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// STA NDA R DS // December 2019

1 2 3 4 5 6

My Pop Life From the Editor It’s Fun to Take Games & Toys Cars & Trucks Powersports
Tips, gear picks & Why you should Things Apart Best board The pros and cons Why we love
confessions from buy used tech How to juice up games of 2019 of choosing diesel the fantastically
our staff p.8 a Power Wheels p.12 or gas impractical
p.4 mini-car p.16 Polaris Scrambler
p.10 p.20

7 8 9 10 11 12

Machines Food Drink Home Sci-Fi Deep Math


An all-electric Plasma grapes, and Why and how to Everything you The Skywalker Supercomputers
dump truck? other microwave fat-wash whiskey need to know saga comes to a solve a 65-year-
p.24 experiments p.32 about buying a close with one old math problem
p.30 standby generator last film p.44
p.36 p.40

13 14 15 16 17 18

Hoax Tools Outdoor Stuff Editors’ Choice This Changed How to Be Good
Did the Titanic Portable heaters Breathable, durable Five products Everything at What You Do
really sink? for every space boots for roughing we’re wishing for How GoPro Azalia Mirhoseini,
p.48 p.80 it outdoors this season sparked a DIY Senior Research
p.84 p.88 video movement Scientist at
p.90 Google Brain
p.100

// FE ATURES //
F R O M L E F T: A N G I E S M I T H ; E M I L I A N O G R A N A D O ; W I L L S U T H E R L A N D ; T R E VO R R A A B

Injured Athletes Inside the Build a Tiny Fire: The


Lost What They Torture House on Complete Guide
Love. These Chamber Wheels to Mankind’s
Boards Bring Check out Gore’s test
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Make your own skoolie
(a school-bus tiny home)
Greatest Tool
It Back Peek inside a textile engineers mimic with tips from West
Why fire is awesome:
from grilling to powering
nonprofit in action. p.52 scorching hot, wet, and Virginia’s most popular
a rocket. Plus, we build a
frozen climates. p.58 Airbnb owner. p.64
flamethrower. p.70

// ON THE COVER // P HOTOGR A P H BY TREVOR R A A B

December 2019 3
1 Alexander George
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
// EXPERT H ACKS, GE A R RECS & LIFE-TESTED W ISDOM FROM OUR STAFF //
Matt Allyn Features Director;
Brian Dalek Director of Content
Operations; Leah Flickinger
Director of Content Creation; Lou
Mazzante Test Director Suzanne
Perreault Senior Managing Editor;
@linderrama Jesse Southerland Creative
Director

CURRENT DESIGN + PHOTO


Amy Wolff Photo Director; Colin
PASSION PROJECT McSherry Senior Art Director; Eleni
I was obsessed with the Dimou Senior Designer; Zack Kutos
Designer; Kristen Parker Photo
Carmen Sandiego computer Editor; John Hamilton Associate
Photo Editor
game when I was a little kid in
COURTNEY LINDER the ’90s. I’m trying to down- EDITORIAL
Molly Ritterbeck Health & Fitness
SENIOR NEWS EDITOR load compatible CD-ROM Director; Tracy Middleton Senior
Features Editor; Darren Orf,
software but haven’t been Christa Sgobba Deputy Editors;
Big fan of buying
able to get it quite right. Tyler Daswick, Taylor Rojek
your dad’s old vinyl Associate Features Editors;
Tips are welcome! Andrew Daniels How-To Editor;

W
Courtney Linder Senior News
Editor; Hailey Middlebrook, Jordan
Smith Editors; Danielle Zickl
Associate Health & Fitness Editor;
Jennifer Leman News Editor;
Daisy Hernandez, Paige Szmodis
Associate News Editors; Ezra Dyer
For Healthy Plants My Favorite App Automotive Editor; Katie Fogel
Social Media Editor; Drew Dawson
Gear & News Editor; Jessica Coulon
Simply whip up a mixture of about one quar- Libby, hands-down. All you have to do is enter your Assistant Editor; Leah Campano
ter leftover coffee and three quarters water credentials from your current library card and you Editorial Planning Associate; Lori
Adams Administrative Assistant;
and add it to your watering can or mix used can place holds on or download audiobooks and Gabrielle Hondorp Editorial Fellow

grounds with the soil while repotting. The ebooks, instantly. The library has always been cool, Kit Fox Special Projects Editor
Caroline Dorey-Stein Assistant
nitrogen in coffee aids in healthy growing. but in a digital world, it also has to be accessible 24/7. Special Projects Editor

TEST TEAM
Will Egensteiner, Jennifer Sherry
PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW Associate Test Directors; Jeff
Dengate, Matt Phillips Senior Test
Laundr y Hack Editors; Roy Berendsohn, Adrienne
Donica, Brad Ford, Amanda Furrer,
If you’re too lazy to Bobby Lea, James Lynch, Riley
Missel, Morgan Petruny, Dan
separate your colors and Roe Test Editors; Jimmy Cavalieri
whites in the wash, buy a Image Editor; Lakota Gambill,
Trevor Raab Photographers; Joël
dye catcher. They’re little Nankman Logistician

white sheets that capture VIDEO


Derek Call, Pat Heine Producers
all the color from your
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
bright clothing. Plus, Joe Pappalardo, Daniel Dubno,
1 2 Wylie Dufresne, David Grossman,
you can cut each one into David Owen, Richard Romanski,
Dagne Dover Allyn Tote iRobot Roomba 675 halves or thirds to make James Schadewald, Joseph Truini,
Nicholas Wicks
in Oxblood Robot Vacuum
them last a long time.
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Every ambitious woman (and I hate vacuuming. So much. Bill Strickland
dude!) needs a bag that’s So I caved and decided to get
Popular Mechanics International
both sleek and functional. a Roomba. I waited for Prime Kim St. Clair Bodden Russia, South
This baby has a cushy internal Day and got this bad boy for Africa • SVP/International Editorial
Director
15-inch laptop sleeve, a under $300, which I figure
holster for your reusable has been worth the price Editorial Offices
3939 West Drive
water bottle, and a secret for all the work it does (and Center Valley, PA 18034
smartphone pocket. saves me from doing!).
HOW TO REACH US: Customer
Care Visit Online POPCustServ@
CDSFulfillment.com; Phone 800-
333-4948; Mail Customer Care
Service Dept. Popular Mechanics,
PO Box 6000, Harlan, IA 51593-
0128.
CO U R T E S Y (L I N D E R) ; DA KOTA G A M B I L L (P R O D U C T S)

LICENSING AND REPRINTS:


Contact Wyndell Hamilton, Wright’s
Media, at 877-652-5295 ext. 102 or
hearst@wrightsmedia.com.
3 4 DECEMBER 2019

TILVIEW Twin Air Mattress Pac-Man Connect Kodak the Kitty


This guy comes with a and Play Three years ago, my
built-in pump—just plug in I dig anything that has an boyfriend and I saved
the attached cord and let it old-school vibe, so I’m queen Kodak, the tiniest little
inflate. Bonus: It’s great for of the plug-’n’-play games, runt of a black cat and
small spaces, and it didn’t sag especially since I like the
at all for the six weeks nostalgia that comes with
the only kitty I’ve ever
I slept on it when I moved for playing the games from met that loves belly rubs
my new gig at Pop Mech. my childhood. more than a dog. PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.

4 December 2019
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1 Jack Essig
SVP, PUBLISHING DIRECTOR
// EXPERT H ACKS, GE A R RECS & LIFE-TESTED W ISDOM FROM OUR STAFF //
William Upton Associate
Publisher; Cameron
Connors Executive Director,
Head of Brand Strategy &
Marketing; Samantha Irwin
@jessesoutherland General Manager; Chris Peel
Executive Director, Men’s &
Enthusiast Group, Hearst Magazines
Verified Life Digital Media

Hack ADVERTISING SALES OFFICES


NEW YORK: Caryn Kesler
Save your dryer lint Executive Director, Luxury Goods;

JESSE SOUTHERLAND and roll it into little


John Wattiker Executive Director,
Global Fashion & Retail; Doug
Zimmerman Senior Grooming
Creative Director balls, mixing it with Director; John Cipolla Integrated
Account Director Spirits,
New bio update now petroleum jelly. These Entertainment & Travel; Kimberly
available. Compatibility little firestarters will Buonassisi Account Director;
Joe Pennacchio East Coast
and stability bugs burn forever—even in Automotive Director; Jake Heffez,
fixed. Tons of enhanced Samantha Wolf Integration

features added.
wet conditions. Associates; Caroline Hall Sales
Assistant; DETROIT: Marisa Stutz
Group Advertising Director, Hearst
Autos; Toni Starrs Integration
Associate; CHICAGO: Justin Harris
Midwest Sales Director; Autumn
Jenks Midwest Sales Director;
PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW Madeline Bednar Sales Assistant;
LOS ANGELES: Stacey Lakind
Southwest Sales Director; Anne
Favorite App Rethmeyer Group Sales Director,
Hearst Autos; Olivia Zurawin Sales
Discogs. My entire Assistant; SAN FRANCISCO: William
G. Smith, Smith Media Sales, LLC;
record collection and DALLAS: Patty Rudolph PR 4.0
album wishlist are Media; HEARST DIRECT MEDIA:
Brad Gettelfinger Sales Manager
stored here. When I’m MARKETING SOLUTIONS
at a record store I always Jason Graham Marketing Solutions:
Executive Director, Integrated
remember what I need Marketing; Jana Gale Executive
Creative Director; Karen Mendolia
to look for, and more Executive Director, Events &
Promotions; Mike Sarpy Design
importantly, I don’t buy Director; Yasir Salem Director,
albums I already have. 1
Group Marketing; A’ngelique Tyree
Senior Digital Marketing Manager;
Alesandra Ajlouni Senior Manager,
Mission Workshop House Industries Book Integrated Marketing; Amanda
Bessim Marketing Associate; Jaclyn
Rambler Backpack The Process Is the D'Andrea Marketing Coordinator;
This bag feels minimal when Inspiration William Carter Executive Director,
Consumer Marketing; Peter Davis
packing light, but has an I learned more about graphic Research Manager
CURRENT expandable cargo feature design from this book than ADMINISTRATION/PRODUCTION
PASSION PROJECT doubling it from 22L to 44L Aurelia Duke Finance Director;
Restoring a massive pair for when you have more stuff. Regina Wall Advertising Services
Director; Eric Espada Production
of Bozak speakers from Manager
B-300-U’s into B-302’s PUBLISHED BY HEARST
by adding mid-ranges Steven R. Swartz President and
Chief Executive Officer; William
and upgrading the cross- R. Hearst III Chairman; Frank
A. Bennack, Jr. Executive Vice
overs using the sworn-by Chairman
“Tobin modification.” HEARST MAGAZINES, INC.
Troy Young President; Kate
Lewis Chief Content Officer;
Debi Chirichella Executive Vice
President, Chief Financial Officer
and Treasurer; Catherine A.
Bostron Secretary
The Best Money 4
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I Ever Spent Blind Barber Tompkins
Consultants

A Peter Angelo Five-Pocket Card Case Scented Candle 300 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Simon photograph 20 years ago, a chiropractor This candle smells of leather,
CO U R T E S Y (S O U T H E R L A N D) ; T R E VO R R A A B (P R O D U C T S)

of Muhammad Ali told me to keep my wallet smoke, honey, and lavender, and
training for the Rumble in my front pocket, so I have is tried and true as I’m on my
ever since. A slim, soft wallet fourth. Go for the large to get the
in the Jungle fight. He’s
is the only way it works, and full effect of the Barbicide-styled
on an early morning to date, this Shinola wallet container. For extra life, don’t
run on a foggy little has lasted the longest. light it—place it on a warmer.
road in Deer Lake,
Pennsylvania, where he
built his camp, Fighter’s
Heaven, to get away
THE BEST THING POP EVER TAUGHT ME
from everything. The The best thing I learned from Pop Mech is also one
photo reminds me of of the simplest: how to roll up cords and cables
being in a magical place. tangle-free using the over-under method.

6 December 2019
TM

JANUARY 10-12, 2020


JOIN US AS WE TOAST WINTER IN STYLE WITH AN
ARRAY OF IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES IN ONE OF THE
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2
// BY ALE X A N DER GEORGE //

Stop
Buying
Your
Tech New

W
H AT E V E R Y E A R Nintendo’s is just Refurbished. my arguments, based on years of
y o u’r e r e a d i n g Bose has an Outlet. Samsung sells product testing and reviewing,
this, the new Certified Pre-Owned. The goods was enough to convince him that a
i Ph on e i s a w e - in these shops are maintained pair of Sony MDR-7506’s were the
some. It always is. and g uaranteed. Sometimes, better value. And gifting someone
Same with the new the products were never even a phone that comes in a box that
Samsung Galaxy, taken out of their packaging. says “Pre-Owned” feels off. Even
and Bose’s new noise-canceling And whether or not they’ve been I bought a Nintendo Switch Lite
headphones. But right now, just handled, the hardware has been the day it went on sale because
before 2020, the improvements s cr upu lou sly i n s p e c t e d a nd I just…couldn’t stand waiting
between versions are becoming tested to make sure it works, to try it.
less obvious. In the case of the sometimes more so than new A l l g o o d . B u y s ome t h i n g
iPhone 11, the cameras are a big products. They also come with refurbished for yourself, and
advance. But for the majority of a warranty. spend the savings on the gift, or
us customers, last year’s model But, look. I get it. New and something new you want right
will serve us just as well as the well-marketed stuff feels better. away. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I
new one. Years back, my nephew wanted have to get back to my search for a
That’s why, when I need some- Beats headphones, and none of used Tesla Model 3.
thing like a phone or laptop, I
almost never buy it new. You
should do the same.
I’m not talking about going
on eBay or Craigslist or letgo
U S T R AT I O N BY T E E K AY N A M E

for used tech. Even if you know


what t o look for a nd what
prices are fair, the time cost
of doing all the quality control
One of the Coolest Things the Pop Mech Staff Did This Year
yourself is almost never worth Contributor James Schadewald and Test Editor Roy Berendsohn, in partnership with Knob Creek, built
the savings. I’m talking about a home bar—and wrote detailed plans for readers who wanted to do the same (popularmechanics.com/
buildabar). As always, I learned from their work. I watched them earn the satisfaction of finishing an ambi-
the sections of manufacturers’
T R E VO R R A A B

tious project, which motivates me. But one specific observation stuck with me. It’s that, as Roy said, you
sites specifically dedicated to have your first set of build plans, and then you have the plans from after you’ve built the bar. That’s where
not-new products. Apple’s is you apply everything you learned from doing the thing, and share the new, better ways that will help the
called Certified Refurbished. next person who tries it. I'll add that to my mental list of Building-Stuff-Philosophy-as-Life-Philosophy.

8 December 2019
A SKY OF STARS. WILD GEESE SPIT-ROASTED OVER THE FIRE.
AND EVEN THOUGH THE DOG SNATCHED A LEG OF LAMB,
FRIENDS FROM NEAR & FAR PITCHED IN TO MAKE IT A MEAL
TO REMEMBER. HERE’S TO ENDING THE YEAR WITH GENEROSITY.

GIVE ORVIS
NOT ORDINARY
MEN’S RT7 VEST
We’ve taken our years of know-how—earned from building
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3
// BY DA N ROE //

If you were five years old, you’d be pretty


Power NOTES:
stoked to see this under the Christmas tree. Its
12-volt drive system whisks you up to 5 mph.

Wheels Ride- A power lift-and-lower tailgate can carry your


toys. There’s even a speaker with a 3.5mm aux
jack to bump “Baby Shark.” But eventually, NUMBER

On F-150 you’d get bored of it, and so might your parents.


That’s how stock Power Wheels become juiced-up
OF PARTS:

PRODUCED:
MEXICO
miniature race cars. Bigger batteries, motors
pulled from cordless drills, custom-fabricated
axles, slick tires—Power Wheels upgrades are
284
only limited by your ambition. Thanks to online
TIME TO DISASSEMBLE :
communities in Facebook groups and on forums
3 HOURS, 4 MINUTES like modifiedpowerwheels.com, there’s plenty of
knowledge to go around.

To navigate the world says. You could drop in tic driving experience. point, your Franken-
of modified mini-cars, a Power Wheels brand You can build your own steinian creation is
we spoke with Rob 6-volt battery, or opt from a Razor scooter probably only safe for
Fusi, a New Jersey– for a cheaper aftermar- variable speed control- adult use—turn over
based mechanical ket model; the latter ler and the rest of its the keys when your kid
engineer. His You- option doesn’t come parts (pedals, wires, turns 16.
Tube video where he with an inline fuse, connectors, and more),
swapped the battery so you’ll want to add or buy a complete kit. A STAGE 4:
in his son’s Power one to protect against universal ESC kit from TRICK IT
Wheels Porsche 911 power surges. Start by Eastcoast PowerUp O U T / It’s
HOT-ROD YOUR GT3 has about 5 mil- chopping off the exist- will run you $150. not just
lion views. He says ing battery connector Fusi’s bonus tip: Now about speed: A ride-on
POWER WHEELS that whether you’re and use F2 connec- that you’ve got more car is the perfect canvas
after a modest power tors, sold at auto parts power and control, for the Pimp My Ride
F L ATA R T (B AT T E R Y, G E A R) ; T I M O F E Y R O S T I LO V (C I R C U I T ) ; W I R A W I A N D A (S P E A K E R)
upgrade or a high- stores, to wire it all improve handling by makeover you’ve always
performance rebuild, together. duct-taping the plastic wanted to do on your
these are the four tires for better grip. Civic. With an after-
stages of modification. STAGE 2: market ESC installed,
ELEC- STAGE 3: you’re primed to wire
STAGE 1: TRONIC CUSTOM in the accessories like
BATTERY SPEED FABRICA- a reverse buzzer or a
/ The CONTROLLER / TION / virtual engine sound
easiest The electronic speed Advanced tinkerers simulator (for custom
go-fast modification is controller (ESC) tells swap gearboxes for ignition noises and
boosting your battery the battery how much powerful direct-drive engine notes—how’s
voltage. Most ride-on power to send to the electric motors, or a screaming Ferrari
cars use 12-volt bat- wheels. The stock even motocross bike V-12?). Finish it off with
teries, so upgrading ESC is just an on/off engines. ATV-style underbody LED lights,
to 18 volts increases switch, full throttle or suspension makes and drop a pair of LED-
speed without putting no gas (and no coast- heavily modified Power lined subwoofers in the
too much strain on the ing, either). An ESC kit Wheels legit off-road truck bed for maximum
motor or gears, Fusi delivers a more realis- vehicles, and at this style points.

