Spartan Sidewinder provides power under pressure and boosts productivity for this Phoenix-area contractor.
When longtime plumber and drain cleaner Randy Rushing decided to diversify his business by getting into pipe relining, he knew he needed a water jetter with the power to restore clogged and dirty pipelines to near-original condition. He opted for a trailer-mounted Sidewinder jetter, made by Spartan Tool, and the owner of Peerless Plumbing Co. in Phoenix says it’s a decision he’s never regretted.
“I went to the Pumper & Cleaner Environmental Expo International [now the Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show] for two years in a row while I was making up my mind,” Rushing says. “To do relining, we need a line that’s as pristine and free of foreign material as possible … and the Sidewinder is powerful enough to clean lines to the point that they’re 85 to 95 percent of their original inside diameter. It shears tree roots right off.”
Purchased in 2008 for about $35,000, the Sidewinder is used primarily for cleaning sewer and lateral lines (typically 1 1/2 to 10 inches in diameter) prior to relining. A Little Giant pump, built by Franklin Electric, delivers maximum pressure of 4,000 psi at a peak flow of 18 gpm. The unit also features several productivity-enhancing features, including a 350-gallon water tank, an articulating and telescoping hose reel that swivels up to 180 degrees and carries 600 feet of 1/2-inch-diameter hose, automated hose rewinding, an 80 hp Kubota turbocharged diesel engine and remote control operation.
“One thing that really impresses me about the Sidewinder is the ease of maintenance,” Rushing notes. “You can access the engine from either side of the unit and easily lubricate all moving parts – no need to lay down on your back and get under it. Everything is accessible, which saves us hours and hours of time over the course of a year and helps us keep it running. Plumbers aren’t auto mechanics, so any machine that’s easy to maintain and avoids downtime is great.”
The articulating reel is particularly handy, Rushing points out, because an operator can always line it up to face a clean-out (or whatever other entry point is being used to clean a line), even if he can’t park the jetter in an optimum position. “A lot of times you’re parked on a street in front of a commercial building and you can’t face the clean-out squarely,” he explains. “But you can point the articulating reel in whatever direction you want.”
But Rushing really lauds the remote control. It not only allows for quicker water shut-off in emergency situations, it also allows Peerless to operate with only two technicians on job sites instead of three because no one needs to stand at the rear of the vehicle and operate the controls. That, in turn, contributes to the company’s bottom line by reducing labor costs. It also enables Peerless to bid more competitively on jobs — and even save customers some money.
“With benefits, you might be paying a plumber $30 an hour, and that’s $240 a day,” Rushing explains. “That may not sound like a lot, but it is when you consider that we do hundreds of jetting jobs a year.”
Along with the Sidewinder, Rushing relies on various styles of nozzles made by Spartan, StoneAge, NLB Corp. and Nu Flow Technologies. He also owns five pipeline inspection systems made by RIDGID, Spartan and Pearpoint/SPX. In addition, he uses an epoxy relining system engineered and manufactured by Nu Flow.
Peerless crews televise lines before and after relining, and Rushing then gives customers a copy of the videos on a small external hard drive. “Believe me, they’re duly impressed,” he says. In fact, he says it’s not unusual for customers to look over a technician’s shoulder and watch the pre- and post-lining pipe televising on the inspection unit’s monitor. Their reaction to the Sidewinder’s cleaning ability? “They say, ‘Wow, that thing really works!’” Rushing says.
The Sidewinder also enhances the company’s image as a progressive, professional outfit, he adds. “When we decided to get into pipe relining, we already had a good reputation as a repiper of copper plumbing lines,” Rushing explains. “But when we jumped into epoxy relining, it was almost like starting a new company. The industry was in its infancy then in Arizona, which is a tough place to introduce new products and technologies. But when we pulled up with a truck that had lots of signage on it and that big new jetter behind it, customers were impressed — and they still are.”
Rushing concedes that the Sidewinder represented a significant investment for his company, but he says it has paid for itself many times over in the seven years he’s owned it. And Spartan’s in-the-field service is second to none, he says.
“My wife, Jade, is the boss, and she keeps the books,” Rushing says. “And I’ve never heard one complaint about buying that jetter. It’s been a key component in our success in pipe relining. It does everything Spartan said it would do — and even a little more.”