Design of Rain Gutter Systems For Home Construction

After I received the 2008 edition of the State of Michigan building code I eagerly looked through the table of contents for rain gutters only to find no mention of these troubling troughs that hang at the edges of a roof. So I looked to the index only to be disappointed again. There was no mention specifically of rain gutter systems to be found. I am a licensed building contractor here in Michigan and have been repairing, reworking and cleaning gutters for over five years. Gutters are not designed into a house; they are simply tacked on as an afterthought by workers of various skills and abilities.

The long term maintenance problems and damage caused by poorly designed and installed gutters cost millions of dollars. Millions of dollars from injuries and even the death of homeowners trying to clean their gutters must also be taken into account. Start with the grade; how does water naturally flow around the house? The roof and gutters should be oriented so the water flows away from the house and never over walks, drives, decks or patios. A cistern to hold water for irrigation can then be the starting point for the design of your house.

Here are several design details that should be incorporated into the building code:

1. A downspout is required for a run of gutter not to exceed twenty feet. This will allow for slope of 1/20″ per linear foot giving proper drainage. This will decrease molds, mildew and breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Subtract one foot for every inside or outside mitered corner. Example: a run of gutter with two turns should not exceed 18′ without a downspout.

2. Downspouts will be of the “commercial” (3″ X 4″ or 4″ round) size. The larger pipe will not clog with leaves and seeds as easily.

3. Gutters draining upper roofs over lower roofs must be accessible by ladder from the ground.

4.Downspouts will be fixed to the gutter by cutting tabs into the bottom of the trough then bending them down to allow a screw or pop rivet to fix the downspout to the gutter. This eliminates the outlet flange which leaks and causes leaves and seeds to catch.

5. One-piece “offset” elbows will be used instead of two-piece elbows that are commonly assembled on-site now. In my experience I have yet to see these one-piece offsets clog. The upper two-piece elbow is where the vast majority of clogs are found. Many times the entire downspout has to be removed and taken apart to clear the clog.

6. The vertical pipe will have a maximum of three turns; two at the outlet for the gutter and one at bottom extension.

7. Downspout pipes that are not vertical must be avoided!

8. The bottom of the lower elbow will be at least one foot above the grade with a four foot extension.

9. Downspouts or gutters will NEVER be let out onto a roof surface or into a roof valley!

10. A minimum of two pipe bands will be used for every downspout or every ten feet of downspout to fix the vertical pipe to the house.

11. “Internal” or “hidden” hangers with screws will be used instead of gutter nails. These internal hangers are far superior to old-fashioned nails that must be located precisely in the ends of rafters, ceiling joists or trusses to work properly.

12. “Two-by” ( 2 X 6 or 2 X 8) lumber will be used instead of one-inch planks now used to make the fascia. The lumber will be covered with pre-coated aluminum to permanently seal the wood from the elements. This will allow the internal hangers to be placed every twenty-four inches with little need for precision.

13. A gutter hanger will be at least six inches from the center of an outlet.

Too often houses are designed for curb appeal and the roof is not a considered as a functional system to protect the home from the elements but as a fashion statement. The gratuitous use of steep slopes, valleys, ridges, dormers, gables and even turrets will only decrease the long-term value of a house. Reducing water run-off and enhancing the irrigation needs of the landscaping can be a huge benefit to the environment. The cost to replace roofs, clean and maintain gutters and the potential damage from water intrusion must be balanced with the aesthetics of the home: form follows function; beauty is found in the functionality of the design.

What is FIE Fencing Equipment?

The FIE is the international governing body for the Olympic sport of fencing.  FIE is the “Federation Internationale d’Escrime” or International Fencing Federation and it governs the world rankings and competitions for modern sport fencing.

When someone is talking about “FIE” gear, they are talking about fencing uniforms, masks, and blades that are approved for use in these international FIE competitions.  Each item must meet specific requirements for use in an FIE competition. 

FIE Blades

In general, the FIE approved items will provide a greater level of protection and durability over other grades of protective gear and blades. 

There are specific tests for the FIE blades for foil and epee.  These blades are, for the most part, made of maraging steel and sample blades must pass a minimum number of bends before breaking to be FIE certified.  There are also blades that meet the durability requirement but are not made from maraging steel.  These are specifically marked “FIE-N” blades.

A common myth regarding the FIE blades is that when they break they will break flat, reducing the chance of a puncture wound.  While this may be a stated goal of the steel used, in practice maraging steel blades break with jagged edges around the break point.  The main benefit of an FIE blade is it’s increased durability, which increases safety since at any point in time the blade is less likely to break.

Sabre blades do not have to be made from maraging steel.  Instead they must meet a maximum flexibility requirement that is the “S2000” regulation.  This regulation extends all the way down to local events, so any reputable fencing equipment supplier that sells a competition grade sabre is going to use an S2000 blade.

FIE Fencing Masks

Standard fencing masks must have a bib that resists 350N of force and mask mesh that will stand up to the 12kg punch test.  FIE fencing masks have increased safety requirements, with a bib that resists 1600N of force and mask mesh that will stand up to a 24kg punch test.  In other words, the FIE masks offer more than twice the protection of a standard fencing mask.

The FIE also has specific requirements for foil, epee, and sabre based on the current rule set for the target areas of each weapon.

FIE Uniforms

The fencing uniform consists of the jacket, pants (often called knickers or breeches), and plastron (or underarm protector.)  The FIE requirement for the uniform is that each piece protect against a force of 800N, which is the CE Level 2 protection requirement in the European Union.  Many domestic events in Europe require a minimum of CE Level 1, or 350N protection.  As of 2009, the US Fencing Association mandates no minimum protective requirement, only that the uniform be of “robust” material – whatever that means.

The quality of uniforms from various equipment manufacturers varies.  While all FIE fencing uniforms must pass the CE Level 2 testing in order to become FIE certified, the quality difference is in the stitching, cut, and other aspects outside of the pure protective requirements.  

