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Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
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Top Of The Best Rod Couplers Reviewed In 2018Last Updated January 1, 2019
№1 – WAC Lighting LM-RI-BN LV Monorail Rod Coupler
№2 – WAC Lighting RI-WT Rod Couplers for R-Extensions
№3 – Steck Manufacturing 71470 Tie Rod Coupler
The length of a fishing rod typically ranges from to 1feet. The length of your rod largely depends on the type of fishing you plan to do, the species you’re after and your fishing environment. Also consider your own angling experience and strength level.
FIND YOUR PERFECT FRESHWATER OR SALTWATER ROD
Rods come in three basic styles: casting/conventional, spinning and surfcasting rods.
Spinning Rods: Ranges in length from to feet, positioning the reel and guides on the bottom of the pole to provide smooth, accurate casts. Features graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle:
Saltwater Casting & Conventional Rods: The reel and line are seated on top of the rod and the trigger grip lets you hold the rod securely while releasing the thumb bar/line release.
Saltwater Surfcasting: When searching for your saltwater rod, consider the length, power and action you need. Longer rods cast farther, while shorter rods provide more power for fighting fish. Most saltwater fishing rods are made of graphite or fiberglass. Graphite rods are stiffer and more sensitive, while fiberglass fishing rods are tougher and more powerful.
POWER & ACTION
Action determines how much control you have over the fish. The faster the action, the more pressure you can put on the fish. The power is your rod weight, so deciding the type of fish you want to catch will determine the power you need for your rod.
Power: Rods may be classified as ultra-light, light, medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, ultra-heavy, or other similar combinations. Ultra-light rods are suitable for catching small bait fish and also pan fish, or situations where rod responsiveness is critical. Ultra-Heavy rods are used in deep sea fishing, surf fishing, or for heavy fish by weight.
Action: Affects your casting distance and accuracy, also relating to the lure or bait you need and the strength of the reel that should be used. The smaller the fish, the lighter the action needed, while the heavier the fish, the heavier the action. An action may be slow, medium, fast or a combination (e.g. medium-fast.)
LINE, LURE WEIGHT & LENGHT
Courtesy of the Manufacturer
If you’re a car show groupie and love to hang out and talk about your Mustang you probably haven’t put much thought into the car’s suspension. Sure, during your restoration or rebuild you might have stuck some handling springs in or a larger antisway bar; maybe even some urethane bushings in key locations. While these parts certainly do what they claim, they are, more-or-less, Band-Aids on an antiquated suspension that was designed to save Ford money building a large volume of vehicles. Ford wasn’t in the habit (and still isn’t) of spending any more than it needs to in order to meet a certain car’s design and safety aspects. This is one reason why once Carroll Shelby got ahold of the Mustang to build his G.T. 350 he relocated the upper control arms, added rear traction bars, and more—the best he could do with ’60s technology at the time.
So here we are today, with computer-aided design (CAD) capabilities, modern shock tuning, high-strength tubular control arms, and more now available to suspension companies looking to improve on a decades-old design—sometimes even completely cutting that old design out of the front structure and replacing it with a better solution. These modern suspensions have evolved considerably in just a few short years, so it is worth taking another look at the suspension systems available to the ’65-’7Mustang for those of you who really enjoy driving your vintage Mustang. We’re not specifically talking about track use here, either. No, club driving events or just increasing the fun quotient of getting to where you’re going with vastly improved handling, steering, and braking mean the drive is more fun. And if the drive is more fun that means you’re going to go out and drive your vintage Mustang more, and that’s what we want everyone to do!
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In many cases, it is convenient to couple the output of a laser diode into an optical fiber in order to deliver the light to the place where it is needed.
Fiber-coupled (also called fiber-integrated) diode lasers have several advantages:
The light exiting the fiber has a circular and smooth (homogenized) intensity profile and a symmetric beam quality, which is in many cases very convenient.
For example, less sophisticated optics are required for generating a circular pump spot for an end-pumped solid-state laser.
Schematic setup of a simple fiber-coupled low-power edge-emitting laser diode. A spherical lens (or possibly a lens doublet) is used to image the laser diode facet to the fiber core. Beam ellipticity and astigmatism can degrade the coupling efficiency.
Broad area laser diodes are spatially multimode in the long direction of the emitter.
If a circular beam is simply shaped with a cylindrical lens (e.g. a fiber lens, see Figure 3) and then launched into a multimode fiber, a lot of the brightness will be lost, because the high beam quality in the fast axis direction can not be utilized.
A power of e.g. 1 W can be launched into a multimode fiber with a 50-μm core diameter and a numerical aperture (NA) of 0.12.
This is sufficient e.g. for pumping a low-power bulk laser, e.g. a microchip laser.
Schematic setup of a simple fiber-coupled broad-area laser diode. A fiber lens is used to collimate the beam in the fast axis direction.
An improved technique for broad-area lasers is based on reshaping the beam for a symmetrized beam quality (and not only symmetrized beam radius) before launching.
That allows for a higher brightness.
For diode bars (diode arrays), the problem of asymmetric beam quality is even more severe.
Here, the outputs of individual emitters may be coupled into separate fibers of a fiber bundle.
The fibers are arranged in a linear array on the side of the diode bar, but as a circular array on the output end.
Alternatively, some kind of beam shaper for symmetrizing the beam quality may be used before launching into a single multimode fiber.
This can be done e.g. with a two-mirror beam shaper or with some microoptical elements.
It is possible e.g. to couple 30 W into a fiber with 200-μm (or even 100-μm) core diameter and an NA of 0.2laser with roughly 15 W of output power.
For diode stacks, fibers with still larger core diameters are used.
It is possible e.g. to couple hundreds of watts (or even several kilowatts) of optical power into a fiber with a 600-μm core diameter and NA = 0.22.
The cost is higher.
This may be offset, however, by the savings from simpler beam processing and delivery.
The output power is slightly reduced, and more importantly the brightness.
The loss of brightness can be substantial (more than an order of magnitude) or rather small, depending on the technique of fiber coupling.
