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The Tennant Scrubber – Uniqueness of 3 – in - 1

Monday, August 17, 2015

Before the Tennant Model 5700, there was the 480 walk-behind scrubber. The 480 was one of three series models that began production around 1991. The three series models were as follows:

Model 465 which is 26”scrub path
Model 480 32” scrub path
Model 490 36” scrub path

These were the beginning of Tennant scrubbers and the uniqueness with which they were produced. All three machines were initially the same, the body, frame and electrical. What made the difference was the front scrub deck and the rear squeegee assembly. So, if you purchased a Model 465 you would receive the basic machine with a 26” scrub deck and 26”squeegee assembly. If you purchased a Model 480, the scrub deck and rear squeegee assembly would be 32” and the Model 490 would be 36”width.

The uniqueness of this idea was that it would, 1) lower Tennant’s manufacturing cost by making the same basic machine and 2) increase convenience to the customer with the ability to change machine widths by simply changing out the scrub deck and squeegee assembly. Where this idea became very popular was the rental houses and cleaning companies. If you went to a rental house and a 36”width scrubber won’t fit through your door, no problem, they could switch out the scrub deck and squeegee assembly and “Wa La”, you now have a 32”or 26”width depending on what you needed. And, of course, one could scrub floors in the warehouse with scrub brushes or by installing pad drivers you could now polish your office floors.

Enough said about the history of these models. Trouble shooting some of these machines can become an art form with years of experience. After receiving this particular phone call he stated that he recently purchased a Tennant model 480 walk-behind scrubber. He said that the unit will not move forward and wanted an opinion. Okay, this unit has a transaxle with an electric drive motor.

Below are the items I would recommend you check. At least it is a good starting place.

1) The Batteries. You don’t know how long the machine has been sitting or how old the battery is. He said, that was the first item I replaced. I said, good then we are on the same page. Check these other items and advise if I can further help.
2) Drive Motor: Check for worn and sticking motor brushes.
3) Drive Motor Overload: Check circuit breakers. You may just want to replace because they are relatively inexpensive.
4) Extreme Brush Pressure: Believe it or not however the heavy brush pressure can actually hold back a scrubber from moving at all. So I would advise raising the brushes off the ground until you have this movement thing resolved.
5) Drive chain: There is a drive chain from the drive motor to the transaxle. Make sure it is still there and/or not damaged.
6) Wiring: And of course inspect the wiring and connectors for fraying or damage. Repair as necessary.

Do these things and I am sure your machine drive problems will come to a conclusion. Good Luck.

About two weeks went by before I received an e-mail. It said: Mike, motor brush and circuit breaker bad. Thanks. Machine works great.

This concludes my article this month. As always, I appreciate you reading. If you happen to have any questions and/or comments contact me at

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