Recommended Upgrades

If you are an active fencer and are competing in tournaments, you may already have a full set of gear.  If you are considering the jump up to FIE gear, the top pieces to get would be the fencing mask and plastron.  The mask is one of the most important upgrades to make and will provide additional peace of mind.  The FIE plastron is the least expensive upgrade you can make that will provide the most protection for you.

Upgrading your blades (in foil and epee) to FIE class blades is more of a performance decision.  FIE blades tend to last longer but more importantly they are more consistent in how they act.  Once worked in, FIE blades hold their shape better than non-FIE blades, which provides a more consistent performance.

Lightweight Concrete Fences – Great for DIY

“I have a vision that eventually this product [precast concrete fences] could be for do-it-yourselfers if it was manufactured in lightweight concrete,” states the CEO of a leading precast fence producer. This vision is now a reality with the introduction of lightweight concrete fence panels.

Cellular lightweight concrete (CLC) is produced by taking a mixture of cement, sand and water and combining it with a foam made through the action of compressed air and a chemical foaming agent. The foam leaves a multitude of tiny non-interconnected air pockets within the concrete mix. One can control the density of the final cast concrete shape by controlling the amount of foam introduced in the mix.

Fence panels made by this technique typically have half the density of regular precast panels available on the market. Some panel styles weigh as little as 39 lb.For maximum strength, the posts used in conjunction with the panels are made from regular high strength concrete. These concrete fence systems are designed to meet wind speed ratings of 110 mph or more.

The lightweight panels make it possible for two people to install a 6′ tall concrete fence without the need for heavy equipment. Installation in confined or sensitive landscaped spaces is easy to accomplish. The lighter panels mean more product can be hauled on trucks resulting in less freight cost, less energy cost and less pollution. The sound absorbing qualities of CLC (versus sound reflecting qualities for regular concrete) result in quieter enclosed spaces.

Other applications for lightweight concrete fences and fence panels include siding, planters and enclosures. CLC represents a great opportunity for the do-it-yourself crowd to easily build long lasting concrete structures.

History of Miss Universe and Where Past Contestants Are Now

Miss Universe: An annual international beauty contest.

Tiaras are all the rage in mass media today. If it isn’t a discussion about the Royal Wedding, somewhere Toddlers and Tiaras is being viewed in somebody’s living room or another Pageant Mom is prepping her daughter for an upcoming event. So much effort is invested, all leading up to that one night where one blushing beauty feels as special as a princess and crowned “Miss Universe”.

Prior to becoming another addition to Donald Trump’s portfolio, Miss Universe, now referred to as “Miss Universe Organization”, was a contest started by a clothing company in California in 1952. As a consequence to our beloved TLC, pageants have erroneously been recognized as American. Beauty pageants, in fact, originated in the UK where the first documented festival, the “May Queen Festival” in 1881, named one lucky girl the most “likeablest and loveablest” of them all. Popularity of these competitions rose and spread to western cultures until the tragic death of child beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey in 1996.

Apart from the revered status of being labelled as “Miss Universe” (which I am certain would, at the very least, have men offering to cover your tab), this is a position given to an intelligent, well-mannered and cultured young woman between the ages of 18-27 who “may not be married or pregnant. They must not have ever been married, not had a marriage annulled nor given birth to, or parented, a child. The titleholders are also required to remain single throughout their reign.”*

Upon being elected Miss Universe, the privileged winner signs a one year contract with Miss Universe Organization to travel and educate the world on peace, public awareness of AIDS and disease control. Thanks to Donald Trump, the winner receives one year accommodations in a Trump Tower in New York. After all the glitz and glam has been said and done, Miss Universe must climb down off her mighty throne and integrate herself back into the real world. So, the question that is on many of your minds: “Where is she now?” Let’s take a peak into the lives of a handful of these blushing beauties today.

In 1960, 18-year-old Linda Bement from USA was crowned Miss Universe. She married two years later and had two children. After a seven year marriage to a United States Racing Hall of Fame Thoroughbred Jockey husband, she separated. Today, at 69, she lives a private life away from the media and who could blame her?

The 1970 pageant winner, Marisol Malaret from Puerto Rico, has always remained an adoring public figure to the people of Puerto Rico. She became a popular radio personality and then moved on to host a TV program called Gala Late Night Ball (translation). Marisol went on to edit a women’s magazine called Imagen and later created her own magazine called Caras. She is currently partnered in a high end fashion boutique called “La Femme” and, as of recently, collaborated with her daughter on a European home décor store called “En Casa”.

The 1980 crown was awarded in Seoul, South Korea, to 20-year-old Shawn Weatherly from the USA. She attend school, majoring in nursing; however, her calling was show business. She played several small roles in various films and sitcoms (The Dukes of Hazzard) but struck it big as Jill Riely in the popular series Baywatch where, unfortunately, her character was chomped out by a shark attack. She later went on to star in Police Academy 3: Back in Training and in an episode of Cold Case. She now resides in Newport Beach, California, with her husband and two children.

Mona Grudt of Norway, crowned Miss Universe in 1990, has been seen on everything from David Lettermen, to various global press conferences, to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Most of her energy is now invested in the fashion and bridal industries. She is currently the editor for Ditt Bryllup, a Norwegian bridal magazine, and frequently fills in hosting fashion and wedding shows in Scandinavian countries. She is a spokesperson for Garnier. In 2011, she hosted Norway’s Next Top Model and was a winning a contestant on Dancing With The Stars in Norway. She is married to an American and is the mother of two children.

