VIP Restroom Trailers Need Tender Loving Care

VIP Restroom Trailers Need Tender Loving Care

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It’s not unusual for pumpers interested in diversifying their business base to branch out into portable restroom rentals. But Roman Schmidt says there’s another option available: Invest in a restroom trailer. Or two. Or more.

Schmidt, the owner of Fancy Flush in Santa Rosa, California, specializes only in restroom trailer rentals — he doesn’t have any traditional portable restrooms. “Because there are fewer units to take care of compared to (a large fleet of) portable restrooms, it’s easier to provide every customer with great service, which in turn generates repeat customers,’’ he says.

“Moreover, there’s usually less competition in the restroom trailer market than there is in portable restrooms.”

Fancy Flush owns eight restroom trailers, four made by Rich Specialty Trailers and one built by Black Tie Products. The remaining three were self-fabricated, Schmidt says.

While it may be simpler to own, say, two restroom trailers compared to 50 or 100 portable restrooms, the trailers still require thorough cleaning and regular maintenance. Here are some tips from Schmidt that’ll help pumpers get the most out of their investment in these revenue producers.

Pumper: How do you clean the inside of your trailers?

Schmidt: It’s a good idea to clean a trailer immediately so that smells don’t get a chance to soak in. We start by using a small Shop-Vac to vacuum up all the dirt, loose paper and other trash. Then we change out all the paper products and take out the trash.

For the actual hands-on cleaning, we use those 1-gallon spot (garden) sprayers you see at most hardware stores; they work much better than a hand-held sprayer. Gallon sprayers last a couple years. Plus there’s no fatigue factor because you’re not using your fingers to constantly pull the trigger on a sprayer, and a 1-gallon sprayer offers a lot more capacity than a hand-held gun (spray bottle).

Pumper: What cleaning products do you use?

Schmidt: We load up some SunnyCare degreaser into the 1-gallon sprayers, at a 1-4 ratio of degreaser to water. The degreaser does wonders for those stubborn spots under the toilet seat and handprints on doors. And instead of using bleach, we use a solution of pool chlorine and water — about a cup of chlorine per gallon of water — to sanitize the restroom and kill any odors.

If the bathroom still smells a bit funky, we’ll use J-Spray XT washdown solution (made by J & J Chemical Co.) and do another quick pass on the floor with yet another spot sprayer. The scent spray from J & J is a bit oily, so it makes the floor shine and look like new.

It’s also a good idea to include a doormat inside or at the bottom of the trailer’s stairs so that guests don’t track in dirt.

Pumper: Any tips for cleaning a trailer exterior?

Schmidt: Dish detergent gets rid of most dirt. To remove dead bugs, we sometimes use a hot-water pressure washer, or we use SunnyCare degreaser. If the bug carcasses are really dry, we let the degreaser sit for 20 minutes or so to soak in. It won’t work right away if the carcasses are dried out because the trailer’s been sitting at an event for, say, an entire weekend.

You need to be careful though, because degreasers contain a little acid that can damage metal finishes if they’re not anodized — it can make aluminum look blotchy. To fix that, try using a (NAPA Auto Parts brand) foam aluminum brightener. The brightener evenly coats the aluminum and when you rinse it off, it looks like it’s brand new.

Pumper: Trailer exteriors can take a beating — what do you do to preserve the finish?

Schmidt: I highly recommend waxing a trailer at least once per month so that the ultraviolet light and air pollution don’t damage your gelcoat and make your trailer dull and/or alter its color. We use paste wax or a wash product with wax mixed into it. Any car wax with carnauba in it will work.

Sometimes we will leave the wax on without buffing it out as an extra layer of protection in cases where graffiti is more prevalent. This will help prevent paint and markers from permanently marring your trailer.

Pumper: Do you do anything special for winter storage?

Schmidt: One of the first things we do is either put antifreeze in our waterlines or somehow remove the water. There’s an easy way to remove water from the lines: Just use an air chuck with about 40 psi and blow the water out. Just remember to keep the taps and toilets open when you do this, so the water has somewhere to go. And if you use antifreeze, don’t buy the kind for cars, get the RV-type for potable water — it’s pink in color.

Whether you store your trailers inside or outside, it’s also a good idea to invest in an RV cover. A decent one costs about $200 and it’s a great investment because it will help extend the life of your exterior coating. If you keep your trailer outside, invest in a waterproof cover, not just one that’s water resistant; if it’s just water resistant, water could seep under the cover, which can promote mildew growth. A cover also protects the unit from bird droppings, dirt, ultraviolet rays and a whole host of other environmental factors.

Pumper: Do you prefer aluminum or fiberglass restroom trailers?

Schmidt: We prefer fiberglass, though we do own a couple of aluminum trailers. You have to be more careful with metal because the gelcoat scratches more easily. Fiberglass is harder to scratch and if it does get scratched, it’s easier to repair. In addition, it’s tougher to get dents out of aluminum.

Pumper: How do you protect against vandalism?

Schmidt: The main way we protect ourselves against vandalism is through contracts. If a trailer gets vandalized, the customer is responsible for paying for any damages. We inform them that they’re taking the risk and they should do what they can to minimize vandalism as much as possible.

We also don’t deliver trailers to the special event hours and hours before they start. And when we do deliver them, we lock them up and give the keys to the client. In some cases, if we think there’s a strong possibility of vandalism, we won’t even rent out a trailer.

I should point out that a fiberglass trailer is much more impervious to paint removers than the gelcoat on a metal trailer. So it’s easier to remove graffiti from a fiberglass trailer. We use a degreaser to remove (spray) paint, it works better than a paint remover.


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