The Secret to Street Sweeper Longevity?

Over the last few years, Bucher Municipal North America, Inc., formerly Johnston Sweepers, has been made aware of several Bucher/Johnston sweepers that have passed the fifteen-plus years ʺstill in operationʺ milestone. This development sparked our curiosity about how these end-users were extending the life cycle past the average industry standard of eight years.

This article is just one example of why Bucher/Johnston Sweepers have become the industry standard worldwide for productivity, reliability, and durability.

Dan Diehl (Equipment Operator, City of Hickory) grins wide when I ask him what he likes most about the Johnston Sweeper he’s driven for the last 17 years. ʺIt’s part of me. I can depend on my sweeper; it will perform every time I sit in the cab, ʺ gushed Dan.

Dan lights up as he gives me a tour of the VT 650 pure vacuum sweeper built in 2004 by Johnston Sweepers and that the City of Hickory put into operation in 2005.

Dan describes in detail, with the enthusiasm of a proud father, the hopper, brushes, vacuum intake, equipment locker, cab, and well…all of the sweeper.

John Bowman (Assistant Street Supervisor) said ʺDan knows this sweeper like the back of his hand. ʺ

As we drove to meet Bobby Hatley (Street Supervisor), John Bowman (Assistant Street Supervisor), and Dan Diehl (Equipment Operator), we passed city, after city we’ve sold street sweepers to. Hickory is right in the heart of Bucher/Johnston Sweepers country. Hickory, North Carolina, is located an hour from Charlotte and Asheville at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When I visited, the crew had recently finished cleaning up after a snow and ice winter storm that had made quite a mess of their area. The sweeper was a major contributor during the clean-up.

Miles upon miles

On a good day, Dan sweeps 25 lane miles. Due to weather Hickory typically sweeps nine solid months a year, as the weather allows during the winter months.

The Freightliner cab-over chassis inches ever closer to the 100,000-mile mark. Currently, the chassis has 99,572 miles on it.

According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), all that usage is pretty amazing when you consider the current average lifespan of a street sweeper is five to eight years (depending on use).

The secret?

So, what’s the secret to getting extra time out of a street sweeper? As it turns out, there is no secret.

“Consistent and proper preventive maintenance,” said Bobby Hatley (Street Supervisor). Dan and the Hickory vehicle maintenance crew make sure to service the Johnston / Bucher sweeper daily. What is the most replaced part of the sweeper? No surprise there, it’s the brushes. ʺI tell anyone else on the crew who operates my sweeper, take care of it, and it’ll sweep great for you, ʺ says Dan.

I took along one of our longtime employees (12 years and counting), Johnny Kidwell, for his expert perspective on the sweeper.

Johnny said, ʺThe overall condition of the sweeper, including the hopper, is astonishing after seventeen years. It’s as structurally sound like one of our brand-new hoppers. That’s amazing when you consider the corrosive and abrasive environment it works in every day. ʺ Johnny added that the majority of the electronics in the equipment locker were original. ʺThat speaks to the quality of the OEM Johnston/Bucher parts, ʺ said Johnny.

Other sweepers?

Bobby says, ʺWe have a newer competitor’s CNG regenerative air street sweeper, but it just doesn’t pick up like our Bucher/Johnston sweeper, plus CNG didn’t catch on here. ʺ on the competition’s pick-up performance, Dan added, ʺNot even close. ʺ

What’s next?

What’s next for the city of Hickory? We’re happy to report Dan, Bobby, and John-Boy were thrilled last Spring when their new Bucher MaxPowa V65t pure vacuum sweeper was delivered and started sweeping. Dan especially likes the extra room in the V65t’s cabin.

As I look back at my time in Hickory, the classic Johnston sweeper is a lot like one of my favorite Star Wars quotes from Han Solo on his well-used ride, the Millennium Falcon, ʺShe may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. ʺ

About the City of Hickory, North Carolina

Hickory’s regional hub of 365,000 people is home to minor league baseball, walking and biking trails, 26 parks, boating, restaurants, and a revitalized spirit of business collaboration. Hickory boasts a collective spirit of craftsmanship that strengthens any endeavor with detail, artistry, and quality. Hickory is Life. Well Crafted!

About Bucher Municipal North America, Inc.

Bucher Municipal is the largest manufacture of cleaning equipment in the world. Bucher Municipal North America, Inc. specializes in pure vacuum, regenerative air, and mechanical truck mounted sweepers, as well as compact and mid-vac pure vacuum sweepers. What’s most important to us is what is most important to you. Helping you choose the best fit for your street sweeping program. To learn more please get your free copy of the industry report: The 5 Things You Must Know Before Buying a Street Sweeper at

 Special thanks to Bobby Hatley, John Bowman, and Dan Diehl of the City of Hickory, North Carolina for sharing their time and experiences with us.

By Matt Starnes, Product Marketing Manager at Bucher Municipal North America, Inc.

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