Made In USA Really Does Mean Quality – Here’s An Example

2007 Passat Stock Photo

Stock photo of the 2007 VW Passat

Having come from an automotive background, I’ve written in the past about different engine rebuilds or similar side projects that I have completed.  Usually I’ve been fortunate to have some experience with tearing down the engines in question, but I recently picked up a car with which I was not so familiar.

The car in question is a 2007 VW Passat, with a two liter, four cylinder, turbo charged gas engine (engine code BPY).  I came into ownership of the car because it had been diagnosed as having an engine failure and was in need of a whole new motor to get back on the road.

I met the owner and started the engine to hear what sounded like an aluminum can bouncing around inside of a dishwasher during the heavy duty cycle.  I then did what anyone in my position would do, I bought the car.

When I towed it home I started the engine again to dive a little deeper into what might be the root cause.  And, little to no-noise.

For a few years back in the late 90’s – early 2000’s, VW was plagued by a sludge issue that would clog the pickup to the oil pump and starve the engine of precious lubricant.  I thought to myself, could this still be an issue?  It certainly seemed like a possibility.

So, I dropped the oil pan and examined the pickup screen for the oil pump.  Sure enough, it was clogged.  BUT, while cleaning out the oil pan, I noticed pieces of what looked to be a timing chain guide.  The most likely source of these small plastic pieces was the cam chain tensioner, which uses a timing chain guide and is adversely effected by low or no oil flow.

I tore down to the cam chain tensioner (the same component which failed and caused one of the cams to seize in my A4) and found it almost in pieces, hanging on for dear life.  To be clear, if the cam chain tensioner in this engine had been pushed just a little further, at least one of the cams would have seized and I would have been faced with putting valves in this engine, or being forced to put an entirely new engine in the car.

Thankfully, I seemed to have caught the failure before catastrophic damage occurred.  I ordered replacement parts and a special tool to do the work, eager to see if I could save this engine from despair.

The special tool in question locks the camshafts in place so that timing components can be serviced.  I installed my special tool, attempted to loosen a key bolt, and the special tool snapped in half.  I was back to square one.

I searched for another manufacturer of the same tool, and found one proudly made in the US, though at a premium cost.  But hey, if it has a lower cost and doesn’t work, it has no real value anyway.

I doubled down and ordered the Made In USA tool, impatient to see it arrive and determine if it was money well spent.

Passat 2

Special camshaft alignment/locking tool. Made In USA. (This one worked flawlessly!)

The new tool showed up yesterday and was the type of night-and-day difference you can only dream of when searching for a quality product.  Strong, sturdy, and unapologetically oozing quality, I was proud to see that Made In USA still carries the same meaning for other companies as it does for EXAIR.

Passat 1

New cam chain tensioner installed using my new, quality, Made In USA tool

EXAIR makes all of our products here in the US to a superb level of quality.  My experience last night reminded me of what our customers feel when they use our product to do a job that a lower cost alternative could only hope to achieve.

If you have an application in need of a quality solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

Extra Shims Give Super Air Knives A Boost

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient and quietest compressed air blow off knife on the market. We know this because we’ve tested them, and our competitors’ offerings, for performance, using the same instruments, controls, and procedures. We’re not going to publish data that we can’t back up, and that’s a fact.

We will use the same precision calibrated equipment, by the way, to test your existing products for savings comparison in our Efficiency Lab service.

We will use the same precision calibrated equipment, by the way, to test your existing products for savings comparison in our Efficiency Lab service.

They’re also ideally suited to a wide variety of applications – they come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet long (and can actually be coupled together for uninterrupted air flows of even longer lengths,) a variety of materials for just about any environment, and changing performance is as easy as “dialing in” a regulator, or, for gross adjustments, installing a different (or additional) shim.

As the title of this blog suggests, a larger shim gap will give you higher flow and force from your Air Knife. Honestly, the 0.002″ shim that comes pre-installed in all of our Air Knives is perfectly suitable for most blow off applications, and appropriate air supply conditions are the first thing you should check for before going with thicker shims, but if you do indeed need a boost, a thicker shim will indeed give you one…here’s a video to show you how it’s done:

Keep in mind that appropriate air supply is going to be important here as well…by increasing the shim gap, you’re increasing the amount of compressed air flow required.  This means that you may need a larger diameter of infeed pipe to carry that much air, and/or you may have to plumb that air to additional ports on the Super Air Knife.

This is from the Installation & Operation Guide that ships with your Super Air Knife. It's also available from our PDF Library (registration required.)

