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House PoweR!

Home tecH

Ho w Y ou r w o r l d w o r k S
sPecial RePoRt

How Safe
IS Your Car?
page 86

World SerieS
page 13

page 99

ASk roy
page 60

SCienCe FiCTion
For everyone
page 92

hoW To Be
page 22

FAll CAmping
geAr guide
page 37

This shop vacuum

mounts on the wall!

page 53

do you need
A neW phone?
page 108

Americas Magazine
Since 1902

October 2014

Firefly Technology
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Screen images simulated. 2014 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.


The Great American

Home Upgrade
everything you need to know and do to
fully enjoy your home. including: kitchen
retroftting tips from a professional chef,
the smartest bathroom ever, energy
savings in your living room, what to look
for in a washing machine, and so much
more. page 64

Photo graPh by Jason Madara

A Debacle in Seattle:
When Bertha Got Stuck
The worlds largest tunnel-boring
machine, Bertha, is stuck 60 feet
beneath the surface of Seattle. Now
a billion-dollar infrastructure project
meant to revitalize the citys waterfront
has become a rescue mission.
By Christopher Solomon

page 78

A Beautiful Thing
A handcrafted, anatomically correct
glass trachea from Farlows Scientifc
Glassblowing is the proving ground
for the latest advances from medicaldevice makers.
By Tim Hefernan

page 84

The State of Car Safety

Its amazing. Among the improvements
in the steel, the advent of vehicle-tovehicle communication
systems, advanced crash testing by
automakers, and self-braking
and -steering technology, driving has
never been safer. Or more fun.
By Ezra Dyer

page 86

Science Fiction for

A defnitive list, in no particular
order, of the science fction you
need to read noweven if you
think you dont like science fction.
page 92

O c t o b er 2 0 1 4 _ p O p u l a r m ec h a n i c s 1

I cant get with any religion that advertises in Popular Mechanics. Woody Allen, Annie Hall

A completely hollow handblown-glass

model of the brain artery system from
Farlows Scientifc Glassblowing, and
a beautiful thing. page 84

Things you will know how

to do after reading this issue
of Popular Mechanics:
Get outftted for a weekend
camping trip (page 37)
Save a few bucks on a
brand-newish car (page 44)
Properly wield a chainsaw
(page 53)
Carve a pumpkin that
will disturb your neighbors
(page 57)
Speak fuently about
the challenges of tunnel
digging in the Pacifc
Northwest (page 78)
Compost (page 99)

When the World Series airs this month, more

than 60 microphones will be rigged throughout
the stadium and controlled from this panel, so
you can hear every drop of tobacco spit. Page 13.


page 43

Cars: The Can-Do

Whether you are of-roading or
towing 30,000 pounds or just
want a great car and only have
$20,000 to spend, we know just
the thing. Also, the last of the
gated gearshifters.
page 53

The new rules for chainsaw
operation, navigating junkyards,
and carving a pumpkin that will
terrify your children. Plus, a nailgun showdown.
page 60

Ask Roy
Your questions about leaf stains,
storm doors, sidewalk surfaces,
and leaky roofs answered.
page 99

A trommel rigged from bicycletire rims, chicken wire, and a
small electrical motor takes
away the backbreaking labor
of composting and any of your
excuses for not recycling those
cofee grounds.
page 108

The Back Page

Do you need a new smartphone?

page 4

An obituary for a pig
Our new automotive editor
interviews his favorite person
Letter from the editor
Hardware mysteries, solved
page 13

How Your World

A Seinfeld writer teaches you
how to buy a car, a virtual visit
to the doctor, how you hear
a ball spin at the World Series,

pork for whiskey lovers, the

$400 billion warplane, and
the best telescopes for
backyard stargazing.


page 32

Great Unknowns
Toilets in skyscrapers, black
boxes in cars, and shoes in the
airport-security line.

page 25


page 37

Steven Johnson, the bestselling science and technology

author with a new PBS series,
explains the evolutionary
impact of human innovation,
including the connection
between Gutenbergs press
and the telescope.

Your guide to the very best of

the season, including:
Camping recommendations
from a prodigy explorer
The boots you need for every
Brand-new antique jackets

2 Oct ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

SPECIAL: Fall Gear

Cover Photo by Philip Friedman.

Clothing by J. Crew. Cover story
photographs by Russ and Reyn.

P h o t o g r a P h b y D av i D b o W m a n

Cutting live wires

with nail clippers





The right way

to drive a Corvette

WhaT You
WroTe abouT
A highly scientifc, fully
comprehensive look at your
response to our July/August
issue, in helpful bar-graph form.


The New
American Soldier


Good Enough
not being good enough


chemical weapons

Woodworking to


Wed been asking you guys

on Twitter to share with
us your weekend projects,
using the hashtag #PMDIY,
over the course of the
summer. Our favorite is a
bit of repurposing from
i had two Polynesian heads
(i dont know why) and
a mess of scrap wood.
so, a tiki bar for the patio.

The Popular
Literary Panel
in assembling our list
of the best sci-f books
of all time (page 92) we
consulted eight highly
credentialed enthusiasts on what they felt
must be included. We
asked how they got
into sci-f:
James Gunn, founding
director of the Gunn
Center for the Study
of Science Fiction,
University of Kansas
id met sam Merwin Jr.,
the editor of Thrilling
Wonder Stories, which
bought my frst story,
Paradox, in 1949 at a
convention in anaheim,

Christopher McKitterick,
director of the Gunn
Center for the Study
of Science Fiction,
University of Kansas
robert heinleins Rocket
Ship Galileo got me
started reading sci-f,
and inspired my teenage
eforts at building liquidfuel rockets.
Charles de Lint, book
reviewer for the
Magazine of Fantasy
and science Fiction
i cant remember the frst
sci-f book i read, but it
was probably by andre
norton, whom i came
to by way of her fantasy
novel Huon of the Horn.
Annalee Newitz, editor in
chief, io9.com
i used to teach an american studies course at
uc berkeley, and would

4 Oct ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

often begin the

section on environmentalism in the
70s by teaching the
movie Godzilla vs. the
Smog Monster.
Ash Kalb, cofounder
of sci-f bookstore
Singularity & Co.
William gibsons
Neuromancer is one
of the books that put
me on the path to
becoming a recovering lawyer who runs
a science-fction
Cici James, cofounder
of sci-f bookstore
Singularity & Co.
My now-husband
won me over by
posting witty yet
knowing comments
on my then-nightly
Star Trek: The Next

Generation Facebook
updates. in our case,
cupids arrow was
more like a phaser
Hildy Silverman,
publisher of space and
time magazine
ive been hooked ever
since i read The Book
of Three, by lloyd
alexander, which was
actually the frst book
of his Chronicles of
Veronique Greenwood,
science writer and
sci-f fan
i had a teacher in high
school who encouraged
me to aim high for
colleges because hed
caught me reading A
Canticle for Leibowitz,
by Walter M. Miller Jr.,
under my desk.

In MeMorIaM: a PIg
A Duroc pig passed away
in July during the course
of reporting this months
food story (How to Raise
a Whiskey Pig, page 20).
The cause was dinner. The
pig, 20 weeks old, was
raised happily among 25
brothers, sisters, and cousins in a large open pen in
Woodward, Iowa, where
he enjoyedwe assume
rolling in mud and the fne
taste of Templeton whiskey mash. Though he often
kept to himself, he became
known for his generosity toward others, serving
himself up as the main
course at Top Chef winner
Stephanie Izards Little
Goat Diner, in Chicago. He
lives on in our hearts, and

i l l u s t r at i O n by d i e g O Pat i O

The non-habit forming

sleep-aid from the
makers of NyQuil.TM
Sleep easily.
Sleep soundly.
And wake refreshed.


Welcome Back
I just read the latest issue (July/August),
and all I can say is wow! This took me
back to when I was 10 years old and
couldnt wait for my dads next issue to
arrive. As the years passed, I always said
one day Ill subscribe to that magazine
again. And now that Im in my 70s and a
new subscriber, Im enjoying it as much
as I did 60 years ago. This issue, particularly, was excellent.
Betsy Decker
location Withheld

an even Better knot

You provided your readers a great service by highlighting the truckers hitch
knot (Skills, July/August). But I think it
is much more useful if it is ended with a
rolling hitch instead of the series of halfhitches. It allows for an easy and secure
way of tightening or loosening the tension on the overall knot, useful since
loads may shift once underway.
tom maDDen
Junior staff commodore,
bahia corinthian yacht club
corona Del Mar, ca

the truckers hitch,


We Are Very Sorry

Your font and background colors are
quite artistic, but the contrast is too low,
making the smaller font size difcult to
read. Here are some examples:
Virtually impossible to read.
Marginally readable.
DaviD mcclune
scottsdale, aZ

Whats that line aBout

Denial Being a river
in egypt?
I am somewhat dismayed by the article
pertaining to the destruction of Syrias
chemical weapons (The Neutralizer,
July/August), which, it claims, . . . the
Syrian government used to kill its own
people . . . I have followed this situation fairly closely and have yet to come
across information, other than what I
interpret as rhetoric released by U.S.
government ofcials, indicating the
Syrian government is to blame for the
attacks that spurred this disarmament.
eric morton
Vancouver, bc

Editors note: Reports from outside the

U.S. indicated that government forces did
carry out chemical attacks, even if they
were without President Bashar al-Assads
permission. And as recently as May chlorine attacks by the government were
taking place. [continued on page 10]

The Instructables Gadget

and Accessories Hack Winner
in the spring we teamed up with instructables to hold a
Gadget hacking and accessories contest. the grandprize winner was Doug urquhart, who, via some 3D
printing, modifed his original time-lapse rigan
eMotimo tb3 motion controller and a Dynamic Perception stage One dollywith lightweight carbon fber
and nylon to make hauling his setup into the wilderness
easier and to increase battery life. urquhart and his rig
had just returned from six days in high sierra backcountry when he got word he was a fnalist. he ofered a brief
and humble acceptance speech: this was a good way to
come back to civilization.

6 Oct ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

Four Questions
for New Automotive
editor ezra Dyer
Interviewed by Ezra Dyer
1. how long have you been reading
Popular Mechanics, you handsome devil?
i dug through my back issues and found
one from October 1987the 1988 new
cars issue. headline: horsepower War
heats up! When i bought this issue, i was
9 years old.
2. and how hot was that horsepower war?
the section on cadillacs new V-8 mentions that with 155 hp, the new eldorado
will do 0 to 60 in just over 10 seconds,
which is the kind of performance cadillac drivers have missed for more than a
decade. the 80s were a good time to not
be old enough to drive.
3. how many cars have you driven in the
past 10 years?
at least 600 in the course of writing for
automobile magazine, mens Journal,
the new york times, and esquire.
high points: camaro concept car, 1988
lamborghini countach, and the 2,700-hp
cigarette racing team 46 rider XP. Doing
100 mph in a boat is like doing 200mph
in a car.
4. Which new technology featured in that
1987 issue do you wish you had now?
Probably the intelligent typewriteryou
Dictate, it types. two things i have in
common with my 9-year-old self: We love
cars and dont know how to type.

i l l u s t r at i O n by P e t e r O u M a n s K i

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editors note

SINce 1902

Ryan dagostino
Editor In Chief

I lIve In an old house (have I told you about my

old house?) that my wife and I are attempting to renovate and restore, room by room. Its really fun and
inspiring and satisfying and often a pain in the head.
But we love it. I recently spent the better part of three
days over two weekends sizing, painting, and hanging a wooden screen door. Nearly killed meevery
angle of the frame was diferent, requiring endless
hand planing and shimming. It wouldnt close right,
the paint wasnt drying quickly enough, I stripped a
screw, the kids kept asking when I was gonna be done.
It looks great now, but in the end its . . . a screen door.
Guests pretend to be impressed, but I admit it doesnt
look all that impressive. Its a screen door.
Nearly killed me, though.
The door was one of those home improvements where you wonder if its worth the
hours shaved of your life. Very diferent from the tremendous home improvements
weve gathered in this issue. For the most part, you just buy them, put them in your
home, and your life is immediately improved. We live in a golden age of home technology. Not necessarily the smart-home, Internet-of-things productsIm not sure yet
how to feel about those. (Do I need to be able to control my washing machine with my
iPhone?) Im talking about new dishwashers that recycle water, new vacuum cleaners
that could turn vacuuming into a hobby, innovations in upholstery that let you pour
mud on the couch, no problem. Mold-fghting wood foors, plasma-quality projection
TVs, and toasters that can roast a chicken. Ways to improve rooms you didnt know
needed improving. For anyone who cares about the space they live in, its an irresistible 14 pages.
With all the time youll save by not hanging screen doors, youll need something
to read. So, youve got Chris Solomons magnifcent story about a giant machine constructed by heroic men that is stuck in the mud 60 feet beneath the city of Seattle,
where it is being resurrected by other heroic men (The Tunnel, page 78). Youve
got a historic list of essential science-fction booksnot the nerdy ones but the kind
everyone should read, even people who dont think they like science fction (Science
Fiction for Everyone, page 92). Youve got a groundbreaking report on car safety by
our new automotive editor, Ezra Dyer, a story that will make you feel safer just knowing what new technology is showing up on American roads (The State of Car Safety,
page 86). And youve got an exclusive look at how a network-TV crew wires a ballpark
to capture the sounds of the World Series (The Wired World Series, page 13), which,
as it turns out, is fascinating. (A shoutout to my brother-in-law, sound man Joe Carpenter, for all his help on that one.) And a lot of other stuf. So, enjoy the issue. And keep
in touchunless youre replacing a door, in which case, God be with you.

eDiTOr in chieF

unRelaTed: ReadeR TIP of The MonTh

I used a car jack with a book on top to hoist a garbage disposal up to the
bottom of the sink. It made tightening the large nut an easy, one-person job.
JIM FREEMAN, Peachtree City, GA

8 Oct ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

Design Director Rob Hewitt

Executive Editor David Howard
Deputy Editor Peter Martin
Managing Editor Michael S. Cain
Editorial Director David Granger
Special Projects Director Joe Bargmann
Senior Editors Roy Berendsohn,
Andrew Del-Colle,
Jacqueline Detwiler
Automotive Editor Ezra Dyer
Senior Associate Editor Davey Alba
Associate Editors David Agrell, Matt Goulet
Copy Chief Robin Tribble
Research Director David Cohen
Assistant to the Editor In Chief Theresa Breen
Editorial Interns Kevin Dupzyk, Niko Vercelletto
Associate Art Director Kristie Bailey
Interactive Designer/Animator Anthony Verducci
Designer Jack Dylan
Contributing editor
Wylie Dufresne
Director of Photography Allyson Torrisi
Associate Photo Editor Devon Baverman
editorial Board of advisers
Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11 astronaut)
Shawn Carlson (LabRats)
David E. Cole (Center for Automotive Research)
Saul Griffith (Otherlab)
Thomas D. Jones (NASA astronaut)
Dr. Ken Kamler (microsurgeon)
Gavin A. Schmidt (NASA Goddard Institute
for Space Studies)
Amy B. Smith (MIT)
Daniel H. Wilson (roboticist)
Wm. A. Wulf (National Academy of Engineering)
Digital Imaging Specialist Steve Fusco
Online Editor Andrew Moseman
Online Producer Carl Davis
Online Associate Darren Orf
Popular Mechanics Interactive
Producer Jeff Zinn
Published by hearst Communications, Inc.
Steven R. Swartz
President & Chief Executive Oficer
William R. Hearst III
Frank A. Bennack, Jr.
Executive Vice Chairman
hearst Magazines division
David Carey
Michael Clinton
President, Marketing & Publishing Director
John P. Loughlin
Executive Vice President & General Manager
Editorial Director Ellen Levine
Publishing Consultant Gilbert C. Maurer
Publishing Consultant Mark F. Miller

PhOTOgraPh by russ anD reyn

Kraft Foods is not affiliated with Keurig, Inc. KEURIG and K-CUP are registered trademarks of Keurig, Inc.


Since 1902

Cameron Connors
Publisher; Chief Revenue Oficer

Who We Follow

[continued from page 6]


Of tHE Butt GAuGE
I bought this tool at a yard sale but dont
know what it is. Do you?

Four like-minded accounts worth adding

to your Instagram feed. Plus, our own:
@popmechmag. (Clockwise from top right.)

John Ruckman
Yreka, ca

the butt gauge

doesnt do what
you think it does.

Your yard-sale discovery stirred up a bit

of nostalgia for longtime home editor Roy
Berendsohn. What you picked up is the
famous Stanley butt gauge.

Heres Roy: Butt hinges are used for

architectural woodwork and doors. The
No. 95 butt gauge was widely used in its
day to scribe hinge thickness and width.
The carpenter would then carefully chisel
out the hinge mortise along the scribed
lines left by the gauge. The gauge is from a
diferent era of carpentry, when men sawed
and planed their lumber by hand. Any
American carpenter who practiced his craft
between 1920 and 1950 would have been
familiar with it. As a teenager I remember
these carpenters in New England. People
looked on these men as somewhat quaint
anachronisms. But their carpentry was
good and has stood the test of time.

I know dry ice is carbon
dioxide in a solid state and
I know it changes directly
to a gas, skipping the
liquid form. But is there
any way at all to make
liquid carbon dioxide?
Landon James B.,
age 14
lynden, Wa

NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center,

space! solar fares! rockets!
The Hudson Company,
Wood. Beautiful, old wood.
Cedar Point, @cedarpoint:
roller coasters. Beautiful old and
new roller coasters.
Adam Senatori, @adamsenatori:
a pilotphotographer posting loads of
fantastic aerial shots.

letters to the editor may be emailed

to popularmechanics@hearst.com.
include your full name and address. letters may be edited for length and clarity.



sure. You just need a whole

lot of pressure and antarctic
temperatures. according
to Jefrey reimer, chair of
university of california,
Berkeleys department of
chemical and biomolecular
engineering, if you put
dry ice in a pressurized
container at minus
68F, and pump the air
pressure up to 100psi
about the same as
inside a skinny bike
tireyoull see solid

1 0 Oc t ob er 2 014_ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

cO2 melt into a liquid. not

exactly something you can
do in the kitchen. at normal
temperatures and at 75 times
the earths atmospheric
pressure, carbon dioxide
enters a state where it
behaves as both a liquid and
a gas. scientists like reimer
are actually working on ways
to separate cO2 from powerplant emissions, pressurize
it to that in-between state,
and then pump the cO2 into
depleted oil wells.

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Executive Assistant to the Publisher Ilona Bilevych
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i l l u s t r at i O n B Y J a c k D Y l a n

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how your world works




The Wired World Series

how the sounds of the years biggest
games get from the batters box to your
living room. By Paul John Scott

P h O t O g r a P h by b e n g O l d s t e i n


MLB on Fox
crews attach
(inset) to all
bases used in
the Fall Classic.

O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 1 3

How Your
world works



During the 2013 WorlD SerieS, Red Sox slugger

David Ortiz crushed a pitch for what looked like a certain
grand slam. But Cardinals outfelder Carlos Beltrn
sprinted back, stuck his glove over the right-feld wall,
and made a catch that was all the more memorable for
the sound of the player plowing into the fence like a
hay bale thudding into a wagon. Watch this years Series
and, while you may not see Ortiz, youre sure to hear
similar on-feld reverberations, thanks to an elaborate,
multiday microphone-rigging campaign by the audio
production team at MLB on Fox. The crew has transformed our expectations about watching live sports. Its
helmed by a soft-spoken, 44-year-old New York native,
Joe Carpenter. The Super Bowl, March Madness, Nascar
Carpenter and his team have wired all of them, delivering a signature hybrid of background noise and sounds
you would never hear even if you were the person
making them. Over the past 15 years Carpenters crew has
taken home seven Emmys
for live baseball on Fox.
In an exclusive tour, the
network gave Popular
1. AudiovisuAl
Mechanics access to their
input terminAls
work during the July 15 AllNewer parks are outftStar Game at Target Field in
ted with terminals for
three-pin XLR cables
Minneapolis, which serves
that snake to broadcast
as a test run for the World
trucks in rainbows
Series. We watched as
of color-coded, rubberencased fber.
they installed hardware for
60 streams of sound and as
2. Wireless
Carpenter mixed the game
routing stAtion
Radio-frequency listena hyperkinetic process of
ing stationsclusters
active listening and controlof antennas that collect
room manipulation. Follow
signals from eight
wireless microphones
along and youll never
situated in hard-to-wire
listen to a slide into third
places around the park
the same way again.
are placed near both
dugouts. Sennheiser
5000 black globes and
steel antenna plates are


Fun sounds picked up by the home-plAte microphones: DEREK

3. hoMe PlaTe
Three parabolic microphones are positioned
in padded boxes
camoufaged to look like

part of the stadium. If

a batter has pine tar on
the handle, Carpenter
says, you can hear
his gloves going thlop,
thlop, thlop.
4. bases
bags contain batterypowered wireless
microphones and
transmitter systems. To
keep base runners from
kicking the receivers,

the heads are aimed at

the outfeld.
5. bullPens
To grab the sounds of a
pitcher warming up
in the bullpen, an 8-inch
shotgun microphone
is attached along the
6. croWd noise
This is captured by
pairs of microphones
on the frst deck aimed
at frst and third base,
above the left- and
right-feld foul poles,
in center (for hometheater rear-surround
content), and near the
broadcast booth.
7. dugouT
Small plates holding
mics are placed atop


secured on railings to
scoop up sounds and
send them via fber
cable to a broadcast
truck, where another
device digitizes the
signal before its sent
up to the broadcast

dugouts to capture
player conversation.
This chatter can be
broadcast in replays
after MLB oficials
approve it.
8. Warning Track
Microphones ring the
base of the outfeld
wall at 15- to 20-foot
intervals in dozens
of locations. They
capture everything from
outfelders footsteps to
players hitting walls.
9. Manned
Parabolic Mics
In the stands behind
frst base and third, two
techs carry manned
parabs, or parabolic
dishes, ready to catch
the sound of foul balls
and pick-of throws.
10. Foul Poles
We always want one
on the foul poles, says
feld technician Anthony
Rug LoMastro. If
that ball hits, we want
to hear the pole going
11. Wired Players
Three or four players
per game may opt
to wear a wireless
microphonebut again,
for replay only, after an
MLB review.

We Wish We could
have heard:








How Your
world works


Inevitable F-35
Its easy to pile on when it comes to
historys most star-crossed military project.
But this one might just be worth the
aggravation. By Joe Pappalardo
The F-35 pictured
above received a
robotic spray of radarbafling coating along
the leading edge of its
wing and air intake.

