Cleaning a Portable Gas Stove and Making a Blue Flame

If you like cooking, stove surely becomes an integral part that is often used. But what if your stove does not produce blue flame. The heat produced, of course, will not be at maximum. That is why right now I try to discuss the tips in cleaning your gas stove. Blue flame indicates that gas is flowing smoothly and the mixing with oxygen is appropriate. I suggest you to clean the stove regularly, so that the stove will be ready anytime you want to use it. If not, the spills of oil or sauce will make the flame red and blackening the kitchen tools. The flame will not be at maximum, and if you ignore it, it can be dangerous. So what are the tips to keep your stove clean and save? I discuss them below just for you.

First, prepare the tools needed such as filament brush, cloth, and safety pin. For the safety, release regulator connected hose and tube before. Release one by one all stove components, starting from pan support, top plate, burner head, and poles located in the middle. Wash those spare parts one by one with detergent. Special for burner head, clean it with filament brush. For fire pit lane, use safety pin or needle. Rinse the parts one by one by flowing water. Aerate all the components until they are really dry. Clean inside and outside part of the stove with cloth. If the components have gone dry, put them back one by one. Tune lever mixing of oxygen and gas regulator until the flame becomes blue.

For your information, I suggest you to replace gas hose after three years usage. Use regulator that has safety, so that if leak happens accidentally, the hose will shut automatically. Use cloth with soft surface to clean the stove, to avoid scratches. Make sure the binder clamp attaches firmly, test it using soap water drops in the connection gap. This principle is the same with the one that is used for checking a leaky tire. Make sure also the rubber at the end of gas cylinder valve is good condition, not torn, and still elastic.

Finally, turn the lever on the bottom to set perfect gas and oxygen mixing condition. In doing this step, I suggest performing it while the gas stove is turning on.

Presto Products – Quality Pressure Cookers and American Innovation

When you think about buying a manufactured product, chances are you only think about two things: “Does it work for what I need it for?” and “Can I afford it?” However, there is also the “story” of the product, the “brand”. These days I think many of us cynically believe everything manufactured is made in China. It’s a bit depressing, since that means in buying those products we are getting involved in a story that’s not close to home. Nothing against the Chinese, where would we be without some of their wonderful and affordable products after all? But it would be nice to know that there are still quality, innovative, essential products that are part of an ongoing American story. The line of Presto products are an example of just that; quality American made ingenuity going back over 100 years.

To recap their entire history here would be too much, but it is interesting to briefly outline where National Presto Industries came from. Started in 1905, in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the company that would become National Presto Industries was already on the cutting edge. They manufactured a product that makes life in the kitchen faster, easier, safer and more affordable: Pressure cookers and canners. Their industry got a boost in 1917 when it was determined by the USDA that pressure canners were the only way to safely can low-acid foods, helping to stop deadly cases of food poisoning.

Most of their products were more commercially focused until, in 1939, they revolutionized the industry by introducing their “Presto” line of in home, saucepan-style pressure cookers. These pressure cookers make food preparation fast, easy, less expensive and yet more healthy. Amazingly, this is still true even today. Compared to a microwave pressure cooking is often faster and more desirable, given the higher quality and better tasting food you get as a result.

However, despite their boon in the market place, National Presto Industries suspended their production of pressure cookers in WWII. This was in order to assist in the production of needed rocket fuses for the war effort.

After the war, pressure cooker production expanded with the opening of a second plant in 1953. Once again this plant was located right in the USA–Jackson Mississippi. As production expanded so did the Presto product line, with innovations that included newfangled electric kitchen and household appliances. Many of these electric appliances are iconic of the 50’s era, shiny, sleek, and more efficient. But still, pressure cookers and canners remained a top seller.

Since the 1950’s the expansion and innovations have kept coming. First with the plant in Alamogordo, New Mexico, opened in 1971, and then with a slew of electric kitchen appliances that make food faster to prepare while at the same time being healthier. Just some of the many innovative Presto products include: the electric coffee maker, the electric pressure cooker, the SaladShooter, various electric griddles, healthier deep friers, the hot air driven and more efficient PopCornNow, and more.

To this day National Presto Industries still embodies innovation, seeking out inventors and ideas from the public. However, they also maintain excellence in the products that brought them success: quality pressure cookers made right here in the US. Because they have had such longevity Presto still supports repair parts for vintage model pressure cookers. They cover all lines going back to WWII, and some even before that.

It’s nice to know that the same product grandma used to cook faster, healthier and taster meals is still available today. They still have as much quality as ever, and they are still made by the same company. So when you think “Do I want quality, or affordability” know that you can get both with Presto products. Plus, you can be part of an ongoing story of success, right here at home.

Windproof Umbrella: 7 Reasons Why You Must Insist On One

Windproof umbrellas are replacing traditional umbrellas that have been used for a variety of reasons. Umbrellas are used on a rainy day to keep you dry or on a hot sunny day to keep sun out of your face and protect you from harmful UV rays. However, more often than not, rainy days are accompanied with winds that are just strong enough to turn the umbrella inside out. With stronger winds the umbrella could even break leaving you soaked and miserable. If you buy some inexpensive umbrellas you find that it is not too long before you have to buy a new one. This article will describe how new windproof umbrella designs have changed the way we look at umbrellas and 7 reasons why you must insist on buying one instead of less expensive older umbrellas.

Umbrella makers and inventors have been using new materials and designs to build umbrellas that are increasingly wind resistant. A variety of designs to produce windproof umbrellas have been invented and are being used in many of the best windproof umbrellas.

Unlike traditional umbrellas, the best wind proof umbrellas are generally found in specialty stores or on the internet. However, for best quality, choices and best prices it is better to shop for them on the internet. Although availability and variety of windproof umbrellas has increased tremendously, they can be a bit pricey, compared to regular umbrellas. Here are the seven reasons why you need and must choose one over traditional umbrellas.

1. The new windproof umbrellas currently in the market do more than just protect you during wind and rain. They may also be used to provide shade on a hot sunny day. Not only do the wind resistant umbrellas protect you from the rays of the sun, they also provide a cool shade on hot days.

2. Unlike traditional umbrellas with wood or plastic handles, low quality steel spokes or plastic frames, some of these umbrellas are made from latest reinforced fiberglass materials designed to withstand high wind forces. They don’t easily break. They are very durable with strong unyielding frames and at the same time are lighter.

3. These windproof umbrellas are made of light weight but much stronger canopies made of specialized synthetic material coated with water repellant material. At the same time they can the let air to circulate through.

4. These umbrellas are strong because of their construction materials. But to make them windproof, a number of innovative and patented designs have been created. In one instance they are wind vented so that blowing wind can pass through rather than blow away or invert the umbrella eventually breaking it. Another invention from Gustbuster is rain-drop shaped wind release vents. Then there is Double Canopy Patented Windbrella Vented Mesh System and wind proof design and alternate panel wind vented system from Has-Jordan. These umbrellas are expected to withstand strong and gusting winds. Some can withstand 55 Miles per hour of winds or more as tested in the wind tunnel. They are much less likely to get inverted inside out. In the event they do, they are designed to be closed and reopened with a push of a button.

