Archives : 2016 : November

How to Survive Snow, Cold, Fire, Zombies and Everything Else This Winter

November 29th, 2016

defense-gov_news_photo_081014-f-4127s-200Survival has been around almost as long as human beings have been on the earth. For thousands of years, we were pretty bad at staying alive. We ate twigs and berries. Our fires were too small to stare into and think about stuff. Our tools were basically regular rocks that happened to be pointier than other rocks. Our species was on the verge of total disaster.

But suddenly, as if overnight, we grew tired of dying from things like lions and the common cold, so we invented guns and medicine. We realized we didn’t need to walk everywhere, so we invented wheels and put them under metal boxes, and we called the boxes cars. In olden times, people needed friends just to survive, so we invented Mark Zuckerberg, who invented Facebook, which saved us from the time-consuming effort of making and sustaining real friendships. We liked it.

Since the past, mankind has even settled in Northern Canada, which goes to show how far people will take things once they know how to survive. A few surviving records even show how we survived without power steering, but how this was possible remains a mystery to Millennials.

Despite how good we have become at surviving, many of us still experience an event called winter.* Winter brings many challenges to survival, including snow, cold weather, zombie armies and interestingly enough, more house fires. You need the proper tools at hand if you want to live through these things. Lucky for you, BendPak has put together the ultimate winter survival guide to get you through anything.

*Reference page included for residents of Texas, Southern California, Florida and Hawaii. Also see: snow.

Snow tire chains wrapped around a car tire in the snow.

Snow chains

Get your tires ready for snow
Some states limit the use of winter tire chains. There’s something about steel on concrete and asphalt multiplied by a hundred thousand cars that just doesn’t “mix.” (And yes, we think that was a pretty “concrete” joke.) Tire chains just might come in handy, especially if you’re being chased by an axe-wielding maniac through a blizzard and need a quick getaway through a snow-blocked mountain pass… but that might just be The Shining. Anyway, if you live in snowy, or remote areas, make sure your tire chain situation is appropriately covered.

Jumper cables locked and loaded
Your backseat or trunk should always have a pair of jumper cables. If you lent yours to a buddy this spring, now is a good time to ask for them back. It’s one of those items everyone seems to forget about until after-the-fact. Having them increases the odds you won’t have to wait very long on the side of the road for a jump. Plus, if one single person happens to rescue another single person simply by being prepared, and the rescuer says something original like, “Hey, guess you owe me a coffee,” well, that’s a great story to tell your grandkids. They’ll love hearing you tell it too many times.

A set of red and black jumper cables.

Jumper cables

Battery health
Check that battery rust and grime. Clear it off. Roadside emergencies won’t be so bad if you have a working battery (i.e., heat). Battery cleanings are often complimentary at service stations when you order a tune-up or get other work done. If you own a multimeter, in addition to cleaning, you can check for yourself that your battery voltage is between 12.4 and 12.7 volts.

Zombies
Male zombie with greenery behind him.Don’t get bit. Aim for the head. Close range weaponry preferred for maximum effect. Trust no one.

Candles and other fire hazards
According to Allstate Insurance™, the holly, jolly holiday season is a not-so-jolly house-on-fire for an average of 67,500 homeowners. That’s a 15% seasonal increase compared to the rest of the year. Why? Because for some reason, people forget about surviving this time of year and do foolish things. For one, they light millions of scented candles and put up in their homes these big, flammable trees, and all of this has the potential to spell disaster. It seems like common sense to keep candles away from curtains, drapes, pine needles and carpet, but accidents always find a way to happen. If you’re using candles in your home, treat each little flame as if it were an open, roaring fire: clear the area of flammables and make sure it’s clear of walkways, just in case someone trips and falls near it. Additionally, people consume more alcohol in the winter (probably sad they don’t live in Southern California), which historically isn’t good for survival, either.

Bad choices and distractions
Don’t drink and drive, and try to stay off the road late at night, if at all possible, especially during the holidays. For many households, winter means more distractions, less attentive behaviors, etc. In general, we all just need to be a little more careful. Also, never light an open candle in your car. December 25th is not the Fourth of July; midnight on New Year’s Eve is not a fireworks parade.

