Although many farmers get by without owning a pressure washer, John Rozak of Waskateneau, Alta., says he wouldn't want to farm without his. Of course, he doesn't have just any pressure washer. He completely designed and built it himself to fit his own needs.
Rozak, who farms 1,300 acres with his brother Pete, says his pressure washing system can deliver up to 1,700 lbs. of pressure although he usually needs only about 10 to 20 lbs. for general use. The system produces hot, soapy water which Rozak says is effective on grease. Temperature and soap levels are adjustable.
The system cost little to build using a variety of parts he had lying around the farm. It's housed inside a spare building he already had on the farm which has a concrete floor and is completely insulated, but he says most any small building would do. He heats the shed in winter time with nothing more than a small electric heater.
The building houses a 500-gal. water tank to which Rozak adds 2 gal. of powdered soap after the tank has been filled. Another 250 gal. tank supplies rinse water.
A 7-hp. electric motor powers the industrial high pressure (3-piston) water pump which runs the pressure washer. Water is pumped from the main 500 gal. tank to the heating system outside the building which consists of two modified oil burners and the body of an old oil furnace. Water runs through 170 ft. of coil made from 3/4-in. copper tubing which wraps around the oil heater. A 30-gal. oil tank fuels the heating system.
Rozak says he started out using only one oil burner in the furnace body but found that the water didn't get as hot as he wanted so he added another burner at the other end. He can control heat of the water by limiting or lengthening the amount of time water is allowed to circulate in the tubing before he begins washing. In less than a minute or two, water is boiling hot.
From the heater, water travels out to the spray nozzle through 3/8-in. dia. single-braided hydraulic hose, which he had to use to stand up to the high pressure (standard air hose, for example, would burst under the pressure).
Hose runs 20 ft. up in the air to a 12-ft. long swiveling support arm at the top of a pole. With 50 ft. of hose in all, Rozak says he can wash two or three vehicles or pieces of equipment without stopping to move them.
Because the water heater is located outside the building, Rozak has to blow water out of the heating coils with an air compressor in the winter.
"One thing I would do different would be to build the shed 4 ft. wider so I could put the burner inside, enclosed by a steel box for safety," he says.