Lara Dutta, of India, was crowned Miss Universe in Cyprus back in 2000. Her dream of becoming a director altered somewhat when she became involved in the Bollywood film industry as an actress, playing rolls in over 31 films. (Keep in mind, the Bollywood film industry produces films much quicker than Hollywood). In 2010, Housefull (where Lara played a lead role) became India’s 4th biggest hit of the year and produced gross revenues of 955 Million Rupees – nearly $20 million Canadian. In 2010, she wed an Indian tennis player and in August of 2011, they announced that she was pregnant with their first child! Congrats Lara.

The 2010 Crown was awarded to Mexican model Ximena Navarrete in the Las Vegas. Very soon, she became the official face of L’Oréal Paris and Old Navy. Although her reign as Miss Universe comes to an end soon, her future looks bright if she follows in the footsteps of former pageant winners.

The Five Golden Rules of Cross Country Road Trip Planning

A cross country road trip is like no other road trip! For most road trippers, it’s the Holy Grail of trips. For you, it may just be a long desired vacation or chance to visit family. No matter what your reason, you’ll need some tips in order to prepare that are very unique to a cross country road trip. These five Golden Rules of Cross Country Road Trip Planning will ensure that your trip is a success!

Golden Rule #1

Recognize that this country is HUGE. Looking at a map may give you the illusion that you can cross it in a couple of weeks. There is no way you can do that, no matter what any mapping site says. Day after day spent entirely behind the wheel is a hell I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and you certainly don’t want to suffer through it. A typical enjoyable cross-country road trip can last anywhere from a month to two months depending on whether it’s round trip or not.

  • Map It – Whether your cross country trip is round trip (from home and back) or one way (a rental or another car you can drop off and fly back), get on a mapping website that will estimate the number of hours it will take you to drive to your destination (and back if that applies). There are tons out there including Google Maps and MapQuest.
  • Get Real – If you think you can drive for 8 hours a day, you’ve got another thing coming. For a fun (I hope this isn’t some method of self-torture) road trip, you’re going to want to spend no more than four hours behind the wheel a day. That will allow plenty of breaks and sightseeing along the way, and you’ll need both on your vacation. To make your trip even more pleasant, plan a day “off” from driving occasionally during your vacation. Plan that day to be at a destination where there will be enough to see and do to entertain you for a full day.
  • Consider Your Destination – Wherever you’re going, it’s probably somewhere you’re very interested in, or you wouldn’t be crossing the country, right? Plan at least a few days there to really soak it up before heading back home, no matter whether you’re flying back home or driving back.

Golden Rule #2

Spend some time planning out the sights you’ll see along the way as well as your time at your destination. Winging it with this can lead to some very boring breaks along your route. Most great things just aren’t visible from the highway. Great resources for planning your stops/sightseeing are:

  • Guidebooks on each state you’ll pass through.
  • Travel forums – especially ones that address specific areas/states and cities.
  • Websites that specialize in a state/area you’ll be passing through or in road tripping attractions (like mine).

Golden Rule #3

One common question I get is whether to book all the hotels/campgrounds/other lodging and plan each day or just to “wing it” and hope for the best. The answer: you can do either, but there are rules specific to each. For the planner, it’s easy – plan! Booking ahead will usually ensure cheaper lodging and will guarantee that you’ll have a place to lay your head at the end of each day (winging it can be more dangerous, but there are tricks to make it less so).

If you want to “wing it”, you’ll still need to do some planning. At the very least, book your lodging in the areas you’ll be visiting along the way that are popular destinations. Trying to get last minute reservations near a place like Yellowstone Park in the summer is insanity. It won’t happen. Consider the time of year also – New York City in the month of December is a crazy time. Plan accordingly.

Otherwise, “wing it” people can either use their GPS and really fly by the seat of their pants, or they can protect themselves from trouble by doing the following.

Before You Go – Research areas along the way and at your destination that may – or may not – be places you’ll want to stay. Make a list of 3-5 lodging choices for each and take down the address information and the phone number. Put it somewhere safe and accessible for your trip (I use a folder).

On the Road – Every morning, make the decision. Where do you want to go that day? Select your evening destination and make calls to your listed lodging choices. Don’t put this off until later in the day if you want to guarantee a place for the night. What vacancies exist in the morning will probably be snapped up by the afternoon. Now you can follow your whims every day and still have the security of a reservation each evening.

Golden Rule #4

You’ll need to really baby your car before taking a cross-country road trip – more so than for any other road trip. You’re about to push it to its limits! Here’s a checklist of things to have addressed by your mechanic before you hit the road:

  • Read your manual and have all maintenance that’s due taken care of now. Timing belts, tune-ups, system flushes, etc. all fall into this category.
  • Get an oil change unless it was literally just changed.
  • Have your mechanic check the following: hoses, spark plugs, belts, air filter, and all fluids. Also, if there’s any problem/weird noise or smell that you’ve been noticing with your car, deal with it.
  • Tires are vitally important. If they’re old, they won’t be able to handle heating up as they roll on the road and will probably blow. Replace them now if warranted. Get your tires rotated and alignment checked

Be sure to pack a roadside emergency kit (jumper cables, flares, tire patching kit, jack, spare tire), make sure you renew or get a roadside service membership, and pack extra water, a blanket, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and some emergency snacks.

Golden Rule #5

Packing for a cross-country road trip is all about streamlining. Unlike other vacations, this is not one where you’ll want to pack an outfit for every day. The best plan is to have 5-7 pants/skirts/jeans and 7-9 tops/shirts that coordinate well (as well as shoes, underwear, socks.

Stick with neutrals (kaki, white, gray, black, navy, blue jeans) for easier mixing and matching. Add 3-4 sweaters and jackets (more layers if the weather will be colder) that also are in neutral colors. Bring a gentle detergent for hand-washing (or using a machine when your lodging offers it) to make these outfits last as many weeks as your trip lasts. Don’t worry about your travel companions growing bored with your wardrobe – most people don’t care about your clothes as much as you do!

