How to Lift Tanks.com

 Frequently Asked Questions                                     

Tank Lifting Questions Tank Moving Questions

Q -How high can you lift a tank?  

Q- Exactly how do the jacks attach to the tank?

Q- Do you need to weld anything to the tank?

Q- When do you need to weld to the tank?

Q- Can you cut or break out the concrete ring wall where the jacks go to fit the jacks under the shell?

Q- When you lift with lifting lugs on the shell, does this not create a bending moment on the shell?

Q- If using airbags or other short stroke jacking systems could they solve this problem by simply angle bracing the lug farther up the shell to compensate for the extra distance they need to be from the shell?

Q- How do your jacks contain this moment within the jacks?

Q- Are your jacks designed differently than other hydraulic jacks? If so what is different?

Q   How do you ensure that the ground under the jacks is stable enough for the jacks to lift the tank?

Q -So what happens if one of the jack bases does not perform as required?

Q -So what type of jack base system do you use?

Q -What if there is a liner or some other reason that prevents excavation?

Q- What about poor soil conditions like mud and very soft ground?

Q- Do you remove the specially prepared jack stations after the tank is down?

Q- Are their situations where airbags can do the job where your jacking system can not?

Q- Then why would anyone use airbags at all to lift a tank?

Q- I have heard some say that they prefer airbags because they require no welding to the shell, and this avoids the problem of lead abatement procedures on tanks painted with lead paint, is this not a valid concern?

Q- What about short stroke hydraulic jacks, they must certainly be less expensive than your long stroke jacks, are these a better choice than using airbags?

Q- Other than the obvious time saving factor of lifting to full height in one stroke, are there any other advantages to your jacking system when compared to using short stroke hydraulic jacks and a unified oil volume lifting system?

Q- So why does your system not have the same problem?

Q- What about mechanical failure like a hose bursting, won’t the oil all be released and the tank then comes down with no way to stop it?

Q- If your safety cribbing is bolted together then how can it be installed?

Q- Then why don’t they use prefabricated bolted together cribbing with airbag or short stroke lifting methods?

Q- Using prefabricated bolted together cribbing is obviously stronger, but does it not get in the way when you are trying to do the work under the tank?

 
 

 
Tank Moving Questions
 

Q- What are Tank Turtles?

Q- How large a tank can your Tank Turtle Tank Moving System move?

Q- Is there a limiting factor to how large a tank you can move?

Q- How far can you move a tank with the Tank Turtles?

Q- In miles; how far would you move a tank with the Tank Turtles?

Q- Do the Tank Turtles need a perfectly flat and level path made for them to walk on?

Q- How much space around the tank do you need to move a tank?

Q- Do you need to install tracks of any kind for the turtles to run on?

Q- Is there any special preparations that need to be done to the tank for the Tank Turtles to work?

Q- What about if the tank is coming off of, or going onto an elevated pad?

Q- What about floating a large tank on water, is that not an easier way to move a tank?

Q- What about floating a small tank on water?

Q- What about floating a tank on a cushion of air?

Q- Have you ever floated a tank on water to move a tank?

Q- What about moving a tank on trailers or some kind of bogie wheel arrangement?

Q-Do you need to load the tank onto the Tank Turtles with a crane?

Q- How steep an incline can the Tank Turtles walk a tank up?

Q- How small a tank can the Tank Turtles move?

Q- Are there any new improvements coming for the Tank Turtles?

Q- Is the Tank Turtle Moving System good for working in the unpredictable and challenging circumstances of hurricane Recovery?

Q- Are the Tank Turtles the only way you move tanks?

Q- How precisely can you position a tank with the Tank Turtles?

Q- What makes the Tank Turtles better at positioning a tank than any other tank moving method?


  

High Lifting Tanks:


Q- How high can you lift a tank?

A- We can lift a tank to ten feet off the ground in one smooth stroke, We generally do not need to lift that high to do the foundation work under the tank, but we can if we need to, generally we lift to about 8 or 9 feet as this is usually all the room we need.

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Q- Exactly how do the jacks attach to the tank?

 

A- The jacks lift under the shell, and are attached by heavy duty clamps to the chime sketch plate to prevent any slippage. We also wrap two ½” cables tightly around the tank and jacks to keep the jacks snug against the shell.