1 6 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s


The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 made a lot of people wonder just
how many surface-to-air missiles of that magnitude are lying around. But the weaponry used in that tragedy rarely leaks beyond oficial militaries. I know of no other case
where a nonstate group has successfully used this system, says Matt Schroeder, a
weapons-proliferation expert with the Federation of American Scientists. A bigger concern: simple-to-use shoulder-fred missiles that can target planes at up to 11,000 feet;
they have multiplied during the conficts in Syria and Ukraine.

f we can all agree that war is hell, then how might we

think of life at the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth,
Texas, where people toil to build the worlds most expensive
war machine? You might reasonably picture it as a kind of
purgatory. The F-35 stealth warplane is without precedent
in military historymaybe any kind of history. The Pentagon
frst sought bidders for it 18 years ago; development began
when Bill Clinton was still saddled with the presidency.
Cost overruns and failed tests and delays accrued steadily, until the
plane became a $400 billion piata. That cost is nearly twice initial
estimates, and full production might not ramp up until 2019, which
is six years late.
But if you stood on the factory foor with some aircraft engineers, as
I did recently on a company tour, you would not sense any existential
torment. You would see, instead, the workers studying part of a door
that opens when an F-35B swivels an exhaust nozzle toward the ground

to hover. The part was structurally

sound, but they had noted a little
too much material in placesjust
enough to generate returns from
millimeter-wave radar. They
pivoted to a screen displaying a
freshly made 3D scan captured by
a four-lensed white-light imager.
The image is essentially a topographical map of the part and can
distinguish diferences of a thousandth of an inch, the same scale
on which eye surgeons operate.
One of the engineers would later
touch the part with a sander. Its
like sanding a Goodyear tire, says
Rick Luepke, a technical fellow
and applications engineer.
Up and down the production
line, applications engineers use
3D scanners to inspect parts, and
workers in white suits apply tape
between spray jobs by robots
to ensure that the tapering of
the coating is microscopically
smooth. Once all the tinkering is
dialed in and tested, the plant will
deliver almost a plane a day; now
it takes 10 days. By 2037, 3,000
F-35s may be fying worldwide.
If all this comes to pass, every
branch of the U.S. armed services
and several key allies will have
an aircraft capable of processing data from on- and of-board
sensors that allow pilots to see,
shoot, and evade almost anything
in the air or on the ground.
All the new technology is
designed to save time and money
in full production. The cost overruns wont be recouped, but the
price per plane is on track to
eventually shrink from $100 million to $80 million. And the tools
and tricks developed for the F-35
will migrate to other Air Force
programs, including a planned
bomber and unmanned aircraft.
Here in purgatory, Luepke and
his colleagues know innovation is
often stop-and-go and nonlinear.
But the battle for the right to exist
has been won. For them, every
day the improvements come in
thousandth-of-an-inch increments.
But those increments add up.







2014 VF Jeanswear Inc.





The La Belle, now dry, is reassembled for the last time at the museum.

A Ship in a Box

The ship is disassembled and placed in polyethylene glycol.


Freeze-dryi n g

b egins.


How Your
world works

A rendering of the
La Belle as she
looked when she
set sail. The blue
portion is all that
remains today.

Three centuries after it sank of the Gulf Coast,

a French supply vessel is being resurrected. At least it
comes with instructions. By Jacqueline Detwiler

The La Belle wrecks in Matagorda Bay.


The Texas Historical Commi ss


1 8 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s


The La Belle is reassembled for the frst time, in water.


io n confrms the fnd.

out the sodden pieces, the team soaked them in

polyethylene glycol, a waxy derivative of petro
leum that slowly displaces water. When gas
prices shot up in 2008, driving up the cost of the
chemical, they bought an 8 x 40foot vacuum
freeze dryerthe same kind used in making
Lucky Charmsto remove the rest. Throughout
the process, the timbers could have warped or
shrunk, making reassembly impossible.
It took a long time. The fnal reconstruction
will be completed in November 2015, nearly
20 years after the La Belle was found. Fortu
nately, youre not dealing with something like
the Mona Lisa, Fix says. Youre dealing with
something thats a little bit hardier, and you
set about to aesthetically repair it as best as
possible. In this case that means using state
oftheart tools, the most important of which
has been in use since the frst time the La Belle
was built: a hammer.


arts from France for the New World.

n a WIntER StoRm In 1686 a 54foot

French frigate carrying a skeleton crew
on an exploratory mission of the Texas
coast sank in Matagorda Bay, halfway
between Galveston and Corpus Christi.
For more than 300 years it sat and
decomposed, but portions of its keel and hull
were mummifed in 6 feet of mud. When those
diminished but very important remains were
raised in 1996, preservationists had an aston
ishing piece of good luck almost unheard of in
the world of shipwreck rescue: Every important
plank of wood had been marked with a Roman
numeral, like a model in a box. Jim Bruseth,
one of the research archaeologists leading the
$17 million efort to recover and rebuild the frig
ates remainswhich are currently in some 600
piecescalls it a ship kit.
Starting this month Bruseth, along with
Peter Fix, assistant director at the Center for
Maritime Archaeology and Conservation at
Texas A&M University, will reassemble whats
left of the LaBelle at the Bullock Texas State His
tory Museum, in Austin. Theyll ft the ships
remaining timbers around a carbonfber endo
skeleton, using dowels in places to shore up the
original joints. Theyll work outward from the
keel the same way the French shipbuilders
would have, determining what goes where using
historical drawings as well as sketches and
photographs of the original fnd. Theyll also
use those Roman numerals, instructions from
the French designers who planned to have the
ship carried to the New World in a storage bay.
Even with that guidance this is no feamarket
cofeetable restoration, but at least it will be
less risky than what they had to do frst. To dry

boratory at Texas A&M University.

The La Belle dep



Portions of the hull and more than 1 million artifacts are sent to the Conservation Researc h

i l l u s t r at i O n by b r O w n b i r d d e s i g n

Idle to Redline.
Change for the better.
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How Your
world works

eating & drinking

How to Raise a
Whiskey Pig

It was only a matter of time. By Rachel Z. Arndt

ne day last year, while sitting at a bar

with coworkers, Scott Bush, founder of
Templeton Rye, a superior spirit aged
in the Iowa cornfields, had an epiphany: He should raise a batch of pigs on
spent rye mash, the leftover grains from
the whiskey-making process. That way, the rich favor
of the mashand, by extension, of Templeton Ryemight
fnd its way into the hogs fesh. And then the porkand
the bacon!would take on the favor of whiskey.
Maybe it was the booze, but it sounded like genius
at the time.
Scientifcally, Bushs idea made sense, sort of. Just
as the ham from black Iberian pigs gets its unique favor from the acorns they eat, these pigs would get their
own favor from the mash, which in Templetons case
is made up of 90 percent rye and 10 percent barley.
To create the pigs diet, Bush recruited Mark Bertram,
who holds a doctorate in the extremely specifc feld of
swine nutrition from Iowa State University. The process
is pretty straightforward from a biological standpoint,
Bertram says. The pig is breaking down the nutrients
and rebuilding them into muscle. Its the diferent fatty
acids in the food sourcehere, the mashthat can change
the taste.
Breed matters, too, so Bush and Bertram chose Duroc
pigs, a heritage breed known for its tender, flavorful
meat. This past February, 25 piglets began eating their
carefully crafted diets as little 50-pound 9-week-olds. A
friend of Bushs raised the reddish-brown, foppy-eared
swine on a small family farm in Woodward, Iowa, feeding them 20 percent mashthe upper limit Bertram
calculated they could safely consumecombined with
corn and soybean meal. The hogs grew fast, doubling
in weight every three to fve weeks, until they were 20
weeks old and 210 pounds each.
On the last day of their lives, in early July, a heavy rain
pattered on the metal roof of the pig barn, located at the
end of a remote gravel road. The open pens smelled as
expected, but faintly mixed in with the scent of swine
and manure was the sweet, molasses-like hint of mash.
It smells wonderful, Bush says. They seem to really
enjoy it. Bertram agrees, though in slightly more scien-

20 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

tifc terms: Theyre very adaptable creatures.

The pigs, available for preorder, had all been spoken
for, with about half going to restaurants. The verdict: The
pork didnt get you drunk or scream whiskey, but it was
fantastic. Theres no way for anyone to take a bite of the
pork and taste that it has 20percent Templeton mash
in the feed, says Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard, who
cooked one of the pigs for a themed dinner at her Little
Goat Diner, in Chicago. Still, Izard thought the pork favorful and the fattiness perfect. If we had made bacon,
it would have been beautiful, she says. One attendee
said this after Izards dinner: It was hands down the
best-tasting pig Ive ever eaten.
Considering its inaugural success, Bush doesnt discount another whiskey-pig program next year. Were
whiskey makers, not pig farmers, he says. But its something wed like to continue. Hes also considering two pig
crops a year, one in summer and one in fall. And though
there are no solid plans yet, hes even talked of expanding to chickens, turkeys, and cows. If so, the menu line
writes itself: Whiskey-raised flet mignon wrapped in
whiskey bacon. People would order that.

P h O t O g r a P h by a d a M v O O r h e s

did yOu like this


Are you a


Do you drink

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this story.

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How Your
world works


to Buy
a Car
By Spike Feresten
On his new show, Car Matchmaker (Tuesday nights at
9 pm Eastern, starting Oct. 14
on the Esquire Network), car
buf and comedy writer Spike
Feresten (Seinfeld, Letterman,
SNL) fnds men in desperate
need of new vehicles and gets
them into something more
appropriate. Its fun. Like
House Hunters for people who
can grow a full beard. We
asked him for some advice,
whether you are buying your
next car or just want to assess
what you already have.

To improve your life, a car

needs to function in it,
otherwise youll reach that
awful moment when you

Fig. 1


by dav i d
C ro n e n b e rg


have to take your family to

the airport and you cant ft
Never buy the paint. When
it comes to vintage or
preowned, buy the car frst,
not the color.
If you can, rent the car you
want to buy and live with it
for three days. On the third
day it either clicks or you get
it out of your garage.
Instead of traditional carreview websites, go to
YouTube. Its flled with
people in their driveways
talking about their car:
unfltered, unprofessional,
and generally awesome.
Never buy a beautiful car for
a wife who doesnt care about
cars. Youll be in pain as you
watch her destroy it. [Fig. 1]
If your kids can take care of a
car, reward them. If not, used
Pontiac Azteks.
Avoid the dealership at all

Fig. 2

costs. Find a consultant and

let him do the work for you.
People dont know these
guys exist. You call him and
tell him what you want. He
fnds the car, deals for it, and
delivers it to your driveway.
You never set foot in the
dealership, and the price is
usually better.
If you do go to a dealership,
no pity. Allow yourself
20 minutes to make
this transaction. [Fig. 2]
Announce it: Heres the car
I want and the price I want to
pay. You have 20 minutes to
make that deal or Im walking
away. Otherwise, they will
walk all over you. It happens
constantly. That feeling
bleeds into the life of the car.
Youll remember that.
If its a valuable old car,
overpay for the best-possible
original, low-mileage one out
there. Youll rarely go wrong.
Youll know youve done it
right if you enjoy being in
trafic. [Fig. 3] Thats really it.

Fig. 3

If youre a fan of director David Cronenbergs flms (Scanners,

The Fly) then youll relish his frst novel, Consumed. At
the heart of the story are Naomi Seberg and Nathan Math,
freelance Web journalists investigating the gruesome death of
Clestine Arosteguy and the disappearance of her husband/
potential murderer, Aristide. Add in ample doses of violence,
virtual voyeurism, a few dashes of experimental surgery
and geopolitical philosophizing, and more than a hint of
cannibalism and youll get a good sense of the disconnected
world that the author has rendered. Admittedly, the various
disconnections and indulgences in the novel are often glaring
and distracting, but this also seems to be Cronenbergs point:
Were a society, a world, that fetishizes the latest and most
powerful technology, and our unchecked desire for more
speed, access, and pixels is isolating us, eating us, consuming

22 oc t ob er 2 014 _ p o p u l a r m e c h a n i c S


The Science
of Happiness
And what that might have
to do with Simon Pegg.

n the new movie Hector and the

Search for Happiness (out Sept.
19), Simon Pegg plays a therapist
who goes of in search of his own
happiness. If you can get through
the early parts, when Hector has
the frantic visual structure of a music
video, its a good moviefunny, thanks
to Pegg, with legitimate insights. Like:
Avoiding unhappiness is not the road
to happiness. And: Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
Christopher Plummer even shows up
dressed like Steve Zissou to tie everything up neatly in the end. In case your
troubles cant be solved with a movie,
we asked Elizabeth Dunn, head of the
Social Cognition & Emotion Lab at the
University of British Columbia, for a
few other ways to brighten your mood.
Spend money on other people. In
an experiment Dunn found that people were signifcantly happier after
spending unexpected money on someone other than themselves.
delay conSumption. Say youre
going on a trip. The larger the gap
between when you pay and when you
go, the less you feel the stress of having paid for it. Plus, anticipation is an
important source of pleasure thats
often overlooked.
talk to StrangerS. When youre
around new people, you subconsciously strive to be your best self. Your
happier self.
have a kid. It may be the comfort of
family life and not specifcally the kid,
but either way, its good for you.
Stop worrying about being happy.

Genes determine peak disposition. So

if youre trying everything and still not
as happy as you want to be, realize that
not everything is under your control,
and be grateful for the joy you do have.
maybe try the kid thing again.

What could go wrong?

i l l u s t r at i O n s b y pa u l j O h n s O n ( b O O K s, M O V i E s ) , V i C K u l i h i n

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How Your
world works


The Doctor Is
Online Now

Telemedicinevisiting your doctor via phone or video

chathas been around for years. But Obamacare may
make it a lot more common. Ready? By Joshua A. Krisch

OU WAKE UP one morning with some

strange malady and fgure youd better
see your doctor to determine whether
its something or nothing. But the next
open appointment is weeks away, and
the thought of going to the ER flls you
with dreadthe nimbus clouds of germs, the waiting.
There may be a third optionone that involves an app,
describing your symptoms to a physician, and getting a
prescription, all without visiting a doctors ofce.
That option is known as telemedicine, a term
encompassing any remote technology that replaces a
doctors visit. Could be a videoconferencing diagnosis
of a case of shingles. Could be a big-city surgeon talking
a small-town doctor through an operation. Or sensors
worn by elderly patients that can be monitored from

24 oc t ob er 2 014 _ p o p U l a r m e C h a N I C s

thINgs We WoN t mIss aboUt the doCtors oFFICe


WaItINg-room reVelatIoN that Judge Judy Is stIll oN tV.

hearINg the NUrse loUdly aNNoUNCe oUr WeIght.
Fear that CoUghINg gUy WIll traNsmIt the FlU.
sIt tINg oN CrINkly paper.
does It hUrt WheN I do thIs?
the same paperWork, eVery tIme.

afar. And the trend is growing. In June the American

Medical Association released guiding principles on the
provision of telemedicine services, including seemingly
obvious ideas like having practitioners abide by the
same standard of care as in-person services. A recent
study by IMS Research estimated that the industry
could be worth $6 billion by 2020. And last year three
of the nations Web-based healthcare companies
Teladoc, MDLive, and American Wellprocessed over
400,000 interactions online, more than double the
amount in 2011. With 32 million Americans becoming
insured under Obamacare, telemedicine could help
avert a doctor shortage.
Telemedicine actually began in the 1960s in tandem
with human spacefight. In that era NASA developed
monitoring systems to remotely record biometric data,
which was beamed to scientists via a telemetric link.
Today all you need is a camera on a computer, says
Dr. Peter Yellowlees, director of health informatics at
the University of California, Davis, who provides remote
care to Native American reservation communities. Its
not technology thats the barrier, he says.
Not all physicians are on board yet. Its really
a personal choice that the doctor makes, and for
many, its an economic issue, Yellowlees says. Unlike
specialists, who do revenue-generating procedures,
primary-care physicians get paid by the visit, so some
membership providers, like Kaiser Permanente, pay
in-network physicians to use their message services.
Other doctors choose to practice concierge medicine,
which lets consumers add remote services for a fee.
But plenty of apps and Web-based companies
let you access remote healthcare, with more joining
in. Teladoc, MDLive, American Well, and Doctor on
Demand are available in most states.
Heres how they work: Determine whether your
condition is appropriate for an e-visitsay, the fu,
allergies, or sports injuries but not breathing problems
or broken bones. (Most websites list what they will
and wont treat online, and whether theyll accept
your insurance.) Youll upload your medical history.
Then you can consult with a doctor licensed in your
state, who might prescribe an antihistamine but not an
antidepressant. It costs $30 to $50 for minor illnesses
and $250 to $350 to see a specialist. And as long as
both physicians and patients can recognize when an
in-person visit is best, telemedicine is a good thing. As
anyone in a long-distance relationship will tell you, the
invention of video chat was groundbreaking.

p h o t o g r a p h by a d a m V o o r h e s










clinical social worker ALMA SCHNEIDER helps clients
overcome their resistance to cooking. To match Alma with
the family-friendly vehicle that could take her sessions
from private homes to large companies, we called on auto
he chose be everything she wants in a midsize SUV?


TRAVERSE made room for all my

cooking supplies AND my kids (with a
second-row seat that easily slid back for
third-row access.) The available voiceactivated GPS is cool, and TRAVERSE looks
sleeknot like a suburban mom minivan.






Car and Driver enthusiast

Peter Ha was convinced the
Chevrolet TRAVERSE delivered
the complete package Alma
was looking for.
> A midsize SUV with all the
amenities you want (and
some you wouldnt expect).
> Space for everyone and
everythingwith seating
for up to 8 and class-leading
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Were rigorous about not

telling stories people have
heard before.

The King of
Cause and Efect
Author Steven Johnson on birds and bees,
the origin of eyeglasses, and how air
conditioning changed politics forever.
Interviewed by JoeBargmann
POPULAR MECHANICS: Your new book and PBS show,
How We Got to Now, are about the history of various technologies, and the unintended way that one invention can
spawn anotherand even lead to social changebecause
of what you call the hummingbird efect. What is that,
STEVEN JOHNSON: I live in a part of California where
there are a lot of hummingbirds. I saw them flying around, and I started thinking. Bees and plants
co-evolve: Bees go into fowers to get the nectar they
need to survive, and they transfer pollen that helps the
fowers reproduce. Then this bird shows up and goes
through an incredibly elaborate set of evolutionary
adaptations to learn how to hover next to a fower, to

i l l u s t r at i O n b y a lva r O ta P i a h i d a l g O


How Your
world works

extract the nectar. So here you have North to places like Southern Califora relationship between insects and nia, Houston, Phoenix, and Florida.
plants, and it ends up transforming I joke that its the frst mass migrathe physical structure and function- tion of human beings triggered by a
ing of the bird. Something similar home appliance. And then there is
happens in the history of tech and a realignment of American politics.
ideas. Someone comes up with a Before 1952 only one presidential
new technology to solve a problem, and two vice presidential candibut the solution also has an efect on dates hailed from the Sun Belt. From
1952 until Obama, every single winseemingly unrelated felds.
PM: One example you cite is the link ning ticket had someone from a Sun
between early printing technology Belt state on it. You cannot tell that
political story without mentioning
and the summer blockbuster.
SJ: Right. At the start of the 20th cen- air conditioning.
tury, in Brooklyn, a printer was doing PM: Gutenbergs printing press and
full-color magazines. In the sum- the telescopewhats the link?
mer the ink didnt set up properly. SJ: In a word, glass. In the 15th cenThe printer hired a young engi- tury a glassmaker discovered how to
neer, Willis Carrier, to
make clear glass. Clerics
devise a way to bring
who were reading scholthe huMMingbird
down the temperaarly manuscripts started
ture and humidity in
using convex pieces of
Number of candidates from
the room. He built this
clear glass to magnify the
the Sun Belt for U.S. president
and vice president combined,
contraption that made
text. Gutenberg invents
1900 to 1952.
the printing possible.
the printing press and all
T h e n t h e wo rke r s
of a sudden more people
were like, Im gonna
are trying to read and fnd
Starting in the early 1950s, a
have my lunch in the
out theyre farsighted.
million air conditioners per year
room with the conThe market developed for
were bought in the U.S.
traptionits cool in
spectacles and lens makPopulation explodes in the
there. Carrier says,
ers cropped up all over
Sun Belt, thanks to home air
Hmm, thats interEurope. Before long they
esting. He sets up the
think, What else can I
Carrier Corporation,
do with these lenses?
which air- conditions
They line up two of them
movie theaters, pavand discover, Hey, I see
Number of consecutive winning
ing the way for the
things that are very small,
U.S. presidential tickets with a
Sun Belt candidate, 1952 to 2008.
summer blockbuster.
and they seem a lot bigBefore air conditionger. And then, by aligning
ing, a crowded theater was the last the lenses diferently, Now I can see
place you wanted to go. After a/c, things in space! The telescope and
summer movies become part of the the microscope are invented within
cultural landscape.
20 years of each otherin the same
PM: Air conditioning and politics village in the Netherlands. Amazing.
are also related by the hummingbird The story about the printing press is
a great example of the hummingbird
efect. How?
SJ: After World War II air condition- efect: People must wear spectacles
ers shrink to window-unit size, and to read, and lenses are used to create
central air is developed. This enables the microscope and the telescope.
a massive population shift from the These discoveries changed humanity.

O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 25


or more than a century, scientic and

military experts have imagined a world
of weaponry that included death rays,
robot spies in outer space, and dirigible
mother ships holding dozens of planes.
Some predictions were shockingly prescient; others hilariously wrongand
youll nd them all in this new book alongside the stunning original color art.
Edited by Nebula-award winning author
Gregory Benford.



Available in hardcover or as an ebook wherever books are sold.

the Secrets
You Need
to Succeed!

EV ur
E Lo
D R o wes
res n t P
s W a C ri
atc lass ce
h! ic

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for only


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essential skills
every man
needs to

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4 shirts every man should own. Style

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3 things you should never bring to
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Get fast service at a crowded bar.
Page 73 makes you a happy-hour hero.
Make an of-the-rack blazer look like
it was tailor made. Page 109.
3 secrets for beating jet lag. Read page
21 and feel great the moment you land.
How to check out women without
getting caught. Page 34 is a lifesaver.
And so much more!


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How Your
world works


Fig. 1

Orion Nebula

The Smartest
Wi-Fi-enabled stargazing takes a lot of the
work out of astronomy. Which is good. But also
not so good. By Peter Martin
Astronomy hAs one bIg Problem:

using a telescope is hard. Move it

a quarter-inch and suddenly youre
halfway across the sky. you might as
well be looking for an ant with 80x
binoculars. But the celestron nexstar
evolution 8 (above, right), at $1,600,
makes things much easierby doing
the searching for you. it has a built-in
Wi-Fi network you can connect to
through your phone or tablet. All you do
is touch the star you want to see on the
app and the nexstar takes you there.
this is only if you can get it set up,
though. to orient the scope, the app

asks you to fnd three bright stars in

the viewfnder. problem is, when you
maneuver the telescope toward a star,
the display changes, so by the time you
have the scope oriented correctly the
app thinks youre looking at something
diferent. the secret, buried in an
instruction book that takes monk-like
patience and a ph.d. to understand, is
to ignore what you see on your screen
during this process. then the nexstar
takes over and things fnally get easy.
youll fnd clusters and nebulae you
didnt even know to look for, and you
wont have to work that hard to do it.

the automatic navigation takes

the uncertainty out of stargazing, but it
can easily turn you into a spectator. the
next logical step would be to wirelessly
transfer the image from the scope to
your tablet. But then you might as well
not be using the telescope in the frst
place. you might as well be on google.
on the couch. With the telescope in
the closet. or not looking at stars (or
star images) at all. part of the appeal
of stargazing is gaining a respect for
the vastness of space by attempting
to navigate through it. even if that
involves getting lost.

tWo other smArt oPtIons


the sky-Watcher esprit ed 100mm Apo

(below, left), at $2,499, uses a feld corrector
to fatten the image and has a three-piece lens
design that prevents false color. All of which is
very important when youre taking advantage of
the scopes main selling point: it can be hooked
up to your dslr, like a 150x zoom lens. your
slide shows just got so much better.


