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Author Topic: Pressure washer question  (Read 4564 times)
John Z
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« on: March 08, 2007, 06:26:00 AM »

I was looking at the film on the back of my '04 after a 4,000 mile road trip. Along the way i was tempted a couple times to wash it, but never did. Now i am thinking a small pressure washer would be a nice thing to own. Heck, i may even find room in one of the bays to take it along. Questions:
  Gas or electric?
  Are the commonly available 2000-2400 pound units adequate?
  Any favorite brand? Or brand you have had trouble with?
  What type of detergents will melt away the DD rust proofing?
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« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2007, 06:33:22 AM »

For a painted surface, the 1500 PSI pumps works well.  Liquid Tide laundry detergent is used by a lot of car washes. To remove the heavy built up crud under the engine, you need a lot of pressure and a lot of volume with heavy duty detergents but to clean the paint you don't want to risk damage to the paint. The little eletric units work fine for that.
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2007, 06:44:42 AM »

JohnZ -

I use the little electric 1500psi unit made by Karcher (sp?) for cleaning swimming pool filters.  Pick them up at Sam's Club or Costco for $100 - $150 or so.  Since I use it often, I usually wear one out each season, but they stand behind their warranty and always send me another one, which I promptly wear out again. . . (I service 100 pools/week, and each filter gets cleaned twice per year, so the unit gets used far more than you would just cleaning your '04.)

These units come with two different wand tips - one flat spray and one conical spray.  The conical one seems to put out more pressure, and is a little better at cutting thru heavy crud.  I'd be cautious about using that wand on paint you want to keep.  The flat spray is adjustable, so you can vary the output.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink 
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2007, 07:27:48 AM »

WOW!!! Russ must be superman, 14 pools a day!!!???
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John Z
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2007, 07:29:27 AM »

Thanks Stan and Russ for the input. I had been leaning toward the higher pressure gas units, so it is nice to learn that i can get by with the smaller and less expensive electiric ones. I will be stopping off to look at them on my way home after work tonight!!!
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2007, 07:33:49 AM »

John Z: One other comment: Gas engines, like horses, don't like to be put away wet.  If they aren't used for a while, the throttle and governor linkage wants to seize up.  Washing a bus tends to get everything wet.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2007, 07:41:21 AM »

The gas high pressure units are great for many things. However unless used carefully they can peel paint,force water past seals, cut wires ect.  I know someone who put holes in his radiator while stripping pant off his bus! Like others have said the electrics are excellent for most applications.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2007, 07:59:11 AM »

I just had to put my $.02 in here, especially since the entire rear of our bus is painted. We have a PD3751 "Silversides. I bought a Karcher 1300-1500 pounds pressure washer from Lowes. It's yellow and comes apart for easy storage. Our 671 creates it's "FAIR" share of oil and grease especially in the transmission area. I originally purchased a 2500 pound unit and it was WAY TOO powerful and easily took the grease off and the underlying paint. The 1300-1500 pound unit is the perfect strength, it takes all of the grease and oil plus it is even safe enough to use on the exterior. Use the fan spray nozzle that comes with it.

The cleaner that I use for the motor is:   I spray the entire area to be cleaned with Simple Green. I let it sit while I connect the pressure washer and then I clean it off. It comes clean, and leaves no residue.

I have used this small pressure washer to clean our walkways too, but it is slightly underpowered for that task.

Good luck.

Dave Siegel
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2007, 08:10:38 AM »

buy as big as you need and invest in pressure regulator for more delicate cleaning
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John Z
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« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2007, 08:13:55 AM »

Thanks everybody for the help,, you not only have pointed me towards the rig that will do what i want it to do, but you also saved me some money,,, and i really do appreicate that
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« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2007, 08:21:10 AM »