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Q- Do you need to weld anything to the tank?

 

A- No, in most cases nothing needs to be welded to the tank.

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Q- When do you need to weld to the tank?

 

A- The only time we need to weld to the tank is in situations where there is a concrete ring wall under the shell that prevents us from slipping the apron of our jacks under the edge of the tank. In these cases we add a lifting lug to the shell of the tank.

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Q- Can you cut or break out the concrete ring wall where the jacks go to fit the jacks under the shell?

 

A- Yes, in situations where the existing ring wall is to be discarded, we can break out the concrete to allow clearance to fit the jacks under the shell so then we do not need to attach lifting lugs to the shell.

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Q- When you lift with lifting lugs on the shell, does this not create a bending moment on the shell?

 

A- With other lifting systems used by our competitors, they need a lifting lug that extends far enough from the shell to fit their cribbing under to reset their jacks or air bags on, this type of lifting lug extends over 2’ from the shell in most cases, and so has tremendous leverage to cause a large bending moment on the shell. Our lifting lugs keep our jacks less than 6” from the shell, and extend 5 to 8’ up the side of the shell; also the jacks are over 12’ tall, so they reach way up the side of the tank reducing the moment on the shell to insignificance.

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Q- If using airbags or other short stroke jacking systems could they solve this problem by simply angle bracing the lug farther up the shell to compensate for the extra distance they need to be from the shell?

 

A- No, the problem is that the shell gets thinner the higher up you go, so the angle brace transfers this force up to the thinner shell, every inch you get further from the shell with the lifting force, the effect is like a long handled wrench and so the force is multiplied, the angle brace then transfers this force up the angle brace to the thinner shell plate. If the brace is made even longer to spread the load over a greater distance, the problem is that the shell keeps getting thinner, defeating the purpose. The only real way to prevent the excessive moment is by reducing the distance from the shell, and a jack design that contains much of this moment within the jack.

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Q- How do your jacks contain this moment within the jacks?

 

A- Two ways, first the jack ram is fixed in a heavy lifting foot that sits flat on the jack base pad; this means that the ram is held 90 degrees to the base, resisting this moment, and second, the apron is clamped squarely to the lifting lug, sharing much of the bending moment in the barrel of the jack, the jacks are specially designed to share this load. And as mentioned earlier, the lifting lug reaches up to 8’ up the shell, and the jack contact the shell over 12’ up the shell, and so it all acts as a unit sharing this load.

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Q- Are your jacks designed differently than other hydraulic jacks? If so what is different?

 

A- Yes there are significant differences, although they look just like a simple hydraulic cylinder with some attachments added to it, the cylinder is specially designed for this application, simply copying the design from a picture without knowing the secrets of the internal design of the hydraulic cylinder could result in serious consequences.

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Q   How do you ensure that the ground under the jacks is stable enough for the jacks to lift the tank?

 

A  -We have a jack base testing procedure that requires the jack be pressurized to 1.5 times the pressure that will be required to lift the tank, there is a form that is filled out for each jack, and every member of the crew is required to verify that they witnessed the results of this test, and any site visitors are welcome to witness the test and sign the witness verification form. On the witness verification form each witness can either agree or disagree with the recorded results. If there is disagreement it is thoroughly investigated and the witnesses concerns are addressed before the lift can be performed. This is to assure that everyone who is working on the tank understand all aspects of the lift, and prevents the possibility of the lifting technician or foreman or project superintendent from becoming too cavalier. Every member of the crew, including any visitors has a say on the witness verification form.

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Q -So what happens if one of the jack bases does not perform as required?

 

A -The jack base or bases in question must be repaired or rebuilt and retested, witnessed, and approved by all on site as before.

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Q -So what type of jack base system do you use?

 

A -It depends from job to job, generally speaking, we are lifting a tank to rebuild the foundation, so in these cases, usually some excavation is required to build the new footing or base under the tank foundation around the perimeter.  If possible, and it usually is, we will excavate for the new foundation design in the locations where the jacks will be placed. We then will construct the foundation footing base material to the construction specifications in these locations. This will provide a firm and stable base to jack from, and since it was built to the specifications of the new foundation design, it is not extra work, but actually part of the finished product. After the jacks are set, we can the excavate between these spots to install and complete the footing base material that a concrete ring wall may be built on top of, or in other cases where there is no concrete ring wall we install and complete the granular foundation as required by the design specifications.