10 December 2019
P H OTO G R A P H Y BY TO D D M C L E L L A N December 2019 11
9
4
// BY WILLIAM HERKEWITZ //

The 2019
Popular
Mechanics
Board
Game
Awards

T
H I S Y E A R I P L AY E D A S
many new board games
as I could get my hands
on. And I’m not partic-
ularly picky, so if it was
popular, I played it. If it
had a fascinating theme
or novel game mechanic, I played
it. And if other reviewers said they
loved it, I played it. I only avoided 1 / NEMESIS: THE BOARDGAMER’S Imagine hope will lead to mere survival. It
waking up
games that required any sort of BOARD GAME $150 from cryosleep rarely does.
phone or app. Think Ridley Scott’s Alien, but only to have If you’ve got cash for Neme-
this Queen
I tested just shy of 40 new with even more dread. You and from Nemesis sis’s price tag, hours to spare, and
games, published from December four friends wake from cryosleep staring enough patience to wade through
you down.
’18 to October ’19 (when this issue to discover something horrible No thanks. a heavy rulebook, don’t allow your-
went to print). I played most of the lurking aboard your starship. You’ll self to miss this game.
games in Rwanda, where I work in need your teammates to fight, flee,
international development. There and hide from this astral terror, but 2 / WINGSPAN: BEST FOR
are no personal mailboxes in the a heavy fog of mistrust lies among REPL AYABILIT Y $55
country, so I had the games fer- you all. Because one of your friends Breathtakingly illustrated and
ried over in suitcases, one visitor may be trying to kill you. exceptionally easy to learn, Wing-
at a time. Often they were the only I’ve played Nemesis all year, and span has you and several friends
copies in the entire country. I’m convinced it’s a once-in-a-de- competing to coax flocks of birds
I’ve played several hundred cade game—it’s altogether tense, into private nature reserves. Each
board games in my life, but these riveting, beautifully cinematic, new feathered friend gives you a
five are the new ones that I can’t and terrifically difficult. You take special ability or bonus, and the
stop playing. So here are 2019’s control of a single character, and heart of Wingspan lies in finding
absolute best, either for yourself in each turn you’ll be immersed in interesting ways to combine these
or as a gift for the tabletop gamer dozens of hard choices about who birds’ special abilities into long,
in your life. to trust and what to do, which you clever chains of well-laid actions.

12 December 2019 P H OTO G R A P H Y BY L A KOTA G A M B I L L


ENJOY RESPONSIBLY.
©2019. DEWAR’S BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY 40% ALC. BY VOL.
IMPORTED BY JOHN DEWAR & SONS COMPANY, CORAL GABLES, FL.
5
4

Wingspan was another early


2019 debut that started the year
off strong. It’s easy to teach to
new players, and I love the room
for discovery and creating new,
winning strategies. With more
than 160 unique birds, it feels like
there are countless avian engines 2

that will lead you to victory.

3 / PAX PAMIR, SECOND


EDITION: BEST FOR HISTORY
BUFFS $85
It’s 19th-century Afghanistan.
From the ashes of the Durrani
Empire, you’re fighting to form
a new reigning court of real-life
historical figures and forces. But
you are not alone. To win, you and
your friends will have to forge
and break alliances among three
coalitions: the interloping Rus-
sian and British empires and the
nativist Afghanis.
Pax Pamir is striking—and 1
not ju s t b ec au se of t he gor-
geous components and artwork.
Of the hundreds of games I’ve
played, I’ve never experienced
anything like Pax Pamir. It’s a
wargame where none of the sol- 4x4 grid of a town. Once you’ve got We played of various practitioners of the
dozens of new
diers are yours. You’re free to the right resources in the right board games occult and alchemical arts. With
switch alliances at every turn, shape, you’ll replace the little col- this year to hands of complex but easy-to-
find the five
and it requires tons of strategic ored cubes with buildings and best. understand cards, you’ll weave
ingenuity. I love how cunning it then spend the rest of the game magic, monsters, and machinery
feels when you deftly navigate working around your increasingly together in clever combinations
among the three coalitions, like congested hamlet. to rapidly increase your stock of
marching your British soldiers Tiny Towns is also great for magical essences. By spending
out of Herat before swapping families (with kids at least 12 those essences, you’ll take con-
over to the side of the incoming years old), but the game rewards trol of magical realms that will
Russian Empire. It’s delightfully geometric foresight and strat- quickly win you the game.
insidious. egy that makes it a total blast for It’s no surprise that a game
adults as well. about alchemy has found a way
4 / TINY TOWNS: BEST FOR to transmute heaping mounds of
FAMILIES $40 5 / RES ARCANA: MOST GAME FOR strategy into such a compact and
Tiny Towns is a simple strategy THE LEAST AMOUNT OF TIME $40 speedy game. I especially love
game with just a handful of rules. Here’s a fantastically dense strat- how Res Arcana’s brevity cre-
Players take turns calling out egy game that you can pull out, ates a level of unshakable tension
resources—cubes of wood, wheat, play, and pack up in as little as that’s easy to love. Each turn feels
brick, glass, or stone—for every- 30 minutes. In Res Arcana, you important, and each decision feels
one to place within their personal and your friends take on the roles potentially game-ending.

14 December 2019
5
// BY EZR A DYER //

I
F YO U WA NT A N E W S I LV E R -
ado, and you’ve got an extra
$2,495 to spend on upgrad-
ing from the 5.3-liter V-8
engine, then Chev y has a
dilemma for you. For that
money, you have your choice
of a 6.2-liter gas V-8, or a 3.0-liter
Duramax diesel inline-six. So,
which one do you get?
Superficially, the choice comes
down to horsepower or fuel econ-
omy. A 4x4 with the V-8 gets 17
mpg combined, while the diesel
gets 25 mpg combined. On the
other hand, the V-8 makes 420
horsepower to the diesel’s 277. The
gas truck is quick and thirsty, while
the diesel is slower and thriftier.
But that’s not all there is to it.
While the big V-8 is unques-
tionably quicker when you’re
going wide-open-throttle, the two
engines don’t feel wildly different
in normal driving. Both engines
make plenty of torque—460 lb-ft
of it—but the diesel delivers it by
1,500 rpm, while the gas engine
needs to rev up to 4,100 rpm.
As a result, the smaller six feels
effortlessly powerful, while the
6.2-liter always seems to be work-
ing harder (because it is).
This might confound your
expectations, but the diesel is
smoother than the gas engine.
A straight-six is inherently bal-

The New Chevy anced, and the diesel’s advanced


fuel-injection system smothers
all but a trace of compression-

Silverado 1500 ignition clatter. The fuel-injection


system runs at 36,250 psi, with
nine-hole injectors delivering

Offers a Tough Choice: fuel up to 10 times per combustion


cycle. With that kind of precision,
you can fine-tune not only power

Gas or Diesel?
CO U R T E S Y C H E V R O L E T

output, but noise and refinement


as well. The difference between
the engines is most noticeable
in part-throttle cruising on flat
roads, where the diesel is near-

16 December 2019
MAKE⁄MODEL

2020 CHEVY SILVERADO 1500


B ASE PRICE ENGINE
$29,895 6.2-liter gas V-8: 420 hp and 460 lb-ft
(Engine upgrade: of torque / 3.0-liter diesel I-6: 277
$2,495) hp and 460 lb-ft of torque

MAX TOWING EPA FUEL ECONOM Y (4X4)


13,400 pounds (gas) / 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
9,300 pounds (diesel) (gas) / 23 mpg city, 29 mpg
highway (diesel)

SHOULD YOU GO If you need your truck to double as a thrifty highway commuter, go with the
1500 Duramax diesel. But if you need to tow 35,500 pounds, there’s a truck

HEAVY-DUTY?
for that too—the 3500 HD. ¶ The heavy-duty pickup wars are an ongoing
exercise in one-upmanship. Everybody lays claim to superlatives for as long
as they last. Years ago, when Chevy’s 6.6-liter Duramax diesel hit 397 horse-
power, Ford immediately re-rated its engine to 400 horsepower. I figured with the 2020 HD trucks,
Chevy would torpedo the Ram’s 1,000 lb-ft of torque by tuning its trucks to, I don’t know, 1,005
lb-ft? But no. They’re not playing that game. The diesel trucks make 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft
of torque. Ford once again bumped its numbers just ahead of Chevy and Ram for 2020 with 475
horsepower and 1,050 lb-ft of torque, allowing them to claim best-in-class horsepower. So Chevy
is just getting stomped by everyone, huh? ¶ Well, no. The most bodacious of the HD trucks, the crew cab dually 4x4, runs 0–60 in 7.4 seconds,
two seconds ahead of the equivalent Ram. That advantage remains even when towing an 18,000-pound trailer. A big part of the credit goes to
the Chevy’s new Allison 10-speed automatic. That’s a hard thing to brag about, though: Best-in-class number of gears isn’t really a thing. But
GM’s point is that we should stop obsessing over towing stats and concentrate on how the trucks actually work in the real world.

December 2019 17
5

MORE CAMERAS / Cameras in front and cam-


eras behind. A camera for the bed, and one
for the inside of your trailer. The cleverest
angle is “invisible trailer,” a view that makes
silent, while the V-8 is cutting it appear as though you’re looking straight
cylinders. That increases effi- through the back of your trailer. No more
wondering if there’s a car lurking off the rear
ciency, but noticeably changes the
corner of your boat before you change lanes.
exhaust note and vibration that
makes it way to the cabin.
Towing is one area where the
V-8 has a definite advantage,
with the 6.2’s tow rating top-
ping out at 13,400 pounds to the
diesel’s 9,300 pounds. If you’re
towing the sort of boat or RV
that’s in that gray area at the top
of a 1500 truck’s rating, the 6.2 is
the better bet. However, towing
at altitude might send the advan-
tage back toward the Duramax. Its
turbocharger can compensate for
altitude, while a naturally aspi-
rated engine will lose power the
higher you climb.
One more thing to consider:
money. The straight-six and the
V-8 might cost the same up front,
but this is one of the rare cases
where the diesel will start saving
you money the moment you leave
the lot. While the 6.2 requires pre-
mium fuel, which is at a national
average price of $3.17 per gallon,
the Diesel is at $2.93 per gallon.
Over the first 10,000 miles (assum-
ing the EPA combined numbers), HITCH VIEW / Usually
the diesel will save you $692. when you’re lining up
You’ll need to top off with diesel your hitch ball, you
have to remember
exhaust fluid every now and then, that your truck
but that won’t put much of a dent will lurch forward
in the fiscal advantage, even with a couple inches
mixed-use driving. On the high- after you put it in
way, the diesel’s even better, with park. GM’s solution:
When you’ve got
the rear-wheel-drive trucks earn- the rear camera set
ing an almost-suspicious 33 mpg. for hitch view, the
While we appreciate a scorching truck automatically
0–60 time and better tow rating engages the e-brake
CO U R T E S Y C H E V R O L E T

as much as anyone, this one’s a when you shift from


reverse to park. No
no-brainer: If you’re going to step
lurch. Nice.
up from the 5.3 in a Silverado, go
for effortless torque and extreme
economy. Get the diesel.

18 December 2019
MAX TOW RATING / One Duramax truck was hooked up
to a trailer that purportedly weighed 35,500 pounds—
the new maximum tow rating, which is achieved with a
rear-wheel-drive regular-cab long-bed dually.

TOW RATING BADGE / Every indi-


vidual truck also now has its tow
rating stamped on a VIN badge
on the door sill, which elimi-
nates a lot of confusion, given
that tow ratings vary depending
on engine, driveline, bed length,
TRAILER ALARM / When a trailer rear axle ratio, interior color,
is hooked up and the truck is and the position of Jupiter.
locked, disconnecting the trailer
will set off an alarm and send a
notification to your phone. Now
you don’t have to worry about
backing up against a wall to
make your trailer hard to steal
out of the hotel parking lot.

December 2019 19
6
// BY EZR A DYER //

useless. The tow rating is zero.


The Scrambler exists to turn gaso-
line into serotonin, end of mission
statement.
The Polaris approaches that
mission a little bit differently

S
than the other lonely sport ATV,
the Yamaha Raptor. The Raptor,
in either 450-cc or 700-cc form,
The Polaris P O R T AT VS A R E A N
enda ngered sp ecies.
Back in the glory days of
is a lithe motocross machine with
a solid rear axle, rear-wheel drive,

Scrambler Is 2008, just about every


AT V c omp a n y b u i lt
a sport machine. But
a nd a ma nua l tra nsmission.
That’s the traditional format,
going all the way back to classics

Absolutely today’s ATV market is


aff licted with an acute case of
pragmatism, rife with blocky four-
like the 1980s Suzuki LT500R
Quadracer. The Scrambler has
a n aut omat ic t ra n sm ission,
Useless—and wheel-drives fitted with cargo
racks and hitches. The implica-
floorboards instead of foot pegs,
all-wheel drive, and independent

Completely tion seems to be that fun for its


own sake is irresponsible—you use
your utility quad to clear brush off
rear suspension. It’s also phys-
ically huge—in terms of sheer
size, it looks like a quad-and-a-

Exhilarating the back 40; any entertainment is


purely incidental. That’s why the
2020 Polaris Scrambler XP 1000
half. Its 881-pound dry weight is
more than two Raptor 700s.
A motocross machine this
S is so refreshing: It’s gloriously isn’t. The Scrambler is more like
a Baja trophy truck with han-
dlebars. It’s got 12.5 inches of
suspension travel up front and
14 inches in the rear, along with
more than 14 inches of ground
clearance. It soaks up big hits at
high speeds in wide-open places.

CO U R T E S Y P O L A R I S

20 December 2019
E AT YO U R WAY TO A H A P P I E R , H E A LT H I E R YO U

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The must-have cookbook for anyone looking to reclaim their diet—


with or without any training in the kitchen. All you need: a few tools you already own,
a short list of easy-to-find ingredients, and a little bit of your time.
6
MAKE⁄MODEL

POLARIS SCRAMBLER
XP 1000 S
BASE PRICE ENGINE
$14,999 952cc
DRIVE TYPE WEIGHT
AWD/2WD 881 lb dry

HORSEPOWER 89
Nail the throttle and the rear
end squats as the front fenders
climb sky ward; hit the brakes
(single-lever for all four wheels,
with a separate rear foot brake)
and the process is reversed, with
dramatic dive. Watch a Stadium
Super Trucks race and you’ll get
an idea of the Scrambler’s han-
dling dynamics. It’s a snorting,
bucking bronco that ultimately
delivers an incredibly smooth
ride and shrugs off flinch-worthy
impacts. And the 55-inch width
(about four inches wider than the
more utility-minded Sportsman
XP 1000) gives the Scrambler
reassuring stability when you’re
powering out of a corner.
The Scra mbler of fers t wo
throttle modes: standard and
performance. Why would you buy
a machine like this and use any-
thing less than the full-ruthless as it blitzes more or less straight No, this is a machine for drop-
throttle setting? Because the ahead. It feels like the 27-inch- ping into a dry wash at 65 mph
952-cc twin puts out 89 horse- tall tires are ballooning from a nd going wherever it t a kes
power, and the less aggressive centrifugal force, like a Top Fuel you, as quickly as possible. The
mode is actually useful if you’re dragster’s, and maybe they are. Scrambler is a new kind of sport
on a trail or negotiating close Put it in two-wheel-drive mode to quad, one that’s optimized for
quarters where you don’t want to disable that beefy front diff (bor- big spaces rather than motocross
warp to 60 mph at a brush of the rowed from the RZR XP 1000) tracks or tight forest trails. It is
throttle. But when you do find and the Scrambler feels like it actually a lot like a Raptor—not
enough runway to enjoy wide- could drift the perimeter of the the Yamaha, but the Ford one.
open throttle, the Scrambler is Glamis dunes. Engage low-range Wide, powerful, with overkill
CO U R T E S Y P O L A R I S (S C R A M B L E R) ; CO U R T E S Y R A D P O W E R B I K E S (R A D R U N N E R)
a loony rush. Even in all-wheel- AWD and the Scrambler could suspension, this Polaris would
drive mode, it accelerates so hard probably handle some serious be the perfect ATV complement
that the tires struggle for grip, the rock climbing, but that doesn’t to Ford’s desert-racer pickup. If
machine squirming and dancing seem like its primary objective. only it would fit in the back.

Rad Power Bikes’ least-expen-


The Modernized Minibike sive e-bike ($1,299), a 750-watt
two-passenger step-through, offers at least 25 miles of range and a 20 mph top speed. The
Bafang hub motor might need some help from the pedals when you’re heading uphill at any-
thing near the 300-pound load limit, but on flat roads you can twist the throttle and ride it
like a silent moped. A headlight, taillight, and dual-leg kickstand are standard, but there are
plenty of optional accessories, too. The $99 passenger package is a must unless you’re a bike
courier, and the 12-liter center console (also $99) turns the RadRunner into a capable machine
for urban beer runs. Semi-fat all-terrain Kenda tires, developed specifically for this bike, are
happy to hit the dirt, too. If you’ve ever dreamed of making your commute on an electrified
version of a two-up ’80s minibike, this is your ride.

22 December 2019
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7
// BY COURTNE Y LIN DER //

The eDumper’s
tires alone are
six feet tall.

The World’s

W
Largest HO SAID ELECTRIC
vehicles can’t do
hard labor? Meet
At 30 feet long, 14 feet wide,
and 14 feet tall, the “eDumper”
isn’t an obvious candidate for elec-

Wheeled Elektro Dumper,


the biggest wheeled
EV on the planet.
trification. But eMining AG didn’t
just paint the stock dump truck
green. The company also added
Electric eMining AG, a
Swiss manufacturer of smart
a 600 kilowatt-hour battery pack
to the vehicle—enough to power

Vehicle Is a construction equipment, mod-


ified a standard Komatsu HD
six long-range Tesla Model S cars.
Those lithium batteries tack on
CO U R T E S Y E M I N I N G AG

605-7 truck, an off-highway vehi- another 9,000 pounds.