In some cases, this may not matter, but in other cases it introduces significant challenges e.g. for the design of a diode-pumped bulk laser or a high-power fiber laser.
In most cases (particularly with multimode fibers), the fiber is not polarization-maintaining.
The fiber output will then normally be partially polarized, and the polarization state can change when the fiber is moved or the temperature changes.
BQ Hephestos 2
What’s the best Prusa iclone? Read our guide to 2RepRap Prusa ikits on the market today, plus a review of the Original Prusa iMK2.
Did you know that the RepRap Prusa iis the most popular 3D printer in the world? It’s more widely used than machines made by Ultimaker, BCN3D and other big hitters of the desktop 3D printing world.
Original Prusa iMK2
The place where it all began. The Original Prusa iMKkit comes directly from the company founded and owned by Josef Prusa — Prusa Research — and this machine adheres to his exact specifications and quality assurance. The recently upgraded MK— now the Mk2S — features a raft of improvements over the standard Mk2, including a 31% larger build volume, auto mesh bed leveling, e3D Vhotend to name but a few. But most importantly, by buying this RepRap Prusa ikit you will be supporting its continued development. It’s not only the best Prusa ikit but it’s one of the best 3D printers on the market right now.
Confusingly, the Anet Ais a model upgrade over its wildly popular sibling, the Anet ADespite a raft of improvements to its frame structure and makeup — including switching the x-axis carriage rods from one on top of the other, to side-by-side — it is still entirely a RepRap Prusa ikit. Additionally, a larger LCD screen paired to a rotating knob gives a different, and supposedly easier experience navigating the printer’s menus.
The IX is a new addition to Geeetech’s line of RepRap Prusa ikits. With a low-cost design, it emphasizes usability and quality. The frame is made out of piano black acrylic, and features include a build volume of 200 x 200 x 170 mm, a maximum print resolution of 100 microns, an LCD screen, a heated print bed, and connectivity via USB and SD card. Gearbest
Folger Technologies has an elegant but affordable variation of the RepRap Prusa i3, with a frame constructed from laser cut acrylic plastic. It comes with mostly everything you need to build your own machine, with the exception of an 8″x 8″ glass surface for the print-bed. An LCD screen with an SD card reader is also available as an optional extra. The same company offers another kit with an aluminum frame that’s not so pleasing to the eye (but it is easier on the wallet).
The Sintron features an acrylic frame, which blends nicely with the steel rods to create a simply constructed, nice looking piece of machinery. The print area of 200 x 200 x 180 mm is typical for Prusa iprinters. An LCD 200controller is the interface by default, which includes an SD card slot for easy offline access. Other features include a heated print bed and a maximum print resolution of 100 microns.
Available in 8″, 10″ or 12″ sizes, MakerFarm’s successor to the i3v boasts quicker print speeds and a sturdier frame. Add to that the rapid build time (MakerFarm claim approximately hours to assemble this printer) and you’re looking at a tempting alternative to the other Prusa iclones on this list. The smallest of its sizes features a print bed measuring 200 x 200 x 180mm.
Sunhokey Prusa i4
The name of this RepRap 3D printer is misleading; there’s no such thing as a Prusa iOr, at least, Josef Prusa hasn’t gotten round to designing one. Sunhokey are guilty of being over-excitable in trying to distinguish their Prusa iclone from the rest of the pack. Which is a pity, because the machine itself looks like a neat refinement, with a heavy metal base and a unique X-axis rotation design with the motor mounted to the extruder housing.
Laser cut from sheets of aluminum, the Psique Aluminum is an imposing machine. It looks like a 3D printer from the era of steampunk. The benefit of using aluminum over, say, steel is that it has all the strength whilst being significantly lighter. Also, it won’t rust if you leave it out in the rain. But then again, why would you do that to your poor 3D printer?
Best Prusa iClone Kits impresoras3Dlowcost Steel Mejorada
The word “Mejorada” is Spanish for “Improved”. This RepRap Prusa ikit includes a powder coated steel frame, an LCD screen, and can be configured at purchase from different hotends (including the ever-popular E3D v6). It also has a heated bed, and a build volume of 2x 2x 2mm. Pretty much everything you need to build your first desktop 3D printer.
KitPrinter3D Steel Pro
The Steel Pro is another metal-clad remix. It has a stronger frame laser cut from galvanized steel and is simple to assemble. However, though more compact and easier to transport than the Prusa ithat inspired it, it’s significantly heavier. What else? Oh, this RepRap Prusa ikit tends to rank high on the 3D Hubs monthly trend report, sitting pretty in the top 20 for the past three months.
RepRap France Rework 1.5
The Rework 1.is a remix of the base idesign by RepRap France. This RepRap Prusa ikit has a mm thick aluminum frame and a Y carriage for a platform within 200 mm stops. The Hexagon hotend is a fully machined metal nozzle that can accommodate several diameters from 0.3mm to 0.5mm. The RAMPS 1.controller can support up to two nozzles and is capable of layer resolutions up to 100 microns.
ReprapUniverse Achatz Edition
All the 3D printed parts on the Achatz Edition were fabricated in ABS plastic at low speeds on ReprapUniverse machines, guaranteeing the highest possible quality of parts. And if a part breaks during the assembly of the Prusa ikit, they’re happy to send you a free replacement. They have also made some improvements to the base design, like Aluminium Z Motor Couplers, a Trespa Y Carriage Plate, and enhanced frame rigidity using High-Quality Trespa (HPL). Optional extras not included in the base kit are an LCD screen for SD card connectivity and a fan upgrade for the extruder.
All these vendors have an assortment of kits and/or parts specific to the Prusa iThe list is non-exhaustive and contains both, good and bad quality RepRap-oriented vendors.
To find a shop in your country, click on this little box near “Loc.” and you’ll find all of them in one spot.
Another option is to attend a build workshop. You can get a group together and ask someone to put on a workshop for you, or you can find a group putting on a build workshop, such as your local Hacker Space. (Czech Republic, aluminium frame)
3D Printed parts (for GTBelts and Greg’s Wades extruder with Jhead)
Select based on desired extruder and pulleys/belts. ABS softens at a higher temperature, so is good in proximity to motors. PLA is more wear resistant, and so makes longer lasting gears.
