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Trenchless Pipe Repair

by adminpower

Sewer pipes (and water pipes) go bad after time. For sewer pipes, that can be especially true if there are trees nearby and the roots get into pipes. The problem is that most of the older pipes that need replacing are terracotta. With ground shifting or house settling or just age the terracotta can deteriorate over time. Since there are joints in the terracotta pipes the roots can grow through the joint or any crack in the pipe and as the root gets bigger it breaks up the pipe.

Traditional Sewer Pipe Replacement

The traditional way to replace a sewer pipe is to bring in a backhoe or other machine and dig a trench down to where the pipe is and then lay a new pipe. Nowadays the new pipe will probably be cast iron or more likely PVC or some other plastic. This creates a large pile of dirt in your yard, can destroy plantings and walkways, patios or decks and whatever else is above the pipe. So you not only have the expense of replacing the pipe but rebuilding the deck or patio and re-landscaping after the project is completed. Plus, the whole project can take a number of days.

New Trenchless Pipe Replacement

Usually, with this newer process, the whole job is done in a day. You don’t need to replant the lawn or shrubs or worry about walkways or anything else that you do with the traditional trench method. It is less expensive and the repairs are permanent (perhaps not in geological time, but for all practical purposes) and meet code.

2 Small Holes vs. One Giant One

Rather than making a large trench, all this method needs is a much smaller hole at the beginning and the end of the piping run. A drilling head is run through the old pipe, breaking it up and expanding the space so that a pipe of the same size can be pulled through. This new pipe conforms to code, has a 100 year lifespan, doesn’t leak and deflects roots and is chemical resistant.

Pipe Relining

Another option, instead of pulling a new pipe through, is to reline the old pipe. A lining is pulled through the pipe. Then an air bladder is blown up to press the lining out against the old pipe. The liner is saturated with an epoxy resin which dries in 3 hours. The diameter of the pipe is only reduced by 5 per cent but is now very smooth with no joints so the flow is better.

So, if you have problems with your sewer line, or water line, check around for the different options available. You may save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

3D Printing

by adminpower

3D printing is the new thing. The prices have come down considerably so that now you can buy them for as low as $350. Of course, there are others for $3,500 and for industrial purposes, much more than that.

What is a 3D printer?

Well normally, you think of a printer putting ink on a piece of paper. This is 2D printing since you just have the X and Y axes. (Technically even paper is 3D because it does have thickness but we are only considering the surface.) You can have dot matrix printers, laser printers and ink jet printers among others. The 3D printers are variations on ink jet printers.

Instead of printing ink through the “ink jets” they put out plastic or metal. This was developed first for plastics in the 1980s.  Some people also call it additive manufacturing.  Layer upon layer of plastic is laid down and cured with ultraviolet light. Because it is being built as you go, it is possible to create things that would be impossible to create in any other way unless you later glued or bolted parts together.

Cost benefit analysis

Generally it has been more expensive than creating something on an assembly line where the unit costs are very low because of the volume. However, the costs are rapidly coming down. Even so, there have always been cases where the expense is justified and cheaper than the alternative. A good example is in the car industry. In the past when they were working on a new car, they would come up with a design for a part and then have to get it tooled and made and it might take several weeks and be quite expensive. With 3D printing, they can just feed the specs into the computer and out it comes a short time later. It is not only cheaper than the alternative method of making the part, but it also saves a lot of time in the development process which also saves a lot of money.

Subtractive Manufacturing

Processes for metals have also been developed although originally they were called laser sintering and laser melting among other terms but it is now considered to be under the general 3D printing or additive manufacturing category. At first when people thought about 3D manipulation of metal they thought more about removing metal from what was there rather than adding metal. CNC milling would be an example of this. This concept is most commonly called machining but now is sometimes called subtractive manufacturing.

Sacrificial / Support Materials

Another twist that has been added are sacrificial or support materials. If you want to create 2 cogs for example, you don’t want them fusing together as you are laying down the layers. So, you can lay down more than one type of material, not just plastic or metal. The other material will separate or support the parts so they are in the right place and then when done can be removed. Ingenious, eh. Not unlike the masking and other techniques they use in creating computer chips and circuit boards.

We will go into other aspects of 3D printing or additive manufacturing in the future.

ReThinking Guns

by adminpower

We are doing a mix of odd and interesting new tools and devices in this post. Hope you enjoy.

Battelle DroneDefender

This looks like some sort of crazy gun out of a scifi movie. It would fit in with Men in Black or Star Wars. It is designed to take down drones. There are so many drones these days that you never know where one is going to show up, possibly peaking in a bedroom window or spying on a company and trying to steal trade secrets, or perhaps spying on a government installation. It uses radio frequency disruption technology. Amazingly, it can disrupt the signal going to a drone from over 1,000 feet away. Without the signal going to it, the drone will drop to the ground. This is much better than trying to shoot it down. Shooting at drones is not a solution in most circumstances and you would need to be an awfully good shot on top of the other obvious problems.


OK, not table salt, this is a new type of gun. Hmm, this blog seems to be turning into a post about guns. Salt is interesting. The company’s website is saltsupply.com. They decided to rethink what a gun is and what it is needed for. You are not going to go hunting with this gun. It was designed to both protect you in your home, but also to protect whoever you use it against. It is designed to incapacitate but not kill any intruders.

The nice thing about this is that there are so many deaths where kids find a gun and shoot somebody thinking it is a toy and not realizing what they are doing. Or someone hears something, thinks it is an intruder and shoots the person who got up in the middle of the night for a glass of milk. This sort of thing happens all too often.

Salt fires a pellet that is mostly made of salt. It explodes on impact and immediately forms a cloud around the person that temporarily blinds them and constricts their airways making it difficult to breath. The great thing is that even if you miss the person and it hits a wall, it is still just as effective.

This is very important because when people are nervous, they tend to be lousy shots. So if you do have an intruder, you are likely to miss with a real gun and then they are on you and can take the gun and use it on you. With Salt, you can even fire and create the cloud before they open the door so they are incapacitated as soon as they walk through the door.

Leatherman Tread

by adminpower

Leatherman Tread

Leatherman has come out with a new tool that doubles as jewelry. It is a bracelet that looks kind of like a tank tread. But each link in the tread has various types of tools. There are screw driver heads of all sorts, flat, Phillips, square and a variety of others. There are two or three on each link. And each link has a hole in it that can be used as a box wrench on bolt heads.

Of course you can’t get as much leverage as with traditional tools, but all told there can be around 25 different tools on the bracelet. It is made of high strength, corrosion resistant stainless steel. The clasp is even functional with perhaps one of the most important tools, a bottle opener.


It is also customizable. You can take links out to make it fit your wrist, or move them around in any order you like. Because each link has a lot of flexibility, you don’t need to take the bracelet apart to use the tool. Just fold the bracelet and go to work. (It would be kind of depressing to need a separate screwdriver to undo the bracelet to be able to use the tools. Luckily Leatherman didn’t make a dumb design decision like that. Not surprising given their history in designing tools.) To see a picture of it, see the article in ToolGuyd.

If you travel a lot, you don’t need to worry about getting through airport security. The bracelet tool passes TSA regulations.

The tool has 10 parts. There are 7 regular links, 2 clasp components and one smaller link to help with size adjustment for different wrist sizes. On the underside of each link are size markings. It will be possible to buy individual links. There will also be a version that includes a wrist watch.

The price will be $150 for the Tread and $500 with the watch.