Wickes 160 bar pressure washer: an update

Hi,
I started a thread asking about this pressure washer back in April but my local store never had any of the 160 bar models in stock until now.
I see that broadback posted a thread a week ago asking how to assemble various parts of it. I quite agree with him that the instructions are totally useless.
The strange thing is that there is "information" printed in a dozen different languages but there is a "front page" saying "Wickes pressure washer". Is Wickes an international brand? I didn't realise it had stores across Europe. I just wondered why if they went to the trouble of printing a Wickes-specific cover, they didn't customise the rest of the leaflet and only print the English part?
The English section does not appear to be specific to this washer and is basically safety advice, such as don't point at people, etc.
The only instructions about assembly are some hand drawn diagrams on the last page, which again is printed with the Wickes logo. These are incomplete and as broadback already posted, don't show you how to fit half the parts to the machine! If you have never had a pressure washer before, like me, then you do spend a few minutes wondering what the bits are all for.
I think a couple of reviews on the Wickes web site complained it is a little "unfinished" cosmetically. It is just thrown into the box without any polystyrene packing. As a result there were a few scratches. I know these are only cosmetic and tools get scratched in use but when you spend over 100 on something, I think it is reasonable to expect it to arrive in mint condition? True, it doesn't affect the function of the machine but first impressions count when taking your new toy out of the box.
Another review talks about the soap dispenser being fragile. Mine was broken out of the box, hence my grumble about lack of protective polystyrene. There is nothing in the instructions to explain that the wire "loop" is for cleaning the nozzle, or when it needs cleaning, and nothing to explain about the two soap dispensers.
From what I can gather there are two soap dispensers. There is a small black tank at the base of the machine for low pressure use and the fragile white tank that attaches directly to the lance is for high pressure use. Have I got that right?
There is a pressure gauge on the lance which simply reads "0, 70 (bar), Max". Though I already knew that the 160 was a theoretical figure used for marketing, the gauge implies that 70 bar is halfway and the working maximum pressure is 140 bar.
I have borrowed a cheap 50ish Karcher with noisy, plastic, motor but despite all the design shortcuts on that, it had an adjustable lance. With the Wickes model it seems you get 140bar or nothing, so I am confused about how I can use either a low pressure soap dispenser or a high pressure one. Do I have to buy an adjustable lance separately, and what are their definitions of low and high pressure soap sprays?
I haven't used it to wash the car because some reports say that high pressure sprays will remove the paint. What is the best pressure for car washing? There doesn't appear to be a warning in the instructions and the box even shows it being used on a car.
The instructions talk about some washers having an automatic stop and some not. Those without should not be left in "standby" for more than two minutes. Fair enough but it says those with an automatic stop, like this one, should not be left in standby for more than five minutes. Why is this if the motor is not on, what damage can be done? It also talks about a safety catch on the lance but I don't appear to have one.
I haven't used the washer in anger so I can't honestly comment on its performance but the instructions are truly awful and my first impressions are that it isn't as wonderful as I had hoped for. It is made by Lavor.
HTH Fred
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Return it for a refund while you have that option? Is it a case of putting a few more quid into the deal and buying a decent spec Karcher with variable nozzle and other kit in the box. I've seen them sold at Screwfix. Even the freeview shopping channels have had Karcher kits with lots of addons included.
Dave
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Fred wrote: <SNIP>

I would think so. The internal tank will prolly only dispense soap when there is low pressure at the nozzle. Common way of doing this is to pull the nozzle bit & you should get low pressure. Sometimes its a twist or even a twist & pull.

About right.

The plastic bottle that attaches to the lance is likely a foam sprayer.

Urban myth. If the paint is sound no DIY machine could develop enough pressure.

Stress on pump seals? Not heard that before.

Its normally part of the trigger gun.
Next time I'm in Wickes I'll have a look.
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Dave - The Medway Handyman
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The Medway Handyman wrote:

Not so. some domestic machines are very high pressure, and right in close they WILL strip paint, cos I've done it..but held at sensible distances they are safe enough.
Basically try ion something else before you do the car: I've found they are magic at green slime, less successful on dead gnats. Those need attention with alcohol and washing up liquid.
But once you have a clean, but soapy car, the washer is a miracle at blowing the dirt off.
My technique is pressure wash first, to remove loose stuff and green slime, then overall HAND wash with detergent and a MILD pan scourer/sponge only using the scourer in extreme need and its the white not green scourer...then when the whole car has been soapaed, pressure wash it all off.
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