3D Printed parts (for GTBelts and Greg’s Wades extruder with Jhead/E3D)
Belts and Pulleys
Timing belts (T2.5, T5, etc.) are highly discouraged in favor of GTor GTbelts. Make sure that the belt holder matches the belt you choose. (The belt holder is one of the 3D printed parts above.)
2x 6mm wide GTbelt pieces (760? And 900? mm long) for x axis, for y package with all of the above cut from 2m circumference belt
Extruder Cold End
There are a number of extruder cold ends available, but not all will fit the iunmodified. To be safe, make sure the extruder you decide on is compatible with your version of the i(the single plate and the box frame versions have different carriages). When purchasing extruder parts, be sure that they work with the filament diameter you intend to use (aka, 1.7or 3mm).
There are no files for an extruder among the official STL files (either box or single plate), so there is no official extruder. There is a version of Greg’s Wade Extruder, as well as a Bowden extruder (both dual and quad versions!), which have been modified to fit the single plate version of the iGreg’s Wade Extruder seems to be most common, although the compact/dual extruders appear to work to some degree (Seems to be still under development, as of 2013-8-15). (Note: A compact extruder is essentially half of a dual-extruder, with a few small design changes.)
Direct drive extruders push filament through the hot end quickly, and can retract it just as quickly to reduce oozing. Higher gearing ratios give more precision (good for smaller nozzle apertures and layer heights) at the cost of slower speed. The lowered motor torque allows smaller, lighter motors.
Extruder Hot End
First of all, the hotend must fit to your extruder cold end.
You also have a couple options when it comes to the extruder hot end. The J-head extruder was designed so that it could be machined all in one piece. This makes it cheaper and more reliable, but means you need a J-head for each nozzle diameter you want to print with. (They do have exchangeable PTFE liners for different filament diameters.) Having a separate nozzle, heater block, barrel, and PTFE sleeve allows the user to mix and match filament size and nozzle diameters on a whim.
The build surface is chosen so that the printed filament adheres to it. Various tapes can be used, and have the advantage of being easy to remove from both the piece and the bed underneath. Glass provides poor adhesion, however hairspray or a glue-stick can be used to make a good bond.
The bed doesn’t necessarily have to be heated. If the first few layers of a print cool non uniformly, they have a tendency to curl up like a potato chip. Heating the bed greatly minimizes this problem.
PCB Heated Bed (Most uniform heating. May require LEDs and wires)
Trailer Weight and Class Ratings
Once you know the weight of your trailer and your vehicle’s towing capacity you can zero in on the type of hitch you need. Trailer hitches come in five weight classes to accommodate for different trailer and vehicle types. Use the guide below to find the hitch class you’ll need for your towing rig.
There are plenty of hitch manufacturers out there, so be sure to check out their different features to find the right hitch for your needs. Curt hitches are among our most popular for their well-fitting vehicle-specific designs and rust-resistant powder coat finishes. If it’s a low-profile look you’re after, the Hidden Hitch receiver hitch features removable drawbars that make it virtually invisible when not in use.
Weight Distributing Hitches
Standard receiver hitches and bumper hitches are considered “weight carrying hitches” because all of the trailer’s tongue weight is carried by the ball and the receiver. Heavy tongue weight tends to pull your tow vehicle’s rear end down and lift the front end up, causing an uneven and less stable ride. These problems can be solved by using a load equalizing hitch, more commonly known as a weight distributing hitch.
Front Mount Hitches
Sometimes it’s handy to have a trailer hitch receiver mounted on the front of your vehicle. Front mount hitches are convenient for applications like using a boat ramp because they give you close control over your trailer. These hitches are also great for mounting accessories like snow plows and winch plates. Front mount hitches can be easily installed on most trucks, vans and SUVs.
Flat-Towing Behind Your RV
Towing a car with your motorhome requires different hardware than hauling trailers with your truck. The main piece you need is a tow bar. Brands like Blue Ox usually have a super-high weight capacity so you can tow even the heaviest trucks, and they connect your RV to your vehicle’s baseplate. The Blue Ox base plate is custom-designed to your vehicle to bolt easily to your frame, and for many vehicles they have removable tabs so they won’t affect your exterior looks.
How To Install A Trailer Hitch
Installing a trailer hitch isn’t as tough as it may seem at first sight. Your hitch is fully custom-designed to your exact year, make, and model vehicle. Most receiver hitches are engineered to bolt directly to existing holes in your frame for a no-drill installation. Therefore, most hitch installations are relatively simple, do-it-yourself jobs. You will probably want to ask a friend to help, as it can be difficult to hold up both ends of the hitch while bolting certain pieces on. The following video is an example of a typical hitch installation:
In some cases you might have to temporarily move pieces of your exhaust system out of the way to fit the hitch in, but often this is a pretty simple task. Some vehicles do require drilling and extensive mechanical work to install. If you are not experienced with mechanical work, we suggest that you bring your hitch in to a shop for a professional installation.
Safety Tip: Just like hitches, Trailer Hitch Balls come in a range of weight ratings. Make sure your ball is properly rated to handle the weight of your trailer before towing.
The Hitch ball (aka tow ball or trailer ball) is the “business end” of your hitch. Your trailer coupler mounts and locks on top of the hitch ball, making it the point where the trailer connects to your vehicle. Hitch balls are designed to allow your vehicle and trailer to turn corners and accommodate bumps and dips in the road. They come in a variety of sizes from 7/8″ to 3″. Generally, the lighter the trailer the smaller the hitch ball. Hitch balls also have a variety of shank diameters and lengths to fit different trailer heights.
The hitch ball is bolted to the Ball Mount. Also known as a draw bar or a stinger, a ball mount is a square steel tube that includes a heavy mounting plate to hold the hitch ball. Ball mounts come in a wide variety of sizes to suit different trailer balls. Plus, because trailer tongues come in many different heights, they’re also available with different amounts of drop or lift to properly connect to your trailer. Many ball mounts are reversible – for example, you can install a Curt ball mount for a 1/4″ drop, or flip it upside down for a 5/8″ lift. There are also several adjustable ball mounts available, which let you select the amount of rise or drop you need without buying a separate mount.
