Getting behind the wheel of Pumper’s Classy Trucks


Some traditions involve family. Some involve trucks.

“My grandfather started the business in ’59,” says Russ Neher, a third-generation pumper and owner of Russ’s Septic Service. “I think the first International he bought, they painted white, and that’s the way it’s stayed since.”

Neher’s father ran Kenworths, and while he doesn’t purposely limit his fleet to one brand, “they’ve been a really good truck so I just decided we were going to keep going.” Neher’s 2015 Kenworth T880 is Pumper’s Classy Truck for July.

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The white truck is eye-catching, with blue and gold graphics accented by a matching blue hose, and Neher places a priority on keeping the classy rig looking nice and clean. “The way we look at it is: it’s a driving billboard. So if your truck doesn’t look nice, people are kind of going to assume you’re not going to do a nice job. So we try to keep the trucks looking as nice as we can.”

When it comes to tanks, Neher goes steel and goes big. “I went with the steel [tank] just because it’s a little more heavy-duty, there’s a little more weight. My last steel tank was 19 years old before we started having to do repairs on the tank itself. You sometimes vacuum up rocks and stuff and the aluminum wouldn’t hold up as well. I know other guys that have them and like that they’re a little lighter but I just like the steel. I think it holds up a little bit better.”

He says he can usually service three septic tanks before needing to off-load the 4,000-gallon tank.

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Although he’s happy with his rig, Neher made a few changes after buying it, and has a couple more upgrades planned.

“The original water tank was actually on the side of the truck, in the hose bed, and there was a real big gap between the tank and the truck,” Neher says. “So in order to try to create space in the hose bed and also to let the lettering on the side of the tank show better, we took the water tank off and had a new one built for the truck.”

The new 100-gallon water tank is mounted flush behind the cab, with a diamond-plated toolbox above.

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On the passenger side of the truck, below the hose bed, Neher had a shelf built to carry his snake. He also plans to put two brackets on the back bumper to hold risers and covers, and another to hold a restroom, so he can stop on his route and pick up a restroom without having to go back out with a second truck.

There is one other change Neher would make. “On the back of the truck there’s a 4-inch intake line, under the passenger side of the tank. I’d like to have one on the driver’s side, off the back of the tank. Because sometimes you can get only so close,” he says.

“I think that’s about the only thing I’d really do differently.”

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