Ford trucks with custom-made welding beds keep Key Welding moving along in the oil and gas fields.

Good employees have contributed greatly to fast growth at Key Welding Inc., based in tiny Vici, Oklahoma. But they can’t get where they need to go – or do their job – without some important partners on wheels: 10 Ford one-ton welding trucks.

Company owner Bill Key buys either Ford cab-and-chassis trucks, which come without a pickup bed, or Ford dually pickups and removes the beds. Then employees equip them with fabricated, custom-built welding beds that hold welding equipment, acetylene tanks and tools.

Fashioned from 1/8- or 3/16-inch-thick mild iron plates, the beds take about 10 days to make. Why make your own welding beds? “For the self-satisfaction of building your own – and setting it up the way you want it,” Key says.

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“When I was younger, the fancier the welding truck, the better it was,” he recalls. “I’d paint the bed the same color as the truck, maybe put on a chrome step here or a chrome step there to make it fancy and unique – stand out in a crowd.

“Now that I’m older, it’s all about just getting out there and doing the job, not having a tricked-out truck,” he adds. “But our trucks still look nice.”

Key says he prefers Fords because their heavy-duty suspensions can take a licking. That’s important, considering the driving conditions workers face while getting to and from remote job sites. “We’re talking continuous bouncing on unpaved dirt roads that are pretty rough, even though they’re maintained,” he notes.

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The trucks feature Allison automatic transmissions; Ford eight-cylinder, 6.7-liter turbo-diesel engines; and four-wheel drive to get through rugged terrain, mud, ice and snow. Like with any kind of machine, equipment or tools used in the field, durability and reliability are critical to keeping customers happy. 

“Most of the time, you’re out in the middle of nowhere,” Key says. “You have to depend on yourself to get there on time, so you need a good truck.”

For more about Key Welding Inc. read the full profile in the April 2015 issue of Gas, Oil & Mining Contractor.

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