When it comes to other items, be sure to bring enough of the things you can’t easily get on the road (prescriptions for instance). For everything else (drugstore shampoos, soap, shaving cream, etc) just bring what’s easy to pack and get more as needed on the road. You don’t need to bring everything – you’re not going into the wilderness!

Conclusion

If you obey these five golden rules of cross country road trip planning, you’ll be well-prepared to experience an outstanding road trip odyssey across the U.S.!

Western Saddle Parts and Their Functions

Looking for information on Western Saddles? This article provides easy to understand highlights of the parts of a Western Saddle and their function sorted alphabetically. The bullet points below each item provides a high level summary pertaining to that item.

Back Housing

  • The rear section of the saddle behind the cantle and above the skirt that covers the exposed portion of the saddle tree bars

Billet Straps

  • Straps that attach to the rigging dee ring at the top and to the cinch ring at the bottom
  • Billet straps have holes along the length to allow for loosening or tightening of the cinch
  • Note: The cinch may be attached to either billet straps or latigo straps

Cantle

  • The raised rear portion of the saddle seat
  • The Cantle is much more pronounced on a Western Saddle than an English Saddle
  • Provides security and comfort for the rider

Cinch

  • A long, wide strap that goes around the girth of the horse to hold the saddle in place
  • Cinch ring (at the end of the cinch) may be attached to either a latigo strap or a billet strap
  • Latigo straps and billet straps are attached to the saddle with rigging dee rings

Concho

  • A decorative disk, often made of silver where saddle strings (long narrow straps-usually made of leather) may be attached

Fender

  • Long pieces of leather that hangs down on both sides of the saddle under the seat jockey
  • Fenders are designed to protect the rider’s leg from the horse’s sweat

Front Rigging Dee

  • “D” shaped ring towards the front of the saddle used to attach the latigo or billet straps

Gullet

  • The tunnel under the pommel above the horses withers.
  • Ensures there will be no pressure from the saddle or rider on the horse’s spine

Horn

  • The raised part above the pommel used to secure a lariat

Hobble Strap

  • A narrow Strap that wraps around the stirrup strap

Latigo

  • A long, wide strap that attaches to the cinch ring
  • The cinch ring is attached to the cinch that goes around the girth of the horse
  • The loose end of the latigo is place in the tie strap holder (also known as a latigo holder or latigo keeper)

Leather Rigging Guard

  • An additional layer of leather that runs along the edge of the saddle skirt and under the rigging dee rings
  • Offers protection for the saddle skirt

Pommel

  • The arched portion in the front of the saddle that provides clearance for the horse’s wither

Rear Rigging Dee

  • “D” shaped ring towards the back of the saddle used to attach the billet straps

Rigging

  • The hardware and strap girthing system that holds the saddle on the horse
  • Western Saddles can have either single or double rigging
  • The front cinch goes around the horses girth behind the horse’s front legs
  • Back cinch goes around the widest part of the horse’s barrel

Saddle Strings

  • Saddle strings are long narrow pieces of leather that hang from the seat jockey and rear housing through conchos
  • Saddle strings are used to tie gear such as saddlebags and lariats to the saddle.

Seat

  • The lowest part of the top of the saddle where the rider sits

Seat Jockey

  • The section of leather that extends beyond the outer edges of the seat that covers the exposed sections of the saddle tree bars
  • The seat jockey protects the riders legs from rubbing on the rigging

Skirt

  • Large, heavy pieces of leather that attach to the underside of the saddle tree bars
  • Protects the horse from the bars and distributes the weight of the rider over a larger surface area

Stirrups

  • Stirrups are where a rider places their feet while riding
  • The stirrups provides the rider with more security and control
  • Stirrups come in different widths and styles to accommodate various riders and tasks

Tie Strap Holder

  • A piece of leather attached to the front portion of the seat jockey or front jockey that’s used to secure the loose end of the latigo after it’s been laced through the cinch ring

Tread Cover

  • The covering on the portion of the stirrup where the riders foot rests.
  • Offers the rider comfort and grip in the stirrup

Tree

  • The inside frame of the saddle that has traditionally been made of wood
  • Defines the length and width of the saddle
  • Some saddle trees are made of less expensive synthetic material that may be lighter and weaker

The design and materials of Western saddles vary greatly. A properly fitted, quality saddle is essential to ensure your satisfaction and a healthy happy horse.

The Benefits of Roman Blinds

If you really want to add some classical style to your home, I cannot recommend Roman Blinds highly enough. These are the kind of blinds that are made of a single piece of material that is rolled into pleats.

Roman blinds were first invented in (can you guess from the name) ancient Rome. Or at least, that’s what the myth is. In reality, they were probably invented somewhere in the Mediterranean (where they are still hugely popular, by the way), and were later popularized by the Romans. They were then brought back into the world of Western windows by the Victorians, who loved their neo-classical decorations.

The real beauty of roman blinds is that you can really make them out of whatever you want. Thick material or thin material, they’ll all work as Roman blinds. And you can also make them out of just about any kind of fabric, from finely spun silk to less impressive, but more durable, plastic. Linen and cotton are the most popular materials that people make these blinds from today, although paper based blinds are also becoming more and more popular.

Obviously, you can buy roman blinds ready made and ready to hang. Either as a standard, off the shelf model or, if you’re feeling more flush with cash, as a bespoke blind. But increasing numbers of people are beginning to make their own DIY Roman blinds at home.

How you go about this really depends on your level of DIY skill. If you’re up for a real challenge, you can make them from scratch, by buying your material (both for the blind and a separate lining), cutting all the material to size and then attaching it to a dowel before hanging it in your window. For the less adventurous, or less skilled, though, the option of buying a DIY Roman Blind kit exists. Basically, you get a box filled with all the materials you will need to construct your blinds – all you really need to do is provide the screwdrivers, scissors, etc, then put it all together and hang it in your window frame.