At $580, the orion starseeker iii 127mm (below,

right) costs more than many beginner scopes,
but it has the capacity to grow with you. this fully
computerized telescope has a 49,000-object
database that is searchable by type. the best
feature is the touring mode, which takes into
account the date, time, and location to show you
the best stars. All you do is push a button.

Where Do I PoInt thIs thIng?

A hAndy guide to telescope tArgets: there are plenty of stars to look at,
but theyre not all worth the time it takes an amateur stargazer to fnd them.
Astronomer tyler nordgren at the university of redlands, in california, suggests
starting with the celestial body right in front of your face. go out on a night when
there is a half or crescent moon, and point your scope at the line between the dark
and light sides. the striking contrast will show of craters like the Kepler (looks like
a cup), the eratosthenes (looks like a cup with terraced sides), and the copernicus
(looks like a cup with terraced sides and rays coming out of it). When youre ready
for something more dificult, locate orions Belt and move south toward where his
sword would be. here youll fnd the orion nebula (Fig. 1), a rainbow-colored cloud
of gas and dust that sits about 1,600 light-years from earth. it can be seen with
the naked eye but glows pink and yellow-green through even a low-powered telescope. Mastered that? download a star chart. NIKO VERCELLETTO


p h o t o g r a p h s by D av i D L a w r e n c e


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How Your
world works

greAT uNkNowNS

Do you have unusual questions about the world and how it works and
why stuf happens? This is the place to ask them. Dont be afraid.
nobody will laugh at you here. email greatunknowns@popularmechanics.com.
Questions will be selected based on quality or at our whim.

Toilets, Black
Boxes, and
Airport Feet

Ive heard that if all the toilets

in a high-rise like the Sears Tower
were fushed at once, it could
destroy the building. True?

Couple of things: First, there is no Sears Tower

anymore. The iconic 110-story building on Chicagos
Wacker Drive, for a time the worlds tallest, is now
known as Willis Toweran enduring and richly
deserved monument to the character portrayed by
actor Todd Bridges on Difrent Strokes.
As to the rest of it: No, a building-wide fush
would not harm the structure. Believe it or not,
engineers actually consider things like the probability
of contemporaneous toilet use. The industry rule of
thumb holds that there is a 1 percent chance that a
freak simul-fush will occur once over the life of a tall
building, though in truth the odds are probably more
like zero. Even so, skyscrapers are built to withstand
such potential infrastructural events, and the design
of their plumbing would spread the stress among multiple self-contained zones.

3 2 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

A building like the Willis Tower

doesnt rely on a single plumbing system. If it did, thered be no
water pressure at the top. Instead,
a high-rise might employ, say,
four individual plumbing systems,
each serving a certain portion of
the building, and each with its
own dedicated water tank kept
at optimal pressure to serve the
foors within its zone. If every
toilet in the building were fushed
at oncedue, presumably, to
some apocalyptic gastrointestinal
circumstance best left unimagined
(or perhaps related somehow
to the play of the Cubs)each of
the four tanks would be stressed,
likely resulting in weak fushes, but
the building as a whole would be
unharmed. The same may not
be said of its occupants.

Now that cars have black

boxes, do car companies
know where we go? Am I
being followed?
A black box, formally known as
an event data recorder (EDR), and
informally known as a narc-in-thebox, logs a variety of data regarding the operation of the vehicle in
which its installed. The good news
is that EDRs do not (yet) track your
location, nor do they beam realtime information to feds, cops, carmakers, or mothers-in-law. Thats
what your smartphone is for.
EDRs, standard these days in
96 percent of new cars, do, however, take note of how fast youre
going and whether youre wearing
your seat belt, along with details
like the status of your cars throttle
and brakes at any given moment.
This is the sort of data most likely
to have legal implications, particularly in the event of an accident.
Police and lawyers can indeed
subpoena the data from your cars
EDR and use it against you. The

info can also make its way into the

hands of your insurance company,
which might join authorities in taking a dim view of the fact that you
thought to apply the brakes only
after youd sailed of the end of
the pier toward that passing barge
hauling kittens and dynamite.

Are we ever going to

be allowed to keep our
shoes on through airport
security again?
Two reasons were still shedding
our shoes 13 years after scraggly
would-be evildoer Richard Reid
tried to set of a device in one
of his high-tops: For one, intelligence suggests terrorists remain
interested in smuggling explosives
in shoes. The second is more political than practical: Once instituted,
security measures are notoriously
difcult to revoke. Who, after all,
wants to take responsibility for
declaring that shoe bombs are no
longer a threat? Its like promising
someone ol man Charlie Manson
wont hurt them.
Still, theres hope for the
barefoot masses. The Transportation Security Administration is
investigating foor-mounted explosives detectors that passengers
could walk on completely shod.
And authorities are beginning to
shift toward whats known as riskbased security, in which passengers deemed trustworthy would
undergo abbreviated screening.
(Kids, for instance, have been able
to keep their Buster Browns on
since 2011.) So hang in there.
Now for the real question:
Is there ever gonna be a law
requiring the guy in the seat
behind you to keep his footwear
on for the duration of the fight?
Talk about a shoe bomb! Thank
you very much, and dont forget to
tip your waitress.

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Fall Gear

The seasons best camping equipment, our authoritative boot

buyers guide, and one great-looking jacket.

Parker Liautaud
made it to the
South Pole last year
in a record 18 days,
pulling his gear
on a sled behind
him the whole way.

How to
Camp Like
a Polar
Last year, at 19, Parker Liautaud became the youngest man ever to ski to the South Pole. In case that didnt give
him enough to talk about at parties, he also owns the speed record in walking the 314 miles from the Ross Ice
Shelf (the edge of Antarctica) to the South Pole, completely unaided, with his teammate, Doug Stoup: 18 days.
Its all part of his campaign to raise climate-change awarenessand inadvertently make you feel bad about what
you accomplished last weekend. Over two months we inundated Liautaud with the latest packs, sleeping bags,
jackets, and gearover 100 itemsand asked him to pick the best. If it meets the standards of a South Pole
explorer, theres a pretty good chance itll get you through a weekend in the Rockies.
A box of matches weighs almost nothing. So far, its the most reliable item Ive used.

i l l u s t r at i o n s b y j o e m c k e n d r y

o c t o b er 2 014 _ P o P u l a r m ec h a n i c s 37

Fall Gear Special

water filter
Instead of a pump, the Platypus
GravityWorks Water Filter System
Reservoir 2-Liter Kit ($109) uses gravity
to filter water. Hang it up and let it work.
parkers take:

We didnt use a filter often. Wed just boil

snow. But this works really fast, and it only
has a few parts, which makes it very light.

At 3 pounds, MSRs two-person Hubba
Hubba NX ($390) packs as easily into
a backpack as it does a trunk.
And the clip-on system connecting the
poles to the tent makes for simple setup.
parkers take:

There are relatively few parts. I could live

with this if I was dropped in the wild with it.
sleeping bag (hybrid)
Eddie Bauers Airbender 20 ($799)
is the first sleeping bag to seamlessly
incorporate a sleeping pad.
parkers take:

The inflatable Sea to Summit Aeros
Ultralight Pillow ($35) is made from fibers
weighing about the same as a strand of
hair and packs down into
a tiny stuff sack.

The pad grounds the direction of the sleeping bag so it doesnt end up twisted around
you a few hours after youve gotten into it.
Plus, having the bag and pad built together
saves on space and weight.

parkers take:

Moraknivs Bushcraft SRT knife ($60)
has a half-serrated steel blade and a spine
that conveniently works with a fire starter.
parkers take:

This is beyond what I would usually use

more for a rugged explorer with a scraggly
beard who hunts deer with his bare hands.
But it is such a cool piece of equipment.
38 Oc t ob er 2 0 14 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

camp stove
With 10,000 Btu, the Jetboil Joule ($199)
boils a liter of water in less than
3 minutes, even when its 10 below, forever
revolutionizing when and where
you can eat chili.
parkers take:

Boiling water so quickly is a big deal, especially when youre in extreme conditions.

The Stanley eCycle ($20) has a seemingly
simple innovation: It opens up across the
width of the flask for easy cleaning.
parkers take:

This would be good if I wanted to save a

little bit of a fancy whiskey for the end of a
South Pole expedition. Not that I could. The
South Pole is run by the U.S., and Im still 20.
PhOtO graPhs by eric helgas

gut ter credit tk

Normally even tags

add weight, but theres no downside to this.
Its the size of a baby mouse.

Fall Gear Special

SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gloves ($50) are
waterproof and lightweight for mild, wet
weatherwithout sacrificing any dexterity.
Parkers take:

If I were headed anywhere other than the

South Pole, Id go for these. Its nice to
have something against your skin thats not
synthetic but still waterproof.

sleePing bag (classic)

Sea to Summit Spark SP II ($359)
claims to be the worlds smallest
down sleeping bag.
Parkers take:

In the South Pole, we folded our sleeping

bags on top of our sleds because they were
a pain to pack up. This bag is remarkable. It
stuffs into a sack the length of my hand.
soft shell
Mountain Hardwears Super Chockstone
Jacket ($135) repels water and is extra
durablemade not to be bothered by sharp
branches off the trail or a scrape through
close rocks on a scramble.
Parkers take:

It seems like a minor reason, but the Chockstone has a big, easy-to-use zipper. Thats
important. Theyre often too small.
down jacket
Columbias new material, TurboDown,
combines down and synthetic, capturing
the best properties of both. Its lightweight
and warm, like down, but dries out after
getting wet, like synthetic. And the Diamond
890 ($325) weighs only 13 ounces.
Parkers take:

Its a very lightweight jacket for how

warm it is. More than that, I really
like the way it looks.
The First Ascent Sorcerer ($499) pack is
made out of a lightweight military-grade
fiber thats said to be as strong as Kevlar.
Parkers take:

Unlike most packs, this one has plenty of

pockets. And bigger buckles, which, from my
experience, are always easier to manage.

A Few Suggestions
for the Future
What a South Pole explorer
would like to see in gear.
By Parker Liautaud

You dont need the same amount of light at
dusk as you do at midnight. The Petzl Tikka
RXP ($85) reads light conditions with a
sensor and dims or brightens on its own.
Parkers take:

The reactive lighting really helps save power.

Its worth spending the few extra bucks.

I cant stand backpacks that

have straps laid across
the main zipper. You cant
unzip all around the pack
without stopping and pulling the zipper underneath a
strap. When your backpack
is your home, that gets
really irritating.

Most zippers, especially

on sleeping bags, need
tags to make pulling them
closed easier. For all
my stuf for the South Pole,
I looped a string on
every zipper.

People want to be able

to travel with their tech.
Backpacks really need to
start having a waterproof
pocket made specifcally for
a tablet or smartphone.

Little things add up fast. Strike igniters, compasses, knives, watches. Maybe you want a titanium spoon instead of the
plastic one. Dont spend 30 extra dollars for a feature on a $5 tool. You wont miss it if you dont have it.

Fall Gear Special

The best new
boots of the
season (and a
couple of classics)
for every man.

You Are:
A MountAineer
You wont feel complete
until youve hiked all of
Colorados 14ers. You see
no problem with going
to sleep at 8 pm, and
can usually fnd all of the
ingredients for campfre
tostadas in your backpack. All of your cofee
cups are made of metal.
Your boots:
( 1 ) Vasque Eriksson GTX
Backpacking Boots; $220
The struggle with most


hiking boots is fnding a

balance between support
and comfort. A boot that
will get you and a heavy
pack up a rocky slope
isnt going to feel good.
And a boot that feels
good isnt going to get
you up anything tougher
than a groomed path. But
thanks to a higher leather
cuf and increased padding on the chassis in the
sole, the Eriksson is one
of the frst rigid shoes
that wears like a sneaker.
You get all the support
you need with none of
the ankle pain and blood.

Your boots:
( 3 ) Red Wing 875 Moc
Toe; $260
At 6 inches high, the
875s are 2 inches shorter
than Red Wings classic
877s. Which means you
have nearly the same
protection but can
get in and out of them
with less work. They
break in quickly, theyre
comfortable enough to
wear all day, and the
minimal tread reduces
the amount of mud you
can track into the house.
Plus, your grandfather
wore them.

You Are: A tinkerer

You celebrated retiling
the kitchen by drinking
a home-brewed beer
on the porch that you
built yourself. You may
not always know exactly
what youre doing, but
you know that you are not
going to pay some guy to
redo the bathroom.
Your boots:
( 2 ) Wolverine Renton
EPX; $175
Waterproof, insulated,
abrasion-resistant, and
tough enough to withstand any predicament
you may get yourself into.
The dual-layer foam sole
swaddles your foot in
a surprising amount of
comfort for something
not called a slipper and
has a springiness that
claims to return energy to
you with every step. Youll

You Are: An outlAW

(in spirit, At leAst)
Youre up for any road
trip as long as youre the
one driving. Your lifelong
goal is to visit all the
state parks. Your drink
is a beer and a shot. You
have unironically used
the word hog to describe
a motorcycle. Your favorite color is leather.
Your boots:
( 4 ) Norton Rise; $230
Two British heritage
brandsNorton and
Clarkscollaborated to
make a pair of boots that
look and feel as good on
a motorcycle as they do
at the ofice. (Seriously,
try them with a gray
suit.) They even added a
reinforced panel over the
spot where your toes hit
the gearshift. Also works
great on bar-stool rungs.

You Are: A WoodsMAn

You prefer to eat animals
youve killed yourself
accompanied by a nice
cabernet, if possible.
You know the diference
between a duck feed
call and a duck
comeback call and can
perform either on command. Youre thinking of
doing something about
that woodpile before an
animal moves in.

p h o t o g r a p h by d o n p e n n y

You Can
The master of
heritage clothes
gets his hands on
yourand your

The C.C. Filson

Including the Work Cape
Jacket ($685)

ilson, the 117-year-old Seattle

company that started out as the
outftter for Washingtons timber
loggers and has since become the
standby for just about everyone
who goes outside, is taking a great leap forward this fallby looking back. The storied
American label has partnered with British
designer and historian Nigel Cabourn,
whos known among the luxury-fashion
crowd for his own brand of meticulously
researched World War I and World WarII
style outerwear. (For his collection, inspired
by Robert Falcon Scotts doomed 1912
South Pole expedition, Cabourn pored
over photos from the trek, sourced archival
jackets, tracked down original materials,
P h O t O g r a P h by c h a r l i e s h u c k

and resurrected pieces that hadnt existed

for 100 years.) Together theyve created the
C.C. Filson Collection, a special, historically
minded line of fall jackets inspired by the
Filson archive.
Our favorite from the collection, the
Work Cape Jacket, is based on a 1930s Filson Cruiser that Cabourn and Filson CEO
Alan Kirk tracked down in a vintage shop
in Japan. The new coat, like the original,
has mismatched pocketing and is layered
with water-repellent waxed-cotton fabric.
Cabourn added his own twist, replacing buttons on the upper half with World
WarIIera clip closures that youd typically
fnd on a fremans jacket, making it easier
to open and close the jacket with gloves on.

He switched out the original cotton-canvas

base and lining with extra-warm wool from
Pendleton, the Oregon-based mill that
has been churning out classic American
blankets longer than Filsons been making
jackets. As a fnal touch, the label inside
each jacket is a replica of the one stitched
on the companys frst coats 100 years ago,
and signed by Cabourn himself.
The collection is still very much a part
of the Filson brand your grandpa swore by.
The jackets are manufactured by the same
workers in the same Seattle facility. And
they can take a beating as well as anything
else Filson makes. Because theres no point
in wearing something with so much history
if you cant imbue it with a little of your own.
O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 4 1




Luxury performance for a

bargain price.
How the Ram 3500 can tow
30,000 pounds.
The best car you can buy for


The Toughest Jeep

That rock? Dont worry about that rock.
North Carolinas Uwharrie National Forest is laced with of-road-vehicle
trails, the most notorious of which, Daniel, is rated extremely difcult.
Daniels vehicle-mangling brutality is such that the park plans to fll in
some of the more treacherous ledges, smoothing out the boulder-strewn
ascent to render the terrain more accessible. Lucky for me, they havent
done that yet, because Im here with the American Expedition Vehicles
JK350. And it doesnt need any help.

P h o t o g r a P h b y N at h a N I E L W E L C h

o c t o b er 2 0 1 4 _ p o p u l a r m ec h a n i c s 4 3

AEV is best known for building six-fgure dream trucks, turning Jeeps
into Hemi-powered monsters such as the Brute Double Cab. But the company also builds more modest machines like the JK350, a thoroughly
modifed Jeep Wrangler Rubicon that doesnt tread on Aston Martin
fnancial territory. The package starts at $14,897 and brings a 3.5-inch
suspension lift, front and rear bumpers, a Warn winch, new wheels, and
35-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires. There are also plenty of AEV
badges so your friends know you didnt just bolt on a cheap lift kit from
Slappys JackRUp.
Matt Feldermann, AEVs marketing coordinator, delivered the JK350
to North Carolina by driving it roughly 700 miles from the companys
Detroit headquarters. Which brings me to the frst revelation about the
AEV-modifed Rubicon: Despite its upgraded of-road gear, its designed to
mind its manners on pavement
too. The suspension kit includes
components that correct the
steering geometry to lower the
vehicles roll center, minimizing
the lateral head snap that can
afict people in tall vehicles.
When Feldermann hands over
the keys for the hour-long drive
to the trail, he says, Dont be
afraid to throw it into some
corners. This might be the frst
time anyones ever said that
about a Wrangler.
And in fact, the JK350 is
admirably composed on back
roadsstable and precise. The
real action, though, comes when
we reach the frst ledge at the
bottom of Daniel. Its a nearly
The AEV JK350 excels on- and of-road.
vertical slab of rock, maybe 4
feet high and scarred with rubber. In the silt at the base, we see tire tracks from where somebody else
simply turned around. But Im going up and over. Thats the plan, anyway.
On the frst few tries I get the front tires up over the ledge but cant fnd
enough traction to maintain momentum. Eventually I gain the confdence
to stay on the throttle and the big Jeep claws its way over the obstacle. The
rest of the ascent ofers up occasional challenges for the JK350and more
or less constant ones for the stock Wrangler Rubicon we brought for comparison. Out here the stock Wrangler can tag along with the AEV, but lets
just say that the driver will be doing a lot more wincing.
Yes, $60,000 is a lot for a Wrangler. But at that price, how many vehicles can comfortably handle a 1,400-mile round trip interspersed with
expert-level rock crawling? Just one, the best Jeep that Jeep doesnt build.

4 4 O c t ob er 2 0 1 4 _ p O p u l a r m e c h a n i c s


how to get a performance
model at a discount.

he cadillac cTs and lexus is

sedans were all new for 2014,
with two major exceptions:
the highest horsepower models,
the cTs-V and is F. By keeping the
previous-generation performance
fagships alive for another year,
cadillac and lexus buy time to
develop their next hypersedans
while moving a few more old ones.
porsche plays the same game when
it introduces a new 911the Turbos
always come laterand BmW has
followed this routine with its m cars.
The lure for buyers is that these cars
are still cool, still top-of-the-foodchain machines. and theyre a great
deal too. The V-8-powered 2014
cTs-V sedan starts at $67,125, which
means that it actually costs less than
a V-6 cTs Vsport premium ($69,995).
it might not have the lean athleticism
of the new models, but it has an extra
hondas worth of power: 556 hp to the
Vsports 420. in the case of the lexus,
the redesigned is tops out with a V-6.
The carryover is F, though, packs a
thunderous 5.0-liter V-8, along with
19-inch forged-alloy wheels and
skunkworks cred as lexuss only real
factory tuner car. They dont make em
like they used to? actually, they do.
For one more year.

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RAM 3500
RAM 3500

Anatomy of
a 30,000-Pound
Tow Rating
The ram 3500 can tow as
much as 30,000 pounds,
meaning youd need a
commercial drivers license
to legally use its full
capability. Towing several
elephants requires plenty of
powerthe rams 6.7-liter
cummins inline six pumps
out 850 lb-ft of torque.
But a big diesel is just one
piece of the package. From
the lug nuts to the cooling
system, a 30,000-pound
tow rating requires bumperto-bumper upgrades.

RAM 1500

A 26-inch mechanically
driven fan can move as
much as 10,000 cubic feet
of air per minute (CFM).
The 1500 uses a 19-inch
electric fan that fows only
3,905 CFM.

The Aisin AS69RC
transmission is unique to
the High-Output Cummins
models. Its gear ratios are
extra wide, because with
850 lb-ft of torque you
can get away with less
frequent shifting.

RAM 3500

The 3500s driveshaft
weighs 78 pounds, which
is more than three times as
heavy as a Ram 1500s. The
driveshafts rear U-joints are
designed to survive more
than 5,000 lb-ft of torque.

The 11.8-inch rear
diferential includes
cooling fns to help
it shed heat under
heavy loads.

While the Ram 2500 uses
coil springs, the 3500
sticks with old-school
leaf springs to support
payload ratings that top
7,000 pounds. Airbags
automatically level the
suspension to prevent
bottoming out.

4 8 O c t ob er 2 0 1 4 _ p O p u l a r m e c h a n i c s

RAM 1500

The Rams 14.2-inch front
rotors dwarf the 1500s
and are even bigger
than those on a 640-hp
Dodge Viper. Brakes are
important when youre
slowing down a load thats
about half the weight of a
fully loaded 18-wheeler.

I L L U S T R AT I O N b y V I C K U L I H I N ; P H O T O g R A P H S b y b R e N T D A N I e L S





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What was the
last car ever to be
equipped with a
gated shifter?
Gated shifters, their
gear patterns defned
by narrow channels,
traditionally signifed a
challenging (and probably
Italian) machine. The
Audi R8 debuted in 2007
with a gated shifter, a
nod to the cars Italian
genealogyan R8 is
essentially a Lamborghini
Gallardo. And, like the
latest Italian supercars,
the R8 will soon forgo
its gates. Blame the
rise of the dual-clutch
gearbox, which changes
gears incredibly fast and
smoothly. Of course,
the 2015 Audi R8 V-8
is also available with
an objectively superior
seven-speed dual-clutch
transmission. But for
now, it still ofers the
option to punctuate each
downshift with a glorious
clack-CLACK!the metalon-metal echo of an era
when exotic cars didnt try
to appeal to everyone.