John, do not be in too big a hurry to buy one of the little 1400 lb cheapo units. It might be OK for washing off the back of the coach, but not really good for anything else, in my opinion. And a water hose, after spraying with simple green does just as good a job.
I bought one of the small units for pressure washing my deck and found it totally insufficient for any task like that and I gave it away and bought a 3000 lb gasoline unit. They have a built in adjustable pressure regulator that you can turn down if they provide too much pressure, but once you buy a baby unit there is no way to turn it up. I have never had any problem with the controls sticking and I do add a conditioner to the fuel for winter storage. I have never regretted going to the larger unit.
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Thanks everybody for the help,, you not only have pointed me towards the rig that will do what i want it to do, but you also saved me some money,,, and i really do appreicate that
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« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2007, 08:24:35 AM »

I personally wouldn't have an electric pressure washer.  I've used several 'nice' ones and they basically... sucked.  I've used a friends, which is gas (11HP Honda, 4000 psi and lots of gpm).  It was so much better.  It's like sanding floors, you don't apply much pressure to one spot and you don't stay in one spot.  I can do the roof of my MC-8, which is parked under an oak tree (nasty, nasty tree to park anything under) and it'll get it looking sharp in no time.  

I decided to buy one for myself and found decent ones for around $450-500 or so.  I went to my favorite pawn shop and found one with a 7hp B&S engine, 2800 psi (or more, I can't remember) and 2.8 gpm.  It was $375.  I said that was to close to new prices, so he dropped it to $300.  I looked at it again, then moved on to a few other items of interest.  He ended up looking up what they had in it, and offered to sell it for $225.  I bought it back in December and it was a late '05 model.  I really couldn't tell that it had been used.  I told him that if it would start, I'd take it.  It started on the second pull, and I bought it.  It's got seveal quick-release nozzles for soap applicaton, and various spray widths.  I've had no problem with it knocking off paint, even the old paint, except when I used the narrowest nozzle to intentionally remove paint.  It's cleanded that old 8v-71 so well I can see the two places it leaks (on the oil sender / gauge manifold).  I use it front to back, so I don't spray into the overlapping seams on the alum. roof and sides.  I can clean the entire roof in a very short time.  The other good point about gas models is that they spray farther.  To wash the curved sections of roof, I just stand on the ground and spray up and back.  This beats creeping to the edge with a week electric model; I always feel like I'm going to fall off.  The gas models will handle longer hoses better, too, especially the 3/8" hoses.  Mine came with a 25' hose, which is way too short for cleaning the bus.  I've got a 50' on order that'll make things much better.  The secret to not removing paint, unless you want to, is simply to back up and use a wider (fan) nozzle.  You'll cover more area with a wider nozzle, too.  It just takes a bit of practice, but I've had no problems with it damaging anything.

The electric ones also wouldn't reach above the windows on my house, when it comes time to clean the siding.  I can wash the sidewalk in about 1/10th the time it takes with one of those 'big' karcher electric units.  I sure wouldn't pay the $1,100 my friend paid for her Honda, but mine seems to work just fine, starts easily, isn't too noisy, and it seems to be built fairly well.  I might use an electric one to clean the shower tiles, but that's about it.  As to putting it away wet, I blow it off with the air gun connected to my compressor and let it sit out in the sun for a bit, kinda like I do my mower when I clean it.  One problem with the gas models is that they seem to get stolen a lot, especially from the back of pickup trucks.  Friends have had this happen a few times.  I guess pressure washing is quick, fairly easy money.

David
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« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2007, 08:25:06 AM »

While Simple Green, Fantastic, 409 are good degreasers, they all have one thing in common, they don't smell good.  In my 30 years of being in the trucking industry and always trying to find a better degreaser, THEE best I've run into is called Oil Eater from Costco.  I can mix 5 gal water with about 2 cups of Oil Eater to brush wash my bus, and it easily takes off the road grime and grease. If there is a stubborn spot, just spray it with concentrate.  I used to have to spend about an hour on the front of the bus scraping off the bugs with an old credit card-now just spray concentrate on the front, wait and the bugs come off easily with the brush (surprisingly, my brush was bought at Camping World-telescoping handle that you can hook a hose to. Get the best one they offer).  This last weekend, after washing the front of my bus took the rest of the water and scrubbed my carpets inside, first spotting with concentrate.  Oil Eater has a nice smell too.  I carry a concentrate sprayer in my car for any kind of cleaning.  Check it out!  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2007, 01:44:07 PM »

