Felling FT-6 R with hydraulic retriever/take-up rim drive.

Southland Electric, Inc. is a San Diego-based commercial and industrial electrical contractor that serves the Southern California region. The woman-owned company does electrical work for entities like Cox Cable, San Diego city schools, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), and many more. 

“We install, splice, and test SDGE’s fiber optic and copper communication cables between substations. Recently, we have been installing a fiber optic cable 1 foot above a 16-inch gas main,” says Dale Thompson, an outside plant supervisor for Southland Electric, Inc. 

Southland needed a few cable reel trailers to free up its Telsta, a bucket truck(s) with a reel carrier on the back, to do aerial work where needed. When conversations first started, Southland was looking at Felling’s FT-14 R cable reel trailer. Dale worked with Mark Rapp, Felling’s Utility & Telecom product manager, to ensure that they ordered the right trailer for the project. After reviewing the project’s needs, Dale decided that the FT-6 R would be sufficient for the company’s current needs. 


Southland took delivery of its first FT-6 R cable reel in May; the trailer was equipped with hydraulic retriever/take-up, rim drive, with a self-contained hydraulic power pack. 

“I was thoroughly impressed with our new FT-6 R reel trailer. It’s a beautiful cable dolly. Hydraulics are very well done. Very sharp in appearance. Very easy to use,” says Dale. 

“On gas projects, we start the process with a 4,500-foot reel of fiber optic cable. The gas line is being installed in the middle of the street, so at the end of the day, the cable has to go back on the reel so we can lower it into the trench and then cover it with steel plates,” says Dale. “We are only trenching 150 to 200 feet a day, so we have to figure 8 the entire reel of cable so that we have a starting end of the cable to pull under any gas, telecom, cable, etc. encountered. Then, we use our new Felling FT-6R trailer to wind up the cable and put it back in the trench.” 

What is a figure 8? The process of “figure 8’ing” allows a contractor to park the trailer mid-span of the run and pull it in both directions. The cable has to be emptied from the reel and laid on the ground, laying it in a figure 8 pattern; it prevents it from being twisted as it is pulled in two directions. Not knowing how much material they will need or what they are going to run into, they figure 8 the entire reel. Once the material is pulled through the obstacle, they load the material back on the reel, and it then can be deployed by driving along the unobstructed trench. 

With the first FT-6 R in service, an additional one or two reel trailers were still needed; these would need to be a bit more customized for the project application. Dale had two more projects coming up that would need the capacity for 38-inch reel, (50 reels total), which would require the rim drive to be extended by another 2 inches. 


Customizing a trailer to a customer’s needs is Felling’s forte. Mark worked with Felling’s Engineering and Weld teams to execute the extension request. The hydraulic drive was extended to accommodate the turning of a 38-inch-diameter reel, allowing for the rim drive hydraulic retriever/take-up system’s smooth operation. The additional one to two trailers have turned into three trailers to date, with a happy customer getting their projects done. 

“Thank you for such a great product,” shares Dale.


Southland Electric, Inc. is a locally owned and operated electrical contractor which was originally established in 1977 and later became a 100-percent woman-owned business in 2014. Southland proudly serves customers in San Diego and across Southern California with a complete range of services, capabilities, and experience related to commercial, institutional, and industrial medium and low-voltage systems. With an expert staff of passionate electricians and electrical specialists and an unmatched commitment to safety, Southland is the premier electrical contractor in the San Diego, California, area.


Felling Trailers is a family owned and operated Full Line Trailer Manufacturer located in Central Minnesota. Started in 1974, Felling Trailers, Inc. has grown from a small shop to a factory and office complex that today covers over 325,000 square feet. Felling’s pride and differentiation is its customized trailer division. Its engineers utilize the latest Industry-leading design techniques, and its experienced metal craftspeople use cutting-edge technology to turn its customers’ conceptual trailer needs into a tangible product. Felling has been providing innovative trailer solutions to the transportation industry for more than 45 years. Felling Trailers’ current capabilities allow them to provide a high-quality product that is distributed across North America and internationally. 

For more information:

For more about the Felling FT-6 R, visit www.felling.com

Modern Contractor Solutions, August 2020
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