The Best Car You

Can Buy for $20,000

olkswagen has sufered an

identity crisis over the past few
years. Within a single showroom, you have beautifully
wrought overachievers like the
CC and Eos parked beside shoddier Jettas, Passats, and Golfs, their prices
slashed along with amenities in search of a
wider audience. But lately VW has tiptoed
back toward its old upscale aspirations,
and the 2015 Golf indicates that the experiment is over. The new Golf is the best car
you can buy for $20,000.
A Golf S will run you $19,815, with a
fve-speed manual. That modest outlay
scores you a capacitive dash touchscreen,
four-wheel disc brakes, and alloy wheels.
The most important piece, though, is
under the hood, where VWs EA888
1.8-liter TSI four cylinder is standard
equipment. This turbocharged and directinjected powerhouse is the same motor
that, in 2.0-liter form, is stout enough for
luxury cars such as the Audi A6. Its
170 hp matches the output of the old
2.5-liter fve cylinder, but its 200 lb-ft
of torque at 1,600 rpm makes the turbo
four cylinder feel much stronger. The

5 0 O c t ob er 2 0 1 4 _ p O p u l a r m e c h a n i c s

Golf throws you

2015 Volkswagen
back in the seat
golf TsI
without trying,
aVaIlable: now
the turbocharger
spooling up
quickly and emitMPg (cITy/hwy):
ting a soft whoosh
26/37 Manual;
as it dumps boost.
And, over a 2-hour
23/30 auToMaTIc
drive, we averaged
38.5 mpg, which is nipping awfully close
to the compact segments dedicated fuel
The Golf s chassis is also modifed for
better performance. The now standard
Cross Diferential System (XDS), once
reserved for the GTI, uses the brakes to
send power to the outside wheel in a
corner. The cars rear suspension is now
a multilink design, and a new platform
shaves as much as 79 pounds compared
with the old model.
The previous base Golf seemed almost
unrelated to the slick GTI and diesel iterations, never mind the more expensive
cars in the VW lineup. Now even the lowliest Golf drives like an Audi in disguise.
Which, actually, is exactly what it is.

I l l u s T r aT I o n b y h a I s a M h u s s e I n

1. Prep it.

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p h o T o g R a p h by g R e g g D e l m a n

O CTO BER 2 014 _ P O P u l a R M EC h a n i C s 5 3

esseNtial gear


c h a i n s aw r u l e s

Because youll not only look

the part but be safe too.

Three cuts every Man should Know




Notch aNd fold

offset cut aNd sNap

spriNg-pole release

A felled tree will usually have

saw-pinching areas where
the top of the log is under
compression and the bottom
is under tension. If you have
access to the top and bottom
of the log, you can handle this
one of two ways. Make a cut
directly down from the top
and then fnish by cutting up
from the bottom. The problem is that sometimes the
saw gets pinched in the down
cut. Another way to handle
this is to make an angled cut
down to about a third of the
logs diameter. Make a second
angled cut that intersects
the frst. Remove the wedge.
Make a third cut up from the
bottom that intersects the
point of the wedge.

Limbing a tree can leave a

mass of brush underfoot
that can trip you up. Youll
have more control over the
cleanup if you can limb
the tree without branches
falling everywhere. A great
way to handle relatively small
branches, up to 3 inches in
diameter, say, is to cut them
in a way that allows you to
snap them of cleanly by
hand and toss them to the
side. Make two ofset cuts,
one on each side of the
branch. Each cut goes slightly
past the branchs center. Do
a bunch of limbs that way,
put the saw down, snap each
one of, and toss it into a
pile, away from where youre

A falling tree will often bend

a sapling or a branch under
it, leaving you with whats
called a spring pole. Catapult
would be a better name. The
bent branch or sapling contains a tremendous amount
of stored energy. If you
crosscut its wood fbers, you
release that energy with the
deadly force of releasing the
rope on a catapult. To deal
with this safely, make a series
of parallel cuts on the inside
(compression side) of the
spring pole, shaving down
its wood. Then make a small
vertical cut on top, but dont
sever the branch completely.
In most cases, the pole will
release slowly on its own.

When the bottom of a chainsaw bar makes contact

with a log, it pulls you toward the log. When the top
of a bar makes contact, it pushes you away. If youre
not prepared for either, you can get knocked onto your
butt. So use the boxers stance. For a right-handed
person, that means standing with your left foot forward and your
right foot back. Bend your knees as you pivot the saw through the
log, and think about where the saw will exit. You dont want to swing
out of the cut, across the toe of your boot and into your leg.

Tall logging boots provide

ankle support and traction
when the going gets tough.
You can cut safely only if you
can stand frmly (see The

Chainsaw chaps are a must.

If you cut into your leg,
their chain-stopping fabric
snarls the saws clutch
before the chain can do
real damage.

A forestry helmet protects

your eyes, ears, and head. It
feels confning at frst, but
youll be glad you have it on
when you get swatted in the
face by a falling branch.

Cold-weather logging gloves

with chain-stopping fabric are
important for the same reason
that chaps are.


5 4 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

A cant hook is a timehonored tool for turning

and positioning logs.
Your back will thank you.

i l l u s t r at i O n s b y b r O w n b i r d d e s i g n




oday, our every activity can be quietly monitored, from who our friends are
to all of our nancial transactions. And with medical records in the cloud
and imminent gene sequencing, even our bodies are up for grabs. What can
we do? From phone hacking to identity and credit theft, Whos Spying On You? tells
the stories of real people whose privacy has been violated, describes the technologies
used to intrude, and reveals how we can protect ourselves in a world lled with spies.



The State of
the American
Fixing your ride with some other
guys trash isnt what it used
to be. Thankfully, fnding treasures
is easier than ever before.
By John Pearley huffman

Scrapyards have
always chased
the cheapest real
estate. As cities
grow larger and
more expensive,
boneyards move
farther out of
townand farther
out of reach.

5 6 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

Take cheap tools.

Thats what Jim Losee told
me on my frst trip to the Pick
Your Part junkyard in Sun Valley,
California, back in 1990. He was
the experienced editor and I was
the new guy at Car Craft magazine.
Youre going to lose some, so they
may as well be crappy.
Its a car guys rite of passage:
scrounging through metal hulks
sinking into brown weeds on the
outskirts of town, determined to
fnd that one part that will have
your hot rod roaringor your
beater lasting another month.
Maybe its a short-nose water pump

to get a big-block V-8 into your

Nova. Or an Acura Integras B18
twin-cam engine thats a perfect
ft for your Honda CRX. When you
fnd it, for that brilliant moment,
you are lord of all salvage.
Dont get used to the feeling.
That was the old way to do it,
says Dino Behler, owner of Dinos
Corvette Salvage in Picayune,
Change has come to the scrapyard business, and more is on the
way. There just isnt as much of a
market for car parts these days.
People arent fxing their 1992
Dodge Shadows or 1997 Chevy
Cavaliersthose go straight to the
shredder. Their parts are more
valuable as scrap metal.
Not that junkyards are completely disappearing. Its still big
business: In the United States
alone about 12.6 million cars are
recycled a year, according to an
industry trade group. There are
active markets for vehicles such
as Hondas, Toyotas, and pickup
trucks, which are stripped before
heading to the shredder. But the
hottest salvage markets are with
boutique yards like Behlers, which
specializes in Corvettes. The U.S.
salvage business is worth $22 billion a year, spread out over more
than 8,200 companies.
Like I said, still big.
But diferent. Environmental
regulations and more efcient
land-use practices push junkyards
out of town. And computerization
and the Internet are altering how
we search for parts. Pick Your Part
is still around, but there are more
efcient ways to fnd parts now
ways that dont end in as many
tetanus shots or lost tools.
In salvage, the more cars you
process, the more money you
make. It used to be that to make
more money, you purchased more
land. Now, with the development

P h O t O g r a P h s by D a n i e l s h e a



never pick up the

pumpkin by its
stem. its like an
umbilical cord,
feeding the gourd
with nutrients. if
you break it,
the pumpkin wont
last long.

of rack systems that use giant steel

arms to stack cars on top of one
another, thats not the case.
When you buy property, you
buy all the way to the sky, Behler
says. Complete cars (or parts of
cars) can be stacked up to fve
high. Theyre plucked of the racks
when its time to pull parts of of
them. Small yards can hold more
cars than ever before, and they
dont have to buy a neighbors lot
to expand their business.
But you cant let amateurs
scramble over these car tow-

How To Carve
a PumPkin
inTo SomeTHing

B o n U S!




ow n

ers, pulling out alternators and

a/c compressors and the like. So
yards use computerized inventory
systems and then connect them to
websites, smartphone apps such
as Get Used Parts or Car-Part Pro,
or tablets in the yards themselves.
They no longer rely on buyers
stumbling across what they need.
Theres less civilian knuckle busting involved.
For specialty-parts businesses
for cars such as Corvettes and
Porsches, a computerized inventory, when its available on the
Internet, also makes it possible to
attract a critical mass of buyers.
Convenient, sure, but much less
fun than swap meets. The Internet takes all those little itty-bitty
pieces of the market and brings
them together, Behler says. Every
part of a Corvette has value. Every
screw. Every bolt. Everything.
Behler says that before this
market opened to him, he would
have had to have taken other

Surprising but also not

surprising: There is a
company in America that
carves pumpkins for money.
But not happy-face jacko-lanterns. Marc Evan and
Chris Soria of Brooklyns
Maniac Pumpkin Carvers
treat pumpkins as if
they were lumps of clay,
sculpting them into
beautiful, repulsive threedimensional props worthy
of a Tobe Hooper movie. We
asked them to spill all their
secrets. They gave us a few.
CHooSE A PuMPkin
The best are fresh and
have a consistent texture.
Generally, the thicker the
stem, the thicker the fesh,
so you can carve deeper
for dramatic efect. And

P h o t o g r a P h by W e s t o n W e l l s

sorts of workmaintenance and

repairsto make ends meet. I just
shipped out two engines to China
and another whole huge order to
Malaysia, he says. I never would
have had that international exposure before the Internet.
While technology makes things
easier on junkyards, it does provide a new challenge: keeping up.
Soon junkyards will need to handle
things like lithium-ion batteries
and carbon-fber parts. Next year
Fords F-150 pickup truck will feature an aluminum body. In a few
years salvage yards will need to be
ready to recycle them.
For me, there will always
be a romance in the searchin
disassembling old cars to feed
your own. But even Ill admit
that romance doesnt stand a
chance against the efciency and
convenience of a third-of-a-second
search on your smartphone.
If nothing else, at least I wont
have to worry about losing tools.

dont gut it. The gooey stuf cavitybefore adding

inside helps keep the shape. details such as wrinkles and
teeth. if the pumpkin dries
out and gets tough, mist the
use clay-sculpting tools,
fesh with a 1:1 mixture of
such as wire-end ribbon
lemon juice and water.
tools, which you can buy in
various shapes and sizes
FiniSH uP
at any arts and crafts store. The devil, or the undead, or
Scalpels, wood-carving
whatever, is in the details.
gouges, and kitchen knives As you get deeper into the
are perfect for adding
fesh, youll notice the grain
details. Set up an overhead becomes more pronounced.
light that casts shadows
if the fesh starts to pull, cut
on the sculpture and
in the opposite direction,
accentuates the modeling. just as in woodworking.
Your sculpture will last
rouGH ouT
longer if you dip it in an ice
Cut away the skin with a
bath with a cup of bleach.
ribbon tool, which works
But dont get too attached.
like a potato peeler. rough ultimately itll rot away, get
out the entire underlying
eaten by squirrels, or
structurecheekbones, eye be smashed to pieces by an
sockets, nose, and mouth
ornery trick-or-treater.

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s _ o c t o b er 2014 5 7

to o l t e s t

seNco F-15 FN65Da


$350 Weight: 6.6 lb

BAttery: Li-ion, 18-v/1.5-Ahr
NAiLs (15-gA.): 11 to 21 in.


NAiLs (2-iN.) Per chArge:

Likes: A rapid rate of fre and

consistent nail-driving performance, in any material, is what
helped the senco take frst
place. it sank every nail to the
correct depth and never misfred. its also the lightest tool
and has the slimmest handle.


DisLikes: its easy to turn the

depth-adjustment dial, but
the icon that indicates whether
youre going deeper or shallower is dificult to read.

Nail Guns for

By Roy Berendsohn

nce, only contractors and woodworkers owned nail guns. They were expensive
and required an air compressor, hose, and fttings. Then manufacturers had a brilliant idea: They could power a fnish nailer with the same cordless-tool batteries
found in drill drivers. now anybody can use one to quickly and neatly install crown
molding or fasten trim. We gathered seven and tested them by driving thousands of nails
into pressure-treated lumber, oak, pine, and a sandwich of these materials. Overall, we found
that consistency was more important than the number of nails that could be driven on a single
charge. What good is using a nail gun if you have to fnish your work with a hammer?

5 8 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

P h O T O g r a P h s by g r e g g d e l M a n

guide to
usiNg FiNish

RyoBi P325

Bosch FNh180K-16

Ridgid R250AF18





$260 Weight: 7.6 lb

Battery: Li-ion, 18-v/4-ahr
NaiLs (16-ga.): 3 to 21 in.


$420 Weight: 7.6 lb

Battery: Li-ion, 18-v/2.6-ahr
NaiLs (16-ga.): 11 to 21 in.


NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

Likes: Its powerful and drives

an extremely wide range of
fasteners. Features like a large
depth-adjustment dial and plentiful rubber overmold make it
easy to handle.

Likes: From its easy, dialadjusted depth setting to a

lockout that prevents the tool
from being fred before its
loaded with nails, the Bosch
is worthy of the pros. Its also
extremely consistent in hard
materials like red oak.

Likes: Speed, power, and comfortable handling come together

in this one. On those rare occasions when it jams, clear a
stuck nail from it in seconds by
unlatching the nose cover. Controls for nail depth and bump-fre
sequence are easy to set.

DisLikes: Could use an LED

worklight and a battery gauge. It
also lacks a bump-fre setting.

DisLikes: Its gigantic battery

gives it a bit too much longevity.
We overheated the tool after fring about 1,000 nails.

DisLikes: Part of its drive

mechanism is housed behind
the magazine; this distributes
its weight in a way that makes
it slightly more dificult to pivot
than the Bosch and the DeWalt.

$260 Weight: 7.4 lb

Battery: Li-ion, 18-v/4-ahr
NaiLs (15-ga.): 11 to 21 in.


deWAlt dc616K

RyoBi P320

cRAFtsmAN 43474




$360 Weight: 8.2 lb

Battery: Nicd, 18-v/2.4-ahr
NaiLs (16-ga.): 11 to 21 in.

NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

The DeWalt is powerful

and fast, with a high rate of fre
in the sequential setting and an
even faster bump fring. Its also
a reasonably consistent driver in
hard materialsalmost as good
as the Senco.

DisLikes: The next generation of

this tool needs to be equipped
with a dry-fre lockout. Designers also should take another
crack at a better LED position.


$190 Weight: 6.8 lb

Battery: Li-ion, 18-v/4-ahr
NaiLs (18-ga.): 5 to 2 in.


NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

NaiLs (2-iN.) per charge:

$220 Weight: 6.2 lb

Battery: Li-ion, 19.2-v/1.25-ahr
NaiLs (18-ga.): 5 to 2 in.

Likes: This is one of the most

Likes: Very similar to the

cost-efective power tools weve

used recently. If youve got a big
trim project ahead, especially if
its pine or poplar, get the Ryobi
and save your elbow. Its large
battery gives it incredible run
time, and its equipped with a
dry-fre lockout.

18-gauge Ryobi, Craftsmans

tool is compact and easy
to work with, from loading its
nail magazine to adjusting
its nail depth. We also liked that
it fres a wide range of nails,
especially short ones. Thats particularly helpful with small trim.

DisLikes: It outdrove the others

but wasnt the most consistent
in tough materials.

DisLikes: Needs a batterycharge indicator. Doesnt fre the

last fve nails in its strip.

people dont get

excited about fnish
nailers the way they do
about loud, dangerous circular saws. But
consider that one of
these things can fasten
a thick oak molding
with one pull of a
trigger. they can be a
gigantic work saver
or catastrophically split
the corner you just ft
so precisely. here, a
few instructions:
aLigN the NaiL
as you near the end
of a piece of molding,
turn the nailer so its
body is parallel to the
woods grain. this fres
the nail so it wedges itself in across the grain
rather than splitting it.
set the Depth
Use the depth-adjustment wheel to set how
far into the wood your
tool will drive the nail.
you want a cavity just
deep enough to hold a
tiny glop of wood fller.
too deep and the fller
wont fll the hole; too
shallow and the fller
wont stay put. Fire
some nails into a test
block to try it frst.

Gluing wood in place
before nailing can vastly
improve your nail-gun
experience, but only if
you use glue specifed
as quick-tack. (Most
carpenters and wood
glues will fll the bill.)
If you use a white glue
instead, youll end up
with trim that slides
around and possibly a
nail in your fnger.

O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 5 9

a s k r oy


Leaf stains, Leaks,

storm Doors, and Busted
Popular Mechanics senior
home editor can fx pretty much
anything. Even that.
By Roy BeRendsohn

How can we get rid of the leaf

stains on our new deck?
Those stains are caused by tannins
leached out of the leaves by rainwater. If the deck is sealed or fnished,
theyll fade on their own, usually
within a couple of weeks. But if the
wood is unfnished, you may want
to hasten the process with a cleaning. If your deck is built with comjoy ExPEriEncEd



by you)

(rakEd by
soMEonE ElsE)

PilE lEaPt into

6 0 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ p O p u l a r m e c h a n i c s

posite lumber, follow the manufacturers maintenance instructions to

avoid surface damage (and voiding
your warranty). For example,
Trex decking recommends using a
cleaner containing oxalic or phosphoric acid. For pressure-treated
decking, any jug of cleaner thats
rated for decks or fences will work.
Next spring do yourself a favor and
pressure-wash the deck and apply
a stain or sealer. You wont have to
deal with this again.

Last winter the entire surface

came of part of our concrete
sidewalk. Can it be repaired,
or will that part of the sidewalk
need to be replaced?
The condition you describe is
known as scaling. When water
freezes inside the concretes top
surface, the ice crystals can exert a
pressure so great that it breaks the
surface away.
If the damaged area is an oval,
that indicates a puddle formed
there. In the trades, this low area is
known as a birdbath, and its a sign
of improper concrete fnishing.
Usually, though, scaling occurs
because the concrete was incorrectly formulated at the plant or
too much water was added when
it was delivered. Its also possible
that the concretes fnal smoothing occurred in standing water. As
concrete is placed and smoothed,
its water works up to the surface.
If a mason doesnt skim of this
moisture or allow it to evaporate, it
will work itself into the uppermost
layer, creating an improper ratio of
cement to water, and a weak top.
There is one more option: It
could be your fault. You might
have laid on too heavy a layer of

deicer, which weakens the cement

paste. Sometimes concrete can be
topped with a self-leveling repair
material like Quikrete Commercial Grade Concrete Resurfacer.
But if the scaling is severe, youre
better of replacing the sidewalk.
My storm door was ripped open
by the wind, damaging the
doorjamb. How do I fx it, and
how do I prevent this from happening again?
Storm doors blow open when their
closers are worn out or were not
properly installed, so in the course
of the repair, youll want to put in
new ones. Maybe even a heavy-duty
model with more pulling force.
The toughest fx is the doorjamb itself. If its badly cracked,
youll have to either replace the
entire thing or saw away the damaged section using an oscillating
multitool. The replacement pieces
need to be planed to thickness and
ripped to width. Each piece should
be crosscut to make a tight ft, then
fastened with exterior-grade wood
screws. Finally, sand the entire
jamb, prime, and paint it.
Install a safety chain. It may
look ugly, but it reduces the likelihood of damage should the door
be ripped open by another gust.
Can I fx a roof leak by caulking
from inside the attic?
No. Youll divert the water to
another entry point or trap it
between the caulk and the bottom
of the shingles. Eventually the plywood roof deck will rot. The only
solution is to replace the ofending
shingles or fashing. That usually
leads to fnding more problems.
Brace yourself for a big job.

p h O t O g r a p h by m a u r i c i O a l e j O

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Scott Wilson was a very big product designer for some very
big brands. Until he decided to go rogue in 2007. en he
blew the lid o crowd-funding in 2010, and changed the
entrepreneurial game for good.

GOING HIS OWN WAY: Wilson had a great track record of creating
innovative product designs for some of the worlds largest
companies. In 2007, he returned to his hometown of Chicago for an
opportunity that didnt turn out as he expected, and he decided to
strike out on his own. He founded MINIMAL, a multidisciplinary rm
focused on creating iconic, disruptive, and solution-oriented products
and experiences with impact.

Entrepreneurs should be curious,

courageous, and believe that something
can be better; and be willing to connect the
dots to make it happen. Anyone who thinks
it is easy is in for a shock.




MAKING IT BIG TIME: In 2010, Wilson developed a concept for a

conversion kit to transform the iPod Nano into a premium multi-touch
watch. Corporations werent biting, but he didnt give up. He posted
the idea for his TikTok and Lunatik watch kits on the then-obscure
Kickstarter site, with the words, We believe in the emerging power
of community and the individual to bring ideas to life and we hope
that this is just the beginning. irty days later, he had surpassed his
goal of $15,000 in seed money, to the tune of $942,578, pledged
by 13,512 backers. At that point in time, it was the highest-funded
project in Kickstarter history, a title it held for 441 days.
THE BALANCING ACT: Working through MINIMAL, which includes
consulting, partnerships with startups, and in-house brand
incubation, Wilson evaluates each new project based on more than
potential monetary reward. ere are principles and values we
look for. Its pretty broad, but at the end of the day, we want to add
value. We want to make a meaningful contribution that will impact
peoples lives.

Visit PopularMechanics.com/Chrysler200 or
scan this page with the LAYAR app to see a video of
Wilson and explore more inspirational stories.

We wanted to build a car that would change perceptions

of what anAmerican sedan could be. So we

gave the All-New Chrysler 200 a class-exclusive

9-speed transmission1 and a Rotary E-shift.

A move that pushed gas mileage to an impressive

36 MPG HWY2 without sacricing performance.

200S model shown.



1) Based on latest available competitive information and the Chrysler
Group LLC standard midsize sedan segment. 2) EPA-est. 23 city/36 hwy
on 4-cylinder models. AWD V6 model shown with EPA-est. 18 city/29 hwy.
Results may vary. Chrysler is a registered trademark of Chrysler Group LLC.


new gadgets and productsand some

hard-earned wisdomto make every room smarter,
more functional, and more fun to live in.
Photographs by Russ and Reyn

Ro o m s
Bedroom _ 66
Kitchen _ 68
Bathroom/Laundry/Ofice _ 70
Living room _ 72
Security _ 75
Garage/Yard _ 76
Index _ 77

The Home Upgrade:

By David Owen

My wife and I spent roughly 15 years

getting our house exactly the way we
wanted it, yet as soon as the paint was
dry we both thought, hey, lets move! Home renovation can
induce a form of temporary mental illness similar to what
happens to people on roller coasters: You think youre going to
die, but the moment the ride is over you want to go again.
Luckily, by the time we had fnished the house we were too
broke to do anything drastic,
and in a couple of months
wed both calmed down.
regarding your mower
In case you werent paying attention,
Now another 15 years have
in 2007 the federal government
started adding ethanol to our gasoline,
passed and were still here.
which, on its own, can reduce the life
Finishing all the big projects
of your mower. So the next time you
buy fuel, be sure not to use anything
meant giving up on
with an ethanol percentage higher
than E10. It isnt suited for small
home improvement, however.
engines and can void the warranty.
I havent touched my reciproAnd always add a stabilizer to prevent
chemical degradationespecially
cating saw since the turn of
in a two-stroke engine. Or just
the millennium, but in recent
dispense with gas altogether and try
this EGO Power+ model, which has a
years Ive become a practitio56-volt lithium-ion battery.
ner of what I now think of as
For more on the EGO, turn to page 76.
microrenovation: Approaching
fnished rooms with dispassionate objectivity and

Oc t o b e r 2 0 1 4
PO Pul ar
M echanics



fnding small ways to make them

better. Humans have an extraordinary ability to become inured to
minor annoyances, especially if the
annoyances accumulate gradually. Thats not necessarily a bad
thingits the basis of successful
marriagesbut it can cause people
to ignore inconveniences they could
easily correct.
My wife and I have diferent ideas
about organization. She makes
random, teetering piles, while I
store papers by category and year in
three-ring binders on long shelves.
By her way of thinking, it makes
sense to keep hats and aspirin in the
same place because theyre both
for the head; in my view, possessions should be organized strictly
taxonomically and stored near the
place where their use either begins
or ends. Thus, plates and glasses
should go within reach of either the
dining table or the dishwasher, not
both (or neither), and you wouldnt
waste scarce shelf space on items
used only in other rooms.
Recently my focus has been on
our kitchen, a room in which I have
no executive responsibilities. My
wife is a terrifc cookshe has written four cookbooks and is at work
on a ffthbut she stores ingredients, implements, and appliances
so idiosyncratically that even she
loses track of what she has. Because
my constantly making comments
like You know, we already had two
unopened jars of tamarind paste
is not considered sexy, Ive tried
to make the storage of everyday
items more intuitive. Last month I
consolidated almost all of my wifes
extensive collection of spices in a
single large drawer, with the help of
some inexpensive but well-designed
inserts from Ikea. I also used Excel
to create a searchable shelf list of
her inventory of seasonings, oils,
extracts, syrups, vinegars, sweeteners, rubs, salts, peppers, and other
easily forgotten essentials. She may
never consult it, and she almost certainly wont keep it up to date, but
creating it made me feel better, and
now I can move on to the garage.
Tank you, Mr. Owen, author of the classic
home-renovation book Te Walls Around
Us. And now, a room-by-room march
through the whole house in which we show
you the best home technology. Enjoy.



O ct ober 20 1 4
P O P ul a r
M echa n i cs


smarter bedding

Using technology
developed for NASA,
Outlast sheets (from
$150) contain tiny
capsules that absorb
heat when you get
hot and release it
when you get cold.
Te Army uses it in
combat clothing.
You can use it to get
through those nights
when you forget to
close the window.
Just as important.


T h e Ef fe cts
of C olor




Raises body

White With
Blue toneS

mental activity,
they say
Remote-ContRol lights
With the Wink Hub ($50), you can program
your lights to turn on and of, or control them
from your smartphone. Or use Philips Hue
lights ($200 for a kit with three bulbs), above,
to light your room in any color you want.

If We May . . .
Whatever alarm clock you choosethe iHome iDL95 ($120) for its unique ability to turn of the display
for absolute darkness; the classic and beautiful Tivoli Model Three ($300, pictured); or your phone
get two: one for you and one for the person who shares your bed. Otherwise, one of you gets complacent. At bedtime the person closer to the clock will set the alarm. One time for work, one time for gym,
one time for weekendswhatever it is, only one of you knows. The other rolls over and falls asleep. And
so it continues, until one day the clock operator has a business trip, and the question comes, meekly,
from the home front: What time do I wake up? Its nice to be needed, but dont make the person you
love ask that question. Buy her her own clock.




and advice

Lessons From a
Kitchen Makeover

By Wylie Dufresne


Want an easy way

to instantly make
your kitchen better?
Install soft-closing
hinges and slides.
Instead of removing and replacing
old hardware, buy
Rocklers Roller
Runners ($6) for
your drawers and

Blumotion Compact
Hinge Adapters ($5)
for your cabinets.
Theyre a simple

retroft. An
hour instead of
an afternoon. Youll
fnd yourself slamming cupboard
doors just for the
pleasure of not
hearing them.



I try not to bring my work home

with me, but when I renovated my
own kitchen recently, I couldnt help
myself. I wanted the space to function as eficiently as the restaurant
kitchens Id been cooking in for the
past two decades. Picking the right
stuf was easy. Convincing my wife
to go along with the plan was the
hard part.
StainleSS-Steel countertopS

You cant damage stainless steel.

And Ive triedwith knives, hot
pots, blowtorches. Stainless-steel
counters are also incredibly easy
to clean (I use a squeegee, always
fun), and theyre seamless, so gunk
cant get stuck in the corners. The
materials turned out to be about
the same cost as traditional counter
surfaces, and youd be surprised
how good they look in a home
setting. Not cold and industrial,
just supercool.
an absurdly large sink

Get the biggest sink that will ft.

Go as deep and as wide as you can.
And forget about those two-sided
sinksyou just need one giant tub.
You will not miss the space underneath, and you wont miss whatever
counter space you give up. But youll
be incredibly happy when you can

O c t ober 20 1 4
M e cha n i cs

put a giant pasta pot right in the sink

and still ft a few other dirty pans
along with it.
Foot-pedal SinkS

We have hospitals to thank for this

one. When you cook, you need to
wash your hands constantly (ground
beef, cookie dough, raw eggs), and
with foot pedals, you never have to
touch anything. Yes, there are other
options, like faucets with hands-free
sensors, and ones you tap with your
arm, but none of those are as reliable
as a simple mechanical pedal operated from below.

A superior home brew

For cofee I like Nespressos Pixie machine
(from $179), particularly for smaller kitchens. Te company has a new cofeemaker
called the VertuoLine, which looks nice but
takes a diferent-shaped capsulea first for
Nespresso and kind of annoying. But all of
their machines make some of the best cups
of cofee for the home. W.D.

top and bottom


Your freezer should be on the bottom. Its safe to assume that you
open your refrigerator 10 times more
often than you open your freezer.
Who wants to bend down that
often? If youre considering a sideby-side fridge/freezer, dont. The
square footage is distributed top to
bottom, so although theres room
for yogurt and juice and the rest of
your groceries, theres never enough
room for mixing bowls, baking
sheets, or other big items. And thats
no fun at a party.
under-counter microwave

Microwaves are usually in the wrong

placeat eye level or higher, so
youre invariably moving foods that
are ridiculously hot directly toward
your face. Solution: the microwave
drawer. Its easy and safe to get
foods in and out of, and you can
put the machine in your island so
you dont have to look at it. But
the best reason to get one is that
when friends are hanging out in the
kitchen during a party and they see
you open and close the drawer with
the press of a button, theyll think
you are from the future.

A toAster thAt does

If you dont want to track down a
commercial model, the Cuisinart CSO-300
($299) is a steam oven, convection oven, and
toaster all in one. So, on the days
you dont feel like toast, you can cook an
entire chicken.

I l l u s T r AT I o n s b Y b r o W n b I r d d e s I g n

The PerfecT ToasT (and ToasTer)

By Josey Baker,
artisanal toast maker, coproprietor of
San Franciscos Te Mill
Great toast is about a mix of texturesa
crispy outside and a sof and warm center.
And great toast requires heat. Lots of it.
At Te Mill that heat comes from the
Hatco TPT-120 commercial toaster ($200),
which reaches 750 degrees.
Alternative: Melt some butter in a
skillet over medium-high heat, let it get
really hot, throw on a piece of bread, and
cover. Te butter will cook directly into the
bread for favor and crispiness, and the lid
will keep the moisture in.

a minimalist cup

The canadIano
It doesnt take a complicated machine to
make good cofee. Te Canadiano
(from $46) is a simple block of wooda
one-cup pour-over cofee system made of
cherry, white oak, walnut, or Canadian
birch. Since the oils from the beans work
their way into the wood and intensify
favor, the more you use the Canadiano,
the better your cofee gets.

The dIshwasher ThaT

gIves back
KitchenAids Architect Series II dishwasher
with AquaSense ($1,749) saves some
of the water from the previous cycle and
uses it as a prerinse on your dishes. What
does that mean for you? Well, you use
up to 33 percent less water, for one thing.
Plus, you get a 67 percent increase in
self-satisfaction, which hasnt happened
since you started composting
before the neighbors did.




Slow Hot water

If your water takes

a while to heat up,
instead of turning
on the TV, install
the Evolve Ladybug
adapter with
ShowerStart technology ($30), which
goes in behind
the showerhead
and automatically
pauses the water
fow when the
temperature reaches

three exciting

Bathroom Tile That Could Save Your

Life. Slowly.

TOTOs Hydrotect ceramic tiles ($2.40 per

square foot) have a titanium-dioxide coating that dissolves pollutants. They also use
antimicrobial metals to kill bacteria that would otherwise mildew and staina feature thats a little easier to
appreciate right away.


EnduroShield Protective Coating

Spray EnduroShield (from $20) on nearly

anythingglass, tile, the front of your stove
and it seals up the microscopic cracks with a
hydrophobic layer that blocks soap scum, oil,
and dirt. Youll never wash the shower door again. Not
that you ever did before.

A Better Toilet

With every use, a typical low-fush toilet dumps

1.6 gallons of water down the drain. Thats a
half-gallon more water than it takes to grow an
almond. But the Niagara Stealth Dual Flush
($308) uses only 0.8 gallons per fush. The Stealth is a
vacuum-assist toilet, meaning it uses air, rather than that
almost full extra gallon, to force water into the bowl. In
the past similar technology caused a loud sucking noise
as water exited, but Niagaras system takes advantage
of the vacuum created as the trapway depressurizes,
silently emptying the bowl.

Laundry room
In Defense of the
Commercial Washer
Our washing machine had given
out. Cause of death: a family of fve.
One of us loaded the appliance so
mercilessly youd swear it had been
packed with a ramrod. And that was
among the nicer things wed put
it through. We needed something
that would stand up to sneakers,
foor mats, insulated coveralls, and
canvas work pants. We needed
heavy-duty. The salesman said he
knew just the right thinga hardy
commercial washer with precisely
three knobs. The Speed Queen. All
metal, no plastic, just like what youd
see in a Laundromat. Its not pretty
and its not small. And compared
with modern washers, it certainly
isnt quiet. But that machine does
exactly what we need it to: It works.
Always. Roy Berendsohn

What to Look for

in a Washing Machine
According to Chris Hall at repairclinic.com,
your next washer should be a direct-drive.
(We like the Maytag Bravos XL, from $670.)
Its much simpler than most appliances of its
kind, with only three main parts: Te motors
stator is mounted directly to the bottom
of the washer drum, with the rotor behind
it. Tis avoids using a transmission, which
is ofen the biggest source of trouble in a
washing machine. Plus, it gives you an almost
infinite number of drive speeds, making for
much more efcient energy useand a cycle
that wont tear up delicate clothes.



O c t ober 20 1 4
M e c ha n i cs

its important.

home office

more home,
less office

you have a messy desk

Try the MOS Magnetic Organization

System ($23 to $39), a pretty magnet
that mounts to the wall or sits on
your desk, holding charging cables neatly
and within reachinstead of all over your
desk or tangled on the foor behind it.

Turn Your A/C Wireless

A Laser in Your Cellphone

Tado Cooling ($149) mounts to your

wall and sends infrared signals to
your existing a/c, using your phone
as a remote control. The system also
supports geofencing, so you can set
it up to turn on when you walk into
the house and of when you walk out.

The LG G3 ($100 to $600) is the

frst phone to use a laser. And while
it doesnt cut through metal or even
help you give a presentation, it
does assist in providing the fastest
autofocus time of any cellphone
camera: 276milliseconds.

Three Better Outlets

LivingPlug Inlet ($25)
Its a little bulky, but Inlet fits
over a standard duplex outlet,
distributing power to
three child-friendly (read:
hidden), downward-facing
outlets and a high-output
USB port. If youre concerned
about things like vampire
energy loss, Inlet also
has a button you can hit to
cut all power.



Belkin WeMo Switch + Motion Leviton USB Charger/TamperSensor ($80) Plug it into an
Resistant Duplex Receptacle
outlet and WeMo lets you use
($35) Two dedicated USB
your phone to control anyports mean no bulky charthing you plug into itfrom a
gers hogging outlets. And
lamp to a fan to a dialysis maunlike other options, the
chine. You can also set it up to
Leviton USB outlet is rated
turn a connected device on or
for 3.6 ampsnearly twice
of whenever it senses motion
the rating of other brands,
within 10 feet. Note: probably so you can charge your tablet
not the best idea if said device
or phone (or both) in a
is a dialysis machine.
couple of hours.

Oc t o b e r 2 0 1 4
PO Pul ar
M echanics



Living Room

its wheRe
you Live

Your Next TV



1. Buy two Quest Technology

wall plates for $6. They have

reversible hoods that can
project into or out of the wall,
depending on your clearance.

2. Remove a small rectangle

of drywall for each with a

utility knife and a drywall
sawone behind the TV and
the other a few feet below,
behind your cable boxand
install the plates.
3. If theres nothing behind your

drywall to get in the way, drop

the cables through the upper
plate and fsh them out through
the lower one with a fnger
or the bent end of a hanger.
Otherwise, youll need fsh
tapewhich can be forced
up or down the wall, avoiding
obstacles like insulationand a
little patience.

the best tVs were plasmas. they

had the best black levels, little
motion blur, and a nearly 180-degree
viewing angle. But we didnt buy
enough of them, and so manufacturers killed them of.

4. Plug everything back in.

Watch TV.

A More Agile Vacuum

the Oreck Magnesium ($399)

sucks dirt straight up and into
the bag, which doesnt sound
that special until you see the
winding path of many other
vacuums. But what youll really
notice are the wheels. theyre
huge, at least by vacuum standards, and they make the Magnesium easier to push and turn,
no matter how thick the carpet.
Its a simple solution, a smart
one, and its catching oneven
if it does look a little silly.



Luckily, something better

is taking over: OLED. Organic
light-emitting diodes are selfilluminating, so they can be the
thickness of a few sheets of paper.
They are brighter than anything out
there, and with the ability to control
each pixel individually, they have
basically infnite contrast ratio (the
diference between light and dark).
With OLED, were looking at the
future of television and the future
of the industry, says Gary Merson,
editor in chief of the TV-enthusiast
site hdguru.com. The unit Merson
is most excited about is the 77-inch
LG 77EC9800a curved OLED
screen with four times the resolution
of HD screens. Its beautiful, and its
going to cost youprobably more
than you paid for your last used
car. But youre not going to buy one.
Not now. What youll do is wait.
The most accessible OLED LG
makes, the 55-inch 55EC9300, is
currently $4,000. But production
will stabilize. Material costs will
come down. The price will come
down. And then youll own the best
kind of TV there is.

The Case for a Projector

If youre pressed for space, or if
you just dont want a TV to be the
focal point of your living room, get
a projector. Even midrange options
can now produce a 100- to 150-inch
image without losing quality, turning
everything you watch into an event.
And while Morning Joe at 100 inches
may take some getting used to,
Sunday Night Football and Homeland will become the cinematic
experiences they deserve to be.
Dont worry about having the
right screen. Or even a white wall.
You lose so little picture quality
without them that its not worth
redecorating. As for what to buy,
go wireless. The Epson Home
Cinema 5030UBe ($2,500) has
only one wire from the projector:
a power cord. So you can mount
it to your ceiling and forget about
running wires back to your cable box
or Blu-ray. It has a bright and coloraccurate 1080p imagein 3D, if that
kind of thing does it for youand
supports picture-in-picture, which
is nice, since at that size the preview
screen is bigger than an average TV.

The State of Lightbulbs

Even the cheap LED options, like the
excellent Philips SlimStyle ($5, on
average, with government rebate),
now cast a soft yellow light. Its
practically natural. High-wattage
and dimmable models can be found
for as little as $7 to $12. And since
they consume 20 to 25 percent
of the energy of traditional bulbs,
theyll pay for themselves in as little
as a year. If you really cant make the
adjustment to LED, a loophole in
the new law allows more durable
bulbs, called rough-service incandescents, to remain available for as
little as 80 cents each. But thats no
example to set for the kids.

upgrade your roomba

When your kids done playing with
it on the carpet, the Infinuvo Hovo
510 ($229) really excels on hardwood
foors, and has an onboard UV light
to kill bacteria as it cleans.

That Care
About You

According to the EPA, we spend approximately 90 percent of our day indoors. And while thats a boon for the
sweatpants industry, its not great news for us. Especially when you consider that indoor air can be fve times more
polluted than outdoor. Lauzon Pure Genius hardwood fooring ($6 to $13 per square foot) has a photocatalytic
titanium-dioxide coating that works kind of like a plant, breaking down volatile organic compounds, bacteria, viruses,
and molds. Lauzon says 1,300 square feet of it does the work of three trees. And you dont have to water it.

I l l u s t r at I o n s b y b r o w n b I r d d e s I g n

Oc t o b e r 2 0 1 4
PO Pul ar
M echanics

Tis is a Jibo, a friendly

home robot. Coming soon to an
issue of Popular Mechanics.

Living room

My Dads Roku

As my dads cancer grew, his world

shrunk. Back when it was just
mysterious and persistent pain in
his legs, he could still spend plenty
of time on the basketball court. But
soon that was over. He walked with
a cane. Couldnt get as many places
as he used to. And thenwhen

things fnally went seriously wrong

he ended up at home, bedridden.
When a bed ceases to be the
place where you sleep and becomes
your permanent home, it is the ultimate jail cell. The hospice bed even
had bars on the sides. There were
essentially two things my dad could
do: read or watch TV. He wasnt
much of a readerthe Good Book,
investment adviceand the problem
with watching TV when youre stuck
in bed is that youre at the mercy of
whatever is on or whatever happens
to be in the DVD player.
We had always been a moviewatching family, but suddenly it felt
unfair to talk about movies Id seen.
If my father wanted to see a movie
in theaters, Id have to do the sad
math, adding up the months before
it came out on video. On the upside,
we got back into a habit of watching
movies togethermy parents, my
brother, and mewhich is something we hadnt done in a long time.
At Christmas we hit on the idea of

getting dad a Roku streaming player.

Like anyone a few generations behind
the latest technology, he took a while
to understand what the thing did.
But my dad fgured it out, and soon
enough his world started growing
again. For the frst time in ages he
would recommend movies to me.
Thats a small thing, but in the midst
of having to be cared for night and
day, it let him feel like he was hosting
me, instead of the other way around.
My father lay in bed for six more
months. His bed looked out over
the backyard, which was full of my
mothers bird feeders. He loved to
watch the birds fit around. The way
he watched, I think they showed
him something hidden from most
people. Maybe this: The world spins
on in spite of us. Thats not a sad
thing, necessarily. But when youre
terminal, you dont always want to
think about it. For those times there
is a whole other world, one that only
gets bigger. These days you can
stream it on demand. Kevin Dupzyk

the truly stainproof couch

Unlike Scotchgard and other stain
repellents, Crypton coats every fiber of its
fabric, not just the surface. Tis makes
the protection more durableand your
couch virtually spill-proof. And thanks to a
recent update, the fabric is actually
comfortable. Couch by Calico, $1,999.


The superhydrophobic powers of the frst batch of Rust-Oleum NeverWet were impressive, but we never
fgured out what to do with the stuf. Then Rust-Oleum reformulated it into a one-step application especially
for fabric ($15). Spray it on outdoor furnitureor anything, reallyand water will bead right of.


for buttoning
the place

100 Pounds of

hall of fame

The honeywell T-86 ThermosTaT

Sixty-one years. Tats how long
its been since the Honeywell T-86
thermostat was introduced. In that
time its become known simply as
the Round, to distinguish itself from its predecessors, which looked more like small, wall-mounted
caskets. Seventy million units later, it still remains
the perfect option. If you have $40, a screwdriver,
and the inclination, you could set one up this
weekend. Tere are newer thermostats, sure. And
theyre nice: Te Nest learns your habits, and the
Honeywell Lyric (top) reacts when you enter or
leave the home. Both optimize your home temperature with minimal input from you. Minimal
input, you say? Like turning a knob one way when
youre hot, the other when youre cold? Something that can be operated by an adult or a child?
Sounds familiar. R.B.

I used to be the sort who obsessively

checked every door and window
before leaving the house or going to
sleep. And then I checked them all
again. Now, though, when it occurs
to me that I might have left the
garage door open, I dont go straight
home or roll out of bed to make sure
its shut. Not if Percys around.
Percy is a large German
shepherd100 pounds, mostly
muscle, a thunderous bark, teeth
like an alligators, and an absolute
sweetheartof uncertain age. Every
day, after his breakfast and a walk, he
stations himself in front of the large
picture window in our living room,
front paws and chin resting on the
back of the couch. If some sound
or scent requires his attention, hell
release a rumbling growl and race
toward the danger. If there is a UPS
truck in the driveway, a squirrel on
the deck, or even, as happened once,
a bear at the garbage can, hell bark
loudly and aggressively, no doubt to
alert me. But by the time I get around
to investigating, Percys usually
solved the problem all by himself. In
terms of security, hes all I need: a
big, loud dog who loves me almost as
much as I love him. David Rosaler

Oc t o b e r 2 0 1 4
PO Pul ar
M echanics

Do-It-Yourself Security
If you dont want to go through
the expenseor the wiringof a
professional home-security system,
the iSmartAlarm (from $199) is a
series of motion sensors, cameras,
and alarms that you install yourself,
anywhere you want, and monitor
through your phone. Itll even alert
you via text if someones broken in.
From there its on you to decide what
to do about it.

Glass That Keeps Out Thieves

Window makers across the country,
including big companies like Pella,
are making products that meet the
hurricane standards of Miami-Dade
County, Florida. They cost 45 to
60 percent more than traditional
windows, but you get glass built to
withstand a 2 x 4 fying end to end
at 34 mphmore than enough to
keep out a bad guy with a crowbar.
Plus, they increase energy eficiency
and noise resistance, which is also
comforting, but in a diferent way.

Never Lose Your KeYs

As long as you have your smartphone
(or a special key fob) in your pocket, all
it takes to open a Kwikset Kevo deadbolt
($219) is your finger. You can even send
temporary access to houseguests or the
cable guy. Now all you have to worry about
losing is your phone.



GaraGe / yard

help your
utility and
outdoor spaces
help you

A Very Brief Quiz

Do you want your garage-door opener to
communicate with your heating system?
1. Do you open the garage door only when

leaving your home or coming back, never

just to go outside and shovel snow?
A. Yes (5)

you could be a
better Griller

According to
Lou Lambert of
Lamberts Downtown
Barbecue, in Austin,
Texas, the most
important thing in
grilling is the grate.
You want cast iron.
Nothing else. A
heavier grate holds
the heat better and
makes better grill
marks, he says.
Thats where your
favor comes from:
the grill marks.

A Better
Deck Board
(from $5 per
square foot)
is the lowestmaintenance
option you can
fnd for decking. The board,
made of wood
fber and resin
from recycled
milk jugs and
plastic bottles,
is wrapped in a
plastic layer that
protects it from
water and UV
downfall of most
decks. Its much
tougher than
wood and, just
as important, not
much uglier.



