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Poor drying results in tunnel

Lofty

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I’m trying to rectify problems with our drying. This is a problem which has gradually deteriorated and I have been trying to fix for over 12 months. This is quite a long story, so please be prepared for a fairly long epitaph. We run a 110ft Macneil tunnel in Australia using 90hp of blowers and quite a slow line speed of 80cph. I am aware to get a dry car we firstly need a clean car and I'm confident we achieve that. We use a high PH presoak followed by neutral brush shampoo a low PH tri colour polish by Lustra followed by freshwater rinse before Rain X and drying agent and then spot free rinse.

Firstly, we started getting customer comments about drying not being as good as previous. I was of the view it was perhaps weather related coming into winter etc. and also that sometimes people just start looking a bit more closely and become a bit more critical, so I largely ignored it.
The problem then grew to became a very common complaint from many customers which was when I started taking it seriously.

We have tried Ecolab Velocity & Rinse Dry and then Lustra Pearl Black and 421 sealant. If I boost any of the drying agents too much then I create white spots with remaining water on the vehicle.

The quite strange phenomena with all of this is that results are quite erratic. Some cars dry A LOT better than others. We get some really good results where the remaining water spots are very tiny, then some where the spots are quite large and then the worst is when the water rather than bead off the paint seems to sheet and get blown into a large spider web look. In those instances the water doesn’t bead off the surface at all. I understand this will occur on aged and oxidized paint, but it is also occurring on paint in very good condition on near new cars.

Ecolab then ran out of the Rinse Dry product in Aus and had no other plain drying agent to offer so in came the Lustra supplier, full of confidence and changed to their drying agent, 405 Pearl Black and Tropical Sealant 421 and also changed the tri colour from a shampoo conditioner to a polish. Again, some really good results but also some really poor ones. The real problem was, white spotting again became a problem. I stuffed around swapping to Lustrashield as the sealant and then switched back to Rain x without any success.

Finally, I am now trying a Turtle Wax product called Blaze n Glaze as a drying agent/clear coat protectant and Rain x as sealant. Drying results haven’t seemed to change much but at least I’ve got rid of white spots. Of course they are trying to sell me their sealant, Turtle Wax ICE, but I strongly believe it won’t make a scrap of difference?

In amongst all of this, we took all of the dryers apart and thoroughly cleaned the housings and Power Locks and they were VERY DIRTY. I was full of hope that we might be onto something, but again it seemed as though its made stuff all or no difference. We’ve shifted the position of the spot free rinse bar to various distances and tried to get a flash dry, but none of this has worked.

When dismantling the blowers there was quite a lot of rust on the blower turbines. The amount of rust is quite substantial and because I’m desperately trying to find out what is going on I’m questioning could this be the problem? Obviously they still blow heaps of air but does the rust have any effect on the wind pattern due to the roughened surface? I would have thought if it was a big issue they would be manufactured with some sort of anti rust protection whereas they just seem to be zinc coated and quite susceptible to rust. Clearly they operate in a heavy mist environment and rust would be expected, which is what makes me think it is normal for them to rust?
Does anyone have any experience with blowers to know how critical this is?
cheers, one very frustrated operator
 

Earl Weiss

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Tough to analyze from a distance but here goes. Without even looking at what the dryers / Blowers are dolng I would watch to see if the DA seems to do it's job. Does the water "break" - seem to flow off the car after the DA is applied? With DA sometimes too much of a good thing is bad. Is whatever you are using to dilute the DA working properly and consistently? Start below reccomended concentration and gradualy increase. I would also try using not spot free rinse as the setting arch Use regular water) to see if this made a difference.

Do you recycle any of your water? Recycled water can contain solutions that counteract the DA.

At a short tunnel location, on the reccomendation of the supplier long ago I added a second center top nozzle 4 inches away from the first. Don't know why it seemed to work beter but it does.
 

robert roman

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Drying a car is one third of the carwash value proposition to customers, and you have acknowledged that poor drying has become a very common complaint from many customers.

You are now taking the problem seriously because after 12 months of trial and error method the problem still persists.

You have used different chemicals, arrangement of equipment, drying technique and many different people (probably sales reps) making various adjustments to settings.

This is pretty strong evidence the people helping you haven’t discovered the root cause of the problem.

So, my advice is to get a problem solver on site. By problem solver, I mean someone who understands conveyor “systems” and can apply diagnostic techniques to identify the true cause of the problem and recommend appropriate solution.

“This is a problem which has gradually deteriorated…”

There is no Blue Fairy that goes around making things break.

If drying was satisfactory beforehand and then all of a sudden there is a “problem” that grows worse over time, something caused it to happen.
 

JGinther

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Have you verified that the anticipated dilutions are the actual dilutions (possible hole in hydrominder or many other possibilities). Assuming you have, are you ending the wash process at a high pH on the car? That will require much more product to accomplish drying. Lastly, have you tried to dry with the sealant arch turned off?
 

Lofty

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Thanks to all for your input. I'll try to respond to all suggestions in one reply. Our chemical dosing method is by Blue White Noir metering pumps. One thing i have noticed is that the DA does not seem to be showing beading at the early part of the hood and i really only see beading towards the rear part of the hood. I have tried starting it earlier but it seems to make little difference and I've also swapped it with another pump. I have checked to make sure we are PH neutral before applying DA. By volumetrics we are working within specified ranges for each chemical company and also tried severe overdosing. I have tried turning off sealant also, if anything it makes it worse. We do use recycled water it is a Huron Valley Pro Pack system, but i have also isolated it and washes with just fresh water and made no change. Robert, I understand your comment re finding an expert but this is a real problem in Aus. We are one of about 3 express tunnels in Aus so at present there are no experts. Because we have tried numerous options with chemical, this is why I have raised the question of could it be the rusty deterioration of the blowers causing the problem? This has been gradual and getting worse, which is consistent with the problem. Analysis tells me yes it could be but reality says no that shouldn't be the cause. Does anyone know if rust on the turbine blades is an issue? Are the Blue White pumps not dosing correctly or consistently, are they a known problem?
I really appreciate your input.
 

robert roman

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“….finding an expert….is a real problem in Aus. We are one of about 3 express tunnels in Aus so at present there are no experts.”

