Launch Slideshow

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Designing on a dime

Designing on a dime

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    Not many private fleets specify and repair anything and everything from a sewer rodder to a fogger, a brush cutter to a hydraulic crane, an asphalt recycler to a pontoon boat. This piece of specialized equipment belongs to the City of Hollister in California, one of the subjects of our cover story beginning on page 28. Photo: Nick Lovejoy Photography

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    Behind the truck: A boom made of PVC pipe and positioned behind the tailgate allows trucks to be used for anti-icing brine applications and/or salt spreading. Although prewetting in the auger is now thought to be more effective, the boom can also be used to prewet salt at the spinner. Photo: Harvey Williams

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    Inside the auger: When salt is wet before it's applied to pavement, it starts melting ice upon contact. Applying brine solution to salt within the truck's auger with a prewet device like this keeps granules from blowing away in the wind or bouncing onto roadsides. Photo: Mike Scaramella

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    Suburban-Chicago employee Matt Bartlett spent $2,300 to build this 300-gallon anti-icer. He designed the unit to be lifted into a standard pickup truck and removed when the vehicle's needed for something else. Photos: Harvey Williams

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    New Jersey Superintendent Steven Alexander spent $700 to convert this former fire tanker to an anti-icing vehicle with a driver-regulated spray boom. Photos: Steven Alexander

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    The driving force behind the brine system: a gas-powered centrifugal pump pressurizes the system and circulates the brine to the boom at the back of the truck.

Doing double-duty

Agency: Village of Carol Stream, Ill., Public Works Department
Innovation: Pipe attachment for prewet and anti-icing
Savings: Up to $180,000 (cost to buy anti-icing units)

For more than a decade, Carol Stream, Ill., Street Superintendent Mike Scaramella has experimented with different styles of tanks to produce his own salt blends to target specific needs. Through trial and error, he built a percolating tank using the round (easy to clean), stainless steel (corrosion-resistant) container farmers use to store milk.

After perfecting his brine equipment, Scaramella had to figure out how to get the most mileage from his anti-icing and deicing blends and the 15 trucks that spread both liquid and rock salt. He realized that, by adding a relatively simple polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe extension to each truck's prewet unit, he could use the trucks for two purposes: applying anti-icing liquid to roads and spreading deicing solutions or salt.

Scaramella modified a commercially purchased prewet unit with lengths of pipe and added valves to control liquid application. The pipes connect the truck's brine tank to the salt auger and form a boom — or ‘wet bar' — that hangs beneath the truck's tailgate. “By turning a couple of mechanical valves, we can prewet salt in the auger or apply anti-icing liquid directly to the pavement,” he explains.

With one device, he's:

  • Wasting less. Wetting inside the auger is more effective than spraying the salt at the spinner behind the truck because the liquid is enclosed and can't be blown away by wind. The wet salt sticks to the pavement instead of bouncing away, and melts ice faster because it's activated by liquid.
  • Targeting material use. Truck tanks can be loaded with either prewet liquid (a simple salt brine) or an anti-icing blend (a more expensive, complex mixture of salt brine, calcium chloride, and beet juice) depending on what crews need. Each solution is used for its intended purpose.
  • Lowering equipment costs. Unlike custom parts, PVC pipe is inexpensive and easy to repair or replace. Scaramella has added the device to nearly all of his trucks, from 1-ton dump trucks to six-wheel salt spreaders, sparing taxpayers the expense of separate anti-icing tanks and sprayers or buying new trucks.
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