Then and Now: The History and Evolution of Pressure Washer Machines


Pressure washer machines are quickly becoming handy tools in a cleaning arsenal as they can effortlessly remove stubborn stains and dirt from several surfaces. The origin of the first high-pressure washer was purely accidental. The experts at Bestline Manufacturing will take you on an explorative journey to discover how this instrumental piece of equipment has evolved into the powerful machine that is available today as well as touch on the driving force behind them, namely pumps.


The Accidental Discovery of Pressure Washer Machines 


During the prohibition years in the United States, many entrepreneurs found inventive methods of distilling alcohol in secret. Pressure Washer MachinesAmong them was Frank W. Ofeldt ll. While illicitly distilling whiskey, Ofeldt observed that when directing the steam outlet of his portable whiskey decanter downwards, the wet steam loosened and dislodged greasy grime on the floor. However, he recognised that steam, a vapourised liquid lacking significant mass, could only mobilise the dirt, not truly eliminate it. This accidental discovery sparked an idea within Ofeldt, a vision for a cleaning device that would combine the power of high-pressure wet steam with the effectiveness of cleaning agents.


The Birth of ‘Steam Jenny’


With Ofeldt being credited for the accidental discovery of pressure washer machines, the next step involved designing the mechanisms that could drive them. The Homestead Valve Company immediately saw the potential of Ofeldt’s contraption and began developing the HyPressure Vapor Spray Generator which was later renamed the High Pressure Jenny – a name so catchy that it is still used today.


The Addition That Has Become the Driving Force


Following the initial invention, there was a significant leap forward in the 1950s with the development of the first modern water high-pressure cleaner. This innovation spurred further advancements in both pump technology and overall design. A pivotal moment arrived in the late 1960s with the introduction of uniflow-design piston pumps by William L. Bruggeman, the founder of the Cat Pumps company. These pumps offered a clear advantage over their predecessors boasting superior performance and a cost-effective production method that continues to dominate the market today.


Cat Pumps revolutionised the industry by boasting a tenfold increase in pump lifespan compared to previous models. Additionally, Cat Pumps shattered pressure limitations with pumps reaching up to 1000 PSI. As technology progressed and the demand for high-pressure cleaning intensified in the 1970s, Cat Pumps rose to the challenge by introducing the innovative sleeved piston pump, capable of reaching an impressive 3000 PSI.


A Perfectly Symbiotic Partnership


Pressure washer machines have become prevalent in cleaning applications, from maintaining heavy-duty vehicles to detailing prized sports cars. These modern machines together with the right-sized Cat Pumps boast impressive capabilities exceeding pressures of 4000 PSI. Today, pressure washers tackle a variety of cleaning tasks, adeptly removing paint, grime, mould, and more from buildings, vehicles, and concrete. These compact and often portable machines are a far cry from their bulky steam-clean predecessors.


“The Pumps with Nine Lives”


Cat Pumps’ unfailing commitment to providing quality engineering has led to exceptional word-of-mouth acclaim, propelling these pumps beyond the confines of the car wash and pressure washer industries. The expansion of our product line has allowed Bestline Manufacturing, the sole distributor of Cat Pumps in Southern Africa, to provide pumping solutions to several commercial and industrial markets. For expert advice, professional service, and guidance in selecting the right pump, contact us.