People get robbed more frequently
Robberies/break-ins spike 7% during the holidays. After all, the kids aren’t the only ones trying to guess what’s wrapped under the tree, especially when the tree—and everything beneath it—is in plain view of a large, street-facing window. Keep your presents out of sight or else close the blinds. Be especially careful to lock every door this time of year, especially at night. If you can’t pull your car indoors, two things need to happen. One, don’t leave anything valuable in your car. Two, if there is something in there that you can’t or won’t remove, keep it out of sight. Purses and wallets go without saying, but bags of any kind should be hidden or removed. Sunglasses, your GPS device, etc. should be kept out of sight.

Snow brush and ice scraper
The dual-purpose winter car tool is virtually essential for winter living, not just emergencies. They’re cheap, effective and will grant you three wishes to make you rich and famous beyond your wildest dreams.

Snow scraper getting snow off windshield.

Snow scraper

Survival kit items
The best way to survive an emergency is to have something on hand that literally has the word “survival” in the name. Depending on where you live, some of these items may be mandatory winter accessories, not necessarily reserved for emergencies. In any case, a winter roadside survival kit will get you through most emergency situations with all nine of your remaining toes intact. Survival kits are actually pretty easy to make and should include the following:

woobie

Military-issued “woobie”

Blankets
Take those old winter coats, hats and gloves that are a little beat up, covered in a permanent layer of dried winter snot or don’t fit perfectly anymore and store them in the trunk, enough for several passengers. Add blankets and/or sleeping bags, depending on how cold it tends to get around you.

As it turns out, those thin, shiny “space blankets” aren’t what they’re sometimes cracked up to be. They are essentially heat reflectors, and the wind and rain blow right through them. If you’re stuck in your car in an overnight emergency situation, this blanket type might work, as long as it keeps dry and close to your skin. If you start to sweat, however, the blanket will reflect your cooled body temperature back at you, making it less effective, possibly useless. Arguably, the best blanket item you can spring for is the so-called U.S. military “woobie,” or dual-purpose poncho liner and emergency blanket. Woobies melt the hearts and minds of the most tested and experienced soldiers. Why? Because anything this perfect is worth melting for. They’re waterproof, windproof, comfortable and fully insulated

Flashlight and extra batteries
Some form of battery-powered light is ideal. This could be an electric lantern, flashlight, etc. Extra batteries should be considered mandatory.

Flares
This is on the fancy-extreme side of the survival kit, but wouldn’t it be great to have if you rolled your SUV down a hill, broke your leg and needed some way to signal for help? Yes, that’s unlikely to happen. In general, flares aren’t the most necessary emergency item, but if you’re in a remote area without a lot of human contact or traffic, you might think twice before going without one.

Fire
Hopefully, it never comes to the fire-building stage of your survival adventure, as this means things have gotten pretty dicey. Still, a little flame-based warmth can be the difference between life and death. If you’re really fancy, you can pull some of the dryer lint from your home dryer, store it in a plastic baggie, and with a few matches or a lighter, you now you have the best fire-starting kit in town. If you’re stranded somewhere remote, you can actually use small fires to heat rocks (like in a sauna).

Food and water
Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty obvious. Don’t store fruit and vegetables in your car, unless they’re of the dried or dehydrated variety. High-energy foods like trail mix and protein bars are your best bets. As lovers say, “Honey, bring the chocolate.” You can never have enough water bottles, either. Ever.

First aid
You can buy one ready-made or put it together yourself. The American Red Cross has its own guidelines for a good first aid kit, and for $250.00, you can purchase the whole shebang: a full emergency kit with first aid, food, water, first aid, blankets, light, etc.

Full emergency kit with food, water, lights, etc.

Full emergency kit

TL;DR: Prepare for the cold this winter by adhering to a few common-sense survival tips. Make sure you have tire chains, if necessary, and get your car trunk stocked with blankets, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, food, water, etc. Furthermore, lock your doors to protect your home from robberies, and be wary of open flames in the household this holiday season.

Transform Your Garage with a Gunmetal Gray Car Lift

November 23rd, 2016

Since we announced the BendPak color shift from blue to Gunmetal Gray, we’ve gotten a huge response over the web. We didn’t make this choice blindly, of course; we spent months gathering opinions from customers and distributors, and overwhelmingly, the public call was for us to make the change to Gunmetal Gray. So, who are we to argue? We’re excited about this change because it marks a new chapter in BendPak’s storied history as one of the most successful and longest-running car lift manufacturers in the world.

While a minority out there has been hesitant to accept the change to Gunmetal Gray, we’re sure that when people see what these beautiful lifts look like in their garages, they’ll lose their fears very quickly. To help that process along, we’ve taken some four-post lift photos our customers sent us recently and digitally changed the lifts from blue to Gunmetal Gray. Hopefully this demonstrates why we’re making the change.