Several years ago I went to the Hardware Department in a Sears store and asked if they had high pressure washers. She studied the computer, held a conference with several other clerks, then escorted me to the bolt section. Waving her hand over the display she said that was all the washers they had and she didn't know which ones were high pressure.
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John Z
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2007, 03:58:13 PM »

Stan, i knew Sears was going in the tank, but you have got to be kidding us!!!  lol
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« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2007, 04:57:53 PM »

Several years ago I went to the Hardware Department in a Sears store and asked if they had high pressure washers. She studied the computer, held a conference with several other clerks, then escorted me to the bolt section. Waving her hand over the display she said that was all the washers they had and she didn't know which ones were high pressure.
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2007, 05:31:13 PM »

John Z: If you have any doubts about Sears service I will tell you the rest of the story. The reason I went into the store was because I had got a flyer in my mailbox with pressure washers in it. During the initial conversation, they told me that head office didn't send them copies of flyers so they didn't know anything about a sale. They had to have Sear's number so they could look it up. I phoned my wife and she read the number to me as I repeated it to the clerk to enter into her computer. Answer - "That is not a good Number". This was not my frist unsatisfactory experience with that Sear's store but it was the last time I took a chance.
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John Z
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2007, 05:51:03 PM »

Stan, i too have been avoiding Sears for some time. But i did recently find myself in there looking at a small air compressor. The salesman told me for 15.00 i could get a instant replacement guarantee for 2 years, that i could use any where in the country. I did buy that compressor because of that,, just seemed to good to pass up. But yours is a funny story!!!
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« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2007, 07:01:42 PM »

Hi JohnZ
I have a 2500 PSI that has the regulator mentioned by Richard. This gives you more versatility to do more projects with the washer. I would suggest staying with either a Honda, Briggs and Straton or Kohler engine for parts/service availability. In the last several years companies have been coming out with washers with engines that they manufacture. That makes the manufacture the only source of parts and worse, may leave with no one willing to service the unit. If the only job you plan to do is wash the bus, the 1500 PSI electrics may be all you need. Finally, like one poster above, I went to a large pawn shop and purchased my washer with an 8 hp Honda engine, variable pressure, variable nozzle for $200. HTH

Rob
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« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2007, 08:47:24 PM »

Robin industrial engines by Subaru are also very good, and they claim to be as good as or better than Honda. I have one, and have had no complaints yet.

 I pressure wash anything that doesnít move and I could not live without mine. I started off with a small 5hp, 3gpm, 2000psi. It lasted for several years before the pump went out. I now use an industrial 13hp, 4gpm, 3500psi machine and could never go back. In all fairness I live on a very long mud/dirt road so I really need the extra cleaning power. Pressure washers can take the paint off, but only if you want it to. Try to find one with a ceramic pump, they are the best. A pressure washer is one of those items that you truly get what you pay for. To compare washers with different gpm or psi you use cleaning units; take the gpm x psi = cleaning units. For example my first one had 6000 cleaning units, my second has 14,000. So if you are looking at one manufacture that is selling a machine that has 3gpm and 2000psi, and another that has 2gpm and 3000psi they both have the same cleaning units so neither one theoretically cleans better than the other. But, in my real world experience, I like the higher gpm machines. The reason is that itís one thing to dislodge the dirt; itís another to rinse it away. Think about washing off the driveway or the siding on a shed, the higher volume of water really helps rinse the dirt away.

Some important tips to get the most life out of your pump. Without going into all of the details there are a few things to keep in mind:

1.   Heat will damage a pump. Under normal operating conditions your pump will not overheat, but if you let it sit there and run without pulling the trigger for long periods of time it will get very hot.
2.   Bleed the air out of your supply hose, do not let the pump ďsuckĒ the water, and do not run it dry. ďPump starvation of liquid is probably the leading cause of premature pump failure. Inlet line restrictions does not allow adequate water to enter pump resulting in cavitation. Cavitation is when air mixes with water causing small explosions to occur when pressurized which will tear away at packing or piston surface.Ē (From the AR site, see link below) I think this is what destroyed my first pressure washer. I didnít know any better and would pump all of the air out of the supply hose with the pump. The pumps valves disintegrated and since it was a cheap disposable pump it was not economically repairable.

