Power Equipment Australasia

The Power of Steam TRAINING This story is contributed by Hamish Lorenz, Operations Manager at Australian Pump Industries who has been involved in the high pressure water blaster industry for over 25 years. While pressure cleaners have become an essential tool in almost every industry, their relevance is even more pronounced in times of a pandemic. In this article, Mr Lorenz explains the operation and maintenance of steam cleaners. We’ve established a great relationship with the power equipment industry. At Aussie Pumps, our first dealers were often mower shops who were happy to offer our range of self-priming centrifugal pumps and high pressure water blasters. As a manufacturer, we’ve evolved a lot since then and are now preeminent in terms of design and features of this type of equipment. It didn’t take us long to realise that cold water is a great cleaning aid applied at pressure but hot water and steam have real advantages in a wide range of applications. Most power equipment workshops now have a hot wash or steam cleaner installed to facilitate quick cleaning as well as streamline the repair process. HOT WATER IS GREAT, STEAM IS EVEN BETTER! One hesitation that power equipment dealers have in selling steam cleaners is a general lack of understanding on the part of buyers. Hot wash machines are more complex than engine-driven cold high pressure washers. The real challenge with steam is to understand the boiler concept and to make sure the customer knows the basics of operation. Whether it’s an electric powered steam cleaner or hot wash or a machine like the Aussie Heatwave (a Honda powered 4,000psi portable steam cleaner), the operational principles are much the same. LESSONS LEARNT We all make mistakes. In our early days, we were importing remarkably small hot water machines from an Italian company. We were green and fell for two pole machines operating at 2900rpm, in both single phase and three phase configuration. Being hot water units, they had a diesel burner and boiler system that enabled them to function as steam cleaners. The mistake we made was going two pole. It cost us dearly and we made the decision that we would never sell a two pole hot water machine ever again. COLD WATER TO STEAM - HOW IT WORKS It’s a simple process made up of key components which turn cold water into either hot water or steam, depending on the setting and complexity of the machine. Here is a breakdown of those key components and what they do. 1. A diesel fuel tank supplies fuel to the ignition system. Only clean diesel fuel should be used for guaranteed quality. It is important that the fuel is fresh. 2. A water trap (filter) before the fuel pump ensures the fuel going into the fuel pump is always clean, guaranteeing a long life. Good quality fuel pumps should be used. 3. T he pump feeds the burner which has a nozzle with an inline filter that sprays the diesel fuel into the heating chamber. 4. A n integrated blower is incorporated into the system that forces the vapourised fuel across the igniters located in the burner chamber. 5. T he ignited fuel heats the chamber and the encapsulated coil. 6. The cold water coming from the high pressure pump is forced through the heating coil heating up the water and providing the required temperature. The temperature from this process is controlled by a thermostat, normally mounted on the control panel. This enables the operator to set the required pressure, bearing in mind that the hotter the setting, the more fuel is burnt. All of the above depends on an electric motor, or in some cases, an engine providing the power that supplies the high pressure pump with the horsepower to drive it and the spark to begin the ignition process that heats the water. Hamish Lorenz, Operations Manager at Australian Pump Industries 28 | POWER EQUIPMENT AUSTRALASIA | MARCH - APRIL 2022