Roman blinds, by the way, aren’t just a great option for house windows. They are also a great choice for covering conservatories, which have great swathes of glass, just begging to be covered. If you want to cover a whole conservatory or sun room however, please make sure that you get some reasonably high quality reflective blinds and use these to back your roman blinds, as this will do a great deal to keep out the sunlight, and to keep you cool.

Air Circuit Breaker

Normally we are not used to seeing accidental explosions or fire blazing in our home or office when the current jumps above the safe level or when there are any other faults in the electrical system. When these accidental incidents are about to happen the circuit breaker cuts the power to the electrical system. Without circuit breakers (or the alternative, fuses), household electricity would be impractical because of the potential for fires and other mayhem resulting from simple wiring problems and equipment failures. It is one of the most important safety mechanisms either in the primary source of electricity or in the electrical distribution systems from where electricity is distributed in our home or in our home.

Air circuit breaker: When the breaker opens the current flow is interrupted that causes an electrical arc to be generated. This arc is cooled and extinguished in a controlled way, so that the gap between the contacts can again withstand the voltage in the circuit. When the fault condition is fixed, the contact is again closed to restore power to the interrupted circuit. When a circuit breaker uses compressed air to extinguish the arc the circuit breaker is called air circuit breaker (ACB).

Construction: Each phase of a three-phase Air Circuit Breaker (ACB) consists of 3 types of contacts, namely; main contacts which carry the load current, arcing contacts and the arcing horn.

The main contacts: Under normal operation the main contacts carry the load current. Therefore, main contact resistance must be low enough to prevent overheating, when current is flowing through it. The main contacts are therefore made up of a good conducting material such as copper, silver or copper with silver plating. Since these metals have relatively lower melting points, they can be damaged if arcing occurs. To prevent this damage, the main contacts do not make or break the current.

Arcing Contacts: Since no arcing must occur at the main contacts, arcing contacts are provided, which make or break the circuit current.

Arcing Horns: After the arc is established on the arcing contacts, it is transferred to the arcing horns during the opening of the arcing contacts. Their shape is designed to weaken or extinguish the arc.

Arc chute: The arc chute is a cooling chamber located at the top end of the breaker. It cools the hot gases which are produced when arcing occurs.

Operating mechanism: To understand the sequence of operation of various contacts in the air circuit breaker, one must realize that arcing must never occur at the main contacts.

Opening cycle: When the breaker is closed, the load current is conducted by the low resistance main contacts. But when the breaker opens, the main contacts open first and transfer the current to the arcing contacts. The arcing contacts open and an arc is established across the arcing horns. The arc rises to the top of the arcing horns and enters the arc chute where it is rapidly cooled by heat transferring mechanism in the cooling plates. Cooled gas deionizes that makes it unable to conduct electricity, and consequently arc is extinguished.

Closing cycle: In the closing cycle, the arcing contacts touch first to make the circuit again. Then the main contacts close and enable the circuit to flow electrical current.

Advantages of Air Circuit Breaker (ACB) over the other circuit breakers

* Relatively inexpensive

* Simple installation

* Simple construction

* Simple maintenance requirements

Uses:

Air Circuit Breakers (ACB) are used in both low and high voltage current. They are commonly used in electrical distribution systems and NGD for voltage up to 15 KV. Air circuit breakers (ACB) which include operating mechanisms are mainly exposed to the environment. They protect for overload, short circuit and earth fault/ground fault. Most of air circuit breakers are used in indoor type substations.

What’s Eating Your Violin Bow Hair? It Might Be Bow Bugs

We’ve all heard of “Bed Bugs.” But did you know there are also “Bow Bugs?” Indeed there are — little arthropods (related to moths) that live inside your violin case and munch horse hair. How do you know that your case is infested? There are certain tell-tale signs. One is an accelerated rate of horse hair breakage on your bow(s). Another is the appearance of broken bow hairs in a spidery pattern inside your case. You may even see crawling or dead insects, or discover the exoskeletons they leave behind when the molt.

These bugs like to live in the dark. They are most likely to live in cases that are left closed for long periods of time. Because they abhor the light, they are seldom found in cases that are opened frequently. Fortunately, they do not like to eat violins and, aside from destroying horse hair, they are otherwise harmless. However, once they have taken up residence, they are difficult to eliminate and can be transferred from case to case.

How to get rid of them? It is usually a good idea to buy a new case and to re-hair any affected bows. However, if this is not an option, another alternative is to expose the case and bows to sunlight over a period of several days, which should kill the insects. You may also opt to spray the case with moth insecticide. However, you must then keep the violin in a safe place until the chemical dries, to avoid harm to your violin.

For dealing with “Bow Bugs,” prevention is the best cure. Try not to allow your case to sit unopened or in storage for long periods of time — violinists who practice regularly rarely experience this problem.

History and Development of Plumbing As a Profession

Human civilizations took more than 4500 years to develop contemporary plumbing system. Ancient communities such as Indus Valley civilization and Egyptians started working on the development of copper pipes 4000 years ago.

The concept of pipes played a key role in supplying drinking water and removing waste from a premise. Lack of drainage facilities was a major concern in the past as it spreads fatal diseases. Lack of proper drainage and clean water have taken millions of lives in the past. Even in the 21st Century, most of the population in developing countries do not have access to the basic toilet structure and safe drinking water.

In 1700 BC flush toilet was developed and elaborated by a group of plumbers for the first time. Following the introduction of flush toilets, first drinking water processing system was installed in Massachusetts. The Nineteenth Century witnessed rapid development in this realm. Many fixtures and techniques were introduced which helped shape plumbing a comprehensive and highly technical profession.

With the passage of time, simple pipes system, capable of supplying water and removing waste from a building, has become an inevitable need. As a result, a large plumbing manufacturing industry emerged and people started getting proper training to install sewerage systems for the larger portion of the population. Nowadays a qualified and experienced plumber is a basic need for people living across the world.