Dump Truck cle used in quarries and mines,


to operate entirely with electric
energy. Plus, the thing recharges
Her e’s how it work s: The
eDumper weighs 45 tons and
ascends a hill at, say, a 13 percent
itself using rocks. grade. On the way back down, it’s

24 December 2019
POPULAR MECHANICS STUDIO FOR TRANE® RESIDENTIAL

HEATING UP
THE SEASON
PREPPING YOUR HVAC FOR WINTER
RELIABILITY AND EFFICIENCY

Y
ou’ve winterized your outdoor until extreme temperatures strike to even
faucets, replaced your tires think about their HVAC system, which can
and made sure you have leave them scrambling to repair or replace.
everything needed for snow It is important to be proactive and not wait
removal, but what about your until your HVAC leaves you stranded in the
HVAC system? A properly maintained and cold. Deciding when to repair or replace
serviced HVAC system by an independent your HVAC is no small or easy decision. A
Trane dealer is crucial for continued new unit can be expensive but spending
reliability, efficiency and longevity. money on an old inefficient HVAC is not a
However, it is often an area of winter- wise financial decision. It is important to
proofing maintenance that is neglected. look at the age of the unit when evaluating
the cost of repair. Most HVAC system
How do you prepare and maintain your components will last an average of 13-20
HVAC system during the winter? It starts years with regular maintenance. If you are
by changing your filters and cranking up near the end of this estimated life cycle, it
your system earlier on, to ensure it is may be more economical to replace it with
running properly before the season gets a system that has higher energy efficiency
cooler. You also want to check the vents ratings and is more reliable.
throughout the home to make sure they
are clean and unobstructed. When replacing, Trane offers a line of gas
and heat pump models that exceeds the
Additionally, this is when you should industry standards. The Trane S9V2 Gas Trane S9V2 Gas Furnace
contact a professional to perform a Furnace provides consistent
seasonal maintenance check. Spending temperatures and low noise
money on something that appears to be through the use of a 2-stage gas
working properly might seem pointless, heat feature. This model also burns
but Trane comfort specialists can look efficiently with a 96% AFUE,
for less obvious problems to ensure the meaning you waste less gas heating
unit keeps running at peak efficiency. your home. This Energy Star rated
Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners wait furnace meets even the strictest
of building codes, and at only 34”
tall is ideal to retrofit into your
current space.
Trane XL824B Connected
If your home uses a heat pump, the Trane
XV20i is the beacon of efficiency in a Trane’s units work with most
crowded market. This variable speed heat major brands of thermostats
pump is one of the industry’s most efficient, but upgrading to their new
with ratings up to 20.00 SEER or Seasonal thermostat gives you total
Energy Efficiency Ratio (California requires control from anywhere. On
a minimum of 14 SEER) and 10 HSPF or average the thermostat could
Heating Season Performance Factor save you 10-20% in heating
(anything over 8 is considered high and cooling costs with its
efficiency). The Trane TruComfort™ advanced adaptive thermostat
technology automatically adjusts itself to technology. Plus, the XL824B
avoid temperature swings. With nothing also works as a smart home
overlooked, it’s also a quieter unit, hub, allowing control over
measuring 4 decibels lower than doors, locks, lights and more.
its competitors.

Trane XV20i Variable


Speed Heat Pump
PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

X V20i H EA T P U M P TO SIMULATE 5 YEARS OF ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURE,


TEST WE PUT OUR PRODUCTS THROUGH EXTREME TEMPERATURE

S YSTE M EX T R E M E FLUCTUATIONS INSIDE THE SEET LAB. WE PUSH BEYOND ANY


E NVIR ON ME N T A L T E S T WEATHER YOU SEE, SO THEY CAN RUN THROUGH ANYTHING.

S L A M

WE
W E T

TEST.
C O L D

SO
H O T

IT
S H A K E

RUNS.
7

now carrying 65 tons of ore. To


rectify that scenario, the truck’s
How Regenerative
regenerative braking system actu- Braking Works
ally recaptures the energy created
by going downhill, refilling the
battery’s charge for the next time
the truck travels uphill.
For a crash course in regener-
ative braking, think back to high
school physics. Kinetic energy BATTERY
is created through motion, and
potential energy is stored because
of its placement relative to other
objects. You can experience this
in gasoline-powered vehicles, too.
The kinetic energy is created by a
spark and the ignition, but while
rolling down a hill, a vehicle cre-
BRAKES

BRAKES
ates more energy due to gravity. ELECTRIC
Regenerative braking, then, WHEEL WHEEL
MOTORS
takes kinetic energy and trans-
forms it into electrical potential
energy that is stored back in the
battery. Other factors—the truck’s
weight, load, vertical position, and
gravitational pull—dictate how
much energy can be transformed
and stored. The same process is
When you accelerate, car’s movement and percent of the kinetic
used in other electric vehicles, like the battery powers elec- transform it into electri- energy created by mov-
the Honda Clarity plug-in hybrid. tric motors that allow cal energy. ing downhill is lost as
“Rock trucks” like the Komatsu the wheels to spin and The electrical energy is heat. EVs do lose some
HD 605-7 haul marlstone, a type of create forward motion. sent back to the battery kinetic energy from
When you brake, the and stored as potential movement and heat
lime-rich mudstone readily found
motors become gen- energy for the next time loss, but Tesla says
in the sides of Swiss mountains. erators that harvest the car accelerates. regenerative braking
The cement trade relies on this raw the kinetic, mechanical In cars with combus- is about 90 percent
material; these trucks transport it energy created by the tion engines, up to 70 efficient.
directly to their factories.
While the eDumper can go days
without charging, an eMining AG
rep says the truck still needs a
good jolt from time to time if you
put it through a rigorous workout. an international organization Vigier SA cement factory near the
Frequently hitting the brakes, for for public-private cooperation, Swiss town of Biel.
example, may take up too much heav y industry and transport Making the trip from quarry to
energ y due to the mechanical will account for 15.7 gigatons of factory 20 times a day produces a
parts moving. carbon emissions by 2050 if left surplus of 200 kilowatt-hours of
While EVs are quickly prolif- unchecked. energy (or 77 megawatt-hours per
erating throughout the United The eDumper is a good start, year), says the eMining AG rep.
States, the serious work in the but it isn’t just a science experi- Your average dump truck, by con-
trades is still done by gas-guzzling ment—it’s already hauling tons of trast, uses between 11,000 and
diesel engines. And according rocks from a quarry on the slopes 22,000 gallons of diesel fuel each
to the World Economic Forum, of the Chasseral to the Ciments year. You do the math.

28 December 2019
THE BEST GIFTS
A R E S H A R E D.
NOT GIVEN.

Jim Beam Black® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 43% Alc./Vol. ©2019 James B. Beam Distilling Co., Clermont, KY.
8
// BY JACQUELINE DET W ILER //

CO U R T E S Y P R O C E E D I N G S O F T H E N AT I O N A L A C A D E M Y O F S C I E N C E S U S A : " L I N K I N G P L A S M A F O R M AT I O N I N G R A P E S TO M I C R O WAV E R E S O N A N C E S O F A Q U E O U S D I M E R S " H A M Z A K . K H AT TA K , PA B LO B I A N U CC I , A N D A A R O N D . S L E P KOV- M OV I E S1


ho knows the rea-
s on s a s c ie nt i s t
may have for choos-
ing the quest ion
that will shape his
life’s work. Maybe,
when p onder i ng
life’s great mysteries, he prefers
1 2
the guidance of physics to that
of religion. Maybe he has always
dreamed of circling the Earth in
the International Space Station,
watching the sun rise every 90
minutes over the soapy blue of his
home planet. Maybe he acciden-
tally put a fork in a microwave one
time. Or maybe it was the micro-
wave thing, but with a grape.
The scientist in question,
Aaron Slepkov, discovered the
old grape-in-the-microwave trick
when he was young, in which a
3 4
sliced grape erupts into a fireball
of plasma—an ionized gas that
is considered the fourth state of
matter and is present in large
quantities in, among other places,
the sun.
Twenty years later, Slepkov,
now a physics professor at Trent
Universit y, t ook on his ow n
experiment to explain how the
phenomenon worked. His findings
were published in the journal
Proceedings of the National Acad-
emy of Sciences of the United
5 6
States of America.
“In 1995, [Slepkov] had found
the first website describing mak-
Cut a grape ing plasma in a microwave, and he

Scientists Finally part of the way


through, leaving
two halves that
are still con-
got really fascinated with it and
kept it in the back of his mind,”
study coauthor Pablo Bianucci,

Figured Out Why nected by a small


piece of skin.
When placed in
the microwave,
Ph.D., a physics professor at Con-
cordia University, says.

Grapes Spark in the radiation


causes the grape
to increasingly
spark from the
From a thorough inspection of
the internet’s best “microwaved
grape fireball” videos, it seems

the Microwave middle. to be necessary to cut the grape


in half before microwaving, leav-
ing a small, ion-rich skin bridge
between the two hemispheres.

30 December 2019

THE GRAPE
WOULD WORK
AS AN ANTENNA
“The more or less consen- the type used in diapers. THAT WOULD resea rch may some-
sus explanation was that the Using microwaves with day contribute to better
grape would work as an antenna, the doors removed, “they CREATE A understanding of a field
and that would create a current managed to decouple the CURRENT. called nanoplasmonics.
through the skin bridge that generation of the plasma— “If you put, for instance,
would eventually heat it up and the really flashy thing you two metal nanoparticles
create the plasma,” says Bianucci. see—from the actual phenomenon next to each other, you have this
Through the sacrifice of untold that’s going on underneath, which same effect, a really increased
masses of grapes (and 12 micro- is the focusing of the electromag- electromagnetic field, but with the
waves), the researchers showed netic radiation, the microwaves, metals you see it with light instead
that this hy pothesis—which in bet ween the t wo spheres,” of microwaves,” says Bianucci.
had never been explained math- Bianucci says. “The key thing is that the water
ematically anyway—was false. It turns out that water-based has a high reflective index, so it
Not only is a skin bridge between orbs about the size of a grape shrinks the wavelength a lot. If we
the grape halves not required, but amplify microwaves (which is were able to find a material that
you can ignite a plasma fireball electromagnetic energy, just like works like water, but for light,
in two whole grapes placed side light) so effectively that a hot where we could really shrink the
by side in a small bowl, or two spot just between the two orbs wavelength of light, then we could
ground cherries, two quail eggs, creates plasma. probably use it to focus light into
or even two hydrogel beads of Apart from being cool, this very, very small spaces.”

More Experiments You Can Do With Your Microwave

If you’ve already 1 SOAP BUBBLE 2 EXPLODING 3 SPEED OF 4 CD LIGHT SHOW 5 EXPANDING


turned grapes Carve a small EGG Place an egg LIGHT Put a thin Put a glob of Silly PEEPS Peeps or
into plasma balls, notch in the in the microwave, layer of mini- Putty on an edge other large marsh-
middle of a bar and the egg will marshmallows on of a CD so the CD mallows expand
here are five other
of soap that has explode. You will a plate, and put it can stand up in and explode in the
things you can try,
moisturizer. Put also hear a loud in the microwave the microwave. microwave. Put
according to Brad the soap in the boom. Similar to Dim the lights in them on a paper
(with turntable
Conrad, Ph.D., microwave, turn it a popcorn kernel removed) for 15 the room, turn on plate, arrange six
director of the on, and a bubble popping, the to 20 seconds. the microwave for to 10 Peeps in a
Society of Physics will grow out of sound you hear Measure distance no more than a pyramid fashion,
Students. the notch, which from the egg is between the few seconds, and and start the mi-
will become big an explosion from melted marshmal- you’ll see colorful crowave. They will
enough to fill the the water that lows in centime- flashes of light. slowly grow and
entire microwave. becomes present ters. Calculate The CD—which expand to three
The microwave is when it’s heated. the speed of light: has a very thin to four times their
heating up water Once the egg’s 2 x (distance layer of met- original volume.
and the molecules shell cracks, it between melted al—is reflecting When they cool
inside the soap to expands rapidly, spots) x (micro- electromagnetic off, you can still
cause it to expand. hence the noise. wave frequency). radiation. eat them.

November 2019 31
9
// BY A A RON GOLDFA R B //

Trust Us,
Infusing
Whiskey Is
Delicious

T
H E RE ’S A PHASE COL-
lege students go through 1 2
where they decide cheap,
clear liquor needs an
upgrade. But what, really,
can an aspiring dorm-
room mixologist do with
a non-discerning palate, limited
funds, and not enough time? Ah
yes. Infuse. Just throw Skittles
or frozen blueberries or any other
easily accessible sweet accoutre-
ment into the plastic handle and
wait. The resulting concoction
is probably awful. It will be con-
sumed anyway.
Don’t be ashamed if you went
through that phase. You may now
have disposable income to buy fan-
cier bottles, but that does not mean
you should quash that adventurous 3 4

spirit—you know, the same one


that drove you to throw Pop Rocks
into Smirnoff. Harness that desire
to meddle with your liquor cabinet
TWO (MOSTLY) (1) Use kitchen shears to
cut the bacon strips into
bon in a mixing glass or a
stainless-steel container

FOOLPROOF FAT
¾-inch pieces. Cook over and stir until it dissolves.
and you can create some truly wild low to medium-low heat (3) Allow the mixture to
and delicious drinks. With the until all the fat has been infuse, uncovered, at room
proper guidance, of course.
The best way to start your adult
WASHES TO GET released and the bacon is
fully crisped. Remove the
temperature for about 4
hours, then cover and place
infusing journey is with whiskey, YOU STARTED bacon and try to filter out
the little bacon bits that
in the freezer for 2 more
hours. The fat will have
a complex and resilient spirit that have been left behind. (As risen to the top. (4) Skim
pairs so well with equally bold, anyone too lazy to clean that off and strain the rest
complex flavors like, say, meat. THE WHISKEY the morning’s bacon skillet of the bourbon through a
750-millimeter bottle knows, bacon fat will even- cheesecloth. You will have
But don’t just drop some ground of Four Roses (Yellow
round into a bottle of Jim Beam tually solidify. Once it does, lost a few ounces, so the
Label) Bourbon you can store it almost yield should be about 24
and call it a day. To infuse whiskey THE FAT indefinitely.) (2) Combine ounces. Funnel it back into
with more ambitious foodstuff, 4 to 6 strips of hickory- about 1½ ounces warm the bourbon bottle and
you’re going to need to learn a smoked bacon bacon fat with the bour- explicitly relabel it.

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tricky tactic called “fat wash- THE WHISKEY


ing”—first detailed in a 2007 Food 750-millimeter bottle of
Old Grand-Dad Bonded
& Wine article by top-notch booze
writer Nick Fauchald. THE FAT
2 cups peanut butter
Fat won’t dissolve in most liq-
uids, but it will dissolve in alcohol. (1) Melt the peanut butter
Freezing that mixture until the fat in a saucepan over medium
resolidifies, then straining it off, heat. Mix with the Old
completes the process. This is the Grand-Dad Bonded. Freeze
only way to infuse a spirit with the overnight. The peanut but-
ter will sink to the bottom of
flavors of, say, brown butter or
the container. (2) Skim the
hazelnuts or, yes, meat, without translucent bourbon off the
leaving any chunkiness or greas- top and strain the remain-
iness behind. ing mixture through coffee
I recommend using a full bot- filters to extract the rest
of the bourbon. (3) Repeat,
tle for any infusion. You don’t
leaving again in the freezer
want to make too small a batch. overnight, then skimming
You also lose a bit in the process, and straining until the
so I wouldn’t necessarily infuse desired clarity is achieved.
a really pricey whiskey. Look for Another method of peanut
butter washing that has
$15 to $30 spirits. Or buy a han- 2
gained popularity recently
dle of the really cheap stuff to is based on a perfume-
practice with—the higher-proof, making technique called
the better (Wild Turkey 101 and effleurage. You spread
Old Grand-Dad are great options). the peanut butter across a
rimmed baking sheet, then
Anything that has soluble fats
briefly pour the bourbon
can be fat-washed, from bacon to over the top before dump-
Nutella. There’s really no right or ing the bourbon back into a
wrong with infusions. When you serving vessel.
have an idea, and there’s no recipe
online, just follow your gut. But in Excerpted from Hacking
Whiskey: Smoking, Blend-
general, these steps will give you ing, Fat Washing, and Other
a drinkable, properly fat-washed Whiskey Experiments,
finished product. 2018, Dovetail 3

1 / Choose the ingredient(s) you


wish to infuse. Duck fat, avocado
oil, Butterfingers...go wild! Of
course you might not simply be container, which allows more freeze. The alcohol left behind
able to buy, say, duck fat, in which surface area contact between the will be infused with the flavor of
case you’ll have to render your alcohol and the liquefied fat. Let the fat, and the texture might be
own. In other words, cook a duck, the ingredients infuse for several a tad thicker.
and instead of tossing the grease hours at room temperature.
left in the pan down the sink and 4 / Once that is the case, skim the
pissing off your landlord when you 3 / Afterward, put the entire fat off the top, then strain the rest
clog up his pipes, use it for your Cambro in the freezer for as little of the whiskey through a cheese-
fancy whiskey infusion. as 12 hours but quite possibly for cloth to eliminate all the solids
a couple days. It really depends. still lingering behind.
2 / Add liquefied fat (hot, if possi- You’re waiting as long as it takes
ble) to whiskey at around a ratio of for the oils from the fat to freeze 5 / Put the infused whiskey back
one ounce per 750-milliliter bot- and separate from the alcohol— into the original bottle and store
tle. If you can, do this in a Cambro because, remember, alcohol can’t in the fridge to keep fresh.

34 December 2019
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P
What You OW E R O U TAG E S A R E
unavoidable and increas-
ing in both frequency

A NEED-BASED DECISION
Whether or not you need a standby

Need to and duration. Nearly 60


percent of all blackouts
are caused by violent
generator is strictly personal. For
some, being inconvenienced by a
single blackout is reason enough.

Know About storms, but 34 percent


are caused by equipment failure in
But in an area with frequent or
leng thy blackouts, a standby

Buying a the nation’s aging and overloaded


electrical grid. So what’s a home-
owner to do?
generator becomes more neces-
sit y than convenience. Once
you’ve decided that you need one,

Standby One option is a standby genera-


tor. Within seconds of a blackout,
a standby generator will kick on to
the next step is selecting the
right size.

Generator power your home. But these gen-


erators aren’t cheap. Here’s how to
decide if it’s worth it to have one

SIZING STANDBY GENERATORS
Generators come in many sizes
for your home. and can be powered by either nat-
ural gas or liquid propane (LP).
A common impulse is to get the
largest unit available to power
the entire house. A more sensi-
ble approach is to buy a generator
sized to run essential circuits,
such as those powering the fur-
nace, kitchen, well pump, sump
pump, water heater, security sys-
tem, and a few lights and outlets.
This is considered a “partial-
house generator.”
The complexity of a home’s
electrical system is a critical fac-
tor in selecting a generator. Square
footage doesn’t correlate to a cer-
tain size—it’s more complex than
that. Hire an experienced elec-
trician to calculate your home’s
anticipated electrical loads and
recommend the correct size.


