Review of the TYMCO 500X
New for 2006, TYMCO's high-dumping regenerative air street sweeperby Karl Stauty
Long-time sweeping contractor, Karl Stauty, recently had an opportunity to preview TYMCO's new high-dumping regenerative air street sweeper called the model 500X. Here's his take on TYMCO's newest entrant into the heavy-duty street sweeping marketplace. As you read this review, you'll find that Stauty found many things to like about TYMCO's new machine.
First off, here's a rundown of some of the major specs. The entire hopper comes only as stainless steel, and the size is 5.7 volumetric and 4.3 usable. Dust suppression water capacity is 250 gallons in a stainless steel tank. An outside storage box is optional. Although having so much stainless on it no doubt adds considerably to the purchase price, my estimate is that this feature will make it more cost-effective in the long run.
The demo machine we tried out was mounted on an International chassis. The TYMCO dealer representative said they aren't putting it onto a cabover chassis since their understanding is that Freightliner may not be coming back with its SC cabover line.
[Editor's Note: New emission standards are becoming mandatory in January of 2007, and at this time it is unclear whether or not the cabover truck lines in this class can meet those new, very tough standards. There isn't as much room to install the needed environmental upgrades on a cabover.]
However, visibility has been improved on the International to the point where it's comparable to a cabover. The downsides, though, are in water capacity and turning radius.
The machine has twin outriggers for dumping stability, and an optional broom-in-head. Typical options include TYMCO's standard reverse pickup option, and a hand-hose, among others. This machine had a two-speed water pump for the dust suppression spray nozzles with an optional bypass valve for washdown.
The sweeper is outfittted with what the company calls a 'multiplex wiring system,' a system that offers sweeper function circuit boards in multiple locations on the truck. In my opinion, the multiple circuit board system has great benefits in terms of troubleshooting ease.
For example, each option, with corresponding indicator light, is designed for one function. As a result, since the light at each circuit board comes on when that function is accessed, it’s easy to troubleshoot as seeing how far down the line the lights are working in the event there’s a failure. It's the first time I've seen something like this, and I would expect it will cut down time significantly when you need to troubleshoot a failure.
There were lots of unique and innovative features on the sweeper. For one, it has a unique, two-style dump door: the outer door is used to offload the debris and the primary (inner) door creates the seal to the hopper body. The outer door is nice and long, so you don't have to be mirror-to-mirror when you're dumping into a dump truck. As you may see in the photos, on the inside there's a stainless steel plate.
However, on the outside it has a piece of painted sheet metal. That way, when the outside hits something and gets damaged, which always happens eventually, it's an inexpensive replacement item. You can buy that kind of replacement steel anywhere, since it's just a piece of painted metal.
On the primary (interior) hopper door, the one that seals, the seal itself is inlaid into the frame. It looks to me like that will keep it from getting torn up or harmed by debris. Because of the length of the outer door, the 500X loads right into the center of the dump truck. The overall dumping height seemed completely adequate.
The longer door system provides a better overall distribution of material into dump trucks, so the sweeper operator won't have to work to distribute the load. For example, with the broom sweeper I use now, when I'm picking up millings I often end up dumping onto one side of the dump truck's bed and then the driver has to turn around so I can complete the dump into the other side. The longer door on this machine will save time and reduce hassle in that regard.
Something that people will either love or hate is that there are no grease points on the sweeper unit, only on the chassis. According to the TYMCO rep., the machine contains lifetime bearings throughout. If they wear that way, that will be a great feature.
Another unique feature is that the auxiliary engine operates via a two-speed setting, at either 1100 rpm, which is idle, or at the 1800 rpm setting that gives peak torque at optimal fuel usage. The fan speed is controlled by a variable fluid drive system. This runs at 2,700 rpm, which is quite an increase over what the previous system put out.
The TYMCO engineers really seemed to have done a good job of placement on all the control valves. Everything is positioned right where you can get to it. Hydraulic lines from the pump go down through the framerail as flex pipe, but under the frame it's all hard-piped. It goes back to flex pipe where needed, though, to allow the fan housing to lean back.
The auxiliary engine is mounted on the rear of the truck. You open 3 panels and everything is right there. You can work on it from the ground and assess everything. There's no crawling around on the truck to do virtually any kind of servicing.
With most sweeper units, the manufacturer bolts the frame that holds all the sweeper components onto the chassis frame. With the 500X, this is modularized into three sub-frames. Specifically, there is a sub-frame for each of the auxiliary engine; the hopper and lift assembly; and the water tank and fan housing.
The fan housing assembly also quite unique and appears to be a great concept. Their name for it, according to a sticker on it, is 'Tilt-N-Seal.' The fan housing assembly is comprised of the fan, its housing and a hydraulic pump.
Since it's all PTO-driven, the fan housing can be mounted right behind the cab, even though the motor is at the rear of the machine. The beauty of it is that when you raise the hopper to dump, the whole fan system -- which is on a platform that's spring-loaded -- pulls away from the unit. It's just great engineering.
The whole thing is designed so the seal won't be damaged when it goes in and out and there is a simple adjustment to make sure you can retain good contact with the hopper. Another thing I liked about it is that if you need to work on the fan, liner or any other part of that component, it's a simple matter to unhook the whole thing and bring it down onto the floor to work on it. I found that whole assembly to be very impressive in its simplicity and how user-friendly that whole system is.
The 500X has drop-down curb brooms, which allow for running in the normal out position or inboard in front of the sweeping head. On the machine I saw there was an in-cab, variable speed control for the curb brooms. I liked the way it was set up, as a slider, which allowed for great curb broom control. This feature would be useful where you're in lots of dusty material, since by slowing the curb broom down you'll reduce the dust you kick up. It also had broom tilt, but I don't know if these were standard features or were options.
There's a bolt-on intake tube, which is very positive since that's always such a wear item. It's in two parts: there is the small square transition on the inside of the hopper, which is lined with what appears to be a hard plastic. Then, the actual transition tube itself is a bolt-on application, as well. There's also the typical square plastic TYMCO has always used for the other transition part.
Clearly, TYMCO took a lot of consumer input to heart in order to design in as many changes as they did that are so user-friendly. From a maintenance standpoint, it seems very simple, which is very good.
We had a chance to put the machine through its paces, and it did well in both a sandy, leafy area and also in a concrete crushing plant. I'd say the 500X sweeps with a quality comparative to a model 600, or as good as any other air machine of its class. It took everything up in single passes.
As for any downsides on the machine, I found very few. For me, the biggest one is that the screen doesn't drop down, although there appears to be an adequate gap of 4" - 5" above it that allows for cleaning. In my experience, hosing down doesn't work in the long run, though. If a screen doesn't drop down, I'd like to at least see an access panel above it.
To find out more information, or for the location of the dealer for your area, here's a link to the TYMCO website.
For 20 years, Karl Stauty and his wife, Lori, have owned and operated Virginia-based Commercial Power Sweeping. They currently operate 10 parking area sweepers, 4 air street sweepers and 3 mechanical broom sweepers, in addition to various other pieces of support equipment.
Commercial Power Sweeping was the first sweeping company in the state of Virginia to attain Certified Status through the North American Power Sweeping Association. You may reach him via email sent firstname.lastname@example.org.
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