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Working Out Of 55 Gal Barrels

Discussion in 'Seal Coating Forum' started by BIGBOY2008, Oct 26, 2008.

  1. BIGBOY2008

    BIGBOY2008 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    Sealing from 55 gallon barrels.

    I ma writing this in response to one of the posters who goes by the username nitro121 from Virginia. Nitro121 posted the following info on the date of 10-16-2008:

    "Since working out of barrels is for you....
    Have you thought about one of those pump/air compressor units that are made for that (or for any type container)? I thought about going that route. They are like 2 grand. Just another step to getting a fully equipped truck....or not if you don't need one. I guess that would give you a "commercial" rig set up.....just without a 300 gallon tank and dedicated truck.
    Just wondering. Looking to get in the biz myself in the next couple summers and was looking at that set up."

    I was considering the same thing the early spring of 2008. I could have either purchased a truck and tank rig that was set up for mixing and spraying or i could have chose to work out of 55 gallon barrels. When i read through one of the better known pavement discussion forums i learned that there is two ways to do sealcoating. The more right/more expensive and the wrong/much cheaper way. I learned the ones doing it the right way were bidding from $200.00 to $225.00 for "x-amount square foot" and the ones doing it the wrong way would often bid $95.00 to $105.00 for the same "x-amount square foot". It seemed the lowballers were getting work up the butt due to the fact they were simply charging a cheaper rate. From what i read it appears that every year or two a wave of lowballers will come in like gangbusters and charge cheap prices and do inferior work where they will be out of business in one to two years. Then here comes the second wave of lowballers repeating what the first wave did and two years later they too will quickly be out of business. Then the third wave and so on and so forth with each coming year. Each wave of these lowballers destroys the integrity of the pricing structure on the local, county, regional and statewide level.

    There are people in the sealcoating business that have been in it for years and they will come unglued when you suggest sealing out of 55 gallon barrels. Some of them mean well and are honest in what they say and are only trying to do their part to protect the integrity of the business. And others are simply jealous to the point it eats them up to think a up and coming "nobody" with less than $2000.00 investment in a trailer, barrels and hand tools can do a good job and make a customer happy. They will do everything they possibly can to discourage others from entering the trade and the truth is nine out of ten of therse individuals probably wouldnt admit the first jobs they did involved working out of barrels with buckets. We all need to guard and protect the integrity of the trade but we need to do so by educating the public. We do not need to go on discussion forums and assault the new posters with a barrage of questions meant to drive them away and discourage other new would be posters from asking for advice.

    Truck and trailer:
    I use a regular half ton pickup truck (i added transmission cooler, heavier springs and heavy tires) and a dual axle twelve foot trailer. The trailer has steel open mesh type decking and a drive on ramp type gate that stands six feet high when it is raised up and locked in place. The open mesh trailer decking is important because you need the friction on the bottom of the barrels to hold them in place while you slide barrels of sealer up and down the trailer gate. I have two piece set of aluminum atv ramps so i can slide extra barrels of sealer from the bed of the truck down onto the deck of the trailer.

    Barrels of sealer:
    DO NOT LET THE BULK PLANT OPERATOR put more than 30 gallons of un-cut sealer into a single 55 gallon barrel. The reason is you want your barrels to be bottom heavy as opposed to top heavy so you can safely ratchet strap and transport them on the trailer. You want them to be bottom heavy for the friction on the bottom of the barrel to allow you to slide them down the atv ramps and up and down the trailer gate. Any more than 30 gallons per barrel is extremely heavy and awkward to move even in the event you may have a helper. Do not lay a barrel of sealer down on its side because it has a tendency to be very slick against the trailer gate and atv ramps and will most definitely slide. Not only that but the barrel will most likely leak if laid on its side.

    You will need two sets of barrels:
    One set of barrels for un-cut sealer transport and one set for on the job site for dispensing purposes only. My dispensing barrels are set up with a inline brass shut off valve fitting located about two inches up from the bottom and on the side of the barrel. I have a one foot length of garden hose attached to the shut off valve fitting. I do not try to save time and space by transporting sealer in a barrel that is set up for dispensing purposes due to the fact a valve will most likely get knocked off during transport. Its not a issue of whether or not it might happen but rather a issue of when it is certain to happen. I dont want any dealings with the EPA nor do i want to be forced to pay for auto insurance paint jobs.

