The Road Wave onboard pressure washer provides coach owners a convenient way to clean their motorhome’s exterior.
By Mark Quasius, F333630
Truck washes designed for 18-wheelers can accommodate large motorhomes, but not every truck wash is a good choice for an RV. High-pressure spray can penetrate sliding windows and other seals, and the brushes may not be soft enough to prevent scratching an expensive paint job.
Doing it yourself is much safer but entails lots of elbow grease. And at times, washing the entire motorhome isn’t necessary. The windshield and frontal area tend to collect many bugs by the end of a day’s drive. Within a few days, those bugs will bake on to the consistency of a hard epoxy, so it is prudent to remove them as soon as possible.
Such was the situation faced by Wayde Whitmire and Todd Green. Wayde had just delivered a freshly detailed coach to a customer in Montana. It was grasshopper season, so the 90-mile drive made a big mess on the front of the coach. There was no place to clean it before meeting the customer. That began a brainstorming session that one year later resulted in Wayde and Todd launching the Road Wave RV Pressure Washer System.
With 40 years of combined experience in the RV industry, Wayde and Todd knew they needed a unit that was compact enough to fit into an RV’s limited storage space. They also needed a compact hose reel that could be mounted in various configurations in the storage areas of a wide assortment of RVs. Finally, the washer had to be frugal when it comes to water consumption and to be able to run off the RV’s onboard water system. The Road Wave, which costs $1,295, meets all these criteria.
A steel frame that measures 10 inches high by 13 inches wide surrounds the Road Wave’s main unit. The frame holds a 1.9-horsepower electric motor, a high-pressure pump, an unloader valve, and other related controls.
The pump produces up to 1,350 psi of pressure, which is more than enough to remove bugs, dirt, and road grime. The pump moves water at 1.9 gallons per minute (gpm), less than the typical 3 to 4 gpm of residential pressure washers. This reduces water waste and prevents the fresh-water tank from emptying so fast. A typical RV wash using the Road Wave requires about 20 gallons of water.
The 120-volt-AC motor has a 35-foot cord with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) plug, which connects to any 15-amp electrical outlet in the motorhome’s basement. The compact hose reel contains 50 feet of high-pressure hose and is 13 inches high. A soap-injection tube attached to the Road Wave applies soaps or detergents as desired. The trigger-control gun and wand are fitted with a push-pull nozzle holder that allows for quick, easy switching between high-pressure washing and low-pressure soap application.
The Road Wave can be installed in any RV that has a minimum of 10 inches of vertical space. Ideally, the location should be close to one of the motorhome’s cold-water lines. The Road Wave comes with a T-fitting to tap into an existing water line. Plenty of PEX tubing is provided so the unit can be located in one compartment and connected to water lines in another compartment, if necessary. Also, the 35-foot power cord must be plugged in to an available electrical outlet so that the unit can run from either shore power or generator power.
If the Road Wave is mounted in a compartment reasonably close to the middle of the motorhome, the 50-foot hose reel makes it possible to reach both ends of most RVs without requiring an extension hose. For safety reasons, it is recommended that the Road Wave be mounted on the curbside of the RV, away from any traffic. The pump motor, which is thermally protected, is designed to be installed in a compact area. During development, the Road Wave was tested for 1,000 hours of continuous use in a 6-cubic-foot enclosed compartment with no problems.
The hose reel typically is mounted to the top of the Road Wave and can be rotated 90 degrees to the desired orientation. With the hose reel attached, the Road Wave is 23 inches high, but if there’s not enough headroom, the hose reel can be mounted on the floor, close to the washer. Once the Road Wave is mounted, tap into an existing cold-water line by installing the T-fitting and PEX line.
I installed the Road Wave into a Journeyman NCT 2041 basement cargo slide tray, which I purchased from Keyline Sales Inc. in Elkhart, Indiana. The tray is large enough to contain my water softener and iron filter as well as the Road Wave. I previously ran PEX lines to the bulkhead next to this compartment and then used stainless-steel braided water lines designed for residential clothes washers to connect to the water softener and iron filter. Because water was already present in this location, I simply added a three-way hose splitter to provide softened water to the Road Wave. This allowed me to extend the cargo slide tray for access to the filter, softener, or Road Wave. However, the Road Wave can be operated with the cargo tray retracted and the cargo bay door closed, with no ill effects.
The power cord is then plugged in to an available electrical outlet. The Road Wave requires a 15-amp circuit. To ensure that plenty of power is available, I chose a circuit that is not going to be in use when I operate the Road Wave. The 35-foot cord is equipped with a GFCI plug so it can be plugged in to any standard non-GFCI outlet. In my case, I had an available outlet right in that compartment, so I used cable ties to bind up the excess cord and then tucked it out of the way.
The pump was shipped with a full reservoir of oil, with a plug placed in the dipstick hole before shipping. I removed this shipping plug and inserted the dipstick. Once the Road Wave was mounted and connected to a water supply, it was ready for use.
The Road Wave does a great job of blasting bugs from windshields, yet its pressure is not so high that it will damage paint. Keep in mind that the pressure is measured just before water exits the nozzle. After leaving the nozzle, water fans out and the pressure drops off exponentially as the distance from the nozzle increases.
Sometimes pressure washers get a bad rap because they peel off decals or cause other damage. But that same washer can wash your hands with a gentle spray if your hands are a few feet from the nozzle. The same holds true for washing a motorhome. Keep the nozzle a respectable distance away from decals and other sensitive areas and you won’t damage anything. Yet, if there’s a need to remove stubborn bugs from the windshield, move the gun up close. The control is all in the hands of the operator.
The Road Wave is thrifty on water usage; 20 gallons per typical wash won’t deplete the average fresh-water tank. The Road Wave is also great for cleaning towed vehicles. Owners of toy haulers can use the Road Wave to wash ATVs and clean the garage space.
The Road Wave is easy to winterize if it will be stored in cold temperatures during the off-season. Just pump some RV antifreeze through the unit and it will be ready to go when spring rolls around. The hose reel can be blown out with air and disconnected to minimize antifreeze use.
Various Road Wave accessories are available to make cleaning chores easier. A powered windshield brush, which uses water pressure to rotate the bristles, helps remove baked-on bugs. A 25-foot extension hose can be added if the 50-foot hose doesn’t reach far enough. A soft-body bristle brush also is powered by water pressure and is designed to aid in washing a coach’s exterior.
For any motorhome owner who appreciates a clean coach with minimal hassle, the Road Wave may be the perfect choice.
GNW Power Products Inc., P.O. Box 17756, Missoula, MT 59808; (406) 549-9283; www.theroadwave.com.