Hitch Pins & Locks
Hitch pins hold the ball mount in the hitch. Most are shaped like a hockey stick and have a hole drilled in one end for mounting a hairpin-shaped retaining clip. Sometimes a long bolt with a lock-washer and a nut is used in place of a hitch pin.
Your trailer, aside from being a big investment itself, is often full of valuable equipment. Thieves often try to take advantage of how easy it can be to remove a trailer from a hitch and drive off with your goods. For extra security, add a Curt trailer hitch lock to secure the ball mount to your vehicle. These locks feature a dead bolt in place of the retaining clip, making it virtually impossible to remove your ball mount without a key. Reese trailer coupler locks are also available to secure your trailer to the hitch ball.
Many late-model vehicles, from trucks and vans to RVs, have trailer lighting connectors pre-installed for easy wiring. If your vehicle is not equipped with trailer connections, you will need a hitch wiring harness to interface your electrical system with your trailer. Many light wiring harnesses, such as Curt T-Connectors, are custom-designed to your exact vehicle so you can easily add them to your lighting system without cutting or splicing any wires.
Trailer Brakes & Brake Controllers
Smaller, lighter trailers tend to have one or two axles that roll freely and are easily controlled by your vehicle’s brakes. Many heavy and large trailers are required to have their own set of brakes to ensure safer stopping and better control over your towing rig. Your brake pedal needs to be interfaced with your trailer brakes so all your wheels slow down at the same time. This job is done with a trailer brake controller.
Brake controllers tell trailer brakes when to engage and how strongly they need to be applied. These controllers come in a variety of types, depending on your trailer’s size, its brakes, and your towing habits:
Timed Brake Controllers are the simple, economical way to control your trailer brakes. They’re designed to increase trailer brake pressure the longer your foot is on the brake pedal
Inertia Brake Controllers use an internal sensor attached to an external pendulum to detect the deceleration of your vehicle and engages the trailer brakes accordingly. Inertia trailer brake controllers are better at detecting how hard you’re braking at any given time, making them more powerful and responsive than timed controllers.
Accelerometer/Proportional Brake Controllers use a completely internal sensor system to detect the braking force you’re applying to your towing vehicle. These ultra-intelligent trailer brake controllers are excellent for larger trailers and more frequent/long-distance towing.
Tow Vehicle Braking Systems are designed for motorhomes that are flat-towing a car. Units like the Blue Ox Patriot Towing Brake System respond to your RV brakes and actually press the brake pedal on the towed vehicle using an electric piston. Like trailer brake controllers, these systems can also give you manual control over the tow vehicle’s brakes if it starts swaying.
Virtually all trailer brake controllers have a lever that lets you manually activate the brakes if your trailer begins to sway. They also require special wiring to connect to your trailer brakes. Just like with trailer lights, many vehicles made after the mid-90s come with pre-installed brake controller connections, or you can purchse a Curt brake controller wiring harness for splice-free installation.
Practicing safe driving habits is essential when towing. Hauling a trailer drastically alters the way your vehicle handles and adds considerable weight and length to your rig. By following these rules you can minimize the chance of mishaps and ensure a safer and more confident towing experience.
Avoid sudden braking and jerky steering. Every little move you make with your vehicle affects your trailer in a big way. Sudden movements can cause your trailer to sway, skid, or jackknife.
Maintain reasonable speeds. Towing a trailer requires staying at a consistent and moderate speed to maintain full control. Keeping your speed down prevents your trailer from swaying and improves your ability to react to changing road conditions.
Learn how to keep sway under control. Sway can be caused by influences out of your control such as wind and air pressure changes. If your trailer starts swaying, let go of the accelerator and slow down. As your speed goes down the trailer should correct itself. Do not step on the brake pedal – braking will actually make the sway worse.
Leave lots of space between yourself and other drivers. The extra weight of a trailer greatly lengthens your braking distance. Don’t follow too closely behind the drivers in front of you and minimize the chance of rear-ending.
Look ahead. Because it takes much longer to maneuver your towing vehicle, take a long view of the road ahead. Seeing upcoming traffic, changing road conditions, or construction gives you more time to make the speed lane changes you need.
Be careful and observant when changing lanes. Adding a trailer can make your rig over twice as long as your un-hitched vehicle. Make sure you have a clear view of the lanes next to you – we recommend adding a set of towing mirrors to improve your visibility. You also need extra room to change lanes, as you can’t brake or accelerate as quickly as other vehicles.
Accommodate for faster and slower vehicles. You won’t be able to keep up with the speed demons when you have a heavy trailer attached. Be courteous to faster traffic and allow other drivers to get past you efficiently. Also, if you need to pass a slower vehicle, allow much more distance to maneuver than you would in a normal car. Being moderate and courteous with faster and slower traffic makes driving safer and less frustrating for everyone on the road.
Get A Grip On The Fundamentals Of Control.
When looking for guaranteed ways to transform the handling and driving characteristics of a muscle car, most rodders go straight for suspension upgrades. While that’s not an incorrect plan of attack, the issue is that far too many will stop there and forgo the upgrades to the one system that most completely transforms the feel of a car: the steering.
Fundamentally speaking, steering is the result of transforming rotational input from the steering wheel into lateral motion through the use of a recirculating ball-type steering gearbox (an evolution of the earlier worm and sector design) or a rack-and-pinion. In other words, it’s the one input that determines how quickly and how precisely your car reacts. After all, what good is a state-of-the-art suspension if the sloppy steering has the responsiveness of a school bus?
There have been a great deal of advances in technology and better implementation of the fundamental components of steering design since the muscle car glory days. From the factory, steering is typically adjusted for the lowest common driver, so to speak, and that was even more the case in the past when suspension and tire technology were more primitive. Making a car steer like a barge kept people out of trouble. Nowadays, suspension and tire technology, combined with vastly improved steering systems, have advanced vehicle dynamics to the point that today even the cheapest commuter box can typically out-handle the best tuned muscle cars in a stock-versus-stock comparison. Sad, but true. However, don’t despair; there are plenty of companies crunching the numbers and working to bring 21st century handling to 20th century hot rods.