If no experts are available physically, try virtually. By this, I mean work directly with the folks at MacNeil (they are experts) via conference call, e-mail, Skype or combination thereof.

Look at it this way.

Many small business owners are uncomfortable with change unless a problem affects cash flow negatively as in unsatisfied customers that complain frequently about quality of products and services, visit less often and/or spend less per visit or eventually buy someplace else.

So, if the capital employed provides a poor drying result, substitute labor for capital. Here, labor cost (fully-burdened) to hire two people to ensure a good drying result and satisfied customers would be at least U.S. $36,000 annually.

You could fly an expert from Canada to Australia for several days or a week for a fraction of this amount.

Benefit includes good drying result, satisfied customers (visit more often, spend more per visit), no complaints to resolve, etc. Plus, you develop expertise during the process to help you become an expert, making this an investment.
 

JMMUSTANG

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At any stage in the wash process do you use your reject water from your spot free to rinse the car?
If so try turning it off. The TDS in the reject water might be the problem.
 

Mr.Aap

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How many feet between your drying agent arch and your rinse arch...???...How is it being applied.....???.....I also don't like blue/white pumps for mixing D/A as slugging can occur and you get varied drying results.....
 

Earl Weiss

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There is no Blue Fairy that goes around making things break.

If drying was satisfactory beforehand and then all of a sudden there is a “problem” that grows worse over time, something caused it to happen.
And you know it's not the "Blue Fairy" because...?
 

JustClean

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Hi Lofty,
Since you changed already the pump please check two more things:
1.
The foot valve in the drying agent container is working. If it isn't the DA will run slowly back into the container so it takes time to pump it up again. Also check if the DA is actually getting out of the nozzles in the bay or if it is only water.

2.
I don't know your reclaim system. Are you 100% sure when turning it off your are only getting clean water. With my old system it was still using the reclaim for a while before using fresh water. Worst case run it on fresh for 3 weeks and see how you go. I also had major drying problems due to the reclaim.

Hope this will help
Cheers Justclean
 

mac

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Don't know enough to suggest what the problem is, BUT I do want to warn you about the blowers rusting turbines. This is dangerous. I have seen the rusting throwing the turbines out of balance to the point where they literally explode. Don't ask me why anyone would make these with carbon steel, but they do. I have heard good results from operators who get the air for the blowers from the attic. If they are sucking air from the tunnel you are ingesting a lot of water and spraying it to the cars.
 

wood

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I would agree with Earl's suggestion to examine the spot free rinse. Put on some cars, turn off for others to test.

Also, staying with the water issue, maybe the overall quality of the water needs to be re-tested. Compare to previous.

Lastly, maybe the drying agent line is losing prime and when the unit kicks on you are not drawing chemical immediately. I think all the drying agents you mentioned are of quality and if all the products work on and off it is not the chemical directly.

Good Luck,
Wood
 

Lofty

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Many thanks for all the input. It would seem that other than rusty turbine blades causing carnage, general view is that they should not be the cause of erratic or poor drying issues.
We do not use RO reject water at all. Our fresh water supply is tested weekly for TDS and hardness. Our distance from DA to Spot free is quite close, only 4 feet and we then have 10 ft of drip space to the first blower. I have shifted the spot free further from the DA but does not seem to make much difference. Sounds like Blue White pumps are a potential problem so this is something I'll look at more closely, especially given we seem to have little or no beading at the start of the hood and beading improves further along the vehicle.Foot valve for DA has been checked and replaced. The way our reclaim is plumbed I am certain it is completely isolated. It is a direct on/off tap, not a ball check or similar. With all of this valuable feedback I think I will be focusing heavily on What is happening with the DA dosing pump.
Once I get results I will happily respond.
Thanks for the great support.
 

Washmee

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I had a similar problem this winter. It turned out to be the Blue/white pump I was using. The concentric shaft on the drive motor was worn out. It was caused very erratic drying.
 

Mr.Aap

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I would apply your drying agent through a rain bar right after your last set of set of mitters if that is how your equipment is set up......I would also run a hydrominder/Dosatron type set up to insure your drying agent is mixed before its applied.....
 

JustClean

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Hi Lofty,
Since you changed already the pump please check two more things:
1.
The foot valve in the drying agent container is working. If it isn't the DA will run slowly back into the container so it takes time to pump it up again. Also check if the DA is actually getting out of the nozzles in the bay or if it is only water.

2.
I don't know your reclaim system. Are you 100% sure when turning it off your are only getting clean water. With my old system it was still using the reclaim for a while before using fresh water. Worst case run it on fresh for 3 weeks and see how you go. I also had major drying problems due to the reclaim.

Hope this will help
Cheers Justclean

Hi Lofty,
just wondering if you actually check the two things I suggested?
cheers JustClean.
 

Lofty

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Just Clean
yes sorry i did reply to this in my earlier comments. We have replaced the foot valve and checked same. Our recycle system is plumbed in a way that reclaim supply to the system is isolated by a separate manual valve. We have also run on total fresh water for everything and there is no change to the results.
 

Lofty

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Mr. Aap
Of all the drying agents we've tried we have only had specs on how to titrate the Blue Coral Velocity. The others have been set up by volumetrics.
 
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