5. Because of their durability and wind resistance they will last much longer than regular umbrellas. In the long run they save a lot of money, in spite of being more expensive than regular ones, because you won’t need to buy them as frequently as the regular ones that give in to even modest windy conditions. These umbrellas provide a tremendous value for the money.

6. These new windproof umbrellas come in all popular sizes from minis to large 68″ golf umbrellas. They come in folding designs and with push button opening feature. There are many different types, shapes, and sizes of windproof umbrellas that can be used for individual personal use, or may be used in golf courses and outside on a patio providing comfort and shade while sitting on your patio.

7. Finally these umbrellas come in a variety of beautiful patterns and colors. So much so they can safely be called fashion umbrellas. Now you can go out in style in rain or shine; in calm or windy conditions. In style that coordinates with your outfit and accessories. And for businesses there are a variety of custom imprinted promotional umbrellas with same windproof features.

In order to get a good value for your windproof umbrella, do your research online. Learn about different manufacturers, designs and prices. With a little bit of effort you can find a reputable store online with good products at good prices and with excellent customer service. Do not hesitate to call or ask questions before buying.

From Sidewalk Surfing to Skateboarding to Longboarding – Some Longboard History

Sidewalk surfing was a combination of surfing and skateboarding. Sometimes surfers couldn’t practice surfing when the waters are quiet and the waves were very small. It has the same rolling motion and it mimicked the rolling waves of the ocean.

The plus side: you can do it anytime!

The surfers were still able to practice. The name sidewalk surfing got changed into skateboarding. Like Hawaii, skateboarding quickly became popular in California among surfers and teens. Over 50 million skateboards were sold in 1963.

The journey from skateboards to longboards

After sidewalk surfing/skateboarding got popular amongst the youth of America, skateboards evolved over the years and became shorter and wider for tricks. First skateboarding was made as a toy for kids, but when the kids grew up, the toy version became too small. Teenagers wanted a longer, smoother board and started to make them bigger. This was done mostly in their backyards. Early longboards were often made out of a plank of wood with old-fashioned roller skates or metal wheels. It wasn’t very strong, smooth and safe. As a result the sport longboarding and skateboarding declined tremendously, because people thought it was too dangerous.

But over the years, a small core of skaters were searching for a better, safer way to skateboard and metal wheels were replaced by clay wheels and trucks improved. But it was still an unsafe sport and popularity continued to declined.

Then the modern skateboarding and longboarding took off in 1973, also known as the second wave of the sport, when urethane wheels appeared.

Wheels, wheels, wheels… it’s all about the wheels

These wheels were smoother, safer, stronger, faster and had also more grip. With the new wheels skaters were able to do more than only flat terrain and some jumps.

It was crazy but on the rise…

The sport became more versatile and the popularity rose again. Instead of just flatland, you see freestyle, downhill and slalom too.

Bahne Cadillac was the first company that made urethane wheels that were sufficient for longboards and skateboards. After this, trucks were designed just for longboarding. They call it reverse kingpin trucks. Popular ones were (and still are) Tracker, Gullwing and Bennett.

Popular Tony…

The real explosion came when Tony Hawk and other celebrity boarders gained media attention through tricks and competition. Snowboarders started using longboards during the warmer months, so they were still able to practice. This made the popularity of the longboard rise again.

Did someone drain the pool?

One other style came out too that was called pool skating or pool surfing. Many surfers started longboarding and skateboarding in empty backyard pools. A drought in California made this happen.

Jay Adams, Tony Alva and Bruce Logan were put into many magazines and helped shape the sport. These pools were a forerunner for the modern skate parks. They were built all over the country. The first skate park was built in Florida. Many skate parks vanished in the 80’s because of the high insurance cost and lawsuits. Longboarding and skateboarding declined again.

Current surge

It made a final comeback in 1993 and to this day longboarding and skateboarding are both very popular activities for young and old. Longboarders and skateboarders can be found on campuses, si dewalks, driveways and major competitions.

The gear keeps getting better, more durable and safer. Modern CNC machines (computerized machines) help to push the boundaries. Eco friendly materials as bamboo and composites like vinyl are starting to influence the never-ending change of the longboard gear. As people continue to innovate and see where new material can take them.

And yeah… The fun increases too!

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail – 5 Reasons Why You and Your Business Needs a Target

The work involved just to win the proposal to host the Olympics was a monumental task, however once the votes were counted and Great Britain were declared official winners, that’s when the real work took place to ensure London was worthy enough to hold such a prestigious event.

So just how did we pull it off? Firstly it all started with an intention, a dream or an aspiration to deliver an experience that had the chance to change the lives of millions of people.

But how do you turn that dream into a reality? Primarily it is clear thinking and excellent planning. That’s what ensured London 2012 Olympic Games was such a phenomenal success. Some care free live for the moment individuals would gasp at such diligent structure being implemented in their life as they would feel suffocated from the bliss of treating everyday as it comes. Or is this care free attitude just an innate fear of failure or a fear of getting it wrong and having their dreams shattered in the wake of realising their efforts have been thwarted by something outside of their control?

Yet planning where you are going in your business, professionally and personally minimises the obstacles and their severity that inevitably crop up because that is just he nature of things. Life is not linear or offers you a defined path towards what you ultimately want to achieve.

Below are 5 reasons why it is essential to plan where you are going in your personal and professional life. This is by no means an exhaustive list, however like double Olympic Gold Medalist Mo Farrah said, “You can achieve anything you want if you know what you want and you are prepared to graft and work for it”:

  • Your Brain Needs Co-Ordination– The brain is the most powerful yet most complex mechanism on the planet. That grey matter that sits between your ears can accomplish amazing feats that still baffle doctors today. However it does have a life of its own and if you do not consciously give it instructions then it will automatically focus on your most dominant thoughts. Heard of the old saying “you are what you think?” Well take a look around you and what’s currently in your life is a reflection of what you have created so far.
  • Helps Identify and Minimise the effects of Perceived Obstacles– You have to be careful here. When goal setting it is all too easy to not even get off the blocks when you realise to achieve your goal the task ahead and the work involved. Obstacles are a part of life, that’s just the nature of things. However taking the time out to think into the future and what is likely to get in your way is essential for successful goal attainment. Remember that obstacles are opportunities to grow, improve and mature as a person knowing that you have overcome the adversity. The real value of having a goal is not in the physical thing itself, it’s in who you become as a person when pursuing your goal.
  • Increase Your Level of Motivation– Successful goal achievement is attained through having a clear and specific intention. Having this in mind as if it is already achieved gives you that continuous flow of energy required for consistent action to be maintained and progress to be established. Supporting the intention of what you want is also having fundamental reason why you want this goal. The questions to ask your self are ‘what will I gain once I achieve this goal?’ ‘What is the purpose of my intention?’ Take your time with these questions because your initial answers are not necessarily the core reasons. When you think you have exhausted the point, keep pressing. At this point there will be recognition of why you are pursuing your goal.
  • Living a Life of Choice, rather that Chance – People who set goals report that they have a life that is governed predominantly by choice and control, rather than living a life of wanting and disillusioned hope that something will come good one day and that will be the end of their struggle. Those that chisel their own path in life also report a feeling of fulfilment, ownership of their success and a nourished sense of self. A client of mine described setting his own goals as ‘like having a satellite navigation system for the brain. Tapping in co-ordinates for where I want to be ensured that I have somewhere I am heading and if I go off route, then my brain will come up with alternative routes.
  • Gives You Meaning to your Existence – Having a clear and compelling goal gives you the purpose to take action that many people lack. Virtually everybody has a range of criteria that is important to them, but how many people truly work within their purpose, their true calling. A purpose is applying oneself to something bigger and more meaningful to what they are as individuals. When you work within your calling the work that you do does not feel like work anymore. The energy that you possess can be generated to overcome the obstacles that naturally come up on your life path. There is scientific research to prove that those with purpose in their life have increased levels of recovery and invariably never fall ill. I wonder what doctors surgeries would look like if there was a major increase in people working within their purpose?

