If your current sealcoating equipment is looking rough and worn out, it might be time to consider an upgrade. Many contractors typically begin their career using trailer-mounted sealcoating rigs, but one available upgrade to consider is the self-propelled sealcoating buggy. A self-propelled buggy is a ride-on sealcoating machine that applies material using a squeegee, a spray or both.
Before making the purchase, contractors have several considerations to make regarding the self-propelled buggies such as the initial cost, the size and available features.
The Time to Buy
With all of the equipment options available, the time to purchase a self-propelled buggy can depend on the contractor’s clientele. In most situations, self-propelled buggies are best suited for commercial projects or large driveways. “You can get into smaller parking lots with the squeegee machine,” says Eric Humphries, sales manager at Neal Manufacturing. “Spray bars are normally used on larger parking lots, but depending on conditions it can be very useful and a labor saver on smaller areas.”
The small size also enhances the unit’s maneuverability. “Some squeegee machines are equipped with an edging valve system that will enable you to release a small amount of material and come along side it being able to squeegee next to curbs and concrete bumpers,” says Keith King, president and owner of King Machinery. “Your machine is more maneuverable so you can do a lot of things in small, tight spaces.”
Randy Tattershall, sales manager at Rayner Equipment Systems, encourages contractors to look into purchasing a self-propelled buggy when they realize they can get a return on their investment. “If they are starting out it might be difficult to put the expense into a sealcoat buggy before they have developed their clientele,” he says. “We mostly see people who are already in the business and are looking to upgrade their equipment to something that will reduce labor costs, reduce maintenance costs and speed up production time.”
Norman Wilson, of N.I. Wilson Manufacturing, believes that a sealcoating buggy can be a good investment for a new contractor. “I think a sealcoating buggy would be a good investment, but it is about getting as much material out there as you can,” he says. “It’s the idea of price and what they are planning on doing in the future.”
Features to Consider
Self-propelled buggies have a variety of features contractors will want to consider from tanks to safety features.
Some suggested features are a round tank and two foot-controlled dump valves. “Round tanks give you full sweep agitation and allow the mounting of rubber wipers to sweep the tank clean as they rotate to keep the tank outlet clear,” says Steve Rapp, equipment division manager at SealMaster. “Another important feature would be having two foot-controlled dump valves to allow the material to come out a certain way when you get on a slope. This allows you to turn the lower valve off to keep from over-flooding the box.”
Safety is another issue contractors need to acknowledge when purchasing a self-propelled buggy. “A lot of machines don’t have brakes and rely on the hydrostatic breaking,” Tattershall says. “Contractors should insist on fail-safe brakes in addition to full hydrostatic braking to protect their employees as well as the general public.”
Another safety feature to have is an emergency stop system. “You should consider a safety device such as a seat pressure switch or a seat belt switch that will apply the brakes automatically if the operator is not in the proper location,” Tattershall says.
Horsepower is also a consideration that needs to be noted depending upon the location of the contractor. “At certain elevations applications become an issue when you get to the higher altitude,” King says. “The higher the altitude the more horsepower you lose. When you complete certain applications making sure you have enough horsepower is the primary thing.”