3 Tools Every Service Van Needs

3 Tools Every Service Van Needs
Component camera system

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Service vans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But whether it’s a cab-over design or a standard van, the key to your success is what you pack inside. 

The people at George Brazil Home Services (featured in July 2013 Cleaner “Money Machines”) are well aware of this fact. The company’s well-stocked box trucks carry about $10,000 worth of parts painstakingly organized into storage bins, which dramatically minimizes the need for daily parts runs. They also carry inspection cameras, cable machines, portable jetters, locators, extra hose reels, a good selection of nozzles and root cutters. 

“We operate under the theory that there’s a place for everything, and everything in its place,” says Daryl Bingham, operations manager at Brazil, named for the late founder of the 58-year-old company. “George was very meticulous and put a lot of thought into how to increase productivity through better organization.” 

In addition to saving on travel time, having the right tools on every truck eliminates calling in another technician who has a jetter or camera, or whatever you need and don’t have. So before you head out on your next call, make sure you have these three tools in your truck: 

1.   Inspection camera

You can’t fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong, and nothing is more useful in diagnosing plumbing problems than an inspection camera. Whether it’s a 11/2-inch sink drain or a 16-inch sewer main, a good camera will help you diagnose the problem quickly and accurately. Consider these options: 

  • The VISTRAC II camera system from Amazing Machinery is equipped with the highest commercial grade color camera head and cable. The stainless steel camera body and sapphire lens make the head durable. The layflat reel design provides simplified operation yet still allows the unit to be transported in the upright position. The component-based system allows the user to change the camera head, recorder or monitor if it is damaged. 
  • The CUES Mini-Push 20/20 is an all-inclusive, ready-to-use, portable color video inspection system with a built-in battery power supply and battery charger. The unit inspects and records digital video in pipelines from 2 inches in diameter and larger. The 6.4-inch color LCD monitor is adjustable with a fold-down position for protection during transport and includes a sun shield for optimal viewing in sunlight. The lightweight system includes wheels for easy portability and a balanced footprint for stability. 
  • EasyCAM camera inspection systems are equipped with a color camera, 512 Hz transmitter and 8-inch daylight readable monitor. The camera head, transmitter, pushrod, electronics, monitor and aircraft aluminum frame can be easily repaired by the owner. Safe 12-volt operation offers efficient portability and operation for up to six hours between charges. The systems will also operate using a standard 110-volt house outlet or can be charged in a vehicle. 
  • The MiniLite pipe inspection system from RapidView IBAK North America allows users to inspect, record and measure the internal dimensions of small pipelines. Users can record inspections on a built-in MPEG digital video recorder on SD and SDHC memory cards. The system is available in 100- and 130-foot lengths. 
  • The Pan n’ Tilt push camera from Ratech Electronics is a portable inspection system for pipes and drains as small as 3 inches in diameter. Camera options include black and white, color, self-leveling, micro and pan n’ tilt. Combining the camera with a Ratech control unit such as the Elite SD gives recording capability using SD/USB drives and allows MPEG video capture and JPEG image capture. Also included is an on-screen display overlay system providing electronic distance counter, time, date and eight pages of memory for listing problems and displaying company information. 
  • The SeeSnake Max rM200 camera system from RIDGID combines portability and versatility to make your drain inspections easy and efficient. It has improved reel mechanics for easy passage through tight turns, an ultra-compact camera that provides optimal lighting, and an upgraded cable. It comes with an integrated transport system to make it easily portable. Users can carry the reel with the included shoulder strap or use the wheel system. 
  • The latest vCam inspection system from Vivax-Metrotech incorporates many features requested by the professionals who use the system every day, including a new ABS molded housing, 8-inch color LCD, digital recording to the internal hard drive or SD card and a full-function waterproof keyboard. The control module is field serviceable. The range of reels allows inspection of 3- to 12-inch-diameter pipes in distances from 60 to 400 feet. The camera reels are fitted with field-serviceable camera terminations as standard equipment.

2.   Portable water jetter 

There is no more versatile cleaning tool than the water jetter. Whether it’s a FOG problem or a nasty ball of roots, a good jetter will help you clean out any blockage in any pipe. These portable jetters will all help you restore the flow: 

  • The PJ-3000 portable jetter from Draincables Direct delivers power and versatility at minimal cost. The unit includes a 13 hp Honda gas motor with a robust but small frame that provides 4 gpm at 3,000 psi. It has a line/pipe capacity of 1 1/4 inch up to 6 inches with 200 feet of 3/8-inch hose along with 75 feet of 1/8-inch trap hose. Nozzle, kit, gloves, face shield and tip cleaner are included with the toolbox. 
  • The JM-3080 waterjet from General Pipe Cleaners is designed for clearing large, remote lines of grease, sediment, ice and other soft blockages. Vibra-Pulse technology propels nozzles through long lines and tight bends. The 12-gallon buffer tank is designed for tapping local water sources and provides enhanced safety margins. The unit also features a positive lock braking system for its four 13-inch pneumatic tires. 
  • The Shark SJPE-1500 electric jetter from Shark Pressure Washers & Jetters is portable, compact and includes a detachable hose reel. The slide-in handle accommodates loading and unloading the unit into any van, truck or car, and also allows for convenient transport. With the pull of a small lever, the 100-foot hose reel is removable for ease of use and storage. Pulse Technology propels the hose through lines and around tight curves to break through clogs. The compact and flexible design allows the jetter to fit in tight spaces and makes for easy one-person operation. 
  • The Model 717 electric hydrojetter from Spartan Tool includes an adjustable pressure regulator, which allows the operator to increase the pressure generated by the 2 hp electric motor to 1,500 psi, its full cleaning power, when there is a 20-amp circuit available, or to decrease the pressure to 1,250 psi to operate on a 15-amp circuit without tripping the breaker. The portable system includes three standard hoses that allow cleaning out to 165 feet from the machine, eight jetting nozzles, easy-ride pneumatic tires, pulsation technology, jetting gloves and a washdown spray gun.

3.   Cable machine 

It’s one of the most basic drain cleaning tools, but nothing provides more bang for your buck than a cable machine. If you do residential drain cleaning, it’s a must-have. With countless cutting heads available, this machine can chew its way through anything you’ll encounter. Consider these machines: 

  • The DM162 upright drain machine from Duracable Manufacturing is designed for running 5/8-inch cable up to 80 feet in length and can be configured for any job. The reel includes a built-in toolbox and a heavy-duty casted, self-aligning head bearing to maintain proper alignment while in operation. This helps increase the life of the reel and allows for quick change-outs. The unit can be operated in horizontal and vertical positions and comes with non-marring rubber pads to protect the work surface from leaving marks. 
  • The Model C sectional drain and sewer cleaning machine from Electric Eel runs up to 200 feet of 1 1/4-inch self-feeding dual cable in 8- or 10-foot sections that require no handling when rotating. One-man operation means less time and labor expense. A fold-down handle allows for easy transportation, storage and use in crawl spaces. A unique carry handle provides balance and easy transport. The unit is suited for tough blockages, such as tree roots, and longer runs in main sewer lines.
  • The M888 Upright Workhorse from MyTana Mfg. Company is an upright machine available with 11/16- or 3/4-inch mainline sewer cable, up to 125 feet long. The unit is designed for 3- to 10-inch lines. Reels can be added or changed in seconds. The standard automatic feed retriever saves wear and tear on operators. It comes complete with a full set of 2- to 6-inch blades and a set of replacement blades. The hard plastic reel is standard and an open reel with cover is available.   

(All equipment listings from Cleaner Product Focus, November 2012)


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