There is no doubt about it without careful planning and long and short term targets to aim for the London 2012 Olympic Games would not have gained the success it has achieved. The London Olympics touched the hearts and minds of so many people and surely this will have enabled them to create the legacy that was ultimately the overall aim of the project. To deliver something that was to collectively lift the spirits of millions of people and together to celebrate the finest collection of athletes from around the world.

Think how you or your business touches the lives of others? How do you connect with those around you and what is the knock on effect of that? Are you creating a positive experience beyond the service or product that you offer?

Most of all ask the question “where is me and my business heading and how far away am I from it?”

3 Advantages of Using Occupancy Sensor Controls

For many years, interior lighting design has existed within the confines of the light switch. The nature of the traditional light switch has created societies bad habit of leaving the lights on. Businesses noticed a hefty portion of their operating costs were being contributed to lighting their buildings. The solution to this problem was the introduction of automated lighting controls, and the most notable component of them all would be the occupancy sensor switch. An occupancy sensor replaces or supplements a traditional light switch to turn the lights on when an occupant is detected in a room and turn the lights off automatically when no one is detected in the room for a designated period of time. First introduced for commercial buildings, occupancy sensor controls are now being developed for residential applications, and deliver proportional benefits at an affordable price. Three advantages of employing these controls in your home include; convenience, energy efficiency, and versatility.

Convenience

There are many instances in our daily lives that we become troubled by flicking a light switch to illuminate a hallway or room we are entering. For example, entering a room where the light switch is far away and hard to find in the dark. Another would be entering a room where our hands are often full, such as a laundry room or walk-in storage closet. Installing an occupancy sensor switch is an easy solution to eliminate the hassle of putting down what you are carrying and hitting the light switch. Also, on your way out, don’t worry about leaving the lights on because they will turn off automatically after you are no longer in the room.

Energy Efficiency

Perhaps the sole reason for developing the occupancy sensor is to create a more energy efficient lighting system and inherently contribute to the whole building’s energy efficiency. The concept is clear; make it impossible to leave the lights on when a space is not occupied. This is exactly what an occupancy sensor switch does. Not only is reducing energy consumption good for the planet, it is also good for your monthly budget. Residential wall switch occupancy sensors can cost less than 20 dollars, and provide a lifetime of savings on your energy bill as it lowers unnecessary consumption.

Versatility

Versatility is an advantage of occupancy sensors that is often overlooked. The main reason for their use is to control lighting, but they are also just as capable of controlling other equipment and appliances in your home that operate on an outlet controlled by a light switch. Creative thinking may lead to unconventional additional uses for your occupancy sensor, and save you more money on your utility bills. To begin thinking of uses look around a room in your home and consider what is plugged in but never used when you are not in the room. Some examples could include a fan or space heater, or possibly a coffee maker or toaster. While not much, some of these appliances draw power even when not in use. Controlling these household items with an automated light switch is a perfect solution to cut down on unnecessary energy consumption.

These three advantages of occupancy sensor controls can improve your home in many ways. The convenient and luxurious nature of this automated lighting component is enough to justify its use. However, some building codes are starting to require the use of occupancy sensors in many cases; for example, Title 24 regulations for California energy efficient homes.

Intercoolers – Explained

Engine Performance Parts improve supercharger performance…

I am compiling a guide on information on how to pick the exact engine performance parts to fit your target power requirements. Basically I want to eliminate all the guess work out of tuning and save you some money from having to do things over and over again.

While I was doing research for ‘buying the right intercooler’ I got lost, honestly. There are two types of information you will find out there:

1-One class of articles is written by engineers talking about pressure differentials, thermal efficiencies, enthalpy and multi variable equations that are very remotely related to flow, horsepower, torque, supercharger rpm or other things that we KNOW that we can use as an input to our equations. (Basically this science needs to be translated to layman’s terms)

2-The other class is a group of random trial and error advice by enthusiasts, press releases and other materials that you find online.

Here’s what we do know:

First let’s talk about how intercoolers work. There is some debate about whether the intercooler is like a heat sink whose function is to absorb thermal energy from the incoming air to prevent the heat from reaching the engine, or whether the intercooler is like a radiator, where the air flow over the intercooler is responsible for extracting heat from the inlet air charge.

The true answer is both are correct…

The air running through the intercooler spends very little time inside the intercooler and slowing it down for more thermal exchange (like we would coolant in the radiator) would mean preventing air from reaching the engine which is a restriction on power. Because the air spends little time in the intercooler, the intercooler usually has multiple passages, internal ribs, and fins inside of it to maximize the surface area contact between the intercooler aluminum and the compressed air molecules. In this sense, the overall volume of the intercooler, and the overall surface area of its internal surfaces are like a heat sink that absorbs the heat energy out of the compressed air. In this aspect it makes sense that the larger our intercooler, the better. Furthermore it also makes sense, that the more complex and intricate the internal passages of our core, the more heat we will be able to extract out of the charge air. Of course the flipside of this is that very complex internal passages can create turbulence and restrict airflow so ultimately there is a balance in good design between internal complexity and flow capacity.

When we start out, the intercooler is cold, and with our first power run, as the hot compressed air runs through the intercooler, the heat is transferred to our heat sink (which is the intercooler) and nice cool air is left to enter the engine. After the first run, the intercooler is warm; and if we were to make a second power run back to back, the intercooler will not be able to SINK much heat because it is already somewhat heated. This is where the intercooler as a radiator comes in, the heat that was transferred from the air to the intercooler core, needs to be taken away either by cross flowing air in an air to air intercooler, or by cooling fluid in an air to water intercooler, or even by an ice-water bath for drag racing applications. Without harvesting the heat that the intercooler has absorbed out of the compressed air, the intercooler will heat up run after run until its temperature is the same as the compressed air heating it. At this point there is no temperature difference between the air and the intercooler core and we can no longer SINK any heat.

Some cars have their intercoolers located under the car’s hood (like the Mazda Sentia / 626). In this kind of installation the intercooler is mostly a heat sink and will be used for a few passes till it soaks, once it soaks it needs to be left to cool till it returns to under hood temperatures before it can be effective again as an intercooler. From this we gather, that any intercooler no matter how small, or poorly placed is better than no intercooler because at least for that first power run it will potentially increase horsepower.