This is from the Installation & Operation Guide that ships with your Super Air Knife. It’s also available from our PDF Library (registration required.)

For most cases, we can use the above data to determine how to properly supply a Super Air Knife with additional shims.  For example, let’s look at a 12″ Super Air Knife:

*With a 0.002″ shim, you’ll need a 3/8″ pipe, assuming infeed length of 10ft or less, to pass the 34.8 SCFM that this unit will consume when supplied @80psig.

*By installing a 0.004″ shim, you’re doubling the air consumption, which means it’ll consume the same amount as a unit twice this length…we can see from the chart, then, that a 24″ Super Air Knife will need a 1/2″ infeed pipe.

*Also, since you’re using the same amount of air as the 24″ Super Air Knife, the 12″ unit should be treated like the 24″ one, and plumbed to (2) inlets at opposite ends of the knife (see “Compressed Air Supply” notes above.)

This is just one simple case for a small unit. If you’d like to discuss altering the performance of your Super Air Knife, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Find us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Air Gun Extensions Provide Reach and Flexibility

My youngest son started crawling a few weeks back which quickly reminded us how the game changes at this stage. He has been motoring all around the living room building his confidence and is now ready to tackle standing with the aid of the coffee table, couch, chair, well pretty much any elevated surface that he can easily grab and pull himself up. This is my one of my favorite time of a baby’s development stage but also one of the most stressful. Gone are the days of leaving anything within arms reach because all too soon it will be “strategically relocated”, usually inside someone’s mouth. Just this past weekend I’ve had to search for the TV remote, video game controller and a picture – yes a picture! Even when we think we are smart and have put things out of reach, you’d think this kid was Stretch Armstrong because just like that, “poof”, the search is on.


Stretch Armstrong doll

Sometimes having some extra reach can actually be quite beneficial. For example, maybe you need to blow out debris from under a machine or you’re needing to blow dust off of an area overhead, EXAIR has you covered. We offer Aluminum Extension Pipes from 6″ up to 72″ lengths for our Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns. Coupled with the comfortable, ergonomic design of our Safety Air Guns , extensions provide a reliable option for those hard to reach industrial areas.

Aluminum Extension

Aluminum Extension on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun


In addition to Aluminum Extension Pipes, we also have our Flexible Stay Set Hose Extensions. The Stay Set Hose allows for a an easy way to direct the airflow to the critical areas, while holding it position. The hose will remain in position until an operator has physically repositioned it for the next process. One of our customers manufactures toilets and they use this feature to blowout any dust or debris under the rim before the product ships. These hoses are offered in lengths from 6″ up to 36″ lengths, factory assembled on our Soft Grip Safety Air Guns.

Stay Set Hose

Flexible Stay Set Hose Extension on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

All of EXAIR Guns are equipped with engineered, OSHA safe, nozzles to minimize air consumption and noise. If you need any help, “reach” out to one of our Application Engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer


Stretch image courtesy of Alex Beattie via Creative Commons License


Compressed Air – Diagnose a Car Problem or Simulate Ape Breath

At the end of this week and all through next week, I will be taking my family to the “most magical place on earth!”  Keep in mind, I have three daughters at the ages of 5 (almost 6 if you ask her), 3, and 1. (Not to mention my wife who has spent endless hours researching and scheduling our events for the week.) It’s not just my household that is going on this trip though, it is my entire family, parents, siblings, teenage nieces, and one nephew.   I honestly don’t remember the last family vacation we went on with all of us there so it is going to be an amazing experience no matter what.


Cincinnati to Orlando = 13 hours (not with kids)

The trip from Cincinnati, OH to Orlando, FL is approximately 13 hours, factor in the children and parents ages and I am going to go ahead and say we are looking at 24 hours of travel, at least.   Now I am being smart, we are breaking this trip up into two days. I envision something that will look like a military convoy going down I-75 when the 3 vehicles all get going, the painful truth is it will look more like the Clampets move to Hollywood.

In preparation for the trip I have been doing some routine maintenance on our family van and discovered what I believed to be a rather bad coolant leak.  Now, I didn’t see the leak but I noticed the lack of coolant in the system.   So I started to conduct a few tests and oddly enough, they involved compressed air.   First I filled the system and pulled a vacuum on the entire cooling system to draw out any air.   Once I pulled around 11″ of mercury, I went ahead and turned off my compressed air vacuum generator and tried to see if it would lose vacuum.  It didn’t, so I then hooked a hose to a container of coolant and slowly released the vacuum sucking the coolant down into the system and eliminating the risk of air bubbles.