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Q -What if there is a liner or some other reason that prevents excavation?

 

 A -In those cases we will jack directly off the surface,  we will put a crane type pad under each jack, if that is not enough, we put a larger crane pad under each jack until the load is spread out enough for the ground to support the load. The only time we really need to excavate is because the tank has sunk several feet under the ground already, otherwise, we excavate before we set the jacks to complete that phase of the construction of the foundation design first, so then the jacks are not in the way to do that portion of the foundation because it is already done. So we only excavate when it makes sense to do so.

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Q- What about poor soil conditions like mud and very soft ground?

 

A- We do a lot of work in Louisiana along the Mississippi River, so we have a lot of experience in the worst of soil conditions. Generally, in those cases, the foundation design accounts for this poor soil condition, so when we construct the foundation base in the locations where the jacks are going to be set first, the problem is taken care of, otherwise what we would do is excavate and prepare the jacking stations especially for the jack locations.

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Q- Do you remove the specially prepared jack stations after the tank is down?

 

A- There has never been any need to, these stations are buried and pose no problem, and actually add to the stability of the foundation, however; if the client wants them removed, we can do that. But I can’t imagine any reason to ever do that.

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Q- Are their situations where airbags can do the job where your jacking system can not?

 

A- Absolutely not, in fact airbags can not be used in many situations that are jacking system thrives in. there is never a situation where airbags are the better choice, airbags can not perform a unified or perpendicular lift and cause serious distortion and stress to the tank because of that. Lifting tanks with airbags is an irresponsible way to have your tanks lifted.

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Q- Then why would anyone use airbags at all to lift a tank?

 

A- Because they are cheap to buy, and cheap to mobilize and require cheap unskilled labor to operate, that is why many companies who want to get into tank lifting choose airbags. For the price of just one of our jacks enough airbags can be purchased to lift a whole tank. However we care about our clients and their tanks, so we made the investment and that is why we are the premier tank lifting and moving company in the world.

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Q- I have heard some say that they prefer airbags because they require no welding to the shell, and this avoids the problem of lead abatement procedures on tanks painted with lead paint, is this not a valid concern?

 

A- Of course lead paint must always be handled correctly, however there is no situation that an airbag can be used without welding that our jacks can’t be used without welding. If you do not need to weld anything using airbags, then you will not need to weld anything using our jacks. Companies that use airbags often supply misinformation about our jacking system saying we need to weld to the tank where they do not, but this is not true.

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Q- What about short stroke hydraulic jacks, they must certainly be less expensive than your long stroke jacks, are these a better choice than using airbags?

 

A- Yes, short stroke hydraulic jacks is a better choice than airbags because they do afford lateral stability where airbags have no lateral stability, however, short hydraulic jacks need to be supplied with a unified oil volume distribution system that assures each jack operates in unison with each other, otherwise the same distortions caused by airbags can occur.

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Q- Other than the obvious time saving factor of lifting to full height in one stroke, are there any other advantages to your jacking system when compared to using short stroke hydraulic jacks and a unified oil volume lifting system?

 

A- Well time of course, but tank wander is a problem with any multiple stroke system that requires the jacks to be reset several times before lift height is achieved. Each time a short stroke jack is reset, it is not located exactly perpendicularly every time, this means that the tank will move or wander slightly with each stroke of the jack, multiplied several times as the tank is lifted, and then again as the tank is lowered. The result is that the tank is no longer located exactly where it was, making pipes and other connection not fit correctly.

 This can be a very costly problem if pipes have been prefabricated, or if a line connected to a unit needs to be modified requiring the unit to be shut down. This is not an uncommon problem; there are not always extra places to blind off pipes in the pipe line other than right at the tank, where it needs to be modified.

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Q- So why does your system not have the same problem?

 

A- Since we lift to full height in one stroke, the jack feet never leave their location on the ground, so when we lower the tank it goes exactly back to where it was, exactly; to with in a hairs breadth.

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Q- What about mechanical failure like a hose bursting, won’t the oil all be released and the tank then comes down with no way to stop it?

