Cleanfix Fans Keep Engines Running Cool; VP Series Reduces Fuel Consumption
Fans help keep the engines of logging equipment running cool by pulling cooling air through the radiator systems. The Cleanfix fan not only performs this function, it also can be reversed, which
blows dirt and debris out of the radiator and engine compartment, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the cooling system.
Cleanfix fans have been available since 1999 from Novatrax International Inc., based in Lakeside, Ontario, Canada. Novatrax has put the fans to work in agricultural, construction, waste and recycling equipment, as well as in forestry machines.
Novatrax engineering manager Mike Ische explained how the fan works. The Cleanfix fan has nine specially designed blades that can turn 180 degrees while the engine is running. This means that when the blades rotate in the opposite direction, they push air with the same force. The outgoing air blows out accumulated dirt and debris. “With a standard hydraulic fan, when you stop it and reverse it, the blades are like an upside down spoon, so you don’t get the air flow going in the opposite direction,” said Mike.
The difference with the Cleanfix fan is that the blades can be adjusted for maximum effectiveness to pull or push air. Normally they function like a regular fan to draw cooling air through the radiator. With a flip of a switch, the blades can be turned 180 degrees to change the direction of the air flow at full engine rpm.
“Because the blades flip instantaneously, you have a sudden increase in both air volume and air pressure,” Mike explained. “If you had to stop the blades before reversing it, you wouldn’t have this air and pressure increase, which gives the blasting power you need to blow away the dust and debris that clog radiators and air intake screens.”
Benefits of using the Cleanfix reversible fan to periodically purge debris from heat exchangers and intake screens go well beyond reducing stress to the engine cooling system. Properly operating cooling systems preserve engine life and hydraulic components.
Each blade rotates on an individual axis to provide its cooling and debris dislodging effects; an integrated air cylinder and linkage reverses the fan blade pitch with air pressure. It is housed within a central fan hub.
“The reversible fans are set by a spring tension that always returns to the cooling mode,” said Mike. A 12/24-volt compressor supplies the required air pressure; the process also can be automated with an optional electronic control module.
Cleanfix recently introduced the VP (variable pitch) series fan, which provides an added dimension to the reversible fan system. The variable pitch feature allows the machine operator to set the amount of air flow to cool the engine. The air flow can be regulated from about 20% to 100%. The variable pitch feature can reduce fuel consumption. When operating some smaller excavators in cold temperatures, for example, adjusting the variable pitch can save half to three-quarters of a gallon of fuel per hour, depending upon the machine; larger savings occur with larger machines and fans.
An automatic thermal control system adjusts the variable blade pitch. When the system is cool, the blade is at a small or reduced angle. When the temperature starts to climb, the thermo elements — which contain an elastomer — begin to expand and move the blades to a bigger or steeper angle. Just the opposite happens when the thermo elements cool; they contract, so the blades begin to ‘flatten out’ — return to the reduced angle — and create less air flow. The blades in the VP series can move through an 18-degree span in response to the thermo elements.
Additional benefits of the Cleanfix reversible fans include more useable power, reducing warm-up times and overcooling, increasing cooling in summer and reducing cooling in winter.
Cleanfix fans also can help remove ice, but that was hardly the problem noted by Jonathan Davis, branch manager of Warrior Equipment in Monticello, Ark. “Here it’s been running 105 degrees in
the shade, so machines easily get overheated,” he said. Jonathan recently sold five harvesting machines, and he received reports of all but one of them overheating in the unusually hot weather. The one that did not overheat is equipped with a Cleanfix fan.
“The fan sucks in the outside air to cool the engine, which results in a buildup of leaves and dust,” he noted. “But then you can either manually reverse the fan or set up a cycle for every 30 minutes to change fan direction. Then, instead of sucking air, it blows it for a few minutes and cleans out the radiator.”
Although his parent company has sold a number of Cleanfix fans for construction excavators, Jonathan believes this may be the first one sold in Arkansas for a logging machine. It was sold to Aaron Nowak, whose Timber Valley LLC is located in Bastrop, La. Aaron had a Cleanfix fan on an earlier machine and wanted one on the new equipment he purchased, according to Jonathan.
