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Nimble Kenworth T800s Enable Emmert To Meet Challenge of Moving Massive Coke Drums


Played Key Role in 700-Mile Haul To Montana Refinery

CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Terry Emmert might ordinarily describe the drive on U.S. Highway 12 along the Lochsa River as quiet, scenic and tranquil. After all, the highway provides dozens of vistas of the federally-designated National Wild and Scenic River and its many whitewater rapids as it meanders with the river for 70 miles past high rock cliffs through the Clearwater National Forest in northern Idaho.

But Emmert, who is the founder of Emmert International and serves as company president, wouldn’t likely use the words tranquil, quiet or scenic in describing the drive his company’s Kenworth T800s made on the highway earlier this year. During those trips, the Kenworth T800s moved two massive barrel-shaped coke drums in two shipments. The drums were moved for ConocoPhillips from Lewiston, Idaho, 700 miles east to its oil refinery in Billings, Mont.

The first shipment, which left Lewiston, Idaho, this past winter, arrived in Billings in April. The second shipment, which was delayed en route by high runoff from the Yellowstone River that flooded the U.S. Highway 12 bridge crossing, arrived in Billings, Mont., early in the morning Thursday, Aug. 4. The drums, which were manufactured in Japan, will be used in a $50 million upgrade of the refinery due to be completed in the Fall of 2012.

Each shipment consisted of a top section and bottom section placed on two custom-designed 226-foot long trailers built by the company to distribute the weight evenly so that the ground bearing weight was no greater than a fully-loaded Class 8 tractor and trailer. Each trailer had 32 individual axles and 128 wheels, with hydraulic jacks, steering and brakes on all axles engineered and designed by Emmert to safely maneuver the massive loads. It nicknamed one of the trailers, Lewis, and the other, Clark, after famous American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, as the loads followed the Lewis and Clark Trail. The company used one Kenworth T800 to pull and another to push each of the 226-foot long by 29-foot wide by nearly 30-foot tall loads, with a gross weight of 702,200 pounds. A third Kenworth T800 served as a spare power unit. The initial planning for these massive loads started four years ago.

“Our Kenworth trucks have performed flawlessly, meeting all of our expectations,” Emmert said. “The trucks were certainly put to the test since we originally intended for the loads to be transported in the summer time.”

Instead, the trucks started moving the first shipment in February when an arctic blast hit the area bringing blizzard-like conditions with several inches of snow and driving temperatures on Lolo Pass below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills down to -20. During the latest shipment, the T800s moved loads with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees in Montana, he added. That speaks to their reliability under extreme conditions.

“In our company’s 42-year history, we have found that Kenworth trucks can meet our demanding needs,” Emmert added.

Emmert’s Kenworth T800s are equipped with 550-hp engines, driven through an 18-speed transmission and backed by a 4-speed auxiliary transmission. The trucks are spec’d for super heavy-haul applications with coolers and an oversized radiator to provide additional cooling. To provide their drivers more room to store their gear and to stretch out, the company recently started adding the Kenworth Extended Day Cab to their T800s. The peeper windows on the Kenworth DayLite® doors and the rounded corner windows on the back of the Kenworth Extended Day Cabs give drivers great visibility to see the road and the loads, Emmert said.

In addition to the T800s used in the coke drum moves, Emmert’s fleet includes more than 20 Kenworth T800s and C500s.

“The coke drum moves presented us with one of the most challenging routes ever faced by a heavy transport company,” Emmert said. Emmert chose the route using U.S. Highway 12 because the megaloads at 28 1/2 feet high were too tall to fit beneath overpasses.

“We had to travel along narrow passages with rock faces on one side and steep drop-offs to the river’s edge on the other,” he added. “It was a very difficult route with tight clearances and almost impossible corners to turn. On top of that, there was the 7-mile long, 2,000-foot climb up the Lewiston grade to the Palouse, then the 2,500-foot climb up Lolo Pass at 5,200 feet. Those climbs really tested the durability of our Kenworths, which had absolutely no issues.”

Driver concentration was key to the success of the operation, Emmert said. The move was made all the more challenging for drivers by the conditions. The company could only move the shipments at night with six designated stops along the entire 170-plus mile trip through Idaho where the loads could be parked during the day. Each night, the crew had to make it to those designated stops while adhering to strict speed limits, particularly over bridges, with a top speed of 20 mph. And along the way, they had to stop every 15 minutes to allow traffic to pass.

“The Kenworth T800 offers our drivers excellent maneuverability around those tight corners, and with its sloped hood, allows them to see the road ahead,” Emmert said. “But just as important is the comfort that a Kenworth T800 offers our drivers, especially with the Kenworth Extended Day Cab. It allows them to concentrate on their jobs.”

Emmert International specializes in heavy transportation and rigging services, providing its customers with state-of-the-art services and equipment globally. The company custom designs, engineers and manufactures the equipment used in some of the most challenging projects in the world. Some of the company’s past more notable moves include the Spruce Goose; the Hubble Telescope; the Fairmont Hotel in San Antonio, Texas; an historical brick building known as the “Candy Factory” in San Diego; and the 3 1/2-million pound Oddfellows Hall in Salt Lake City. The company’s website is at

Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth is an industry leader in providing fuel-saving technology solutions that help increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. The company’s dedication to the green fleet includes aerodynamic trucks, compressed and liquefied natural gas trucks, and medium duty diesel-electric hybrids. Kenworth is the only truck manufacturer to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Excellence award in recognition of its environmentally friendly products. In addition, the fuel-efficient Kenworth T700 equipped with the low-emission PACCAR MX engine was named the 2011 Commercial Heavy Duty Truck of the Year by the American Truck Dealers. Kenworth is also the recipient of the 2010 J.D. Power and Associates award for Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Medium Duty Truck Dealer Service. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at Kenworth. A PACCAR Company.


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