WINDOW CLEANING WAREHOUSE 22 LITRE ‘BIG BOY’ BACKPACK, POLE, BRUSH, PENCIL JETS, HOSES, VALVES, ETC ETC BASICALLY COMPLETE SET UP. £185 off the shelf price. (vat not included). Ok first off here’s the link to what I’m talking about. http://www.windowcleaningwarehouse.co.uk/shop/index.php?option=com_aceshop&route=product/product&path=131_248&product_id=4032 Right – now - This is my first ‘proper’ review for windowcleaningforums.co.uk, so steady as she goes and if you want to comment then please do but be nice! I am not a professional reviewer or journalist, all viewpoints are my own personal feelings and at no point do I guarantee to be free from bias, or well informed, or frankly not drunk. That said, here goes! OH JESUS SAVE US THE REVIEW BEGINS HERE….. So, there seem to be a lot of people asking about how to get into WFP from a ‘starting up’ perspective so I thought I would write up a review of this deal as I think it’s pretty good. Just to give a perspective on what other gear we have and where I’m coming from when writing/reviewing this, we run a van with a 750L tank, it’s a 2 man purefreedom setup, and have previously used ionics poles (which I don’t like at all, sorry ionics), before switching to Gardiner full carbon for most of our kit.(Gardiner are great.) This ‘review’, however, is written to be of interest to someone starting out with WFP, so if you have 3 vans, a full carbon setup, 4040’s with 1000L IBC tanks at your compound etc etc, feel free to have a read but before you comment remember this isn’t really written/aimed at you.. Ok, so, now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what you get, and how much it costs. Basically, this is an 'off the shelf' starter pack from Window Cleaning Warehouse (WCW from now on) and includes a backpack, charger, pole, brush, all the fittings and connectors, everything you need except purified water, for £185 excluding VAT. Unpack it, charge it for 24 hours, fill it up, off you go. You will still need a way to purify your water, but because that problem isn’t intended to be addressed by this product, I will not be commenting on that further. For the rest of this review, just remember, you still need a source of purified water. If you’re desperate, supercheap/basic RO setups go for about £40 on ebay, and there are lots of other threads that talk about RO / DI setups. Assuming you have that though, read on.. THE POLE. I was impressed with the deal on offer from WCW, however I know from experience working on our round that the specified 18ft pole would not be quite long enough for some of the properties we clean. So, I asked very nicely and they (WCW) gave me an upgrade to a 22ft pole for an extra fiver. An. Extra. Fiver. Say whaaaaaat?! I nearly sent an email to make sure they didn’t mean £50 instead of £5, before common sense kicked in and I remembered something about a gift horse and its glorious gob-mouth… I duly shut the F up and placed my order with the folks at WCW over the phone, all the while feeling like I was getting away with some sort of crime - or at least that someone had been having a good night on the tiles when they responded to my email request via an iphone or something and agreed to this.. All joking aside, though - I would seriously recommend asking them for this upgrade, as the extra reach WILL come in handy and for an extra fiver, why wouldn’t you? Whether this is something they will continue to offer, I don’t know. But I’d recommend the upgrade even at a higher price point. If it cost more, it’d still be worth it. If you’re starting off in WFP, you want a pole that will let you work with as many jobs as possible without getting to a length where the flex gets silly or the price gets high. I think 22ft is the ideal middle ground; it’s the sweet spot where you can work with an affordable glass fibre pole but where above you might find youself wishing for something more rigid. An additional point to consider is that with a 22ft pole, you don’t have to fully extend to get to 18ft of reach, which is good as poles tend to get extra flexy when used at the maximum end of their reach. I was, however, actually double-lucky - they were out of the 22ft fibreglass so they shipped me the hybrid carbon fibre for the same price, and while there is a lot of flex compared to the full carbon Gardiner SLX poles we use, I actually really do rate this pole very highly. Regardless of the type of pole, I found that the fittings, the clamps, from a daily use point of view it’s all really, really well designed. Now, I have heard of clamps breaking but they seem to have identified and addressed a manufacturing error regarding this - and I saw a member on here the other day where his clamp broke and they offered to send him a brand new pole. For free. I don’t think you can say fairer than that, can you really? I mean, they’re taking a loss on that for the sake of good customer relations? Fair play lads! As for the pole I have, according to Mike from facelift on a youtube vid I saw, it is 50% carbon, and using it on a day to day basis it has given me no problems and I can’t really fault it. Yes, there are better poles out there, but not for the same money.. Remember what you’re paying here. For the money it is incredible, if you can stretch the extra to the 50% carbon hybrid 22ft then I would defo recommend it. I’ve got to give credit to Facelift here, they are clearly trying hard to earn respect with their new line and I really like some of the innovations they have put in on their poles. The ‘transverse’ clips mean that you can open them easily with either hand (if you are left handed like me, this alone is reason enough to choose facelift, I find the gardiner clamps much less ergonomic as a lefty), . And they have this clever chamfered edge on the clamps which means it will not pinch your skin if you let the pole slam shut on your hand. Sounds like a minor thing but if you’ve ever really pinched the skin and given yourself a blood blister you’ll know they hurt and that the fewer of them you experience in your life, the better. Things like that make these poles feel like they have been designed by people who have been using WFP poles for a while and have a list of things they wanted to improve. THE BACKPACK Jesus, I feel like I’ve been writing for three days, and I haven’t even got onto the backpack yet. Things might start to get a bit briefer/more succinct here. The battery lasts about 2 days of frequent use, but I charge it or get my mate to charge it overnight every night just to keep it topped up, but there have been times we've forgotten and it still hasn't let us down so far. 22 Litres is a lot of water, and it is pretty heavy when full. However, I am not a particularly strong or muscular guy, the only weights I lift regularly are pints down the pub and I still found I was able to work all day/week without any major problems wearing it on my back. However, it is very heavy, and moving it about using your arms when full is a chore, but once you get it on your back, then you're using the strongest muscles in your body, your back and legs, to carry it, and from that point forward it's ok. The flow rate is a bit high really, even with the flow rate controller turned right down, so what I do is only open the on/off valve part way - by doing this I can moderate the flow rate to my liking, and I would say on maintenance cleans I can get 2/3 small/medium houses out of a full fill. That's pretty good in my book. It takes a little bit of fiddling at first to get the flow rate how you like it using this method, but after a little while you get used to the sound/’rpm’ of the pump when you've hit the 'sweet spot' and that serves as your guide. One real advantage i've noticed over a van mount system is that having the flow rate so easily controllable is a big plus. On first cleans, I can wet up a window, then turn the flow rate right down, scrub and scrub and scrub to agitate all the dirt off the surfaces, then wack the flow rate right back up to give it a really thorough rinse. admittedly, with the van mount I have no worries about running out of water, but perhaps this then is an advantage of a backpack over a trolley, the ease of access to the flow rate and the ‘close to hand’ nature of the flow control, with none of the hassle of dragging a hose through gardens and around the back of properties like you’d get from a van mount. Speaking of trolleys, althought I said the weight wasn't a problem, heavy still means heavy – and the backpack is about 30kg when full, so I very quickly started using a 'pensioners shopping trolley' frame and a few bungee cords to move the backpack around, and I'd really reccomend doing this. I paid £3.80 for a trolley in a charity shop, and just used bungee cords from the pound shop to secure the backpack onto it. Now, bear in mind that we have a pure freedom van mounted system, 2 pumps and a 750 litre tank, also a fairly recently bought Gardiner trolley system that we spent about an extra hundred quid or so on installing a digital flow controller on - and you know what I pull out of the van every single time now? You've guessed it, the little backpack/pensioners-trolley system that could.. In simple terms; It's light, it holds more than enough water for most jobs, it's manouverable.. my mate still uses the van mount system and a lot of the time I am out and cleaning while he is still dragging his hose from the van to the glass or negotiating obstacles, snags, etc etc... I really love the thing to be honest. The way I've set it up does, I will admit, look a little bit mickey mouse but if you want a really class setup, Damo has his set up really nicely on a sack truck - and to my eye, that looks perfectly professional. Perhaps he will post a picture of his below. Does mine look a bit amateur? Yeah - it probably does. But it does a really great job, it's a joy to use, customers seem to like the homebrew cleverness of it and frankly it's my company so thank you but I'll use whatever kit