Scope and value of plumbing profession

Plumbing profession is on the rise. A continuous rise in the living standards requires more sophisticated bathrooms, fixtures, and water system. People who are studying to be plumbers have great future, especially in cold areas where the temperature drops drastically.

Basic structure of a commonly installed water and sewerage system

Small buildings use a simple concept of water inflow and outflow. The plumbing experts design the overall structure of pipe network, keeping in mind the future needs of a premise. They have to considerately analyze the installation of other systems such as power and gas supply.

An inexperienced plumber should not carry out the installation processes or any other technical activity. A faulty installation of a sewerage system can cause plenty of problems in long-term.

Contractors and builders should consider this fact in order to prevent inconvenience and bad reputation. Supply and drainage must be treated as two different systems so that overlapping can be avoided. The supply of cold and hot water are different in nature. Cold water coming straight from the main source can be used directly. On the other hand, hot water has to flow through the heating system. Every fixture better have a separate valve so that you do not have to stop the main supply line in case of emergency or repair.

How the P-Trap Solved the Problem of Bad Odors Coming From Your Bathroom Sink

Bathroom sink drains appear to be quite simple but believe it or not there is centuries of trial and error behind the design. Plumbers never found it difficult to drain water from your bathroom sink, mainly because any sloping downward drain would work fine. The problem that plumbers faced was keeping the smells of the sewer out of the house. Unfortunately the same pipes that carried the waste water to the sewer systems also brought the pungent and potentially dangerous sewer gas back up into the bathroom.

For centuries people tried to solve the problem but it wasn’t until the 1800’s when the s-trap was invented that the problem was almost solved. How the s-trap works is that when the low bend in the s-trap pipe is filled with water, it effectively acts as a plug, preventing the volatile sewer gases from seeping back into the house. Now this worked in theory but unfortunately the rushing water going down the drain would create a vacuum sucking the remaining water down the drain with it, effectively breaking the seal. So each time you used your sink, to re-establish the seal you had to commit to memory to pour a little bit of water down the drain to fill the trap, of course you would be quickly reminded if you forgot by the reeking scent.

Finally in 1874 a plumber figured out that you had to equalize the air pressure in the drain system. By adding another piped called a vent that ran upward to the roof, this created a kind of pressure relief system so that sewer gases wouldn’t stink up the house. Later on a more effective version of the vented s-trap called the p-trap was introduced which ran down from under the sink, formed a “u” shape and the attached to the main drain pipe on a upward sloping horizontal to effectively keep water in the “u” shaped seal. It was dutifully named the p-trap because it looked like a “p” lying on its side. There were many other slight variations to the p-trap but needless to say, the p-trap effectively solved the problem of bad odors coming back up your sink drain to pollute your bathroom.

The Development and History of Tri-Cone Drill Bits

The history of tri-cone drill bit development stretches back over 100 years. It may seem strange to think that such a precision piece of equipment from the present has roots dating back to 1908, but the road to the level of innovation in modern tri-cone bits is a long one.

Howard Hughes and the beginning of a business empire

Before there was the tri-cone drill with its 3 interlocking rollers Howard R. Hughes Sr. invented a dual-cone rotary drill which revolutionized the oil drilling rigs of the time. When he founded the Hughes Tool Company in 1908 (then the Sharp-Hughes tool company until 1912) he had a patent for the first roller cutter drill ever made and had founded of one of America’s most notable corporate dynasties. When he died in 1924, ownership of the company passed to his famous son, Howard Hughes jr. who had himself declared legally an adult so he could fend off relatives squabbling over his father’s will and take full control of the company that would soon create the tri-cone drill bit.

The young Mr. Hughes and his powered stranglehold on the drilling industry take off!

In addition to a high-flying life of Hollywood glamour, gorgeous actresses, death defying aviation, and producing the original 1932 film “Scarface” (50 years before Al Pacino made it famous in the better known remake) Howard Hughes Jr. was also a business magnet who saw the tri-cone drill bit invented by a Hughes Tool Company researcher, and reinvented the oil drilling industry a second time. Five years before the invention of this bit, Cemented Carbide, an early Tungsten Carbide alloy was developed and brought over to America. Although not always combined at first, the Hughes company patent along with the new synthetic metals allowed the Hughes Tool Company to become the only way for Western drilling companies to use tri-cone drill bits. The speed and competitive advantage of these early bits was massive compared to the technology previously available, and every serious drilling company had no choice but to use Hughes brand bits… or move to Russia for Soviet knock-offs.

The patent expires and drill bit race is on

In 1951 the Hughes company patent on the tri-cone drill bit ran out, and competitors around the world began to start manufacturing drill bits with the superior design. Although the Hughes company initially maintained a huge market share thanks to the initial patent, the number of competitors reduced this dramatically over time. As of 2000 they no longer had market dominance, and as of 2011 the company was acquired by a conglomerate.

Contemporary tri-cone drill bits

Luckily, Tri-Cone drill bit innovations didn’t stop with the expiry of the Hughes patent. Additional improvements in manufacturing allowed TCI (Tungsten Carbide Insert) drill bits to become much more commonly used. Tungsten carbide inserts allow bits to have remarkable hardness, endurance, and strength, while making the shaft out of more conventional alloys means the drilling rig does not have to worry about the material’s brittleness under extreme pressures. Tri-cone bits have also seen significant innovation the design of the drill bits themselves: Open roller bearings are the conventional standard, but sealed roller bearings improve the life span of the bit dramatically. Sealed roller bears can also incorporate journal bearings for excellent durability and resistance to wear and tear. Innovation is a constant process and further refinement continues to improve drilling capacity around the world.

