Our 2022 Classy Trucks Are Handsome and Hardworking

A great septic service truck combines good looks with the functionality of rugged components and capacity to get the job done.

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If you’ve built out a new septic service truck in the past few years, you know what kind of challenge it’s been. Finding the right chassis, lining up a builder, sourcing all the parts and timing the builds has been a hurdle for wastewater professionals during the era of COVID.

         Even with all the supply chain woes, pumpers still need their trucks, and with so many folks working from home, these past few years have been some of the busiest for service providers. Septic tanks are pushed to their limits and weaknesses in onsite systems are shown during these heavy-use times. At the same time, labor shortages have hurt both pumping companies and manufacturers who assemble vacuum trucks.

         But that hasn’t stopped our popular Classy Truck feature. As a group, pumpers just keep on keepin’ on! If you need a rig, you’re going to make it happen. And we’re thankful that so many of you want to share your builds with the Pumper community. As a token of our appreciation, each owner of our featured monthly Classy Truck receives a Classy Truck vinyl to display on their work truck. The Classy Truck of the Year receives a special vinyl graphic to let the public know about the award.

         We’ve had so many great Classy Truck contributors over the years, and 2022 was no exception. The entries came from across the U.S., with Pennsylvania providing the most with three service trucks. Others came from New York, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio and Maryland.


         You can see trucks from the past year inside this issue, along with information on how to go online and vote for your favorite. We tally the votes and add the input from COLE Publishing editors to choose the Classy Truck of the Year. Then, that truck owner is featured in the February 2023 issue of the magazine to celebrate the accomplishment.

         A special shoutout goes to the 2022 pumpers who handled the fabrication, welding and wrenching to build the trucks themselves. They include the following:

Dewey Northrup Sr. and Dewey Northrup Jr. of Northrup Septic Service in Tully, New York, with their 2000 Peterbilt 357.

Jon and Cody Housekneckt of Sunset Septic & Excavating in La Porte, Indiana, with their 2012 Kenworth T660.

Ricky and Mark Hall of Casa Grande Septic Services, Eloy, Arizona, with their 2017 Peterbilt 389.

Mark and Dustin Rousseau, of Chesapeake Septic Service, Stevensville, Maryland, with their 2007 Kenworth T800.

         Looking at the Classy contenders for this year, we can point out a few continuing trends in truck building:

Peterbilt continues to dominate. Like last year, five of our trucks are carried on Peterbilt chassis. Kenworth represented with four, International had two and Freightliner had one. Western Star and Mack were bounced out of the top 12 this year.

Steel rules. Eight of our trucks carry painted steel tanks. Three are aluminum and one is stainless. Aluminum and stainless had trended toward a greater percentage of Classy Truck entries in prior years.

More rebuilds. Whether it’s because new chassis are hard to come by or more pumpers are being conservative or value-oriented, a good number of this year’s trucks are rebuilds of pumping rigs or repurposed from other industries. Nine of the 12 rigs are late model used, and a few go back more than a decade. The oldest is from 2007. 

Seeing red. Four of our trucks were either all-red or carry a patriotic red, white and blue motif. While simple, clean white has sometimes dominated in the past, this year shows some outliers, including an all-yellow truck, metallic green, brown, black and purple. Design elements trended toward the basic graphics and were not as showy with the vinyl wraps.

Bigger tank capacities. The tanks average 3,916 gallons, inching ever closer to topping 4,000 gallons. Despite seesawing and dramatically higher diesel prices of late, pumpers continue to prioritize emptying more septic tanks between trips to the disposal site over better fuel economy maneuverability. The biggest is 5,400 gallons and the smallest is 2,300 gallons.

Favoring auto transmission. There appears to be no turning back on this one. Even with all the used trucks, five of the 12 run auto transmissions. Pumpers are more often opting for the convenience of an auto transmission for drivers who either no longer want to jam gears or have never learned to drive a manual. The new generation of CDL drivers simply doesn’t want to learn the old ways and owners are bending to their will.

Blowers are in the minority. This one is surprising. For all the good things I hear about today’s powerful blowers, traditional vane pumps are added to 10 of our 12 Classy Trucks. Sticking to a tried-and-true technology to create suction?


         For all this talk about the 2022 trucks, how about sending a photo and write-up of your new truck for a future issue of Pumper? We always welcome your submissions. Just send me the basic information, your contact information and a few photos, and we might be right here next year talking about your new truck. Just reach out at editor@pumper.com. Let me know if you have any questions about the process and I’ll walk you through it.

The great trousers debate

         A few months back, a Pumper reader asked if technicians working in hot climates should be allowed to wear shorts when pumping tanks. I asked the question in my editor’s column and received an interesting response from John Buelow, of Buelow Excavating in Stillwater, Minnesota. And he’s a good guy to ask about working attire in extreme conditions. He doesn’t wear shorts, but developed a system for rotating work pants for comfort in all climates:

         “I always wore jeans all year around working outside from 100-plus above to -75 wind chill. I would buy three pair of jeans in the fall and wear until the end of spring,” he said. “They were then much lighter and cooler in the summer. By the time the weather got cooler they could be very thin with holes in them.

         “The jeans I have now for next year weigh between 819 to 1058 grams (1.8 to 2.3 pounds),” he continued. “I found something much cooler, white painters pants. My lightest pair weighs 351 grams (0.77 pounds) and feel so cool, like wearing a screen door compared to those heavy jeans.”

         I’m still waiting to hear from a technician who wears shorts on the job. As I reported earlier, OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, does not specifically weigh in on the safety of wearing shorts on the job. OSHA leaves the issue up to individual businesses. It recommends companies consider hazards like exposure to chemicals or pathogens and worker comfort in extreme conditions when setting dress code and safety policies.

       What do you think? Let me know at editor@pumper.com.


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