Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Full-serve drying

October 11, 2010

?Thomas Ennis knows about dryers. He has been in the carwashing industry since 1961 when he founded NS Wash Systems, a carwash supply company now based out of Inglewood, CA. As the company’s CEO he knows about the dryers from the 1960s all the way up to today and has a few ideas as to what he’d like for dryers to be in the future. Ennis recently spoke with Professional Carwashing and Detailing® and let us in on his observations and thoughts.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: How have dryers for full-serve carwashes evolved over the years?

Thomas Ennis: Well back in the late 40s and 50s, blowers were basically a large blower, usually a single motor, and it was fed through duct work out to apply air flow over the vehicle. In fact, some dryers looked like an octopus with arms coming out and with vents at the end of the arms to dry the cars. There were some made in the 50s that had gas heating systems built into them. The gas flame would heat up and it would not only help dry the car, but it would heat the entire carwash bay. The blowers worked fairly well and worked from 30 hp up to 100 hp in those days.

Then in the 60s we saw the invention of the follower top nozzle that was able to bring the air on the top of the vehicle down over the hood and this was done by a sensing device and it would raise the top nozzle up and over the roof and back down over the trunk. It was able to do a lot better drying job than the stationary overhead nozzle.

In the 70s they came out with a low horsepower dryer, a bag type, that was utilizing the 1950s design of the octopus, but instead of having them stationary, these arms would move so you had a follower nozzle on the sides and on the top and by getting the air close to the vehicle you were able to dry it a lot more efficiently with a lot less horsepower. The top and side bag nozzles followed the cars by riding on the surface.

In the 80s dryers went to no-touch, because it seemed like a lot of people didn’t want anything touching their cars and so the dryers went back to the old style, but with independent motors blowing air at a distance and the other dryers put sensors on so it could keep the nozzles away from the vehicle.

In the 90s blowers stayed about the same, except some operators who wanted a perfectly dried car, went to 180 hp by using a series of small 10 and 15 hp blowers and they were able to basically able to dry a car almost 100 percent.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: And what about today’s dryers?

Thomas Ennis: In the 2000s we have many options from low to high horsepower, all doing a fairly good job. They can range from 15 hp all the way up to 180 hp and it all depends on the type of wash and how dry the customer wants to get the vehicle and the climate.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: In today’s world, everything has to be faster, including the amount of time it takes to dry a car. How are today’s dryers keeping up?

Thomas Ennis: To keep up with the speed of the express carwashes which can see 120 to 180 cars per hour, you need horsepower. No question about it. And you need up to 150 hp. This is what we need to do in terms of technology, we need to be able to dry a car at a fast speed, but efficiently. Its like our new jets are much more efficient and they’re flying using 35 percent less fuel than the older jet engines and we need to look at the same kind of our technology for drying vehicles.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: What are some of the top mistakes owners and operators make with maintaining dryers?

Thomas Ennis: The dryers need to be maintained and motors and bearings need to be greased and they should always be clean. When cleaning, operators should look for any cracks, any stress fractures in the welds, any bent or damaged blades, and they should always make sure the impellers are tight onto the motor and fittings. This should all be done at least monthly.

Professional Carwashing and Detailing: Where do you see the dryer model going in the future?

Thomas Ennis: I believe they’re all going to have lower horsepower. I think it will be a combination of types of systems. It’s about energy efficiency. The cost of energy will keep going up and if there’s a better way to do, we will do it. We’re looking into using friction as a way to dry vehicles better. They’ve been out in the industry for a while, where Shammy Shiners would use Shammy rags across the vehicle and wring them out and they did a good job and I think we will be going back to that eventually.

?Thomas Ennis is the founder and CEO of NS Wash Systems, a carwash supply company now based out of Inglewood, CA. For more information about the company, visit