B. No (0)

Answer Key
5 points You want your garage-door opener to communicate with
your heating system. You should take a look at the new LiftMaster
opener with MyQ (retrofts are priced from $100), which lets you use
your phone to open and close the garage door from anywhere you
have Internet service, and can connect to your Nest, adjusting the
temperature in your home whenever you leave or return to the garage.
0 points You are happy with your current garage-door opener.

Three Things You Can Do to Improve Your

Garage Right Now
1. Cover your

foor with an
acrylic sealer
from Quikrete or
Okon (about $23
a gallon). Theyre
simple to put
down, and you
can add abrasive
particles to
increase traction.

2. Quiet your
opener. Kits like
the Garage Door
Silencer ($30)
from acoustical
put rubber
between the
opener mount
and the ceiling,
allowing the
person whose
bedroom is
above the garage
to sleep through

The Case for Cordless

Im a gas-engine guy and I make
no apologies for it. For the past two
years, however, Ive been testing
equipment powered by a motor and
a battery. And Ive been amazed, or
at least pleasantly surprised. These
machines are light, tough, and, most
impressively, do a decent amount
of work on one charge. Take Stihls
MSA 160 C, a 36-volt chainsaw
($350). Ive made 60 to 90 cuts with
one before it ran out of juice. Or the
EGO Power+ 56-volt mower ($499).
Its got enough power to fll its bag to
bulging and runs so quietly you wont
even know its on. Im not saying you
should switch all of your equipment
to electric, but next time at least poke
around the aisle. Great strides have
been made. R.B.

3. Put a GelPro

mat (from $60)

in front of your
workbench. It
works just as well
here as it does in
the kitchen.

Wall-mount your vac

It frees up foor space.
Heavy-duty models like the
American-made VacuMaid
GV50 ($259) have hoses that
stretch up to 50 feet. You could
practically make it to the
end of the driveway.

index of

Why Its Still So Hard

to Build a Smart Home

We are slowly edging toward a house you can control with your
phone, from anywhere. But for now, expect headaches.

The smart home, when it works perfectly, is supposed

to act like an invisible-yet-all-knowing butler: When you
wake up, your blinds open autonomously and your cofee
starts brewing. The thermostat adjusts the temperature
on its own, keeping the house comfortable while conserving energy and money. Your front door automatically
locks when you leave.
Thats how we all want smart homes to work. Unfortunately, the industry hasnt quite caught up to this idyllic vision. The product category is fraught right now with
fragmentation, varying protocols and standards, and
competing interests. To put it in the simplest terms: You
can buy cool stuf, but it doesnt all work together yet.
Small startup types dominate, but that could change:
Apple and other giants are quickly catching up.

A sprinkler sysTeM ThAT

AdApTs To weATher
Instead of using preset timers, the
Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller
(from $249) pairs with your smartphone and
uses the location data to track local
rain, wind, and humidity, creating a system
made just for you. You can even designate
zones in your yard so that your cactus garden
gets less water than your petunias.

What makes it all so complicated? Each smart-home

gadget has specifc requirements for communicating
on your home network. Manufacturers must decide
whether their devices will send data back and forth via
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, or one of the other wireless
technologiesand new options are still being added.
In July Samsung joined Nest (maker of smart thermostats), software company ARM Holdings, and four other
companies in launching Thread, a new, wireless meshnetwork protocol designed for smart-home use.
Gadgets typically come with a separate portal
for controlling themand makers must choose: iOS,
Android, or the Web? Invest in one platform or all? Most
smaller companies are building support for everything,
but some bigger players try to lock their competitors
out. Dont be surprised if, in the future, you cant use all
the functionality of your Google Nest thermostat should
you end up buying into Apples ecosystem. In June Apple
announced HomeKit, a development environment that
lets device makers connect to iOS. The software framework may produce a centralized smart-home control
panel on your iPhone or iPad.
If youre a pioneer type, start with a hub, and know
which wireless technologies it supportsthe more the
better. Wink and Home Depots new Wink smart-home
collection and hub launched in July; it stands out by
giving you fve wireless options (Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigBee,
Bluetooth, and Lutrons Clear Connect) for having your
appliances communicate. Staples new $80 D-Link hub
supports four of those protocols. SmartThings, Revolv,
and Staples Connect also ofer multiple options.
Then, when youre getting a new speaker system or
lightbulbs, check that each one works with those wireless technologies. Yes, you have to do it every time. As an
early adopter, thats the rutted path you chose.
Of course, you could wait until the behemoths sweep
in and force large swaths of the population in one direction or another: Do you want an iOS or Android home?
With Apple making its frst move, Siri could eventually
become like that all-knowing butler.
But we respectfully submit that you need not worry
about such eventualities. Yes, that new OS might disable
your refrigerator, and itll be annoying to have to get your
things talking again. But when the mainstream moment
arrives for smart-home technology, the futzing around
you do now will serve you well later. Davey Alba

A Mower ThAT Folds in hAlF

Te Toro Recycler with SmartStow ($369)
helps maximize every inch of valuable
garage-foor space. It features a forwardfolding handle and an engine that wont be
damaged by being turned and stored
sideways, so you can stand it on its end.

Oc t o b e r 2 0 1 4
PO Pul ar
M echanics

Outlast sheets
Wink Hub Philips
Hue lighting
system iHome
iDL95 clock
Tivoli Model Tree
clock kitchen
Nespresso Pixie
Architect Series
II dishwasher
Hatco TPT-120
toaster Cuisinart
CSO-300 oven
Bathroom TOTO
ceramic tiles
Evolve Ladybug
coating Niagara
Stealth dual-fush
toilet laundry
room Speed
Queen washer
Maytag Bravos XL
washer office
Tado Cooling
system LG G3
MOS Magnetic
System LivingPlug
Inlet outlet
Belkin WeMo
Switch Leviton
USB charger outlet
living room
Oreck Magnesium
vacuum LG
55-inch TV Epson
Home Cinema
5030UBe wireless
projector Philips
SlimStyle lightbulb
Lauzon Pure
Genius hardwood
fooring Infinuvo
Hovo 510 cleaner
Crypton stainrepellent fabric
NeverWet fabric
protector Roku
streaming player
T-86 thermostat
security system
Pella windows
Kwikset Kevo

Composite Deck
Board LifMaster
MyQ garage-door
system Quikrete
and Okon acrylic
sealers Garage
Door Silencer
GelPro mat
Stihl MSA 160 C
chainsaw EGO
Power+ mower
VacuMaid GV50
vacuum Rachio
Iro sprinkler
controller Toro
Recycler mower



a r g e s t t u n n e l - b o ri

maChine h

g the City s


ro n t r e n a i s s a n C e h a n g i n g i n t h e b a l a n C e .

photographs By



ust be saved.

C t. b e r t ha



the world s


theres o

e way t o f i n i s h t h e p r o j e

ian allen

s t a l l e d d e e p b e n e at h


p l a n n e d w at er



le, l e a

nly o n

tially, stuck in the mud? Bertha is 60 feet under the

earth, and youre on the surface watching a squirmy
public swap rumors of cost and delay on the $1.35 billion tunnel component of an even larger transportation
project, and the naysayers are howling: Just you watch,
Bertha will be abandoned like an overheated mole,
boondoggle to end all boondoggles. Because, dont
forget, when youre boring the worlds largest tunnel,
everything is biggernot just the machine and the hole
and the outsize hopes but the worries too. The cynicism.
What do you do?
Heres what you do: You try to tune out the media.
You shrug of the peanut gallerys spitballs. You put
of the fnger-pointing and the lawsuits for now; thats
what the lawyers are paid for afterward. You do the only
thing you can do. You put your head down and you think
big, one more time. You fgure out how to reach Bertha
and get her moving again.
This is a rescue story.

a S e a t t l e i t e why he likes it here and hell

invoke the things we Seattleites always say:
good fsh. Better cofee. White sails on the blue
water of Puget Sound. Never high on anybodys list is the
Alaskan Way Viaduct. For 61 years the elevated doubledecker freeway that slices along the waterfront has been
the citys grim, gray mule, carrying roughly one-third of
Seattles northsouth trafc while efectively divorcing the
city from its waterfront, as so many other highways have
done around the nationfrom New York Citys FDR Drive
to Bostons Interstate 93 before the Big Dig buried it.
In 2001 a magnitude 6.8 earthquake rattled Seattle,
cracking the aging viaduct. As years passed and the road
deteriorated, the city argued about what to do. Finally,
in 2009 local and state leaders decided: the viaduct
would fall. In its place a waterfront renaissance would
bloom as 26 blocks along Elliott Bay rejoined the city. James Corner Field
Operations, visionary of the acclaimed High Line project in Manhattan,
was hired to imagine a string of walkways, parks, public piers, bike paths,
beacheseven a swimming pool on a bargethat would knit the citys core
and its shoreline together and transform the place into an urban waterfront to rival those of Sydney, Copenhagen, Vancouver.
The costliest and most complicated puzzle piecethe one that would
make all of this possiblewould also be one of the least visible. A 2-mile
tunnel would replace the hulking viaduct. The tunnel would whisk traffc underground from the Seattle Seahawks stadium, just south of downtowns high-rises, north to the Space Needle and South Lake Union.
Seattles tunnel wouldnt be very longjust 1.7 miles of it bored through
the earthbut it couldnt be just any tunnel. It needed to be big enough
to hold four lanes of trafc across two decks, with cars traveling at highway speeds. It would have to dive deep, more than 200 feet below downtowns heart, to avoid disturbing the citys skyscrapers and old buildings.
The machine would have to be wily enough to dig through Seattles funky
soils, everything from glacial till to pudding, the latter a legacy of early
city fathers, who fattened the lumpy pioneer town into the salt marshes
to create the modern city by the sound.
The requirements emerged: Berthas cutterheadher facewould be
57 feet across, as tall as the viaduct she was replacing. She would have
hundreds of teeth to chew with. Shed digest the muck she chewed and then

What do you do

if youre operating the

worlds biggest tunneling machine and something goes wrong? Youre digging along,
everything fne, the machines fve-story
maw about to chew beneath the skyscrapers
of one of the great American cities. Then suddenly one day things are not so fne. Bertha
thats her name, in honor of Seattles frst
woman mayor, Bertha Knight Landeshits
something. A few days later her temperature
starts rising. Not good. Then her cutting head
stops spinning.
Now what? What do you do when the
worlds largest tunneling machine is, essen-

80 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s


A look at what it
will take to snatch Bertha
from the depths.
This summer Seattle
Tunnel Partners sank
73 concrete pillars in a huge
ring in front of Berthas face.
Workers then excavated the
hole until it was deep
enough to swallow an 11-story

Though shes running

hot, Bertha can still
move. Soon she will chew
through the front of the
protective wall until her head
rests on a concrete cradle in
the rescue pit.

Finally, a custom crane

called a modular lift
tower will raise Berthas
2,000-ton face, tilt it, and set
it down. Workers will
replace Berthas bearing
assembly and add 86 more
tons of steel ribs and plates.

cuT Terhead
liF T ToWer




build the tunnel behind her as she worked,

so she would be 326 feet long, as long as a
home run over the right-feld fence at nearby
Safeco Field. She would weigh as much as the
Eifel Tower and would use enough power to
light a town of 30,000 people. Shed be able
to generate so much thrust44,000 tons
she could send 13 space shuttles into orbit.
And, of course, shed be burly, because by
the time she burrowed through the subterranean darkness and emerged on the other
side she would have shed 9 tons of solid steel.
Bertha would be all of these things. She
would be the biggest tunnel-boring machine
ever built.

y e T , f o R a l l her complex engineering, here she sits, a thorn in

the side of the Washington State
Department of Transportation. A huge
accomplishment turned even huger headache. The biggest tunnel-boring machine
ever to get stuck under Seattle.

i l l u s t r at i o n by b r ya n c h r i s t i e d e s i g n

More than six months after Bertha had

stopped her daily tunneling, I headed down
to Seattles historic Pioneer Square neighborhood to see her sulking in her hole; I wanted
to see the plans that were afoot to get her
moving again. Just to the west nodded the
dromedary cranes of Seattles port. Nearly
above me loomed the viaduct, its concrete The completed (orange) and
projected (blue) path of the
the stained color of the citys November viaducts replacement tunnel.
skies. Rusting rebar showed through it like
bones. Bertha had stopped tunneling just short of the viaducts frst pillars, with Seattles frst buildings just a few feet beyond that. It was Friday
afternoon, and the viaduct throbbed with the trafc of people sneaking
of to early weekends. You had to shout.
Beneath the viaduct I met the tunnels project manager, Chris Dixon.
Dixon is 61 and gray-haired, with a tucked upper lip that suggests a man
accustomed to keeping his words and his temper close. He wore the uniform of job-site managers everywheresteel-toed boots, pressed khaki
work shirt, blue jeans a shade darker than his eyes. A white hard hat said
seattle tunnel partners, the moniker for the team of large-construction frm Tutor Perini and tunneling specialist Dragados that together won
the contract to build the tunnel. A vice president of operations at Tutor
Perini, Dixon is a lifelong major-project guy. I asked him where home is.

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s _ o c t o b er 2014 81

Wherever we are at the time, he said. We have no

roots anywhere. My wifes Australian. My frst job was
as a 16-year-old tunnel laborer on a tunnel job in Australia. He rattled of some of the places hes worked.
Albania. The Sultanate of Oman. California, for L.A.s
Metro Red Line Subway Project, and the BART extension to San Jose.
We walked onto a bridge spanning a broad scoop in
the earth. The scoop sloped into a yawning, fve-story
hole, like the entrance to a burrow of some animal
you werent sure you wanted to see up close. There
were stacks of shovels and, beneath the thrum of
the viaduct, the sound of trickling water. This, Dixon
explained, was Berthas launch pit, where the whole
thing started.
Bertha was built by heavy-machine-maker Hitachi
Zosen of Japan, which had constructed more than
1,300 tunneling machines before her. Once she
steamed into Seattle in 41 pieces in April 2013, her fve-story, Sonics-green
cutterhead became recognized around town, a local celebrity. She had
her own Twitter feed, sending out cheeky messages about her progress:
The specialized truck thats moving me has 96 axles and nearly 800
tires. It has won exactly zero races, she tweeted as she was unloaded.
A divided city leaned in, grew more excited. A kid dressed as Bertha for
Halloween. A woman made a giant meatloaf shaped like her, with workers fashioned out of Litl Smokies sausages. Once Bertha was assembled
and positioned in the launch pit, 5,000 people came out to wish her well.
The governor spoke. He and former governor Christine Gregoire cracked
a bottle of wine against her steel, and a bottle of sake. I should say something profound, something Neil Armstrong-ish, Bertha tweeted. Fortunately, Im out of characters. Lets dig. On July 30, 2013, she got to work.

Bertha had some

8,000 feet
to go, and every foot
she drilled was
another foot farther
f r o m h e l p.

understand how

a tunnel-boring machine works, think

of an earthworm. The worm eats. It pushes forward. It expels.
This is Bertha in a nutshell. As her 886-ton cutterhead revolves
at about one rotation per minute, 260 spinning and stationary teeth
chew the soil before her. Nozzles on her cutterhead spray saliva-like conditioners that transform the soil into the consistency of toothpaste. The
soil is pushed through the large,
mouthlike holes in her face. Then
this chewed-up earthits ofcially
called tunnel muck by engineers
enters a chamber where its stirred
and conditioned still more.
Next comes digestion: High
pressure deep in a tunnel forces
the muck up Berthas gullet, a massive ribbon screw that works like
an Archimedes screw, but whose
shape (Its like a Slinky, Dixon
said) allows it to swallow boulders
up to 3 feet wide. The screw carries
the muck farther back into Bertha,
until its deposited in her intestines: a giant conveyor belt that reaches
out of the tunnel and dumps its waste onto a barge on Puget Sound. The
conveyor belt will grow as Bertha digs until it eventually stretches some
9,000 feet to the tunnels end. Without this system the project would
need an average of 200 dump trucks per day rumbling through downtown to carry away all the muck that Bertha digests.
Dixon climbed down a ladder made of 2 x 4s and stood in the tunnels

82 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

mouth. It soareda fve-story-tall tube bending slightly into the earth. Lining the tube
were the precast concrete pieces18 tons
apiecethat Bertha lifts into place, forming
consecutive rings to build the tunnel behind
her. Dixon pointed high above us, where
initial work on the upper-deck roadway was
about to begin despite Berthas pause. The
only thing thats stopped on the job is the actual tunnel boring itself, he said. Everything
else is going ahead full speed. Nearby, for
instance, work had been reshufed to begin
on the tunnels brain, a multistory subterranean building that will house the controls
for signals, airfow, sprinklers, and the like.
We walked nearly a quarter-mile down
the already-fnished tunnel and climbed
into Bertha herself. There the scene was
pure industrial gothic. It was close and dim.
There were steel catwalks and steel railings,
and steel pipes going to and from unknown
places. The air smelled of earth and grease
and hard work. Even at rest the machine felt
busy. We climbed higher and Dixon pointed
out two man-locks: Down in a tunnel, soil
and water team up to increase the air pressure at the front of the machine, just as a
diver experiences increasing pressure as he
descends. Whenever work has to be done at
the very front of the tunnel-boring machine,
workmen cant stay long, and they must
decompress afterward.
Finally we halted at the operators cabin
the control room. The operator sat before
a large console. It was spare and beige with
analog gauges and big, green LED readouts,
like something borrowed from a Cold War
missile silo. On the control panel before us
he pointed out several monitors, including
ones that keep tabs on the tunnel-boring
machines temperature. It seemed a great
place to ask about Berthas recent woes.

Project manager Chris

Dixon stands in the
portion of the tunnel
Bertha has completed.
Opposite: The machine,
partially assembled
before tunneling began.

bearing on the axle of your car, only much,

much larger. As in a car bearing, the working parts are sealed to keep lubricants inside
while keeping out contaminants that can
cause friction. Its particularly crucial that
this system work fawlessly in a tunnel-boring
machine, which is surrounded by intense
pressure that can force grit into the bits that
need to spin freely. When workers investigated, they found that the seals protecting
the main bearing had been damaged. Contaminants had gotten deep inside.
This was not good. Bertha had dug only
1,023 feet. She had some 8,000 feet to go.
Every foot she drilled was another foot
deeper under the city, another foot farther
from easy aid.
All was not lost, though. She was still near
home. To be honest, if Bertha was going to
break down anywhere, thats about the best
possible place it could have happened on
the jobtheyll get her fxed, Amanda Foley,
North American editor of Tunnelling Journal,
told me in an email.
Yes, repairing her would be a world-class
pain in the ass. But it was better than getting
stranded under Pike Place Market.

Dec. 3

of last year Bertha hit

something. It was a pipe, an 8-inch
steel well casing sunk to monitor
movement of groundwater. Huh, the tunnel
folks thought. They noted it and kept tunneling. Three days later Berthas temperature
rose. Then she started requiring more thrust
to advance, more torque to turn the cutterhead, as if something was in the way.
Theres disagreement over whether the
pipe incident ultimately mattered or whether
it was just coincidence; workers plucked a
piece of the casing from her maw like a shard
of toothpick. But what was obstructing her,
the tunnelers soon realized, might be dirt
itself: While Bertha can gnaw through concrete, earth of the wrong consistency can
interfere with her ability to spin. By sending
workers into the high-pressure environment
in front of Berthas face, using those manlocks, they cleared her mouth. But when
they got her moving in late January, she ran
hot again. What we didnt realize at that
time, Dixon said as we stood closer to her
cutterhead, was the amount of damage that
the bearing seals had sufered.
In Berthas neck is a bearing similar to the

anD I emergeD

squinting into
daylight and walked north. A halfyear had passed since daily tunneling had ceased. Around town people were wondering what was going
on. Some fretted. Others gloated. The week of my visit, the alt-weekly
The Stranger, which had long hated the notion of the pricey project,
even suggested that our money-sucking tunnel might be abandoned
and was soliciting ideas for its second life (mystery dinner theater! giant
sushi conveyor belt!). For her part, Bertha no longer seemed herself. Her
tweets had lost their playfulness; they were curt, businesslike, even a
smidge defensive. Theres still a lot of tunnel-related work happening,
she insisted, despite her predicament.
Dixon and I walked until we were past the tunnel. The viaduct loomed
just ahead. While the launch pit had been almost sleepy, here was total
noise: Cement trucks spun. Workers banged sledgehammers. Welders
drizzled sparks. This was ground zero of the repair efort.
Dixon explained what we were witnessing. In the open ground in
front of Bertha workers were creating a ring of 73 enormous, connected
concrete pillars. Once fnished, he explained, the crew would spend the
rest of the summer excavating that ring to create a shaft wide and deep
enough to swallow an 11-story buildinga vertical rescue tunnel.
True to form, even this efort is Brobdingnagian in scale. In October
Bertha will fre up her engines again and chew through the front of that
protective wall until her head rests on a concrete cradle that workers have
molded on the pits foor. There workers will gradually decapitate her.
Next comes a bit of heavyweight ballet: A Texas-based company named
Mammoet, which specializes in moving the massivesalvaging ferries from
the seafoor, lifting power-plant reactors into placewill trundle a modular lift tower (a sort of custom crane) over the pit. The machine will hoist
Berthas entire cutterhead assemblyall 2,000 tons
Continued on page 104

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s _ o c t o b er 2014 83

Glass Trachea

Farlows scientifc

Wade Martindale

Grass Valley, California

Photograph by jason Madara

The objecT here is a Trachea and its twin bronchial

treethe superstructure of the human lungs. it was
sculpted out of borosilicate glass by Wade Martin
dale, the senior craftsman at Farlows scientifc
Glassblowing. it is anatomically correct. Glassblowing
is, in part, the art of breath control, but it rarely results
in art that looks as though it could breathe on its own.
Martindale was born to the trade: his uncle,
Gary Farlow, a former truck driver, founded Farlows
scientifc in 1989 in his garage in the bay area, mak
ing dies and molds for medical devices like catheters.
Martindale started apprenticing there when he was
13 and joined fulltime in 1994.
The frst fullscale organ model came that same
year when the makers of those medical devices
wanted to demonstrate how their inventions work.
Martindale spent two days with a medical engineer
building a glass heart. he now fashions stomachs,
brains, and whole torsos. and lungs.
its an extraordinarily skilled art. For the tra

84 Oc t ob er 2 0 14 _ P O P u l a r M e C h a n i C s

chea, Martindale mounts thinwalled glass tubes in

lathes, softens them with a blowtorch, and stretches
them to precise lengths. Meanwhile, he adjusts the
air pressure inside the tubes with his own breath
through a hose, keeping the nearly liquid tubes
from collapsing onto themselves. Details count. The
ripples along the model simulate the cartilage that
encircles the trachea in your chest; each band is indi
vidually applied using molten ribbons of glass.
once Martindale has constructed all the sub
componentsthe lung model has nearly 40he
moves to a bench to do the delicate work of fusing
them together into a fnal form. he keeps the piece at
annealing temperature1,049 Fwhen the glass is
just soft enough to meld but not liquefy.
The models are works of art, but theyre also
tools of science. Medicaldevice makers study blood
fow within the glass organs and test cuttingedge
implants like artifcial heart valves. They lead lives of
their own, in service of ours. Tim Heffernan

models Farlows sells in
an average year.

hours that go into
Farlows most complex,
fulltorso model.

estimated number of
burns a glassblower receives
per project.