Now I’d like you to keep this information in mind while we talk about intercooler dimensions…

There are three main dimensions to the intercooler, the height (H), width (W) and (D) depth and based on that there are some physical concepts that we want to think about:

Cross Sectional Area:

Height x Depth = the cross section of the intercooler and is related to how well the intercooler will flow and whether or not it poses a restriction to the intake flow. This is the area of the surface facing the compressed air as it travels through the intercooler. Just like free flowing intakes, throttle bodies, and exhausts, if this area is undersized it will pose a flow restriction and reduce performance.

Width:

Width = the length of the intercooler and if you have a same side inlet/outlet intercooler then your intercooler length is effectively 2*W. This is the distance the air has to travel through the turbulent and complex intercooler core. The longer this length is, the more pressure drop there is in the intercooler so it’s not advisable to have too wide an intercooler because we’d be waste turbocharger compression in intercooler pressure drop, neither is it advisable to have a same side inlet/outlet intercooler where the air has to travel a long distance in the core.

Frontal Area:

Width x Height = frontal area of the intercooler which faces the incoming ambient air, a good sized frontal area is required to ensure that the intercooler doesn’t heat soak and that the rushing air stream is able to cool the intercooler efficiently (like a radiator) for you to be able to make back to back power runs. As we increase this area, we expect the intercooler to have better control over its peak operating temperature and have better repeatability no matter how long we stay in boost (good for standing mile races for example or all day road racing events).

Depth:

Depth = the depth of the intercooler, usually the intercooler is front mounted in front of the radiator… if you increase the depth too much (and especially without proper air ducting to the intercooler and airfoils between the intercooler and radiator) then you may slow down the incoming ambient air enough that your radiator starts overheating. So increasing D gives us better intercooler performance and more flow capacity (H*D is the cross sectional area mentioned above) but it reduces engine cooling efficiency so it must also be controlled.

Last but not least:

Total Volume:

Height x Width x Depth = the total volume of the intercooler, which is an indirect measure of the internal surface area of the intercooler. The larger the volume, the larger the heat exchange surface area, the more heat we can sink out of the air in an extremely short period of time (the 100 milliseconds or so that the air spends inside the core). Obviously the bigger the volume, the better the cooling and the worse for pressure drop. Again this number needs to be controlled.

How do I know if the intercooler I have now is adequate?

Intercooler efficiency can be tested in two ways:

1-Thermal performance

a.Measure the temperature difference between the intercooler inlet air and intercooler outlet air and use this delta T to compare between the intercoolers you have available to you. The best intercoolers out there can drop air temperature by over 100*F and get you within 20* of ambient air temperatures. If your factory intercooler can already accomplish similar results then there may be no need to upgrade.

b.Track the temperature of your intercooler in a prolonged power run, or on back to back power runs. The design and placement of the intercooler should be adequate that the temperature rise over time (with say 60+mph air hitting the intercooler) should be controlled, if the temperature rise is too steep then you may need a better ‘radiating’ core with more frontal area, better air guides and air foils, and better placement with high pressure air in front and low pressure air behind it… we’ll explain more about this later.

2-Flow performance

a.Measure the flow through the intercooler core at 28″ of water (standard for most flow meters), or measure the overall intercooler pressure drop at the flow rate required by your target horsepower. If the intercooler is on the car, measure the differential pressure across your intercooler at peak hp figures.

The best intercoolers will have less than 1psi of pressure drop (typically 0.5 to 0.9psi) at peak boost and horsepower. If your intercooler is within these power figures then there may not be any need to upgrade.

Now going back to selecting the best sized intercooler for your application, it would be very tough for me to figure out the exact math of how to optimize your intercooler size, and then I would have to translate that math to ‘car terms’ of power, inlet air temps, supercharger outlet temps, pressure ratios and boost pressures…etc

Here is another solution; one thing engineers like to do in dealing with this kind of a problem plotting statistical data on a chart and looking for some trends…

I found some 30 different intercoolers online with either flow tests (CFM), or Dyno tests (HP) or both, and since we know that it takes roughly 1.5 CFM of air to produce 1 HP (depending on density) then I combined both sets of data both for flow tested OEM intercoolers and for aftermarket ‘engineered’ intercoolers to produce the following graphs:

Flow in CFM vs. Cross Sectional Area trend: 

Flow (CFM) = 11.63 * Cross sectional area (square inches) – 12.84 

This is a plot of flow in CFM (vertical) vs. cross sectional area (squared inches) for the 30 cores that I had data for. As you can see there is a linear relationship between flow and area which is expected. So we can use this as a guideline to figure out (for a given depth D) of available cores, what the minimum height of our intercooler must be to get good flow performance.

One thing to note here is that these flow measurements were taken at 28″ of water pressure or 1psi. As we know from supercharger theory, the more boost pressure (and the higher the pressure ratio) the more compressed the air is. Air at 15psi of boost is actually half of its volume compared to 0psi (or 1psi). So making 700hp (1050 CFM) @ 15psi (on a 3.5 liter 6 cylinder for example) may require only 42 squared inches of cross sectional area (because the air is at half its original size) whereas making 700hp (1050 CFM) @ 3psi (on a 7.0 liter 8 cylinder for example) may need a larger 91 squared inches of cross sectional area. So make sure you factor in your pressure ratio before choosing your cross sectional area.

Here’s my second trend:

Horsepower (hp) = 0.533 * intercooler volume (cubic inches) + 50.17 

This is a plot of horsepower (vertical) vs. total core volume (cubic inches) for the 30 cores that I had data for. As you can see there is a linear relationship between horsepower and volume which is expected. The more horsepower we want to make, the more air we need to ingest. The more air mass there is; the more energy that mass can carry (at the same temperature compared to a smaller mass) and thus the more intercooler core we need to sink that energy into our intercooler.

I think between these two charts it becomes now possible to go back to my ‘twin-charged’ Toyota Celica and say:

I wanted to make a peak of 320hp @ 20 psi. That equates to 480 CFM @ 2.36 Pressure ratio.

Starting with a standard 3″ deep intercooler core, let me figure out my other 2 dimensions:

Minimum cross area = ((480/2.36) + 12.84) /11.63 = 18 square inches = D*H

Intercooler height = 18 / 3 = 6″

Total volume = (320 – 50.17)/0.533 = 506 cubic inches.

Intercooler width = 506/18 = 28″

So my ideal core size seems to be 28″ X 6″ X 3″ which is a pretty reasonably sized front mount intercooler.

Now 28″ is a reasonable intercooler width for pressure drop. If this figure were too large I would go back and use a 3.5″ deep core for example. Likewise, if my intercooler height of 6″ would not fit behind my bumper I could go back and increase depth slightly and redo the calculations.

Pressure drop across the intercooler is really important to track for a supercharged car because unlike a turbocharger, we can’t just increase boost pressure with a boost controller, we are limited with superchargers to the gearing we have available in our supercharger pulley. So wasting any of this boost is really bad for performance. This is why it’s really essential to neither undersize the intercooler to choke off the engine, nor to oversize it as to create a big pressure drop.

Are Manners and Etiquette The Same Thing?

I am not an etiquette writer. Well, at least I try not to be. I am a writer and student of elegance. However, in my study of elegant living and authoring my books, I have to deal with etiquette and manners.

