By Stephen Bennett
Delivering twenty-five gallons of heating oil at a time might sound like a waste of time to some fuel marketers, but not to Jeffrey Suntup. The veteran oil dealer has designed a system for delivering such modest amounts of heating oil and diesel fuel at what he describes as far from modest margins.
Meant to fit in the bed of a pickup truck or in the back of a service van, the unit features a 118.9-gallon tank (more on that later), a Smith meter, a Veeder Root register, and a 150-foot Goodyear Redwing hose, one-inch in diameter, with an electric rewind. The design allows for AC or DC power. Anytime Fuel Oil, a fuel marketer in New London, Conn., in which Suntup’s wife, Lily Suntup, is the principal, is using a prototype of the device, dubbed “Putnus” (Suntup’s name spelled backwards) to serve customers concerned that they might have a run-out. Another dealer, Romeo’s Fuel Oil, Holbrook, N.Y., has installed the system in a service van, Suntup said.
The system has been certified by the National Conference of Weights and Measures, under its National Type Evaluation Program, for sales of fuel oil, diesel, kerosene and biofuel, Suntup said, and for AC/DC power, and for mobile and stationary use at both wholesale and retail.
Designed to be able to fill five-gallon cans, “it will pump as slow as two gallons a minute,” Suntup said. Top speed is about 28 gallons per minute, he said, while the average is 13 gallons per minute.
The unit could be used in a wide variety of applications and environments, Suntup said. “You can drop it on a barge in Biscayne Bay and sell diesel fuel to boats,” he said, or put it on a truck to fuel harvesting combines in the wheat fields of Nebraska.
The tank is sized at 118.9 gallons so that, when it is mounted on a vehicle, it is exempt from DOT regulations, according to Suntup. Further, the smaller tank means that the vehicle operator is not required to have a CDL; nor do hazmat regulations apply. “It’s considered cargo,” Suntup said of the system.
Suntup uses the prototype, which has a larger, 166-gallon tank, to make deliveries for Anytime Fuel. Because it has the larger tank the prototype does not enjoy the same exemptions that a system with a 118.9-gallon tank would, Suntup noted.
A system with the smaller tank can enable a company to make a small-volume delivery at low cost, paying perhaps $10 per hour to a non-CDL driver, while charging the customer a premium, Suntup said. For example, a dealer could charge $135 for a 25-gallon delivery; and to make that delivery at night, on an emergency basis, add a service charge of $65. The ticket would total $200, or a gross of $8 per gallon, Suntup noted. On a day in February when Suntup talked to Fuel Oil News, the rack price was about $1.80 per gallon, which would result in a gross margin of about $6 a gallon on a 25-gallon, emergency night-time delivery, he calculated.
Suntup also pointed to the unit’s potential for use to forestall run-outs and to prime tanks newly installed by a service department. As noted, the unit can be installed in a service van.
With an empty 118.9-gallon tank, the system weighs about 300 pounds; with a full tank the unit would weigh less than 1,200 pounds, Suntup calculated. Taking its weight into account, the system must be installed on a suitable vehicle for stability and safety. “We recommend at least an F-250 to F-350 truck” he said, referring to the pickup trucks manufactured by Ford Motor Co.
Central CT Tank Fabrication & Truck Repair, in Meriden, Conn., agreed to make tanks for the system, Suntup said. There is no standing inventory; he said units would be built to fulfill orders.
For more information, visit the website at putnus.com.