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  1. #1

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    Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Hi guys,

    I am currently in charge of setting up a mobile detailing unit for an automotive company (we detail on large scales for auto shows, manage fleets, photoshoots etc). I am new to setting up a mobile detailing and have a few questions to ask.

    We are considering a 300 gallon tank, gravity fed with possibly a water heater+deionizer, to drive to auto shows and events which would be about 2500 pounds of water plus a few hundred more for an electric powerwasher, generator, shelves, buffing units etc...

    We currently have a single (6x12) single axle trailer with a 200+ gallon tank (was too small), and the single axle wasn`t enough to support the weight. We are currently deciding between a double axle 6x12 or 7x14 or 7x16 trailer (with payload capacities ranging 4000-5500 pounds) or lease/finance a Ford Transit cargo van (payloads ranging from 3500-4500 and Ford only because we have a good relationship with them).

    Some of the main advice I`m curious for is any insight on what would be the better option, Van vs Trailer (pros/cons) for carrying that much payload. Also if anyone is familiar with what a decent size trailer would be with that equipment listed above. Also any insight on if 300 gallons is enough for detailing say 5-25 cars at a time with an electric powerwasher (1.5-2.0 GPM) and if the shape (horizontal, vertical, IBC) matters.

    Let me know if you need any more information,

    Thank you,
    Daniel

  2. #2
    SUPER MODERATOR GearHead_1's Avatar
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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Welcome to the forum. Unfortuately I’m not the guy to answer this question but hopefully this post will move it to the top and someone in the know can help you out. Perhaps RaysWay or one of our other mobile scholars can give you some insight.
    A society willing to trade liberty for temporary security deserves neither and will lose both
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  3. #3

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Van vs Trailer will depend on you and your preference. With a van, you generally get better gas mileage vs a truck/suv and trailer, and you have the ability to have all the supplies in one place. With a trailer you have to factor in the tow vehicle and its general performance and condition. For a trailer holding roughly 2400lbs of water, a dual axle will give you more stability and due to the other equipment that you will be bringing, I`d get the 5500lb trailer as it can also give you room to grow. As to what specific size trailer, what is being used to tow it? A V8 4Runner or a Ram 2500 with a Cummins 5.9? Do you want an enclosed trailer that can be a source of shade on a hot day, that will also make the storing supplies a little bit easier? With 300 gallons of water, I would guess that you could safely wash 15-20 cars with keeping water preservation at the forefront of your mind.

    Those are a few of the many thoughts going through my mind.
    Likes mobiledetailer1 liked this post

  4. #4

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    First off, thank you for your insight - I really appreciate it.

    We have decided to go with a trailer as you`ve suggested. A brand new van would also be a huge investment. We have two work trucks 2009 F-250 (12500 towing capacity) and 2011 F-150 (8000 towing capacity). Would we be pushing it to hook up, say, a 6x12 aluminum tandem trailer with 300 gallons water + equipment to the f-150? My guess is that the trailer would be 4800-5400lbs fully fitted with a full tank of water. Or do you think we would have to use the f250?

    Thanks again,

  5. #5
    mrclean81's Avatar
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    Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Have you ever looked into a rinseless wash product such as Optimum No Rinse or something similar? Even if you used the pressure washer for dirty areas, wheels, tires, and fender wells, then used the rinseless product for everything else, you would save a ton of water.

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Quote Originally Posted by mobiledetailer1 View Post
    First off, thank you for your insight - I really appreciate it.

    We have decided to go with a trailer as you`ve suggested. A brand new van would also be a huge investment. We have two work trucks 2009 F-250 (12500 towing capacity) and 2011 F-150 (8000 towing capacity). Would we be pushing it to hook up, say, a 6x12 aluminum tandem trailer with 300 gallons water + equipment to the f-150? My guess is that the trailer would be 4800-5400lbs fully fitted with a full tank of water. Or do you think we would have to use the f250?

    Thanks again,

    Whichever vehicle used to tow needs to be the one that is in the best mechanical condition: tires, brakes, suspension components, etc. However, if the F-250 is in good mechanical working condition, that will be your best bet if the trailer is being used regularly. The F-150 will tow that weight easily, but that F-250 was designed for towing.

  7. #7
    Autopia Specialist RaysWay's Avatar
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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    I would check out the Detail Buddies group on Facebook. A ton of trailer guys on there sharing builds all the time with watet tanks/pumps/deionizer systems.

  8. #8

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Quote Originally Posted by mrclean81 View Post
    Have you ever looked into a rinseless wash product such as Optimim No Rinse or something similar? Even if you used the pressure washer for dirty areas, wheels, tires, and fender wells, then used the rinseless product for everything else, you would save a ton of water.
    Okay cool - Thanks for that tip. I did not even know those products existed haha.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheMeanGreen View Post
    Whichever vehicle used to tow needs to be the one that is in the best mechanical condition: tires, brakes, suspension components, etc. However, if the F-250 is in good mechanical working condition, that will be your best bet if the trailer is being used regularly. The F-150 will tow that weight easily, but that F-250 was designed for towing.