The overall contrast in this garage—comparing the two pictures below—is very clear. The original blue pops out and leaves a very obvious visual footprint in the garage. When you compare this to the effect of the Gunmetal Gray, you see the latter is much more at home in the shop. The BendPak blue will always have a place in our hearts, but it’s shocking how cleverly the Gunmetal Gray blends with the DeLoreans. We think the new color also lends itself better for showrooms. If you’re displaying a rare or classic car, like a DeLorean, you want a solid, functional car lift that looks great but doesn’t draw attention to itself.

DeLorean on blue BendPak two-post car lift

DeLorean on Gunmetal Gray BendPak two-post car lift

In the shots below, notice how your eye is quickly drawn to the vehicles. In the past, when we were a younger and smaller company, we liked the extra attention on ourselves. Now that we’ve made our mark in the industry and you folks know that BendPak stands for the utmost in quality and reliability, we trust our name alone makes the difference for our customers—more than any color ever could—and that’s something that’s never going to change.

Yellow car under and white car over on blue BendPak four-post car lift

Yellow car under and white car over on Gunmetal Gray BendPak four-post car lift

Yet another great example why Gunmetal Gray is a better color for servicing and displaying classic custom rebuilds. The original car lift nearly pops off the page; in fact, the vibrant blue appears almost as prominent as the car itself. That’s not necessarily what you want if you’re into classic builds. The Gunmetal Gray version, in our opinion, is much sleeker and sexier, especially because it helps emphasize the car. The individual who sent us this photo was initially skeptical but pleased with the result when we showed him what his garage would look like in the new color scheme. Can’t say we’re surprised!

Red classic car on blue BendPak four-post lift

Red classic car on Gunmetal Gray BendPak four-post lift

The Camaro-lover in this last example has two beautiful cars that look great on our blue lift. With Gunmetal Gray, it’s clear BendPak is moving itself out of the limelight. Typical garage environments don’t necessarily demand a bright blue car lift to announce itself at all times, but if you do want the blue, we will be retaining it for special orders. That means there will be an extra service fee, but we always do our best to accommodate everyone’s preferences.

Blue Chevy Camaro under and red Chevy Camaro over on blue BendPak four-post car lift

Blue Chevy Camaro under and red Chevy Camaro over on Gunmetal Gray BendPak four-post car lift

Inside Look: Everything You Need to Know about the RP-50FC Oil Filter Crusher

November 21st, 2016

Ranger Products RP-50FC important features
The first feature we look at in an oil filter crusher is how easily it flattens metal filter casings. The RP-50FC oil filter crusher applies 25 tons of force, so it even works on thick, stubborn truck filters that can cause trouble for lesser machines. The other important thing we need to look at is how much oil is actually drained out. This is where a lot of small businesses can get into trouble. Our crusher gets 95% of residual oil out of the filter, and it gravity drains the oil runoff into a collection bin beneath the crushing compartment. Because the RP-50FC is so powerful, it takes about 8 seconds to crush most cans down to 20% of their original size. We’re also proud of safety features like the automatic shutoff if the compartment door is opened during operation, as well as the convenient foot-pedal controls, which add versatility to how you control all major operations.

Man operating Ranger Products RP-50FC Oil Filter Crusher

The development process
Oil filter casings are a common byproduct of every quick-lube station and repair shop, no matter what kind of work they do. Before the crushing process, these oil filters are filled with up to 10 oz. of waste oil, even if they’ve been gravity-drained. Therefore, these filters are considered hazardous waste and need to be properly handled and disposed of by licensed transporters, which is expensive and totally on the shop owner to pay for. The RP-50FC ensures your oil-heavy filters are flattened, emptied and totally reduced to scrap metal. In other words, using the RP-50FC means these casings will no longer be considered hazardous waste. If you’re not using a good filter, and there’s still waste oil in there after crushing, your whole businesses gets smacked with huge government fines, in addition to any standard disposal fees. Some especially strict laws have recently sprung up in California, but it’s everywhere, really. These fines are serious: up to $10,000 per violation per day. Our crusher gives you great peace of mind, so you don’t have to stress about it. The best part is that the RP-50FC pays for itself. All the used oil you’ve collected can also be repurposed or recycled, so now you have separate oil and metal casings that can actually earn you profit just for doing your job.