Cheapest and Easiest Retainingwalls to Build

Which type of retaining wall is the easiest and cheapest to build

Most homeowners build fieldstone or timber walls because they are the most popular materials in my area, but modular block and poured concrete or concrete block walls also are excellent options. Each type of wall requires a different set of tools and building skills. Railway or wood landscape ties are a good, inexpensive material for someone comfortable building with wood. A poured-concrete wall is likely the strongest choice, but the installation is probably best left to professionals.

Choosing the most appropriate material is the first decision you need to make when starting a retaining-wall project. Before you begin building a wall, you also need to consider the elevations of the new finished grades, the appropriate base and how to backfill properly. Building two or more small walls also may be easier on your back because you don’t have to lift the stone, block, or timbers too high, or set up staging. If you decide to build a terraced retaining wall, start with the lowest wall: You’ll create flat areas to stand on while working on the upper walls, and you can incorporate steps, which have to be built from the bottom up.

Even the most attractive retaining wall can lose its charm if the wall is too massive for its surroundings. If there is enough area to divide the change in grade into multiple stepped walls, a series of small walls might be more visually appealing. Terraced walls also may avoid the need for permits, engineers, and complicated construction details. The area between terraced retaining walls does not have to be level and can be used for lawn or gardens.

About base and backfilling:

One truth about all retaining walls is that they are only as good as the base they are built on. The right depth and type of base depends on the material and the landscape.

Dry-laid stone usually are backfilled with large stones, and the voids are filled with rubble. If the wall is separated from the earth with filter fabric, drainage behind the wall often is unnecessary. Block walls should be backfilled with gravel and a perforated drainpipe and separated from the earth with filter fabric. This method also can be used for a timber wall in a wet area, a wet-stacked stonewall, or a poured-concrete wall. Weep holes are another option for poured-concrete walls and wet stonewalls.

For some projects, excavating for the base and backfill is the most laborious part of the job. If this is the case, it might be worthwhile to hire an excavator or to rent a backhoe for a day.

Using railway ties or timbers to build a retaining wall

Using wood to build a retaining wall means it won’t last as long as blocks or concrete but it is much easier, and in most cases the least expensive option. If you are comfortable with basic carpentry, you shouldn’t have problem building a wood or landscape tie retaining wall. In dry area, a wood wall can be built without base or tricky backfill. Steps can be made by joining two 6×6 timbers and are incorporated easily into these walls. It is simple to make 90° and 45° corners, curves are a little more tricky.

Timbers range from used railroad ties to manufactured landscape ties. If you can find them, used railroad ties are fairly inexpensive, but they are often treated with creosote. They also are normally inconsistent in dimension and often not very straight. This combination can make for tricky building. The most commonly used material is pressure treated 6×6 landscape timbers. You use a rough-sawn, dimensional 6×6 for a rustic look, or a planned 6×6 (actually 51/2 in.) for a more-finished look. Far shorter walls a 4×6 timber also can be used. The length of the ties also varies a 12 ft. or 16-ft beam can cover a lot ground but is difficult to handle as is quite heavy. An 8-ft. tie is more manage-

for one person.

The obvious drawback to using wood is that they eventually rot. Pressure treated timbers will last longer than untreated by years, but be aware that the manufacture warranty on new pressure treated board may not be honored if the tie is cut. This is because you open up the grain on the end so that water can get in. Just remember to use a sealer on the ends when you do make a cut.

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Build Your Own Gymnastics Balance Beam

There are several methods to make a gymnastics balance beam for home use. They can run the gamut from the most basic wooden beam to one covered with carpet. Or you can make a more elaborate balance beam padded and wrapped in synthetic suede. However you decide, this project isn’t too difficult and can save you money. Most supplies you need can be found at a local home improvement store.

First a little background. All competitive gymnasts are required to perform on the balance beam apparatus. Beams used in international gymnastics competitions must conform to the strict guidelines and specifications set forth by the International Gymnastics Federation Apparatus Norms. Originally, the balance beam surface was polished wood. Since the 1980s, beams have been covered in synthetic suede. Today’s competition beams are also sprung to accommodate the stress of high-difficulty tumbling and dance skills. This is why gymnasts who are competing can be very particular about the apparatus they use at the gym vs the apparatus you might make at home. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consider the level of the gymnast when deciding to start this project

The regulation length for a competition balance beam is 16 ft 5 inches. Many homeowners can not accommodate an apparatus of this size in the home, therefore decide to make a shorter one. Many home-made balance beams range from 8 to 12 feet in length, however, all are a standard 4 inches in width. The height of the beam will depend on where it is used. We do not recommend using balance beams outdoors as it can be difficult to get a stable surface to prevent wobbling. Your apparatus should always be used on a flat surface.

For beginners age 3-6 a basic wooden beam will provide a great introduction to the sport. As the gymnast gets older this same apparatus can be wrapped in carpet to provide a bit of padding or you can choose to wrap it in synthetic suede to give it the realistic look and feel of a standard balance beam.

MATERIALS

(6) 1 x 6 lumber 8 ft. long (or any desired length)

(2) 2 x 4 lumber 20″ long for the legs

Wood Glue (such as Elmer’s Carpenters wood Glue)

3M Spray Adhesive

3″ wood screws

Wood Stain

Industrial Carpet

Suede Topper for carpet beam (option for carpet beam)

4 inch adhesive loop strip (option for padding)

Synthetic Suede Fabric (cover option)

Iron leg brace option

C Clamps

Sandpaper

Step 1

Glue the six 8-foot pieces of 1-by-6 inch pine lumber together so that their sides are fully contacting one another. This will create a block of wood that is 8 feet long with a side of about 4.5 inches.

Glue liberally between the boards and use clamps to make sure that the glue fastens itself to the wood. Let dry overnight. Using a Belt Sander go over entire beam and sand to smooth finish. If staining your beam you can use finer grade sandpaper with an Orbital Sander to create a smooth finish. If covering the beam with carpet or Suede this step may be omitted.

