We get behind the wheel of one of Pumper magazine's Classy Trucks by having a Classy Conversation with Kelly Hammerschmidt of Efficient Septic in New London, Minnesota
Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make the biggest difference — like having extra toolboxes on your 2013 International vac truck, for example.
“When we had it built, that was one of the things I told them,” says Kelly Hammerschmidt, manager at Efficient Septic of New London, Minnesota. “I said, ‘I want to put as many toolboxes on this thing as we can fit, in any spot that we can do it.’”
The result? “I have three toolboxes on it,” she says. “One toolbox is just for lime, and I can fit seven bags of lime in it. The other toolbox has two spare pumps in it, my tools, and some spare fittings for the pumps and other things you might need, and then on the other side I have my spread plate, fuel for the Crust Buster, and a rope for if I get stuck.”
Efficient Septic has a well-laid-out plan for replacing trucks, which began with a ’99 International. “We bought a previously owned business in 2007, and we took his old truck and ran it for five, six years,” Hammerschmidt says. “Then we spec'd this truck out, and we’re looking to run it for five to seven years, and then replace it with something brand new, and speccing that one out how we want. We’re trying to figure out the best bang for our buck with replacement.”
At first they looked at used trucks, but couldn’t find the right one. “I couldn’t find anything with a heavy enough front end and a setup with the suspension, gear ratio and power that we would need, so we just decided to go brand new. Then I found this carry-over chassis, which is the 2013 International.”
With 0 miles on the chassis and only a year old, the ’13 International went into service in June 2014.
Focusing on efficiency
When speccing out the 2013 International 7600 WorkStar, built out by Imperial Industries, efficiency was the focus.
One efficiency that yielded significant results was bumping the tank size up from 2,250 gallons to 3,600.
“Before, we had a 2,250-gallon tank on our old truck, so when we bought another company and increased our business, we knew we had to update,” Hammerschmidt says. “With the old truck, I put on 30,000 miles a year. Now, even after our business has increased, I only put 20,000 on. I can do a lot more in a day because I can pick up two to three septics per load now, but with the old truck most of the time it was only one — I was lucky to get two.”
To keep cleaning the truck as efficiently as possible, Efficient Septic went with a steel tank. “Aluminum is very nice and you save on weight, but they’re a lot harder to keep polished and clean,” Hammerschmidt says. “We wash this truck every week, and I have it done in an hour. With the aluminum, I would like to keep it polished and clean, so it would drive me crazy if it was oxidized and not polished.”
The decision to go with an 8LL transmission and 40,000-pound rear suspension, 18,000-pound front suspension not only enhances the land application process, but it’s also easier on customers’ yards. “What I like about the LL is if I do back onto a yard, I put it in low-low and it will not spin,” he says. “You let the clutch out and it goes really slow and works well. The truck does not have air bags. It has suspension, which the suspension grips better so I don’t tear up any yards or fields. It’s a rougher ride, but I’d rather have a rougher ride than a bigger chance of getting stuck in the fields or snow.
“I know some guys like the air bags for the ride or whatever their reason is, and that’s what they should run if that’s what they like. But for us and how we use the truck, I like the suspension a lot better.”
But they didn’t stop there for making it easier to land-apply. Efficient Septic also ordered bigger flotation tires to spread out the weight, which helps when Hammerschmidt is land-applying on fields.
Upgrades on the new International
Efficient Septic’s ’99 International lacked a few features that the ’13 carries, like heated intakes and dump valves. “That’s a must,” Hammerschmidt says with a laugh. “The old truck did not have those. I had to carry a 20-pound cylinder — I always called it a weed burner, but some people call them a rose bud — but it was a big torch that I’d use to heat the valve. It seems like 15 to 18 degrees was the magic number where I’d have to thaw it every time, and it was just a fight all the time, so we made sure to get heated ones.”
But what really sets this truck apart for Hammerschmidt is the National Vacuum Equipment blower. “I love the blower because there’s no more adding oil. The vane-style pumps would get hot and they would start to spit out oil, so I always had to watch that. And then once they get hot, you have to let them cool, where with the blower, you turn them on and you let them run, and they can run 24/7. They don’t overheat.”
While all the upgraded features on the ’13 International have led to noticeable efficiencies, image plays a role as well. “That’s a very big priority for us, and that’s one reason why we went new,” he says. “If you have a nice vehicle that you keep up and keep clean, that shows that you take pride in what you do.”