If you're a veteran sweeper operator, than these words from TYMCO's Tom Rokas ring loud and clear: "Cleaning out your sweeper at the end of your shift or at the end of the day is the most important service you can perform on it."
Located in Waco, Texas, TYMCO manufacturers a full line of regenerative air sweepers. Rokas, of the marketing department, notes that just rinsing out the hopper after a day's use prolongs the life of metal parts and helps to keep the sweeper running efficiently. Company training director David Zajicek agrees, noting that ideally the cleaning regimen should be thorough, taking about 30 minutes and should encompass a complete walk-around of the sweeper, cleaning out the screen and dust separator, cleaning out the suction hose, and overall giving the unit a good washing at the end of the day. Cleaning time, he adds, can be shortened with the hopper deluge option.
The cleanup has another purpose, says Zajicek, "Cleaning gives the operator the opportunity to inspect the sweeper. On an air sweeper that means paying special attention to make sure seals are tight, including seals around the hopper door and dust separator, and that the suction and pressure tubes are free of holes and debris."
Zajicek, who has been with TYMCO for 20 years, emphasizes that seals should be inspected routinely to maximize sweeper performance and changed every two or three years. To make sure doors seal properly, he advises operators to attempt to slip a piece of paper through the side of a closed door. If the paper passes through, then the seals need to be changed. "Leaving the doors open after the hopper has been washed and cleaned will allow seals to breathe and flex," he adds. "This will also speed up the drying process and help prevent corrosion."
Since rubber curtains are used to seal the air stream beneath the pickup head on TYMCO sweepers, they need to be routinely checked, too. The curtains are not adjustable and because they drag on the street to create a seal, they will require periodic replacement. "Curtain wear is affected by sweeper curb mileage speed," adds Rokas. "The faster you sweep, the faster the curtains wear. Optimum sweeping speeds are from 3 to 5 mph. Once curtains no longer seal, they must be replaced."
As Rokas and Zajicek explain, the pickup head is supported by skid plates. Adjusting the skid plates will raise or lower the pickup head and the blast orifice. Raising the skid plates will lower the head, decrease the area beneath the pickup head, and increase air speed. Conversely, lowering the plates will raise the head, increase volume, and decrease air speed. The skid plates should be adjusted for the application, i.e., when sweeping heavy weighted debris such as sand, dirt or gravel, keeping the skid plates at their higher adjustment will ensure plenty of air speed to facilitate pickup.
In addition to curtains, other obvious wear parts on both mechanical and air sweepers include the main and gutter brooms, along with the skid plates. On air sweepers, the impeller is also considered a wear part, just as the conveyor belt is considered a wear part on mechanical sweepers.
"Since air sweepers need air to operate, the blower wheel needs to be in good condition, too," says Zajicek. "If performance is down and air isn't leaking around the curtains or seals, then your air sweeper's impeller may be worn out."
Scott McArthur is service manager for Elgin Sweeper Company located in Elgin, Illinois. The company manufactures both air and mechanical sweepers. "A fan or impeller on an air sweeper can last anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 hours, depending on the sweeping application." McArthur relates. "We recommend inspecting the impeller every couple hundred hours by opening a small inspection hatch. The vanes on an impeller will wear and shorten over time, and if they show too much wear, air speed will suffer." He says that using a water suppression system to keep dust down promotes impeller life.