Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Baton Material

For the past several years we’ve been using PVC pipe with caps and a radiator hose clamp for the baton. After a visit to Trusty Cook’s factory, (described in an earlier Blog) a better solution emerged: Polyurethane. This is the same material that is used to make the dead-blow shot mallets. Unlike PVC, it will not break when dropped. Plus, the color runs through the entire thickness so they require no maintenance. They are virtually indestructible.

The prototypes were used at the FDIC event and several suggestions were made for improvement and incorporated into the current design. With a square design, the radiator hose clamp is removed. This is good because the stainless steel tail was sharp and could cut the ungloved hand or turnout coats. The square design will not roll. The overall length is the same ≈12” (30cm). The weight is 9 ounces.

When we see an opportunity to improve the Firefighter Combat Challenge, we do so, especially when there are no negatives and only improvements in safety. It would be foolish to wait until next year when the clear benefits to everyone could be made immediately.

We are ordering up a supply and will sell these for $20 in the store as soon as they are made available.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Advocates for increasing bicycle use in metropolitan areas resist the notion that helmets are an essential part of the riding ensemble. Meaning, that if we tell people that they must have a helmet (which is a law here in Montgomery County, MD) then that infers that cycling is dangerous.

The helmet was broken in four places- exactly what it’s supposed to do
I have intimate and personal knowledge of the effects of collisions with both concrete and asphalt. This weekend marked the third helmet that was totaled from a crash. One was a top of the line Bell Star, full coverage motorcycle helmet. The point of impact was the back of the helmet, thereby marking the end of my illustrious career as a cross-country motorcycle rider.

Bicycles have considerably less velocity. But, a crash can still kill. Late Saturday afternoon, I was only about 1.5 miles from home when the front tire fell into an unseen groove. In less than a second at ≈20 mph, I was on the ground. The photos tell the rest of the story. Fractured ribs and clavicle will take about 6 to 8 weeks to mend.

I hate to think what might have been the outcome without the Specialized helmet. I don’t know what your protocol is for blunt force trauma, but ice packs are probably the most effect immediate treatment.

Another view of one of the major cracks of the Specialized helmet

My son commented that I now look like a cage fighter- or perhaps I went a few rounds with Mike Tyson

The displaced clavicle is pretty evident; hurts the most, but heals the fastest

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Visit to Trusty-Cook

I thought it would be interesting to visit the factory where our steel shot, dead blow hammers were fabricated. And since they’re conveniently located here in Indianapolis, I reached out to Joel Trusty for a visit to his plant. The photos below provide you with a perspective on the process.

The “Skeleton” of the hammer consists of the handle and the head; the handle is welded to the head. Note the steel shot in the bin. This is what makes the dead blow hammer so effect- much more so than your typical hammer.

After a freeze plug is affixed on one end of the container, the steel is added. The steel material is recovered from blasting, such as in nautical applications. Then, the other freeze plug is added and the contents are “capped.”
Joel Trusty is holding the framework for the hammer model that we use for the Firefighter Combat Challenge before it’s put into the injection mould. The hammer works best at room temperature- not in freezing conditions. Also, as in our setting, rotating the hammers adds a lot of life, because heat causes the hammers to change shape. 
This is one of the moulds for the short hammer, a perfect solution for stubborn gate valves or steamer connections on an engine. A much better solution than a bowling pin- if you can believe that. 

Now, the skeleton, first seen above is placed in the mould. The pins hold the frame in perfect alignment.
The frame of the hammer is held precisely in place with the positioning pins before the lid is affixed.

The mould is now ready for injection of urethane. The hammers can be made in a variety of colors. 
This is the vat of liquid red urethane. The injection process can produce bubbles. These simply cosmetic and have nothing to do with function. 
The pump injects the plastic into the mould, hence the term ”injection moulding.”
After curing with infra-red light, the hammers are ready to be trimmed and labeled. 
Hammers of all sizes and weights are fabricated daily and shipped to dealers and distributors around the world. One overlooked application is the 14 pound sledge, the perfect tool for forcible entry. One sack and you’re in! We’re picking up the line for use on engine and truck companies. The hammer will be on display at our store and on our website.