I just paid $270/ton plus a small mileage based delivery cost for 6 tons of bagged rice coal. From one of my co-workers, I might have been able to beat that price by a couple of bucks if I had the energy to call-around to a number of dealers in the Springfield MA and vicinity, and see if they’d come to south suburban Springfield….almost in Connecticut.
At work, 2 of my co-workers are also coal burners, and a pellet-man, also, so he’s out. We’ve been toying with going to Pennsylvania somewhere with an 18-wheeler and get our own coal…reducing our costs by cutting out the local dealer. As it turns out, one of the others has a CDL-A driver and has his own rig with a 53’ enclosed trailer. He also agreed to make the trip at cost…roughly $1.00, on average. I and one of the others use rice coal in our stokers. Mr. “hand bomber” boiler uses furnace coal…2-3” chunks from his description.
So, let’s do some math…
Based on what we’ve read on this site, we’re thinking we could get some coal in Pennsylvania for, $160-180/ton…loose. I’m guessing $180-200 bagged. It’s 185 miles from here to Scranton, so let’s say it’s closer to 225 each way to the breaker/dealer of our choice. That makes it $450 for trucking costs…at cost. We figure the maximum amount, palletized coal would be about 22 tons, without breaking legal weight limits. $450/22 tons works out to $20.83 per ton. Round numbers, call it $200/ton, with trucking included.
Now, how do we get the pallets delivered to our house? Also, don’t forget this is a Saturday and/or Sunday, too? We have access to a fork lift and pallet jack, but then, how to get THEM to our house, plus the 18 wheeler? Obviously, a 2nd truck would be needed to transport the fork lift, or someone with a good-sized trailer with a ramp. Let’s assume we’d need to rent the trailer…another $100 or so, or $5/ton. Or, how about renting a repo-man flat-bed truck with a winch to carry the fork lift? It gets complicated, doesn’t it? And it all has to come off in the same day.
Or…how about unload the coal where the fork lift and pallet jack are? Not a problem, as it turns out. But we’d be limited to short-term storage of the coal, there…perhaps a week at most. But now, how do we get the coal to OUR houses? I have a mini-van and could load ½ ton at a time and take it home…9 miles each way. And I’d be handling each bag twice, once on, once off. How about a pickup truck? We could fork-lift a pallet at a time on the pickup, but then we’d still have to hand-unload it. How’s your back? Two of us are over 50, the other, over 60. Not a desirable choice.
Or, do it the lazy-mans’ way. Have the local dealer deliver it and pay profit both for the truck driver, and local driver, too, and the local store. From my dealer, with delivery, it worked out to $281/ton for me. I guess I can live with the added expense and not having the hassle of lots of hand-labor and not having any ‘surprises’ along the way…such as a broken down truck, etc. The truck driver opted to pick up his coal at the same dealer, and put it in an empty 53 foot trailer he had briefly. He unloaded it with the fork lift but now has to get hit home somehow. Good thing he has a big pickup truck. The furnace coal man has a small trailer, and he’s planning on going to a dealer and getting about a ton at a time.
In short, how much is one willing to pay for the convenience of having it delivered? Or, put another way, how much is your back and your time worth? Only you can decide.