View Cart (0 items)

Swivels and brushes and booms — oh my!

October 11, 2010
/ Print / Reprints /
| Share More
/ Text Size+

The most important components in any business are the pieces used most often by the retail customer.

The wands, brushes, booms and swivels at your self-serve carwash come into contact with the customer and the customer’s vehicle every day, thus demonstrating the importance of component selection.

Think about it
As the customer starts cleaning, they grasp the wand, pull the trigger and coat the vehicle with a foamy detergent.

Once the vehicle is adequately covered, they use the foam brush to scrub the surface to help loosen more stubborn road film or concentrated soil.

Once again, using the wand, the customer sprays the surface with rinse water.

A third system, the foam gun conditioner, is available on the most up-to-date systems. The foam gun is used to re-cover the vehicle with foam to be rinsed.

Finally, the vehicle surface is flooded with a spot-free or final rinse to eliminate dissolved solid deposition evident as the surface dries.

Depending on how many selections the customer uses, the wash cycle requires 4 to 15 minutes.

The entire time, the customer has made use of and been in direct contact with the wand, brush — and unconsciously — the booms and swivels.

The primary goals when selecting a wand are to provide a comfortable applicator and protect the customer’s vehicle from incidental damage.

1. Trigger guns

Developed as a safety device to eliminate runaway high-pressure wands, the trigger gun has quickly become a reliable, inexpensive bay component.

When selecting a trigger gun, consider the weight of the gun, and the grip and strength required to pull the trigger.

All of these features equate to overall customer comfort and ease of operation. The more comfortable the operation, the more likely customers will be to spend more time and more money in the bay.

2. Discharge pipes

Application choices include straight pipe, pipe with insulated grip and flexible wands.

Components with flexibility reduce damage to the carwash and the customer’s vehicle.

3. Spray tips

Most carwash suppliers provide fan-type hardened stainless steel or Meg spray tips. While consistent operation is the goal, it is crucial to use a properly sized spray tip.

Determining pump output volume and pressure is the first step. The positive displacement pump will have a volume rating determined by the revolutions per minute (rpm).

The rpm may be determined by reading the electric motor plate for rpm and mathematically determining the motor to pump drive ratio.

Next, establish the pressure per square inch (psi) at that volume to be delivered by the electric motor by horsepower (hp).

The fan width should be determined by consumer preference, the most common fan widths are 25o and 40o. The final result will determine the optimum spray tip for the application.

4. Tip protectors

This device protects the spray tip from contacting hard surfaces, shielding the tip from damage.

This also protects the customer’s vehicle from incidental damage resulting from the spray tip scratching painted surfaces.

The resulting sound produced by the tip protector conveys increased power without changing the actual impact.

Reliable customer grip, protecting the vehicle’s paint from marking or scratch damage and convenience should be the foremost factors in making a brush choice.

1. Foam brush heads

Improvements have been made in nylon, cloth and hog’s hair bristles, providing soft, scratch-free applicators. The bristles are molded into plastic, sometimes encased with aluminum, and use a non-marking rubber bumper to provide protection.

2. Foam handles

Several durable light-weight choices are available from vinyl-covered aluminum to clear plastic.

Bay aesthetics will help determine choices for either matching color schemes or creating contrast to allow customers to quickly locate applicators.

The best designs focus on smooth function and do not require maintenance or attention.

Overhead and out-of-view booms should operate without notice.

1. High-pressure overhead 360o booms

Full overhead rotation should provide smooth unencumbered operation, and stainless steel construction eliminates corrosion.

Booms should extend to the wall to prevent vehicles from accidentally snagging the hose when passing through the bay. Spring-loaded booms further reduce hose and gun damage and decrease hose tension for the customer.

Bypass booms either pivot under each other or are manufactured with an offset to lessen hose tangles while providing wand and brush access throughout the stall.

Bypass booms are designed to operate 360o with two or three per bay depending on equipment requirements.

2. High-pressure wall-mount 180o booms

These booms are designed to be mounted on either an outside bay wall or in an oversized bay.

The wall-mount booms may operate on a single wall pivot or add a “knuckle” to provide an articulating arm, extending twice the length and returning to the wall after use.

3. Festoon cable

By definition, a festoon cable is not a boom at all. The festoon provides an alternative for smooth reciprocation of the high-pressure wand.

These cables are used primarily in oversized bays where booms are awkward.

4. Low-pressure wall-mount 180o booms

These booms are usually used for foam brush and foam gun conditioner applications. It is critical the booms are smooth and return to the wall for unrestricted traffic through the bay.

Permitting rotation while in operation, swivels should be non-corrosive, durable and mounted to eliminate contact with the vehicle.

To extend component life, the swivel should be mounted inline with rotation to have even pressure on all sides as the wear surfaces rotate.

Swivels are categorized by safe operating pressure ratings.

The appliance holsters, mounts and connecting hoses are just as vital to the operation of the carwash. Stainless steel spring operation will increase life and attractiveness.

Non-marking wire braid high-pressure hose and light weight low-pressure hoses also come into direct contact with the general public.

Oh my!
Component selection should be driven to provide customer comfort, reduce the possibility of vehicle damage and work to improve durability.

These factors determine the overall experience and will determine whether the customer feels welcome.

Income of the carwash facility is affected by component choices and customer satisfaction.

In the self-service carwash business, every effort should be made to improve services and employ the highest quality components.

Gary Wirges is president of CustomKraft Industries, Inc., manufacturer of self-service carwash equipment. Gary can be contacted at

Recent Articles by Gary Wirges