Try 3 months for $3

MOUNT PLEASANT — Rocket Wash, a $3 million car wash unlike any others in the area, is ready for takeoff.

Rocket Wash, 4733 Spring St., is the first building to open in the new development by Jim and Michael Willkomm at the southeast corner of Spring Street and Highway 31. The brothers have estimated the cost of the entire development at $7 million to $8 million.

Mike Willkomm said the car wash is currently in the “test opening” stage as they make the fine adjustments needed to get each wash right.

The next pieces of the corner development, the Mobil gas station, convenience store and Dunkin’ Donuts, are scheduled to open March 13, Willkomm said. The Dish restaurant is scheduled for an April 1 opening.

Two features of the Rocket Wash are immediately obvious. One is its high, wide profile, as the 140-foot-long car wash is 32 feet wide and 20 feet tall.

Its other attention-grabbing characteristic is the fact that the walls are clear — not concrete. Willkomm called that transparency the “brew house effect,” a reference to a brew pub where the equipment is all in view behind glass.

Rocket Wash has three types of pay stations: a lane where an employee takes the payment, an automated-receptionist lane and the unlimited-wash lane. The business offers four levels of single washes: $6, $9, $12 and $15.

For those who prefer to pay monthly by credit card for unlimited washes, the options are the basic wash for $20 or the deluxe treatment for $35. A 2-by-2-inch radio frequency sticker for the windshield will be automatically read at the unlimited-wash lane to welcome the driver and admit the vehicle.

The car wash technology, from a company in Holland, Mich., is not a conveyor belt wash that requires one’s tires to line up exactly into two tracks. Instead, the driver pulls the vehicle between two large, red balls and onto a large conveyor belt that doesn’t require exact tire alignment.

“Orange cones say ‘danger,’ red balls say ‘fun,’ ” Willkomm remarked.

‘Bells and whistles’

The drying end of the wash has 19 blowers including two 250,000-Btu heated dryers. In addition, the drying area has brushes that rotate forward against the car; their sole purpose is to dry the water droplets on the side mirrors.

Any car wash includes free use of the 21 vacuum machines stations, each one with a vacuum hose on both the left and right sides. In warmer weather there will be two free car mat washers.

“I said (to the manufacturer), ‘I want all the bells and whistles’ — and then I added a few,” Willkomm said.

One good example, although invisible to customers, is the network of heating coils buried just beneath the surface from the pay stations through the car wash’s exit curve. In winter, the Willkomms will truck waste oil from another of their businesses, Petro Travel Plaza in Yorkville, to the boiler they installed at the car wash. The oil is burned there to keep ice off the entrance and exit’s surfaces and heat the car wash from the floor up.

Rocket Wash is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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