Multi-tools, Adjustable Wrenches, and Vortex Tubes

I like tools and gadgets that can perform a variety of functions. From the Swiss Army Knife, to the multi-tools by Leatherman, Gerber, etc., I’m a sucker for anything that might offer me the chance to NOT dig through my toolbox for something that’s probably not there because it didn’t get put back the last time.

That’s why another of my favorite tools is the adjustable spanner…you may know it as the Crescent, or perhaps, the “all sixteenths,” wrench. Its popularity is cemented in American legend, as pioneering aviators Charles Lindbergh and Richard Byrd both famously included them in the scant provisions they took with them on their long flights across the Atlantic and to the North Pole, respectively. Remember, this was back when every single ounce of weight that someone took on a plane with them had to be carefully considered. Which, come to think of it, isn’t that much different than commercial flight luggage constraints today. But I digress.

Lindbergh took only "gasoline, sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a Crescent wrench and pliers" on his famous flight.
Lindbergh took only “gasoline, sandwiches, a bottle of water, and a Crescent wrench and pliers” on his famous flight.

One other thing this tool is sometimes called is the “Crescent hammer.” Dear reader, don’t do that to such a fine instrument. Seriously; go back to the toolbox that it came from…odds are, you’ve got a real hammer there. It will strike the handle end of the screwdriver that you intend to use as a chisel much squarer. While you’re there, get your safety glasses too. You’re welcome.

Now, it’s not always a problem to use things for applications other than what they were intended for…not always. In fact, I had the pleasure of helping someone do just that with a Vortex Tube recently. During the assembly of the electrical connectors they make, they put a small dab of sealant inside. When wire is inserted by the user, this sealant helps hold it in place, and protects the bare end from corrosion. They were, however, putting more than they needed into the connectors, and were looking for a way to quickly heat the piece, which would thin out the sealant and produce an even coating inside, allowing the rest to be recovered and reused.

They were already familiar with EXAIR products, since they’re a big user of our Safety Air Guns. The caller had found our Vortex Tubes in his copy of our catalog, and was wondering if he could use the hot air flow for this. He knew what temperature he needed to reach, but didn’t have a feel for how much (or little) air flow would be needed to do the job. This was no problem, since our Model 3930 Cooling Kit comes with a Medium Vortex Tube and ten different Generators, which allows for a range of hot flows from 2 to 32 SCFM (56 to 906 SLPM), and temperatures from 96° to 261°F (35° to 127°C).


If you’ve got an application that you want to use a Vortex Tube for – be it cold or hot air that you’re after – give us a call. Oh, and I was just kidding about the screwdriver; I know you have a chisel, and, like mine, it’s somewhere. Somewhere…

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation

Cool Motorcycles and Cool Motors

Now that my riding days are behind me, not by my choosing, I now have to live my motorcycle dreams through my son. So I decided since he has mastered his bicycle skills over the last 2 summers it was time to step up to his first dirt bike. (keeping tradition as my brother and I were riding by age 5).

I didn’t want to frustrate our neighbors with what some would consider loud obnoxious noise (to others like me it is a soothing sound), so instead of going with a traditional 50cc gas dirt bike, I decided to start looking at the quieter electric bikes on the market. (I know, I thought the same thing too….. ELECTRIC??? but it actually is a good alternative for a little one to learn on.)

After a few nights of internet searching, I decided on which particular model/size would be good for teaching my son how to ride and something he could use in our backyard. Negotiations went surprisingly smooth, with the seller AND my wife/mommy, so we picked up the bike last Tuesday. Of course, mother nature decided to “rain” on my son’s (our) parade, so he only got about 3 hours of ride time over the several days that followed.


Once the weather cooperated, I wanted to see how my son (and the bike) would handle different terrain, other than just flat back yard; so we loaded up the truck and headed to grandma’s house because she has “all the cool hills and we can make jumps!” says my son. (JUST what mommy wanted to hear.)

