Making a Car Wash Pump System More Effective
To make car-wash systems work efficiently and to last longer, there are several considerations that have to be made in the planning stages…
1. The type of machine that is going to be used
A simple pump and motor combination mounted in a wall cabinet or on a wall bracket in a dedicated room, with plenty of ventilation, is the best option. Alternatively cabinet mounted and mobile pressure washers can be used. While there are add-ons that are worth it (e.g total stop/star), it is worth keeping in mind that portable machines with lots of fancy add-ons tend to be more problematic.
Industrial type pumps, as opposed to the hobby or domestic types, are designed to last longer. These machines have crankshafts and pistons rather than the swash-plate (wobble-plate) which is common to most domestic quality machines.
2. The pump should not use too much water
The main purpose of the high pressure pump is to remove dust, mud and sand from the vehicle before hand washing with detergent to remove the road film. Any abrasive dirt will scratch the paintwork when rubbed. Therefore, because normal hose pressure will not remove the abrasives, high pressure is necessary.
A pump delivering from 10 to 15 l/minute has been found to be the most effective.
Water should be fed from a header tank on the roof of the pump room if possible. If not, the water mains should not be shared with other users and should deliver at least twice as much water as the pumps uses. Alternatively the pressure washer should be fitted with a header tank.
3. Power supply
While 230V, single phase, and 380V, 3-phase power sources can both be used, 3-phase motors tend to last longer.
4. Pressure requirements
The pressure should not be too high. 120bar to 150 bar will remove the dirt without affecting the decals and waterproofing of the vehicle.
5. Longevity of the pump
A total-stop or automatic shut-down electrical option where the motor stops when the gun is closed, is a good way of lengthening the life of the pump.
Lances should not be too long (about 500mm, or slightly longer is sufficient) and should have a good quality nozzle protector which is well fixed to the end of the lance. This allows the spray to be easily directed under wheel-arches without scratching paint with the nozzle.
Nozzles should be of the flat 15° fan type. Rotating nozzles are often used as they have more impact but they could possibly do damage to decals.
8. Protect hoses
Overhead booms keep the hose off the ground and allow the operator to easily work around the vehicle without dragging the hose. These are available in single or double hose versions. Where a separate foaming gun is used, a double boom is preferred.
9. Detergents can be applied in several ways.
The simplest is to have a bucket of diluted detergent and to apply it with a soft cloth, sponge or chamois. This is very effective but does not appeal to the customers who like to see lots of foam.
A chemical injector which sucks up a metered amount of soap and sprays it out through a foaming lance. This delivers a very wet foam which runs off the vehicle too quickly but is effective nonetheless. It does not always appeal to the customer.
A wall mounted foam generator is probably the best, psychologically, as it delivers a lot of thick foam. However, it requires a source of compressed air.
Rinsing after detergent washing can be carried out using the high pressure washer and should be as quick as possible.
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