You make a big investment when you purchase a vacuum truck, hydroexcavator, jetter or combo truck. After about five to 10 years, however, performance may be slipping or maintenance might be getting too expensive. Rather than shopping for a new or used truck, refurbishing that machine may be your best option. 

“You basically get a new unit,” explains Mike Selby, national service manager for Vac-Con, a Florida-based manufacturer of custom-built, truck-mounted machines for the environmental market. “Compared to buying new, the price is roughly one-half, and private contractors don’t have to pay a federal excise tax.” 

Selby calls refurbishing the ultimate form of recycling. “You’re breathing new life into your machine,” he says. “Refurbishment can give you another five to eight years of use.” 

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Vac-Con offers three levels of refurbishment:

  • Bronze – Replace things that tend to wear out over a year of operation:
    • DOT inspection.
    • Replace door and equipment seals.
    • Wash, degrease, lubricate entire unit.
    • Replace Kanaflex hose and power clamps, ball valves, hose ends, hydraulic oil, mud flaps, reed valve rubbers, etc.
    • Change equipment oils and filters.
    • Replace pump belt.
    • Complete decal package.
    • Adjust all components to factory specifications.
  • Silver – Replace things that can wear out over five years of use, all those in Bronze package, plus:
    • Replace rotary union, blower bearings, auxiliary engine/water pump drive bearings.
    • Replace boom elbow, layflat hose, fill hose, water pump suction hoses, blower coupler.
    • Replace water pump check and drain valves, throttle cables, handgun relief valve.
    • Rebuild high-pressure relief valve
  • Gold – Rebuild all the major components, including those in Bronze and Silver packages, plus:Bronze package, plus:
    • Replace hose reel bearings, pivot pin, bushings.
    • Replace rotary union, blower bearings, auxiliary engine/water pump drive bearings.
    • Replace boom elbow, layflat hose, fill hose, water pump suction hoses, blower coupler.
    • Replace water pump check and drain valves, throttle cables, handgun relief valve.
    • Rebuild high-pressure relief valve.

All parts subject to replacement are first inspected and measured against usability guidelines to see if they should be reconditioned to original specifications or replace with new parts. "Rigorous testing is conducted at several stages during refurbishment," Selby says. 

Among the tests routinely performed are: water pressure and flow, vacuum, hydraulic system pressures, and electrical system performance. Instrument and operational testing are also conducted to ensure that field performance levels match those in the shop.

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To determine when refurbishment is an option, Selby suggests that truck owners should keep an eye on maintenance needs. “You’re always going to have parts to replace,” he says. “When you see the maintenance cost increasing dramatically, then it may be time to invest the money to refurbish it. Investing a little money can make it last a lot longer.”

Vac-Con refurbishes about 15 units every year, with the remanufactured components coming with warranties. Selby says it’s important to use OEM parts when doing a refurbishment. “There are a lot of people selling parts that will fit. In many cases, they aren’t built to the standards of the original manufacturer.”

For more information, visit www.vac-con.com. The Vac-Con unit is completely dis assembled and inspected for any structural imperfections and all major components that are to be remanufactured are removed.

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