There are quite a few advanced steering conversions out there that require entire suspension swaps to perform, but we know few people want to re-invent their front suspension just to update the steering, so we only took a look at kits and upgrades that can bolt into an otherwise stock muscle car with little to no modification. You’d be surprised how difficult that can be to design since so many things need to be considered.
At a glance, steering is a deceptively simple looking system, but the real trick of geometry is getting all of the ratios present in the individual parts of the system to coordinate and create that familiar reassuring feeling of control. So what exactly are these guiding principles that aftermarket manufacturers have to keep in mind when designing upgrades to increase steering performance? Trust us, steering theory gets thick with advanced geometry and physics quickly, and complicated equations abound, but the good news is that you don’t have to be a mathematics protégé, engineer, or race car chassis designer to have a strong grasp of some of the basic concepts and how they apply toward making your car perform better.
Kits include a power rack, mounting brackets, U-joint assembly, power steering hoses, and a complete hardware kit.
Early on in the invention of steering systems, most were arranged in a more or less parallel design, meaning that both front wheels turned the same amount in a turn. This works well for low-speed performance, like in the buggies and carts it was originally designed for, but it causes a great deal of problems as speed increases.
Boiled down to it simplest form, the Ackerman concept orients steering angles so that all four wheels rotate around a common point in a turn that correlates with the rear axle. To accomplish that, the front wheel on the inside of a turn rotates more than the outside wheel. Why is that a better design? First, imagine a circle. Now, imagine the outside tire of a car is following the outline of the circle. The inside tire has less distance to cover since it is further inside the circle. In a parallel steering arrangement, the wheels actually end up fighting against one another since the inside wheels want to trace the same line as the outside and end ups scrubbing. In a pure Ackerman arrangement, the inside wheels turn a tighter radius to compensate and create a condition where each tire can cover the correct amount of ground. This arrangement is ideal for most situations, and every car on the road today uses some variation of the Ackerman principle in their steering design.
Things do get quite a bit different in the world of road racing and circle track as pure Ackerman is not necessarily the desired arrangement since many other factors come into play, and energy carried into a turn is far greater. As a matter of fact, some racers use reverse- or anti-Ackermann geometry to compensate for the large difference in slip angle ratio between the inner and outer front tires experienced during high-speed cornering. High-end data acquisitions systems can reveal what adjustments need to be made, but knowing how to correctly read your tires can be every bit as effective.
This is probably the most basic concept that many people overlook when upgrading muscle cars. Most classic cars have steering wheel diameters 1inches or larger because a larger wheel offers more mechanical advantage, which makes steering easier, especially in cars without power assist. Nevertheless, it also works to decrease the effective steering ratio. Simply by dropping the steering wheel diameter, say from 1to 1inches with a custom steering wheel, the steering response will be noticeably quicker. It’ll also be noticeably harder to turn at slow speeds, necessitating either power or “Armstrong” steering, but the benefit can be almost as transforming as changing the steering box ratio.
Scrub radius is basically the centerline of the wheel relative to the steering axis inclination (SAI). SAI is easiest to explain by breaking the term up. The steering axis is the line between the top pivot point of the spindle (the upper ball joint on cars with upper and lower control arms) and the lower ball joint. The inclination of the steering axis is the angle between the steering axis and the centerline of the wheel. Now to find the scrub radius, we follow the SAI all the way to the ground, and measure the distance between that point and the centerline of the tire patch. If the tire contact patch is outside of the SAI pivot, the scrub radius is positive. If it’s inboard, it’s negative. Unless you’re swapping to a new style suspension system, or willing to do some complicated customizing, scrub radius is set at the factory and not adjustable.
So why do you care? Well, the point where the SAI meets the road is the pivot point on which the tire is turned, so scrub radius has a great deal to do with how the steering feels and how much feedback is generated through the steering wheel. Also, scrub radius is directly affected by wheel offset, so it’s a good idea to keep that in mind when pondering new wheels. Small changes won’t make much difference, but large ones can affect vehicle handling notably and change the steering dynamics. For example, wider wheels with minimal backspacing create positive scrub radius because the centerline of the tire patch is moved further outside the SAI, which places more stress on steering components and typically increases steering effort at low speeds. On the upshot, it also increases steering feedback and feel, which is vital for control. Conversely, negative scrub radius tends to decrease steering effort and feel.
At its most basic, static toe angle is just the degree the front wheels deviate from parallel to the centerline of the vehicle. On the road, near-zero toe is ideal for tire wear, but due to the flex created by the numerous suspension bushings, compensation is necessary. To get close to parallel at speed, rear-wheel-drive cars always require a slight amount of toe-in, because the forward thrust from the rear wheels causes the compliant rubber bushings in the front suspension to flex rearward slightly. Front-wheel drive is exactly opposite, and requires toe-out, but for the same reasons. Cars upgraded with Heim joints rather than bushings experience far less flex.
There are other considerations as well; toe-in, meaning the centerline of the wheels, will converge at some point ahead of the car. This aids stability at speed and for self correcting, but too much toe-in causes accelerated wear at the outboard edges of the tires. Too much toe-out causes wear at the inboard edges and skittishness over bumps and grooves, but serious track cars often accept that trade-off for the increased steering response available from a light amount of toe-out. That brings up dynamic toe.
Ackerman geometry naturally produces toe-out on the inside wheel in a turn, which helps turn-in, but toe is actually a dynamic setting that varies according to the forces applied on the wheel, and according to camber gain. This concept is actually closely associated with roll steer, which is the result of one wheel rising as the other falls due to weight transfer and cornering force, as in a hard corner. The result is more toe-in on one wheel, and more toe-out on the other, consequently producing a steering effect.