I hope to put this out once and for all. Etiquette and manners are not the same. They are two different things. While having good manners is the root of etiquette, having etiquette may just be a mask of manners.

Let me try to explain. Manners are kindness, whereas etiquette is simply an organized way of doing things. Etiquette is birthed out of manners, whose intentions are to develop an organized, orderly system of doing things, in consideration of how those actions might affect others.

Therefore, it is possible for someone to have etiquette but not real manners. Just like how someone may do and say all the right things but you feel that there is something not quite. It is like a facade.

For example, why is it an “etiquette” to stand to the left (or right, depending on where you are from) on an escalator? This is so that someone else in a hurry can go on his merry way quickly without disturbing anyone else. If you do not think of others and stand wherever you want, the other person will be prevented from getting off the escalator quick.

Slowly, a system develops. We are just taught to stand to the left of the escalator. If we never spent a second thinking about why everyone moves to the corner of an escalator, we would then have etiquette, not manners.

The “thinking about others” part is manners. The social behaviour of going to a corner is etiquette. Therefore I hope this illustrates why a polite person can have etiquette, but not manners.

Ideally, we should have both good manners and etiquette. Manners have its roots in kindness. Once you are kind, and you are thoughtful and considerate of others, you wouldn’t have to memorize the rules of etiquette. That is generally speaking of course. We should make some effort to learn about general etiquette, or the etiquette of another culture, especially if we have friends from other places. This is especially useful if you are required to work in another country or when you travel.

Is it possible to have manners but not etiquette? Of course.

As wonderful as we like to think we are, we have different ways of being thoughtful. We also have different ways of interpreting kindness and thoughtfulness. If we offer an elderly person our seat, we are acting in kindness. If the elderly person takes it the wrong way and thinks that you are labeling him or her old, then our actions in his or her mind is not out of kindness.

This is more apparent in culture. Each culture has developed its own social behaviour and thus etiquette.

Another example is learning the dining etiquette of various cuisines. You may have the best heart in the world but offend a hostess by pouring the wrong sauce over your food. Or giving the wrong present. For example, in some asian cultures, the giving of clocks is similar to ‘wishing death upon them’ or shoes ‘to say that their relationship or marriage will not last’.

When you visit homes, in some places it is polite to offer to wash up the dishes, and in others, helping to wash the dishes is an intrusion of privacy. These are all etiquette, not manners.

Manners first, Etiquette Second

How then, to approach life with manners and etiquette? You may ask. Should I go buy the biggest and thickest etiquette book?

I believe the best way is to have a quick browse on the internet or books for general etiquette whenever you are not sure about something. That way, you are acting out of kindness. Fret not though, if you cannot remember everything. I’ll be the first to admit etiquette books are intimidating. Whatever you don’t know, ask softly and privately if you can. Most of the time, it would be appreciated.

How To Restore Picture Tube Without using a crt tester, restorer or rejuvenator

Picture become weak or dim usually happen after the monitor have been used for many years. Again it depends on the quality of the picture tube or cathode ray tube (CRT). Some grade A CRT can last for many years, but for the lower grade one it can only last for couples of year. Don’t be surprise that I do come across picture tube that had gone dim in less than a year! If you switch on your monitor for 24 hours without turning it off, then expect the tube to become dim fast. Besides dim (weak emission) , CRT may also develop many problems such as open filament, short between cathode and heater, G1 and G2 short, poor gamma performance, stripped cathode and focus and G2 short. In this article, I’m going to touch on the weak emission problem only and show you a possible way to brighten up the picture tube.

The cathode ray determines the brightness and sharpness of a picture tube. Its electrons are emitted from the cathode surface into the cathode ray tube’s vacuum. The electrons then strike the screen in the form of a ray and cause it to shine. Weak or used up cathodes produce few electrons and emit weak electron rays. This causes the picture to become dark and fuzzy. Sometimes the cathode emission ceased due to a layer of contamination coating covers the cathode surface. This contamination prevents the electrons from leaving the cathode’s surface thus you get a dim picture.

In order to identify whether is the tube that cause the dim or from bad components, one can always use a CRT tester/meter to check it. Some call it CRT rejuvenator, CRT restorer and others named it as CRT regenerator. These testers are designed to test and check CRT and fix it if the picture tubes have problems. I personally owned two CRT testers- the BMR 2005 Muter regenerator and a less feature one I bought from Thailand. With the help of CRT tester, I can know if a picture tube is working or not. If you do not have one, don’t worry because by checking the voltage at the CRT socket pin outs, you will have some ideas if the CRT is good or bad.

From my experienced, I noticed that the older tube can be brightening up with the help of CRT tester but not for tubes that was made in the year 1994 and above. I suspect the getter (made of barium) inside the tube have been used up. The functions of getter inside the tube are to absorb gas that was release when the cathodes are heat up. If the getter fails to absorb the gas, then there is no point to restore a picture tube. I have brightened up many picture tubes with the help of CRT tester and some looks like a new tube. But somehow after one or two days the picture tube get dim again because the getter cannot absorb the gas and the gas will travels back to the cathode surface and turn it into carbonate. Electron emission will cease again. I even have tried some home made CRT restorer downloaded from the internet and the result is still the same-the picture tube will dim back after couples of days.

After done some research and experiment, I found that the best way to brighten up the tube is to increase the heater voltage. Normal heater or filament voltage is about 6.3 volt and if you increase the voltage to about 8 to 9 volts, this means the cathode will produce more electrons and thus the screen will become brighter. Bare in mind that do not apply any voltage that is higher than 9 volts to the heater otherwise the internal filament will burn out and broken. Once it is open then there will be no way to rescue it.

If the picture tube is heading to rubbish dump then there is no harm to try to restore it. About how long it will last, I cannot guarantee it. Some will last even more than two years and some only couples of weeks. Recently there was a badge of Compaq and Hp 15” monitor that have the symptom of blur display with bright picture. No matter how hard you try to adjust the focus adjustment at the back of flyback transformer, the picture still look slightly blurs. Using the methods above I had saved lots of picture tube (I don’t need to replace a second hand one to customer).

It is a simple modification and this only applies to the 14 and 15” monitor picture tube only. First you need to find which secondary output that have output from 12 to 15 volts. Once you have locate it, then solder a wire at the cathode pin of the diode and join it to the input pin of 7808 (output 8Volts) voltage regulator. Please don’t tap from the B+ voltage which is usually 45 volts and above and this may kill the 7808 IC because this IC can only withstand voltage up to 38 volts maximum. The current drawn from the 14 and 15” picture tube is less than the 17” tube and if you use this way to brighten up the 17” tube, the power supply may go into shutdown mode and sometimes will even lead to power blink.

I do know some technicians like to use the method of turning few rounds of wire at the flyback ferrite core to restore the brightness. This method can work in Television but not in Monitor. Computer monitors runs in many resolution and the higher the resolution the higher the B+ voltage and thus making the output voltage at the wire increased. This will lead to a sudden brightness and may shutdown the monitor. Even if it didn’t shutdown, the customer may get annoyed with the Monitor brightness (raster) whenever the customer change the monitor resolution.