Fifty years from now, well look back

at this moment as a pivotal time
in the history of vehicle safety. In the
past decade, engineers have invented
whole new technologies that make
driving safer than everand their
ideas keep getting better.
A report from the front lines of the
crusade to get you home safely.
8 6 Mon t h T K 2 0 14 _ P o P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

By ezra Dyer

Illustration by Istvn Szugyiczky

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s
o c t o b er 2 014



crash testing its called time zero: the moment an accident

begins. When we think about vehicle safety, we tend to think
about what happens after time zero. crumple zones engage.
seat belts cinch tight. airbags erupt. and after the violence
ends, ideally the passenger cell remains intact, the humans
inside unharmed. Those fractions of a second at the onset of
an impact are crucial. But so are the ones that come before it.
and the quest for safer cars runs in two directionsnot just
surviving a crash but trying to stop the clock before it ever
gets to time zero. last year 32,850 people in the u.s. died in
motor-vehicle accidents, according to a preliminary estimate by
the national highway Traffic safety administration. For all the
gains made in safetythe toll has dropped significantly from the
43,510 fatalities recorded in 2005getting into your car is still
likely the most dangerous thing youll do on any given day. But
around the world car companies and governments are making
advances in vehicle safety at an unprecedented pace. in the
past year ive visited the front lines of safety innovation, walking
the floor of a crash-test facility in ohio, talking to engineers
across the globe, and trying out new electronic safety systems
on the latest vehicles. From progress in active crash avoidance
to huge improvements in materials, the achievements weve
made in vehicle safety are staggering. We may never completely
eliminate accidents or deaths, but were getting closer.

it starts With the steel

Considering all of the rapid developments weve
seen with electronic safety systems in recent years,
its perhaps counterintuitive that some of the biggest
safety improvements in the past decade have come
from good old-fashioned steel. Over the past 10 to 15
years, steels have been getting stronger, says Chuck
Thomas, chief engineer at Honda R&D Americas, in
Raymond, Ohio. We probably had 500 megapascals
of tensile strength in the early 2000s. Now hot-pressed
or hot-stamped steel is around 1,500 megapascals. At
that strength you can hang 200,000 pounds on an inchwide strip without tearing it in two. The high-strength
steel is stamped hot and then quickly cooled, allowing for complex shapes and a wide variability in yield
strength, which helps determine how a car deforms in
an accident.


PoPular Mechanics
o c t o b er 20 14

David Leone, executive chief engineer for Cadillac,

says that the use of high-strength steel isnt about turning passenger cars into invincible tanks but controlling
crash energy and minimizing weight. Heavy does not
mean safe, Leone says. Heavy means heavy. Go back
to the 50s and 60s. The cars were heavy. They were
stiff. But if you ran into the wall, you bounced off the
wall and all the deceleration went through your body.
Heavy and stiff is not where you want to be.
These advances in steelalong with strategic use of
other materials such as aluminum, magnesium, and
carbon fiberallow engineers to design structures that
can dissipate and redirect crash forces. For example,
the new Cadillac CTS uses lightweight aluminum
crush cans up front to soak up a lot of energy before
an impact reaches the passengers. Even the CTSs
seat-belt spools unwind slightly during a crash to help
minimize forces on your body.
The effective mix of stronger materials and crush
zones is evident in a slow-motion video of the 2014
Acura MDX undergoing an offset-frontal crash test. As
the car slams into the barrier at 40 mph, the front end
deforms alarmingly until the shock wave reaches the
firewall, where it meets high-strength steel stamped
at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. Instead of continuing
its collapse, the car pivots away from the barrier,
absorbing the remaining energy. From the front door
forward, the car is annihilated. From the door back, its
completely intact.

We still need to smash stuff

Dont blink or youll miss it, says a white-coated engineer as he prepares to fire the crash sled at Honda
R&D Americas. The sled is fitted with a mockup of an
Odyssey minivan dashboard, which is propelled backward by a 45,000-hp hydraulic piston. The dummy
at the wheel will take a trip from zero to 35 mph in
100millisecondsdistance-wise, about 5 feet. The sled
doesnt actually crash into anything. The brute acceleration creates punishing g-forces that replicate those
that occur in a front-end collision.
At the appointed moment the sled leaps backward
and airbags deploy with a bang. The dummy tattoos
the bag with paint dabbed on its head, the resultant
smear telling a story of how a human mightve fared
in this hypothetical accident. This is one way Honda
continues to improve its seat belts, airbags, seats, dash
materialsitems that dont require the destruction of a
whole car.
Of course, as with all other carmakers, Honda still
runs full-scale tests in a cavernous clean room where
actual cars are flung into various barriers under
blinding lights, the impact recorded and dissected in
super slo-mo. This is how carmakers test rollovers, side
impacts, and small-overlap front-end collisions, which

Built to crash
Carmakers use a variety of materials and steel strengths in a cars frame
to redistribute crash forces and protect passengers. In this 2015
Volvo XC90 there are fve diferent grades of steel and lightweight aluminum.
By using softer metals on the exterior parts and gradually using
stronger steel through the crush zone and as part of the passenger cell,
the violent energy from the impact can be controlled, keeping the
humans inside safe. the XC90s seven massive airbags will also help.

Car safe t y



Mild steel


High-strength steel


Very-high-strength steel


extra-high-strength steel


Ultra-high-strength steel


focus on the cars right- and left-front corners. The

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began running
small-overlap tests in 2012 in response to statistics that
roughly one-quarter of front-end collisions involving
serious or fatal injury fit this criteriaa car drifting into
the oncoming lane catches the fender of an oncoming
vehicle or goes off the road and clips a signpost.
These are particularly nasty impacts because they
dont engage the full crash structure of the front end.
Instead, they tear through the vulnerable corners,
sometimes forcing the front-left wheel into the drivers
footwell. When the IIHS began evaluating smalloverlap performance, the Volkswagen CC became
the first car ever to have its driver-side door sheared
completely off during a test. If you dont strike the
columns on either side of the engine, that crash energy
goes into the cabin, Hondas Thomas says. Weve
done a lot of work to adapt to these kinds of crashes.
In yet another room at Hondas testing facility,
mechanical arms launch plastic dummy heads into
the interiors of two Acura RDXs. Every piece of the
cabin is optimized to deform and cushion a blow,
from the headliner to the plastic coat hangers above
the windows. The R&D staff, who regularly witness
the violence of car crashes, seem passively disdainful
of people who dont wear seat belts, the simplest and
most effective way to prevent serious injuries in an
accident. On the three test noggins are the names given
to each dummy: Larry, Moe, and Curly.
A full-size dummy named Polar II stands in for
people during pedestrian-impact tests. He helped
Honda develop a better design for its windshield
wipers. If you look at your wipers, theres probably a

big bolt on the axis, Thomas says. Well, it turns out

thats a spot your head might hit and basically land on
a big spike. The answer is a breakaway wiper system.
Which Hondas now use, thanks to Polar.

Vehicles are Getting amazingly smart

While crash performance is still critically important,
much of todays safety research concerns the relatively
new field of active accident avoidance. We know that
collisions will still occur, so you have to work with the
protection of the occupants, Thomas Broberg, senior
technical advisor for safety at the Volvo Cars Safety
Centre, says. Thats an evolution. The revolution,
which has already started, is with collision avoidance
auto braking, steering, and autonomous driving. Volvo
was one of the first carmakers to market with autonomous emergency braking, which applies the brakes in
certain situations if the driver does not. According to a
study by the IIHS, Volvo XC60s equipped with the system were involved in 20 percent fewer collisions than
comparable SUVs without auto braking.
Self-steering cars are the next frontier. The past two
years saw the introduction of self-steering in the Lincoln
MKZ, Infiniti Q50, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class, each of
which can make steering corrections at highway speeds
to help maintain the cars position in a lane. Currently
these systems demand involvement from the driver;
when the S-Class determines that the driver hasnt made
a steering input in 16 seconds, the car shuts down its
lane-keeping assistance. Lane keeping works to prevent

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s
o c t o b er 2 014


inattentive drivers from drifting over the centerline or

into the flank of an adjacent 18-wheeler, but that basic,
limited functionality could soon be capable of taking
over for long stretches of highway driving.
Vehicles that can brake on their own or steer themselves arent equipped with any one magic technology.
Even small degrees of autonomy rely on a network of
multiple sensors that are already used for the various
active safety systems in a car, such as blind-spot or
forward-collision alerts. Because each of these electronic systems relies on different technologies with
different strengths, tying them together is the key to
making a car semiautonomous and, maybe even one
day, fully autonomous or driverless. Cameras can distinguish shapes but have difficulty judging distance and
speed, says Thomas. Radar is good for distance and
speed but not shapes. By using both together we get an
accurate picture of the obstacles and what they are.
Nissan claims it will offer an autonomous car by
2020. Audis piloted driving system, which can handle
highway driving, is on track for release in three to
five years. And in 2017, 100 drivers in Gothenburg,
Sweden, will begin conducting their daily commutes
in autonomous Volvos, part of a real-world research
project that furthers Volvos stated goal of zero fatalities
or major injuries in its cars by 2020. And, of course,
Google continues to work on its driverless cars, which
have covered so many miles without a major accident
that states are scrambling to create laws to address this
new category of vehicle.

While there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical

about how soon a production driverless car could hit
public roadslegal and insurance issues being just
twoautomotive experts remain optimistic. Were
going to look back in 15 or 20 years and say, thats what
used to be in cars? Remember when I had to steer on
the freeways? says John Capp, director of global vehicle
safety for Cadillac. Capp led research and development
on Cadillacs upcoming Super Cruise system. Super
Cruise takes over steering and pedal operations in
certain highway conditions by using lane-keeping assistance paired with active cruise control, which together
help a car maintain a set distance behind another vehicle without the driver having to apply the gas or brakes.
These advanced systems blur the line between safety
and luxurywhen the car takes a share of stress away
from the driver, safety moves to the foreground of your
daily experience. Its not a lot of fun to try out your airbags, but using your active cruise control is, Capp says.

our cars are learning to Talk

As automakers bring smarter cars to market, the government has been testing out technology that allows
for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. Greg
Winfree is the assistant secretary for research and
innovative technology with the U.S. Department of
Transportation, which announced plans in February

on the road right now

2015 AcurA TLX

road Departure

the next step

beyond lane-keeping
steering, this acura
system combines a
camera and radar
to recognize when
youre about to run
of a curveand
applies steering to
try to keep you on
the pavement.


2015 HyundAi

stop/start cruise

the Genesis will

brake all the way
down to a stop and
then inch forward to
keep moving with
congested trafic.
Paired with the lane
keep assist system,
which steers to keep
you in your lane, the
Genesis shoulders
a lot of the driving
burden during
the worst part of
your commute.

PoPular Mechanics
o ct o b er 20 14

2015 Ford edGe

2015 Audi A3

active Glovebox
Knee airbag

the Edges glovebox

door is hollow and
contains a plastic
bladder. in an impact
that bladder infates
and the gloveboxs
outer door panel
pops out to cushion
the passengers
legs. Whats next,
infatable airbag seat
belts? it has those,
too, in back.

Brake assist

if you actually got in

an accident, youd
probably want the
car to stop afterward,
right? the a3
does that, with its
assist braking the
car to a haltideally
before you crash into
anything else.

2015 MercedesBenz cLs

2015 cAdiLLAc

leD headlights

swiveling headlights
are nothing new.
but the Cls takes
them to the next level
by connecting its
24 lEDs to a camera
that can see whats
out there beyond the
lights, signaling the
car to proactively
point the beams into
a curve before you
even turn the wheel.

rear automatic

if your are backing

up and about to
run over something
or simply ram
the bumper into
a nearby car or
treethe Escalade
will hit its brakes and
stop automatically.
Caveat: it only works
if youre not stepping
on the brake pedal
already; if you are,
the car assumes
you want to run over
your mailbox.

i l l u s t r at i o n s b y m a r t i n l a k s m a n

the Newest Crash test: the smalloverlap crash test focuses on the cars
front corners, which are the weakest
areas of a cars nose.

to pursue getting the technology its been testing into

production cars. Were working with car companies
as we develop connected-vehicle technology, Winfree
says. They recognize the safety potential, and they are
as enthusiastic about it as we are.
If cars can relay speed, braking, and position information to each other, then theyll be able to register
potentially hazardous situations almost instantaneously,
warning the driver visually, audibly, or with the rumble
of the seat or steering wheel. And if cars are equipped to
brake and steer on their own, predictive accident avoidance becomes possible: Your car could take action to
avoid an unfolding situation that you cant yet see.
Because this is a connected system, all the vehicles
must speak the same language, Winfree says. This
intercar chat will happen on the 5.9-GHz band of the
radio spectrum, which the DOT and other international
organizations have designated for transportation
safety. This band allows communications between
vehicles up to 10 times per seconda boon when cars
on two-lane roads can approach each other at 55 mph.
Eventually there is the potential for vehicles to talk
to infrastructure such as stoplights. This could help
traffic flow by coordinating the lights according to the
situation. As for the obvious privacy question, fears
that the government or nefarious individuals could use
your cars connectivity to track you, Winfree acknowledges that its a legitimate concern: We recognize
that Americans value their privacy, and we have to get
this right. To that end, these signals dont transmit
personal information, and the point of the program
isnt to collect data. Besides, if someone wanted to
data-mine you, thered be easier ways to do it than by
hacking a stoplight.

People are the Problem

As our cars take on more driving tasks, there are suddenly entirely new engineering and design challenges

for carmakers. What is important as we go down

this road, from the safety perspective, is how the car
should interact with the driver, Volvos Broberg says.
How do you let the car take over? How does the car
tell you that you need to take over? We need to understand driver behavior.
The biggest hurdle is preventing drivers from
over-relying on systems that arent intended to
fully replace an alert human at the wheel. Subarus
EyeSight auto-braking system will shut itself down
after three consecutive near collisions, requiring
the driver to restart the car before it resumes functioning. Audis piloted-driving hardware includes
two cameras pointed back at drivers to determine if
their eyes are closed for more than 10 seconds. Volvo
is working on a similar concept that also scans the
drivers face with infrared lights to ascertain head
position, making sure the driver isnt nodding off.
Right now driver monitoring is used to determine
the threshold of intervention for systems like lane
keeping and auto braking. It is also used for basic yet
helpful driver aids. In many Mercedes models a small
indicator light in the shape of a coffee cup appears in
the dash if the car determines the driver is getting
tired. Eventually, with systems such as GMs Super
Cruise, this technology could tell the vehicle when
to hand control back to the driveror if a drowsy
driver should even be allowed to activate the system
in the first place. Its going to take awhile before you
can climb into the back seat and let the car take
you to work, Cadillacs Capp says. But we dont
have to wait for everything to be perfected before we
take some steps in that direction.
GMs haptic seat, which vibrates to alert the driver
of lane departureand impending collisionsunderscores the human-psychology role in safety. Studies
revealed an unexpected benefit of the seats silent
alert: Drivers were more likely to use an electronic
warning system if they could avoid the potential embarrassment of passengers knowing their mistakes.
Sometimes pride goes before the fender bender.
As car technology continues to evolve, the
only constant is the unpredictability of the people
behind the wheel. Spotty seat-belt use, drinking and
driving, textingthese are problems that the best
engineers cant vanquish. The good news is that
behavior and social mores can change just as fast as
technology. Thirty years ago kids roamed free in the
back of station wagons that lacked airbags, antilock
brakes, or stability control. Now, not only are the
cars themselves infinitely safer but an unbuckled
child is an aberration rather than the norm.
The world strives toward perfect machines and
technologies that will minimize the dangers of a
simple trip to work, school, or the grocery store,
but the biggest variable in automotive safety is
the same now as it was a hundred years ago. The
final challenge, as always, is us.

P o P u l a r M ec h a n i c s
o c t o b er 2 014

Car safe t y

Great safety
Technology We
cant have
audis new Matrix
LeD headlights
each use 25 diodes
that work separately, allowing a
car to illuminate
the lane ahead with
high beams without
blinding oncoming trafic. they
can also illuminate
pedestrians and
aim the beams
around corners. the
system is smart,
fully automaticand
totally unavailable
in america. the
reason: NHtsa
standard 108,
Lamps, refective
Devices, and associated equipment.
essentially our lighting regulations are
tightly defned and
completely out of
date, excluding the
U.s. from having the
latest equipment,
which also includes
laser headlights
and brake lights
that strobe during
panic braking.


cover illustration by
rodrigo corral


Here on earth, there are

consequences to testing
ideas. Sometimes they turn
out to be good. Sometimes
they kill you. Scientists
could decide tomorrow
to gene-splice monkeys onto
rosebushes. Think of the
gardens! But in a few years,
when people are being
strangled in the streets by
sentient kudzu vines, we
might want to reverse
course. Thats the thing
about ideas. You never know
where they will lead you.
This is what science fction
does for us. The best writers
in the genre are architects
who create safe spaces for
us to think about dangerous
ideas. Sometimes, yes,
that means things like 80-foot
robot monsters that have
spider legs and can breathe
fre. But in the sci-f stories
that appeal to a broader
audience than 13-year-old
boys with spaceship posters
above their beds (God bless
them) that means things like
love and loss and friendship
and power and the terrible
acts that humans are capable
of. Stories like A Clockwork
Orange and Brave New World
and The Lottery and
The Stand are as important to
our understanding of the
human condition as anything
by Philip Roth or Mark Twain
or Raymond Carver. This
list, which is incomplete
and unordered and absolutely
authoritative, collects the
best of these spaces. They
are simply great stories, for
any bookshelf.

science fiction
for everyone

burNiNg chrome, by william gibson (1982)

by smith henderson, author of the
n o v e l f o u r t h o f j u ly c r e e k

i d o n t c a r e t h at w i l l i a m g i b s o n predicted the Internet and

reality television in his pages, or that he invented cyberpunk, or even that he
has time and again captured the spiritual near-dystopia of our hyperconnected, accelerating moment. These are signal achievements, to be sure. But the
power of Gibsons work resides in his sentences* lush and grievous, wearied
and compassionateand the sheer humaneness they convey.
By my lights, we vastly underrate his collection of short stories, Burning
Chrome. This is probably because of the large shadow cast by his novels. But
these stories are miracles of invention and devastation, each one a fresh hell
made of a tried-for utopia, always richly, deeply peopled. Gibson always goes
further than the conceit. Much further. In lesser hands, Hinterlands would
be a thoroughly engrossing short story about space madness. Gibson turns
it into a meditation on the agony of compassion. Fragments of a Hologram
Rose sifts through the ruins of civilization and a single human heart. And
The Belonging Kind is as profound a rumination on loneliness as anything in
all of literature.
Gibsons gift to us isnt foresight. Its timelessness.
* Bobby read his future in women; his girls were omens, changes in
the weather, and hed sit all night in the Gentleman Loser, waiting for
the season to lay a new face down in front of him like a card.

9 4 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

NiNeteeN eightyFour, by George

Orwell (1949)
Because politicians on
both sides are still
applying the term Orwellian to every policy
we ever argue about.
Read it again.
hyperioN, by
Dan Simmons (1989)
The Canterbury Tales,
with black holes, backward aging, and cyborgs.
And instead of traveling
to lunch, the storytellers
are on their way to
being impaled by an
infamous monster.
Flowers For
AlgerNoN, by
Daniel Keyes (1959)
Its about the ethics of
medical experimentation, sure, but its also
about how love works
and why we bully those

welc ome to t he
monkey house,
by kurt vonnegut jr.
by tom chiarella

Whose name
was inspired
by scif author
whose novel
More than
Human is
also worth
checking out.

i l l u s t r at i O n s by z O h a r l a z a r

in 1973, when i was 12 years old, I stole a

copy of Kurt Vonneguts Breakfast of Champions from my aunt Betsys mantle and read it
in a day and a half. It was the frst book I ever
really chose, frst book I really read with a
greed for the ideas inside it. Notably, I think,
I also liked the coverbright orange with the
title bent like a locomotive, and a stamp that
read a novel. Best cover ever, as far as Im
concerned. Id know that book from a thousand paces. I stole it from my aunt after seeing it from across the room.
This was before Wikipedia, of course, but
even then we had a need to know. A week
later I went to the Monroe Avenue branch of
the Rochester, New York, public library and
looked up Vonnegut. The librarian gave me
two copies of The Saturday Evening Post that
included stories by the man himself; a hardback copy of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater;
and the single most dog-eared book I have
ever come across in all my years of reading:
Welcome to the Monkey House, the 1968 collection of Vonneguts short stories. It was in
three pieces, Scotch- and masking-taped into
a hopeful tablet. The pages were bent, with
fipped corners, and written on, underlined,
and marked up with hot little stars by three
diferent pens. Sorry, the librarian said of
the book. Its the only copy we have. People
love that book. They steal most copies we
get. She glanced at me like the thief I was
(see above) and smirked. Short stories are
easier, I guess.
Id read my share of books by then, but
Id never even heard of a short story. I read
the magazines and left them there, started
the novel but I thought it was gassy and
serious, so I left it there too. I took that usedup edition of Welcome to the Monkey House
home with me, and I never took it back.
Kurt Vonneguts best stories (and
Welcome to the Monkey House contains
the bulk of them) are hyperboles of love,
or science-fction fables and manifestos,
torqued-up conceits run amok within the
pretty narrow strictures of his plain-Jane
prose. The best ones feel like they come
from a writer imagined rather than realas if
they were written by the fctional sci-f writer
Kilgore Trout, I suppose, Vonneguts nightshade image of himself. Id never read a book
like it. Never tumbled from one story to the
next with the hope that it might be even better. Never lived in a circus of the absurd the
way I did with that collection. I sometimes
think I live there still.
Although I pressed on, and read every-

thing Vonnegut ever wrote, I only liked four

of his novels well enough to mention (Slaughterhouse-Five, Cats Cradle, The Sirens of Titan,
and Galpagos). His later essays and letters
sometimes seemed incomprehensible, and
as an older guy who traveled in literate and
literary circles, I learned to not mention him
as one of my favorites. Vonnegut was openly
pooh-poohed in the stripped-down fuorescent light of the minimalist 1980s and the
return of the big novel that followed. I let him
drift out of my head until his death in 2007.
I still believe the work in Welcome to the
Monkey House is his very best. Vonnegut
lived 17 years as a writer before it appeared,
and it contained the frst story** he ever
published, and stories most of the world
had never seen, since they frst appeared
in places like Galaxy Science Fiction. It goes
end to end on the guy. In the time he took
to write all that and more, Vonnegut became
the man he would remain: former soldier,
family man, cranky recluse, unapologetic
socialist, artist with pencil, commentator,
and angry voice of common sense. He died
revered, remembered, and reclaimed, the
most moral writer of our age, a guy who
was legitimately angry at us all because
we werent willing to start everything over
again, since it had gone so wrong so fast.
Kurt Vonnegut left us with a fstful of masterpieces, too, of unforgettable short stories,
iconoclastic in their day, iconic in ours.
** Report on the Barnhouse Effect, about
a government effort to turn a professor
with superpowers into a weapon.

O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 9 5

who are weaker than we

are. Overwhelmingly, it
is about the heartbreak
of being a have-not when
you know what its like
to be a have.

science fiction
for everyone

A CloCkwork
orAnge, by
Anthony Burgess (1962)
Because most of the
worlds anger is contained
in little parcels known
as aimless teenage boys.

t h e i n t u i t i o n i s t, b y c o l s o n w h i t e h e a d ( 1 9 9 9 )
by charles yu, author of the novel
h o w t o l i v e s a f e ly i n a s c i e n c e
fictional universe and
sorry please thank you: stories

t h e r e a r e n o v e l s i l i k e , and novels I love. And then there are

those that, even while reading them, I can feel are changing my mind,
tearing down and rebuilding the architecture of my interior landscape.
This novel is in that last category. Its almost like a black boxan object
of such remarkable construction that it should only be possible in theory.
Yet it exists: an extended meditation on the mechanics of elevation,
both physical and metaphysical, about the politics and possibility of
vertical mobility in America, of moving upward against the gravitational
forces of racism and history.
Set in a city that is unnamed but clearly evokes a kind of alternate
New York, The Intuitionist takes place in a world in which elevators are
an important part of the civic discourse and elevator inspectors are
powerful, public, often controversial fgures, engaged in a major ideological struggle between two competing schools of thought: the Empiricists,
who emphasize the skin of things and the Intuitionists, who, as their
name suggests, rely on feeling and intuition.
No summary could convey the complexity and richness of this novel.
Its a marvel, a book-length rif that works out every last bit of melody and
discord, every last note of conceptual music from its brilliant initial motif.
To call it an allegory or even a metaphor isnt exactly accurate. Its also
not quite enough. The Intuitionist is a novel of irreducible strangeness and
originality that is a permanent structure in the city of my imagination.

9 6 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M e c h a n i c s

the stAnd, by
Stephen King (1978)
Feckless singersongwriter Larry Underwood
tries to escape New York
City through a pitchblack Lincoln Tunnel
full of diseased corpses.
Sleep tight!
never let Me go,
by Kazuo Ishiguro
Because of questions like
this: How can you ask a
world that has come to
regard cancer as curable,
how can you ask such a
world to put away that
cure, to go back to the
dark days? And answers
like this: There was
no going back . . . and
people did their best not
to think about you.
the diAMond Age,
by Neal Stephenson
Because this story
of working-class girl
makes good in a gritty,
segregated slum run
by guys with guns in
their foreheads might as
well be a Quentin
Tarantino fick.

the lottery, by
Shirley Jackson (1948)
Evil dressed up in
its Sunday best. If
Flannery OConnor had
written stories about
whole towns rather than
individuals, they would
have read like this.
oryx And CrAke,
by Margaret Atwood
What if, instead of
founding Facebook, Mark
Zuckerberg had invented
a new race of hominids
and killed of the rest of
us to give them a chance
at survival?
Blindness, by Jos
Saramago (1995)
The social fabric that
prevents us from being
unbelievably horrible to
one another is so thin
that its perpetually on
the verge of coming
undone. Saramago shows
us just how easy it would
be to pull the frst thread.

the wind-up Bird

ChroniCle, by
Haruki Murakami (1994)
As if they had been
whacked with a huge
club by an invisible giant,
the tigers shot up into
the air for a moment,
then landed on the foor
of the cage with a great
thud, writhing in agony,
vomiting blood. The
soldiers had failed to
fnish the tigers of with
a single volley. Snapping
out of their trance, the
soldiers pulled back on
their rife levers, ejecting
spent shells, and took

t y P O g r a P h y by Pa r k e r h u b b a r d

aim again. And thats not

even the worst part.

Do AnDroiDs
DreAm of
electric sheep? by
Philip K. Dick (1968)
Everything Philip K. Dick
wrote is like a bad
dream and a good dream
at the same time. Or a bad
trip and a good trip at the
same time. Or, like, what
if humans and androids
were totally the same
and also not the same,
and the fundamental
question of what makes
a human human doesnt
even make sense, man?
Did you ever think about
the ones Who
WAlk AWAy from
omelAs, by Ursula K.
Le Guin (1973) ***
Any society that had
eternal peace, free sex,
and universal happiness
would have to have a
secret this awful. And
wed all like to think
wed be the ones who
wouldnt accept it.
the mount, by
Carol Emshwiller (2002)
If humans are just
animals, then it stands to
reason that we could
be tamed like animals.
Youll never be able
to look at your dog the
same way again.
the yiDDish
union, by
Michael Chabon (2007)
Because Detective Meyer
Landsman has the

memory of a convict, the

balls of a freman, and
the eyesight of a housebreaker. When there is
crime to fght, [he] tears
around Sitka like a man
with his pant leg caught
on a rocket. Its like
theres a flm score playing behind him, heavy on
the castanets.
the semplicA
Girl-DiAries, by
George Saunders (2012)
This note to future generations has been true
forever: Sometimes,
in our time, families get
into dark place. Family feels: we are losers,
everything we do is
wrong . . . This makes
person (Father) doubt
value of whole enterprise, i.e., makes Father
(me) wonder if humans
would not be better of
living alone, individually, in woods, minding
own beeswax, not loving
Alif the unseen,
by G. Willow Wilson
In a city that is essentially
Cairo, the governments
Internet censor is called
the Hand of God, and
its job is to discover,
dismantle, and subdue.
The Arab Spring gets the
sci-f treatment.

fAhrenheit 451,
by Ray Bradbury (1953)
The novel that taught us
to fear the Kardashians
before we even had any

A cAnticle for
leiboWitz, by Walter
M. Miller, Jr. (1959)
The question it asks is the
one we all ask: Listen,
are we helpless? Are
we doomed to do it again
and again and again?

a warm can of Coca-Cola,

things are dire indeed.

the forever WAr,

by Joe Haldeman (1974)
Catch-22, with stranger

GAteWAy, by
Frederik Pohl (1977)
Its about that kind of
shitty thing you did once
and cant ever forget.

pAckAGe, by
Charles Yu (2010)
In a future where the
wealthy outsource
pain and grief to the
impoverished, a hard
day at the ofce could go
like this: The lowlight
of the day is when I get
to be a woman. I get to
tell my husband that I
have been sleeping with
my trainer for the last
year. The frst year of our
marriage. I get to see his
face, watch him try to
keep it together. Of all
the types of tickets, this
is the worst.

by Frank Herbert (1965)
Imagine that there was
a substance on earth
that had all the
usefulness of petroleum
and also made people
live longer and allowed
them to see the future.
Now imagine how much
wed fght over it.
the roAD, by Cormac
McCarthy (2006)
When all the pleasure on
earth can be contained in

neuromAncer, by
William Gibson (1984)
Its the matrix before
The Matrix. With cyber

Dirk Gentlys
Detective AGency,
by Douglas Adams
Okay, yeah, A Hitchhikers
Guide to the Galaxy. But
there is nothing else in
science fction like this
novels Electric Monk, a
labour-saving device, like
a dishwasher . . . [that]
believed things for you,
thus saving you what was
becoming an increasingly onerous task, that
of believing all the things
the world expected you
to believe. Unfortunately
this Electric Monk had
developed a fault, and
had started to believe all
kinds of things, more or
less at random.
*** Two
also by Le
Guin: The
and The Left
Hand of

brAve neW WorlD,

by Aldous Huxley (1932)
Because he wasnt so far
of the mark.

O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s 9 7





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Tools and Supplies: Three salvaged bicycle wheels (24 to 26 inches) / hardware cloth or chicken wire / pop rivets or tie wire / 10 fxed casters /
2 x 4 lumber / plywood / 1- or 1-hp electric motor / speed reducer or selection of pulleys and belts / huge pile of dirt or compost

How (and
Why on Earth)
to Build a
My neighbor is a good guy with
a bad backand an enormous
compost pile. He decided to do
something about it.
By Jennifer Wilson

I feel bad for my neighbor.

Brians the earth-biscuit type, with
a fop of blond hair and a kayak rack
on his Jeep that he actually uses. Hes
a community-garden afcionado and a
yard farmer who could talk compost for
hoursmostly because theres a massive heap of it in his backyard. Brians
compost pile is the Everest of our neighborhood. It is robust of scent and full of
twigs, old pineapple rinds, his Australian shepherds buried rawhide chews,
and gigantic mounds of last years oak
leaves. And buried deep inside is some
of the best compost Mother Earth has
ever cooked.
Amazing stuf, if you can get to it.
A few years ago Brian built a manual
compost sifter, just a big screen within

P h o t o g r a P h s b y rya N D o N N E L L

This is Brian,
the guy facing
a composting
challenge. We
helped him out.

a frame, and he shook small batches of

compost through it, separating the fne
material from whatever hadnt fnished
breaking down. He used the rich matter
to top-dress his lawn, which improves
moisture retention and soil structure,
and to make his fower and veggie beds
go nuts. He reduced the size of his compost mound and made room for the fall
leaf drop in our neighborhood.
When you just haul away your
leaves, youre losing that whole years
worth of solar energy stored as carbon,
he says.
See? Thats how Brian talks. Hes
committed to the organic and sustainable life. Problem is, Brian has a bad
back. Hours of manually sifting heavy
compost ran up his chiropractor bills.
Then Brian unearthed an old rock
bed left behind by a previous owner and
thought about how great those rocks
would look on the other side of the
yardbut frst the bed would need to be
sifted and cleaned. The very thought of
putting it all through his manual sifter
nearly put him in traction. So he hit the
Internet to fnd a better solution.
Brian decided to build a motorized
trommel, a rotating cylindrical screen
that separates fne material from rough.
Its especially good at shaking out fne
compost from a heap of rot and leaves.

You know how it goes. You start a

project, then halfway through Saturday youre surrounded by tools and a
half-fnished mess. Brian had watched
hours of YouTube videos by guys whod
successfully built mechanical trommels
before himguys like Paul Miller of
La Mesa, California.
He watched as Paul framed a basic
cylinder with bike rims and screening,
then mounted it on a wooden frame with
smaller wheels turning the sieve within
the rims. Atop the structure he mounted
a motor. The whole thing sat at an angle,
so when Paul shoveled rough material
into the higher end, the cylinder dropped
fne material below and dumped chunky
debris into a wheelbarrow or hopper.
Brian got to work on the cylinder frst:
1. Use three 24- to 26-inch bicycle rims for
the cylinder frame. Brian grabbed his from
the local bicycle collective. When I interviewed him, Paul said a friend who fxes
bikes donated his. You get the idea.

Step One: The Cylinder

When Brian frst told me about this
trommel project, he was so stoked about
it that he got me excited too.
Ill be able to shovel in a few loads
and sift out the good stuf, then put the
rest back to keep cooking, he said. Itll
be great!
But when I arrived at his house to
check it out, he took me to a dark corner
of his backyard.
There it is, he said, a little sheepish
now, pointing to a screen drum, lying on
its side near the compost heap. I havent
gotten very far. Ive hit a roadblock.

Build the frame from 2 x 4s, or weld together some tubular steel for something
sturdier. We based our frame on the design of YouTube user Geof Babcock but
added a speed reducer to gear down the motors output speed.

1 0 0 Oc t ob er 2 014 _ P O P U l a r M e c h a n I c s

I L L U S T R AT I O N S B y G E O R G E R E T S E c k


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2. Remove spokes from the bike rims with

wire cutters, which leaves you with three
3. Roll hardware cloth or chicken wire
(sized according to the gauge of sifting
you want to do) into the hoops to form a
cylinder shape. Brian pop-riveted his into
place but you can also wire it.
4. Choose a motor. Brian bought a -hp
electric motor at a tool shop. Paul said
he found his -hp electric motor for
$25on Craigslist.

Brian got stumped because he

wasnt sure how to connect the motor
to the trommel to get it to turn at
a speed appropriate for sifting
compost. How would he connect it
to the cylinder?
He wasnt sure. Other projects flled
his workshop. The trommel took a back
seat. Eventually, Brian moved the cylinder into the backyard, where he felt
bad about it for two years. The compost
pile grew and grew.

Step Two: The Power Source

Like I said, Brians green-living credo is
pretty infectious. I wanted to help him
fnish his trommel, so I fgured Id start
at the heart of the problem: the motor.
Lucky for us, our other neighbor, John,
is a mechanical engineer for a major

international manufacturer.
The goal here is not to slow down
the motor but to control a properly sized
energy source, John says. The rotational
speed of the trommel is critical for safety.
About 20 or 25 rpm would be plenty.
Plus, lowering the machines speed would
increase its torquethe twisting force that
creates rotationallowing Brian to sift
larger piles of compost.
A basic -hp electric motor spinning at 500 rpm is obviously too fast to
couple directly to a trommel. Additionally, that same motor creates about 5lb-ft
of torque, which is not enough to do the
job. To make the motor work, John says
the easiest solution is to purchase a speed
reducer. These afordable, mass-produced
units are readily available from industrial
distributors and many websites. Essentially a speed reducer is a gearbox.
In addition to reducing the speed
to a manageable level, itll increase the
torque, John says. The neat thing about
gears is that when you arrange them such
that the output speed is reduced, the
torque increases inversely. For example,
if you connect a 500-rpm motor to a speed
reducer, and the output speed is now
25rpm, or 0 of the original speed, your


Slowing Down a
Trommel With Pulleys
Instead of using a speed reducer, Paul, the YouTube
guy, rigged up a machine using the trommels
center rim for speed control. I used a 21-inch bike
rim as a pulley wheel to step down the rpms of
the motor, he says. Other trommel builders use a
1,750-rpm motor with a 2-inch pulley (A) going to a
10-inch pulley (B), then a 2-inch pulley (C) going to
the 25-inch trommel frame (D).
With that information you can easily calculate the
output rpm with this incredibly simple equation:



1 0 2 O ct o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a R M eC h a n i C s


Brians compost heap has grown steadily

since he started building his trommel.

rial with a plywood top thats sturdy enough

to attach the motor to. (One YouTube
builder made his motor mount adjustable for height because his pulley belts
stretched out over time and he wanted to
be able to tighten them.)
3. Screw the wheels directly to the frame
to turn the cylinder. Paul Miller recommends just screwing the caster into the
middle of a 2 x 4 and lining up the caster
wheel with the middle of the bike rim,
repeating on all four sides at each end.
There was no planning or measuring
involved, says Miller. I just basically built
a square around the rims.
4. Extend frame legs to the ground or
attach wheels to the base to make a more
mobile unit.
5. Heres where you can customize. Some of
the YouTube builders added a piece of sheet
metal as a guard on one side of the trommel
so it doesnt fing dirt and debris all over the
yard. Some builders crafted diferent drums
for diferent purposessmaller screens for
composting, larger screening for rock jobs.
Others made the trommel contraption high
enough that it could be directly positioned
over raised garden beds to reduce the
amount of shoveling required.
6. Position the trommel at a slight downward angle so, as it turns, discarded debris
falls away. Use a wheelbarrow or similar
hopper to catch the debris coming out the
end of the trommel.
7. Enjoy, as Brian says, a revitalized and
amazing living soil structure with highly
organic material!

torque now increases by a factor of 20.

Your 5 lb-ft of torque is now
100 lb-ft at the gearbox, he continues.
Most motors can be readily adapted to a
wide variety of speed reducers through
standardized fanges and coupling.
Industrial supply houses and motor
distributors can help you put a nice little
package together, he says. Ask an electrician to make sure your circuit is wired
correctly to withstand the load from
the motor.
Alternatively, you can reduce the
speed using a series of pulleys (see Slowing Down a Trommel With Pulleys).

Trommel Safety
Is Mostly
Common Sense

Step Three: The Frame


Once Brian fgures out his motor system,

he can build the frame. And then he can
fnish his trommel.


1. The size of the frame will depend on

the size of your cylinder and the position
of the wheels you use to turn the cylinder within it. Brian planned to mount his
trommel on caster wheels from the local
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, but you
could also use small wheels with an axle
from a home store.
2. Frames are best made from 2 x 4 mate-



Operate a motor-driven trommel

from a circuit with a ground-fault
circuit interrupter.
Cover the machine; store it out of
the weather.
Build the machine with a large,
accessible on/of switch. Dont
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The Tunnel
Continued from page 83

in a single dead lift, tilt her face 90 degrees

in midair, and set it down beside Elliott
Bay, just like lifting the motor out of a car
to work on it in your driveway.
By then a ship from Osaka, Japan, will
have arrived with new parts, including a
shiny new bearing assemblyan elaborate improvement, Dixon said, containing
seven seals and several diferent chambers, with opportunities for grease to be
injected at multiple points in the system.
While aboveground Bertha will be
disassembled and fxed and get a bit of a
face-lift, too, including widened mouths
on her cutterhead to make her a meaner
eating machine, and 216 steel ribs and
plates added to her head as reinforcement. We want them to get it running,
Dixon said, and assure us with 100 percent confdence that it can complete the
remaining 8,000 feet.
In November everything will be
pieced back together like an Ikea chest
of drawers and returned to the ground in
reverse orderwithout leaving any 1-ton
screws lying about on the surface. If all
goes well, Bertha will be tunneling again
by early March. Though its too early to
say whether theyre going to make their
schedule or not, Matt Preedy, deputy
program administrator for the Washington State DOTs Alaskan Way Viaduct
Replacement Program, said, the tunnel
could open in November 2016, just 11
months later than originally promised.
Is all of this efortan 11-story pit, a
snatch from the depthsreally necessary, I
asked Dixon. Couldnt the tunnel partners
make the repairs by, say, using the tunnel?
It can be done, Dixon repliedand
thats what would happen if Bertha had
gone kaput deep under Seattle. But as
he told me later, The repairs would be
much more complicated and expensive.
Youd have to disconnect Berthas entire
body, back it out of the tunnel, make the
repairs, then reattach everything.
At heart, he said, its just an engineering problem. Certainly things have
occurred on other projectsnot major
catastrophes, but things that you think,
now were dead in the water. But you
always fnd a way to work through those
things and complete the project.

Harder than engineering, Dixon said, is

managing human expectations. Theres
three things that are really critical on a
major project in an urban environment
in the U.S.: politics, the media, and the
community. Ive always just focused on
controlling the things that I can control,
he said. Im known as having a very even
He also has reason to remain calm.
Bertha is still under warranty. And someone will eventually shoulder the (many)
additional costs of the 16-month delay.
The lawyers will sort it out, if it comes to
that. Its to be determined, Dixon said
coyly, smiling.
Beyond the lengthened schedule, however, a larger clock is ticking. There is that
small matter of the earthquake that ravaged the viaduct in 2001. For now the road
is safe, but in 2007 a state study reported

Theres Three Things

T h aT a r e r e a l ly
criTical on a major
projecT in an urban
environmenT in
The u.s.: poliTics, The
media, and The
c o m m u n i T y. i v e a l w ay s
jusT focused on
conTrolling The Things
T h aT i c a n c o n T r o l .
project manager chris dixon

there was a one-in-10 chance another

viaduct-threatening earthquake would
occur in the next decade. If that happens,
Seattle could have a real problem on its
hands. So long as it doesnt, Bertha can
spare a few months to recuperate.
Dixon cant think about all that now.
For the next fve months, possibly the
most crucial period in the entire project,
he can focus only on rescuing Bertha
getting her out of her purgatory and back
to chewing her way under Seattle. Which
is why, even though at 4 pm the viaduct
above us was already humming with folks
heading home for the evening, Dixon said
goodbye to me, hung up his orange vest,
and drove back to the ofce.



104 O c t o b er 2 014 _ P O P u l a r M ec h a n i c s


Photos & Illustrations:

p. 13 World Series: base courtesy of Schutt
Sports; Conversations: top and bottom by
Getty Images; middle by AP Images;
p. 16 Inevitable F-35: courtesy of Lockheed
Martin; p. 20 How to Raise a Whiskey Pig:
styling by Robin Finlay; p. 24 The Doctor
Is In: styling by Robin Finlay; p.25 King
of Cause and Efect: Hummingbird Efect
illustrations by Brown Bird Design; p.37
Fall Gear: photograph courtesy of Parker
Liautaud; p. 60 Ask Roy: illustration
by Martin Laksman; p.64 Amazing Home
Technology: prop styling by Shaun KatoSamuel; wardrobe styling by Constanze Han;
grooming by Ryutaro/Halley Resources;
product photographs by Philip Friedman/
Studio D; illustrations by Brown Bird Design;
p.89 Car Safety/Volvo XC90: photograph
courtesy of the manufacturer; On the Road
Now: illustrations by Martin Laksman; p. 92
Sci-Fi Books: photograph by Don Penny/
Studio D; Vonnegut by Getty Images
Wardrobe Credits, Amazing Home:
pp. 6465 Tim Ryan (model): pants/LL
Bean, shirt/Filson, belt/LL Bean, shoes/Red
Wing; pp. 6667 Tim R.: pajamas/H&M;
Michelle C. (model): Victorias Secret;
pp. 6869 Tim R.: shirt/Hugo Boss,
tie/H&M, shoes/Lacoste; Michelle: dress/
Zara, shoes/Aldo; pp. 7071 Tim R.: suit/
Hugo Boss, shirt/H&M, tie/H&M, shoes/
Lacoste; Michelle: dress/H&M, shoes/Aldo;
pp. 7273 Michelle: checkered blouse/Zara,
skirt/Zara, shoes/Express; Tim R.: shirt/
LL Bean, sweater/Gents, belt/LL Bean,
jeans/Mavi, shoes/Lacoste; pp. 6477 Aidan
S. (model): all clothing/Gap Kids

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10:07 AM

The Back Page

Popular Mechanics


Today 10:07 AM


A few simple questions.
Read 10:35 AM

Does your current smartphone work?

Is that DDR2 RAM?

Is the screen smaller than 5 inches?

Can you work your phone by tapping it?

Do you mind being trapped in the

Apple ecosystem?

Speaking to it?

Shaking it?

Are you excited about the new iOS 8?

Rocking it?

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take new ones?

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Do you have a micro SD slot?

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With more than 2 megapixels?

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KEY: Answer all the questions. Add up the number of yeses, then dismiss that number and look at your answers
to the last two questions. If you answered yes to either, you need a new smartphone.

108 Oc t ob er 2014 _ P O P u l A r M E c h A N I c s



19 40: T

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Over the decades, scientists have peered

into their crystal balls, envisioned the world
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readers of Popular Mechanics.
What did they see? Flying ambulances.
Space suits made from paper. Utopian cities
with elevated sidewalks and sunken streets.
Even the cure for the common cold.
In our brand new booka collection
of these speculations with original text by
Nebula winner and NASA advisor Gregory
Benfordthe bizarre, wildly imaginative,
and (occasionally) eerily accurate Wonderful
Future That Never Was comes to life.



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After nine years, four Priuses, and over 300,000

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Options shown.*Vehicle life is dependent on a variety of factors. Toyota basic warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs frst. Actual Prius owner made previously aware their likeness
and statement may be used for advertising. 2014 Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.