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The directional control pedal - heading in the right direction!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The sweeper and scrubber is unlike most pieces of industrial equipment. Take the lift truck for a second. One can hop in the seat and drive with relatively little training. It has your conventional configuration. It has your typical gas pedal for forward or reverse movement with the activation of your transmission. And, it has your conventional brake pedal. It has your conventional drivetrain being engine and transmission. Most equipment is designed in this fashion, but not the sweeper and scrubber. One can look at the American Lincoln 7765, Nilfisk-Advance CS700 or the Tennant 8410. They all have the same thing in common: the directional control pedal.

In years past, as long ago as in the 1970s, I remember well that most of the sweepers or scrubbers of the day had no brake pedal at all. Nothing!! You simply didn’t need them. At least, at that time it was thought. The Tennant Model 265 sweeper was produced between 1975 and 1985 and thousands were sold. I would tell you that they were even the premier sweeper of its day. It never was produced with a brake pedal. It just didn’t seem a necessity. And I tended to agree with this assessment. As long as you operated the equipment in a manner conducive of the sweeper and scrubber there should be no issue. It is when the operator gets overzealous in his driving. A good example I remember is when a sweeper raced a forklift down the aisle to the finish line. The forklift won and the sweeper wrecked hitting the wall and doing extensive damage. It’s this craziness that forces the manufacturers to install the brake pedal on their equipment. Even today I believe if operated properly the brake pedal isn’t necessary.

So let’s talk about how this directional pedal works. It is a very simple concept.
#1. Forward movement: Press the top of the directional pedal with the toe of your foot.
#2. Reverse: Press the bottom of the directional pedal with the heel of your foot.
#3. Neutral: Take your foot off the directional pedal and it will return to the neutral position. Simply put, it will stop.

You see this type of equipment doesn’t have a conventional transmission in the sense of the word. It is equipped with a hydrostatic transmission, meaning the transmission is a hydraulic pump. This hydraulic pump is mounted to the rear of the IC engine where the normal transmission would be mounted. On the rear of this hydraulic pump is a pony pump mounted as well. These two pumps control all hydraulics of the machine including the directional control.

With everything being said, I want to be clear. I don’t advocate no brake pedal. I just don’t think it is necessary “if” you control the directional control pedal correctly. And don’t confuse the brake pedal with the parking brake. Even in the early years of this equipment, the sweepers and scrubbers always were equipped with a parking brake. One reason would be in the transportation of said equipment. When put on a rollback truck, always put the parking brake on. And, of course, make sure it is strapped down properly.
So now you know everything about the directional control pedal. If you have a question/comment about today’s article, send me an e-mail.

Creamer’s Corner is a monthly conversation with Hi-Gear’s Mike Creamer giving you advise, technical assistance, brand comparisons and on the job stories on repairing, maintaining or replacing your sweeper/scrubber. For your comments or questions, please e-mail Mike at