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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingJanuary 16 - January 22, 2019

Teamwork Heavy Lift in Mass

0 bb180by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Bob Fouquette started Big Wheel Towing & Recovery in East Freetown, Massachusetts in 1980. with one tow truck. Since that time, the company has grown to be one of the largest, complete towing and recovery companies in New England. Bob and his son Eric are heavy-duty recovery specialists and handle the day-to-day operations.

Back in early 2007 Big Wheel received calls from the Mass State Police and then the New Bedford Police to respond to the waterfront area for a rolled-over loaded tractor-trailer.

"Our first call came from the State Police truck team unit stating that they had an overweight overseas container on its side at such and such intersection, it was next to the state pier and Hazmat is in route," Bob informed. "We do have a fuel spill. Well our friends at Lech Towing, who are a few blocks away, also got a call from New Bedford Police on the same accident. The State Police were booking the crash so their call superseded the city.

"Under that situation," he continued, "and knowing that time was critical I felt that Lech and us should work together. It's also a great tool to learn from each other. The area has large mill complexes that go for blocks. The company used an empty container, a single-axle tractor and an inexperienced fork lift driver packed it to move it to the other side of the mill. This was the result."

Upon arrival the Big Wheel's crew observed a tractor-trailer unit with an overseas steel container on its side jammed into the curb stone. There was a motor oil spill from the engine that needed to be contained before it entered a nearby storm drain that dumps directly into the harbor. They also had two full fuel tanks to deal with.

Eric informed, "The lower tank had the step driven into the side of it at that time we didn't have a fuel leak but experience told us that one wrong move during the recovery could cause a major fuel leak into the storm drain." 

Big Wheel called their Century 1060 60-ton and Aatac 50-ton rotators to the scene to provide an upright lift on the heavy container.

"Lech Towing was on scene and provided two heavy-duty wreckers for side pull to ease the unit over and for safety," Eric explained. "They had their 60-ton Jerr-Dan and their 35-ton Jerr-Dan on scene. The entire load was ceramic tile weighing at least 50,000-pounds and jammed against the right wall, so even after the trailer was uprighted the entire weight against the wall was preventing any movement of the trailer and the load was trying to bring the trailer back over."

They used air bags to lift the container while the rotators lifted the truck and container frame to prevent the container from shearing off the locking dogs and then separating.

""We used our Matjack air bags because when we picked the container the wall stayed on the ground," said Bob. "The rotator lift kept the fuel tank elevated during the recovery preventing the side step on the fuel tank from ripping the tank open and dumping the fuel into the nearby storm drain.

Once the unit was uprighted they checked the load and found the pallets of tile were stacked two high and they didn't fall back or move during recovery they stayed against the left wall.

"In order to move the truck and trailer from the accident scene the load had to be removed," Bob stated. "We used our Landoll hydraulic trailer as a loading dock and used our forklift and heavy-duty front-end loader with forks to transfer the entire load onto our trailer and some on our ramp truck.

"We then brought the load to Logistics terminal right around the corner to the warehouse about 100-yards away and off-loaded it. Our Landoll trailer has the hydraulic jack legs at the rear to raise it. We wouldn't order one with out it; its a life-saver."

This recovery is a good example of teamwork. The job got done safely and in a timely manner by two veteran tow companies.

(This article originally appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of Tow Industry Week)

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Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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