Air-Powered Projectiles Clean Old and New Hose

Facility Maintenance

My company, Masthead Hose & Supply, is an industrial and hydraulic hose distributor serving the state of Florida; with other branches in Tulsa; Houston and Alvin, Texas; Brunswick, Georgia; and Columbia, South Carolina We primarily represent the Goodyear and Dayco Hose Lines, and we operate more than 30 service trucks - each equipped with a supply of hoses in various diameters, as well as cutting, coupling, and cleaning equipment.  

Out of the half-million or so feet (one hundred fifty thousand or so meters) of hose handled by Masthead each month, about 100,000 are in the 3/16"-2" (4.8-51mm) diameter size range and are installed in hydraulic systems on pile-driving equipment, cranes, bulldozers, road-paving equipment, pecan-shaking machines, garbage trucks, and equipment used by the timber industry.

Until recently, when replacement hose needed to be coupled and installed, or contaminated hose had to be cleaned, Masthead's procedure called for flushing the old or new hose with a solvent such as mineral spirits. (Even with a brand new hose, the process of cutting and coupling often lets cutting swarf get into the hose. This swarf must be removed before installation to assure optimum performance of the hydraulic system.) However, the flushing procedure is messy, expensive, and time-consuming.  

To investigate a different approach, we tried a JCL-2030 Jetcleaner pneumatic tube cleaning gun from Goodway Technologies Corporation, Stamford, Connecticut. Using compressed air at 90-120 PSI, (6-8 BAR) this gun shoots a specially formulated foam projectile through the hose. The flexible projectiles are slightly over-sized compared to the hose I.D., so they compress when they are shot. Their attempt to expand as they travel loosens dirt and deposits throughout the hose and carries them out the far end.  Our results were excellent. One shot was usually all it took to clean a hose, with a few more required for severely fouled tube cleaning situations.

Because of this success, we now have a tube cleaner in each branch shop and on every service truck. Whether we need one shot for a new hose, or several shots for a contaminated but still serviceable one, we save time and money for our customers. In our time comparisons, if we take a 50' (15.2m) long, 2" (51mm) R13 hose assembly and shoot it with a Jetcleaner, we save an average of 15 minutes over flushing. If we're replacing, say, eight 50' (15.2m) sections of hose on pile-driving equipment, we save our customer about two hours of downtime. On many job sites, downtime runs as high as $1000 an hour.

We've had jobs on tugboats where we've uncoupled and cleaned all the hydraulic lines that were fouled with dirt or water in foreign ports. We've even pulled and cleaned every hose on big oil rigs. Systems on these rigs generally operate at 3,000-5,000 PSI (210-345 BAR) and at those pressures, contamination can be a killer of other hydraulic components.  

One of our more unusual Jetcleaner assignments was in a restaurant. We cleaned their 40' (12.2m) beer lines with projectile shot from the beer room, over the ceiling, through the floor, up around the cooler, into the tap and out. These lines were 1/4" (6.4mm) hoses with spirals and bends, and not a single projectile failed to shoot all the way through any hose or line. Our goal is to get to the piece of equipment that's had a hose failure, remove the hose, clean it, and replace it faster and for less money than the owner can.

The Goodway Jetcleaner helps our service crews accomplish this task quickly and efficiently.  Simple Jetcleaner equipment easily adapts to use with mobile service units.  Masthead shop technician inserts Jetcleaner gun into the end of a newly cut and coupled hose.  

J. Palmer Clarkson President Masthead Hose & Supply Port Orange, Florida Reprinted from HYDRAULICS & PNEUMATICS magazine, September 1998.