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Portable Upgrades

Jim Davisson

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I think we need to spend a little time talking about how to do it properly and what common pitfalls to avoid. When you are just starting out you don't have the luxury of time. The luxury of watching the evolution of equipment, what things manufacturers changed over time, why they changed them and what to take away from all that. This isn't a definitive guide, just some hard won information learned over the years, that I know really makes a difference in the real world. Nothing kills any great piece of equipment faster than heat, vibration, starvation, water intrusion and frugality.

We all have heard if life hands you lemons, make lemonade... definitely not so with portables and upgrades. Size, shape, ventilation and ability to upgrade airflow fittings is going to make some chassis' a lost cause and the components are not to blame for this. The good thing is that the market has plenty of used ones for sale.

Power needs to be addressed. Old cords replaced and good connections free from water intrusion of proper gauge wire. Internal short wire runs don't need 12 gauge wire, external long runs do though and even 10 gauge over 50'. 14 gauge cords are not for HP portables. Spade quick connects are not forever, a properly sized wire nut filled with silicone chalk like GE does inside refrigerators is probably better than anything, but the least handy.

Airflow, simply installing new vacs isn't enough if they are starved for air before the wand hits the carpet. The size of all airpaths in and out need to be 2" for maximum performance, if you ignore fixing this issue with some portables, expect less than optimum results. Soft bends are best and every hard 90° elbow robs some performance. Vacuum leaks have to be fixed, shoot for none. Leaks lose some cfm's, but kill lift inside and outside of the machine.

Motor cooling, ideally the motor draws ambient air from outside the compartment through the end of the motor and all the exhaust air entirely leaves the motor compartment. Operating in a small space where the two will quickly combine is going to be an issue before long. Simply adding a short piece of vac hose on the exhaust to direct it out of the room from the intakes is a great idea for those situations like a hall bathroom. A cooling fan isn't a must, but it should be especially with certain compartments. For long extended running times like big commercial jobs, I open my compartment and point an airmover directly at it, not possible with most machines, but cooler air is a benefit even around the machine.

Plumbing leaks kill everything around them. Use really good Teflon tape (Blue Seal 3/4" is my new favorite, folded in half on 3/8" and under connections), wrap it conterclockwise and not on the first thread. Periodically check and tighten hose clamps and put QC's in where you will need them for ease of future maintenance.

If you do a lot of stair climbing, check and tighten motor mounts periodically. Don't bang your machine hard up and down stairs.

Pump plumbing needs to be sized to get the most bang for your buck. The bigger the suction line, the better. The bigger the discharge line the better (and remove any restrictive fittings anywhere in between). Even just using a short, but bigger diameter section of solution hose right before the wand on long runs will help because of the "bladder tank" effect. Flow = production and if your vacuum is now on point, you can up your game.

Hopefully this helps the some guys a little to take away some things that really make a difference in performance and longevity, especially the ones just starting out. There is so much to know on both sides of the wand just to remove dirt from fibers and confidence in your equipment running right and lasting longer, really does make the other a little easier by putting the focus where it should be.
 

Jim Davisson

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I have not, but it can be done. You would need to gut it and start fresh. It's a measure 13 times and cut once endeavor, but doable. Honestly, there is so much time involved in completely redoing a machine properly. It's much easier to do slowly right once... when it's your backup machine.
 
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Jim Davisson

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Good ventilation is key. I would try to get direct fresh air to the brush side of each motor using flex dust collector type hose if necessary and a muffin fan pushing air in as well. I have a spare 207V but on my new build I'm using parallel 170 psi aquatecs, IMO they are the better choice and handle 170° water.
 

Jimsteam

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Good ventilation is key. I would try to get direct fresh air to the brush side of each motor using flex dust collector type hose if necessary and a muffin fan pushing air in as well. I have a spare 207V but on my new build I'm using parallel 170 psi aquatecs, IMO they are the better choice and handle 170° water.
A backup for everything on board ( like your 207v ) is wise.
I noticed most electrical issues start with loose connections especially those spade connectors . Happens transporting or when performing maintenance.
When possible I have been applying heat shrink tubing over these connectors . Heat shrink also makes them completely waterproof. Heck these motors last forever . Change the wiring when Vacs need replaced.
A dab of silicone on any open connections.
In the hotter months I use a small Stanley fan for circulation within in the trailer . Long parts and a coat now ...the fan stays at the shop.
 

