Pit stop fueling in the field

BRANDON — Farmers go to great lengths during seeding, spraying and harvest to keep machines moving.

However, reloading those machines with fuel tends to be slow. At harvest, the skid tank on the truck might be only marginally larger than the one on a large combine.

Perhaps a 990 gallon diesel hauling trailer with a 40 gallon per minute pump would help keep field operations running more smoothly.

That’s what the folks at Thunder Creek Equipment were thinking in 2009 when they began building diesel fuel trailers for farmers.

The Iowa based company is in the heart of corn country, where farmers keep track of every valuable minute of machine time.

Hundreds of dollars can go down the tube for every extra minute the planter tractor sits idle while fueling, particularly when the weather is closing in.

Time wasted while fueling during spraying and harvest can be almost as costly, said Thunder Creek’s Kyle Harwood.

He said Thunder Creek has hoped to solve the problem with its high volume fuel trailers.

“Farmers know they’re wasting too much time pumping diesel and (diesel exhaust fluid). That’s how this trailer came about in the first place,” Harwood said.

Modern tractors, sprayers and combines all have big fuel tanks and don’t usually run out of fuel.

However, the time spent keeping fuel at a comfortable level on a half dozen machines that are all running at the same time, 18 hours a day, can make farmers anxious.

A diesel tender trailer might be compared to a grain cart at harvest. The grain cart dashes from combine to combine to prevent tanks from filling. The cart doesn’t necessarily take a full load of grain off any of the combines — just enough so they all keep working.

In a big field operation, a diesel hauling trailer serves the same function. It dashes from machine to machine to make sure everyone has enough fuel to keep working.

“To make this all work, farmers need a high performance fuel trailer. Our biggest gas powered pump delivers 40 g.p.m. at the nozzle,” said Harwood.

“With that pump, you fill an empty 300 gallon tank in less than 10 minutes.”

The other two pumps in the lineup include a smaller gas powered pump that puts out 25 g.p.m. and the standard equipment 12 volt unit that puts out 15 g.p.m.

The standard auto-retracting hose is 35 feet and the optional auto-retracting hose is 50 feet. All hoses have auto-trip nozzles.

Farmers don’t want to waste this high efficiency by spending too much time filling the trailer back at the yard. Thunder Creek’s answer was to put a three-inch filler cap on each side of the tank.

Harwood said hauling the trailer to implements working in muddy fields has not been a problem.

“As long as your truck has traction, the trailer comes along. It won’t sink. Of course, it’s better with three axles,” he said.

“For 2013, we have big wide flotation tires as an option. That increases your footprint and reduces rutting. And they’re highway rated so you can run 80 m.p.h., no problem.”

Harwood said Canadian regulations require these kinds of fuel hauling tanks to have double wall construction. The Canadian DOT 406 specification also says they cannot exceed 1,000 U.S. gallons.

He said designing a Canadian compliant double wall unit was not a problem.

“The inner primary tank is 990 gallons. It sits inside the outer tank, which is the tank you can see. This outer tank is capable of holding 110 percent of the liquid volume of the primary tank. We did a lot of prototype testing. We hurt the tank as bad as we could and we still couldn’t make it leak.”

Harwood said the trailers can be set up to include a 100 gallon DEF delivery system. As well, Thunder Creek can add compressors, generators, welders and an assortment of toolbox options.

He said many customers now use the trailer in place of a more costly field service truck because insurance and maintenance on a trailer is a lot less than on a truck.

“Most of our customers so far have been farmers, but people in construction and logging and mining are starting to pick up on the idea too,” he said.

The trailer has dual 7,000 pound torsion axles, eight bolt EZ Lube hubs and electric brakes. The chassis is eight inch C-Channel.

The double tank assembly can be lifted from the trailer when needed. The primary tank can be removed from the outer tank for inspection. This tank has front, back and cross baffles to prevent the liquid load from pushing the trailer. A 16 inch manhole allows inspection of the primary tank.

Both tanks are made of 10 gauge steel. A two-inch roll bar surrounds the tanks, vents and fill points for extra protection.

The basic Canadian-legal DW990 trailer with 35 foot retractable hose and 12 volt 15 g.p.m. pump has a gross weight of 12,800 pounds when carrying 990 gallons of diesel. It has a list price of $29,000.

For more information, contact Kyle Harwood at 641-620-4037 or visit www.thundercreekequipment.com.

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