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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingApril 17 - April 23, 2019

Adversity, 'Workover' and Out

0 06916by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

With the heat wave gaining a stranglehold on most of the country, here's something from this past winter to cool you ALL off for a Happy 4th!

Eaton Towing & Recovery is a family-owned and operated company in business since 1947. Richard "Rich" Eaton and Dorthy "Dot" Anderson along with sons Isaac and Richard "Shawn" Eaton (RIP) and daughters C.J. Stephanie Eaton and Jessica Eaton have built a reputation as a well-equipped towing, recovery and transport service known for handling difficult recoveries and devoted to customer service. Son-in-law Richard Taylor, married to daughter Crystal, is also part of the family business and all of their operators soon become part of the family.

Starting with their location in Shelley, Idaho, they expanded to another location in Williston, North Dakota, and as of this writing have just opened their newest location in Midland, Texas.

In early February 2018, Eaton was called by the North Dakota Highway Patrol to respond to Highway 68 between Alexander, North Dakota, and Sydney, Montana.

"We had 5-6 calls come in around 7 on this one morning due to some blowing snow and black ice, so we sent out both of the heavies," Isaac said. "I was sent to a loaded propane tanker leaning hard on an ice-covered road. I had an operator riding with me ... Justin Baker from Louisiana. The cold was very new to him.

"Just as we finished the recovery, the call came in of a rollover and the police didn't know what to call it, just that it was heavy. I was 2.5 hours away from the accident, so I sent the other heavy, our very capable Jerr-Dan 35-ton driven by operator Bryan Shaw."

Isaac headed off in that direction with "Superman," a Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator mounted on a 2016 Kenworth T880, that is the family's rolling memorial to brother Shawn, who passed away on March 11, 2016. Around an hour and a half later, Bryan arrived on scene and did his walk around, describing the wreck and saying it was a "workover" rig and it had rolled two times, very hard, and traffic was blocked.

The casualty was an oversized load Service King crane truck workover rig. Service King Manufacturing has been in the oilfield equipment industry for over 40 years. They offer a wide selection of quality products including well service, workover, drilling rigs, carrier, draw works and derricks made in their plants in the heartland of America.

A workover rig can be called completion wells or pulling units. The purpose of a workover rig is to replace a well with a fresh completion. This may have to happen due to the well deteriorating or the changing of reservoir conditions. This is performed if a well completion is unsuitable for the job at hand. In short there are many unique pieces of heavy equipment that at times are in need of recovery in oil field country and Team Eaton handles them all.

Bryan started rigging as Isaac still had about 1.5 hours of driving left. Isaac arrived on scene and assisted Bryan in pulling the driveshaft and finishing up the rigging.

"We knew how heavy it was, and most of the weight was head down," Isaac said. "Using the boom of the 60-ton rotator, we rigged to the crane of the rig to create lift. The 35-ton was rigged to the chassis to get the tires to spike. Bryan and I were able to stand next to each other and bring the rig over together."

They rigged a control vehicle to the opposite side to slow the rotation down as the casualty came over onto its wheels. Once it was over, they were able to winch the front over and load it for towing.

"We still had four calls waiting, so Bryan picked up his equipment and went to work." Isaac said. "Our Jerr-Dan has a large wheel-lift, and after spinning the boom forward I was able to grab it and secure it for towing. The chassis was extremely bent, and the crane was shoved a few feet over to the passenger side, so it didn't tow very well. We hauled it to our yard, and the owners separated the crane from the chassis to haul it away."

C.J. Stephanie Eaton said, "Six years ago on July 1, my dad and I took a truck to Williston, North Dakota, on a hope and a prayer my brother Shawn Eaton had," C.J. said. "Now, six years later, we're headed to Texas on a hope and hard work my other brother Isaac has. ... Crazy life but wouldn't trade it for anything. Shawn would be proud!"

On top of making the move to Texas, Isaac just took delivery of "Hercules," another Jerr-Dan 60-ton rotator. "[Rocky Mountain Wrecker Sales] built me an awesome ride. Can't wait to get it dirty."

Through adversity and tragedy, this company and family remain Eaton Strong.

Editor's Note: Look for more on these rigs in upcoming issues of American Towman Magazine!

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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