In an exterior conveyor car wash, improperly adjusted wrap-around washers are one of the major causes of vehicle damage. There are several variables to look at on wrap-arounds that can contribute to reducing damage claims at your car wash. They are: cloth conditions, cloth penetration, lubrication, type of cloth, air pressure, and wrap-arm bearing pitch. With just a little time and effort, you can confidently operate your wrap-around washers without worry of vehicle damage and save yourself thousands of dollars in claims. Here are some key points to remember when working with your wraps:
Most manufacturers recommend 3" to 4" of cloth penetration on the side of the vehicle (around front and rear corners, it should be slightly more).
When cloth is not lubricated, it drags on the vehicle, causing a grabbing or squeezing effect. To avoid this, make sure a lubricating-foam product is being used. When using a cloth such as Neoglide, which is non-absorbent, it is necessary to apply lubrication on the vehicle prior to entering the wraps and not on the wraps themselves.
Air pressure on the wrap arms.
Some manufacturers use air pressure to better control the wraps while washing the car. It is important that the air pressure on the wrap arms is neither too much nor too little. Conveyor speed dictates how much pressure is required. The faster the conveyor speed, the higher the air pressure. The air pressure would be set between 5 lbs. and 20 lbs, with the driver side air pressure typically less than the passenger side air pressure.
Wrap Arm Pitch.
Most wrap-arounds have hanger bearings that are adjustable. When making the adjustment, it is necessary to disconnect any shock or cylinder from the wrap. The brush should settle between both of the wrap-arm stops. The wrap-arm must be level. The starting point should always be so that the top bearing and bottom bearing are both centered on the arm mounting plate. Under most situations the adjustments will be made with the air pressure controls. However, if more side pressure is desired on vehicle, the bottom bearing would be adjusted out (away from the centerline of wash in 1/8" increments). If less side pressure is desired, the bottom bearing would be adjusted toward the centerline of the wash in 1/8" increments.
In addition, typically, wrap-arounds have a wrap-arm "stop" on both sides. These cushion the wrap arms when they are traveling in the "in" or the "out" position. Wraps sometimes have the potential to damage front license plates; however, if the "stops" are adjustable, you can adjust the bumper stop so the wrap doesn't come in as far. In normal position as the wraps move toward the center of the bay, each will overlap by a couple of inches. With the stops adjusted properly the wraps can be made to have a gap in front instead of overlapping, thus missing the license plate. This will help in stopping license plate damage under normal conditions.
Making these few, easy adjustments will ensure a much smoother wrap operation with little or no damage to mirrors, antennae, and license plates. For information on maintenance and operations courses, click here to visit the CarWash College website.
Shawn Brown is an associate instructor at CarWash College™. He also serves as an install supervisor at Sonny's Enterprises, Inc.