Since I couldn’t see a loss in vacuum I decided I would test the system under pressure.  To do this I simply removed the radiator cap and attached a special tool which would pump air down into the radiator and put the entire system under pressure, much like it would be during normal operation.  Once I built the pressure up to 15 psig, the factory cap was rated for 16 psig,  I let it sit.  I scoured every single coolant line I could find and came up dry.  Couldn’t find a single drop of coolant escaping the system at all and it even held pressure for a solid hour. Coming up with no leak I decided to give it a test drive and low and behold, I have yet to find a leak.  My only theory at this point is during some warranty work a dealership must have disconnected a hose and forgot to fill it back up, or it is normal evaporation seeing as how I don’t remember the last time I topped off the coolant.

The entire time I was troubleshooting this system I found it interesting I was still using compressed air in some form, even on a liquid cooling system.  I then started to wonder if I am going to be able to see any EXAIR products while at that magical park in Orlando, hopefully something like the Roaring Banana Breath that is featured in our Super Air Amplifiers section of the catalog. Our amplifiers also get used to puff air at folks during other “4D” experiences throughout the world.


EXAIR Super Air Amplifiers help disperse banana scents into the air and into the face of patrons at a theme park ride.

Nonetheless, compressed air helped me determine that my family’s vehicle is not going to be spraying coolant on the roadway during this trip and I am glad for it.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager


Removing Oil Residue with Flat Super Air Nozzles


When a machine or process requires lubrication, things can (and often do) get covered in the lubricant.  Whether it is oil, coolant, grease, or any other substance reducing friction, containing and/or removing the lubricant can be a real challenge.


Such was the case for our customer in the application shown above.  They had developed a method for collecting and channeling the base (journal cross with trunnions – technically termed “spiders”) of a u-joint, used in the assembly at the next processing station.  Initially the method worked well, but problems began to arise with the accumulation of lubricant in the bottom of the collection device (shown below).


The solution to this problem was two-fold.  Firstly, a chain conveyor has been designed to replace the existing hopper.  Secondly, a series of EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles, model 1122, will be used along with 12″ Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases to provide a blow off station.

The conveyor will allow much of the residual oil to drip off of the u-joint crosses and into a collection bin below.  The Flat Super Air Nozzles will take the process a step further and actively remove any remaining oil, blowing the residue off of the u-joints and into the collection bin below.  By using Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases we’re able to position the nozzles exactly where they need to be, making installation easy, quick, and adjustable when needed.

In removing the excess oil from the surface of these u-joints we’re able to make the entire workflow process more efficient by producing a steady, repeatable condition for the u-joints at the end of this process stage.  And, by removing imbalances in throughput due to reworking or stalling at this production stage we’re able to add confidence to our customer’s application.

If you have a similar application or would like to work with EXAIR to find an application solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

Video Blog: Using Flexible Stay Set Hoses for Positioning Blow Off Products

How to properly use the Flexible Stay Set Hose for long lasting service.


John Ball
Application Engineer

Analogies Are Like…

I came up with this title for this week’s blog the other day, and I can’t think of something to compare an analogy to, in the context I wish to discuss today.  Isn’t that ironic?

I’ve always had good luck with analogies…if I need to explain something to someone, being able to draw a comparison to a well-known or easy to picture scenario just comes easy to me. Someone smarter than me once said “if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough,” and analogies have always served me well in that regard.

They are, in fact, a popular tool of the trade in EXAIR’s Application Engineering department. The most common example is, in fact, the topic of my blog today.

If a caller wants to use a Vortex Tube to cool something that’s very hot, we may recommend a Super Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, or Air Knife instead. The long answer is that there are two variables to consider in a conductive/convective heat transfer application using fluid flow: flow rate, and temperature differential between the object and the medium (air in this case.) If the item is indeed very hot, then you already have a very high differential between the item’s surface temperature and the temperature of the air (ambient) that you’ll be blowing on it…and our Intelligent Compressed Air Products serve to increase the air flow rate, by entraining “free” air from the surrounding environment. If there’s a moment of silence when we get to that part of the explanation, we’ll compare it to when you blow a quick breath on a spoonful of very hot soup, which, although your breath isn’t cold at all, it still cools that soup down in a hurry. In comparison to the temperature of the very hot soup your breath is cold. Then we take their order, ship their Super Air Nozzle (or Air Amplifier or Air Knife) and everyone’s happy.

If you’d like to discuss a compressed air product application – or if you can help me solve the problem of this blog’s title with a rapt analogy – please let me know. Either way, I’ll be as happy as a kid in a candy store to hear from you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
Find us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,986 other followers

%d bloggers like this: