22,000 pounds of the weight, and the front axles carry 16,500 pounds. It’s rated for 66,000 pounds. The direct-drive, positive-displacement blower can produce 3,800 cfm and 28 inches Hg.

“Some trucks don’t distribute the weight properly across the chassis and it’s just riding on the rear axles,” Scheller says. “We made sure we configured it right.”

Transway Terra-Vex

Transway Systems showcased its largest Terra-Vex hydrovac unit at WWETT, yet the company also has something more compact with an emphasis on weight distribution in the works. And plenty of attendees were asking about it even though it wasn’t on the show floor, says Al Ouimet.

“We’re really close to finishing it, but we weren’t able to have it ready for the show,” Ouimet says. “Still, we’ve had quite a bit of interest here from people who have said that we’ve done such a good job with our other trucks, they want to see the new model. I’ve been promoting it, and there are some people who want to come to us soon to do the whole touch/feel thing.”

The new Terra-Vex truck can hold 12 yards of debris and 800 gallons of water, all while staying within road weight limits.

“The debris tank isn’t as big as our 15-yard truck and you won’t be able to carry as much, but you’ll be legal,” Ouimet says. “If you filled the 15-yard truck full and tried to go down the road with the new laws as of January 2017, you’d be in a little bit of trouble. You’d be about 10,000 pounds overweight, so to stay legal you’d only want to fill it up to around 10 yards. The new truck can actually carry more legally because the weight is spread out over a longer space. The 15-yard truck has more capacity, but it’s all sitting in the wrong spot.”


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