We arrived and I unloaded the bike but before I could have the “safety talk” with him, he was GONE! Riding up the side yard then coming back down and into the backyard, the one with the all the hills. His joy and excitement were short-lived however as the little electric bike, which does great on flat terrain, struggled with the hills and the battery drained pretty quick.

As he went to get off the bike he said that he felt like he burnt his leg, and I knew the one thing it wasn’t from, an exhaust, since the bike doesn’t have an exhaust, it’s electric! After checking over the bike, I did notice the motor housing was quite warm and decided to let it cool down before he could ride again. Well, this just wasn’t going to be an option because he just wanted to ride! (It would have been nice to have one of the our Vortex Tubes or Adjustable Spot Coolers to help speed up the cooling process.)

Vortex Tube    Adjustable Spot Cooler

EXAIR Vortex Tubes can produce temperatures from -50 deg F to 260 F and provide refrigeration up to 10,200 Btu/hr.

EXAIR Adjustable Spot Coolers can produce temperatures from -30 deg F to 70 deg F and can provide refrigeration up to 2,000 Btu/hr.

Both units have no moving parts and are virtually maintenance free.  With that being said, to help the battery from overheating and maintaining a longer electric motor life, either of the EXAIR spot cooling products I mentioned could be positioned to blow cold air over the motor and cool the entire housing due the small size of the motor. Vortex Tubes have been placed right upon large electric motor housings in order to pump cold air directly into the motor itself, with an exhaust port to allow the air to escape. Also, Adjustable Spot Coolers have been used to cool small fractional motors packed inside of a large processing machine.

Check out our full line of  Vortex Tubes and Spot Cooling Systems at, or contact an Application Engineer.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer



Survey Says…Many Customers Have Similar Concerns

Family Feud

After the busy and enjoyable long weekend I have found myself looking back through some logs and have compiled a brief list of the most common issues we receive from Consultants on their customers’ compressed air systems.  The list is also what we commonly see and hear as issues from direct customers also.  The list is below.

  • Pressure drops in the compressed air system
  • Lack of measurement for flow / pressure within the system
  • Contaminants / moisture within the air
  • Leaks
  • Lack of engineered point of use solutions

That is a pretty short list that can cover a large amount of issues within a compressed air system.  So let’s see if we can shine a little more light on these issues.

Pressure drops in the compressed air system are more often than not a piping system issue.   The pressure drop could possibly occur when the point of use device is consuming  more air than the supply pipe or system can give it, or when you have a piping system that is undersized for the length of pipe that is installed – For instance, 50′ of 1/4″  schedule 40 pipe can only flow approximately 11 SCFM.  The best solution I can recommend is to ensure you are always utilizing  an Intelligent Compressed Air® Product at all applicable points of use. EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to reduce air volume at the point of use and conserve as much compressed air as possible.  So keep your compressed air supply lines properly sized and rely on engineered solutions at the point of use to keep your end use product running as efficiently as possible. Pressure regulators can also be added to fine tune the incoming pressure to a lower pressure or just enough pressure for a successful application.

The lack of measurement devices for flow and pressure within the system can be easily solved by installing flow meters and pressure regulators with gauges.   EXAIR Digital Flowmeters, pressure regulators, and even just pressure gauges are readily available and  in stock ready to ship direct to your facility.  The Digital Flowmeters are available for 1/2″ iron pipe through 4″ iron pipe (copper also available) to fit nearly any of the hard piping you may have within your system. These flow meters require only 2 small holes into the compressed air pipe and provide a readout or data logging capabilities to monitor your compressed air. Pressure regulators with gauges can keep your end use pressure to minimum in order to conserve compressed air and the gauge provides the valuable measurement so you can remain aware of legs/areas you may be able to lower overall pressure. Knowing how much air is flowing through the system along with what pressure your point of use devices are at can make optimization of the system a lot easier.

