Working in the trenches just got easier with the new range of pipe lasers from Spectra Precision. Designed to fit around tighter inverts, the Spectra Precision DG813 and DG613 deliver the most productive pipe laying experience in the market. They are extremely rugged and thrive in demanding underground conditions. Benefitting from the latest technology developed by Spectra Precision, the beam moves quickly and accurately for alignment and grade. The top of the range model, DG813, comes with a smart Spot Finder, which the laser can align to automatically and can also calculate the grade - great for checking previous work on a second day set-up.
Simple to use, with the new menu driven user interface, the DG813 and DG613 help you improve efficiency and provide unprecedented performance and reliability.
The DG613 and DG813 are available through the Spectra Precision Dealer Network in Europe, the Middle East and Africa since November 2015 and will be, mid February 2016, in the Americas and Asia Pacific region.
For more information, please visit www.spectralasers.com
Active Products announce the re-launch of their latest AP ProSeries rechargeable spotlight with CREE LED that now offers 350 lumens for the same price.
Supplying some of the UKs largest retailers and builder’s merchants, Active Products have built an established reputation for producing high quality, sensibly priced products and are best known for the creation of the original AP Torch lighting range created in 2003, followed by the introduction of the premium AP ProSeries range featuring CREE LED in 2009.
The AP ProSeries offers a versatile range of hand-held lighting; all built with the latest CREE technology, a three-year guarantee and consistently attracts five star reviews from both professionals and domestic users who strongly rate the products balance of performance, durability and affordability.
The rechargeable spotlight has recently been relaunched by Active Products, now offering 350 lumens versus the previous 220 lumens. This mighty spotlight also offers a line-up of superb benefits including beam distances up to 420 metres, fantastic white light brightness and brilliant beam performance from the sophisticated CREE LED bulb. Other features of this great all-rounder includes;
- Simultaneous flood to spot – provides flood & spot in one beam
- Adjustable stand for hands free operation
- Shoulder strap included
- Beam distance – up to 420 metres
- Water resistance – IP4 standard
- 1 metre impact – robust design to withstand 1 metre drop
- Battery life – up to 14 hours uses 6v rechargeable battery
- Durable & lightweight high grade.
“Our innovation pipeline is driven by demand from our retailers and consumers. With the hand-held lighting market showing strong growth and consumers demanding more power and more durability from their torches, and all at excellent value price points, our new 350 lumens, which RRP of £44.95 is a great example of achieving the important balance of high quality, superb performance and affordability.”
The AP ProSeries range can be found across a wide variety of DIY, Superstore and Mail Order companies and across the wholesale sector.
For more information regarding this product and the full range of AP Torches visit Active Products
Active Products (UK) Ltd
Barnston Warehouse, Chelmsford Road, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1LP, UK
Tel: 01371 872842 Fax: 01371 877949 Website: www.active-products.co.uk
Report by Peter Brett
With 40 years of trading to celebrate, 2015 is an important year for THS. The Directors spoke of addressing the range of challenges facing the tool market with confidence. Perhaps one of the less challenging decisions was to organize the annual show at the new venue at Donington Park. The decision was, in the opinions of everyone I spoke to, a great success because it got the thumbs up for a wide range of reasons. For visitors, the warm space was welcoming and well lit and organised, with facilities like tea, coffee and snack food available on tap. There were a number of informal sitting areas where the free Wi-Fi could be accessed as well as a huge demo area for the people who just need to see the “hands-on” stuff. People like me for example!
The exhibitors also liked the venue because of its easy motorway and airport access and free and generous parking close by. But their biggest thumbs-up was for the ease and speed of access to the hall for setting up stands. A big plus, especially for those who need to get going quickly at the end of a day – October being a very busy month for shows and exhibitions.
A theme for some of the exhibitors I spoke to was how to make the best use of show days. Many had new stand designs, publicity, video demos, mini-competitions and the staples of free pens and chocolate. Successful marketing often means being able to stand out from the crowd, so they are looking at increasingly ingenious methods to do just that. However, it still seems that a really slick demo is a crowd puller and sales generator. I await the results of the post mortems with interest…
The power tool market continues to grow in double digits each year, and there were many power tool companies who had new models on display. Flex Power Tools had a range of new 18v drivers to show. Very compact and up to date, I look forward to giving them a review in ToolBUSINESS +HIRE soon.
Key news at Hitachi centred on the new site radio (see this November’s issue) and the 12v cordless driver duo.
Metabo’s big draw was its excellent range of well-priced and very capable mitre saws – all bases covered from mains to cordless. The new Lithium HD battery technology has been a phenomenal success too.
Fein had newish mains Multi-Master with reduced noise and vibration, but with the 18v cordless version now in stock, my fingers are twitching to get a test done soon. Also new, were the 12v cordless drivers (It seems to me that 12v is the new 14.4v as so many manufacturers seem to be launching new models in that segment.)
Over at Panasonic, the new “carbon fibre” look drivers have a number of key advantages like dual battery platforms and weather sealing. In an era where choosing the best battery platform for you is key, since it will very likely ensure continued loyalty to a brand, battery flexibility makes a lot of sense.
Draper had a prominent stand as ever and with new products aplenty promised in the New Year, I am keen to get down to Draper’s demo and sales area at Chandlers Ford to get my hands dirty.
Wera always has a steady stream of new concepts to market, most of which add directly to the Wera “System” and make it easy for users to continue to buy Wera kit.
Rollins had a generous display of some very good “standard” products like Estwing Hammers and Channellock pliers that no trade can afford to ignore. But when you have used a quality hammer for example, it is very hard to ignore the shortcomings of a cheap hammer, especially if you are using it every day.
DART Tools have a similar philosophy, picking from a range of manufacturers to provide best value and quality for many users.
The brightest stand by far was Schneider’s – lit by its range of very well designed and flexible work lights. In a market driven by price it was good to see such clever functionality and bright but diffused lights.
As a dealer, one can’t afford to ignore work clothing these days, and the competition is very fierce. Brands like Dickies and JCB are well established, but the new boy on the block, Dassy from Belgium, displayed a good range of standard workwear for men, as well as a range designed to fit women perfectly - a trend that acknowledges the growing number of women in the trades.
Adhesives, paints, lubricants were also well represented. I need to find a good use for the sample cartridge of Siroflex adhesive, but since I use wipes all the time now, the Ambersil ones look like they will go straight into my site bag ready for use. Delta adhesives and silicon tapes are also high on my agenda since I always seem to have a few minor emergencies that need dealing with. And to throw a light on it all, a good torch from Coast or LED Lenser is now an absolute necessity as the clocks go back on Sunday.
Although gambling wasn’t on the menu this year, the Radisson Hotel was a spacious and gracious venue for the annual members’ and suppliers’ dinner. A relaxed event, and judging from the babble of conversation, a very friendly and chatty one too. Well done THS organisers!
For more photos of the day visit www.facebook.com/ToolBUSINESSHIRE-Magazine/
Chris Barling of Powered Now fesses up.
I am a moron. I showed it the first time that I got some work done on my house. We found three random tradesmen. We got three quotes for new guttering and downpipes. We chose the cheapest (by far).
He did the work and announced that he had finished. “What about the downpipes, you haven’t done them” we queried. “That couldn’t possibly be included in the price, did anyone else quote to do them for a price near mine” was the answer. We reluctantly agreed to pay more for the downpipes and the tradesman finished the work. Three weeks later one of the gutters fell off. After weeks of chasing he returned and fixed it back up. A few weeks later it fell off again. Chalk this up to lesson one in the school of hard knocks.
This experience illustrates perfectly why 72% of homeowners use tradesmen based on personal recommendation or previous experience with them, according to the recent Powered Now survey of more than 1,000 tradesmen. The whole field is fraught with tank-traps, so we all want to find a way to navigate through safely.
My daughter and her husband recently had their house renovated. My daughter is an architect so she is in the trade, and used tradesmen that all had been recommended. Unfortunately one was a plumber who had a particular trait. That was, you could always tell where he had been as there would be at least one pool of water slowly accumulating where he had been working. Yes really. After a few such occurrences, he was sacked and someone else used to clear up the mess. So even using recommendation isn’t entirely safe.
What about the new methods of finding people online? You can simply search in Google which has all of the old problems of Yellow Pages. The alternative is to use one of the market places that are now regularly advertising on TV, like Rated People, Checkatrade or My Builder.
In fact, Powered Now’s survey of over a thousand homeowners found that 12% had used one of these market places in the last year to find a trade company, more than had used Yellow Pages, Thomson Local and local papers combined. Of those that used these services, 41% were satisfied or very satisfied, but 14% were still either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied, which is around 1 in 7.
So there you have it. Use personal recommendation where you can, but still beware. If finding a tradesman by other means, be particularly careful, and maybe test them out with a small initial job. Once you have a good tradesmen, try to never lose them.
Am I still a moron? Probably, but certainly an older and a slightly wiser one.
For more information on Powered Now's invoicing mobile app, please visit http://powerednow.com
Watco provides 180 Christmas presents for children and siblings at hospice
Godalming-based Watco, the UK’s leading manufacturer of industrial strength flooring products, is providing 180 presents this Christmas for children at Shooting Star Chase’s Guildford children’s hospice, Christopher’s. Shooting Star Chase is a leading children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families.
Watco is spending £2,500 to support this initiative. Watco marketing director Jeremy Neaves caused quite a stir when he walked into a local toy store with his company credit card and filled several trollies with presents for children of all ages up to 21 years old. The presents range from baby toys, board games to DVDs and gift cards for the older children. They are for children and siblings supported by Shooting Star Chase at its Guildford-based hospice. The Watco team spent a donut-fuelled morning wrapping the presents and colour coding the bags according to gender and age groups.
This is the launch of the Watco community scheme and the firm will have more projects to announce shortly. Other companies are invited to join this initiative by providing presents to the children at a special time of year. Anyone interested should contact [email protected]
Jeremy Neaves, Watco Marketing Director said “Shooting Star Chase does such wonderful work and we are delighted to be able to assist by providing these presents. This is the first in a series of initiatives that we will be undertaking in aid of the hospice. I have done several runs to raise money for Shooting Star Chase before and know how the incredible team there helps the children and families. ”
Geraldine Sheedy, Head of Care at Shooting Star Chase, said: “We are hugely grateful for the generosity of Watco and can’t wait to see the children’s faces when we deliver these fantastic presents this Christmas. We always aim to make Christmas extra special for the families we support and it is thanks to lovely people like Watco, we are able to give families Christmas memories they can treasure forever.”
Aimed at: Builders, tillers, decorators – anyone who regularly needs to mark out.
Pros: Easy to use, accurate and efficient. You will wonder why you used chalklines.
When I think of all the “fun” we used to have with laying-out before the days of innovative and affordable lasers I don’t miss the “good old days”. Frankly, what a pain in the neck. Plumb lines, especially on windy days, were always a bit dodgy. Chalk lines sometimes didn’t mark properly and weren’t really possible to use if there were any small obstructions in the way and rickety right angles made up of bits of 2x1 became inaccurate almost as soon as they were made.
Lasers have changed all this, from surveyors’ laser levels that cost thousands to jobbing builders and plumbers’ versions that cost hundreds or sometimes less, we now all have the convenience and accuracy of lasers to help us layout. Because they are self leveling and the lasers project over obstacles they are so easy to use that even DIYers have no real excuse for a duff job these days.
The Pacific Laser Systems PLS480 is a classic example of all of the above. It arrived packed into a grey plastic case that neatly contained all the components in their custom spaces. There are great advantages to this – nothing moves in transit when the case is closed, and it is also easy to check that you have everything before you pack up. There really is a lot that you get with this laser, all of which is designed to be versatile, useful and accurate. In fact, it could be just about all the laser a small tradesperson would need, except, maybe, for a laser distance measure.
The laser device itself comes packed into a black nylon case as well, so it is well protected. Taking nearly as much space, there is a clever dual- function adaptor to mount the laser for use. This adaptor enables the laser to be mounted easily onto a standard surveyor’s tripod or it can be fitted over a stable batten or beam. In my kit I also had a piece of alloy angle onto which the laser device can be screwed for use on floors when laying wall or floor tiles. Two laser targets are also included, one a simple reflector target, and the other an electronic target that can detect both vertical and horizontal lines with a beep function to indicate when the laser line is accurately found. There are also a couple of laser mounting clamps included. One has magnets so that the laser can be attached to a metal profile or scaffolding pole and the other has a simple screw clamp system.
So you get the idea that you have all you need in the box, but really the best bit is to get out into the open air or on site and find out just how easy the kit is to use.
I was lucky enough to have a surveyor’s tripod included as part of the test kit. This has a built in spirit level so it is pretty easy to have a basic level ready for the laser to be attached (it automatically cancels itself if the self-leveling function cannot operate) The adaptor for the laser has a sighting hole downwards through the middle so once the laser is mounted and switched on, there is a pinpoint of laser light to show plumb, your starting point.
Outside, the best target to use is the reflective one. The reflective surface looks a lot like reflective road signage, but as I discovered, it is incredibly effective at making the laser line visible. This reflector is placed on the desired reference point by unfolding the base and standing it on a handy brick or flat surface. Using the appropriate laser mode, (pulse) a laser light is projected, and by careful adjustment using the fine-tuning knobs on the tripod base, the laser shows up on the target. This laser beam is strongly visible if your eyes are right behind the laser beam looking directly at the target and will be so, I am told past a distance of 60 metres. Even in bright daylight at over 40 metres I had no trouble seeing the mark - without my glasses! If you need to make the designated mark permanent, it is straightforward to put in a marking peg.
Then using the electronic laser detector, the laser line at right angles to the marked line is detected and marked. It really is that simple – simple marking out done in minutes without hassle and fuss.
But the joy of laser marking out is that it doesn’t matter if there are obstacles in the way. I managed to lay out a rectangle in the car park near my house despite a metre high wall that was in the way of the electronic detector. I had the help of a colleague to do this, but in reality, I could have easily done it by myself once the laser had been positioned initially. If I had wanted to lay out accurate distances all I would have needed was a suitably long tape measure pegged to the original plumb point under the tripod.
Apart from being able to be used inside and out for marking out of most small building tasks, this laser is so versatile that the jobbing tradesperson could use it on floors for laying out all types of floors from laminate to quarry tiles. It is equally at home on walls, should bathroom tiles be the job in hand, or even leveling kitchen worktops as well. By overriding the self-leveling system (pressing the level lines button twice) a laser line can be projected at any angle onto a surface. Great for doing stairway marking out or even for marking out wallpaper lines that are at an angle other than right angles.
This PLS480 laser is another great example of how new technology can help us work more efficiently and accurately and more to the point – simply. You don’t have to have a degree or be a professional surveyor to use this device. If you do a lot of marking out, laying of tiles and other exterior or interior leveling work, then this laser will quickly pay for itself in time saved and accurate results.
The PLS480 is fully assembled in California, USA and has a three year warranty against manufacturer’s defects.
For more information on PLS, please visit plslaser.co.uk
Aimed at: Professionals like plumbers and fitters who need quick and easy deburring.
Pros: Easy to use, comprehensive choice of products that have a long working life.
Vargus Ltd has been making and supplying deburring solutions for industry and trades since 1960, so they know a thing or two about the best way to go about deburring a wide range of things. The subsidiary, Vargus Tooling UK, is based in Shropshire and supplies many industries and trades here.
Vargus serves customers in over a hundred countries worldwide with three major product lines: - VARDEX thread turning and thread milling tools, GROOVEX groove turning and groove milling tools and SHAVIV hand burring tools.
On review this month are three different products from the range of SHAVIV deburring tools. Once again, these demonstrate the huge range and expertise that Vargus has in the area of deburring, and also how, no matter how niche, Vargus can supply a tool that will do the job. Finishing metals and plastics is a specialized task, but even I have had to use deburrers when I have made special brass joint supports for furniture for example. And I have a couple of friends who routinely use them in their specialist model building activities.
The deburring tool that caught my eye this month is very specialized – it is used for deburring and slightly chamfering the inside and outside edges of pipes. It would be an area easy to ignore, but ask a good plumber how important a neat finish is to ensure a first class soldered joint on a copper pipe, and you will get the answer that it is very important. I have come across the same problem with big 150mm diameter plastic pipes used in groundwork. A simple method of beveling the outside of the pipe before leak-free jointing is very important, because once the pipes are joined and buried, any leaks are going to be hard to find.
The Plum-burr (get it? plum – ber) tool looks very simple – a black tube that comes in transparent plastic packaging for easy identification. The Plum-burr comes in a range of sizes from 6mm to 41mm so plumbers, installers and electricians are well catered for in terms of the usual range of tube sizes that they work with. This tool can deburr aluminium, copper and brass tubing, but there is a Plum-burr plastic range of tools specifically aimed at deburring plastic pipes. The range of sizes covered is 4.8mm to 38mm – again covering all the popular diameter sizes used.
But you really get to appreciate the Plum-burr when you start to use it. It has two ends – one for deburring the inner edges of pipes and the other for the outside edges. They are easy to tell apart. The inner edges deburrer has a conical middle that fits into the pipe and a swift twist of the tool will deburr the pipe. On the other side, there is a short lead in to a pair of sloping double sided cutters that will swiftly – and I do mean swiftly – it takes only a couple of sharp twists left and right - put a neat bevel on the pipe end. It is another example of a tool that just does what it does, but so well and so simply that you don’t have to worry about it.
It is also a great tool just to fling into the toolbox so you know exactly where it is for immediate use. Being as it is, a strong metal tube with some ribs on it to help your hand grip, it is unlikely to be damaged and requires no special care. Also, all the sharp edges are on the inside, so the danger of cutting yourself on it are minimal, even if you are a tool box rummager.