Now solder the pin 2 of 7808 IC to cold ground and the output of 7808 IC pin 3 to the CRT heater point as shown in the picture. Remember to cut off the 6.3 volt supply line from the power supply because you don’t need it anymore. What you need is the 8 Volt supply to the filament in the picture tube. You can also connect a low ohm protection resistor in series to the heater point. Just in case if any short circuit happens the resistor will open circuit. Make sure you attach the 7808 IC to the heatsink, preferable the heatsink at the flyback transformer.

This method only work for tube that is slightly blur and not too dim picture. If a picture is very dim even if you raise the heater voltage to 12 volt, you still would not see a bright picture. As mentioned above there is no harm trying to modify it and who knows the tube can be brought to life and serve the customer for many years. Hope you enjoy the article.

How to Replace Fuel Injector in Nissan 350Z

Nissan 350Z was a famous car model representing a sports car, and marketed by Nissan from 2002 to 2009. The engine used in 350Z implements with a direct injection technology, which helped to keep up a powerful performance with improved fuel efficiency. The fuel injector, in such type of engine technology, places directly inside the combustion chamber, rather than the intake manifold. This modification helps to improve the fuel efficiency by reducing the throttling losses, when compared to an ordinary M.P.F.I. system. But, this improved version of injection system will also become ineffective, if the fuel injector gets damaged or clogged. Since it gets restricted from spraying required measure of fuel, it will directly affect the engine performance, causing it to run sluggishly. Making your move towards its replacement on 350Z would also need you to keep the replacement clean, without any extra cost or damage. To make sure, that this replacement remains effective in your Nissan 350Z, follow these easy steps-

1. Choosing the right injector for your 350Z is highly important; otherwise it makes no sense in replacing it with the one that does not fit the engine requirements. The 350Z model manufactured from 2002 to 2006 carried a “VQ35DE” 3.5L engine. While, the Coupe and Roadster versions of 350Z, manufactured in 2007 and 2008, included a “VQ35HR” engine. Know which engine fits in your 350Z and based on the engine, buy a new injector.

2. The next step is to remove the old and damaged injecting element, using a socket wrench set and a replacement kit, which would help you to remove the element easily from its place. For this, you will need to disconnect the battery negative terminal first, and later, remove the fuel hoses from the fuel and the electrical connectors. Before removing the hoses, do not forget to remove the pressure inside the fuel system by removing the fuel pump fuse or relay, with an engine ON.

3. Disconnect the vacuum hose from the fuel pressure regulator. Now, disconnect the fuel rail using socket wrench to remove the mounting bolts. This will cause the fuel rail to get detached from the engine.

4. It simply requires a small push to remove these injecting fragments from the rail. Once they get removed, remove also the O-rings from them and do not use these rings again.

5. Install the new fuel injector to the fuel rail with new O-ring, and connect the fuel rail back to the engine. Connect the fuel hoses and the battery cable to complete the installation process.

6. Connect the vacuum hose to the pressure regulator, and also connect the fuel pump fuse or relay back to its place. Finally start the engine. This will cause the pressure to get back to normal inside the system.

Frameless Shower Openings – Hip To Be Square (and Plumb and Level)

When constructing the opening for your frameless shower enclosure, one of the most important things you can do is ensure that all of the walls are plumb, level, and square. Custom built heavy glass frameless showers are not very forgiving of an improperly constructed opening.

There are a number of considerations regarding the “squareness” of your opening and the forgiveness of your shower door. Following are the basics of measuring for out of square and for detecting out of plumb. Out of plumb refers to the orientation of walls, step-ups or buttresses along the vertical plane.

Out of Square

For standard inline configurations (such as a fixed swinging door and a stationary panel), measure the opening width at the bottom along the sill and along the approximate top of the unit – not the top of opening, unless your shower will extend to the ceiling. It is important to measure to the 1/16″ and to measure from tile to tile. You cannot perform the measurement step until the opening has been completely tiled.

If your top and bottom width measurements differ by at least 1/4″, you have an out of square condition and the glass may need an edge cut to ensure proper fit. Once you’ve determined that the opening is out of square, the next step is to determine which wall is causing the out of square condition. To do this, hold a level to each wall.

It may be the case that only one wall is not plumb. For example assume the right wall of the opening leans in by at least 1/4″ more at the top than at the bottom. This scenario definitely requires an out of square edge cut so that the glass fits correctly.

In the case where neither wall is plumb, the outage of each wall must be considered separately. If for example, both walls are out of square by only 1/8″ (and the total outage is 1/4″), then there will be enough play on both sides of the opening and an out of square cut can be avoided.

Bowed Walls

Bowed walls present an especially tricky challenge. If you have a wall that bows out at some point other than at the top or the bottom of the opening, then you may have a problem. Technically if the bow is less than 1/8″ and is not on the hinge side of the door, you should be able to bend the channel into place and the glass should have enough room to maneuver. Anything larger than 1/8″ however, and you’ll need to modify your opening.

It’s also possible that your wall could bow in. If your opening is for just a single door, it’s no problem. However, if your opening is for a door and panel and the bow is not on the hinge side of the door and the bow is less than 1/8″ then you may need to apply some extra silicone to close the gap behind the channel. If the gap is greater than a 1/8″, you may need to modify your opening.

If your wall bows in or out on the hinge side of your door, consider the following. If the wall bows in (away from the door), then the only real concern is that you’ll have a gap that is slightly larger than normal. Since most shower heads are located near where the door is hinged (and spray towards the opposite direction), there should be little concern about water escaping.

If the wall bows in toward the door and the bow is greater than 1/8″, you may need to modify your opening. The most important thing is that the hinges line up so that the door swings properly. If the wall bows in the middle, it may end up touching the glass. The gap between a plumb wall and the glass where the door is hinged is 3/16″.

Out of Level

Being out of level is very similar to being out of plumb. As was mentioned previously, being out of plumb by 1/4″ or more requires the glass to be cut at an angle. The same principle applies if your opening is not level along the bottom. If out of level by less than a quarter inch, there should be enough play to secure the glass or not to notice the issue. If your glass does not extend to the ceiling, then it does not matter (in regards to the shower) whether your ceiling or bulkhead is level.

Suppose that your sill is not level by 1/8″ beneath your door. You may have issues with your door sweep providing too much friction on one side and not enough coverage on the other end. You can easily modify the sweep to perfectly fit the out of level opening but cutting the vinyl at an angle with a razor blade.

What It All Means

Hopefully by now you recognize the importance of constructing an opening that is plumb, level, and square. While framed doors have higher tolerances for out of square conditions, frameless showers are custom fit products. To ensure that the glass fits together in your opening with minimal gaps, additional cuts to the glass are required to compensate for any angles in the opening. These additional cuts equate to additional costs.

It is equally important that you precisely measure your opening when ordering a frameless shower door. It is critical that you provide information regarding the plumbness, degree of level, and degree of bowing of the walls comprising your opening. If your measurements are off, the fabricated glass will not fit correctly.

Post and Panel Sign Installation Methods and Techniques – How to Install a Freestanding Sign

You have purchased a new Post and Panel Sign and now need instructions on how to properly install it into the ground. Whether it be metal. plastic, or wood, the type of Freestanding Sign does not really change the installation technique. This article will explain the Direct Burial Installation Method for signs up to 4′ H x 8′ L in size.