Step 2

For a stained wooden beam. After sanding to smooth finish, apply stain to your beam.

To make a carpet covered beam you will use heavy-duty staples and wrap the beam with the carpet. Start by stapling carpet to bottom side of the balance beam and tightly wrap carpet around beam and staple underside of beam only. You may also use spray adhesive to further secure the carpet to the beam.

For a synthetic suede covered beam you will want to pad the beam first using a neoprene strip. It can be difficult to find 4 inch wide neoprene which is used on professional beams therefore many home-made beams use yoga mats to pad the beam. You do not want the beam to be too soft so minimal padding is needed. Do not staple padding. Use glue only as staples will cause dimples. You can also use 4 inch wide adhesive peel and stick loop to create padding as well. Continue attaching the suede to the beam by applying spray adhesive to the top and sides of the balance beam. Working from the bottom of the beam, staple the Suede along the bottom. This is a 2 person project as one needs to tightly pull the Suede around the beam evenly while it is being secured with the adhesive. Make sure your balance beam is completely dry before use.

Step 3

For a basic beam you will screw the (2) 20 inch 2 x 4 wood braces to each end. Place each brace at a 90 degree angle to the beam 12 inches from each end.

Alternatively, you can purchase iron manufactured balance beam braces you simply screw into the bottom of your beam. These braces come in a variety of heights and can even make your beam adjustable. It is possible to convert your basic beam to metal braces later on. One advantage to metal braces is they are tall enough to allow a mat to slide under the balance beam while the gymnast is using it.

Warning

Use home-made balance beams at your own discretion. As your beam is not a professionally made piece of equipment it is only as strong as your craftsmanship. Use with supervision as gymnastics is a sport with inherent risk of possible injury.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Whiteboard

The whiteboard, since its invention has come a long way and today it is one of the most common fixtures in schools, universities, hospitals as well as organizations where information has to be displayed to an audience. Apart from these organizations, whiteboards have also become an essential part of every office as they are an important tool especially when there some brainstorming sessions are going on. It is very easy to note down the ideas that come up during a brainstorming session on a whiteboard and then modify them as the discussion progresses, than having to refer back and forth to handwritten notes on a book. There are different types of whiteboards available, the difference being the type of surface used in these whiteboards and you will have to make sure that you choose the right whiteboard for your requirement. Given below are some details on the advantages and the disadvantages of the whiteboards and details on how to select the right whiteboard for your use.

Advantages of the whiteboard:

One of the advantages that have resulted in the popularity of the whiteboard across all sectors is the fact that whiteboards are reusable and the whiteboard ink markings made using the whiteboard marker are more effective and lasts for a longer duration than the markings made using a chalk on a chalkboard. They are also less susceptible to other external factors such as water and wind. Markers are also very user friendly as they do not produce any dust, unlike the chalks, which can be very messy as it creates a lot of dust. This works best for people who have dust allergies as well as breathing problems. As the whiteboard markings do not produce any dust, you can also use it without any worry near dust sensitive equipments.

Another advantage of using the whiteboards is that it can also be used as a projecting medium when you use a video projector or overhead projector. This in turn permits you to make comments, underline important details and even highlight them on the whiteboard using the marker. The whiteboards contain high glass surfaces which helps reflect the projector light with ease.

Another advantage that often comes to mind while using the whiteboard is the ease with which you can handle the whiteboard marker. This marker is much easier to handle in comparison to chalk and even people with limited mobility can use this marker with ease. Also the effort, pressure and time required to write content on the whiteboard is much lesser than what is required when you have to write on a chalkboard. This also reduces the fatigue that you would experience in case you use chalk thus making writing on these boards an easy task.

Another advantage that is worth mentioning, especially since we are in an age where eco friendly products and ways of life are gaining popularity, is that the whiteboard helps save paper in classrooms and universities, thus making it the right choice if you want to purchase an environment friendly product. Whiteboards also offers you options of different colors as there are a wide range of markers available in different colors.

Most of the popular and commonly available whiteboards have magnetic surfaces which lets you use these whiteboards as magnetic bulletin boards too. All you need are magnetic weights that let you pin up important documents that you need access to.

Disadvantages of the whiteboard

However like the two sides of a coin, the whiteboard too is not without disadvantages. Given below are some of the disadvantages of using a whiteboard.

While it is very easy to write on a whiteboard with the whiteboard marker, care has to be taken that you use only whiteboard markers when you want to write on this board as using the wrong kind of marker may leave a permanent mark on the board or you might have a very difficult time cleaning it depending on the type of surface you have on the whiteboard that you have purchased. However these days thanks to the advancement in technology, there are removable inks as well as sprays that are available and these sprays or removable inks helps you remove the marks that are made on the whiteboards using other markers.

Another disadvantage that has been often highlighted in case of a whiteboard is that it often causes contrast problems for people who have vision impairment issues. People who are left handed also face some problems when they have to write on the whiteboard as most left handers tend to smudge the content that they have already written because of the way they hold the pen and write on it. Another criticism that the whiteboards have received is that when using these boards you are not able to draw heavier lines and light lines and distinguish between them as you would have been able to do when using a chalkboard.

However despite its disadvantages, these whiteboards have become very popular all across schools as well as offices and are used daily by individuals thus forming a very important mode of communication in these places.

Choosing the right whiteboard from a reputed retailer is also of utmost importance. If you plan to purchase your whiteboard online, make sure that you get it from the right retailer. For this you will have to spend some time on the internet and conduct a thorough research. Read up on reviews on the service and the quality of the product offered by these retailers, you will find a number of review websites online. Before you finalize on a retailer, make sure you know your requirement in terms of the sizes and the type of whiteboard surface you are looking for. Once you have all these details with you and you have shortlisted a few retailers, look around for the best price. Most of the retailers offer great discounts, keep an eye out for these discounts to get the most of the money that you would be investing on the whiteboard.