'What Are Those Things?' Liquid Storage Tanks, That's What

“Frac” tanks pause in Ohio en route from Delaware to Colorado. Manufacturer’s specs say they hold up to 21,000 gallons and are used at construction sites to store water and at oil and gas wells to hold fracturing fluids.


Every so often I see one of these odd, squarish trailers being pulled down an interstate and wonder, “What are those things?” Last fall, while driving down U.S. 23 near Toledo, I spotted a pair parked in a lot and swung around to check ’em out.

Two owner-operators pulling for Powersource Transportation in Griffith, Ind., had these in tow, and were taking a break. The said the strange trailers were water storage tanks used on construction sites, and they were hauling these from Dover, Del., to Denver, Colo.

At a work site a tank sits on the ground with its rear wheels in the air. The long bottom provides plenty of support for up to 20,000 gallons of water (at 8 pounds per, that’d be 160,000 pounds). When contractors no longer need it, the tank is emptied so it’s ready to move. A crane lifts the nose so a truck-tractor can back under and couple to its kingpin. The tank has road-legal equipment, including a 22,000-pound axle with 22.5-inch wheels and tires, air brakes, lights and mud flaps, so it becomes a semitrailer.

Wade Services in Ellisville, Miss., makes the “frac” tanks (so-called because many are used to supply fracturing fluids at oil and gas wells). I put in a call to a sales manager at the company but didn’t get a call-back.

However, the company’s website described the tanks. Standard models are listed as 21,000-gallon capacity, are made of 3/16-inch steel, and have manhole hatches and other hardware up top, OSHA-approved ladders, and the trailer gear. Wade now makes doubles versions so two can be hauled at a time, the website said.

Wade’s specifications didn’t include length and weight, but each tank appeared to be about 35 feet long and the o-o’s figured a tank’s empty weight at about 20,000 pounds. They said Powersource moves all kinds of trailers that aren’t cargo vehicles – circus wagons, for instance – and these tanks are among them. So, now I know.

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