I found my pressure washer on Ebay; it was half the cost of an equivalent machine locally.

Link that I referenced above:

http://www.arnorthamerica.com/thepressurewasher.html

Laryn

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« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2007, 09:50:35 PM »

For a guy like myself that lives in my bus I would opt for the most compact electric model I could find. Since it would be primarily used to clean the bus and bike I wouldn't need a commercial grade tool. I look at all of my tool and equipment purchases as there intended use by me. If it's being used every day or to make my living I buy the best I can afford. If it is occasional use stuff just because I want it I buy the least expensive thing I can find that will do the intended job for a reasonable amount of time then that leaves me with extra money to spend on the things I want that are the best I can afford.

Just my 2 pennies
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« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2007, 10:59:06 PM »


WOW!!! Russ must be superman, 14 pools a day!!!???



Actually, 25 pools/day, Mon - Thur, with Fri/Sat for repairs, filter cleanings, etc.  Over the last six years have condensed the route down to where I can average 4 -5 pools/hr.  When you've got automatic equipment in all of them, and you've weeded out the trashy ones with heavy debris loads, the time involved per pool drops considerably. 

No summer vacations tho. . .  Sad


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« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2007, 04:10:23 AM »

Stan:  Pretty funny about the "washer" and her not knowing which was high-pressure.  You gotta love the BIG box stores -- they hire the cream of the crop.

Russ:  My Dad was a pool man for many years.  We MUST be thinking of different types of pools as there's NO way we could have done 14 to 25 pools her day (not even close).  Do you fish?

John Z:  I did have an electric lower psi pressure washer.  It just didn't cut it (so to speak).  Too many limitations.  When it died, which wasn't too long, I bought a 3500 psi gas model (Honda engine) and it works great.  I have a couple wands, and can change the pressure coming out.  Only one disadvantage that I've experienced, it works so well that friends often request to borrow it.

Jerry H.

ps:  be careful with pressure as it can lift paint and damage radiators.

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« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2007, 07:10:57 AM »


Russ:  My Dad was a pool man for many years.  We MUST be thinking of different types of pools as there's NO way we could have done 14 to 25 pools per day (not even close).  Do you fish?


Jerry -  Check your PM for a message that's pool-related.  No, I don't fish, never got into that.  Have been a few times, so I know what's involved, just not for me.

I chose the small electric for it's convenience.  I don't have to worry about running out of fuel - all I need is an electrical outlet and a hose.  I don't need 3000 psi, just enough to cut thru wet dirt.  I can easily hoist a small one into the back of my pick-up with one hand.  I get about seven - eight month's use out of one, and, as I said before, Karcher honors their 1-year full-replacement warranty, so they ship me another one when the first one dies.  Matter of fact, I just picked up a new one last nite at Sam's Club, $147.88 + tax.  I just consider these a cost of doing business.

Yes, I probably wouldn't have to replace a gas model as often, and yes, I can adjust the pressure.  But I like the convenience of the little one, and they work perfectly for what my needs are.  I even set them up with a quick-disconnect for the hose, speeds up the set-up/take-down time a little.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 Wink
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« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2007, 07:28:51 AM »

An instructor at a welding course told me that he recommended electric welders because he had spent more time cranking his gas engine welder than towing it. The point is, nothing beats the convenience of electric equipment. Even car washs use electric driven pressure pumps for more use in a day than a bus nut in a lifetime. Electric motors tend to last forever while small gas engines are a pain in the a$$ requiring oil changes, tune ups and overhauls.