GENERATOR SIZES
Generators are sized by kilowatts
(kW), which is a unit of power.
One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts.
So, a 22kW generator produces 22
kilowatts—or 22,000 watts. Gen-
erators need to be connected to an
automatic transfer switch (ATS),
G E T T Y I M AG E S

which makes the generator kick


on or off. Again, an electrician
will provide guidance, but a typi-

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Generator Sizing Chart

cal home with a 200-amp breaker TYPE OF LOAD WATTAGE KEY


panel would need a 200-amp ATS.
2 LIGHTING CIRCUITS 200W GENERATOR SIZE:
Ultimately, generator size will
be based on the total running watts 4 LIGHTING CIRCUITS 400W 7 KW
and starting KVA of all the cir- 10 LIGHTING CIRCUITS 1000W
cuits, appliances, and mechanical 1 7 KW
REFRIGERATOR 1200W
systems it supplies. KVA (kilo-volt- 4 8 KW
ampere) is 1,000 volt-amps; think SUMP PUMP 1000W
of a volt as electrical pressure, WELL PUMP 1000W
and an amp as electrical current.
FURNACE FAN 500W
Both numbers must be calcu-
lated: Running watts equals the GARAGE-DOOR OPENER 875W
power consumed by an electrical MICROWAVE OVEN 1000W
motor while running, and start- ELECTRIC OVEN 2000W
ing KVA is required because each
RADIO 50W
time a motor starts, there’s a surge
that the generator must be able to TELEVISION 300W
handle. Once standby electrical LAPTOP 45W
circuits have been identified, the A rough estimate
DESKTOP COMPUTER 200W
electrician will add up the running of energy loads
watts and starting KVA to project 4-TON CENTR AL AC 2500W for typical home
appliances and
the total electrical load and deter- COFFEE MAKER 900W
recommended
mine the proper-size generator. WASHING MACHINE 1200W circuits for 7kW,
17kW, and 48kW
ELECTRIC CLOTHES DRYER 6750W
■ standby generators.
SOUND AND SERVICE
Cities often have noise ordi-
nances for generators. A machine
may be rated at 62 decibels,
which doesn’t sound like a lot,
but imagine a neighbor idling a
Harley—tolerable in a rural area,
but not in the suburbs. Addition-
ally, most building codes require
generators to be at least five feet ■ especially if it is equipped with
from house openings and flam- A COSTLY ENDEAVOR a ga s ra nge, a ga s hot water
mable materials, making urban Many factors determine the final heater, and gas heat, which use
installations tricky. Fuel-tank cost of a standby generator, which little electricity. A 22kW air-
placement is typically restricted, makes pinpointing an exact price cooled generator can cost $4,500
especia lly nea r pa rk ing lots difficult. A good general rule is to $5,000—or about $9,000 to
and schools. that the installed cost is usually $10,000 installed.
Generators need TLC, as most twice the price of the generator. Large-capacity, liquid-cooled
complicated machines do. Like Be aware that there are two generators—in the 22kW to 45kW
cars, standby generators run non- basic engine operating systems: range—cost between $10,000 and
stop for many hours, so they have air-cooled and liquid-cooled. Air- $15,000, making the installed
to be maintained similarly. cooled generators are smaller and price about $20,000 to $30,000.
A generator can last a lifetime less costly, but they’re also louder, Regardless which standby
of outages if you check the oil daily even though liquid-cooled genera- generator you choose, it’s a sig-
during use, run it at 75 percent of tors are typically larger. nificant investment, but one that
its capacity, and avoid starting or Generally, a 22kW standby many homeowners are willing to
stopping it under load whenever generator is suitable for a home make to keep their home safe and
possible. that’s 2,500 square feet or smaller, comfortable.

38 December 2019
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// BY DA RREN ORF //

Same Galaxy, New Characters,


No Nostalgia: What Is Star Wars
Without the Skywalkers?

I
N T H O S E I L L- FAT E D P R E -
q u el s , A n a k i n Sk y w a l k er
becomes Darth Vader. In the
original trilogy, Luke strug-
gles against the Empire. And
in the sequel trilogy, the entire
galaxy must face the aftermath
of Luke’s not-so-wise decisions,
while Kylo Ren grapples with
Darth Vader’s lasting legacy. 
For m or e t h a n 4 0 y e a r s ,
Lucasfilm, and now Disney, has
stretched the tale of the Skywalker
family to its narrative limits. With
The Rise of Skywalker, the newest
and final movie in the sequel tril-
ogy, the story of the Skywalker
saga will finally come to a close.
After nine movies, the past will
die. Sure, Vader and his progeny
will continue to appear in Star
Wars comics and video games.
But as far as films are concerned—
almost out of necessity due to the
age of the actors—The Rise of Sky-
walker is an exclamation point on
a long, and sometimes rambling,
cinematic sentence. So...what’s
next? Can Star Wars survive in a
post-Skywalker world? 
A little more than a month
before The Rise of Skywalker,
Disney released The Mandalo-
rian. Following a bounty hunter The titular character is meant The Rise of before: “The type of Star Wars I’m
in the outer reaches of the galaxy, to bring bounty hunter Boba Fett to Skywalker, the inspired to tell is a smaller thing
last film in the
this is the first-ever live-action mind, as both characters wear sim- family's saga, is with new characters,” he said.
Star Wars TV series, the first ilar-looking Mandalorian armor. the beginning And Favreau’s fresh direction
of a new era
Star Wars show on Disney’s new But showrunner Jon Favreau, of Star Wars isn’t a one-off affair. Director
streaming service, and the first the director who kick-started stories. Rian Johnson, who was on the
live-action Star Wars…anything, the entire Marvel cinematic uni- receiving end of some fans’ ire
G E T T Y I M AG E S

without a Skywalker in it. (Except verse with 2008’s Iron Man, has after ta king the series in an
for maybe Solo, but that’s a movie said that he’s creating some- unexpected direction in The
best forgotten.) thing different than what’s come Last Jedi, will also be helming a

40 December 2019
CL E R MON T
K . Y. U. S .

WE’VE BUILT A NAME ON


BOURBON AND A LEGACY ON RYE.

EVERY BIT EARNED

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11

The Best
trio of new films set in a galaxy was nothing like it,” George Lucas
Way to
far, far away. “We’re doing some- said in a 2015 interview. “Now, Watch
thing that steps beyond the legacy
characters,” Johnson said in an
if you do anything that’s not a
sequel, they won’t do it.... It shows
All the
interview. “What does that look an enormous lack of imagination Star Wars
like?...It really makes you think and fear of creativity.” Movies
and figure out what the essence of Like Lucas, Johnson isn’t con-
Watching (or rewatching) Star
Star Wars is for me and what that tent with making a Star Wars
Wars seems straightforward.
will look like moving forward.” film you’ve already seen before, After all, the movies are all
Star Wars needs to become and this search for a new direc- labeled numerically, right there
more than just an annual nos- tion is all over his films. In The in the title crawl. But with the
talgia fix. Old adventure serials, Last Jedi, Kylo Ren pleads with introduction of the prequels,
W WII dogfighting films, and Rey during the film’s most dra- sequels, and one-offs, fans have
Japanese samurai films helped matic moment. “It’s time to let gotten creative when searching
form the original trilogy, but the old things die,” he says. “Snoke, for the ultimate way to watch.
We’re partial to the Rinster
series is a lasting testament to the Skywalker, the Sith, the Jedi—let
Order, named after a partic-
power of creativity. It’s a tragedy it all die.” ularly dedicated fan. It helps
that, 40 years later, these films You could say those words preserve The Empire Strikes
have become a regurgitation of only relate to the film’s ongoing Back’s big plot twist while also
recycled ideas. galactic strife. But its underlying giving Vader’s revelation more
“You gotta remember that Star commentary is pretty clear: It’s narrative weight. Once we learn
Wars came from nowhere...there time for Star Wars to move on. of the relationship between
Luke and Vader, we’re treated
to a three-film flashback
exploring how such a dark lord
of the Sith came to be.

THE RINSTER ORDER

1 2 3

Proof A THE EMPIRE THE


NEW STRIKES PHANTOM
That Star HOPE BACK MENACE
Wars
Works 4 5 6
Without ATTACK REVENGE OF RETURN
Skywalker OF THE THE SITH OF THE
CLONES JEDI

7 8 9
THE THE THE RISE
FORCE LAST OF
AWAKENS JEDI SK YWALKER
While Star Wars game from 2003 KOTOR remains one
films haven’t strayed called “Knights of the of the greatest Star
far from having a Old Republic.” Wars stories ever told.
OPTIONAL: So what about the stand-
Skywalker-centric Developer Bio- Animated series like
plot, peripheral sto- ware, an industry Rebels and Resistance alone films? You could slot in Rogue One
ries have been more behemoth, had a have since ventured before A New Hope and treat the two films
CO U R T E S Y E L E C T R O N I C A R T S

brave about boldly bold idea: an epic, off the Skywalker as one four-hour-long space epic. But it
going where no one galaxy-spanning Star path, but KOTOR was feels wrong to not start your rewatch with
has gone before. Wars story set 4,000 a creative master- the original. As for Solo, it makes the most
(Sorry, wrong fran- years before A New piece, showing that sense to give it a watch after the startling
chise.) The greatest Hope. Not only did Star Wars could be so conclusion of The Force Awakens, in
example? A video Bioware pull it off, much more. order to give our favorite space smuggler
a proper send-off. Oh...spoilers.

42 December 2019
Statement of
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Ownership, Management
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15. EXTENT AND NATURE OF CIRCULATION 18” Sterling
Average No. Copies
Each Issue During
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No. Copies of Single
Issue Published
Nearest to Filing Date +S&P Silver
Chain with
A. TOTAL NUMBER OF COPIES Pendants
per piece
(NET PRESS run) 1,055,062 1,003,900

B. PAID CIRCULATION
(1) Mailed Outside-County 715,155 633,407
Paid Subscriptions Stated on
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distribution above nominal rate,
advertiser’s proof copies,
and exchange copies)
(2) Mailed In-County Paid n/a n/a
Finished
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PS Form 3541 (Include paid
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D. (1) Free or Nominal Rate 257,845 228,650
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Outside-County Copies ating a consistent shimmering of
included on PS Form 3541
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12
// BY DAV ID GROSSM A N //

A worldwide network
of computers helped
solve one of math’s most
elusive problems.

M
ATHEMATICIAN ANDREW
BOOKER was searching
for topics to present
at his children’s math
club when he st um-
bled across a YouTube
video about the sum-
of-three-cubes puzzle. “It was
a case of serendipity,” the Uni-
versity of Bristol mathematics
professor says. The video—pro-
duced by the popular YouTube
channel Numberphile—led him
to solve a curious equation that
has stumped mathematicians for
decades.
In 1825, mathematician S.
Ryley proved in the magazine
Ladies’ Diary that any fraction

After 65 Years, can be represented as the sum of


three cubes of fractions. Mathe-
matician Louis Mordell took the

Supercomputers puzzle a step further in 1953,


when he questioned whether the
same type of solution could be
Finally Solve found for x3+y3+z3 = k, a diophan-
tine equation, which involves only

This Unsolvable positive and negative integers. He


started with the number 3, and
the hunt was on to find solutions

Math Problem for all integers between 1 and 100.


In some cases, finding the solu-
tion to x3+y3+z3 = k is easy enough.
S TA F F

To reach 53, for example, all that’s

44 December 2019
Wear the Colors of Italy’s
Legendary Regatta

Raffinato ™

——— Italy

To show exquisite
details, necklace
shown is not
exact size.

T he Regata Storica started in 1489, when the beautiful


Caterina Cornaro, wife of the King of Cyprus,
renounced her Cypriot throne in favor of Venice.
The people of Venice welcomed her with a parade
of elaborately-decorated gondolas, in a rainbow
of popping colors. Every year since, the spirit
Thanks to the Regata, we’ve visited Venice often and
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12

needed is 33+33+(–1)3. Other num-


bers, like 51, grow increasingly
Wonderland (and a mathema-
tician). Sutherland agreed.
“ major piece of progress
on t h i s pr oblem ,” say s
complicated: (–796)3+6593+6023. The chance to find a set of IT IS ALWAYS mathematician Chao Li of
For others—4, 5, 13, 14, 22, 23, 31, mystery numbers equaling Columbia University. “It
EXCITING AND
32—it is mathematically impos- 42 was irresistible, but they is always exciting and sat-
sible. Then there are the numbers needed more juice. SATISFYING isfying in mathematics to
that verged on unsolvable but Then Ma rk McA ndrew, IN MATHEMATICS see a longstanding prob-
seemed hypothetically possible, founder of Charity Engine, lem finally being resolved.”
TO SEE A LONG-
like 33 and 42. a supercomputing system (Booker and Sutherland
I n M a r c h 2 01 9, B o o k e r that harnesses unused com- STANDING also recently found a new
cracked 33. The computer he put i ng p o wer f r om mor e PROBLEM FINALLY way to make a sum of three
used searched through 10 qua- t h a n 50 0,0 0 0 home P C s, cubes equal 3.) Sutherland
BEING RESOLVED.
drillion numbers and turned caught a Numberphile video knows that when problems
up t h ree w it h in a m at t er of about Booker’s quest for 42. are solved with the help of
weeks: 8,866,128,975,287,5283, He wanted in, too. “I was lit- supercomputers, that’s all the
(–8,778,4 05,4 42,862,239) 3 , er a l ly ju mpi n g a r ou nd,” he public tends to see. “But the way
and (–2,736,111,468,807,040)3. says. Over the course of a day, these things work, there’s always
Encouraged, he reached out to the vast network of PCs logged an interplay between algorithm
Andrew Sutherland of M.I.T. to more than a million comput- and computational power,” he
see if he might help solve for 42. ing hours on Charity Engine’s says. Supercomputers are like
The number has a mythical rep- volunteer computer net work. tractors, threshers, or any other
utation in pop culture—most Finally, they got their answer: machine. All the power in the
not ably in D oug la s Ada ms’s (–80,538,738,812,075,974) 3 world is great, but without know-
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gal- + 80,435,758,145,817,515 3 + ing how to use it, you’re stuck—be
axy, but also within the works of 12,602,123,297,335,6313. it in a field or amidst 10 quadril-
Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in “The team’s discover y is a lion numbers.

Computer x
Mathematics 300 BCE 1622 1849 1936 1949
Timeline The Babylonians William Oughtred Charles Babbage Alan Turing pub- George Reitwiesner,
invent the earli- invents the slide designs “Difference lishes his seminal Clyde Hauff, Homé
est calculator, the rule, a mechanical Engine #2,” a mechan- paper “On Comput- McAllister and W.
abacus. analog computer ical contraption to able Numbers.” Barkley Fritz use
designed to multiply solve equations auton- the newly invented
and divide numbers. omously. He never ENIAC computer to
sees the machine compute π to 2,035
in action. decimal places.

1967 1976 1984 1996 2014 2019


The first handheld A computer cracks The software The first volunteer Mathematician Emma Haruka Iwao
digital calculator, the Four Color MATLAB debuts. computing project, Thomas Hales for- uses Google’s cloud
Texas Instruments’ Theorem, making the Great Internet mally proves the computing service
CalTech, is invented. it the first computer- Mersenne Prime Kepler Conjecture to calculate π to a
It costs $85. assisted proof to be Search, kicks off. using proof assis- staggering 31 trillion
solved. tant software. decimal places.

46 December 2019
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13
// BY DAV ID GROSSM A N //

The Wild
Idea
That the
Titanic
Never
Really
Sank

I
S IT ACTUALLY the Titanic at
the bottom of the ocean?
No one is denying that a
ship really sank in the icy
waters of the North Atlantic
on April 15, 1912. Or that
approximately 1,500 passen-
gers aboard perished. However,
there are some who suggest that
the White Star Line, the ship’s
parent company, pulled a fast
one on the public in an insurance
scam that ended up going horri-
bly wrong.
These theorists claim that
instead of the Titanic, a sister
K I R K A N D S O N S O F CO W E S/ H E R I TAG E I M AG E S/G E T T Y I M AG E S

ship in White Star’s fleet was the


one that now sits at the bottom
of the ocean. The strangest part:
The idea isn’t as far-fetched as you voyages of the world’s then-largest The hole torn ships—the Olympic, the Titanic,
in the hull of
might think. passenger ships: the Lusitania RMS Olympic and the Britannic—that would
and the Mauretania. To compete, after the outclass Cunard’s fleet, which at
collision with
■ White Star needed some help. HMS Hawke in the time was bigger and faster.
THE HEYDAY OF BIG SHIPS That’s where financier J.P. the Solent strait, The Olympic came first, and its
September
The British White Star Line had Morgan came in. In 1902, his 20, 1911. first four voyages were unqualified
stiff competition in England and holding company, International successes. But during the fifth,
across the globe. Locally, it had Mercantile Marine Co., pur- the vessel ran into trouble. On
a fierce rivalry with the Cunard chased White Star. Bankrolled September 20, 1911, while pass-
Steamship Company, Ltd., which by Morgan, White Star Chairman ing a military vessel, the Hawke,
in 1906–07 shipped the maiden Bruce Ismay commissioned three the Olympic made an unexpected

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turn. Caught off guard, the ships


collided. The Olympic was able to
limp back to port, badly wounded.
That crash is where the con-
spiracy begins.
White Star not only had a dam-
aged ship; the company was also
deemed accountable for the crash
w ith the Hawke. That meant
insurance wouldn’t cover repairs. What to Do If Your Ship Sinks
With a big ship sitting idle on Life vests save lives, but what else do you need if your boat goes down?
the docks bringing in no money, We called U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Brian McCrum for insight.
White Star, the theory suggests,
made a switch. 1 HAVE SIGNAL 2 VHF CHANNEL 16 3 STAY WITH 4 HAVE A FLOAT
The second ship in line, the D E V I C E S Search A radio on board V E S S E L If you P L A N Let some-
parties will look can save your life, can’t see the one know where
Titanic, was already in the works.
for anything from and so can channel shore, don’t try and when you’re
So, instead of having a beaten up flares to the light 16. It's solely used to swim to safety; going. Stick to that
liner out of commission, the com- on your sports for boaters, and the stay with the ship. plan, and rescue
pany slapped the Olympic name watch—yes, a Coast Guard mon- Also, not all ships crews will be able
on the new ship—the Titanic— Coast Guard heli- itors it. If you need will go completely to locate you easier
and the original Olympic would copter can spot assistance, this is underwater. If if trouble arises.
that. The more the place to sum- your hull is over- The Coast Guard
be repurposed into the Titanic. mon aid. McCrum
devices, the better. turned and still actually has an
With the switch made, the McCrum recom- also recommends afloat, use it for app—U.S. Coast
Olympic (now secretly operating mends flashlights, having an EPIRB— visibility. “Not only Guard in App Store
as the Titanic) could be scut- mirrors, whistles, an emergency will it keep you or Google Play—
tled in a planned accident. The flares, retro reflec- position-indicating out of cold water where you can file
tive tape (which can radiobeacon. longer, it’s also a float plan to detail
White Star Line could collect an Both are preferred
go on a life jacket), bigger than you,” where you’re trav-
insurance payment, which would and anything else over a cellphone McCrum says. “We eling, your itinerary,
benefit the new ship, all while the that can increase with spotty can see a boat eas- and the equipment
Titanic (now the Olympic) would your visibility. reception. ier than you.” you have onboard.
live on. The plan seemed sound,
until it was ruined by an iceberg.


EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST
It’s not impossible that White Star the porthole question head-on. were not identical. The Titanic
Line switched ships. But the evi- “The Olympic,” they write, had a unique café and enlarged
dence that exists for that is thin. “like the Titanic, was fitted orig- restaurant, based on what was
Proponents of the theory point inally with the same 14-porthole learned with the Olympic. Plus,
to the “Titanic” not allowing public arrangement on the port side of additional steel plates were fitted
examination prior to setting sail, her forecastle, but two additional to the bedplates of the Olympic’s
and to portholes—theorists sug- portholes were later fitted; they engines in 1911. They were still in
gest that when viewing photos of were there in March 1912.” the correct place during inspec-
the Titanic under construction and Historian Mark Chirnside tions in the ’20s and ’30s.
the ship that set sail for New York has also devoted serious time to Closely examined, none of the
looks suspiciously like the Olympic. the question of why, exactly, the Olympic/Titanic claims can hold
B u t h i s t or i a n s a r e q u ic k switch would have been made. up to the phenomenal effort that
to point to the facts. Titanic His key evidence is the insurance would have been necessary for
researchers Steve Hall and Bruce claim for the Titanic. The ship the switch. Without concrete evi-
G E T T Y I M AG E S

Beveridge, who published a book cost $7,500,000. It was insured dence, the theory fails to stand
on this subject, Titanic or Olym- for $5,000,000. up. The ship at the bottom of the
pic: Which Ship Sank?, address He also adds that the ships ocean is the actual Titanic.

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32%R[ &RORUDGR&LW\&2
Injured
Athletes Lost What
They Loved.

B Y J A M E S LY N C H
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANGIE SMITH

52 December 2019
Left: Roy
Tuscany rides
a waveski;
Below: On
May 22, 2019,
surfers attend
a High Fives
Foundation
workshop
near San
Clemente, CA.

These Boards
Bring It Back. December 2019 53
A L M O S T E V E R Y W AV E I S O V E R H E A D W H E N YO U ’ R E LY I N G
prone on a surf board, but these waves? They tower four to
six feet above the 13 riders on the water. The group—many
of them first-time surfers—chatter nervously while grip-
ping their boards. Then, a “Get pitted, bro!” erupts across
the water from a smiling Roy Tuscany. He sits on a board,
paddle in hand, “sharing the stoke” as he calls it. With
ever y incoming set, ever y aborted ride in, ever y crash
into churning foam, Tuscany doles out congratulations
and high fives.
The surfers are from all over the country. The ocean outside
San Clemente is just another stop on a much larger journey.
Somewhere along the way, each of them experienced a traumatic
injury, often to the spinal cord or head, sometimes a wound from
war. Now they’re returning to sports—and Tuscany is right
there with them.
It’s been more than a decade since the aspiring pro skier
launched 130 feet off a 100-foot ski jump at Mammoth Moun-
tain in California. He burst his T12 vertebra and had two plates,
two rods, and eight screws put on each side of his spine. In an
instant, his days of competitive skiing and coaching were over,
his plans for the future to work as a mason gone, along with his
mobility from the waist down. But his community in Truckee,
California—colleagues from Sugar Bowl (the resort where he of specialized ski poles. They helped him turn, carve, and
worked), families he coached—as well as friends from his home decelerate as he made his way down the mountain. “Adapt and
state of Vermont stepped up to help. After two years, people had overcome,” he says.
chipped in more than $85,000 for Tuscany’s medical bills. “All I With skiing conquered, he turned to other sports. Soon he
had to worry about was recovering,” he says. And thinking about was mountain biking (he tied the front of his bike to the seat
how he could get back to skiing. post of a buddy’s bike and the friend would pull him up hills),
After nine days in the ICU and 43 days of in-patient rehab, fly fishing, and playing sled hockey. To surf, he learned to use
Tuscany headed home, having relearned to walk with the help a waveski, a specialized board propelled by a kayak paddle. But
of two arm crutches. He still had months of physical therapy he wanted more. “It just hit me I needed to pay it forward.” He
to go. Just 23 months after his injury, he headed to the moun- wanted to help a large group of people, the way others had helped
tain, jammed his feet in boots, pointed his skis downhill—and him. So he went to a bank with a Social Security check and a lit-
fell, over and over again. But he persisted. He learned to use tle bit of raised money, and started his foundation, High Fives.
outriggers, small skis about a foot long that fit onto the end The organization’s aim is to help athletes get beyond their phys-

54 December 2019
3

style paddle to get up to


speed and catch waves.
ical barriers from life-changing injuries. Often, they’re at the It’s leashed to the board
bedside of injured athletes within 24 to 48 hours of an accident, in case the rider takes a
peer mentoring and providing a support network. spill and loses their grip.

5
Like the seat well,
foot wells are
T U S C A N Y I S N ’ T T H E O N LY S U P P O R T I N T H E WAT E R T O D AY.
reinforced with fiber-
Two High Fives employees and six volunteers bob between waves
glass and epoxy resin
and stand on the shore. They’re ready to help if something goes
for durability.
wrong, but otherwise they stay back. The goal, says Tuscany, is
to have the athletes “doing it 100 percent on their own.” A few
surfers ride flat on their stomachs on a regular surfboard, but

December 2019 55
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Roy Tuscany is a constant source of encouragement
and fun during High Five’s camps; Tommy IV helps Vanessa Cantu learn to
maneuver a waveski; Tyler Turner takes a break on the beach; Wheeled trolleys
help get surfers to the water; Jeff Easter and Jeff Andrews head out of the water;
Adaptive surfer Charles “Chaka” Webb tries out a standard board; Athletes Vanessa
Cantu and Derrick Ross bond during a break from the waves.

56 December 2019
others sit on custom-made waveskis.
Many of the waveskis, including Tuscany’s, are
designed and hand-shaped by Ian Macleod, owner
of Macski Surf Gear. He starts with a large block of
1.5-pound EPS (expanded polystyrene) foam. Using
templates designed to work with the individual ath-
lete’s height, weight, and ability level, he cuts the basic
waveski shape with a hot wire. The shaping is done by
hand; it includes contouring in bottom channels, V’s,
or concaves, and rounding off the top. Macleod blends
in the side rails, a seat, and foot wells. Finally, three to
five fin boxes are added to help the waveski carve and
turn on the waves. The board’s final design and shape
have a huge effect on the ride. A wider board is more
stable, but slower; a deeper seat also adds stability, but
it limits an athlete’s ability to manipulate their hips
and torque their upper body to maneuver a tight turn.
Macleod coats the finished EPS-shaped board in
two layers of fiberglass (adding extra to the seat and
foot wells for strength), then seals it with epoxy resin.
A waist belt and foot strap keep the rider secure and
let them use their paddle to propel and maneuver the
waveski. The waveskis aren’t cheap, starting at close to
$2,000 apiece, but High Fives gives grants to athletes
to buy the specialized gear, and cover other expenses,
like massage therapy, that insurance won’t. This year
they’ve given out over 121 grants so far. The foundation
also covers all the costs of athletes’ travel to one of their
camps (they also have fly fishing, biking, and skiing
trips). High Fives can accept about half the applicants
they currently receive, but they’re hoping to do more.
“By introducing sport back to these individuals, you’re
creating community,” says Tuscany. “You create con-
nections, conversation. You provide joy.”

A S T H E S U N A P P R O AC H E S T H E H O R I Z O N , M A R K I N G
the end of a perfect day, the athletes paddle in, smiles
across their faces. Today, they surfed. They gather on
the shore for a meal. A campfire has been built nearby.
Sitting around it they reflect on the day, and on all they
have in common. “You see people come out of their
shell. Maybe they’re not sure who they are anymore.
They thought their injury defined them; now they see
it doesn’t. Something’s been holding them back and
now you get to see who they are as a person,” says Tus-
cany. Over 10 years, High Fives has done that for 237
athletes from 32 states, and the organization is grow-
ing every year. “Healing can happen, you can move
forward.”
After the camp, the athletes board planes, itching
for the next camp, ready to get back out there. Tuscany
heads home; there is still plenty of work to be done. He
and his girlfriend, Alana Nichols, recently added one
more to their community, son Gunner. It’s another
adventure, and the stoke is high.

December 2019 57
How Gore’s research lab puts the world’s most technical clothing to the test.
BY SCOTT YORKO

INSIDE
THE
TORTURE
CHAMBER
58 December 2019
December 2019
59
PHOTOGR APHY BY EMILIANO GRANADO
MY JOB
IS TO
MAKE SURE
NO ONE
IS EVER
T R U LY
COMFORTABLE.
PUSHING THE
BOUNDARIES
OF COMFORT
“My job is to make sure no one
is ever truly comfortable,” says
40-year-old Ray Davis, the Com-
fort Technician in charge of the
test lab. When it comes to devel-
oping outdoor gear, he regularly
pushes testers close to their phys-
ical limits.
In fact, the Environmental
Chamber where Walter and his
human counterpart are running is
capable of replicating 85 percent of
the earth’s weather. The lights on
the ceiling can mimic a full solar
cycle from sunrise to sunset, while
humidity can go from 5 to 98 per-
cent. Wondering how a garment
will fare in the rainforest in peak
rainy season? The chamber can
show you. How about in the solar
radiation reflecting off snow on
Mt. Everest? Just let Davis crank
I N S I D E GO R E ’ S E NVI RO N M E NTAL TE STI N G CHAM B E R , TH E AM B I E NT AI R up the 72 lights overhead. It only
ABOVE: THE RAIN
temperature is a balmy 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Huge lights on the 22-foot- takes two hours to go between its
ROOM IS CAPABLE
high domed ceiling beat down. Near one of the treadmills, a tester named maximum and minimum tem-
OF REPLICATING
Walter is running in place. He’s an integral part of the research team, peratures—122°F to –58°F (wind
UP TO THREE INCHES
who’s there every day, helping scientists test new outdoor apparel. He’s chill –85°F) in full blizzard con-
OF PRECIPITATION
got sensors on his body measuring sweat rate, skin temperature, and range ditions—although it uses about
PER HOUR.
of motion. There are also hoses coming out of his eye sockets. two thirds of the entire building’s
LEFT: RAY DAVIS
Walter, as you may have guessed, is not actually a human. He’s a IS IN CHARGE OF power capacity to make this dras-
$400,000 mannequin, to be exact, with more than 100 sweating pores on GORE’S TEST LABS. tic temperature change.
his fiberglass and carbon fiber body. And he’s just one of the high-tech tools Perhaps the most surprising
in the fabric and manufacturing company’s $5 million biophysics lab at aspect of the lab is that it tests
their Elkton, Maryland, R&D facility. for something we only notice the
Next to Walter a college student from nearby University of Delaware absence of. “The body doesn’t know
jogs on an inclined treadmill, wearing sunglasses and a lightweight when it’s comfortable,” Davis says.
wind shell. He’s strapped with a heart rate monitor and has swallowed “It only knows when it’s uncom-
a thermometer the size of two Advil gel capsules that’s measuring his fortable. We don’t even have the
core temperature and sending real-time readings to the lab’s comput- ability to sense when we’re wet—
ers through a radio signal. Gore’s lab technicians will use this and other we just notice the loss of heat.”
data to develop some of the most technologically advanced outdoor The best outdoor gear is actually
apparel on the market. the stuff you don’t even think about
The company has been innovating like this since the 1950s, and is while you’re wearing it. That’s why
best known for its namesake fabric, Gore-Tex, invented accidentally in input from both Walter and human
1969 by Bob Gore, the son of the company’s founder, when he discovered test subjects is so important.
that stretching a piece of polytetrafluoroethylene created tiny air pock- “Mannequins give more reliable
ets in the material. The resulting breathable waterproof textile went on info than human subjects,” Davis
to transform the outerwear industry. And it’s in this lab that the com- says. But feedback on how things
pany builds on that legacy, testing fabric innovations for apparel used feel is important, too. “We might
in industrial and recreational settings—like fighting fires, cleaning up have the most waterproof and
chemical spills, running through the desert, or riding a bike in the rain. durable garment in the world,”
The process involves highly proprietary systems and methodology, many Davis says. “But if it feels like sand-
details of which the company won’t divulge. But we got a peek behind the paper, you’re not going to want to
curtain to see how Gore puts its apparel to the test. wear it again.”

December 2019 61
9,000,000,000 6 72 $7,200 –85°F 2
Pores per Number of rain rooms Number of Cost of each Lowest wind chill Hours it takes to go
square inch Gore has in Maryland, overhead lights in Environmental temperature from –55°F to 122°F
in a Gore-Tex Germany, the United the Environmental Chamber light replicated in the in the Environmental
membrane Kingdom, and China Chamber Environmental Chamber Chamber

TURNS OUT,
DRYNESS
INVOLVES A LOT
OF WATER
If you’re wondering how Gore-
Tex keeps rain from getting into
a jacket while also allowing mois-
ture to escape, it has to do with the
fabric’s pore sizes—they’re large
enough to let heat and water vapor
out but small enough to keep exter-
nal moisture, like raindrops and
snow, from getting in. “If a water
vapor molecule is the size of a soc-
cer ball,” Davis says, “the pores are
the size of a soccer stadium, and a
raindrop is the size of the earth.”
Inside the wind-driven Rain
Tower, Gore’s lab techs run gar-
ments through a series of tests that
determine how much water they
keep out as well as how much
vapor they allow (or don’t allow)
to evaporate. When a piece of
apparel holds moisture, it has
what’s known as evaporative resis-
tance, and it’s one of the most
significant readings the lab mea-
sures. The more water vapor that
stays inside a jacket from sweat
and other moisture, the clam-
mier you’ll feel. So, the lower the
evaporative resistance of the test
subjects’ garments—meaning, the Hurricane Florence making landfall in 2018.
GORE’S
more vapor they allow to get out— Davis can even bend the direction of the water to simulate rain in wind
ENVIRONMENTAL
the more breathable they will be speeds up to five meters per second. In the rain test, both human sub-
CHAMBER CAN
and the longer it will take subjects jects and mannequins wear a gray cotton T-shirt or long johns beneath
MIMIC 85 PERCENT
to overheat. rain garments while walking or standing in simulated downpours. The
OF THE EARTH’S
“Nothing goes to market until amount of visible moisture on the undergarments indicates not just
WEATHER
it passes the rain test,” Davis says, the membrane’s effectiveness in sealing out water, but also how seam
CONDITIONS.
walking through the Rain Tower. tape, pockets, zippers, and design all work to keep water out. To simu-
With six different overhead water late extreme conditions like open-water sailing and riding a motorcycle
nozzles positioned 30 feet high, in driving rain, there’s an additional rain room in which technicians can
this approximately 10x10-foot set up a horizontal spray that douses test subjects head-on with the equiva-
glass and stainless steel room is lent of up to 22 inches of rainfall per hour while they ride a stationary bike.
capable of replicating any rainfall The floor of the Rain Tower is dotted with several drains and measured
on earth that occurs between 40°F into 25 square sections that all receive different rainfall velocities and
and 80°F at up to three inches per raindrop sizes—values that Davis mapped out with a laser disdrometer.
hour, from a light mist to peak (“That’s two months of my life I’ll never get back,” he says.)

62 December 2019
$400,000 138 500-1,500 $76 700 $5,000,000+
Cost of Number of washing Hours a garment Cost of a single- Number of water vapor Cost of
Walter the machines testing fabric fabric will spend in use Core molecules that could fit the entire
apparel-testing durability a washing machine Temperature Pill inside a single Gore-Tex Biophysics
mannequin membrane pore Lab

DURABILITY
EQUALS
COMFORT
When you have to worry about
whether your paper-thin outer-
wear layer will rip on a tree branch
or wear out in the wash, you’ll feel
distracted wearing it—not to men-
tion uncomfortable, should a tear
in your shell let in rain. Durabil-
ity is an underappreciated factor
of comfort, Davis says. And that’s
where Gore’s Wash Machine Area
comes into play. On a large fac-
tory floor, 138 standard washing
machines are rumbling like the
engine bay of a transatlantic
cargo ship.
This is where Gore simulates
the real-life wear and tear that
its performance garments go
through in everyday use. None
of the machines have lids or use
detergent, and they’re all modified
to run the agitate cycle in eight-
hour intervals, which is tracked
by a computer for each machine
and piece of material. Only fab-
ric—no actual garments—goes
into these machines because but-
tons, zippers, and other features
can damage the equipment over
time. Fabrics go through various
tests in other parts of the lab, then
get washed in the machines in tap
water for 500 to 1,500 hours and,
if they’re not frayed or worn out by
then, go back through the origi-
nal tests again. Gore has 40 years’
worth of data using this method to
compare with the results of newly FABRICS GET WASHED start to get excited and nerd out.” And the more that Davis and his col-
developed fabrics. IN TAP WATER FOR 500 leagues nerd out, the better the technology gets.
Balancing all the factors that TO 1,500 HOURS TO And so the washers spin. Down the hall, Walter runs on his treadmill.
make outdoor apparel more effec- TEST DURABILITY. The lights in the Environmental Chamber pump up the temperature for
tive and comfortable is a tricky another round of tests. The data keeps pouring in. Together, these unique
proposition—but one that Davis testing facilities work to push fabrics to their limits, and help scientists find
enjoys. “When I see a large per- out what makes even better outdoor apparel. Because the more that Gore
formance difference in one of our understands what makes us wet and cold and uncomfortable, the more we
new products, that’s when we really can forget about what we’re wearing—and the more we can accomplish.

December 2019 63
BUILD A TINY HOUSE

TRENT BELL

64 December 2019
BY WILL SUTHERLAND

y first school bus conversion


(skoolie) was an escape. I was
living under the dual thumbs of
my student loans and mortgage,
working two jobs to pay for a life
I didn’t have time to enjoy. After a crash course
in turning a 16-seat school bus into a dwell-
ing, I had both an outlet for adventure and an
income source I loved (West Virginia’s top-
rated Airbnb since 2015).
Why on earth did I turn a retired school
bus into a mobile tiny home? Simple: Big yel-
low buses are cheap and durable. A used bus at
auction goes for about 10 percent of the cost of
a used RV. And where RVs are designed to be
lightweight, buses are designed to work. That
gets you a steel-framed body and steel paneling
on top of a heavy-duty commercial truck frame.
And under the hood, most school buses feature
commercial-grade diesel engines that have
been reliably maintained by fleet mechanics.
My book, Skoolie!: How to Convert a School
Bus or Van into a Tiny Home or Recreational
Vehicle, covers every step of the process, along
with every hard-earned time-, sweat-, and
money-saving insight I’ve picked up. But to show
(and hopefully inspire) anyone who can hold an
angle grinder that they’re capable of building a
home on wheels, I’ve shared the basic process
for turning a bus into a clean, well-insulated
room to outfit as you please.