    Sounds good. Thanks for the help

  9. #9

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Quote Originally Posted by RaysWay View Post
    I would check out the Detail Buddies group on Facebook. A ton of trailer guys on there sharing builds all the time with watet tanks/pumps/deionizer systems.
    I will definitely check them out - Thanks for the heads up!

  10. #10
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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    For car shows where the cars are fairly clean anyway rinseless is the best way to go. Look into something like McKees N914 for a cost effective/time saving alternative to power washing vehicles. For excessively dirty vehicles I would stay with the pressure wash method although there are people that swear you can safely waterless wash any condition vehicle.

  11. #11
    SUPER MODERATOR GearHead_1's Avatar
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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Quote Originally Posted by mobiledetailer1 View Post
    First off, thank you for your insight - I really appreciate it.

    We have decided to go with a trailer as you`ve suggested. A brand new van would also be a huge investment. We have two work trucks 2009 F-250 (12500 towing capacity) and 2011 F-150 (8000 towing capacity). Would we be pushing it to hook up, say, a 6x12 aluminum tandem trailer with 300 gallons water + equipment to the f-150? My guess is that the trailer would be 4800-5400lbs fully fitted with a full tank of water. Or do you think we would have to use the f250?

    Thanks again,
    Don’t know which engine is in the F150 but a 3.5L EcoBoost would pull it, though it might not be rated for it. It all depends on the build sheet configuration for the truck. Take a look at the load rating on your door tag.

    Sadly, there’s both risk and liability involved if you end up hauling more than the vehicle’s load rating and your detailers insurance would not likely cover it if the worst were to happen. I know of an individual that found out first hand that his truck insurance wouldn’t cover it when his perfectly capable truck wasn’t rated to pull the load he had behind it.
    A society willing to trade liberty for temporary security deserves neither and will lose both
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  12. #12

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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Taking all of your insights into consideration, we ended purchasing a 6x12 tandem trailer with 5200lb axles along with two 330 gallon IBC tanks (only using a 2nd tank for big jobs) and an f250 that can haul the weight of the trailer with ease.

    My only question left is whether I will need a water pump or not. I have heard people saying that they use gravity fed tanks just fine but others swear by a water pump. And if gravity fed would work, would it need to be a gas powered power washer? If it has to be a water pump can I use either either electric or gas?

    Thanks in advance for your insight.

  13. #13
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    Re: Questions on setting up a mobile detailing unit

    Quote Originally Posted by mobiledetailer1 View Post
    Taking all of your insights into consideration, we ended purchasing a 6x12 tandem trailer with 5200lb axles along with two 330 gallon IBC tanks (only using a 2nd tank for big jobs) and an f250 that can haul the weight of the trailer with ease.

    My only question left is whether I will need a water pump or not. I have heard people saying that they use gravity fed tanks just fine but others swear by a water pump. And if gravity fed would work, would it need to be a gas powered power washer? If it has to be a water pump can I use either either electric or gas?

    Thanks in advance for your insight.
    This all depends on what kind of pressure washer you have. NOT gas vs electric unit, but in terms of the pump: is it direct drive or belt-driven ?

    Direct drive
    pressure washers have the pump mounted straight onto the engine. The water pump is driven directly as a result of the motion of the engine`s crankshaft.

    Belt driven
    pressure washer pumps are driven by a belt that is powered by the engine and connected to gears on both parts (engine and pump).

    A good analogy to illustrate the two: Imagine the difference between a unicycle and a bicycle, at least in terms of how they are operated. The unicycle is powered directly as a result of the rotation of the rider`s feet on the peddles(direct drive), while a bicycle relies on an intermediary system to transfer rotational power from the peddles to the rear wheel; the chain & sprockets. This is similar to the action of a belt-driven pump.

    NOW, in relation to upstream water delivery and the need for a pump to pressurize the water inlet in your pressure washer, you`ll hear a different opinion from just about everyone you ask. I can tell you that while both direct drive and belt driven pressure washers have the ability to run with a water inlet that is solely gravity fed, the belt driven unit will last FAR longer than the direct drive with a gravity fed system. Direct Drive pumps run more optimally with pre-pressurized water (like a garden hose), while belt driven pumps can "suck" water out of a remote tank without much inlet pressure- a set up that would be quite taxing on the direct drive pump.

    I have a 55 gallon tank (much less water weight than you) gravity fed to a direct drive pump and it works just fine (or has thus far).

    Would a belt driven unit last longer with this setup? Yes.
    Would my direct drive setup last longer if I had included an upstream pump to pressurize the water inlet into my pressure washer? Absolutely.
    Would either option be worth the increased maintenance cost, high price point, etc? That`s up to you.

    I realize this is an old thread, but having had some experience with this topic, I felt like my two cents would benefit someone in the future

 

 

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