I have not used the cheap (economical) Karcher pump but there are lots of quality 1500 PSI pumps with whatever gpm you want, with single phase motors up to 5 HP, that do an excellent job of exterior washing.  You don't have to use a gas engine to get high pressure or high volume.
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« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2007, 07:35:46 AM »

I have had my share of problems getting my old gas powered Onan genset to be somewhat dependable... hmm, might not be quite there yet. But i do agree, that for what i want, i think i am going with the electric. I certainly can see all the points people have made about the higher pressure being nice for other chores. I figure i  will just try to find a really nice elec unit, and it should help me keep the bus looking way better than the bucket and sponge do. I appreciate all the input very much.
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« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2007, 03:07:36 PM »

By using a fuel stabilizer I have eliminated most all of my gasoline engine problems. The engines can sit a winter and start like new six months later. Fuel stabilizer is good for about a year, can be two if you double the amount.

http://www.goldeagle.com/sta-bil/all_about_sta-bil.htm
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« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2007, 04:15:54 PM »

I stopped at Menards tonight and was not very impressed with the 83.00 Karcher or the similar Dirt Devil model. Also stopped at WalMart and i see they have a larger Karcher model rated at 1750 and 2.5 gallons. Now this might do just what i want it to. They did not have one on display and i did not have the time to open a box, but will go back when i do have the time. I think the large Karcher unit was priced about 157.00.
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« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2007, 05:11:23 PM »

An instructor at a welding course told me that he recommended electric welders because he had spent more time cranking his gas engine welder than towing it. The point is, nothing beats the convenience of electric equipment. Even car washs use electric driven pressure pumps for more use in a day than a bus nut in a lifetime. Electric motors tend to last forever while small gas engines are a pain in the a$$ requiring oil changes, tune ups and overhauls.

I was taught that if you maintained your equipment, it would start when you need it, perform well, and last forever. Obviously, if he was having to crank his gas engine that much to start it, he was not maintaining it well.

Electric washers are ok. I've used a couple and they were adequate, but they typically are limited in their ability. I don't think I could have cut the heavy grease off my axles with one of them.

I use a 3000 psi gas model from Northern Tool. Has a pressure regulator on it to scale it back. Also has a suction hose for injecting soap into the stream. I've not used that, so can't comment on it's usefulness. I also use a bucket and brush with expandable handle. Works well. If you really want to cut the grime, you have to scrub it. Spray alone will not get the film off.



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« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2007, 06:30:23 PM »

Gumpy: Since you live in Minneapolis, I guess you have lots of experience crankiing  gas engines in cold weather. I am sure you know that for many years the Lincoln 200 (a very popular portable) had a 4 cylinder Wisconsin with a hand crank.

Pressure has nothing to do with the type of prime mover.  The pressure and volume are determined ny the pump and you can buy either gas or electric motors to power it.
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« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2007, 07:55:54 PM »

Don't worry about the paint, this Tim Taylor edition pressure washer will take the metal off the bus.   Shocked Cool Grin

24 HP, 7000psi, 4.0gpm pressure washer

Not enough for you?  Need more gpm's to wash the steel chunks down the driveway?  Or maybe like most of us bus nuts you just love diesel engines!

36HP, 6000psi, 8gpm diesel powered pressure washer

What's that?  The neighbors are complaining that the pieces of steel washing down the gutter are too big?  This bad boy will turn the average MCI into 15 tons of radiator stop leak in 30 minutes or less.   Shocked Shocked Shocked

360HP, 36,000psi, 16gpm Cat Diesel powerd pressure washer
« Last Edit: March 09, 2007, 08:13:08 PM by HighTechRedneck » Logged
DrivingMissLazy
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« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2007, 08:19:17 PM »

Stan, although you may technically be correct, a 5 hp 230 volt single phase motor full load amps is 28 amps and the rated branch circuit fuse rating needs to be 90 amps. Few, if any, have that type of power available to operate a power washer. To get any higher rating motor you must go to three phase service which is not available in a residential neighborhood. A 1 hp 120 volt motor is rated at 16 amps. These are published NEMA ratings, not the fake hp ratings that you sometimes see on small appliances.
Richard

Gumpy: Since you live in Minneapolis, I guess you have lots of experience crankiing  gas engines in cold weather. I am sure you know that for many years the Lincoln 200 (a very popular portable) had a 4 cylinder Wisconsin with a hand crank.