 

A- No, with a unified oil delivery system each jack is on a designated circuit, so only that circuit is affected by the leak. We use more than twice as many jacks that are needed to hold the tank so there is actually no movement of the tank. Also, we use chocks at each ram to prevent them from travelling down and we install prefabricated bolted together safety cribbing under the tank to prevent this as well. So there are several layers of safety built into our methods.

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Q- If your safety cribbing is bolted together then how can it be installed?

 

A- That is the best part, it is much too heavy to be installed by hand, so we use a fork lift or a loader with forks to install them, this saves time and manpower fatigue, not to mention reducing the possibilities of hand and foot injuries to crew members packing and stacking a bunch of timbers.

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Q- Then why don’t they use prefabricated bolted together cribbing with airbag or short stroke lifting methods?

 

A- They can’t, they have to add the blocking 8 or 10” at a time, so it needs to be done by hand.

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Q- Using prefabricated bolted together cribbing is obviously stronger, but does it not get in the way when you are trying to do the work under the tank?

 

A- Not at all, our jacking system is engineered to be more stable with the tank supported in the jacks than a tank resting on cribbing, so we do not rest the tank on the cribbing but rather keep the weight of the tank held in the jacks. This allows us to move the cribbing by a machine just as easy as we installed it, again saving time, manpower fatigue and reducing the risk of hand or foot injuries.

With short stroke lifting systems the cribbing is the primary tank support, so to move the cribbing, the tank needs to lifted to release the blocks and be moved by hand to another location, costing time, and manpower fatigue, and risking hand and foot injuries as the blocks are handled and moved.
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 FAQ Tank Moving

 
Q-
What are Tank Turtles?

  

A-Tank Turtles are MTS proprietary technology that is used to move tanks; they are a special walking beam arrangement that allows them to move tanks precisely and deliberately.

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Q- How large a tank can your Tank Turtle Tank Moving System move?

  

A- The Tank Turtle Moving System is a “stackable” system, so the larger the tank, the more Tank Turtles are used, so theoretically there is no limit to how large a tank they can move.

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Q- Is there a limiting factor to how large a tank you can move?

  

A- Yes, space is the limiting factor; we need enough room for the tank to fit where you want to go.

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Q- How far can you move a tank with the Tank Turtles?

  

A- They were primarily designed for in plant moves, however in some cases it could be possible to go much farther, it would depend upon the size of the tank and what obstacles were along its travel path. Practically speaking, a small tank of 60’ diameter or less could be moved with wheels or bogies down highways where room and allowances allow; this would be faster for the long hauls. Turtles like their namesake move slow, so this is the limiting factor to great distances. In these cases we could move the tanks to where the bogies or trailers could be loaded, and then at the end of the line reposition the tank with the Tank Turtles after unloading the bogies or trailers. Very large tanks are often too big to fit down highways and roads, so these are usually in plant type moves.

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Q- In miles; how far would you move a tank with the Tank Turtles?

  

A- Normally, I would say about 2 miles for a tank 60’ or less in diameter, after that it is probably more practical to load the tanks onto some kind of wheeled moving system. Larger tanks however make it more practical to go maybe 2 or 3 times that far or maybe a little more, since a large tank takes a fairly serious arrangement of wheels to be moved that way.

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Q- Do the Tank Turtles need a perfectly flat and level path made for them to walk on?

  

A- No not at all, in fact some have said they should be called “All Terrain Turtles”. They each have about 6” of suspension travel, and we try to arrange the Tank Turtle in a tri-pod type of arrangement which gives us good articulation over uneven surfaces. On a small tank under 80’ diameter, we can pretty near walk over anything.

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Q- How much space around the tank do you need to move a tank?

  

A- To install the Tank Turtles we need about ten feet clearance around the tank, but to move the tank our footprint is only slightly more than the tank diameter, and if necessary we can position the Tank Turtles so that our width is no greater than the size of the tank. This allows us to get a tank into very tight locations.

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Q- Do you need to install tracks of any kind for the turtles to run on?

 
A-
No, the Tank Turtles walk directly on the ground.

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Q- Is there any special preparations that need to be done to the tank for the Tank Turtles to work?

