On the recommendation of a fellow poster, I ordered 3 pallets of coal from baggedcoal.com
before the end of August (when the summer prices expired). I wheedled him down to $200/ton bagged even though they normally don't go below $220/ton for less than a full truckload (18 pallets). But since I was arranging for the trucking, he lowered the price a bit for me. It turns out this guy from baggedcoal.com is actually a mining company out of Maryland (Gauley Mining) but sells the coal as Penn Keystone Coal which distributes through Kimmel's Coal & Packaging in Wiconisco, PA. Confused? I sure was when I went there to pick it up.
Originally, I had planned to have a trucker friend of mine pick the load up at Kimmel's yard in Wiconisco, PA but at the last minute he couldn't do it. So as a favor, my friend Jason offered to help me out and we drove down in his Ford F-350 diesel duallie and a heavy duty trailer. Kimmel's loaded one pallet into the bed of the truck and slid two onto the trailer with no problem. That 3 3/4 tons was about as much as I'd ever want to pull with the F-350 turbo-diesel over the highways. It was tough keeping up with traffic on the hills and we really should have had trailer brakes
It ended up costing me about $150 for fuel, tolls, meals etc. to make this trip. This brought my final cost to about $240/ton or $6.00/bag which is still cheaper than Klem's in Spencer sells it for.
OK, so if we want to get together for a group-buy and delivery, here's the breakdown:
In the summer of '07 I was quoted $176/ton bagged for whole-load pickup at Kimmel's through baggedcoal.com so it's possible 3 or 4 of us Massachusetts coal burners could pay to have a truckload delivered and save a bundle next year. The issues are the following:
- The price of diesel fuel affects the delivery cost (which would be split among the purchasers)
- You need a heavy duty forklift and level dock to unload the coal
- You need space for 18 pallets of coal to sit while the individual purchasers arrange for pickup
- Individuals still need to come to a central location to pick up their allotment of coal
- You need to pay for the total up-front so the coal and trucking will be paid for.
Working with last-year's summer pricing of $176/ton bagged, a full truckload of 18 pallets (22.5 tons) comes to $3960.00 plus the trucker's charge (probably around $500 or so) which works out to $198.23/ton or $4.96 per 50 lb. bag.
So to do this, you need to have access to a centrally located yard with a forklift capable of unloading 2500 lb. pallets from the interior of a tractor trailer and staging them at ground level in a yard till the individuals can pick up their coal. For individual house delivery, you'd need an open bed truck with a piggy-back forklift. I imagine this would be considerably more expensive but should still keep the cost down to about $220/ton delivered right to your door.
We need to get enough people on-board to take all 18 pallets. I use about 3 tons in a year and I'd imagine the average is about 4-5 tons apiece with some more and some less. So we'd need at least 4 and probably 5 bagged-coal burners within 50 miles of each other to get together on this. I'm in Worcester but certainly don't have a paved, level yard nor access to a forklift. I suggest that we'd really want to go with the piggy-back forklift method. Unfortunately, this may mean the trucker can't take the full load all at once. You may be pushing the legal limits with just the tractor, trailer, and load - nevermind an additional 10,000 pounds of forklift hanging off the back. I'll have to check. It could mean trans-shipping the load to an intermediate yard where a smaller truck with piggyback forklift or forklift crane would take the individual loads to the customers.
Anyone want to spearhead this effort? If not, I'll probably just go with the higher price and unload/stack by hand again next year.