Most of you have felt this at some point, especially if you’ve ever lowered or raised a vehicle, or changed the suspension significantly without compensating for the resultant change in steering geometry. Typically, bumpsteer manifests itself as a tendency for the front end to dart or wander without driver input, especially on a less-than-ideal surface, forcing a concentrated effort to keep the vehicle in a straight line. What’s actually happening is the wheel is steering as the suspension moves over the road irregularities because the length between the spindle and the rack or gearbox lengthens, but the tie rod does not. The result is the spindle rotating, or toeing, outward slightly to compensate. Depending on the severity, on the street it can be a minor hassle all the way up to dangerous; on the track excessive bumpsteer is always a liability since it will limit control and traction if a bump or dip is encountered while cornering.
Most modified cars have some small degree of bumpsteer; the real goal is simply to make it small enough that it doesn’t interfere. To achieve that, the tie rod has to travel on an arc parallel to the one the spindle follows. That’s why bumpsteer often increases noticeably when lowering or raising a vehicle-it changes the angle of the tie rods and consequently the arc on which they travel. The only way to combat it is to try and get everything back in line; in the case of lowered cars, by either raising the rack or steering box (usually not an option), or lowering or raising the outer tie-rod attachment point at the spindle accordingly.
This is a term that gets thrown around mostly in racing circles, but having a grasp on what it means will still help with understanding the rest of the concepts. To locate an object in space, we need three things: the X-, Y-, and Z-axis coordinates. When relating to cars, the X-axis is lengthwise, and the Y-axis is side-to-side. However, that doesn’t tell us anything about how the object is oriented. Yaw is the concept that describes angular motion and how a car rotates around the Z, or vertical, axis. By definition, a car is always in yaw through a turn, simply because it is headed in a different direction than the nose is pointing-which, of course, means that yaw is related to the slip angle.
Why is that important to know? Because there is only so much yaw that can be exerted on a vehicle before control is lost, and knowing how to make adjustments to keep it in check dictates how much speed can be carried through a corner.
Find Out What You Need Your Greasing Tool For
You know what is the trickiest part of all? It is when you can’t figure out what exactly you need a greasing or lubricator tool for.
Determining your work pattern is the most basic thing one needs to do. Choosing the best grease guns that suit your applications comes later.
For example, if you are looking for a tool to lubricate your DIY equipment, a “Mini Grease Gun” should be the tool for the trade. Many of us value portability more than anything else. Cordless and battery powered ones will most likely suit your needs.
For garage and workshop owners, a good mix of manual and automotive grease guns should do the trick. Large scale jobs need the best air grease gun you can find.
Determine What Features You Need
While you need to determine the usage of this tool, you need to figure out what sort of perks and features you want in your grease gun as well.
Not all grease guns or lubricators come with the same level of efficiency and benefits. Not even within the same brand. Depending on your workload, you need to figure out the how much grease you need per day. This in turns determines just how big or spacious the cylinder of your tool would be.
If you own a workshop, for example, you’ll need a grease gun that has a high lubricator intake and not the regular ones that use standard cartridges.
Professional garage owners prefer perks like an extended reach, small nozzles that reach hardest corners, high-pressure grease disperse, and more. These are gems you get with high-end grease guns. They can cause you few extra bucks but are worth the price tag.
DEWALT DCGG570B 18V Cordless Grease Gun
Whether you are a hobbyist or a serious “Garage Person,” chances of you not hearing about a DEWALT product is “Zero.” You must have come across a product from this brand one way or the other.
Well, I’ve been a fan of DEWALT for a long time now and DEWALT DCGG570B hits a Homerun when it comes to a grease gun. Honestly, this might be the best cordless grease gun around at this point in time.
Why am I so vocal about this tool? The DCGG570B comes with a motor that delivers 9000 psi of pressure to power ratio. The grease flow can be really fast. Furthermore, I found the speed trigger handy when working with different parts of my motorcycle.
I’m quite impressed by the pump as well. DCGG570B pumps grease out at a rate of 5oz/minute. Yeah, that’s quite a speed when you need when you need quick greasing.
We all come across some cramped areas of our motorcycle or automobile that are “Hard to Reach.” DEWALT DCGG570B can grease those areas pretty easily thanks to the “Super Long” hose of 4inches. This hose is flexible and can cover a lot of ground when you are working on grease fittings outdoors with a portable power source.
You have a 14.5-ounce cartridge to work with which is pretty standard. The interesting part is, I noticed an “Air Bleeder Valve” that takes care of priming whenever you change the cartridge for a new one. Say good bye to air pockets!
DEWALT DCGG570B isn’t done yet! This one comes with an “Anti-Debris Filter” that does what the name suggests and prevents the internal mechanisms clogging due to dirt and dust particles.
Thanks to the “No-mar Foot Design” I can keep it beside me on the floor and store it in my wooden cabinet worry-free. It doesn’t even put a single scratch on the floor.
Plus, it features a fancy strap that enhances the portability aspect of the grease gun. If these features don’t make it one of the Best Grease Guns around, I don’t know what does.
Prominent Features of This Grease Gun
Lincoln Lubrication 113Heavy Duty Pistol Grip Grease Gun
As far as grease guns go, Lincoln 113Heavy Duty is the best choice when you want a durable garage tool. Thanks to the heavy cast head of the greasing gun, people will find it durable than the others in its league. Plus, it has a jam-proof mechanism. Meaning, Lincoln 113doesn’t let the plunger bind.
This prevents clogging and when you are greasing motorcycles or cars, this is one trait you will love to have in your grease gun.
The plunger doesn’t bend as well. This prevents grease from getting stuck in the pipe when you pull the trigger. As we know, grease tends to get stickier and starts to hinder additional grease from coming out the nozzle with time. With proper mechanics in place, fluidity won’t be a problem.
The follower spring of this heavy-duty tool is something else! When people pull the trigger, follower spring rocks back and forth with a force that eliminates any air pocket there is. In other words, grease flow remains constant the entire time one operates the pistol grease gun.
But here’s the twist.
With Lincoln 1134, you get a “Check Valve” that opens up the inside whenever you need to clean the tool. It goes without saying that the valve itself is very easy to operate.
Do you know that you can use this grip gun to apply lubricants other than grease? Well, apparently, you can. In this case, the plunger prevents extra lubricant from leaking outwards thanks to its sturdiness.
