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© Copyright 2006 Work-4 Projects Ltd.

By Jon Eakes

Tough Tool Testers Found Nailer Wanting

When tool companies set out to innovate, sometimes they do really well on part of the new tool and not so well on the rest. Our tough group of Canadian builder tool testers were thoroughly impressed with the ability of the new Stanley N88 (RH-2MCN) framing nailer to do a superior job of nailing in hangers. The head of the tool was specially made for locating the hole in the hanger and the rest of the shape was designed to get in and do that job exceedingly well. For that specific job, they liked the nailer. One guy also mentioned that he really liked the gun depth adjustment with no need to change pressure at the compressor.
But then it got confusing. One liked its light weight and another found it too heavy. Designed for carefully placing the nail for hanger nailing, Stanley did not include a continuous trigger function, which one fellow felt was lacking.
They all agreed that the real problem was not the nailer but the nails. The specific hanger nails were difficult or impossible to find for almost all the testers, and expensive compared to the competition. Other nails tended to jam. In addition, Stanley's special collated nails for hangers would spit pieces of plastic right in your face as it chewed its way through the nail strip.
Would they recommend it to others? Only as a very efficient speciality hanger nailer and only if availability of the nails improves.

FlexTherm radiant cable
As I mentioned in the last issue, I have been renovating an old house myself this summer and, of course, with me that means all kinds of experimenting with both tools and products. My wife really doesn't appreciate that my camera crews and note-taking blow the construction schedules right out the window. But aside from marital stress, I am having a lot of fun and learning things.
One of my great discoveries was a new in-floor radiant heating cable by FlexTherm in Montreal(featured in last issue's New Product Showcase). I heard the claim that a new cable was coming out that had almost no electromagnetic radiation. Although the debate on whether electromagnetic fields in general are harmful to humans is not settled, many consumers are sensitive to the question - especially when it relates to rather strong radiation from heating cables and babies crawling on the same floor. It is a nice warm floor but there are unsettled health debates. So a wire that had almost no flux field sounded too good to be true.

As it turned out, Flextherm's factory is 15 minutes from my house. So off I went to see if it was true. I took my own guss metres and used theirs. It was true. The new Green Cable is an ecological breakthrough in radiant heating. Of course, they can't stop an electrical current from creating a magnetic field, but they spent years mastering the technique of twisting two wires together in just the right way to have them cancel each other out - and they really do. At an up-sale of only about 10 per cent more expensive, this will allow "clean" radiant heat where hydronic is not practical. My holistic wife will now have warm feet in that new bathroom.

Rear discharge toilets
Then there was the question of the request to move the toilet to the other side of the bathroom, as it was being expanded. Of course, that was impossible because of a finished living room ceiling below and about four joists in the way. So I decided to break all norms and locate a rear discharge toilet and run the drain pipes across the floor (in front of the bath tub, just under that designer step). Think about what this technique could do for basement renovations.
That started a very long process of discussion and testing. Most rear discharge toilets in North America are made for commercial use with noisy power assist flushing mechanisms, not really practical for a master bathroom. However, outside of North America, there are tons of choices in rear discharge toilets, simply because of concrete construction and not wanting to drill through the floor. Of course, they are all metric and not many are certified by CSA. No European companies wanted to bother to send me a sample because they felt they had no market here.
We finally got our hands on a Caroma hang-on-the-wall toilet from Australia. This is a down-flow toilet with dual flush - 6 litres and 3 litres. This product line has produced very good clearing performance in the low-flow testing that has been going on. So we put it into the test laboratory to see it if would clear well when hooked up to a 90-degree exit out the back to the side, over two feet, then another 90 degrees (that's where she wanted the toilet) and then 6 feet run to the old toilet standpipe, 90 degrees down into the joist area and 3 feet over to the stack. It worked! At least we had some advance information on upcoming research that told us that a 3-inch pipe at no more than 1/4-inch per foot slope gives the best carrying performance for low-flow toilets.
Then I had to put it in. Understand that this is all metric. The tank is separate from the hang-on-the-wall bowl, which is kind of cool, but that meant exiting the tank in metric, changing to imperial pipe, back to metric to get into the bowl, out of the bowl in metric about 6 inches in diameter, they supplied a reducer to about 5 inches in metric, then reducing to 3-inch drain pipe. Also, I discovered that a hang-on-the-wall toilet, when the backside is not open, is rather touchy as you have to carefully line up two bolts, the input pipe and the output pipe, and slide it all on without getting the slip-on gaskets out of line. The first time my vertically challenged wife sat down I got to start all over, as I discovered that the Australian standard is about 1-1/2 inches higher off the floor than ours and, for my wife, that means reading on her tip toes.
I wouldn't recommend the experience for a renovator until they get all the metric/imperial transition pieces down to a science. But it is a great toilet. The activation buttons are on the end of air tubes and hence can be placed anywhere you want. My sister-in-law couldn't figure out for the life of her how to flush the toilet. Of course, this is all being done under the title of "experiment", but it just might someday become commonly acceptable to plumbing inspectors. HB

Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.


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