Deadhorse Alaska’s New Wash Bay


Heavy Equipment -

Last week, two Riveer employees flew 4,000 miles from Michigan all the way up to the North Coast of Alaska, the end of the Dalton Highway (shown in popular TV show, Ice Road Truckers), to install a MudMaster 3000 wash and recycle system. This isolated and frigid part of the Arctic Circle is home to less than 50 full time residents with an estimated 3,000 laborers who rotate in every 2-3 weeks for work. The work is plentiful thanks to all the drilling in nearby oil fields and supplemental businesses such as the Prudhoe Bay General Store, Brook’s Range Supply (the only two retail outlets in the area, both under one roof, offering everything from groceries and toiletries to hardware and postal services), and Riveer’s customer, Brice Equipment Rentals. 

Due to the remoteness of the area, things that most of us would consider everyday items are extremely expensive and difficult to come by, especially water. For an equipment rental company like Brice which has to keep its inventory clean and in good working condition, water is a lifeline. In the interest of efficiency and affordability, Brice commissioned Riveer to design a drive-through wash bay which collects dirty wash water and recycles it with a Riveer Treatment System (RTS) 3000 through various stages of filtration for continual use within the system. 

The 5-stall maintenance building which houses the wash bay sits atop an underground trough system designed to channel snow melting off vehicles into the filtration system in order to supplement the water supply.

With two pressure washer guns, a water cannon and an undercarriage spray, Riveer’s system demands a lot of water – 60 gallons per minute to be exact – but it is well worth the amount of time and man-power saved. As an additional means for offsetting the high cost of importing and/or recycling water, Riveer included a special feature which allows Brice to earn revenue by charging other companies a fee to use the system. When someone wants to use it, all they have to do is drive in, punch in a pre-assigned code, then drive past a set of sensors which turn the system on, start the undercarriage rinse and feed water to the wash guns. 

Another cool element built into this system is its patented solids conveyor. When mud and debris fall off of a vehicle, it gets funneled down into a trough which conveys the solids up and out of the bay, eliminating any need for laborious shoveling to empty the trench when it gets full. Oftentimes, a concrete system would direct mud and debris into a sump pit; however, due to excavation limitations in Deadhorse from permafrost, Riveer’s system had to provide a way to remove solids without digging into the ground – the conveyor was the perfect solution.

It took two Riveer installers about a week to get the system up and running after a 2-day weather delay in Anchorage which they were quite happy about since it gave them opportunity to explore the wilderness a bit. “The system works great,” said Justin Wilkins, the engineer who designed the system and one of its installers, “The customer seemed really happy with it and was impressed when we hit the 30ft ceiling with our undercarriage spray.” Both guys were glad to see daylight when they got home (Deadhorse only gets about 3 hours a day this time of year), but they had a great trip and enjoyed meeting the tough and spirited people of Alaska.