Interesting Features of the Grease Gun
Lincoln Lubrication 1132-Way Loading Lever-Action Grease Gun
Lever Action Grease Guns may force you to do some manual labor, but they are worth the effort you put on them. Although I am not frequent with such handheld grease guns, I try to use them as often as possible. Among others, I have stacked Lincoln Lubrication 113in my workshop.
As with most lever-operated greasing guns, I found the rugged head quite useful. Lincoln 113has enhanced stability and durability thanks to the construction. The pump head won me over with the simplistic yet functional design.
This little grease gun has a heavy-duty spring built in. this spring also is backed up by a follower. These two do a great job of priming your tool. As a result, you won’t face the trouble of the hose being blocked by grease. There won’t be irregular grease flowing as well.
Just to add an extra layer of safety, manufacturers went for a jam-proof mechanism. It is based on a toggle system so we can turn it on and off by ourselves. This little function prevents lubricants from bypassing the cylinder and oiling up the whole tool for us to grab.
As far as cleaning goes, this grease gun takes care of it as well. I loved the vent that can be loosened and tightened to let off internal pressure. As such, you won’t have to disassemble the whole thing to clean what’s inside. Neat I’d say!
Alemite 500-E Grease Gun
As I move onto the penultimate product on my list, it is one of those “Lever Style” greasing tools again. Alemite 500-E comes with an impressive track record when it comes to grease output. At its maximum, it delivers grease at 10,000psi pressure.
Incredible pace, isn’t it? Add the fact that this greasing tool has an aluminum cast head. The head makes Alemite 500-E both lightweight and durable at the same time.
This is possibly one of the most versatile tools I’ve come across with 16oz. capacity. I like how efficient this grease gun is too. It can pump out 1oz. worth of grease or oil in 2strokes.
Wondering what you can do with this tool? You can grease your automobile, lubricate motorbike parts, and even take care of the parts needed for construction.
Because it is a manual grease gun, the cartridge is standard with 14oz. capacity. Don’t worry, loading the cartridge into the cylinder body won’t be too much of a fuss. You can load it in three ways.
I prefer the traditional way of “Changing the Cartridge.” However, I’ve seen people use the suction method to good effect too. It is a process where you suck the air out of the pump and in process, the grease gets in.Then there is the third way which uses Alemite Loader Pump. This is the fastest way to do a refill.
With Alemite 500-E, you have a nimble 18-inch hose to help you reach difficult places. You have rigid extension with a rigid extension with one nozzle as well. This allows you to grease larger objects. I felt it was easy to grip as well using the vinyl cover on the handle.
The Ones with Pistol Grip
Pistol Grease Guns are more common. The unique feature about these tools is that you can operate these with one hand only. Just like a Pistol. For all you comfort lovers, I suggest using this tool for your DIY projects and areas where you need a bit of flexibility instead of power.
We are not trading any characteristics. Instead, this simple tool will allow you to get through the task faster with less fatigue.
Oh, and you can cycle through different speeds with by pushing the trigger.
FULL REDESIGN IN 2019
As was the case back in 2010, the 201model year trucks from Ford and GM brought fresher overall packages to market at the same time, and easily ousted the Ram in terms of power, acceleration and (let’s be honest) “newness.” But Ram fans can rest assured, however, that once these trucks receive their full redesign for the ’1model year, they’ll likely reclaim (or at the very least, attempt to reclaim) the coveted best-in-class tow rating.
And who knows? The high output version of the venerable 6.7L Cummins might once again see a leap in torque output, which begs the question: will Ram be the first manufacturer to offer a diesel engine packing 1,000 lb-ft of torque?
Ram 1500 EcoDiesel
When it comes to the first diesel to grace the half-ton segment in more than 20 years, the Ram EcoDiesel remains largely unchanged for the ’1model year. Along with its gas-powered counterparts, the Ram 1500 is patiently awaiting a full makeover for 2018.
The biggest change to effect ’1models entails the scrapping of the Outdoorsman trim level, with its key features being broken up and redistributed throughout several other trim levels. The 3.0L VM Motori-sourced Vremains the same, still cranking out 240 hp, 420 lb-ft of torque, and being mated to Chrysler’s ZF 8HP70 eight-speed automatic.
Subtle additions for ’1include: a 7-inch diagonal color touch screen MyLink radio, optional heated front cloth seats on LT models and a low-gloss black stripe package (available on all trims levels except base models) that includes stripes on the hood and tailgate. While Red Rock Metallic and Inferno Orange Metallic paint colors have been axed, GM is introducing four new hues, including: Graphite Metallic, Cajun Red Tintcoat, Laser Blue (available mid-year), and Orange Burst Metallic (also available mid-year).
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The Merkur was Ford‘s attempt at bringing some of its successful European offerings to the U.S. It all started in 198at Ford of Europe with the Ford Sierra. Mostly, the Sierra was a run-of-the-mill European four-door family liftback and wagon — except the hot version, the futuristic-looking three-door Sierra XR4i, which won enthusiasts’ hearts the world over with its 2.8-liter Cologne V-There was a lot to love about Sierra XR4i. It featured a fuel-injected 150-hp V-6, a 130-mph top speed, and a biplane rear spoiler. It would evolve into the Sierra RS Cosworth, which had a successful career in Group A rallying. The Sierra XR4i was forbidden fruit, and Americans wanted to get their hands on it.
At the time, Bob Lutz was head of Ford of Europe. He proposed bringing the Sierra to the U.S. and selling it at Lincoln–Mercury dealerships as a sporty car that could compete with the BMW Series and Saab 900. Ford CEO Pete Petersen approved the idea, and decided the German-built coupe would be badged Merkur–pronounced mare (like a horse) coor (like the beer) — the German word for “mercury.” Clever, no? With a different badge, the Sierra XR4i might appeal to yuppies who’d otherwise never consider buying a Lincoln or Mercury.
