Owners say machine takes car washing to new level

June 27, 2004|JOHN T. DAVIS

JUNCTION CITY - First there was the friction car wash. Then there was the "touchless" car wash. Now there's the third generation - the "hybrid" car wash - and James Coffey and John Stomberger have installed the area's first such machine at their Superior Car Wash on U.S. 127 south of Junction City.

"Ten years ago, the only thing they had out there were friction machines but there were problems," Stomberger said. "Ten years ago, we got away from that and went to 'touchless' car washes. 'Touchless' car washes are fine but they only get a car so clean."

After a fire destroyed their automatic car wash this spring, Coffey and Stomberger decided to replace it with a state-of-the-art, German-made machine, which Stomberger had actually seen demonstrated in St. Louis before the two business partners installed their first machine 21/2 years ago.

"We should have put this one in from the git-go," Coffey said. "It is different. There's nothing else like it in the region."


"I wanted to put in a wash that would do the best doggone job I could find," Stomberger said. "I got tired of people saying, 'It didn't clean this off.'"

Their new car wash offers motorists a choice. They can opt for a souped-up version of the "touchless" car wash. They can go with a "Feather Touch" that scrubs off the "road film" usually missed by a "touchless" wash without scratching the vehicle. Or motorists can choose a combination of the two washes.

"Prior to the fire, we had a loyal customer base that liked the touch-free wash, and we want them to know we still offer one," Stomberger said.

Nevertheless, both owners are convinced that the new "Feather Touch" wash is the way to go because it cleans cars more thoroughly and even polishes them.

"The material that touches the car is a 'state of the art' closed-foam technology, which does not absorb water, and therefore will not hold in anything that will scratch the surface of the vehicle," Stomberger said. "No doubt, this is the biggest preconceived notion that we deal with, and we want people to know this machine will not scratch or hurt the surface of a vehicle. If anything, it improves the finish of the vehicle.

"The foam pads do two important things: They break up and remove the dirt and road film on the surface and then actually polish the vehicle. Honest to goodness, my black truck has gotten shinier the more I use the wash."

The effectiveness of the new car wash is based on new technology, Stomberger said.

"The technology behind this particular machine is unmatched in terms of how and what it sizes," Stomberger said. "Lots of automatic units in this area wash every vehicle the same way, regardless of the size. Others have the ability to measure the length and width of a vehicle. Our unit measures the length, width and height of every vehicle.

"When the high-pressure top bar goes over the vehicle, it constantly stays within 12 inches of the surface at all times. This provides maximum cleaning ability on the problem areas: front grill, hood, front windshield and rear of car.

"It's a fact that effective cleaning power is reduced by seven times for every foot from the pressure nozzle to the vehicle's surface. In other words, if you have 1,400 pounds per square inch at one foot, you have 200 p.s.i. at two feet and only 28 p.s.i. at four feet.

"As to the soft foam pads, as they move across the vehicle they electronically measure the tension in amps placed on the vehicle 32 times a second to maintain optimal cleaning pressure."

Although convinced he's got the best car wash in Kentucky, Stomberger worries that it may be too technologically advanced, that customers will see the "foam pads" and mistake his new wash for the older brush-type.

He's also concerned that because the overhead sprayer stays so close to the vehicle that it might frighten some motorists.

That's why he tried hard to explain to the public the technology of the new car wash, which he says is perfectly safe for both vehicles and motorists.

"It's not the fastest machine around, and it's not the cheapest machine around, but if you want to get your car really clean, this is the one for you," Stomberger said.

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