Contaminants and moisture in the air can easily be remedied by utilizing one of the EXAIR auto drain filter separators as well as an oil removal filter.  By using the auto drain filter separators the units will only dump the waste material once they have reached a certain level within the filter bowl.  This means no need for a timer based drain system which can become costly if there is no moisture to dump at that time. Keeping the supply air clean and contaminant free will also prevent wear of the end use products and keep them operating at peak performance.

Leaks are always hard to find.   This is why EXAIR offers the Ultrasonic Leak Detector, this device will help you pin point the compressed air leaks in your piping system.   The easy to read LED indicator as well as the adjustable sensitivity scale make the handheld device very easy to use.   Remember, just because you can’t personally hear the leak doesn’t mean that a leak is not there.   An Ultrasonic Leak detector can identify leaks we are unable to hear so you may locate and repair them which will further optimize your system.

The lack of engineered point of use solutions is even easier to troubleshoot.   Simply contact an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and we will help you determine which product from our selection is right for your situation.  Engineered products are designed with maximum efficiency and safety in mind. Whether you are coating, conserving, cooling, conveying, or cleaning with compressed air, chances are we have a solution for you.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Three Ways Your Company is Wasting Money on Compressed Air

Compressed air is an expensive utility for most industrial applications.  The cost of generating a 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet is $0.25.  A typical 25 HP screw compressor will generate 52.5 million cubic feet per year. To generate 52.5 million cubic feet will cost $13,140 in electricity costs. Running this compressor more than necessary will lead to higher maintenance costs and higher electricity costs. Also, decreasing your compressor load will delay or avoid a capital expenditure, as your plant expands and production grows.  Anything you can do today to limit wasted compressed air will pay for years to come.  Here are 3 ways you are currently wasting compressed air.

ONE> Open Ended Blow Offs – The benefits of eliminating open ended blow offs in your plant are numerous and drastic. Saving air by outfitting open ended blow offs with an engineered solution (EXAIR air nozzle, air knife, air amplifier) is a significant portion of compressed air conservation. It is an easy install and can save a great deal of compressed air.  The situation always starts innocent enough: Five years ago Company X installed a new production line, but found that they needed a compressed air blow off to move, clean, dry or cool a part.  The blow off may not have been planned in the original specification, or the engineering company that specified the line did not take into account the compressed air cost of the line. The maintenance department is under pressure from the management to get the line running, and an open pipe works to get the line running. Since the compressed air already existed in the plant, it is free, cheap, or easy … for them. But what will it cost your company?

A Super Air Nozzle will use 14 standard cubic feet per minute (SCFM) at 80 PSIG of inlet pressure. A 1/4″ inside diameter 18″ long tube will use 50.5 SCFM. Now the compressor system in your facility is working harder by 36.5 SCFM.  This means your next compressor will be 10 HP larger than it needs to be to keep up with excessive demand. In addition, 36.5 SCFM running 24 hours a day is 52,560 Standard Cubic Feet, which costs $13.14 to generate.  Over a year that is $3,285, because the knowledge and time to install an engineered compressed air nozzle does not always present itself. Just imagine the cost, if you have 5 open blow offs, or 50?

Open blow offs can also violate OSHA requirements for using compressed air for cleaning, when pressurized above 30 PSIG. Not to mention they generally are louder than 90 dBA, which is the maximum allowable noise exposure without hearing protection under OSHA standard 29 CFR – 1910.95 (a). A nozzle is a simple way to avoid a OSHA fine. If the money didn’t convince you to use an engineered nozzle, the cost to your employees health and hearing should.

TWO> Leaky Distribution System – Second, we come to the most simplistic way of wasting compressed air: Leaky pipes. It seems impossible that the small air leaks that occur in almost any compressed air system would amount to a large cost that would be significant in any way, but as we discuss here. It can happen to the best of us. It is estimated that over 30% of compressed air generated is lost to leaks in a compressed air system, before it is used at its intended point.  Do not let this happen in your facility.  Have an auditor come into your facility to check your system, or conduct your own air leak survey using our Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

THREE> Leaving Compressed Air on All the Time – Lets say that your part only crosses in front of the blow off every 15 seconds, and the part takes 5 seconds to cross in front of the that blow off.  That means that there are ten seconds in every cycle where compressed air is wasted. Let’s continue our example of the 1/4″ inner diameter copper tube that is 18″ long above.  How much are those 10 seconds costing you? 10 seconds times 4 cycles per minute is 40 seconds of wasted air every minute. In 40 seconds 24.3 SCFM air is wasted. 24.3 SCFM of wasted air will cost $2,187 per year with a 24 hour work day and 250 working days in a year.

Even after lowering your total consumption by installing an engineered air nozzle on your open blow off, there is more opportunity to reduce compressed air. If you have Super Air Nozzle already installed and have realized some very good air savings, you can still turn off your compressed air flow for 10 seconds every cycle in our example. In the case of the Super Air Nozzle that will be 9.33 SCFM, which will still cost $837 per year. If you are looking for an easy way to turn your air on and off only as needed during your process, the EXAIR Electronic Flow Control is a great system to further fine tune your compressed air use. To do your own calculation, EXAIR’s Air Savings calculator is a great tool for calculating the cost of compressed air.

Most of these items require some type of expenditure to complete, but paying for a nozzle, an air survey or a control system will lower your compressor load everyday you work. EXAIR’s Application Engineers are available everyday to access your compressed air systems. We would be happy to help you determine the ROI for any compressed air system upgrade. You can read about our success stories on our website at Case Studies (we do ask you to register before viewing our case study successes).

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer

Memorial Day 2014 – Thank You

Marine Memorial

In a conversation with one of my sisters recently, I was informed how elated she is that Memorial Day is approaching so she can soon wear white. There is, or maybe there was at some point, a fashion rule dictating that white only be worn between Memorial Day and Labor Day. As I understand, this was done by the opulent to set themselves aside from the working class, who often wore dark clothes for work.

When she told me this, I of course asked if she knew Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. “Accessoriiiiize!”, she said, as if her brain was assembling the ensemble she MUST wear as soon as possible.

This sister is a stark contrast to my other sister who is married to a retired Marine and veteran of the war in Afghanistan. For their family, Memorial Day takes on a much more somber, appreciative tone, as it does with me.
We are fortunate to live as we do, and regardless of a person’s political beliefs, we ALL appreciate the dedication and sacrifice of those in our armed forces.

I was recently told by a foreign national that they admire the culture of America. How we as a people do not fight for land territory, but for ideals and principles of fair living.
Let’s remember that, and remember those who have fallen in defense of our ideals.

Many of our EXAIR Families will watch their Boy Scouts walk in a parade or help decorate veteran’s gravestones with their 4H club, or remember their family members who have died serving the US military. EXAIR supports all of these activities and has the utmost respect and gratitude for those who have died serving our country so we may have opportunity and freedom. Please take a moment to think of our fallen, brave U.S. military people today.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer

Think You’re Too Busy? Think Again.

The first half of Knothole Baseball season is drawing to a close this weekend.  This means that teams are in a mad scramble to make up all the rained out games that are par for the course, when you schedule springtime outdoor events in the more temperate climate regions of the American Midwest.  If the weather holds, that means eight games in six days, between the two baseball players that live in my house.  Now, I LIKE baseball, so, when their mother pointed this out to me with a dire look of frustration in her eyes, I thought it best to hide my excitement…lest I incur her wrath, along with Mother Nature and a couple of coaches.  By the way,Todd & Ryan: you should know it’s nothing personal, and she thinks the world of both of you.

So, we’re busy right now.  I mean, do the math: Eight games in six days means we’re unlikely to both be able to attend them all.  I’m going to try, of course…because of the divisions they play in and the layout of our local ballpark, they very likely could be playing on adjacent fields Saturday afternoon.  That’s MY kind of double-header!

I know we’re not the only ones who are busy right now either, personally or professionally.  Of course, professionally, busy-ness is kind of the goal, right?  That’s why it’s important to be as efficient as possible.  I had the pleasure of discussing an application with the operator of a fabrication shop this morning: After drilling & tapping a series of blind holes in a part, it gets washed & rinsed, and then blown off to remove the residual rinse water.  Problem is, it’s time consuming to blow out a couple dozen irregularly spaced holes on a couple hundred parts, each and every day, by hand.  And frankly, the tedium associated with the process means that holes are likely going to be missed, and even the ones that get blown out might not get 100% dry.

Their idea is to use a Super Air Knife to blow a high velocity “curtain” of air over the entire area where the holes are located…their maximum spacing is only about 8” from side to side, and they thought a 12” wide air flow pattern would be ideal, since they might have an inch or so “play” in the way the parts will pass through.  I recommended our Model 110212 12” Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit.

Like I said, though, they’re busy right now, so they don’t want to throw a bunch of time and labor at coming up with a way to install and test equipment that they have no experience with.  That’s where the total engineering of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products comes in:

Our Super Air Knives are designed to be the most efficient and quietest in the industry…we back that up with our Efficiency Lab (where your existing products can be tested by our experts, using our precision calibrated instrumentation) and our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee (where you can see for yourself, in real time, how EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products are better, quieter, and safer than what you’re using right now.)  Not only that, but our Engineering and Production folks have combined their knowledge and resources to also make them easy to install and operate:  They’re compact and lightweight.  They have multiple ports to plumb compressed air to, and tapped holes running their entire length to use for easy mounting.  We’ve got Universal Air Knife Mounting Systems that require only one hole to secure a ½”-13 bolt, and installation is done…you can position and reposition it all via two thumbscrews.  Longer length Super Air Knives are available with Plumbing Kits Installed, so your compressed air supply lines are simplified.  And we keep it all in stock, so you can try it out, right now.

How Air Knife Works90609076






I won’t lie to you…blowing water out of blind holes is a tough application.  But they already know that.  After our conversation this morning, they also know how “low impact” (their words) a trial of the Super Air Knife will be.  I thought you should know too.

Do you have something in mind for a compressed air application that you don’t think you have time for?  Give us a call – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax



(Im)Proper Infeed Pipe Size For The Super Air Knife

Last week I took a call from a customer stating their 54” Super Air Knife was, “Barely producing any output flow or increase in velocity”, thus they wanted to adjust the gap in the air knife by adding shims to try and increase their output. I explained that by adding more shims, they were only going to increase their air demand (which was already exceeding supply) and lessen the output velocity.

I decided to take another approach, so instead of just taking the sale for more shims, we began to troubleshoot the issues they were experiencing. 

After a brief discussion with the customer, I asked if they could take a picture of the process application and send via email. Below is the image that was sent…

 Hudson Ranch SAK 54inch installation

After reviewing the image it was determined there were a few issues with the installation of the Super Air Knife, with the main concern being the in-feed pipe size and connection. The customer was using ¼” O.D. tubing and a quick disconnect which was actually “starving” the Super Air Knife and causing severe pressure drops. You can also explain in this way, it’s like feeding a fire hose with a garden hose, the smaller hose just can’t provide enough volume of water for the larger hose to spray the water out at a high volume and velocity. 


Super Air Knife recommended input air line size


EXAIR provides a chart explaining what size we recommend for compressed air supply lines into our products within our installation and maintenance guides. Per the above chart, for our 54” Super Air Knife we recommend a 3/4” in-feed pipe size for a 10’ length of run, 1” pipe size for 50’ and 1-1/4” pipe size for 100’. Also, you should not use restrictive fittings, such as quick disconnects, which will cause excessive air volume lost, resulting in pressure loss through the Knife.

If you are having a similar issue or believe you are getting sub par performance from your EXAIR product, please do not hesitate to contact an Application Engineer at 1-800-903-9247 for assistance, we are confident that we can get it up and running to solve your application. 

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer