With its two-for-one capabilities, Texas bed truck gives Alberta oilfield contractor a competitive edge by reducing costs for customers.
Less is more for oilfield contractors who bring large vehicles to congested drilling pads on a daily basis. In a nutshell, that explains why Fox Oilfield Services in Alberta, Canada, bought a custom-designed Texas bed truck that does double duty on drilling sites throughout western Canada — and brings substantial savings to customers in the process.
Fox Oilfield took delivery of the extra-brawny 2015 Kenworth C500 in February. Since then, the truck, which can work as either a winch truck or a bed truck, has been impressing the company’s customers with its versatility. Designed and outfitted by Marcep Manufacturing Ltd., the truck can carry up to 34,000 pounds of cargo on highways and can bed or spot load up to 50,000 pounds on drilling sites, says Christopher James, vice president of Fox Oilfield, based in Nisku, which is south of Edmonton in central Alberta.
“It oftentimes eliminates the need for a bed truck on a drilling site,” James says.
A key feature is the truck’s 50,000-pound spot loading capacity, which is roughly double the payload capacity of a typical Texas bed truck, which usually maxes out around 25,000 pounds. “That provides our customers with substantial cost savings, because with a single truck we can transport materials to the site, then also use that same truck to put the cargo in place,” says Chris Cassin, president of Fox Oilfield. “Out here, a lot of equipment is out working in remote areas that might take 14 hours to reach one way. So if they don’t have to send out a (full-size) bed truck (along with a winch truck), the cost savings is substantial.”
How substantial? It can easily amount to thousands of dollars per day or per trip. “That’s very appealing for our customers,” Cassin says.
The Kenworth features a 50-ton winch made by Braden (a brand owned by Paccar) and a 550 hp, high-torque Cummins diesel engine that generates 2,050 ft-lbs of torque, which gives the truck extra power even when it’s working in lousy soil conditions. Other features include an 18-speed Eaton-Fuller manual transmission with a four-speed auxiliary transmission made by Spicer (owned by Dana Holding); the auxiliary unit effectively gives the truck a 72-speed transmission. That’s a big benefit for a vehicle that’s often lugging extremely heavy loads in very muddy conditions, James notes.
“Without exaggeration, you might be working in 2 or 3 feet of mud, especially during the springtime melt,” he says.
Differential locking on all three rear axles, plus tire chains when needed, provides extra traction, says Edwin Krezanoski, a bed truck operator and dispatcher for Fox Oilfield. A driver can lock either one, two or all three axles, depending on the conditions, he adds.
When Fox Oilfield originally started talking with Marcep officials about designing a more powerful Texas bed truck, James says the goal was 40,000 pounds of spotting capacity. To achieve and then exceed that goal required some creative engineering that moved as much weight as possible to the front of the truck to effectively create a counterweight that accommodates the extra lifting capacity. “Think of it as a teeter-totter, where we have to offset on the front end what the truck is lifting at the rear,” he says.
The moment of truth came when a customer asked if the truck could lift one of its 50,000-pound pressure tanks. “We gingerly attempted it and the truck handled it like a champ,” James says. “Being able to lift that extra 10,000 pounds is a big deal. That means it can handle any of the drilling packages that one of our biggest customers uses on site.
“If the truck could only handle 40,000 pounds, that customer would need an extra piece of equipment from us to get the job done,” he continues. “Now they don’t have to incur the extra cost of a bed truck as a support unit on location.”
“That 10,000 pounds may not sound like a lot, but financially, it saves customers big time,” Krezanoski notes. “This truck has by far exceeded our expectations.”
The Kenworth truck hauls and spots a variety of skid-mounted drilling site components, ranging from large pressure tanks, boiler units and generators to 400-barrel fluid tanks, dry bulk tanks and compressors. “It doesn’t completely replace a bed truck and its capabilities,” James explains. “But many times it can do what a bed truck does … and if whatever we’re moving weighs less than 34,000 pounds, we don’t need to use a trailer, which is good because there’s not a lot of space on drilling sites.”
Fox Oilfield also owns a 1995 Kenworth C500 bed truck with tandem steering and tandem-drive axles, as well as numerous Kenworth T800 winch tractor trucks and various style trailers made by Peerless, Aspen Custom Trailers and Doepker Industries. But it’s the Texas bed truck that’s revolutionizing the company’s business, James notes.
“It’s a hardworking beast that gives us a significant competitive advantage,” he says.