Before you start, you need to assemble the proper tools and materials. Here is a list:

1. Post Hole Digger

2. Metal Digging Bar or Spud Bar

3. Two Ground Stakes

4. Measuring Tape

5. 24″ or Longer Level

6. Sakrete or similar product. Usually 40 lbs Per Hole.

7. Five Gallon Bucket or Wheelbarrow

8. Shovel

9. Water

The first step is to assemble your sign and measure the distance from the center of the left post to the center of the right post. This will give you the centerpoints for the two holes that you will dig later.

Second, select the proper location for you sign and mark the centerpoint for each hole with a ground stake. If your sign is to be parallel to a sidewalk or street, you will also want to measure from the street or sidewalk to the center of your holes to insure proper orientation. If your sign is to be perpendicular to the sidewalk or street, mark the center of your holes with ground stakes and then use your line of sight to see if your holes are oriented properly. Adjust as necessary. Note that most cities and towns have sign ordinances that specify the setback distance for signs from the right-of-way, so be sure to check on this beforehand.

Third, use your digging bar and post hole digger to dig your holes to a depth of 24″ to 36″. Smaller signs up to 2′ x 3′ in size will usually only require a 24″ depth hole since they don’t take much of a wind load. Larger signs up to 4′ H x 8″ L should have deeper holes of 30″ to 36″ in depth depending on soil conditions. Softer ground requires a deeper hole to keep your sign from moving in the future. If you are on an incline, the hole further up the hill will need to be dug deeper to keep the sign level.

Fourth, insert your sign into your holes and place your level across the top or bottom of your sign panel. If your sign is not level, lift one post and add a little dirt below it and check with your level again. Add more dirt if necessary. If you are having to add too much dirt, you may want to dig the opposite hole a little deeper to correct the problem.

Fifth, mix your concrete with water in your bucket or wheelbarrow to the proper consistancy. You may want to mix just 20 lbs at a time to make your job a little easier. If you are not close to a water supply, you might consider a collapsible water jug, like those used for camping, and fill it beforehand to take with you to the job site. Once your concrete is ready, have someone place the level vertically on the front or back of one post and tilt the post forward or backwards until the level indicates that it is perpendicular with the ground. Now add your concrete to the hole making sure that the post does not move and stays perpendicular. Repeat this process with the other hole.

Last, fill the rest of each hole with dirt and pack it down with the round end of your metal digging bar. Then load up the excess dirt in your bucket or wheelbarrow, clean up your sign, and admire your finished sign project!

It’s Christmas Once Again in San Francisco

Everybody would agree that San Francisco is a romantic place. Christmas is a romantic season. It would be why this city is harmonious with Christmas. San Francisco appears in several Christmas songs. Among Christmas songs of the city, the most popular and famous one is “Christmas in San Francisco”. Several musicians sang this song. Many Blogs are writing about this song in different languages. They include English, Chinese, and Japanese.

It starts; “Christmas in San Francisco. What a lovely place to be! Seeing the hills being all lit up like a diamond Christmas tree.” Looking up the hilltop on California Street from the lower side on Grant, Karney, or Montgomery, lighting illuminations of both sides of California Street are breath-taking.

The song continues; “Hearing children singing carols, people come from everywhere to sing along with the children standing all around Union Square.” Though The Bay Area does not have snow in Christmas season around the year, it is common to see this kind of typical Christmas scenes. Friendly San Francisco residents like to join visitors to sing with children.

“Let’s take a peek in Chinatown, eating lychee nuts and barbecued boar. What can you say about the Golden Gate that hasn’t been said before.” It sings San Francisco’s favorite places for both visitors and residents. Chinatown is the perfect place to unwind with tea and dumpling. Golden Gate Bridge appears in its lyric as a spectacular marvel.

The song enters into its ending with the lyric; “Christmas in San Francisco. There is no place quite so dear. It’s the closest thing to heaven. How I wish that you were here.” San Francisco is a romantic place to stay in Christmas. If one were with your spouse, partner, lover, boyfriend, or girlfriend, the city would be cheerful, enjoyable, and colorful place. Even one were alone in the city, like this song, the city would be warm, kind, and sympathetic to your loneliness.

Visitors can enjoy Christmas in San Francisco no matter where they are visiting. There are several places that visitors do not want to miss. The one on the top of the list is “Union Square”. In addition to the world-famous Christmas tree in the square, Macy’s dresses up with Christmas illumination. Tiffany’s, Newman Marcus, Levis, and shops decorate their windows with colorful and glittering lighting. Decorations in hotels are extraordinary. Hotels, such as Westin Saint Francis, Handlery Union Square, Villa Florence, Grand Hyatt, or Hilton, all of them compete each other on their unique decorations. Either visitors or residents enjoy Christmas in this city.

Remark of Song Lyrics: ewok1993.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/: My World 8: Christmas In San Francisco. Retrieved from http://ewok1993.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/my-world-8-christmas-in-san-francisco/

4 Things to Look for When Hiring a Landscape Lighting Designer

Have you ever stopped to consider just how much of a difference the outdoor lighting makes? Picture for example the skyline of most any famous city, the Eiffel tower or the fountains of the Bellagio all are spectacular at any time of day but they’re different at night, they are even more spectacular and they capture a mood that can only be evoked at night and the only difference is the lighting. Perhaps I’m blinded by my passion for lighting design but I would argue that’s not the case. Most people intuitively appreciate the added element of beauty that lighting brings.

You can experience and share appreciation for lighting in most any urban setting. If you’ve ever stopped to admire a well-lit home at night or have had the privilege to enjoy the ambience of a skillfully designed outdoor lighting system at a restaurant or hotel then you know first hand what effect it can have as our surroundings seemingly come to life at night in a way that sunlight can’t capture. Thanks to the tremendous increase in popularity of landscape lighting in recent years, homeowner’s and landscapers alike are considering landscape and outdoor lighting to be a necessity in much the same way as they do with their irrigation system. Many more people however live with the regret that they didn’t have the foresight to realize how much more they would enjoy their landscaping if only they had added lights when they installed their landscaping. Fortunately there are many reasons why adding an outdoor lighting system to your property after your landscaping is established makes a lot of sense. It’s never too late to light up your home and landscaping.

If you want to fully experience the benefits of a well-lit home I would suggest it’s best to hire a professional. But who determines what makes a professional? I’ve seen great work done by people new to the industry and terrible work done by people with 10+ years of “experience”. Below you’ll find 4 qualities a good lighting designer should be able to provide for you.

Referrals – A quality lighting designer should have plenty of referrals for you to review. These referrals should be specific to the person not the company. Just because a company employs one individual that’s put together a portfolio of pictures and referrals for the company doesn’t mean the person trying to sell you a lighting system is capable of the same caliber of design. These referrals can be customers you can call that can personally attest to their experience with the person designing your project as well as addresses of homes you can drive past to preview their work first hand. The nice thing about landscape lighting is that a homeowner doesn’t have to welcome you as a stranger into their home in order to see the work that their landscape lighting professional did, you can simply drive past and see for yourself. Previewing new work as well as older projects is a good testament to the quality of the work done and what kind of service program they offer.

