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Tators, Air Cushions, Landing Bags and even more Tators  


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Topic originally created by ILtowman in February of 2012:


On February 14th, 2012, Illinois State Police District 8 contacted us to respond immediately to I39 mile post 25 south bound for a jack knifed and leaning badly  tractor trailer. Kevin was dispatched in the 60-ton Rotator. Jeff and Neil were dispatched in the 50-ton Rotator. Once on scene, they found a refer trailer loaded with 44,200 lbs of potatoes on its side being pulled by a Peterbilt 379 that had its frame twisted enough that the rear drives were rolled over but the cab and steer axle were still upright. With the load being loose potatoes, transferring the load wouldn't be very effective without causing the load to be lost. To save the load, air cushions would be needed with the use of the Rotators to assist. Jeff called back requesting traffic control, the air cushion incident support unit, the 16-ton wrecker and Central Illinois Road Service to respond to the scene.
While waiting on the rest of the team to arrive, Kevin, Jeff and Neil removed the front drive axle that was knocked loose during the accident. With the axle removed, it was winched up the embankment to be clear of the recovery scene.

The arrow board and traffic cones were set up to shut down the shoulder to give us a safe controlled work zone. The 60-ton Rotator was set up to help assist in the upright from the shoulder on I39. The 50-ton rotator was set up directly in front of the 60-ton rotator. The air cushion trailer was positioned on a side road that ran parallel to the Interstate. It was decided to remove the State fence to gain access to the top side of the trailer from the country road. Next to the fence was three rows of bushes planted to be a wind break. The Trailer landed on the bottom row, causing the other two rows to block access to the top of trailer. Using a sawzall, all the bushes in the way were cut and removed to be loaded onto the flatbed wrecker to be hauled from the scene to be disposed of.

The air compressor and valve bank for the air cushions were set up on the top side of the trailer. Next, using a starter cushion at the back of the trailer, the trailer was lifted enough to get another starter cushion in place. Slowly working the Jumbo Lift cushions in from the rear of the trailer towards the front. As more cushions were put into place, the ones already installed under the trailer were deflated and installed further under the trailer to give as much lift while support more of the load.. As the trailer was coming up, in the middle of trailer, we discovered some type of foreign debris, that looked to be stuck in the side of the trailer. With this sharp object in the way of where we wanted to place one of the cushions, we were forced to re-arraign the placement of the cushions. As the trailer was being up-righted, we watched the integrity of the trailer. When the trailer was about three feet off the ground, we installed three straps to be attached to the 50-ton and 60-ton Rotators. At the same time, we set up the landing cushions under the trailers wheels and tractors back axle. Using the air cushions to bring the load up, the straps were keep tight till the cushions had lifted fully and then the straps were tighten. The Landing cushions allowed us to slowly lower the load to the ground to help prevent a sudden shift in the load to the drivers side of the trailer that could cause a compromised trailer to possibly break in half.

At this time Adam was dispatched to the scene in a 30-ton wrecker. Andy was dispatched to the scene in a Peterbilt tractor to transport the loaded trailer back to the Bloomington location once it was recovered back onto the road.

Now that the unit was upright, the air cushions were deflated, folded up and returned to the trailer. Along with all the hoses, air compressor and valve bank. At this point another inspection of the load was performed through the inspection door on the rear of the trailer. Most of the load stayed on the right side of the trailer causing the trailer to lean to the right. The 50-ton was unhooked from its strap, broke down and everything returned to the travel position. It was then relocated to the country road to be set up to help winch the unit up out of the ditch. The 16-ton wrecker hooked the axle that was ripped out of the tractor and transported it to the country road where it would be loaded onto the flatbed truck. Then the 16-ton was positioned in front of the tractor to help winch up the unit up bank and back onto the road. The 60-ton rotator was left hooked the straps over the trailer. With all the load still on the right side of the trailer, it was decided it would be better to bring it up the bank on the country road, then up the steep embankment on the interstate side.The State fence was removed further to open enough gap to be able to bring the unit through back out onto the road. Using the 16-ton wrecker the fence post were removed.

The 50-ton was rigged to the trailer in two spots. One of those spots being the front passenger corner of the trailer. The second location was to the rear suspension of the trailer. The 16-ton wrecker was rigged to the front of the tractor. The 30-ton was positioned on the county road at the rear of the trailer so it could be rigged with a strap over the trailer to help stabilize the unit as it came up out of the ditch.

With all of the operators following the instructions of the scene supervisor, the unit was winched forward out of the ditch. As the unit moved forward, it rolled off the landing cushions, allowing them to be picked up and stored away in the trailer. Once the unit was stable from having the opportunity to roll back over towards the drivers side, the 60-ton was broke down, having the unit returned to travel position, it was relocated to the county road so it could be rigged to help sling shot the unit out of the ditch with the 50-ton rigged on the other side of the trailer. The 16-ton was repositioned further forward. Again working together the unit was winched up the bank the rest of the way. Moving the wreckers one more time,so the unit could be winched the rest of the way onto the road.

With the unit on the road, the trailer doors were opened carefully to prevent the load to spill out onto the ground. Adam and Andy climbed into the trailer with shovels to level out the load of potatoes back to their preaccident location.

The 50-ton was turned around and rigged to the pick the passenger side of the trailer. The 60-ton was rigged to pick the drivers side of the trailer. With the load supported, the 5th wheel was released so the tractor could be winched from out under the trailer. After the tractor was clear of the trailer, Joe's Peterbilt tractor was backed under the trailer and hooked to it.

All of the trucks and rigging was broke down and returned to its proper place. All of the wreckers were returned to travel position. The wrecked Peterbilt was hooked by the 50-ton to transport it back to our Bloomington location. The scene and roadway was cleanup of all debris. All units cleared the scene and returned to their assigned location.

A couple days later we transferred the load to another trailer at our Bloomington location using a material handler and a lot of helping hands to keep the conveyer built feed.
















































Kurt Wilson
Raymonds Auto Repair Said:
Nice work...   job showed lots of planning and excellent team work. great pics of the whole job.    start to finish
Alenstowing tubegreen.gif said:
Nice job guy . Looks like you got to dirty up some new bags.
Wreckerman05 said:
Looked like lots of work,but good plans on recovery and it all went smooth--looked like alot of potato chips in the making--
gtowman said:
You guys did a great job..thanx for sharing.
Mattinvt said:
Nice looking job and Bags there Guys!!! Nicely executed.

MTA415 said:
looks like it was well planned and executed, I guess they don't transport potatoes in bins like I see here in South Texas. And check out that animal of a mobile conveyor, huge outriggers on that animal!!!! That truck looks like a concrete pumper chassis...
BAHOOK said:
It was the first job with the new set of bags they replaced a set that was over twenty years old so it was time for an upgrade and what an upgrade it was !!! Matt I told Kurt we couldn't place any straps until we were 3 to 4 feet off the ground or Scooby would be disappointed in us and think we didn't learn anything back in September!!!. lol

Customer told us to use 5 gallon buckets to transfer load that 6 hard working lumpers could do it in 3.5 hrs I told the guys there had to be a better way because there was no way i was carrying five gallon buckets for 40000 + lbs of potato's this was the idea we came up with and it worked great!! local construction company was more than happy to have there conveyor truck out working beings they had been really slow!
TRAA Level 3
WreckMaster 6/7
Big Truck Rescue
OSHA Rigger
Air Cushion Certified
SITTOW said:
Great recovery,you southern boys sure come up with some good ideas on how to reload the potatoes.I bet Bruce like it better then buckets.
ILtowman said:
The buckets didn't sound like fun to me. This job went very smoothly. It was great having the new Jumbo bags and landing bags to add to the recovery.
vulcanuk said:
Great looking job and equipment good practice for the catch bags as well.
scooby said:
I like the decision to take the casualty out onto the other road... thats how I would have done it.

looks as if the set hasn't been unpacked from when we shipped it...lol

glad to see them put to good use... and isn't putting cushions along the trailer a way better idea then placing/rigging all those silly straps up and down the trailer... and you still are overloading the top rail anyways (as u have a angle multiplier factor).

uprighting by lifting the load....

the only thing that could have looked better was if I where there directing traffic
PGhrist said:
Picture perfect recovery... Nice job guys!!!
ILTowman said:
Howard, if we had you out there directing traffic, we would have had a traffic jam due to all the ladies slowing down to check out the handsome man holding the stop/go sign
scooby said:
man, I love you guys!!!!!

LOL..  I almost fell of my chair here laughing so hard...  air cushion on brothers!!!!!
Latta said:
I think Scooby's hard hat just cracked. His head was just too inflated by that last comment.

Scooby, you can come direct horse and buggies at our recovery scenes any time you want to.
Latta Null
Scooby said:
lol.. now thats good...  i like the hard hat joke..  good stuff
well said!!!!!
Capptow said:
there is now way im knocking the job, but do you think the potatos would have shifted back over towards the center better if you had not used the landing cushions? ryan
ILTowman said:
Ryan we didn't want the load to shift all at once and go to the other side for fear of overloading the trailer rails by shock loading them. With the purchase of the landing bags we will use them on every job we can to add to the control of the causality during the upright process. Do you have a set of landing bags?
BAHook said:
I know i have seen pictures of scooby with a hard hat latta but it had to be a prop because hard hats would mess up his hair !! lol
TRAA Level 3
WreckMaster 6/7
Big Truck Rescue
OSHA Rigger
Air Cushion Certified
SP8000 said:
Having grown up on a potato farm I have hauled hundreds of thousands of tons of potatoes and had the opportunity to pick up spilled boxes, bags, and field trucks of potatoes.  In my opinion the potatoes would not have shifted back towards center until you had leaned the trailer WAY over.  Reworking them by hand to level the trailer out is the best way to re-level them without bruising them.  As for handling them mechanically, find a produce house that has a "potato eater".  They are a machine that drives into the trailer with a telescoping conveyor sticking out the back.  The best analogy that I can make is that they operate like the bowl of a self-loading scraper pan with a discharge conveyor out of the back.

The conveyor truck looked like a good improvisation, but bear in mind that potatoes bruise VERY, VERY easily.  They are 80% WATER by volume and make a distinct "SPLAT"  when dropped onto a hard surface.  Food for thought when handling them.

Back to Ryan's question about shifting the potatoes by deleting the landing bags and not catching the trailer.  That could end up badly for the spuds being bruised, and for the trailer being shock loaded when the potatoes finally do shift back.

Jeff Leavitt
86 Towing
Gabriels, NY
BigWheelRecovery tubeplatinum.gif said:
How did i miss this job very nice guys. Thanks Eric
visit our new website bigwheeltowingandrecovery.com
Da Wash Boss said:
GREAT JOB NO DOUBT!!!!!   really enjoyed the great photos and the details of the job. Them landing cushions are great we have a set and use them all the time.  Congrats on a great job!!!!
Danny Cassello
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