    Movable sealer dolly skids:
    You will need one or two movable skids with rollers for your dispensing barrels. Mine are made of two 2 x 6 with five 2 x 4 cross braces. My dispensing barrels are set directly on top of the five 2 x 4's. You will want to pick wheels that will allow the skids and barrels to set up off the ground so you can get your buckets underneath the inline vales and garden hose. Thirty gallons of sealer, ten gallons of water and 100 pounds of sand is a lot of weight so make sure you have wheels with a weight range indicating they can handle that heavy a load. You will need a 6 feet long piece of wood cut with a length wise angle/wedge cut to use as a wheel chock on inclined drive ways. I always make sure i have the wheel chock board in place on a inclined drive way. I weigh over 275 lbs and i have to put use my full body weight just to get a fully loaded skid of sealer to move on flat pavement. If one were to get away from me and start rolling down a hill i couldnt possibly get it stopped.

    When you first go in to do a drive you will need to figure out where to locate your supplies, where to park your truck and trailer and what exit you will use to leave. You dont want to look up and have a sealed drive with ten foot ditches on both sides of the entrance area and realize you have sealed yourself in. Sometimes you will have to start near the garage and working downhill and finish at the street. Sometimes you will be required to start at the street and squeegee or brush your way up a grade and stop near the front of a garage. Also where are your water outlets so you can run garden hose in order to very lightly fog or mist the asphalt when the pavement is heating up to the point the sealer starts getting stiff.

    When is set up to do a sealing job i locate my sealer transport barrels on the ground right next to the edge of the pavement and position my dispensing barrels and movable skids on the pavement immediately in front of them. For the water i have five gallon fuel cans with the five gallon fill levels marked on the sides and these cans are set out pre-filled with water.
    First thing i do is check my inline valves located on the bottom sides of my dispensing barrels and make sure they are in a fully closed position. I then loosen the bung holes in the lids of the barrels and then remove those lids and thoroughly mix the uncut sealer. I lay the lid back on the barrel and pour the water in through the bung hole (to minimixe splashing) and remove the lid and then mix the water into sealer. I use a bucket to transfer the cut sealer from the transport barrel into the dispensing barrel where i place the bucket directly against the inside of the dispensing barrel before pouring. This lets the sealer run down the sides to reduce splashing and it also reduces the strain of holding the bucket. Then i add the sand load to the dispensing barrel and stir it into the mix.
    I then move my dispensing barrel about twenty to thirty foot back from where i will begin work and chock the wheels if necessary. I then set out four plastic buckets. I mix the sealer once again to re-distribute the sand load and i fill all four buckets with sealer and move all four down close to where i will start my first sealing line. I will then stir my mix again and take four more buckets of sealer to my freshly sealed line. The most important thing is to stir the sand on a frequent intervals in order to keep it well suspended within the mix. Stiring each time between four bucket intervals seems to be a good rule of thumb for me.
  2. shepoutside

    shepoutside LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,208

    Thanks for sharing your info. There are many ways to do a job, and one is not any better then the other. The reality, is to put a good product down, in a proper fashion. I'm lucky, as the seal-coat mix plant is 20 minutes away, so I will have this year a 300 gallon tank in the back of my truck, and for driveways, will not need the trailer. I use the pump just to move the product to the driveway, and then squeegee or brush it. I'm just tired of lugging bucket and mixing, lol

    Something like this( top pic) , may be a thought for your mixing barrel. Less chance of spillage, and makes things a little easier.

    Bottom pic is what my "driveway setup" will be like


  3. BIGBOY2008

    BIGBOY2008 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    That sealer barrel dispensing setup looks sharp.

    I understand what you mean by less chance of spillage. I built my sealer dolly skids to be as stable as possible. From front to back they are maybe six to eight inches wider than my dispensing barrels. And from left to right the wheels are set out about eighteen inches from each side of the dispensing barrel. But i would be interested in looking into something like in the pic.

