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Window Cleaning Warehouse Big Boy Back Pack Review

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I promised a review on this when I won it on a raffle in this forum in December. I have been using the backpack for quite a bit now, and my thoughts in this review are based on my experiences with it over these jobs.

 

This backpack is sold by the Window Cleaning Warehouse here:

http://www.windowcleaningwarehouse.co.uk/shop/index.php?option=com_aceshop&route=product/product&path=90_23&product_id=4031&Itemid=73

 

 

 

First, lets see what the backpack looks like

 

 

Backpack.jpg

 

 

Backpack-Back.jpg

 

 

Switches.jpg

 

 

 

First Impressions

 

My first impressions were fairly good to start with. The whole unit is compact for it's capacity, the plastic felt pretty robust, and the controls looked easy enough to access. The strap system that holds it to your back, looked a bit suspect at first, but I would hold judgement till after using it for a while.

 

The instructions were pretty vague, so it's just as well that it is all fairly straight forward, and common sense could take care of most things.

 

There was the remains of some water in the tank (just a very small amount), so I was guessing that it had been tested before I got it.

 

 

 

The First Task

 

The instructions told me that the battery needed charged up before I used it for the first time. So, I plugged in the charger, only to find out that the lights that were supposed to come on – didn't. :(

 

I rechecked my connections, and the instructions, and it looked like there was a problem. So, I phoned the Window Cleaning Warehouse. A nice lady told me that some of the wiring had maybe come loose in transport and would I be happy to have a look inside myself? I said that I would have a look for anything obvious, but it would have to wait as I didn't have time to do it right then.

 

I had gotten the unit just before they closed for the Christmas holidays, I mean just a few hours before they closed. With one thing and another, I never got to do anything with it until new year anyway.

 

When I opened it up, I did find a loose wire, the solder joint was obviously very poorly done on this wire. I re-soldered it myself, and attached up the charger again. The light on the charger was now coming on. After another phone call, a day's wait, and a returned phone call. A man at the Window Cleaning Warehouse said that it sounded like it was working OK now, and that I should just go ahead and give it a 24 hour charge initially, then charge it overnight when it required it.

 

 

Here Is The Bad joint

 

Bad-Joint.jpg

 

 

[Due To The Restrictions on The Number of Images Per Post, This Review Is Split Over A Number of Posts on This Thread]

 

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All working now, so what does it look like inside...

 

 

 

Inside The Backpack Workings:

Since had to open it up to fix the joint, I though I would take a few pictures to show you what is inside.

 

Internals.jpg

 

Internals-2.jpg

 

Internals-3.jpg

 

 

First thing that you need to do in normal circumstances, is to fit the straps so you can carry it on your back. The top of the straps were fitted already on the unit I got, but not the bottom of them.

 

Backstraps.jpg

 

 

There was no instruction for this part, so it was down to an educated guess. There were a couple of metal clips that I assumed were for the bottom of the straps:

 

 

HarnessClips.jpg

 

Once on, I really didn't like them, and wouldn't be sure that they were actually supposed to go on to this unit.

 

Clips-on-Harness.jpg

 

 

So, I took them off, and just threaded the straps directly through the loops on the unit.

 

Strap-Attachment.jpg

 

 

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The Water Fill Opening

 

The WCW Big Boy has a good large opening to fill it with pure water – 135mm across.

 

135mmWIDEopening.jpg

 

The screw on lid has an integrated handle, which makes it easy to open, and in theory, a rather useful top handle to lift the unit with.

 

Lifting-Handle.jpg

 

I say “in theory, a rather useful top handle to lift the unit with” as it doesn't actually work in practice. At least mine doesn't. The screw lid doesn't fit particularly well. I think that the opening is slightly misshapen, so you can't actually get a proper, secure fit with the lid. This gives a number of problems:

 


  1. The top handle can't be used to lift the unit when there is water in it, as it is simply too heavy for the ill-fitting lid, and the lid can actually pull right off the unit once you have lifted it. So, you can lift the unit, but it will come off, leaving you with the lid in your hand and the unit has just hit the ground with all the weight of 22 litres of water (approx 22kg) behind it. If this happened, it would probably damage the unit when it hit the ground as well as splashing 22 litres of water everywhere.
     

  2. As the handle doesn't fit right, it is a bit awkward to screw it on. It was a big problem at first, but as time has gone by, it has gotten a bit easier. This is probably a mix of the threads wearing into shape, and the mouth re-shaping a bit better. I can now get it screwed on properly on;y after 1 or 2 attempts. At the beginning it took 5 or 6 attempts and was very frustrating.
     

  3. The third problem is the because it doesn't fit right, it also doesn't seal right. So, if you have it on your back, you keep splashing water down your back from the opening as you move around and bend up and down as you brush the windows.
     

 

I do hope that this is simply a problem with my unit and not them all, as it would be a rather bad design fault.

 

 

The Built In Filters

 

There are two filters in the backpack, designed to stop bits of debris getting into the pump and damaging it.

