A high lift coal truck has a scissor mechanism that first tilts the dump box to a 45 degree angle and then lifts it straight up into the air with the lowest section of the box being about 8 to 10 feet off the ground. Coal can then be chuted some distance away from the truck into a coal bin, window, over a fence and many other possibilities. The maximum capacity of coal truck will vary; four, six and eight ton boxes are common.
The box is configured with a dividing board so loads can be split allowing deliveries to multiple destinations with one trip. Each section or compartment is typically in one ton increments. There will usually only be two or three dividing boards on a truck, each dividing board can be moved to divide any one ton section which allows for multiple configurations. For example you could have two ton in the front of the box, 1 ton in the middle and three tons on the back.
The dividing board has a metal bar on the top that extends from one side to the other, this bar sits in hooks welded to the top rail of the box and uses a lever action to lift the dividing board. On the bottom of the dividing board are clips that go over clips welded to the box. When a delivery is complete the handle is lifted on the bar freeing the clips allowing the next load to dump to the back of the box.
Most coal boxes were designed to be used as a regular dump box and will have a full dump gate like any dump truck. These are typically welded shut and the box is lined with stainless steel on the floor and about one foot up on each side. This prevents the inevitable corrosion caused by sulfur water used to process coal and makes life a whole easier when delivering coal. This is especially true in the winter when the coal can freeze to the box.
A small gate just like guillotine is located on the back of the truck about one and half feet wide and one foot high. This is opened and closed with a handle, when opened the coal is funneled onto the coal chute. The chute is either hooked to a center hook for delivery straight off the back or can be moved to hooks on the left or right side to angle the chute to the left or right side of the truck.
Bin placement is important if you intend on getting delivery from a high lift truck. The distance coal can be chuted can be considerable but this varies widely. You need enough angle for it to flow down the chute and other variables like the size of the coal, cleanliness of the coal and freezing temperatures can impeded delivery. A coal truck provides a lot of versatility for coal delivery but proper bin placement and design can be the difference between a delivery that takes 10 minutes and one that will be refused. The following things may not be possible but this is what you want to shoot for.
- Close access to the window or bin. The closer the back end of the truck can get to your window or bin allows for more angle on the chute. Ideally the truck should be able to directly back up to within about 8 foot of the window or bin or very close for angled deliveries.
- No obstructions above the truck. Wires, tree branches and other overhead obstructions will prevent the box from being lifted high enough to achieve an adequate angle.
- High opening on the bin. The ideal bin as far as the coal delivery person is concerned is a ground level window that is a bottomless pit inside. Opening for the bin should be placed as high as possible. If it's an outside bin the height should be at least 5 foot and can be higher. Consult you local supplier for what they recommend as they may prefer a higher opening.
- Windows or openings should be as large as possible with no obstructions. the larger the opening is the easier it is the more options you supplier has. There is a lot of tricks to the trade and the more room they have to maneuver chute the easier it is. A simple opening is all that is needed, adding a chute or anything else is not necessary and in a lot of cases can hinder delivery. If it's an outside bin only four foot deep or less you really need roof that is hinged or can be removed.< /li>
- Opening centered on the bin. This allows the coal to spread out on either side of the window or opening.
- The delivery opening should far away the opening you will use to access it. A competent delivery person can fill a bin with a ground level opening to the rafters 8 to 10 feet deep without ever touching a shovel. Commonly you will fill the bin as high as possible where the opening is, a chute can then be laid flat on top of the pile to fill the bin further back. They can't do that if the access to the bin you will be using to get the coal is neaby and they need to shovel some it to complete the delivery.
- Angle the inside wall on smaller openings. If you have a single cinder block opening or smaller opening for your bin angle the blocks on the inside of the bin on both the left, right and bottom of the opening. It's not much but it can make difference especially the bottom part.
- You may want to help but don't take it upon yourself to do anything. If your coal delivery person needs help they will ask. For example taking a metal shovel and slamming it onto a $250 aluminum chute or taking the chute out of the window and dropping it on the ground is not helpful. This can cause a very small dent which will turn into a hole in short time making the chute useless.
Along with the things listed above here is some other tips and tricks.
- Dampen the walls and floors of your bin if it's inside. The coal being delivered is typically damp and creates very little dust when delivered. It will however kick up coal dust on the floor and walls of your bin. Using a small garden sprayer to lightly dampnen it can help prevent this.
- Mark off any soft spots in your yard. Whether it's somewhere water puddles, and old well or recently disturbed earth make sure the delivery person is aware of soft spots in your yard. This is particularly important for septic and leach fields. A coal truck can weigh up to 35 thousand pounds with a full load this can easily damage a septic sytem or leach field with worse case being the truck sinking into it.
- Order coal in the late spring or early summer. This is the time of the year that coal prices go down and it's always going to be cleaner in warmer weather. You'll save a few bucks and have a better product.