When asked whether he expects to see more Cleanfix fans on logging equipment in the South, Jonathan replied, “Absolutely. “We’re going to be incorporating them into our skidders, loaders, and feller-bunchers.”
In Booneville, N.Y., Mark Bourgeois is president of CJ Logging Equipment Inc. and has been selling Cleanfix fans for about three years. “Cleanfix is becoming standard on some of our equipment, and other customers have been converting to it,” said Mark. “What’s nice about it is that it’s made for all different types of large equipment, but whenever we order a fan, it matches up fine with the equipment we requested it for.”
Mark talked about the Cleanfix technology. “The original idea was that it could be a sucker or a pusher. When the fan sucks in the air, it keeps the whole engine cool — the hydraulic air cooler, condenser, radiator, all in the same area. But as the air sucks in, it also sucks in a lot of debris that builds up. So then you rotate it, and you have a pusher fan, which blows all of the debris away.”
With the variable pitch feature, Mark added, “Now the fan is taking just the horsepower it needs. Everybody is seeing a fuel saving. Fuel saving is a big deal now, and it looks like it will be even bigger in the future. Instead of pulling air real hard all of the time, you pull in just what is needed.” Mark estimated fuel savings in the 5%-10% range or more.
John Burson, owner of Rocky Mountain Wood Co., a logging company in Wilbraham, Mass., uses Cleanfix blades on a number of his forestry machines.
“We retrofitted all five of our Timbco T445-D units with Cleanfix fans,” said John. “All but one have the VP series.” He also has Cleanfix fans (one standard, one VP series) on two TimberPro 820 machines, and VP fans also are on a Tigercat 250 track log loader, a Timbco 475EX carrier, and a new Treelan 23RC chipper.
A Cleanfix fan also was the solution to a delimber-processor that was prone to overheating in hot weather, according to John. “We took out the standard fan and put in a Cleanfix instead. Though this machine used to overheat in the summer, now we have no issues whatsoever.”
In addition, the reversible feature helps keep the machine clean in the fall, when leaves are dropping, and maintain productivity. “In the fall, when the leaves start shedding, you might have to shut down the machine three times a day to clean it,” said John. “Or maybe your guy doesn’t notice what’s going on, and that can make it worse.”
“The biggest thing we try to do with our forestry equipment is to keep it cool,” added John. “And whether you’re chipping or grinding or no matter what you are doing, you can’t help but work in a dirty environment. You can’t prevent debris, but the Cleanfix fans get rid of that debris, and we think that’s going to give us more longevity with our machines. Now, with the variable pitch option, we re getting full efficiency, running on less horse power and saving on fuel.”
The fans are pretty simple to understand and operate. “As you get to know them, you do learn a few things,” noted John. “For instance, you can set the purge rate,” how often the blades reverse to blow out the dirt and debris. “Every half hour or so is a good cycle, but you can purge every five minutes if you really need to.”
Rick Delaney, a managing partner of Delaney Forest Products in Warrens, Wis., first heard about the benefits of Cleanfix fans from one of his subcontractors, Kevin Gilberson, who runs a Fabtek 133 harvester. Kevin reported such great results with his Cleanfix fan that Rick decided to try one. Rick put Cleanfix fans on his Timberjack 127OD harvesters in the spring of 2005.
Rick had the two harvesters retrofitted and installed by Nortrax, the John Deere dealer that sold him the machines. “I brought the Timberjacks home one evening, and the Nortrax service personnel came to my shop and took care of the rest that evening.”
Rick has been so pleased with the performance and benefits of the Cleanfix fans that he then had them added onto all five of his forwarders. “I don’t think a machine should be without a Cleanfix fan,” he said. “It keeps the machine both cool and clean.”
For more information about Cleanfix reversible fans, call Novatrax International at (519) 349-2200 or visit www.cleanfix.ca.