 
A-
The Tank Turtles require the same or less tank preparation then any other method of tank moving, however, the dryer, the flatter and the firmer the ground the better. We have moved tanks over soft muddy uneven ground many times, the Tank Turtles don’t mind, but the men walking around with 15 pounds of gumbo stuck to their boots could have done without it!

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Q- What about if the tank is coming off of, or going onto an elevated pad?

 
A-
In these situations we have several options, depending on the size of the tank and the area we have to work with we can build a ramp or we can use blocking and step the Tank turtles up to or down from the elevated pad. No matter how a tank is moved with any method the challenge here is the same, the Tank Turtles are actually more flexible to deal with this type of situation then other tank moving methods.

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Q- What about floating a large tank on water, is that not an easier way to move a tank?

 
A- Floating a tank on water should be a last resort, yet it is often the first choice of anyone wanting to move a tank. There are many problems with floating tanks, for one thing the floor is where the buoyant force of the water is exerted and the floor is not designed for that kind of loading. What happens is the floor bows up in the middle, pushing all the columns up, which in turn bows all the rafters up, then what you have is a situation where the rafters are carrying the shell weight and this can seriously damage the small rafter clips, and even bend some of the rafters. I have even seen the columns fail under this kind of loading.

Other problems also arise, for one, the floor plate stretches, and can even reverse flare the bottom of the shell from all the tension on the floor plate. Of course the larger the tank the worse all this is.

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Q- What about floating a small tank on water?

 
A-
A small tank of less than 40’ diameter is not usually at risk of much damage from being floated on water; however using water creates a lot of other problems. For one, the area needs to be bermed up to contain the water and this is not always possible, and then after that you have a wet muddy working area. And for two, flooding the pad area where the tank is going to sit can introduce contaminants to the pad that can cause corrosion of the floor, as well as saturating the pad and compromising Ph levels and moisture content. Often when pads are constructed the moisture content, the Ph levels of the materials are controlled and inspected, along with compaction and moisture content. This is all thrown out the window when the pad is then flooded to float the tank onto the pad.

 Another issue is control of the tank, I have seen a light wind

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Q- What about floating a tank on a cushion of air?

 

A- Air causes the exact same problems to the structure of a tank as floating on water does since the lifting force acts upon the same surfaces. In theory it sounds like a clever idea to use air, it seems simple, but in practice it becomes a cumbersome process. One problem is the area needs to be perfectly flat and level; otherwise the tank will glide down hill on even the slightest of grades. Also, any breeze will push the tank off of its intended course and could create serious problems. The other issue is that the ground needs to be compacted very well or the escaping air undermines it very quickly.

 Another issue is that the skirt around the tank used to contain the air has a tendency to dig into the ground and act a little like a dozer blade and pile gravel and dirt up in front of it that needs to be constantly cleared away.

 Elevation changes are impossible with air cushion tank moving, and site preparation is paramount to a successful move this way. There are very limited situations where air cushion tank moving would be a reasonable solution. Perhaps a small tank, on smooth and level pavement well sheltered from the wind would be an acceptable application.

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Q- Have you ever floated a tank on water to move a tank?

 
A-
Yes, we have, as last resort, after a hurricane doing hurricane recovery work. If the tank has been floated by the storm surge into a situation where it is too unsafe to work around where it is at to move with the Tank Turtles or any other method and the only other alternative is to tear the tank down, then we have floated the tank. One recent situation was after Hurricane Ike where a 140’ tank was left straddling a 12’ high dyke wall berm. The only safe way to move this tank or do any work on it was to get it out of this precarious position so we built up a containment berm and floated the tank off the dyke berm. We then put the tank on to our Turtles and walked it into position. We did that extra step because of the high water in the tank cell area we had no way of being sure there was no hurricane debris on the pad area. We then reconditioned the damaged pad area with new sand and relocated the tank with our Tank Turtles.

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Q- What about moving a tank on trailers or some kind of bogie wheel arrangement?

 

A- Yes, we have done this many times, and it is a good way to move tanks over long distances, of course the tank must be small enough to fit down the traveled path. We have even cut large tanks in half to move them long distances on trailers and bogie wheel set ups. However most tank moves are usually in plant, or from one plant to the neighboring plant, so the Tank Turtles are ideal for that kind of move.