I like! Not being funny but why not? It's window cleaning, not a fashion show.. (that said I am a bit jealous of how cool Damo's one looks ) Drawbacks, flaws, errors, areas to improve on the backpack... There are a couple of things they could do better. But I would qualify this by saying look at the price point here. The deal is seriously good value, I bought mine as an experiment and have ended up using it daily, so whatever problems exist, for me, they're acceptable compared to the hassle/effort of using either van mount of 'full trolley' options. Anyway.. The Lid: The screw on lid, on the top of the backpack - On mine at least, is useless. Shite. Sorry WCW but... It leaks, it's hard to screw on right, to get the threads aligned right, and when you think it's tight, it isn't - It seems like when I'm screwing it on, I reach a level of 'tightness' where I think it's screwed on tight and secure, but it isn't. I have to push past that, then it gets loose again, then it screws tight, but even then, if you lean it over enough, it will probably leak. Not a problem if you've got it on a trolley or a sack truck, but more than a bit annoying if you're wearing it to climb up a ladder to get to a flat roof you need to stand on and it leaks all over your back and down the back of your legs on the first job of the morning when it's freezing cold. This has happened to me twice, but once I got into the habit of really making sure I had tightened the lid properly, I haven't been bitten since. I actually found a plant pot saucer thing (what you put your plant pots on/in, hard to describe but you know what I mean?) that is exactly the same size as the opening, so I put that in there too and it seems to also help any splashback from getting up into the screw threads and leaking out. I could probably fix it with some PTFE tape, but I havent tried that yet. Clearly thought, the lid or the quality control on the lid is defo an area they could look at improving. Whether the lid is a problem on all of them, or just on mine, I don't know. I know H and Damo have the same backpack so perhaps they could shed some light here? The Straps. Again, shocking. Who designed these? It ships with these sort of seat-belt looking insert things that are supposed to slot into slots on the bottom of the backpack. I can imagine this working really well if you have the backpack fully loaded and heavy, and on some sort of shelf that is at the perfect height, and you put the straps over your shoulders, then latch them into the holes they're supposed to go into, then take the weight of it, which would push/keep the hooks in the right place and keep it on your back - but in practice and in an everyday working environment, this idea is about as plausible as an elephant doing ballet. I removed the weird seat belt clip things within the first 15 mins of unboxing it and just rigged it to be like a normal rucksack and it’s much better without them. However, it wasn’t hard to put right so I wouldn’t knock too many points off for this. The NLITE brush Getting a bit weary of writing here so I’ll keep it brief. It’s made by unger. Their name, in my book, stands for quality. I use unger exclusively in my trad set up, and so I was eager to try their WFP offerings. The nLite range is designed to be ‘super light’ or something - but whatever, who isn’t pitching superlite for WFP? But in fairness to them, it is definitely lighter than Gardiners superlight brushes at the same size. There are however less bristles and they aren’t as stiff – I find I do have to scrub more or harder or at least to get rid of certain poop related buildups or frame-corner-spider-stuff. It has 2 types of bristles, softer/more flexy outer ones, then an ‘inner core’ of shorter, stiffer, more ‘scrubby’ grey ones. The brush that comes with the kit comes with 2 pencil jets, but there are holes for 4 jets, so you can easily spend an extra £3.90 and kit your brush out with both fan jets (nLite fan jets cost £3.90 at WCW) and pencil jets although, to be fair you will need a couple of extra T style pushfit connectors, so lets say an extra £10 to include microbore, fittings and etc? Still pretty sweet. This is a big plus and a big upgrade for a tiny amount of money, being able to easily switch between pencil jet and fan jets is a massive plus and lets me do a good job easily on hydrophobic glass. Conclusion: If you’re looking for a way to get started with WFP, you have definitely found it. If you’re considering buying a trolley system, think long and hard about what you’ll be using it for, because for me, sticking this on a sack truck or similar is easily as good as a trolley system and a LOT cheaper. If you have a van mount system, then this might well bridge the gap you’re thinking of addressing with a trolley system. This review is now a lot longer than I intended so I’m going to leave it there for now, but if there are any questions, just leave a reply and I’ll try to answer. All the best folks, hope you enjoyed the read.