Up And Running With Biodiesel
BIODIESEL GIVES TOW TRUCK COMPANY THE PERFORMANCE IT NEEDS FOR COMPLICATED JOBS AT A PRICE THAT HELPS ITS BOTTOM LINE.
There’s nothing simple about being a tow truck driver at Central Iowa Towing & Recovery. Not when your job involves calculating the load limits, resistance and angle of approach needed to safely pull a big rig out of an interstate ditch.
There’s also nothing simple about operating a 62,000-pound tow truck while pulling a vehicle that weighs 80,000 pounds. That’s 142,000 pounds rolling down the road.
What Dustin Tapp, owner of the Ames-based company, does want to keep simple is his fuel. He wants fuel that is readily available, is cost-effective and performs well.
He’s found all of that in biodiesel.
“I’ve experienced the cost of my overhead going down with biodiesel. The cost of what appears to be emissions-caused breakdowns going down. We’re not losing any fuel mileage. And it’s a less expensive fuel,” Tapp says. “That should be enough to sell anyone. Lowering your costs while keeping your income the same? Makes sense to me.”
FUEL THAT PERFORMS
Tapp started Central Iowa Towing & Recovery in 2014 as the sole employee with one truck and operating out of an old farm shop. He’s grown it into a business with three locations, over 35 employees and nearly 50 trucks ranging from light to heavy-duty that operate throughout the contiguous United States.
The company does plenty of traditional tow jobs, but it’s really made a name for itself with its ability to tow heavy-duty trucks. In addition to responding to accidents and breakdowns, this includes transporting tractors across the nation on behalf of trucking companies.
“Our trucks are emergency response units to a degree,” Tapp says. “They can get called out at any given time, in any given temperature, in any given condition. We can’t afford to put just any fuel in them or do anything else that would negatively affect our performance.”
Until 2018, the fleet ran on No. 2 ULSD. Then Tapp gave biodiesel a try after hearing about the renewable fuel’s performance and financial benefits. Now the fleet typically runs on B11, meaning the fuel is 11 percent biodiesel and 89 percent petroleum diesel.
“Making the switch was simple,” Tapp says. “We used our same storage tanks and changed the filters out. The vehicles didn’t notice a difference, and our fuel mileage is where it’s always been.”
If anything, they’ve noticed performance advantages with biodiesel, including no fuel injector issues since switching. Biodiesel provides the lubricity needed to protect components like injectors, which ULSD doesn’t do.
“We put over 100,000 miles a year on some of the trucks, and they need the power to run themselves and also tow a large truck. Biodiesel has given us what we need,” Tapp says. “On top of all that, it has been a more cost-effective option for us.”
‘EVERYTHING IS VERY SMOOTH’
Renewable Energy Group produces the biodiesel and, through its fuel service in Iowa, delivers a blended product to Central Iowa Towing & Recovery’s fuel tanks.
“Fuel quality is great. Service is great. Delivery is fast. Accounting, billing — everything is very smooth,” Tapp says.
Smooth is also a good way to describe his experience with biodiesel.
“Fleet performance is extremely important,” Tapp says. “The performance of our fuel, the performance of our trucks cannot suffer from anything, and we’ve had good luck with biodiesel.”
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