Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Your self-serve toolbox

October 11, 2010

It may not seem like basic bay accessories ever change, but there really are some new and exciting options for your self-serve bays:

  • Polished stainless booms;
  • Z-style angle booms;
  • Flexible and colored gun extensions;
  • New “easy-pull” triggers and colors on trigger guns; and
  • Foaming brushes available in hogs hair, nylon and styrene in a wide variety of colors and styles.

Although these product groups seem to have been taken for granted in the past, that is not the case anymore. After all, these are the tools that the car owner uses to clean their car.

Customers can’t see the pumps, tanks or systems in the equipment room, but they do see and use these items every time they frequent your facility. Are your bays up to date?

Booms
The old, tired bay booms just won’t cut it in today’s modern washes. Ceiling and wall booms have really had some major changes in performance and style in just the last few years.

For instance, polished, stainless-steel construction, heavy-duty springs and magnets can now pull the booms back to the wall or a set location. Today’s Z-angle booms allow three or even four booms to be located on the ceiling or wall and even booms for air dryer systems.

These are just a few of the boom changes that are available in the market today.

When polished stainless steel booms came out a few years ago, the prices were quite a shock to many operators. However, in just a short amount of time, they have become more and more popular and have been requested in many areas. The polished stainless look seems to bring a perception of quality to the bays and reflects positively on the entire wash.

Z-angle booms actually came from Europe. With this style of boom, you can now offer most, if not all, of your menu functions from the ceiling. Since 360 degree ceiling booms are much easier for the customer to use, satisfaction is greatly increased. Booms easily travel under or over each other without tangling of hoses. Two or three booms can be used in most bays and even four have been used in some instances.

Spring booms have been around for quite a while. The new feature is that they are now designed to “track” back to a certain location in the bay. Additionally, the springs are larger and stronger, greatly reducing damage caused by vandalism.

Stainless steel air booms are now available, designed to mount on walls or ceilings for use with air dryer systems. These booms are designed to handle 1-1/2” or 2” vacuum hose for coin-operated air dryers used in the bays or on vacuum islands. Cable retractors are an available option to keep the bulky vacuum hose from dragging on the floor.

Another interesting boom design is the dual boom assembly. These are primarily used in prep stations for conveyor washes. The dual design allows for the use of either high pressure spraying or low pressure brushing with the same boom. This does require the quick change out from gun to brush however.

Trigger guns & wands
The options available for trigger guns are now almost like cereal: there is one style for everyone and everyone has their favorite brand. What has changed here in recent years is the quality-to-cost ratio. Prices have come down and quality has stayed the same or improved.

The atypical black wand is even being updated with colored handles and triggers on many guns. Contour handles are now somewhat smaller which makes them much easier for both sexes to use.

Rear-entry wands, (where the hose enters to the rear of the gun), are still by far the most popular design. However, some of the front entry guns retain their popularity. Front entry in some instances, makes the hose easier to handle and keeps it away from the vehicle. Wands and extensions have also come far from the old straight discharge pipe. Coated extensions are the most popular as they protect the user from the hot water and the vehicle from scratches. These are available in rigid or flexible styles.

Rigid wand extensions are just that: rigid and non-bending.

Flexible extensions have become very popular as customers can easily clean under wheel wells and fenders. As every operator knows, bay wands get bent and damaged at some point. Flex wands cut down on vandalism because breaking or damaging a flexible wand is very difficult.

These wands are constructed with high pressure hose in the middle and small threaded pipes on both ends. They also come in a wide variety of colors to meet almost any color scheme.

Built-in nozzle protectors are also available in many of the more popular extensions sold today. Most all wand extensions are offered in stainless, galvanized or plated steel- all of which work just fine in self-serve bays or for prepping cars in tunnel washes.

Foam brushes
The brushes used in foaming brush systems or for prep work in conveyor washes basically come in three types of bristles: nylon, styrene or hogs hair.

Nylon and styrene brushes are a man-made product. These tend to have flagged bristles which make them soft to the touch and safe on the vehicle. They are also available in many colors such as blue, red, yellow as well as black. The drawback to some of the man-made fibers is that they have a memory and over time retain a bent or curved bristle.

Hog’s hair brushes on the other hand, are at the top of the price scale. Many people feel they are the softest brushes you can use and even out-wear the man-made bristles. This style of brush offers long, extra long and even extra, extra long bristles depending on customer choice.

Brush blocks, which are the part of the brush that holds the bristles, are available in the well known “oval style” in aluminum or plastic construction, or in round plastic construction. Bi-level brush blocks are also available. These blocks are wider and angled vs. the standard oval blocks. This style features more bristles and the angled design theoretically keeps the brush from “bottoming out” on the vehicle. This means more protection for the vehicle surface and happier customers for you.

There are many new and interesting offerings even in the much over-looked bay accessories area. Try some of these ideas for your wash, I think you will be glad you did.


Mike Hansen is a partner with Dultmeier Sales of Omaha, Nebraska. He has been active in the industry for over 20 years and is a past board member of both the International Carwash Association as well as the Heartland Car Wash Association. Mike can be reached at Mhansen@dultmeier.com.