November 2019 65
Use the proper protective equip-
ment—gloves, a dust mask, and a face
shield—while working on your bus.

lenging as grinding or drilling out each wiring change. If the bus fails
a ton of rivets. Regardless, remove to start, you’ll know which wire(s)
the original thin metal interior caused the problem.
siding to inspect for rust, allow Overhead speakers were origi-
for better insulation, and open up nally used for intercom systems,
options for custom wall paneling. but they can be connected to a
Demolishing the original ceil- stereo. You may opt to leave these
ing panels is done exactly the speakers in place, replace them
same way as the wall panels. A with higher-qualit y units, or
lot of air temperature is lost and simply cover them up. Another
gained through the ceiling, so option is to replace them with
you might want to replace the old lights, which requires replacing
insulation with newer, more effi- the cabling (12- or 14-gauge wir-
cient insulation. ing is sufficient for most 12-volt
lighting).
FLOOR PREP / The original
floor needs to go. You don’t want PASSENGER HEATERS / These
to build your skoolie over a floor heaters use coolant from the
that may be rotted and rusty. And engine to generate heat that radi-
removing the original floor allows ates into the passenger area. You
you to add a new insulated surface first have to disconnect the cool-
to help maintain a comfortable ant input and output hoses and
DEMOLITION temperature inside. Insulation connect them together to bypass
also cuts down on road noise. the heater. You make the connec-
You’ll start demolition by remov- Most school buses have a top tion with a barbed union fitting
ing the seats, followed by the floor, floor layer of thick rubber over 1⁄2- for hoses.
then the wall and ceiling panels inch or 3⁄4-inch plywood that sits Underneath the bus, below
(as desired). Then there are odds on top of the primary metal floor. where the heater is located, you
and ends to remove, as well as wir- As you get the rubber to pull up, will see two black hoses going up
ing issues to address. you can grab it and peel it back through the bus floor and con-
The two most useful tools you’ll by hand. It helps to have someone necting to the bottom inputs
need for the demo process are a prying along the bottom edge of of the heater with clamps. Use
power drill and an angle grinder. the rubber as you pull. locking pliers to pinch the hoses
For hand tools, you should have Next, remove the plywood layer. closed, clamping the pliers a cou-
a standard and a metric set of The plywood is usually glued to the ple inches away from the ends so
socket wrenches, a combination metal in various shapes and sizes. there’s room to fit on the barbed
wrench set, screwdrivers, a pry The pry bar is your tool of choice union. Then loosen the hose
bar, and a couple pairs of locking for this step, and a second pry bar clamp on the input hose with a
pliers. doesn’t hurt. Once you pry up an f lat-head screwdriver and slip
edge of each plywood piece, you can the clamp out of the way. Pull the
SEATS / Most seat bolts are cor- begin pulling the wood up by hand. hose from the heater input. Insert
roded or have a nut under the bus one end of the barbed union all
that turns with the bolt. Instead WIRING / Many of the smaller the way into the open end of the
of using a wrench, aim your angle demo items—alarms, speakers, hose, and secure the hose over the
grinder cutting wheel at the base lights—involve wiring. In many union with the clamp. Repeat this
of the bolts at a slight angle to slice cases, you can remove an item that step with the other hose from the
into the bolt. has wiring running to it and sim- heater to connect it to the other
ply cap off each wire with a wire end of the union. Be prepared
WALL AND CEILING PANELS / nut. Sometimes, however, wiring for coolant spillage and have a
Removing the wall panels in your configurations are interconnected 5-gallon bucket handy to catch
bus can be as easy as unscrewing with the bus’s starting system, so any coolant that spills from inside
a ton of Phillips screws or as chal- make sure the bus starts up after the heater.

66 December 2019
new metal. If the hole is smaller
than 5 inches, you can patch over
it with thin scrap metal and metal
adhesive, such as JB Weld. Make
sure the patch is a few inches
larger than the hole so there’s
plenty of margin for adhesive.
Holes 5 inches or larger should be
covered with a welded patch that
is flush with the floor rather than For the complete
PREPPING resting or overlapping on top of guide to school
bus conver-
CONSTRUCTION the surrounding metal. sions, pick up
The next step is to fill in or Will Sutherland's
Skoolie! How to
With your bus gutted and the inte- patch over the holes where the Convert a School
rior surface materials out of the seat bolts were. You can use small Bus or Van into
a Tiny Home or
way, you now have a much clearer pieces of thin metal (pennies or Recreational
view of any rust and corrosion metal from the interior walls you Vehicle. / $25

issues, and you’re ready to prepare removed will work), sealed with
your blank canvas for its new fin- 100 percent silicone caulk to fill
ishes. You’ll start with the floor, in the holes.
which usually needs the most When all holes are covered
work, then you’ll seal up the walls and the silicone has completely
and windows, and finish with a cured (about 24 hours), your floor caulk around them ages and dries
quick check of the ceiling. is ready for a coat of paint. One out or peels away, allowing rain-
coat of oil-based paint will work water to seep in. If you see failed
CLEANING AND PAINTING THE to cover the floor, as it will never caulking, remove all the remain-
FLOOR / Surface rust on the floor be exposed to the sun or weather. ing old caulk and add fresh caulk
will be easy to handle in most rather than trying to patch it.
cases: Bus floors are thick, and SEALING WALLS, WINDOWS, Bus ceilings require minimal
there is enough metal there that AND CEILING / You’re less likely preparation for construction com-
you can grind off superficial rust to have rust issues in your walls pared with floors and walls, but
spots with a wire brush and still than in your floors, but if you find it’s possible to have leaks around
have a very solid surface. any spots, treat them in the same roof emergency exits. These leaks
Start cleaning the floor with a fashion as the rust spots on the can be caused by worn rubber gas-
wire brush attached to an angle floor: wire-brushing to remove kets around the exit hatch or from
grinder or drill to remove dirt, the rust, then treating with a rust old caulking around the exit fix-
grime, glue, and surface rust; converter. ture. Remove and replace the old
then vacuum up the debris. Treat With a garden hose, inspect caulking or replace the rubber
the rusted areas that don’t need your bus’s windows for leaks, hatch gaskets to solve this com-
patching with a rust converter. I which happen when the exterior mon leaking problem.
like POR-15 and have found that a
1-pint kit from POR-15 works well
for a midsize bus with an average
amount of surface rust.
If you find areas with large
flakes of rust and the floor feels
soft or flexes as you put weight on
it, you have a more serious rust
issue. Test to see how solid the rust
spot is by poking it with a screw-
driver. If the screwdriver goes
E L I M E I R K A P L A N (D E M O , P R E P) ; T R E VO R R A A B (B O O K)

through the floor, you will need to


cut away the rusted metal with a
grinder, then patch the hole with

Larger openings from rust


spots, up to 5 inches across,
can be covered with leftover
sections of metal from the
wall panels.
INSULATION
AND FLOORING

You’ll get much better energ y


performance—and therefore
will be more comfortable—if you
replace the old insulation with
new material before buttoning up
the walls, ceiling, and floor. The
best all-around option is rigid
foam insulation board. Almost
all rigid insulation board is load-
bearing and designed to function
under concrete floors, so you can ▲
install your wood subfloor right The vinyl flooring we used snaps together. Vinyl is a durable and inexpensive option
that comes in all sorts of styles.
on top of it.

INSULATE YOUR WALLS AND If the floor is 90 inches wide and pieces lock together so there’s
FLOOR / Cut each piece of rigid your rigid insulation is 96 inches no movement along the panels’
insulation to size and fit it into long, you simply have to score edges. You will trim the subfloor
place inside the wall cavities, and snap the insulation boards to panels to fit the width of the bus,
then use canned expanding spray fit. Apply construction adhesive and it’s all right to cut them a lit-
foam (such as Great Stuff) to fill to the bottom of the insulation tle short to make it easier to drop
in gaps and keep it in place. Most boards and if you have anything them into place on the floor. To
buses have wall cavities roughly heavy, such as sandbags, place secure the subfloor to the bus, I
2 inches deep; however, that dis- these on top of the insulation recommend using self-tapping,
tance can vary slightly even in the boards to hold them down while wood-to-metal screws (about 10
same bus, so it’s safer to install a the glue dries. Use seal tape to per panel) to go through the sub-
slightly thinner insulation type, cover the cracks between the indi- floor and insulation and into the
such as 11⁄2-inch-thick foam- vidual boards. bus’s metal floor.
board insulation panels. The best Finish flooring is the final layer
all-around option is rigid foam INSTALLING THE SUBFLOOR you will walk on. Vinyl click-to-
insulation board. Rigid insulation AND FINISH FLOORING / The gether, imitation-wood flooring
panels can be scored with a utility best material for a bus subfloor works wonderfully for skoolies
knife and snapped off to fit. is sanded plywood. Plywood sub- because it is extremely durable, rel-
To insulate the bus floor, mea- flooring should be at least 1⁄2 inch atively thin, and easy to install with
sure the full width of the f loor thick, but if you have the budget great results. Carpet, laminate, or
from side to side. You’ll run the and headroom, 5⁄8-inch or 3⁄4- engineered hardwood can also be
insulation boards across the bus, inch tongue-and-groove plywood laid right over the subfloor, and
perpendicular to the bus sides. subflooring is ideal because the each is relatively easy to install.

WHICH SIZE BUS TO BUY


School buses cost $2,500 to $5,000 and come in three sizes:
short, midsize, and full-size. A short bus offers the maneu- Short Midsize Full-size
verability of a van and is popular for people who spend most
LIVABLE SPACE LIVABLE SPACE LIVABLE SPACE
of their time outside. Midsize offers a good blend of drivabil-
ity and space. Plenty of couples live happily in their midsize 75–112 sq. ft. 131–188 sq. ft. 206–263 sq. ft.
buses. In a full-size, you can live with all the elements of a CONVERSION COSTS CONVERSION COSTS CONVERSION COSTS
home, including space for kids or pets. $5,000–$10,000 $7,000–$14,000 $10,000–$20,000

68 December 2019
accessible from inside the bus and
the rear being accessible from the
rear emergency exit door.
You can store items under
sofas. You can even remove the
sofa’s feet and place the sofa
frame above a framed-in storage
box or a set of drawers similar to
those found on a captain’s bed.
Shelving is an excellent use
of the space over windows and
around the perimeter of the bus
where you won’t be wa lking.
It’s critical that you add a small
ledge, at least 2 inches tall, along
the front edge of the shelf to keep
items from falling when the bus
room? What kind of furniture or is moving. (Similarly, it is wise to
built-ins would you like? What’s use small hook-and-eye latches to
your ideal kitchen layout? keep drawers from opening while
▲ you’re driving.)
A propane point-
BED / Do you need a queen-size of-use water
bed, or are you okay with a double? heater provides KEEP COZY / A wood stove is an
ample hot water.
A queen mattress is approximately excellent way to stay warm and
DESIGN 5 feet wide and 61⁄2 feet long, but ▼ complete your conversion. Install
A Camp Chef
a double mattress is 41⁄2 feet wide propane oven fits
it close to the center of the bus,
First, take exact measurements and just over 6 feet long. Half a foot perfectly along- from front to back, and far enough
side our kitchen
of your bus’s interior, then make a of width could make or break your cabinet, a repur-
off the wall to allow the chimney
scaled drawing of it. Start with the layout plans—or sleeping comfort. posed dresser. pipe to go through the ceiling.
following measurements: Also, custom sizes of foam mat-
tresses can be ordered online, or Adapted from Skoolie! 2019 by
• Distance between the walls foam mattresses can be trimmed Will Sutherland. Used with per-
• Distance from the back of
to whatever size you desire. mission from Storey Publishing.
the driver’s seat to the back
of the bus
KITCHEN / Think compact: A sin-
gle sink saves counter space over a
• Distance behind and in front double sink, and overhead shelving
of the wheel humps, from can act as storage for food, cups,
both ends of the bus and plates. You’ll also need to fit
• Space between the wheel the refrigerator or cooler, stove,
humps, from side to side and microwave into the design. If
you plan to do a lot of grilling out-
• Height from the middle
side your bus, you might want to
(high point) of the ceiling
locate your indoor kitchen close
to the floor
to the bus entrance. Most recre-
Create a scaled drawing on ational vehicles, campers, and
a piece of poster board or large tiny homes have kitchen counters
sheet of paper. And then mock no longer than 5 feet, not counting
E L I M E I R K A P L A N (F LO O R I N G) ; W I L L S U T H E R L A N D (S H O W E R , I N T E R I O R)

up the layout by using painter’s space for a small oven. A good tip
tape or chalk to map it out on the is to utilize a standard bathroom
empty bus floor. When you walk vanity base in place of conven-
around on the taped layer, if you tional kitchen base cabinets.
feel something is too tight or if you
find inefficiencies in how things STORAGE / You’ll be surprised at
are positioned, you can move the how much stuff you have to put in
tape to test alternatives. your skoolie. Storage space under
Begin building your layout by the bed is excellent for cloth-
prioritizing the things you value ing containers or drawers, shoes,
most for your skoolie conver- extra water jugs, and more. One
sion. Do you want a full-size bed, way to arrange underbed storage
or would you rather allow more is to divide it into front and rear
space for the kitchen or bath- sections, with the front being

December 2019 69
F I
70
R
December 2019
E
THE COMPLETE
GUIDE TO
MANKIND’S
GREATEST TOOL

BY VINCE GUERRIERI

December 2019 71
Whether we’re staring into the depths of a campfire or watching
a Space Shuttle burn 500,000 gallons of fuel as it rises off the
launchpad, mankind’s obsession with fire is so innate we almost
take it for granted. Yet fire has catalyzed the human race’s most
significant innovations. It’s helped us survive. It’s helped us
flourish. It’s given us one hell of a backyard toy (see “That’s
Right: I Built a Flamethrower,” page 78). Yet the path that took us
from hunching around a lightning-struck tree for warmth to carrying
lighters in our pockets has many reminders of fire’s volatility—
from the epic scope of The Great Chicago Fire to the explosion of
the oil rig Deepwater Horizon. Fire comes with a big fat warning
sticker, but nonetheless, it’s man’s most essential tool.

72 December 2019
SPARKS OF INSPIRATION
Almost every primitive culture has a story
about how man came to harness fire, and
many of these stories involve—curiously—
petty theft. From the famed Greek myth of
THE BEST WAY
Prometheus snatching fire from Zeus and TO BUILD A FIRE IN
handing it to man (thanks for that, bud,
and sorry about the whole bird-eating-your- YOUR FIREPLACE
liver thing), to the Native American story of
Rabbit stealing fire from the bloodthirsty
Weasels, to the Polynesian legend of Maui
taking fire from the birds during a fishing
trip for his mother, our desire to control the
element has always run up against our bet-
ter instincts.
The themes of thievery make sense. In
the days of early man, fire was our most
valuable possession. Sculptor Paul Man-
ship summed up this sentiment in his art.
Behind his famous statue of Prometheus
in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, he
paraphrased the Greek dramatist Aeschy-
lus, noting that fire “proved to mortals a
means to mighty ends.”
1. FIND YOUR 2. SHAPE YOUR
Without fire—and later, without com- FUEL KINDLING
P R E V I O U S S P R E A D : É LV I N N E VA Z N O/ E Y E E M /G E T T Y I M AG E S (F I R E) ; CO R B I S V I A G E T T Y I M AG E S (S PAC E S H U T T L E) ; T H I S PAG E : I L LU S T R AT I O N S BY G E O R G E R E F S T E C K

bustion—there would be no skyscrapers,


air travel, International Space Station, Keep seasoned wood—meaning After making sure your chimney’s
bourbon, or medium-rare steaks. The ele- it’s been air or kiln dried—near the damper is open, tear the newspaper
fireplace (a couple of days indoors into two-inch-wide lengths and rub
ment has unlocked and enabled some of
should dry out most pieces). Wood the strips between your fingers
the greatest industrial and technological with rough surfaces will catch eas- so they separate into ribbons. Put
achievements in human history. ier than smooth wood. For tinder, the ribbons in the fireplace in a
gather two handfuls of twigs and mound the size of a tennis ball.
break them so they resemble a No. 2 Rest some of your tinder on top of
FUEL FOR SURVIVAL pencil in length and diameter. Half a the mound and lean more tinder
section of newspaper or a grocery on those twigs to create a little hut
It’s impossible to know when the first fire store mailer will work as kindling. around the paper.
was made, but we can speculate at its ear-
liest major use: cooking, says Alan Rocke,
Ph.D., a professor emeritus of the history
of science and technology at Case Western
Reserve University.
Cooking with heat broadened early
man’s palate by killing off potentially dan-
gerous microbes in formerly unsafe foods.
Fish and beef are at their juiciest and free
of illness-causing bacteria at 145 degrees
Fahrenheit. Rabbit is safe at 160°F; chicken
at 165°F. Fire tenderizes meat (pulled pork
falls apart at 205°F), but at 330°F it also
triggers the Maillard reaction (brown- 3. PRIME YOUR 4. LIGHT
CHIMNEY FLUE IT UP
ing) to give steak a mouth-watering sear.
Harvard professor and primatologist Rich-
In wintertime, cold air coming Light the paper. As it ignites, lean
ard Wrangham, Ph.D., suggests that the down your chimney can suppress larger pieces of tinder against the
invention of cooking fed evolution itself by a fire and push smoke into your hut. After those catch, add a fuel
unlocking energy-giving nutrients for our house. “Priming the flue” reverses log on top of the hut, being careful
ancestors’ evolving brains and bodies. the draft. To do this, roll up a spare not to smother the flames. To help
piece of newspaper, light one end the wood catch, blow air across the
In fact, Wrangham suggests that our
like a torch, and stick it up your bottom of the fire where the news-
digestive tracts evolved as a result of discov- chimney for a few moments. The paper meets the surface of the
ering cooking. Human guts are 56 percent rising hot air will push the cold air fireplace. Don’t have a fireplace tool
small intestine and 17 percent colon, while out of the chimney, allowing smoke set? Use sturdy metal kitchen tongs
those respective numbers for chimps are to escape. to move the wood around.
almost the opposite: 23 and 52 percent.

