Stories from MATS: Perkins on a heavy haul

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Perkins TitanPerkins Specialized Transportation has launched the biggest series of hauls in its history. The Northfield, Minn.-based company specializes in super loads — the biggest, longest, heaviest cargo allowed on the nation’s highways. Over 40 years the firm has grown from a dozen workers and trucks to 65 employees and 22 heavy-haul rigs. It hauls everything from steam turbines and bridge beams to dryers for ethanol plants and gun mounts for destroyers. In 2011 Perkins faced one of its biggest challenges when it transported four steam generators from a power plant in California to a long-term storage site in Clive, Utah. The loads were massive, each generator measuring 47 feet long by 15 feet wide by 14 feet 9 inches high and weighing 804,000 pounds.

Perkins Titan 2When loaded the rig stretched 399 feet with a gross combination weight of 1.5 million pounds, or 750 tons. The route was long and steep, a 960-mile trek over streets, county roads and freeways that included a 15-mile trip up a 7 percent grade of Interstate 15 through California’s Cajon Pass.

The company planned for two years, spending millions of dollars, studying the route and designing systems to move the generators, which are shielded to protect humans from low-level radiation. To safely execute the project Perkins contracted with multiple top-tier equipment vendors to design and develop a project-specific, state-of-the-art trailer. It’s big, too, stretching across two lanes of highway. Perkins also secured permits, notified police and communities and analyzed 50 bridges for potential failure. After detailed analysis of every bridge on the route, Perkins shored up two of them.

“There’s going to be some slow going,” said Equipment Services Manager Justin Brevik prior to the move.

To handle a project this massive Perkins turned to Titan by Mack. Three Titan models handled the load, two to push and one to pull. Customized for Perkins in the New Vehicle Options Center (popularly known as the Mod Center) at Macungie Assembly Operations, two of the models feature 605-hp Mack MP10 engines, 4-speed auxiliary transmissions and rear-engine PTOs to run the hydraulics. Each one has triple frame rails, 70,000-lb. planetary rear ends, customized front-frame extension and modified interiors. The third Titan tractor sports an Allison 4700 automatic  transmission, a first for Titan, and Mack’s ClearTech™ selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system.

“We worked with the Mod Center to build a Titan of Titans, a tractor that can pull upwards of one million pounds — with some help, of course,” said Bob Nuss, president of Nuss Truck & Equipment, which sold the units to Perkins.
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“That’s one of the reasons Mack is here,” said company President Neil Perkins. “The job requires the right tools and equipment. We have to plan exactly how the equipment will be spec’d. This isn’t something we want to do every time a new truck comes out. Mack was willing to make changes to the tractor that met the challenges of our business.”

Overdrive/Truckers News editors at Mid-America this week got a look at a video documentary made about what they’re calling perhaps the “biggest haul in history.”

Here’s that vid in full. Enjoy.

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And if you’d like to listen in on the MATS session on on-board recorders but you’re not in Louisville today, check in to at 2 p.m. EDT for a live stream from the meeting.