Improvements from past models
We need to make sure that we’re offering bigger and better versions of our existing products whenever a need for them exists. Our previous model, the RP-20FC oil filter crusher, is still great for flattening common oil filter casings and paint cans, but the RP-50FC is bigger, offers more than twice the crushing power and comes with a built-in stand. Some of those larger oil filters, like ones you see on commercial trucks and transport vehicles, are pretty robust, and we wanted to make sure we provide a machine that will handle those products flawlessly.

Saving time and money
Foot pedal for Ranger Products RP-50FC oil filter crusherIt’s a no-brainer, honestly. Under the definition of “solid waste,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that “recycled hazardous scrap metal is a solid waste when disposed of or recycled.” However, untrained or uncrushed filters contain too much oil to qualify for the scrap metal exemption. There are few options for disposing of non-terne plated filters (most commonly used).

  • The generator could crush the oil filter using the most appropriate crushing method to force excess residual oil from the filter. As a best operating practice, the EPA recommends that used oil filters are crushed to ensure that all free-flowing oil is removed and to make certain the crushed filters qualify for the hazardous scrap metal recycling exemption. The used oil and metal casings can then be recycled and sold for profit.
  • Alternately, puncture and hot-drain to remove the oil. This means puncturing the filter anti-drain back valve or the filter dome end and draining the filter above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (preferably near engine operating temperature) for a minimum of 12 hour to remove the oil. The used oil filters are then exempt from the hazardous waste regulations. The used oil and metal casings can then be recycled and sold for profit.
  • Pay exorbitant fees to have the used oil filters collected as hazardous waste.
  • Gravity drain the used filters by tipping them upside down and letting the oil slowly drain. In this method they are still considered hazardous waste. Costly collection fees will still apply.

With heightened awareness and scrutiny regarding the disposal of used oil filters, many processing facilities won’t even accept uncrushed filter casings anymore. Another plus for mechanics is anyone can get trained on these machines in a matter of minutes. You put the filter in, close the door to the compartment and depress the green button. If you let go, the process stops. The oil that gets squeezed out is automatically collected through a flexible tube, so virtually every aspect of the oil removal and collection process is handled for you.

These Car Lift Safety Tips Could Save Your Life

November 18th, 2016

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a good mechanic. Despite our skills—sometimes—experience is our downfall. We think we can get away with little mistakes here and there, and we hope they don’t catch up to us. It’s called being lucky, and we’re usually lucky more than we’re unlucky. So yes, almost every mechanic has a story about a narrow escape(s). But there are also the costly mistakes, and it’s our job to help you prevent them.

The last time we wrote about cable inspections and two-post safety, we received a lot of positive feedback from well-meaning folks who admitted they hadn’t been keeping up with things. That’s inspiring to us, so we’re back with a few shop safety MUSTS to keep you healthy and profitable for many years to come.

The overhead safety switch / shutoff bar
The overhead bar serves a critical purpose. Because the lift arms can only rise when the power unit button is manually—and continuously—depressed, the shutoff bar kills electrical flow to the power unit if touched by the roof of any vehicle. Obviously a useful tool for keeping your vehicle from smashing into the overhead bar or going through the roof (only a slight exaggeration).

BendPak Gunmetal Gray asymmetrical two-post lift showing overhead shutoff safety bar

BendPak XPR-10AS two-post lift with overhead shutoff bar

That shutoff bar you rarely pay attention to is there to protect you in the event of emergencies. It prevents your vehicle from smashing into the upper cross beam and literally going through the roof. With a properly working shutoff bar, heavy trucks and SUVs might not make it to the lift’s max extension. In other words, taller vehicles need to be stopped before the arms have completely risen. Operators who disable this bar in order to get a couple extra inches of lift, even if they’re very careful, are taking life-threatening risks. A large vehicle could get its roof crushed or else compromise the integrity of the lift. However, even when properly installed, the bar only works if you follow this next step…

BendPak Gunmetal Gray asymmetrical two-post lift showing overhead shutoff safety bar

Using the proper lifting points keeps vehicles balanced, even with loaded flatbeds.

Car should be properly positioned at all times on two-post lift
Basic auto mechanic safety protocol is too often ignored. We all know that vehicles positioned over a two-post lift should have all four lift pads positioned under the vehicle at the manufacturer’s recommended lifting points. We all know this to be true, but too often we leave cars parked in compromising positions (e.g., letting the vehicle rest on the floor with uneven or improper pad placement). BendPak makes the finest car lifts out there. That doesn’t mean we think you should cut corners on safety. Things can still go wrong:

– Someone thinks the lift pads are properly set and depresses the lift button, causing an unbalanced lift.
– You might forget that the pads weren’t set before operating the lift.
– An electrical/wiring issue might inadvertently raise the lift. In this case, an unevenly lifted vehicle might not trip the overhead shutoff bar, which would be a total nightmare.

