IMT Overhauls Lube-Truck Design

By Walt Moore, Senior Editor | September 28, 2010


IMT SiteStar lube truck
This new SiteStar lube truck incorporates an elliptical fuel tank positioned ahead of the redesigned body, which features three added street-side storage compartments.
Body of IMT's SiteStar lube truck
The polyethylene storage tanks used in the new SiteStar body are lightweight and allow considerable configuration flexibility. The same advantages offered by the new SiteStar lube truck also are available with IMT’s SiteStar lube skid, which fits conveniently into the back of the company’s Dominator service trucks.

Considering that the new IMT SiteStar mobile lubrication vehicle has patents pending for three of its design features, it's obvious that company engineers did not simply warm up an existing concept when developing this new lube truck. And even though the new SiteStar vehicle reflects increased standardization in overall design (compared with the more-or-less custom design of previous Sitestar units), the new vehicle actually offers more configuration flexibility than previous models, while also delivering the added benefits of reduced weight and expanded storage.

Two of the new SiteStar body's patent-pending design features center on its product tanks — those for oil-based fluids, antifreeze, water and salvage. Instead of steel, these new tanks are made of polyethylene which, says IMT, provides notable advantages. For example, because "poly" tanks weigh approximately 80 percent less than same-size steel tanks, the total savings in tank weight can amount to as much as 1,800 pounds in certain configurations. Even when accounting for the added weight of the new storage compartments, the net weight savings in these applications can still amount to 1,400 pounds or so.

Another primary advantage of poly tanks, says IMT, is contamination control. Despite a manufacturer's best efforts, says the company, the welding process can leave behind contaminants that can't be completely cleaned from steel tanks. And, of course, steel tanks can rust internally above the product level, creating yet another potential source of contamination.

Also, says IMT, poly tanks are less susceptible to condensation (which creates water as a contamination source), because they are not as sensitive as steel tanks to temperature fluctuations. And to further complement the contamination-control features of the poly tank, each is fitted with a five-micron breather to filter air entering the tank. Also available are 10-micron filters that are positioned between the pump and hose reel in each of the oil-based-product lines.

The second of the patent-pending features concerns the configuration flexibility of the poly tanks, which are available in capacities of 75, 135, 190, 260 and 350 gallons. According to IMT, available tank configurations number 22 on the main platform and 12 on the front platform, creating a total of 264 possible tank configurations. Because the poly tanks are not bolted down and are easy to relocate, the new system provides considerable positioning latitude.

(By contrast, the weight of the previously used steel tanks frequently dictated their position on the deck in order to maintain proper weight distribution. Also, because the steel tanks were bolted to a tank rail that was, in turn, welded to the deck, tank repositioning was difficult.)

Pumping and storage

The product pumping systems for the new vehicle also have been redesigned. Individual, variable-speed hydraulic-motor-and-pump combinations move oil-based products and fuel; air-diaphragm pumps are now used for antifreeze, water and salvage; and an air piston pump conveys grease. New, as well, is the arrangement for the hydraulic motors and pumps. Previously, motor/pump units were individually mounted and plumbed to suit a particular truck's configuration. Now, these units are mounted to a central manifold, which is always positioned in the lower right corner of the hose-reel compartment. This new arrangement, says IMT, contributes greatly to simplified plumbing and easier service.

The new SiteStar design, of course, also can accommodate fuel tanks, which, by regulation, must be constructed of steel. Rectangular tanks with capacities of 480, 650 and 800 gallons are available for mounting on the front platform, as are elliptical tanks with capacities ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 gallons.

Along with changes in tanks and pumping systems, the new vehicle also provides considerably more storage than its typical predecessor. Previous models normally provided about 40 cubic feet of storage in a curbside compartment. The new body, however, has about 110 cubic feet of storage, the added room coming from three additional street-side compartments that result from the standardized design of the main and front platforms.

And, perhaps indicative of IMT engineers not overlooking details in the new SiteStar lube truck's design, the third patent-pending feature concerns a small but nonetheless critical component — new latches for the storage-compartment doors.