Clean-n-mean

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Great info Jim as always! I will keep my EDIC as my back up. So ofna back up is needed and not quite as powerful you just slow down a bit until the big daddy gets repaired!!
Now with my mytee air hog all I need is that water hog and I will be kicking arse and taking names...
 
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Jimsteam

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Jim;

How old and how many hours do you have now on those JAGUAR 8.4 ETM vacuum motors? Just curious.
Which ones ? Been using Ametek 8.4s and the 5.7s exhaust booster I built since 2014 . Keep the 8.4s cool they last the 1500 hours , ditto with the 5.7s (500hrs).
Actually testing a different pair of Ameteks and as you know ED it will be sometime before I personally approve LOL.
 
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Ed Valentine

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Jim;
Thanks.

Do you still have and are you still using daily, the original JAG motors---7 years old now?? I do remember that you sued them pretty hard!!!
 

Fedri

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my back up ninja is a beautiful machine, completely rewired with 220 psi pump and two 3.7 3 stages vacs,,, but im going to rip it out and put in a 500 psi pump and 2, 6.6 vacs
You won't be able to run the 500psi pump and a vac motor in the same 15amp line. Try what Jim is doing, 2 diaphragm pumps in parallel, unless if you can find 20amp available in every home.
 

Jimsteam

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Jim;
Thanks.

Do you still have and are you still using daily, the original JAG motors---7 years old now?? I do remember that you sued them pretty hard!!!
No . I average @ 500 hours/year per hour meter on generator . Maybe another 100 hours on clients grid.
After the initial 1500 hrs I began replacing them at 1200 hrs..
 

Ed Valentine

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Jimsteam;

I was told a couple months ago that GM replaced you with 3 ---JAGUAR 8.4 ETM's at their World Headquarters!

There goes some of your retirement money!!!!-lol!
 

Ymetimme

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my back up ninja is a beautiful machine, completely rewired with 220 psi pump and two 3.7 3 stages vacs,,, but im going to rip it out and put in a 500 psi pump and 2, 6.6 vacs
I've had the same setup as a 500 PSI pump into 6.6 has and a ninja worked awesome
We're currently doing a ninja with a single 8.4 500 PSI pump and leaving the heater in place
I prefer it over the two 6.6 because it is just a backup machine and I like having the Heater
 
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ccclean

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I bought a brand new Ninja 500psi dual 2 stage a year ago. The vacuum is really poor. I rarely use it but when I do I run a 1.5 inch 8 foot whip and get by.

It only has a 1.5 inch barb and when you cap it it hardly has any vacuum but if you cap the stack directly in the tank it’s pretty good. I was thinking about removing the plumbing on the back of the 1.5 inch barb and cutting a bigger hole and putting a 2 inch. Can you guys see any downside for doing that on this particular machine.
 

Jim Davisson

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2" is always a good upgrade. This 2" fitting is in the sump pump section and fits inside 2" PVC pipe. It almost natively fits in
1½" npt holes and gives you options. Worth checking out for $2.

20190321_090152.jpg
 
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ccclean

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2" is always a good upgrade. This 2" fitting is in the sump pump section and fits inside 2" PVC pipe. It almost natively fits in
1½" npt holes and gives you options. Worth checking out for $2.

View attachment 83770
Good to know.

The stock plumbing is a 1.5 or so inch PVC elbow on the inside of the tank. The elbow is turned so the opening is facing the side of the tank. I imagine it’s so incoming water is not getting sucked into the stack but it can’t be helping vacuum.
 

ccclean

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Good to know.

The stock plumbing is a 1.5 or so inch PVC elbow on the inside of the tank. The elbow is turned so the opening is facing the side of the tank. I imagine it’s so incoming water is not getting sucked into the stack but it can’t be helping vacuum.
So I’m not usually a fan of modify stock equipment but I just took the PVC elbow on the inlet of my ProChem portable and cut the elbow off and it drastically improved the vacuum.
I’ve heard lots of complaints about the vacuum on Ninjas. That mod certainly helps.
 
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