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Christmas Day Tanker Recovery in Texas

0 28af2by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

Gustavo Jimenez Jr. established Tavo's Automotive in 1974 in Crystal City, Texas, as a repair shop with towing services. He passed the business to his son Gustavo "Tavo" Jimenez III, who began concentrating on towing and heavy-duty recovery.

On Christmas day last year, Tavo's Automotive in Crystal City, Texas, was called by an oilfield company for assistance in recovering a crude oil tanker that rolled over near Laredo. Gustavo "Tavo" Jimenez III called his recovery team at 11:30 a.m. to head to the shop, get equipment ready and wait for further instructions.

"Normally we dispatch two heavy-duty recovery units," said Tavo, "but we decided to take a third heavy-duty recovery truck from previous experience on this road due to the narrow width of the road. The third would give us two additional winch lines and more counter weight on recovery."

Tavo pulled together operators Jesus Mata Jr. in a 2017 389 Peterbilt/9055 Century 50-ton; Gilbert Lopez in a 2018 Kenworth T880/7035 Century 35-ton; Hector Perez Jr. in a 2007 Kenworth T300/Jerr-Dan single-axle 25-ton and Sebastian Mendoza to operate a skid-steer. Also assisting in the rigging and recovery were Tavo's son, nephew and father-in-law. Tavo was on-scene supervisor.

Tavo's team drove 45 miles to the scene and arrived at 1:15 p.m. An officer on-scene advised the oil company was trying to unload the crude with minimal success.

"After 45 barrels of oil were removed," Tavo said, "we decided to rig up for recovery with the tanker still having about 145 barrels, about 75-percent full. At 1:45 p.m., we staged our 9055 Century 50-ton wrecker on the rear of the tanker for the heavier lift; with one line pigeon-toed for a downward pull on axle and second line lifting from the frame around the tanker."

They staged the Jerr-Dan 25-ton at the center of the trailer with one line on the truck's drive axle with a downward pull and second line on the landing gear wrapped around the tanker with a flat strap for upward pull.

"Our Century 35-ton wrecker was staged at front of truck, but we had to move to the front of the trailer to assist with rigging on the tanker," Tavo said. "We then used our New Holland skid-steer to pull down on the steer axle to bring the truck over."

The truck and tanker were back on their wheels at 3:05 p.m. The team moved the Century 50-ton to allow the remainder of tanker to be emptied, while the Century 35-ton and Jerr-Dan 25-ton held the tanker from rolling back into the ditch.

Once the tanker was empty, they lifted it and the cab back onto the road and rigged up to transport the casualties to Tavo's yard in Carrizo Springs.

"Our recovery team was able to recover the tanker without any oil spill, which is always a plus," Tavo stated.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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