Urban myth. I spent 30 + years selling HPC's I've sold Warwick, KEW, WAP, Karcher & Gerni. I've done thousands of demonstrations & sold thousands of machines.
Domeatic machines are little more than water pistols - 100bar x 6 lpm. I've washed cars with 200 bar x 24lpm without damage. Such machines will cut a breese block in half with the right nozzle.
Only once did I see vehicle paint removed. That was an old Lada which had been hand painted.
If the paint is sound, no machine could possibly remove it. If the paint is flakey or loose of course it will come off. But sound paint - no.
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Pressure washers will remove decals, transfers; can damage flock- bonded glass sunroof (which can cost a few hundred to fix and the roof steelwork on many cars are not galvanised re failed seals); can drive water under certain thermoplastic latch-in-n-bond window seals (older 1990-2005 designs); can blast up dirt, sand, grit from driveways into car paint causing damage.
That latter point is the real reason they say not to pressure wash cars - very easy to blast car dirt into places you do not want it and blast ground dirt up as an abrasive.
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js.b1 wrote:

Having assembled and used mine quite a bit I find it fine. However there are no operating instructions, so no idea how to use the two reservoirs. The lance which is used with the small bottle can be varied from wide fan to single jet, simply by twisting the end. However it is impossible for an old weak man, like myself, to mount the bottle onto the lance. Or is there a knack that I have not got?
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Broadback wrote:

Can you post s photo of the lance & bottle?
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On Wed, 9 Jun 2010 18:42:47 +0100, "The Medway Handyman"
It seems you can buy it separately from Wickes: http://www.wickes.co.uk/Foaming-Lance/invt/186909
HTH
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wrote:

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I've been in touch with Wickes about the terribl;e instructions; we'll see what they say.

Thanks, I didn't know that. I hadn't even looked at that lance.

I don't know as my bottle arrived broken. It looks as though there are clips on the back of the bottle that push onto the lance but the reviews at wickes.co.uk suggest that pushing the bottle on too forcefully may cause the clips to break. The break on mine is at the base of a clip so they are certainly a weak point.
There is something hidden in the "wrong place" on the instructions. Have a hunt for it. Is it on the other side? I think it's in the Italian section. I think it suggests warming the parts with a hair drier to make them more flexible and easier to assemble.
My concern is what if you knock it and break it in the future, will spares be available? I'm expecting there are no spares and they will have to open another box to get me a replacement part.
I've never seen lance-mounted bottles before. Are they a common feature?
Thanks.
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Fred wrote:

They are fairly common on DIY machines. The idea is to (a) generate foan & (b) keep chemicals away from the pump to avoid corrosion.
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Fred wrote:

They are fairly common on DIY machines. The idea is to (a) generate foan & (b) keep chemicals away from the pump to avoid corrosion.
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The Medway Handyman wrote:

If all else fails read the manual! After carefully reading the manual they recommend heating the bottle to get it onto the wand. This I did, it was still a struggle, but I have got it on, and there it will stay!
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For anyone else in the market for a pressure washer - on Freeview Idealworld.tv this morning they have a special deal pack on a karcher ; K3150, vario lance, T-Racer, Dirtblaster, 2 x extension lances, car cleaning wash brush, 2 x detergent packs for 176 product code 166082. http://www.idealworld.tv but their website seems to be down atm.
Dave.
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wrote:

I am glad you have managed to put it all together. The instructions are useless aren't they?
Have you used your washer much? What do you think of it?
On mine the pressure quickly drops; the little gauge in the handle shows about halfway, 70 bars. However I do have a poor flow from the outside tap, so I hope it is that rather than the washer. I am hoping to plumb a new tap at the weekend to see if that cures it.
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Fred wrote:

You don't have enough water to supply the machine. HPC pumps are fixed displacement. Try sucking water from a tub/bucket/container.
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On Sun, 4 Jul 2010 00:07:27 +0100, "The Medway Handyman"

Thanks. I am going to re-plumb the outside tap very soon; hopefully that will cure it. Would it have done any damage connecting the pump to an inadequate supply? Does it rely on water for cooling?
Thanks.
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Fred wrote:

No, but prolonged use could lead to cavitation. The pump sucks in a mixture of water/air due to the lack of supply & when it tries to pressurise it, the air bubbles collapse causing a shock wave - similar to 'catching a crab' when rowing IYSWIM.
Can damage pistons & seal - but only over a prolonged period of time. Don't worry.
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On Tue, 20 Jul 2010 00:38:51 +0100, "The Medway Handyman"

The bit about crabs and rowing went woosh, over my head, but as long as the washer is fine that's all that matters. Thanks for the reassurance.
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