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When is Big, “Too Big!”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Many times companies have a tendency of buying a sweeper or scrubber that is too small for their operation. They buy a, walk-behind, for example instead of a rider. Usually, they will try to save money on the initial purchase. However, it will cost in the long run in maintenance and parts cost because they simply do not hold up. It is just too small for what they require.

So when I received a call from an old acquaintance I was curious of his situation after he purchased a scrubber. His operation is approximately 100,000 square feet. This is a pretty good size building. Knowing him, I thought to myself “I wonder how little of a walk-behind scrubber he bought. When he revealed the news, I was somewhat surprised. “Mike, I didn’t buy a new scrubber. I went to an auction and bid on this big scrubber, and, got it!”

Being more curious, I asked, “Well, what did you buy?” He said he got a Tennant 550 scrubber. My first reaction was “What in the world are you going to do with that?” His instant reply was, “Scrub my building.” I went further and asked if he measured his aisle width. He immediately responded and said that they were 72” width. I looked up the specs on this machine. The width of the machine is 61”. It weighs (get this), 7200 pounds or over 31/2 tons; GVWR. Wow! That’s big.

Here are a couple of other stats on the Tennant 550 Scrubber:

  • Length: 156”
  • Height: 60.0”
  • Width: 61.25”
  • Standard Solution Tank Capacity: 140 gallon (530 liter)
  • Hydraulic System total Capacity: 13.8 Gallon (52 Liters)
  • Engine: 4 Cylinder Continental “F” Series or “TM” Series 60 HP at 2400 rpm

Anyway, after our initial conversation, I asked, “Well, what do you need?” He immediately replied that he needed to do a tune-up on the engine, brushes, squeegees and hydraulic oil. I continued that he should replace the hydraulic filter along with the engine filters such as air and oil.

I also faxed him a list of maintenance items that I suggested he perform especially since he did not know the maintenance history. Here’s the list I faxed to him:

  1. Flush the hydraulic system and replace the fluid.
  2. Flush the cooling system (radiator) and replace the antifreeze.
  3. Change engine motor oil.
  4. Complete Engine tune-up
  5. Check for any engine oil leaks.
  6. Replace all filters. This includes engine air, oil filters. Hydraulic filter in tank and the in-line Hydraulic filter. Check all hydraulic hoses for wear.
  7. Replace Fuel Filters
  8. Check and Clean the PCV System
  9. Check all the hoses for wear and replace as required.
  10. Check all the belts for wear and replace as required.
  11. When replacing the scrub brushes, re-adjust for the correct brush pattern. Usually they are somewhat out of adjustment.
  12. Open the drain plugs on the solution and recovery tanks and flush the sludge and other debris out of the tanks.
  13. Replace the side and rear squeegee and re-adjust the assemblies.
  14. Check the brakes and brake fluid. You should also re-adjust the parking brake.

After several months I thought I would contact him and see how he likes the 550 Scrubber. Keep in mind that the 550 is a machine that articulates. This means that it turns in the middle as an earthmover does. He replied that, “It’s big, we have to scrub one aisle, go out the back, outside to turn around and again, come in to scrub another aisle and so on. It’s big, but it scrubs great.”

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to share it with me. You can e-mail me at or call at 800/346-2319.

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