Products – The types of materials a contractor uses is a good way to identify quality work. Generally speaking the typical big box stores don’t sell the quality of fixtures that you’d want to purchase if you want to get the most out of your lighting system. Go to your local hardware store to see what they offer and then ask to see a sample of what your lighting designer is proposing to install. You’ll know right away just by holding the fixture how it compares. I’ve seen countless projects where whoever installed it used good quality fixtures and a professional grade transformer but the results were just OK or worse. What I’ve never seen is someone who used cheap fixtures and a standard 12v transformer but the results were amazing. For the best results you should avoid installers using these inferior products. Most lighting designers will have their preferred choice of fixture that they use most of the time but you should also be weary of someone who exclusively uses one manufacturer’s fixtures on all their projects. A talented lighting designer will be familiar with a large amount of the products and fixtures on the market, all of these fixtures become tools in their arsenal to create the perfect design. Just as a fisherman may have just a couple favorite lures, he still has a tackle box full of lures that he’s tested over the years and reaches for on occasion.

Experience – There are lots of ways to gain experience but not all are equal. I would argue that a landscaper that has been installing lights with his landscaping projects for the last 8 years does not have 8 years of experience installing landscape lighting any more than you have 20 years experience as an opera singer because you like to sing in the shower in the morning. Simply asking how long an individual has been installing landscape lighting will not quantify their experience, ask how they learned how to design landscape lighting systems. Most true professionals have either had a mentor that helped trained their eye and hone their skills or they’ll admit that they learned the by trial and error, by working long hours to see their work at night, making adjustments, moving fixtures after they’ve been installed, and trying new things. In addition, the one thing all experienced professionals will have is photos, lots of photos.

Photos – Landscape lighting photography is perhaps single best way to identify a true professional in this industry. This is even more true here than in most trades because in many ways it validates that you have a well–trained eye for lighting as well as your commitment your craft. Capturing the beauty of a landscape lighting system is no easy task. A landscaper for example can simply take out their iPhone and spend a couple minutes snapping photos and have pictures worthy of an album, brochure or website. Nighttime photography requires a tripod and relatively expensive photography equipment that must be set up just before dusk sometimes done over multiple nights in order to get great shots. With landscape lighting it takes just as much of an eye to capture a quality photo as it does to design the job in the first place. Whether they take the photos themselves or the hire a professional, a talented designer will have many photos. A project that really does look magnificent at night might not be portrayed that way in a photo without a good deal of effort to capture it. A true professional should be willing to do what it takes to acquire many photos so that they can accurately portray to a potential client what their home will look like at night when a project is complete.

It’s important to do your research to find a identify a talented lighting designer. A designer that can bring these 4 things to the table will probably do good work. Keeping these things in mind as you search for a qualified contractor to design and install your outdoor lighting system will help expand your living space and add years of enjoyment and beauty to your home.

Pre-Manufactured Slot Car Track Retaining Walls

Much has been written about the compatibility of various brands and types of slot cars working other brands and types of tracks. It is fairly well known, for example, that almost any analog slot car can work well on a Carrera analog track because Carrera has the widest and deepest slot of any of the major manufacturers. Conversely, many Carrera cars will not work well, or at all, on many other brands of track because the guide is too wide or deep to fit in something like a Scalextric track. While articles have been written about the cars compatibility, little has been written about track retaining walls or barriers. This study will look in depth at tracks, retaining walls, and barriers from Carrera, Ninco, and Scalextric, and also show how well they do, or don’t, work when mixing brands.

Firstly, let’s start with Scalextric track and barriers, as they are quite likely the most commonly used brand of commercially manufactured slot car systems. Scalextric makes a very nice looking barrier, made of a soft, pliable plastic that holds its form well, and can absorb impacts of slot car crashes without physical damage. These barriers can attach to Scalextric Sport track in a couple of ways- with small black clips that attach directly to the bottom of the track, or inserted into grooves and channels specifically for these barriers on the accessory shoulder pieces. While the barriers do fit well and fairly stiffly into the black clips, the clips do not remain attached firmly to the track without the use of adhesives or other methods of affixing them in a more permanent fashion to the track. Also with a severe impact, either the barrier, or at times the entire shoulder section may dislodge from the track. Aesthetically the barriers are very pleasing, and they do little damage to the cars while slowing or stopping them. However, they often need to be put back into place after incidents.

Carrera at one time provided two different types of barriers- one was a soft, pliable rubber that would slide into clips and affix to the track, and was available in black or red. These are no longer manufactured. The current Carrera barrier system consists of a red and white striped “candy cane” piece of 3mil PVC that slides into tightly fitting vinyl clips that attach to the bottom of the track. The red and white striping matches the pattern found on the border and shoulder pieces of Carrera track, and does look appropriate on sharp turns, though much less so on straight sections where a barrier may be warranted, such as a bridge. Also, the PVC tends to become brittle over time, and will crack and break with successive impacts. It also has very little pliability, and will pick up paint off of wayward cars. This tends to add a realistic look to the barrier, but the cars will show signs of wear. This system does remain firmly affixed to the track even with severe impacts. The strips of PVC can also be easily cut to custom lengths, and one piece can be as long as 4 feet, allowing for a continuous look and feel on a long turn. It is also quite easy to create your own custom barrier walls by printing directly to sheets of PVC and cutting it into strips of the correct height. This can allow for the creation of realistic and fairly durable trackside advertising.

Though not as widespread as Carrera and Scalextric, Ninco makes outstanding track and barrier products that are almost universally acknowledged as the best quality mass manufactured systems. The track has almost the same width and depth as the Carrera, while having the flexibility and aesthetics of the Scalextric. The barriers include low walls, stone looking walls, and even a wall with a high fence. The Ninco barriers are of a similar material to the Scalextric ones, and absorb impact without “trading paint”

Now, suppose you have one brand of track, but you would like to use another brand for a wall or barrier. Fortunately, this is not nearly as complex or difficult a compatibility issue as it is with the cars. The height of the Carrera PVC strips is exactly the same as the height between the top and bottom rails of the Scalextric barrier railings, and it is quite easy to remove the Carrera candy-cane strips and replace them with Scalextric guardrails. The Carrera fastening system to the Carrera track is very secure, and the railings stay in place as well or better using the Carrera clips on Carrera track as they do using Scalextric clips on Scalextric track. Lengths may be a minor problem, but the material trims easily with a utility knife. Unfortunately, if you wish to use the Carrera “candy cane” on the Scalextric track, the only way to do it well is with an adhesive, laying the Carrera strips over the Scalextric guard rails. Hot glue works well for this, and can be removed fairly easily as well.

The Ninco barriers and walls are a one piece system, with the clips being a part of the wall or barrier section. These attach with ease to not only the Ninco track, but also the Carrera and Scalextric. In fact, the Ninco products seem to mount even more snugly with the Scalextric track than on their native track. On the Carrera track, the height of the track is just slightly taller than the space between the top and bottom of the Ninco clips. However, it can be made to fit by trimming the edge of the Carrera track very slightly, almost unnoticeably along the bottom. Again, the Carrera candy cane can be affixed to the Ninco barriers through the use of adhesives.

Pictures of these various combinations, adaptations, and creations can be seen on our website, http://www.races2u.com/photos/tracks.