December 2019 73
Translation: Chimp guts are better at break- asset to society because it enabled all these
ing down plant fibers and meat collagen than high-temperature processes,” Rocke says.
human ones. We need blenders, food proces- “You can do some metallurgy without char-

A BRIEF HISTORY sors, and sweet, sweet heat to help our bodies
absorb food in a way our guts can handle, says
coal, but you can’t make iron or steel, both
of which require a blast furnace.”
OF FIREPROOFING* Rocke. It isn’t certain how the Hittites mass-
Around 10,000 BCE, our cavemen ances- produced malleable iron and steel, but
tors began to ditch hunting and gathering archaeologists are confident that blast
4000 BCE
in favor of the farming life, and our usage of furnaces operated in China as early as the
Ancient Greeks mined the fire diversified. We started baking, defend- 5th century BCE. Blast furnaces liquefy
toxic mineral asbestos— ing our land from predators (the flashpoint meta ls at 3,000°F. In ancient China ,
named for their word meaning of a sabertooth-warding wooden torch is this meant the introduction of cast iron,
“indistinguishable”—and used
572°F), and firing pottery (clay particles the ultra-malleable, ultra-rust-resistant
its fibrous crystals to make
wicks for candles and lamps. fuse at 1,650°F). You can do some things material the Western world has used in
with bowls made from reeds, says Rocke, cannons, bridges, and, yup, the cast iron
450 BCE “but to make containers useful for cook- skillet in your kitchen that can withstand
Greek historian Herodotus ing, you need fire.” 2,000°F.
reported the use of asbes-
tos shrouds in funeral pyres
to preserve a body’s ashes. EMBERS OF WARFARE EXPLOSION OF INDUSTRY
Meanwhile, the Romans
sewed asbestos fibers into When wood reaches its flashpoint, the heat No image captures the intersection of fire
tablecloths and napkins. exorcises impurities like water vapor, sul- and modern industry better than a burning
fur compounds, and nitrogen compounds, oil derrick’s column of flame. After Edwin
755
King Charlemagne of France
leaving essentially pure carbon behind— Drake drilled the first oil well in Pennsyl-
ordered an asbestos-woven charcoal. This substance burns hotter than vania in 1859, people began to refine that
tablecloth to prevent acciden- normal wood, and throughout history, more oil over a fire and distill it into some of the
tal fires (a major party foul) at heat has led to better tech. tentpole resources of modern life: kero-
his many feasts and fêtes. The Hittites were some of the most pro- sene, diesel, and gasoline, the last of which
lific iron producers of the Bronze Age could be boiled off and condensed between
1725
As the Italian government doled (3300–1200 BCE), and evidence suggests 104°–401°F.
out asbestos-fibered bank notes they were among the first ancient empires to Ea rly on, A mer ica ns used these
to their citizenry, Ben Franklin discover that they could prevent their tools resources mostly to illuminate our cit-
touted a purse made of the fire- and weapons from rusting by forging steel ies and homes, but in the mid-to-late 19th
proof material during a visit to
from iron and charcoal. When charcoal fuses century, gasoline became fuel for a more
England.
with iron ore, it acts as a reducing agent, adrenal, exciting purpose: helping us
1821 attracting oxygen away from the metal. It go far and go fast. The liquid-fuel inter-
French chemist Joseph Louis also lowers iron’s melting point. This lower nal-combustion engine burns a mixture
Gay-Lussac fused boron salts heat threshold allowed the Hittites to pro- of gasoline and air to create a combus-
with ammonium phosphate to
duce more durable iron weapons on a mass tion that expands gases inside the engine
create a fire-protective agent
for clothing, but the sub- scale. It also helped them gain trade lever- to push the pistons and rotate the crank-
stance’s high solubility meant age—in the 13th century BCE, a Hittite king shaft. This simple fire-powered design
that it came out in the wash. sent another ruler an iron dagger as appease- became the basis of modern transport,
ment—and gave them a tactical edge over from the Wright brothers’ plane at Kitty
1912
their bronze-bound opponents, including Hawk, to the refurbished Challenger 2,
British chemist William Per-
kins added stannic oxide—a the mighty ancient Egyptians. which topped 448 miles per hour and broke
heated solution of sodium “The invention of charcoal was a great the land speed record in 2018, to the 2,300-
stannate and ammonium sul-
fate—to Gay-Lussac’s mix. The
result could resist two years of
regular washing.

1957
*AND HOW TO MAKE YOUR FABRIC FLAME RESISTANT
American scientists Wilson
Reeves and J.D. Guthrie
found that reacting tetrakis Most fireproof clothing is made of heat-resistant aramid, modacrylic, and carbon
hydroxymethyl phospho- fibers. But you can achieve a similar effect with two household items.
nium chloride (THPC) with
other compounds creates
20 Mule Team Borax Alum powder
a fire-resistant resin that
1. Add 13 oz. of 20 1. Mix one pound of
keeps treated fabric strong
Mule Team Borax to alum with one pint
L A KOTA G A M B I L L

and lightweight. It’s inte-


one gallon of hot water. of hot water.
grated into many cotton
fabrics, including children’s
2. Let the powder dis- 2. Dip the material
sleepwear. solve, pour the solution into the solution,
into a spray bottle, shake, wet it completely,
spray, and let dry. then let dry.

74 December 2019
H OW TO
BUILD A A stone fire pit isn’t just a practical gathering point for your yard, it’s
BACKYARD more attractive than a temporary pit and less labor-intensive than a
masonry construction. Stone is affordable, too. We found this pit at
FIRE PIT a local home center for about $650, and it took two people only four
hours to construct. Here’s our advice for building your own.

THE SITE THE BASE T H E WA L L THE FIRE RING

Steer clear of low-hanging limbs and Dig a hole 4 inches deep bordered This pit’s wall consists of two layers Bolt together the steel fire ring
power lines, and don’t put the pit by the painted circle. Fill it with of wedge-shaped concrete blocks, (ours came in two pieces), place it
over or near a septic tank, leaching crushed stone (we used a few each with a clearly marked top and inside the concrete wall of the pit,
field, well head, or property line. wheelbarrows’ worth of 2A Mod- bottom. Position the inside edge of and use a rubber mallet to settle it
Check your local laws and permit ified, a common road-building each block 24 inches from the center into the crushed stone. Use more
requirements to ensure your site material) to a depth of about 2 of the pit and slot each block along- stone to fill the gap between the
will be far enough from both your inches, and compact it with a hand side the next to form a circle. The ring and the concrete wall. Add the
neighbor’s land and your own home. tamper. It’s important to build the blocks should fit just like a puzzle, capstones atop your wall. Lay the
Drive a stake in the center of your pit’s walls on a level surface, so to with the last fitting snug between pieces in position first to make sure
prospective site and loop a mason’s make sure the blocks align prop- the previous block and the first they’ll all align properly, and then
line around it. Tie the other end of erly and that the surface is flat, block. After the first tier is com- use a quarter-size glob of masonry
the line to a can of landscaping paint use a mason’s level before adjust- plete, use a straight piece of lumber adhesive to glue them into place.
so you can trace the circumference ing the crushed stone as needed. and a level to ensure it’s even before Finally, ring the pit with gravel and
of your pit. Ours was 102 inches in Level the stone where the pit will building the second tier. If you bring out some chairs. The pit will
diameter, which accommodated a be situated, but you don’t have to stagger the second tier so the safely contain a bonfire, and you
66-inch pit with an 18-inch band of be as fussy about the outer band seams don’t line up with the tier won’t have any ugly charred circles
gravel around it. of gravel. below, you’ll have a more stable wall. on your lawn later.

I L LU S T R AT I O N BY G E O R G E R E F S T E C K December 2019 75
The Chicago Fire of 1871
razed 17,450 buildings and
dealt $3.77 billion in damage
(adjusted for inflation).

THE ULTIMATE
CAMPFIRE JUST
NEEDS ONE PIECE
OF WOOD
Developed by Swedish
soldiers during the
Thirty Years’ War of
the 17th century, this
Swedish fire log is easy
to create and is loaded
with perks.

A NO-BRAINER BUILD
Find a log at least 8 inches in
diameter and 16 inches long
(make sure both ends are flat)
and stand it upright. Using an
axe or chainsaw, make 2 or 3
cuts down the length of the
ton diesel engines that power container with implementing combustion in our every- log as if you were slicing a pie,
stopping 5 inches above the
ships through the Panama Canal today. day lives.
base (some wire will hold the
“Gasoline had great advantages over Today, Rocke suggests that the advances log together if it starts to fall
electricity or gaseous fuels: energy density, wrought by fire have ironically taken us apart). Stack kindling atop
weight, volume,” Rocke says. “You needed past it. Many energy and power advances of the log at the intersection of
those differences if you were going to put the 20th century don’t involve combustion: the cuts and light. It will fall
through the cracks as it burns,
your power plant [your fuel source] on a mov- Nuclear energy relies on a physical reaction
lighting the log from the inside.
ing object.” rather than a chemical one, and renewable
In 1900, just 22 percent of American energies like solar, wind, and water power A N U LT R A- F O C U S E D
automobiles were powered by gas; but thanks skirt combustion’s literal explosiveness. We FLAME
to Henry Ford’s mass-production methods, understand now there are costs of powering Traditional fires can take
the invention of the self-starting ignition the world with fire, from deforestation to pol- hours to produce embers suit-
in 1912, and our newfound need for speed, lution to climate change. Going forward, we able for cooking or warming
your camp. But a Swedish fire
the internal-combustion engine gained have to reconcile these downsides with fire’s log’s contained heat makes it
supremacy among autos. Fire was powering awesome potential. hot enough for cooking in as

K E I T H L A N C E / G E T T Y I M AG E S (C H I C AG O F I R E) ; F R E S H O F F T H E G R I D (S W E D I S H F I R E LO G S)
us toward modern life. Because it is awesome. Fire sparks the little as 20 minutes. It’s less
reaction between aluminum and ammo- smoky and safer than classic
nium perchlorate that turns solid rocket fuel campfires, too.
SMOLDERING DANGERS into the driving force of space travel (NASA’s
A MAKESHIFT STOVE
This modernization put fire and combus- rocket boosters reach 5,000°F during
The log’s flat top makes it the
tion at the crossroads of practicality and launch). When fire is used to distill alcohol closest thing nature can give
danger once again. The early 1900s were a (which evaporates at 173°F), we’re treated to you to an actual stovetop, ideal
time fraught with fatal conflagrations. Chi- things like Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon for your coffee pot, cast-iron
cago’s Iroquois Theater fire in 1903 killed and Blanton’s Original. Every time you strike skillet, or Dutch oven. If you
use a hardwood like oak, it’ll
more than 600 people, and in 1910, the “Big a match, the stroke of friction between the
burn longer and hotter than a
Blowup” wildfire in Idaho, Washington, match head and the box turns the box’s red softwood fire log, like pine.
and Montana killed at least 85 people as it phosphorus to white, and it takes just 86°F for
reduced 3 million acres—an area about the white phosphorus to combust. Then you have S E L F-F E E DI NG
size of Connecticut—to ashes. These fires fire at your fingertips. Fires require constant
prompted changes: The Iroquois fire led to It’s hard not to stare at that little flame. resource management and
the invention of the emergency exit panic Simple combustion still inspires us at a basic, maintenance, but a Swedish
fire log’s inside-out design
bar for doors, and the “Big Blowup” led to primal level, whether we’re throwing another makes it self-ventilating and
the development of some prescribed-burn log on the fireplace or sitting around a back- self-sustaining. A substantial
containment techniques. But they also yard bonfire. As Rocke affirms: “Fire is so log can last as long as four
served as reminders of the risks that come elemental, it will never go away.” hours.

76 December 2019
“THAT’S RIGHT: I BUILT
A FLAMETHROWER.”

W
hen we brainstormed an somewhat reluctantly) the envy of I knocked out a design, ordered
element to take this story my friends, the chief concern of my parts, and blocked off some time in
over the top, someone loved ones, and maybe the top name the shop for the build. One important
joked that we should build on a watch list somewhere. thing to acknowledge: Although all
a flamethrower. After the The basic theory of flamethrower the parts are rated for use at 2,000
laughter and legality questions sub- operation is simple: An inert gas psi or higher, none is designed for
sided—flamethrowers are legal in 48 pressurizes a vessel holding fuel, the use in a flamethrower. We used CO2
states (they’re banned in Maryland fuel is released via a valve, and the at 800 psi with a regulator to control
and require a permit to be owned in fuel is ignited as it exits an orifice. pressure in our system. After a day in
California)—I said, “I can build one.” The biggest danger is the risk of the shop and a full pressure test with
T R E VO R R A A B

And with that, this project became fuel leaking from the connections water to check for leaks, we ended
as much about building a flame- between the components. Well, that up with one of the coolest toys—er,
thrower as about my becoming (only and the statement, “Hold my beer.” tools—ever. —Brad Ford

78 December 2019
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Tools
14
// BY ROY BERENDSOH N //

The 9
Best
Portable
Heaters
for Every
Space

I
F WINTER WERE JUST A
mat ter of fewer daylight
hours, most people could
probably manage it okay. But
it’s cold, too, making it both
a psychological and physical
battle. Many people respond
by using a portable heater—a
cheerful gadget that radiates
June in the middle of January—
in drafty rooms, home work areas,
chilly entryways, or the office
cubicle. These appliances are also
perfect for lowering the thermo-
stat elsewhere (saving you money)
and heating only a select room. We
called in a big batch—nearly two
dozen heaters in all—and tested
them to see how well and how
safely they work. Our test appli-
ances were divided into two broad
categories: electric and fuel-fired.
Some are fan-equipped, meaning cisely one control: the on/off want this thing in your living
they push heated air toward you H E AT STO R M
switch. Flip it, and the 16-inch room. Really, it’s best used at
H S -1 5 0 0 -T T
and into the living space. Others carbon-fiber heating element a construction site, on a patio,
are passive: They lack a fan and glows to nearly cherry red in or in a workshop. Its tripod
instead project infrared energy Price: $132 Type: Carbon- seconds. Its parabolic reflector allows you to adjust the height
toward you to conduct heat into filament infrared Watts: 1,500 bounces the infrared ray quite from three feet to a bit higher
Highest grill temperature: effectively. Don’t stand too than six feet. The HS-1500-TT
the air.
323°F Highest close, though; optimal distance would benefit from a cord
Read on to find a heater that recorded amps: 12.2 is several feet, and we could wrap—its heavy 13-foot cable
will see you through the cold Weight: 16.9 lb feel the warmth out to 12. This is fairly stiff and flops around
months ahead. Winter won’t seem Heat Storm is rated for outdoor without some means to keep it
as long with one at your side. This no-frills appliance has pre- and indoor use, but you don’t under control.

80 December 2019 P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E VO R R A A B


M R . H E AT E R M H 9 BX Mr. Heater estimates that,
when placed in an enclosed

Price: $114 Type: Propane,


space, the MH9BX can heat
up to 225 square feet with its
THE
gas-fueled BTUs: 4,000
(low) or 9,000 (high) Highest
infrared output. That’s a lot
of firepower in an appliance WAYS
HEATERS
grill temperature: 360°F about the size of a toolbox.
Highest recorded amps: If you need a longer run time
N/A Weight: 10.6 lb (with than this heater’s estimated
propane cylinder) three hours on high, you can
buy a kit that enables you
HEAT
Twist on a propane cylinder to hook it up to a 20-pound
L A S KO AW 31 5 and turn the ignition knob propane cylinder. As for its
to light—that’s all there is to safety, it’s equipped with
warming up a frosty space an oxygen-depletion sen-
Price: $109 Type: Electrical using this little gas-fired sor for operating in enclosed
ceramic Watts: 1,500 Highest dynamo. It’s noiseless and, areas plus a tip-over switch
grill temperature: 161°F according to our Flir cam- that shuts it off. Be warned: Radiation
Highest recorded amps: 12.2 era, produces a well-heated It doesn’t take much of a
Weight: 10.8 lb
A ray in the
four-foot circle of warmth. breeze to blow it out.
infrared
Our curiosity was piqued when (electromagnetic)
we saw that Lasko calls the spectrum that
AW315 “bladeless,” as if it lacked travels through
a fan. And in the truest sense, it
space, creating
does, using a multi-vane impeller
instead. It contributes to the appli-
heat energy when
ance’s quiet operation as it pulls it passes through a
in a fair amount of air through the solid (such as you,
base and into the tower. To Lasko’s furnishings,
credit, the company equipped objects, and
this heater with a cleanable air equipment) or a
filter, right outside the impeller,
structure (like
which you can access through a
tool-free hatch. We also liked the your home).
sleek touch pad on the front for
controlling the wattage, tower
oscillation, and the eight-hour
timer. The large amount of air-
flow and the appliance’s even heat
distribution does help it bring a
room or a large area up to a com- Convection
fortable temperature faster than Movement of
other heaters. If we had to pick heat energy
one gripe, it would be that the bat- through a fluid—
tery hatch on the remote needs either a gas
another trip through engineering.
(think air) or a
Taking it off? Forget about it.
liquid (such as
oil or water).

MARKEL 150TS duced by Markel Products


Company in Johnson City,
Tennessee, this rugged
Price: $190 Type: Elec- little unit is an all-steel
trical resistance Watts: appliance that’s well-built
1,500 Highest grill tem- and refreshingly retro, Conduction
perature: 146°F Highest in a 1970s sort of way. Heat energy
recorded amps: 11.4 It’s a pity this gem is this moves through
Weight: 9 lb expensive, but it oper- a solid, just by
ates smoothly, quietly, and
means of
It took some looking, but without vibration. Plus,
we found what we believe judging by the hardy build, direct physical
to be the last portable the 150TS might serve contact.
electric space heater still you a lifetime without
made in America. Pro- complaint.

December 2019 81
Tools
14

D E LO N G H I too hot. That’s no gim-


H F X65V1 5 L mick; added protection
with a portable heater
is a good idea. And
Price: $70 Type: the appliance is oth-
Electrical ceramic erwise fully equipped.
Watts: 1,500 High- Its dual ceramic heat-
est grill temperature: ing elements provide
263°F Highest two levels of output
recorded amps: 11.9 (high and low), and
Weight: 5.4 lb they can even be totally
switched off, allowing
The DeLonghi oscillat- the heater to function
ing tower heater is an as a low-speed fan. The
excellent product for timer has a 24-hour
several important rea- cycle, allowing you to
sons. First, it’s equipped designate on and off
with two forms of pro- periods. And the icing
tection—a tip-over on the cake? This was
switch will shut it off if the only heater with a
it falls, as will an over- remote that came with
heat switch if it gets a battery.

D E WA LT buildings under reno- it’s loaded, press the


DX H 14 0 K T H C vation. If your garage on switch, dial the ther-
qualifies as something mostat to the desired
close to that, so be it. We temperature, and watch
Price: $299 Type: Ker- found that it requires a it fire right up. We were
osene, liquid-fueled minimum of two gallons pleasantly surprised by
BTU: 140,000 Highest of fuel to fire reliably. Yet several things: its copi-
grill temperature: N/A the cap is in an inconve- ous heat output, how
Weight: 56.5 lb (with nient place below the little current it draws,
fuel) combustion-chamber and how, even after half
barrel, mystifying on an an hour of operation, the
The DeWalt is an otherwise well-engi- surface of the barrel was
extremely powerful and neered appliance. (We only warm to the touch.
robust heater designed recommend you get a An airspace between
for drafty areas, like long-neck flexible spout the barrel’s cover and its
construction sites and to fill the tank.) But once inner surface helps there.

You would think if a heater heats, it passes our tests, right? We wish it were that simple. ¶ We began
with a Fluke 345—a clamp-on amp meter and a power-quality test instrument—to check whether the appli-
ances drew more than their rated amperage. And using the meter’s oscilloscope, we examined each heater’s
How energy consumption on the high setting. Why? The energy-use profile tells you whether a heating element,
switch, or fan motor is misbehaving. Next, we used a thermocouple on a Fluke 233 meter to measure tempera-
We ture on each heater’s front to gauge whether it’s a burn hazard should you accidentally graze it. After that, we
Tested checked whether the appliances would shut off if tipped over: Many are equipped with a switch on the bottom
of their case that will cut the power if the heater should fall. Finally, we shot a thermographic picture of each
using a Flir C3 infrared camera to search for unusually hot areas or any anomaly that escaped our other tests.