    The main problem with using buckets is when you are drawing sealer out the top of a barrel and carrying the buckets down a driveway you will have sealer running down the sides of the barrel and dripping off the buckets and oll over your hands and squeegee handles. Not only that but when you are working without a helper all the lifting and carrying of the buckets can quickly wear you out.
    With the way im set up now i can place the bucket under the hose and open and close the valve and maybe only spill a tablespoon of sealer between filling buckets. And as long as i pay close attention to which way i position my bucket handles i very seldom get sealer on my hands and squeegee handles. Im not nearly as nasty at the end of a job as i used to be.

    The 300 gallon tank set up looks good and that is probably the size i will choose when i take the next step. I think i would much rather have it on a trailer with hydraulic agitation but set up for squeegee work rather than spraying. I use coal tar and when it is sprayed it particulates into the air and it will burn your skin. I can feel my skin tingling when i pour it from a bucket so im sure it would really eat me up if i were to spray it. Some guys use the skin barrier creams to repel the burn but i sweat so profusely theres no way i could ever get the barrier creams to stay on.
  4. Having the tank in the back is the best method and looks/works perefect,the best would be a dually flat bed.All 4 of my trucks have the tank in the back and tanks from 225-500gals i use buckets,i have a helper that does it,but once you get going you need someone else to be most profiable.
    Being able to use buckets give you controll on how thick/thin you can make each one as well as adding quick dry,plus there is no pump/hoses to worry about.
    I use a brush for my jobs,no squeegee.
    Shep if you need someone to teach you or people how to brush the right way let me know, since your just starting that side of things.Looks like you like to do proper work so i dont mind showing you.Maybe rent me for a day and let me do some of your jobs with your stuff/crew.
  5. BIGBOY2008

    BIGBOY2008 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    Up until this point ive only used a squeegee. I have never used brushes. I am wondering what advantages and disadvantages one tool would have over the other tool.

    I did find out that using a squeegee is quite a bit like using a paintbrush. With a little practice you can push a line of sealer backwards towards an edge and then in a lengthwise manner pull that line down close and tight to the edge in order to reduce time spent trimming with a roller or paint brush.
  6. primetyme1978

    primetyme1978 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    My father and I are looking to get into the sealing business and I was wondering where I can find that barrel setup in the pic. I do not want to spend a ton of money right now and would like to look into that set up. Thanks Dale.
  7. shepoutside

    shepoutside LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,208

    The "Sealer Wheeler" can be found on page 44 of the current Sealmaster Catalog, available to view on line. It's about a grand, and you can get a air sprayer for it too.

  8. primetyme1978

    primetyme1978 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Thanks, I will check it out.
  9. Mdirrigation

    Mdirrigation LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,661

    Working out of 55 gallon barrels sounds like too much work. I work off a 550 trailer mounted tank. I pull up to the plant I load 400 gallons of sealer , add water and sand and latex, hit the engine and it mixes in 10 minutes . Large drives we back down the drive mix the tank , cut in near the doors and walk , then open the valve drop material right out of the tank , broom it on .

    Time is money . last week 6 driveways 10 ft wide 100 to 150 ft long . 1 man 46 years old at that started at 9 am done by 1 pm . Sealed by broom .
    A good professional rig may cost 8 to 12 grand up front , but pays for itself very quickly and when you spread the cost over 10 years its about a grand a year . I covered that and then some on those 6 driveways .
  10. EWS

    EWS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 203

    Theres way too many people who get into this business and think they can make soooooo much money and its easy because they worked for someone in the past and seen how much money they made in a day but dont realize all of the costs. Insurance Taxes, Fuel, Equipment, advertising. Product. I think this is the reason why we see soo many people start up using barrels and 2/3 of them end up doing it for a year or two and than they give up. Im not here to Bash anyone that cant afford a professional rig, Just saying You have to spend money to make money. Im sure everyone here has had people work for them that thinks its so easy, because you are well established and have a strong clientile so Now they think they can go out on there own... Good luck

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