Loading a Water Tank with a Winch
This was taken up on the northern slope of Alaska where oil workers depend upon daily shipments of fresh, drinkable water to shower, shave, and for drilling services. Because business runs on money, how do you get the least amount of personnel and equipment to do the job? A tractor trailer flatbed truck equipped with a 20,000 lb winch apparently does the trick. Now this trick is only good for short distances, but technique is everything. And in the Alaska wilderness, replacement tanks (and trucks) can be hard to come by. These industrial water tanks are constructed to be moved around depending on the needs of the oil riggers or fracking drillers.
Rio Bravo is one of the main manufacturers of these tanks and they come in a variety of sizes depending upon the needs of the operation. Because fracking and oil production requires a constant supply of fresh water, having operators who know how to load and offload these water containers is essential. Containers can weigh upwards of 40,000+ lbs when full. In order to move them around efficiently, it requires a decent knowledge of physics. In this example, we see most of the basic parts for a simple machine.
Winch as the Pulley
Because the container weighs more than the truck, the operator can attach the winch to a midway point on the tank. Placing his vehicle in neutral, he cranks the winch until the back bumper is flush with the tank. The true genius of this is the truck operator doesn’t back up the rear end and then pull. He lets the winch pull him to the ideal distance. This ensures his backside doesn’t smack into the industrial water tank and knock it over.
Getting this heavy tank up off the ground is no shy feat. If it teeters left or right â the game is up! Ensuring the winch remains tight throughout this operation is absolute
Back End of the Flatbed as the Lever
Getting this heavy tank up off the ground is no shy feat. If it teeters left or right – the game is up! Ensuring the winch remains tight throughout this operation is absolutely essential. But it’s the back bumper that acts as a fulcrum for the weight. In effect, it means the winch only has to pull a certain percentage of the total weight of the container during the “critical phase”.
What’s the “critical phase” you ask? That’s the point where the bottom of the container comes up off the ground. If unsecured, it will topple over and do some damage. The lever effectively holds some of the weight so the winch can safely direct it to a good resting point.
Trailer Back End Becomes the Inclined Plane
Once the weight is resting on the back end, the surface area acts as a limited inclined plane – reducing the amount of work necessary to get the container loaded. This incline plane will also be used to steadily lower the tank back down to the ground when it’s time to offload. The only part of this transaction that gets a little shaky is when the tank is finally committed to landing on the trailer. There’s a moment where the winch gives a little and causes a seesaw effect. Thankfully, because the winch keeps pulling the weight further up onto the trailer bed, this reduces the load.
Load Bearing Wheel and Axle
The rear load-bearing wheels and axle bear the brunt of this transfer. Because the wheels are almost flush with the back side of the truck, they can quickly help cushion the force of impact of the water container. If the trailer lip extended any further from the point of the rear wheels, this task would be impossible. At the minimum, the water tank would crumble the back end entirely and the more likely scenario would result in it sliding off.