Buying the big stuff

Discover the options available for kettles and tankers

Although the sales of kettles and tankers have dwindled during the past 20 years because of changing market conditions, many in the roofing industry still use these large pieces of equipment. However, because they are not purchased as frequently as other types of equipment, you may be unfamiliar with the various options available. Following is a summary of what you can expect to find when shopping for kettles and tankers.

Just as there are Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge lovers who will not consider buying anything except the brand they always have used, the same often is true of kettles. But if you have time to shop around, consider seeing what different manufacturers have to offer. With equipment sales being down the past few years, contractors often can get pretty good deals.

The first decision to make is how much hot asphalt you need. Most kettle manufacturers publish the "usable gallons" available for their kettles. This is different from kettle size and varies greatly between manufacturers. The "usable gallons" is the amount of asphalt above the tube unit (flues). Because you cannot pump material below the flues, "usable gallons" is the actual amount of hot asphalt available to use at any given time. Generally, a contractor wants as much production out of a kettle as possible and does not want to have too much material in the bottom of the kettle workers cannot access.

A selling feature some manufacturers talk about is loading height. Lower loading is a great feature for a kettle operator, who lifts kegs of asphalt into the kettle, but may not be for a roofing company owner, who is interested in production. You often give up usable gallons in exchange for low loading height. It is important to know this before buying a kettle so you can choose the style and size that fits your company's needs.