82 December 2019
H O N E Y W E LL mid-height, or up high.
H C E 8 4 0 H E AT It’s also equipped with a
GENIUS phased timer that adjusts
the heat down over two
hours in a series of inter-
Price: $74 Type: Elec- vals, with each level lasting
trical ceramic Watts: for half an hour. After two
1,500 Highest grill tem- hours, the heater turns off
perature: 252°F Highest and remains off. Another
recorded amps: 12.5 feature that we like is the
Weight: 4.8 lb appliance’s Quiet Mode.
It shuts off the lower fan,
The aptly named Heat running just the upper fan
Genius is about as sophis- on low speed for almost
ticated as space heaters noiseless heat. Like with
get. It employs two verti- the Heat Storm, we do
cal heating elements, two wish Honeywell had
fans, and a thermostat. equipped this with a cord
You can set the fan speed wrap for better storage.
and temperature to heat But to be fair, it’s a design
a room, or you can set it deficiency shared by most
to heat just at floor level, small heaters.

VO R N A D O M V H D E LO N G H I
W H O LE R O O M T R S L S 071 5 E L
VO R T E X H E AT E R

Price: $80 Type: Electric,


Price: $60 Type: Elec- oil-filled radiator Watts:
trical resistance Watts: 1,500 Highest surface
1,500 Highest grill tem- temperature: 162°F
perature: 163°F Highest Highest recorded amps:
recorded amps: 11.4 11.9 Weight: 21.8 lb
Weight: 4 lb
This DeLonghi was the
Pound for pound, the test’s potbellied stove,
MVH is hard to beat. It’s you might say, just safer
a simple heater with a and more sophisticated.
circular resistance coil It has a thermostatic con-
and a three-blade fan trol, three heat settings,
that blows through a and a timer. But there’s
spiral-scroll grill. The no denying that it has a
result is surprisingly simple old-school look
quiet and evenly distrib- and feel. Nearly the entire
uted warm air. Its heat surface gets piping hot—
output can be adjusted the thermographic view
to low (750 watts), through the Flir showed
medium (1,125), or high a bright yellow box-
(1,500). The grill tem- shaped hunk of heat. Like
perature we recorded a stove, it will set up a
may seem high, but it’s convection current, with
certainly not objection- hot air rising from it to
able. The case stays the ceiling, sinking back
cool to the touch, and down along the walls,
Vornado molded a con- toward the heater, and
venient handhold into up again. Keep in mind
the back. Sitting at floor that oil heaters have nar-
level, the MVH is bound row applications, and
to pull in lint and dust. they’re most effective
Ideally, the guts would positioned in the center
be protected with an air of a space with still air. If
filter, to avoid a fire haz- that’s not what you need,
ard. But since the MVH or you don’t want to give
doesn’t have one, be a heater prime real estate
careful to vacuum the in the middle of your liv-
appliance regularly. ing room, look elsewhere.

December 2019 83
15
// BY A DRIEN NE DONICA A N D JA MES LY NCH //

The Warm,
Waterproof
Boots You Want
This Winter

T
H E P R E VA I L I N G T R E N D proofing, durability, style, and (in
among boots this winter? the case of the dedicated winter
Lightweight, low-profile, boots) warmth of each pair. We
comfortable designs that hiked for hundreds of miles on
don’t sacrifice perfor- dirt, grass, and gravel trails, on
mance, whether you’re sunny days and after rainstorms,
wearing them to tromp across the Northeast and national
through deep snow drifts, get parks in the West. To assess water-
out for a quick hike in what little proofing, we held the boots in EDITORS’ CHOICE

sunlight there is, or simply stay several inches of water for at least LA SPORTIVA
upright on icy sidewalks. Here, we 10 minutes to measure how much,
review the best snow, casual, and if at all, they leaked. Finally, we
NUCLEO GTX
hiking boots this winter. tested how well the snow boots $199
Before hitting the pavement insulate by measuring their inter-
HEIGHT WEIGHT
and the trail, we consulted with nal temperature with an infrared High 1 lb. 0.7 oz.
experts, read customer reviews, thermometer before and after
and searched for the season’s top placing each in a cooler filled with UPPER

options. In the course of testing, ice water for five minutes. Yes, we Leather and synthetic
we evaluated the cost, weight, were hard on them, but that’s how
traction, support, comfort, water- we know they’ll hold up. When you aren’t quite sure where your
adventures will take you, it’s not a bad
idea to have a pair of La Sportiva’s
Nucleo on your feet. The burly high-top
boot might look intimidating, but it fits
Most boot makers use synthetic insulation— beautifully, striking a good balance of
such as 3M Thinsulate, PrimaLoft, or their support and cushioning without a ton
How own proprietary material—because it works
of bulk or weight. The grippy Vibram
sole is designed with what La Sportiva
Insulation better when wet than wool or down. It traps calls the Impact Brake System—a set of
your body’s warmth in air pockets within the grooves running along the width of the
Keeps You fabric. Engineers intertwine strands of syn- heel—which it says increases traction
by 20 percent while reducing impact
Warm thetic fibers (often polyester) within the boots.
The smaller the strands are, the more air pock- on your body. The large toe cap and
Gore-Tex Surround waterproof lining
ets there will be. And that retains more warmth, explains Ken Cox, protect you from rugged and wet con-
lead application engineering specialist at the 3M Thinsulate Global ditions. Our one complaint? The laces
Design Lab. It also means that insulation is often comprised more of will slip off the top hooks if you tie them
L A KOTA G A M B I L L

air than anything else—the Thinsulate used in footwear is made of too loosely.
microfibers with diameters of six microns (human hair measures 25
or more) and is about 95 percent trapped air.

84 December 2019
M O S T C O M F O R TA B L E

ON CLOUDROCK
$230

HEIGHT WEIGHT UPPER


Mid 15.7 oz. Mesh

The Cloudrock is the first hiking boot from On, a Swiss running
shoe brand, and it didn’t disappoint. Though the ankle was
a bit stiff at first, the boot delivers unmatched comfort. It’s
lightweight, breathable, and cushions your feet exceptionally
well without sacrificing support. Our tester actually said it felt
like she was walking on clouds the first time she wore the
boot. (In a way, she was; On calls its trademark odd-looking
pods on the outsole, which are meant to squish as you step
to absorb impact, “clouds.”) Surprisingly, no rocks or twigs
got stuck in them—a problem with other On shoes. And the
proprietary outsole rubber kept us sure-footed regardless
of the conditions on the trail. Unfortunately, all that comfort
comes at a steep price.

the fleece-lined upper. That,


combined with the EVA mid-
sole, made for a comfortable fit,
though our tester found there
$110 was more room around the calf
than with other boots. We also
discovered the laces are too
UPPER
thick to slide easily under and
Leather
around the low-lying hooks at
the top of the lacing system.
(If you don’t want to fuss with
lacing, The North Face sells a
slip-on version of the Chilkat.)
Still, we liked the boot’s flexibil-
ity, and the winterized rubber
soles promise good traction in
slippery conditions. Be wary
of wet weather, though: The
seam connecting the rubber
to the leather upper let in the
most water of any boot in the
test—12 ounces, to be precise.

December 2019 85
Outdoor
15 Stuff

BEST FITTING

MAMMUT DUCAN KNIT


HIGH GTX
$249

HEIGHT WEIGHT
High 1 lb. 8 oz.

UPPER
3D-knit textile

B E S T F O R E V E R Y D AY U S E Forsake designed this light-


weight boot, and its women’s
FORSAKE equivalent, the Patch, to feel
WILSON almost as comfortable as
$150 a sneaker. With a soft EVA
foam midsole, a cushioned
upper, and a gusseted mesh
HEIGHT WEIGHT
tongue, the Wilson is soft,
Mid 1 lb. squishy, and fairly breath-
able for a leather shoe. We
UPPER felt no hot spots after wear-
Full-grain leather, ing the boots for 10 hours
suede, and mesh straight. However, follow-
ing heavy outdoor use, the
Wilson showed scuffs and
abrasions—not unexpected
for a shoe that’s more front-

This cold-weather hiking boot


has a low-key profile that makes
it good for many things, including
M O S T V E R S AT I L E
just walking around town. The
OBOZ BRIDGER comfortably snug fit works best
7-INCH INSULATED with thin socks; luckily the boot
has 200-gram 3M Thinsulate and
WATERPROOF a thermal insole that reflects heat
$185 back toward your toes. Despite
lots of stitching on the upper, the
HEIGHT WEIGHT boot stayed dry inside during our
High 1 lb. 4.5 waterproof test, thanks to Oboz’s
BDry membrane and the gusseted
UPPER tongue. Our one complaint is that
Nubuck leather the lace loop on the tongue makes
untying the shoes cumbersome.

86 December 2019
EDITORS’ CHOICE

KAMIK NATION
PLUS
$85
$380
HEIGHT WEIGHT UPPER
WEIGHT Tall 1 lb. 13 oz. Suede
1 lb. 13 oz.

Costing less than $100, a pair of the Kamik Nation Plus is a


bargain. But the boot can still handle winter’s worst. Its tall
height protects you when tromping through deep snow,
and the seam-sealed construction and large rubber shell
surrounding your foot keep moisture out. (The boot stayed
completely dry during our waterproofing test.) Insulated with
a 200-gram 3M Thinsulate removable liner, this boot—and
the women’s version, the Momentum 2—has a temperature
rating down to –40°F. In our insulation test, it was one of the
top performers. The Nation Plus felt plush underfoot even
after we wore it for hours, and the soft lining didn’t scratch.

warmth, and the solid leather


construction may dig into your
ankles at first.

BES T FOR L IGHT A ND FAS T ple EVA midsole kept our feet
feeling light, as if we were wear-
MERRELL ing running shoes. The high cuff
ZION WATER - lent confidence, even on trails
in the Tetons with loose, bas-
PROOF MID ketball-size rocks. We did find
$150 the Zion a tad hot, especially
in the toe box, where leather
HEIGHT WEIGHT and rubber give protection but
Mid 14.5 oz. limit venting. You may overlook
that, though, if you prize staying
UPPER dry—the boot sloughed off all
Mesh and leather the water we stomped through.
And, even when loose, the gus-
seted tongue kept debris out.
The Zion looks cool, but don’t The Zion is a great day hiker,
let its appearance fool you. The but the sneaker construction
Vibram Megagrip sole afforded means it’s not ideal when you’re
plenty of traction, and the sup- carrying heavy loads.

December 2019 87
Editors’
16 Choice
// AWA R D-W IN NING TOOLS A ND GE A R RIGOROUSLY VETTED BY OUR TEST TE A M // BY A DRIEN NE DONICA //

Fa rm to Feet Nemo Rave 30


Cascade Locks Socks Sleep ing Ba g

Made in North Carolina with With a large hood that has


materials produced in the a built-in pillow pocket,
U.S., Farm to Feet’s Cascade the spoon-shaped Nemo
Locks three-quarter crew Rave 30—and Disco 30, for
sock fits securely and com- men—retains heat like a
fortably, with padded zones mummy bag should with-
from heel to toe that reduce out leaving you feeling as
rubbing and boost durability. constricted. We could easily
The blend of nylon, mois- move around within the bag
ture-wicking merino wool, and sleep on our side but
and Lycra spandex flexes still stayed warm on a 33°F
with your foot and offers night, thanks to the 650-fill,
slight compression from the water-resistant down insu-
lower calf down to the arch lation, the silky smooth draft
while still providing maxi- collar, and the draft tube
mum comfort. $23 along the zipper. From $260

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Luxury sleeping pads might seem like an oxymoron to some,


but the Comfort Plus delivers an exceedingly cushy place to rest
at the end of the day. Three inches thick at full inflation, this
self-inflating pad has a nonslip grip pattern on the bottom to
keep it in place throughout the night and is designed with Sea
to Summit’s Delta Core technology—polyurethane foam that
has triangle-shaped chambers within to reduce bulk and weight
while still boasting a respectably warm 4.1 R-value. From $140

P H OTO G R A P H Y BY T R E VO R R A A B

88 November 2019
Wa hoo Kickr Core
B i ke Tra i ner

The Kickr Core is compact


for easier storage without
sacrificing performance.
This direct-drive trainer
uses a 12-pound flywheel,
can simulate climbs up to
16 percent, and integrates
with Zwift, MyFitnessPal,
and other apps. Wahoo
promises that it measures
power up to 1,800 watts.
And in our attempts to
max it out, it felt smooth
and stable. $900

M ilwaukee M18 Fuel


½" H igh -Torq ue
I m pac t Wrench

Finding a best-in-class
impact wrench is no small
task—most models these
days are so good that
judging their subtle perfor-
mance differences can feel
like nitpicking. That’s not
the case with this Milwau-
kee and its sheer power.
The compact tool has four
modes, including 1,000
foot-pounds of fastening
torque and a bolt-removal
setting. $449 for tool and
battery

We put the latest tools, outdoor gear, and tech through the wringer every day in the
Pop Mech Test Zone. Only the best of the best earn the Editors’ Choice Award. Every
product here has been thoroughly evaluated by our team, and each offers exceptional
performance, durability, value, or innovation—or a combination of all those traits. This
is the stuff that makes every project or adventure easier and more enjoyable.
17
// BY JOE LIN DSE Y //

B
share videos. To do that, you’d
The Tiny
EFORE YOUTUBE, IF YOU
w a nt e d t o r epl a ce a need a major production studio.
balky starter motor in Yo uTu b e r S c o t t y K i l m e r

Action your Hyundai Elantra,


you had to find a copy
of a Haynes manual and
remembers the change clearly.
The celebrity mechanic went from
hosting the Crank It Up car repair

Cam That puzzle out the repair


yourself from instructions and
show on CBS, with $150,000 cam-
eras, pro lighting, and “all that

Made Us exploded diagrams. If you needed


to run an electrical circuit in your
home, you turned to Renovation.
horseshit,” to starting his own
YouTube channel in 2007. He’s
since racked up 2.7 million sub-

All DIYers Now we consult the omnipresent


video sharing platform, where
homemade bits of footage show
scribers. To do it, all he needed
was a laptop with some editing
software and a small selection
us how to tackle almost any proj- of affordable consumer digital
ect. Those videos were shot with cameras. Among them: a GoPro,
L A KOTA G A M B I L L

or made possible by a little cam- with its remarkable (for the time)
era called the GoPro. wide-angle lens, which was espe-
Before its creation, there was cially useful for getting shots
no easy way to shoot, edit, and inside tight spaces.

90 December 2019
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Compared to modern versions YouTube exploded and creators


of the GoPro, the original in 2004 flooded the site with content, a
was a chunky plastic brick in a GoPro Hero was the tool most
waterproof case. The whole thing reached for. Nothing else offered
cost just $20. It didn’t even shoot the performance in such a porta-
digital images. Instead, it used ble, rugged, affordable package.
35mm film. Last year, GoPro sold 4.3 mil- 2

“The first GoPro was really lion cameras worldwide, and it


just a wrist camera to capture claims 88 percent market share of
my friends surfing,” said Nick the action-cam category in the U.S.
Woodman, its inventor, in 2014. But the company faces increasing
It was, as he called it, “the orig- pressure from conventional digital
inal selfie.” Two years after its cameras and smartphones, which
debut, the GoPro went digital and feature higher-quality optics and,
shot to popularity on the back in the case of the smartphones,
of athletes who spread both the faster and more seamless ways to

CO U R T E S Y D R I F T ( T I M E L A P S E) ; CO U R T E S Y G O P O L E (D O M E) ; CO U R T E S Y L I G H T & M OT I O N (S I D E K I C K ) ; CO U R T E S Y G O P R O (R E M OT E) ; CO U R T E S Y P O L A R P R O (S H U T T E R)
selfie style and POV shots that get footage from the device to the
are now ubiquitous in the DIY internet. Though GoPros still have
video community. their place; Kilmer says he now
GoPro’s early adoption of new uses action cams mostly for tight
tech was essential to its growth. shots he couldn’t get otherwise,
The first digital verison (2006) like dropping one into a motorcy-
recorded 10-second VGA clips, cle gas tank to show corrosion. 4
without sound, to 32MB of inter- For decades, we’ve known video
nal flash memory. By contrast, is an ideal format for instruction.
the first iPhone didn’t hit stores It’s like having a personal guide
until 2007, and its video capabil- with you at every step, and takes
ity didn’t come until 2009’s 3GS. the mystery and intimidation
Most important, GoPro’s wide out of things. Tasks that seemed
field of view, easy controls and complex are often revealed to be
autofocus, and broad ISO range simple (though not always easy).
that adapted to all kinds of light- The emerging tech housed in
ing conditions made capturing those little GoPros, timed per-
video easy. fectly with the launch of YouTube,
The other key catalyst was You- made creating those videos easier.
Tube, launched in 2005 just after Now that we have capable con-
the first Hero; without it, GoPro tributors armed with GoPros, the
never would have seen such wide- power to accomplish almost any
spread adoption. For five years, as project is a search query away. 5

5 TOOLS 1 DRIFT
TIMELAPSE /
2 GOPOLE DOME
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4 G O PR O S M A R T
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5 P O L A R PR O
SHUTTER / $60

PROS USE
$2 5 This hockey- Capture striking D U O / $1 3 0 Control your GoPro This three-pack
puck-shaped device surf shots above Sometimes, there’s from up to 600 of filters lets you
spins 360 degrees and below the just not enough light. feet away with this control the light
TO GET KILLER to capture stunning
panoramas, and
waterline with this
dome-style water-
L&M’s Sidekick Duo
cranks out 600 lu-
wearable remote. It
can adjust settings,
entering a GoPro
Hero8, giving you

SHOTS fits cameras with a


standard ¼-inch tri-
proof housing that
fits Hero versions
mens in a 90-degree
flood or 23-degree
start/stop record-
ing, and snap still
more control of
the exposure in
pod screw mount. 5 through 7. spot pattern. images. any light condition.

92 December 2019
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POPULAR MECHANICS (ISSN 0032-
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Imperial Metric (1) What better source of inspiration than the human brain? Deep learning, which is only
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izing the world. (2) We spend most of our time on the journey. We better be having fun doing
Moon Mars so. (3) Of course, caffeinated! That’s the whole point! (4) Just like the majority of people in
the field, I program my deep learning algorithms in Tensorflow and use its Python API.
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Python is really the established language of AI. (5) I work in an open office space, so a pair
Instructions Innovation7 of noise-canceling headphones is a must. (6) Reinforcement learning is more creative.
Something I find intriguing about RL is that it can solve decision-making problems in ways
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we humans can’t think of (just like it solved chess and Go). We’re going to see revolutioniz-
GPU TPU ing applications of it in the coming years. (7) Innovation is what unlocks the future.

100 December 2019 P H OTO G R A P H BY J E S S I C A C H O U


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