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Q-Do you need to load the tank onto the Tank Turtles with a crane?

 

A- No, the Tank Turtles are part of an integrated system that works with our Unified Hydraulic Jacking System. So the tank is lifted by our jacks, and the Tank Turtles are installed individually.  

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Q- How steep an incline can the Tank Turtles walk a tank up?

 
A-
It depends on the size of the tank; the issue is not the steepness of the incline, but the sharpness of the transition. We recently walked a 50’ diameter tank up 5’ in about a 40’ distance, that’s an 8-1 incline without any problem. In that situation the transition was rather sharp as well, on a larger tank we would need a transition zone long enough to keep the turtles on the ground that are at the halfway point around the tank. However by positioning the Tank Turtles to accommodate the transition sharpness, sharper transitions and steeper inclines could be traversed.

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Q- How small a tank can the Tank Turtles move?

 
A-
Probably about 12’ diameter, however these sized tanks can usually be moved easily with a crane. Practically tanks as small as 20 or 25’ diameter can be moved with the Tank Turtles in applications where a crane is not practical because of  congestion of site requiring a long reach, or where a crane needs to be set up several times to cover the distance required to move. We regularly move tanks as small as 30’ diameter with the Tank Turtles, and tanks well over 100’ diameter.

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Q- Are there any new improvements coming for the Tank Turtles?

 

A- Yes, currently on the drawing board are wheel adaptors for the Tank Turtles. This will allow us to move a small tank over greater distances faster. It is primarily designed for use on small tanks because there is a very small demand to move large tanks very far. Small tanks however are often moved much greater distances because they usually can fit past more obstacles than a larger tank can.  RETURN TO

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Q- Is the Tank Turtle Moving System good for working in the unpredictable and challenging circumstances of hurricane Recovery?

 

A- Absolutely, this is what they were originally designed for. We have relocated nearly 100 tanks of all sizes that were washed off their foundations by hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Ike. We have had to walk tanks off of and over crushed and destroyed pipe racks, and from being jammed in between each other, and all sorts of precarious positions. The Tank Turtles sure-footedness handles these situations well, and there unique suspension design assures that no further damage to the tanks occurs. 

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Q- Are the Tank Turtles the only way you move tanks?

 
A-
No, every situation is different, I would not want to move a tank 5 miles or more with the Tank Turtles unless there was no other way, it would be too slow. However the tank turtle can be great to use when integrating them with other ways of moving tanks, say using wheels to travel the long distance, and the Tank Turtles at either end to precisely position the tanks.

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Q- How precisely can you position a tank with the Tank Turtles?

 A- So far we have been very successful at locating tanks exactly where the client wanted them, in one instance we were able to locate the tanks so that the prefabricated piping fit so well all the bolts slid in and the gasket space was even perfect! Our crews take great pride in doing this and want the bragging rights of such a move and so take the time to get it right. A common saying heard among the crewmembers is; “Do we want to finish this job and say we got it close enough? No, we want to go home and say we got it bang on the money!” and so they all put in the extra effort to get right.

 Of course I can imagine times when we may not be able to get it as close as perfect, but it will not be for lack of trying, but so far, so good!

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Q- What makes the Tank Turtles better at positioning a tank than any other tank moving method?

 
A-
The mechanism that actually moves the tank is very precise and deliberate, if you need to move the tank an 1/8” in any direction it will do that, if you need to move it 6” any direction it will easily do that. If you go too far in a certain direction, it backs up just as precisely, all with the simple push of a lever.

 Other tank moving methods are either pushed or pulled with a truck, loader or Bulldozer. It is very difficult to precisely move such a machine as precisely as our Tank Turtles, and often if you move too far in any direction, it takes a lot of re-rigging to set up to push or pull it back. This often leads to accepting “close enough” as the final position of the tank.

 Another thing is that we use our single stroke hydraulic jacks to lower the tank down off the Tank Turtles when we are done. These jacks allow the tank to go down perfectly perpendicularly locating the tank right where you want it. Most other tank movers use airbags or short stroke hydraulic jacks to lower the tank off their moving system, this causes a lot of tank wander on the way down, making the final resting spot of the tank unpredictable.

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