Frame cradle pads / truck adapter kits
two-post-auto-lift-frame-cradleOf all the items on our list, this one is one of the hardest pills for us to swallow, and the precaution we repeat the most often. For whatever reason, a number of lift operators simply refuse to use the necessary frame cradle pads when hoisting certain trucks and SUVs. At least on some level, we see why this is happening. People want faster turnover, and they can sometimes “get away” without the truck adapters. Two problems. One, car lift manufacturers are not liable for damages that occur due to improper usage of the lift. You’re in no way legally covered for doing something—excuse our language—stupid. Some people seem to have a problem with this and try to shift the blame on the machine when they do something wrong. BendPak and the other car lift companies out there don’t make truck adapter sets just for the heck of it; these are vital tools you need to have in your shop if you’re lifting trucks and SUVs with raised suspensions or further recessed underbellies.

Daily cable inspections
We’ve written about cable inspections and safety before, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that those daily cable inspections may seem like a minor nuisance, but so does using a turn signal 100% of the time, coming to a complete stop before making a right on red, adhering to the speed limit, etc. We sometimes “get away” with skipping these little things, and nobody’s perfect. Still, a cable inspection may reveal a poorly lubricated line, which is easy to fix. Stray threads or dry sheaves cause friction, and that causes severe damage to your lift components. Bad! Take a look at your cable system at the start or end of every day, whichever works for you.

wire-rope-41-638

Also, if you ever notice that your safety locks do not engage simultaneously, you may have cables that are out of sync. Resynchronize your cables before attempted further lift. Do not lift or lower a vehicle in an attempt to sync or adjust cables if it is unsafe to do so.

Electrical Tip
It’s recommended that you install your power unit on the passenger side of an asymmetrical two-post lift. This is purely for convenience, but virtually all operators benefit from this common installation practice. By doing so, operators are able to position (drive) the vehicle between the two-post lift columns, position the arms from that side, and then move to the passenger side to position the arms and operate the lift. Eliminating the need to walk back to the driver side to perform operations saves time and just makes sense. (Plus, experienced mechanics will think you’re ridiculous if you don’t install your power unit this way).

If possible, cut the power to your car lifts and other major shop appliances at the end of each work day. If this is not an option for you at home or in the shop, be sure you never leave vehicles in a compromised position when loading or setting up a lift.

BendPak Recreates Color Scheme for Brand New Look

November 7th, 2016

gray2Santa Paula, California – November 2016 – When BendPak designed its earliest car lift models, they were painted Burgundy to match the tastes of that era. Years later, in the late 1980s, the company redesigned its brand and color scheme with the brilliant “BendPak blue” that defines their look today. This bold blue has helped solidify BendPak’s reputation and brand and has become a staple in the automotive aftermarket. After nearly three decades, BendPak intends to reinvent its colors to keep their brand evolving and relevant.

BendPak is updating from their classic blue to what they anticipate will become the next color staple that the automotive industry will come to adopt: a gunmetal gray with white and yellow accents. The look will remain consistent across all of BendPak’s car lift models.

gray1

“Our bold blue made BendPak the most recognizable car lift brand in the industry, but everyone around the world has adopted the same look,” said Jeff Kritzer, BendPak Sr. Vice President of Sales and Marketing. The company recognizes bright blue-colored lifts can contrast with certain franchise, business or residential livery colors.

That’s not to say the design is meant to make BendPak more invisible in garages. The color scheme update is part of a marketing trend in BendPak to let the company name sell itself rather than force brand recognition through slogans and colors. “We surveyed both our dealer and customer base, and the overwhelming majority felt the new color scheme adds a touch of class,” Kritzer stated.

The company believes this change in direction offers a message of strength and is part of their commitment to keep expanding into new markets. BendPak President Don Henthorn said, “BendPak is going to look as modern as any new technology that’s out there. We’re growing as a company, and the BendPak name is what people really want to see on their equipment to know they’re buying the best.”

Want to know more about BendPak’s change to Gunmetal Gray? First check out our BendPak Going Gunmetal Gray FAQ page or email hello@bendpak.com to get in touch with a BendPak representative today!

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