Bringing the Sierra to the U.S. wasn’t as simple as Ford executives thought. First, there was the engine. While a great powerplant, the XR4i’s V-would’ve been neutered by federal emissions regs. Instead, Ford considered two options for the Americanized XR4i: the Mustang SVO’s 2.3-liter turbocharged I-sans intercooler, championed by Lutz, and the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8, pushed by Edsel Ford II. Lutz won out when Ford engineers couldn’t get the suspension sorted properly with the heavy V-up front. With the new engine, the car would be named the XR4Ti, preserving the hot Sierra’s name, adding a “T” for the turbo, and avoiding running afoul of the GMC Sierra. Equipped with the standard Borg-Warner Tfive-speed manual, the SVO engine gave the XR4Ti a stout 17hp and 200 lb-ft of torque, making it more powerful and faster than the Sierra XR4i. That’s just as well, considering the Merkur gained more than 250 pounds during its trans-Atlantic journey.
The Merkur may have been almost indistinguishable from the Sierra, but Ford had to fit the XR4Ti with more than 850 new parts—including the engine—in order to meet federal regulations. The XR4Ti’s bumpers were slightly stretched, its floorpan was modified to fit catalytic converters, and door beams were added, among other things. To ease pressure on its existing European production lines, Ford contracted Karmann to build the XR4Ti in Germany.
When it went into production for the 198model year, the Merkur XR4Ti was a compelling car. Motor Trend put the new XR4Ti on the cover of our September 198issue with a model costumed as the Roman god Mercury and proclaimed it “Lincoln-Mercury’s Antidote for the BMW Syndrome.” We walked away with generally favorable impressions from our first drive. The 175-hp Merkur enthralled us with its 8.3-second 0-60-mph run, faster than many big V-8-powered musclecars of the day. Its ride quality also impressed us, though we were disappointed to discover that “it seemed far too easy to get the Merkur over onto the bump stops in fast sweepers.”
The XR4Ti didn’t change much in 198Its major revision was the addition of a federally mandated Center High Mount Stop Light on the lower spoiler. Minor changes included new leather interior colors and revised pedal spacing, making it easier to heel-toe downshift.
In 198the Merkur received a few rolling changes. Those turned off by the contrasting lower body cladding could now get a monochromatic XR4Ti, as long as they wanted a white or black car. The 14-inch wheels were replaced by 15-inch “pie spoke” wheels in ’8About midyear, the fender-mounted antenna moved to the rear glass, the dash-mounted center speaker (the cause of excessive dashboard cracks) was eliminated, and a new audio system was added. The rear Merkur logo was slowly phased out in ’87, with “Merkur” spelled out on the decklid instead.
The XR4Ti was given minor updates in 198With sales falling drastically, Merkur made an effort to make the car more female-friendly by adding red to the list of monochromatic cars, and ditching the iconic biplane rear spoiler for a more subdued single-wing unit from the all-wheel-drive Sierra XR4xOther changes included strakes added to the side windows, 15-inch BBS-style wheels, and a 150-mph speedometer, replacing the old 85-mph unit. Those were the last significant changes the XR4Ti would get—198brought minor A-pillar trim changes, but after moving a dismal 401units that year, Ford ended the Merkur experiment, shuttering production of the Americanized XR4Ti and its sister, the Scorpio sedan.
The XR4Ti never lived up to Ford’s lofty sales goals of 20,000 per year. Just 42,37XR4Tis were imported to the U.S. in four years. Though officially the XR4Ti was dropped because of tightening federal crash standards, the real culprits were poor sales, early quality issues, and missteps by Ford (such as initially ordering too many manual models) that doomed the XR4Ti and, ultimately, the Merkur marque itself.
Today, the 1985-198Merkur XR4Ti remains an often-forgotten piece of automotive history. The XR4Ti is notable for many reasons: It’s one of the first times Detroit tried to take on BMW, and it’s also one of the first hot European cars Big Three shoppers got to sample. With Ford showrooms once again filling with hot Euro metal such as the Focus ST, the XR4Ti remains a fantastically fun reminder of what once was — or could have been.
THROUGH THE YEARS
1985: The first Merkur XR4Tis roll off the dedicated production line at the Karmann factory in Cologne, West Germany. Most Merkurs making their way to the U.S. that year are well-equipped and feature manual transmissions.
1986: The XR4Ti gets only minor changes in what will be its best sales year, with 14,31sold. The only changes are revised pedal spacing and the addition of a federally mandated CHMSL on the lower spoiler.
1987: The XR4Ti gets rolling changes throughout the year. Monochromatic paint is available for the first time, 15-inch wheels become standard, and the dashboard is redesigned to prevent premature cracking. The rear diamond Merkur badge is phased out, replaced with “Merkur” written on the decklid.
1988: The XR4Ti is joined in Merkur showrooms by the Scorpio sedan. While it gains a sister, it loses its iconic biplane spoiler. The more subdued XR then gets BBS-style wheels, and adds red to the list of available monochromatic colors.
Unfortunately, XR4Tis can be expensive to maintain if you’re not comfortable working on your own car. Common issues include an erratic idle, worn timing belts, failed roto-flex couplings, leaking radiators and fuel injectors, and electrical problems such as erratic gauges.
XR4Tis are easily modified. Sierra Cosworth parts, like its famed “whaletail” spoiler, can be sourced from Europe. Swapping in a Fox-body Mustang’s T-transmission is a common and relatively easy endeavor. V-8s will also fit underneath the Merkur’s hood—in fact, a 302-powered version, the Sierra XR8, was sold and raced in South Africa.
Any car with an incomplete service history. Oil changes needed to happen religiously at 3000 miles, and timing belts should have been changed every 60,000 miles. Dried and cracked hoses underneath the hood are common, given the high heat of the engine bay, but be on the lookout for signs of neglect.
Pre-198models with the iconic biplane spoiler are the most highly sought XR4Tis. Examples in good condition and in stock form are increasingly difficult to find. Similarly, XR4Tis without sunroofs (known in Merkur circles as a “competition shell”) are hard to come by.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Rod Couplers wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Rod Couplers
- №1 — WAC Lighting LM-RI-BN LV Monorail Rod Coupler
- №2 — WAC Lighting RI-WT Rod Couplers for R-Extensions
- №3 — Steck Manufacturing 71470 Tie Rod Coupler