Pressure has nothing to do with the type of prime mover.  The pressure and volume are determined ny the pump and you can buy either gas or electric motors to power it.
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Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, a good Reisling in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming:  WOO HOO, what a ride
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« Reply #32 on: March 10, 2007, 05:31:04 AM »

Richard: I don't know anyone that use a branch circuit breaker rated for motor starting current. The heaters in a mag starter are rated at 100 percent of full load run current. Farners in this area use lots of 3 and 5 HP motors on 240 single phase with a 200 amp service entrance. On dairy farms, they have three of these motors cycling on and off when milking.   I use a horse and a half motor on my bench saw rated at 120 volt 17.5 amps and it starts happily on a 20 amp circuit.

We are having temperatures in the 50's these days and snow is rapidly disappearing so I am at the local car wash a couple of times a week. The next time I go in I will ask about their wash pump. I know it is electric and it is supplying 12 wash stalls but I am quite sure it is 3 phase for the HP they need.
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Jerry Liebler
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« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2007, 07:59:23 AM »

Richard,
    Aparently not all motors are rated the same.  I have a 5HP single phase Marathon motor on an irrigation pump.  It is nameplate rated at 23.5 FLA @ 240 v.  I've been running it on a 20 amp breaker for years and never had the breaker 'pop' even though it runs continuously for days at a time.
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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Busted Knuckle
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« Reply #34 on: March 10, 2007, 08:02:49 AM »

OK guys I'm putting on the fire proof suit and jumping in the fire! I have an old antique electric powered / kerosene fired steam cleaner that works awesome! But for what Johnz is doing I hardly ever even fire it up! Theres this great place called "Wally World" that sells a product called Spray Power! It is should in quarts or gallons in the regular cleaning supply area it's comes in a white bottle with red/blue lettering! It's great stuff! The quart bottles have a built in spray nozzle which is handy for keeping around to spray the rear of the bus with while stopped anywhere (I use it while fueling) then just take a plain old garden hose put yer finger over the end of it and "rinse/spray off" the "Spray Power" Works like a charm! We've been using it for yrs and it's never damaged the paint! And as I said spray it on and rinse, and the area looks good as ever! I will say we do cheat and buy it by the gallon for the shop and pour it in a garden sprayer whick is alot easier to use than the quarts as much as we use it! But for no more than ya'll would probably use it, I'd think the quart spray bottle would be perfect! Now for those greasy nasty jobs in the engine compartment or under the bus I fire up the ol' steam washer! (go to Sears and ask if they have one of those! They'll probably tell ya they don't which ones are steamed! LOL!) FWIW BK  Grin
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Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
www.kylakesidetravel.net

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« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2007, 08:40:39 AM »

OK, I was a little worried about discussing heresy, but Bryce beat me to it.  My first job in the bus industry was cleaning/fueling buses, and we washed everything by hand, outside, with a garden hose and a truck-length washing brush (although, I still remember getting yelled at when I missed a spot).  The only time we used a steam cleaner was for enging cleaning.  If there was a very oily back, some cleaning mixture in a 5-gallon pressure sprayer for pre-treat.  I do remember the owner's son mixing up some new chemical, and fading the paint on the rear of a 4106 - but with whatever we used (late 1960's to mid-1970's) there was usually no problem.

So, I think the first question is whether a tool (pressure washer in this case) is needed (no, please don't look at my workshop that way, and never, never tell my wife I made that comment - by definition, if it's a tool I don't have, it's needed).   

Arthur
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
1968 PD-4107

Working in the bus industry provides us a great opportunity - to be of service to others
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« Reply #36 on: March 10, 2007, 12:18:51 PM »

I prefer a gas powered pressure washer.  I recommend a unit with a commercial Honda engine with a CAT pump.  My pressure washer produces 2800 psi and I've not removed any paint.  I do have to pay attention to select the proper spray tip for the job.

Darrin
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Darrin Bruner
1985 Eagle Model 10
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