 


  1. A easily removable filter that sits in the fill opening. The picture below shows it on it's side, it does actually fit into the opening, and the lid can screw down on top with it in place
     

 

Water-Filter-1.jpg

 


  1. A small filter that fits onto the water container outlet that goes to the pump. I have pulled it off just so I could get a clear picture of it as it sits right on the bottom inside the water tank.
    Water-Filter-2.jpg
     

 

 

Attaching a Pole

 

Before sending the unit, WCW asked me what connection I wanted on the hose that feeds the WFP – a microbore or ½ inch 'Hozelock' connection. I asked for a microbore connection. So the backpack arrived with a Rectus 21 microbore female with an on/off switch.

 

MicroboreConnectorValue.jpg

 

 

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Using The Backpack

 

OK, so the unit is charged up, filled with pure water, has a pole attached and is ready to go. Lets see how it works.

 

There is no point in me discussing how ell it cleans, as that is nothing to do with the backpack itself, so lets look at the aspects of the actual backpack in a working situation.

 

 

 

Using It On Your Back

 

As its a 'backpack' then it is important how well it performs when working with it on your back.

 

WaterFedPoleCleaning-500x667.jpg

 

 

With it on your back, the controls aren't that difficult to reach. I had thought that they may be a problem, but I was able to get to the on/off switch and flow control pretty easily, and I know that a lot of people have a better range of movement than I do.

 

I was able to move around pretty easily with the pack on. Bending up and down when cleaning ground floor windows and still able to have my head tilted back for cleaning the high windows.

 

The down side it that with your backpack and WFP, you do look a little like someone from Ghost Busters :)

 

ghostbusters3.jpg

 

 

The straps are usable, and are fine for short periods of time i.e. a house clean. Though between the non-padded, narrow straps (narrow for the weight you are carrying in them), and the hard plastic container against your spine, I wouldn't like to have it on all day, or even a long time i.e. a big commercial job or a row of terrace houses. If I had to do that, I would make sure that I was wearing a few layers of clothes to try and put some padding on my shoulders below the straps and against my spine.

 

Saying that, if you are using it for a house, taking it off to go back into your car/van, going to the next job, then it wouldn't be so bad, and would probable be doable just fine.

 

 

 

Using it On A Sack Truck / Trolley

 

Of course, you don't actually have to carry it on your back. Backpacks can be carried on a sack truck. Plus, because the fil opeining is that size, it is direct;y on the top, and there are no restrictions in the way like some other WFP backpacks, you also have the advantage that you can have an extra 19 litres of water when you add a drinking water bottle full of pure water.

 

BackpackampBottle2.jpg

 

 

This is how I use it primarily. Not only do you have extra water, but you don't need to stop to refill. The water bottle will feed into the backpack as the water empties out the end of your pole. It doesn't overflow, and the opening of this backpack is perfect for this. So, as soon as the water is emptied out of the bottle (you still have 22 litres in the backpack), you can simply open a new bottle, and turn it upside down on top of the backpack. So, you never have to stop to refill!

 

BackpackampBottle1.jpg

 

This in my opinion, is a major plus point for the WCW Big Boy backpack. The fact that you can do this is a big plus and helps me to forgive them for the other issues that are less than perfect. Though, not being able to lift it by the top handle is still a major pain.

 

To be able to do this trick with the water bottles, you need to get some of the water bottles that are used in water dispensers. These hold 19 litres and come with or without a built in handle. Do get the ones with a handle – they are much easier to use. You will also need to get your self some of the caps, as they are supposed to be used once, then thrown away. You can use them many more times than once, but do need replaced reasonably often. You can get the bottles and caps on eBay. Though I was able to go to a local company that supplies this water, and they sold me some of their old bottles. I got a bunch of the caps from eBay.

 

water-cooler-bottle-19-litre.jpg

 

water-bottle-caps.jpg

 

 

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Battery Life

 

As I was doing all my WFP cleaning on this one device, I couldn't risk the battery running out during the working day. So I kept a check on how long it kept working on the one charge. There is no point in my telling you how many houses it will clean, or how many hours work you can get out of one battery charge, as both of these will vary person to person. So, I monitored the volume of water I pumped on a charge.

 

The time changed depending on the water flow rate. The slower the average water flow, the longer the battery lasted for. I though this strange as I didn't think that the rate would have made a difference to the volume pumped per charge, but it did.

 

I didn't let the batter get right down to low too many times as it was being used for work, but I did manage it a number of times. There are lights on the back of the unit to show the battery level, but I didn't look at these much. Anyway, it was much more useful to know in advantage how long it was going to last. The battery worked the pump at full power nearly to the end. Only on the last job before the battery run empty was there any noticeable difference in the flow, so I thought that was good as it meant a good flow rate no matter what the state of the battery until the last house clean, when it slowed down.

 

I probably got an average of about 250 litres of water per battery charge. Not good for a full time WFP window cleaner, but I doubt a cleaner that has a full days work on WFP will use one of these as their primary method. So for someone new to WFP or a window cleaner who doesn't yet have a full day's work each day, it is perfectly acceptable.

 

 

 

Water Flow Rate

 

The page on this on Window Cleaning Warehouse doesn't mention what the pump rate is, and there is no pressure markings etc on the pump to say what it is. It is possibly 80 psi by my best guess.

 

The flow controller is a turn **** that means you can change to any speed you want, though it is difficult to remember exact settings, though that doesn't really matter as far as I am concerned.

 

Switches.jpg

 

I tried out the flow on the job to see what worked for me.

 

Lowest flow – I tried the lowest flow first, as I wanted to see how practical it is. I found that I could clean windows at the low flow rate. Rinsing was a bit slower than I wanted, but perfectly usable. I put my pole up to full extension (30ft), and the flow was still good enough to clean at that height.

 

Later on, I got an extension hose – 100m of microbore. Even with this on the backpack (on the trolley) the flow rate at the minimum was still perfectly usable to clean windows.

 

Highest Flow – Rinsing was much better with the highest water flow rate. I prefer a higher flow rate, and it was good for me. The higher flow was also perfectly acceptable for first time cleans when, in my opinion, you need a good strong flow rate.

 

 

 

An Added Benefit

 

An extra thing that I noticed when you are using the backpack on a trolley... You can't always see the water level, so the water can run out without you noticing. If you can hear the sound of the pump as you work, the sound changes when the water runs out, you also notice a difference in the flow out of the brush. This is good as it means you can tell when you need to replace the water supply. If you didn't notice this, then the pump could keep pumping the water in the extension hose and you wouldn't find out about the water running out until all the water in your extension hose had been pumped out too. You may not think this is an issue, until after the first time you do this and replace the water. Then you wait... and wait... and wait for the water to pump all the way through the 100m extension hose before it gets to the brush head and you can continue to clean.

 

 

Conclusion

 

The 'water bottle' feature is a major plus in favour of the Big Boy backpack from Window Cleaning Warehouse. Not only can the backpack be used on the back, but also as a trolley system, that can be refilled very quickly without even turning your pole off.

 

People talk about this backpack being a good introduction to water fed pole, and I believe for a small window cleaning business – like most of them are, this is true. Sure you may upgrade to a van system or something else. But, you still will have a useful backpack, so your money isn't wasted.

 

I would prefer that the workmanship was better in the backpack. I had problems with both the wiring and the moulding of the top, so that the lid doesn't fit correctly. I also think that the straps themselves and their fixing points could be improved.

 

But, at the end of the day, a backpack is a good into to WFP and in my opinion, because of the ease of using drinking water bottles, the WCW Big Boy backpack is a great one to go for.

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Belfastcleaning

absolutely fantastic review pal..

 

but the photos of inside, i can see its the same as the gardiners backpack.. so the only difference is the big boy carrys 3lt more..

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WWC

 

but the photos of inside, i can see its the same as the gardiners backpack.. so the only difference is the big boy carrys 3lt more..

 

I haven't seen the gardiners backpack 'in the flesh', but the images I have seen online, look very similar. And you say that the inside workings look the same. Maybe the both get them from the same manufacturer?

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Belfastcleaning

I haven't seen the gardiners backpack 'in the flesh', but the images I have seen online, look very similar. And you say that the inside workings look the same. Maybe the both get them from the same manufacturer?

I haven't seen any other backpack insides but I'd guess a few more would be the same too, as they all come from china

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mark m

The best review we have had imo and we have had some very good ones ,excellent job WWC

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WWC

Thanks for the kind words. I tried to tell people about the things the I found important. If I found them important, then I am guessing so would others, so I wanted to give a fair review with the pros and cons of the product from experience actually using it on the job.

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Smurf

Great review....

 

I still will not be persuaded to get one myself but would be a good cheap option to get into wfp to start with.

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Duncs

good review mate!! this has helped loads thinking of getting W F P this could be way to go

what is the price

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WWC

 

good review mate!! this has helped loads thinking of getting W F P this could be way to go

what is the price

 

 

Smurf has given you two starter pack prices based around the Big Boy Back Pack a great way to go if you don't have any WFP gear. They also sell the back pack on its own if you do have some gear, you can see it here: http://www.windowcleaningwarehouse.co.uk/shop/index.php?option=com_aceshop&route=product/product&path=90_23&product_id=4031&Itemid=73

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Duncs

thanks for the info guys will look into it

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Major_MInus

Just received my backpack today - it appears to be slightly different than yours!

 

Instead of the WCW Logo on the front, it's the Facelift Logo, came in a Facelift box etc, and with the on/off switch, there are 2 different power options eg i, ii instead of just the one, still has the speed regulator underneath though.

 

Other than that it appears to be exactly the same, just thought it was a bit odd!

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Daniel Perkins

Hey guys, newbie to wfp systems and the big boy was one of my considerations. Been getting some advice on this forum about starting with trolley systems and was just wondering if you work without a connection to mains water & if so how to get the flow/pressure from the water containers into the back pack?

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