Launch Slideshow

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A Winterized Pick-Up Truck

A Winterized Pick-Up Truck

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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.

Agency: Village of Vernon Hills, Ill., Public Works Department
Innovation: Portable anti-icing unit
Savings: $5,500 on equipment (compared to commercial units) and more than $100,000/year in salt

FIRST-PERSON PERSPECTIVE

FROM FIRE TO ICE

A township superintendent explains how he turned an old fire tanker into an anti-icing vehicle.

In the years since larger public works departments in my area started using anti-icing systems, I've seen salt brine applied to a road surface several days before a storm and still be effective once the snow started to fall.

After attending several workshops on salt brine I was convinced this was a cost-saving method taxpayers would appreciate. Since our budget wouldn't support buying an insert tank, I looked for ways to build one. Finally I came across a retired fire tanker truck (1975 International Cab Over) that I convinced the Lawns Volunteer Fire Company to donate to the township.

Persuading my governing body to fund the truck's conversion to an anti-icing vehicle was more challenging. The idea was generally welcomed, but not everyone agreed $700 for piping, valves, and gauges was worth the investment. After gaining majority approval, I was determined to produce an effective applicator.

Many days and sleepless nights resulted in a practical blueprint. I mounted a gas-powered, 90-gallon-per-minute (gpm) centrifugal pump we'd bought years earlier at the rear of the tank and ran 1½-inch PVC pipe from the pump into the truck's cab.

Inside the cab, I installed a pressure gauge, manual gpm gauge, and manually operated ball valve. The ball valve acts as a gpm-reduction valve that enables the driver to manually adjust application rate according to vehicle speed. Once the brine is regulated by the ball valve, the solution exits the cab and flows through a 1¼-inch PVC pipe to the rear boom applicator.

I also installed a pressure-regulating bypass valve on the pump's pressure side, which allows fluid to circulate back into the tank when the ball valve is closed. The rear boom applicator is made from 7-foot, 1¼-inch PVC pipe with evenly spaced ¼-inch holes drilled for even material distribution.

Last winter I saved approximately 30% of my anti-icing and de-icing budget. For a closer look at the vehicle, visit www.youtube.com/ElkTwpPublicWorks.

— Alexander (salexander@elktownshipnj.gov), CPWM, CRP, is public works superintendent for the Township of Elk in Gloucester County, N.J.

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