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Conveyorized Carwash Equipment

May 18, 2006
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In the course of working with hundreds of conveyorized carwashes over the last 22 years, I have seen the difference that a simple maintenance program can make in the lives of the chain, rollers and sprockets.

For example, I've had operators with over 450K washes before replacement was needed and then I've had operators with as few as 60K washes before replacement was needed.

Estimating cost and labor (not including loss of business and customer goodwill when a breakdown occurs) at approximately $7,000 for a 100' chain, roller and sprocket package, the difference is over $50,000 for proper maintenance vs. neglect.

In the course of performing hundreds of installations and conducting catastrophic repair service on equipment, the question continually comes back to us, "How long can my conveyor last?" As a result, I'd like to share some of the simple tips from the CarWash College™ Maintenance Program that will help you to optimize conveyor performance:

  1. Keep it Clean Daily

    It's important to keep the frame, deck, chain, rollers, drive sprocket and take-up components clean. This allows for smooth operation. Soil is abrasive and accelerates the wearing process. Keeping it clean makes it easier for visual inspection.

  2. Keep it Tight

    The proper chain tension affects the tracking of the chain and rollers. Slack wears out related components, especially roller-up forks in some models. Slack can also cause a loop, which can affect the operation of pulse switches, causing inaccuracy and hurting the operation of the system controller and other equipment.

  3. Verify Sprocket Alignment

    You can actually direct the track of the chain by adjusting the take-up sprocket to the left or to the right and by moving the drive sprocket in and out. Often, mis-alignment of conveyor sections makes it impossible for the chain to track correctly. Check these components and, if necessary, adjust or reinstall to the manufacturers specifications. While chain guides are popular, they really are not a fix to chain wear problems, and very often are the cause.

Proper carwash equipment installation and a simple daily maintenance program will result in minimal equipment replacement, a lengthy conveyor life, reduced conveyor downtime and reduction in frustrating situations for your customers that can only hurt your business.

Glen Sheldon is an associate instructor at CarWash College™. Glen also serves as the Vice President of Technical Services at Sonny's Enterprises, Inc., and can be contacted at For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit, or call the registrar's office at 1-866-492-7422.