With a list price of £30.86 it is the kind of tool that you can buy and forget about because it is bound to have a long service life and will also simplify the deburring jobs that can be more difficult with other tools.
Also on review this month is a neat set of three Scrape Burrs that handily also includes a free Glo-Burr tool with blade.
I am told that these three scrape burrs (another pun – Scrape – ers) are the most popular choices by end users and they come in a handy transparent plastic wallet. The tools look like miniature triangular files without the teeth and the three edges on each tool are VERY sharp. Each tool ends in a point too. The handles are quite key because they enable the user to safely handle them and apply the necessary pressure to an edge that needs deburring.
Each handle is made from rigid red plastic with a ridged rubberized grip and a shaped end for gripping like a pen for detailed work. There is also a pocket clip. But I wouldn’t put one in my pocket unless I had remembered to put the plastic guard over the point. The tools are designed to be used on straight edges, hole edges, inside and out, back edges and flat surfaces. I found that I could use them for deburring pretty well anything from metals to plastics. They are so sharp that it is easy to dig them into an edge, so controlling the angle of attack is key to efficient use.
Incidentally, I also found them quite useful for scraping off small spots of paint, glue etc from hard surfaces.
They will last a long time because they have three edges and they are made of very hard metal.
The free Glo-Burr Yellow handle holds a more familiar hooked deburrer blade that can rotate freely in the handle. I find that these deburrers are very easy to use and literally take seconds to produce a finished edge on hard materials. The good thing about this tool is that the blade can be removed by simply twisting the base of the pen-type handle. This releases the blade, and a replacement can be slipped in.
With a list price of £34.21 this kit will be an irregular purchase because the Scrape-Burrs are designed for a long life.
Aimed at: Professional groundskeepers with LOTS to do.
Pros: Toughly built for a long life and very easy to operate. They are not toys, they do the job.
Little Wonder and Classen turf care equipment, marketed by Mantis UK Limited, is probably most well known by users who have significant amounts of land to look after. These machines are, without exception, toughly built in that simple “if it ain’t broke no need to fix it” American tradition. Largely made from sheet steel either welded or bolted together, they have a long working life built into them. Routine maintenance is generally easy because key parts are easy to get to by the simple wielding of a spanner or screwdriver. The almost universal adoption of consumer-favoured Honda four stroke motors has helped too – all five of the machines I tested used these, and despite all of them being brand new, they all started and ran without any difficulty, often on the first pull of the starter cord.
My overriding impression of the five machines I used was that they outperformed my expectations of them, making difficult and tiring jobs easier to do. As a relative novice, even I was capable of a level of productivity that astounded me. I could only guess at the productivity possible in the hands of an experienced and expert operator.
With guiding hands and sound advice from David Goose, MD, and Malcolm Mullender, Regional Sales manager, I was let loose on an umpteen acre area of land on which to test the machines. The tests were very realistic, encompassing steep inclines, heavy brush, the best damp English Autumn rain and heavy Sussex clay soil.
First up was the Little Wonder Pro Edger. These machines have been built in a similar way for over fifty years and what the pros want is a machine that is easy to use and will cut edges at around 28 metres per minute. The simple steel deck and tubular frame hold a 118cc Honda GX120 motor that drives the cast iron cutter head with two cutter blades via twin drive belts (no slippage and extra power delivery) User adjustment is tool free and easy – a ratchet system is used to set the cutter height and the motor is controlled from the handle that have anti-vibration grips. I was very quickly able to get the hang of edging with this machine because the four-wheel design makes it stable. At the same time it is easy to adjust side-to-side movement from the handle because the centre of gravity of the machine is quite low. I was able to look back over my shoulder at a 20 m long strip of edging that I had done that was not only quite straight, but didn’t need any further attention from a spade.
For the uninitiated a wide expanse of green grass usually signifies a healthy lawn, but apparently it is not that obvious. Grass needs to be raked regularly to ensure that moss and other intergrowth does not slowly choke it. The machine for this is the Classen TRS-20H Turf rake. A self propelled (thank goodness for that – I used it on quite a steep patch of field) machine with a top speed of around 3.4mph with forward and reverse drive. It is squarely and solidly built with a 5.5 hp Honda engine. The four wheels are semi pneumatic and the rear two are big enough to ensure grip and drive on slippery grass surfaces. Height adjustment is via a lever on top of the machine and the handle can be folded for easy storage in a greenkeepers’ store or the back of a truck. When I first used the machine it just seemed to chew up the grass surface, but when I cleared away the debris a bit, it was clear that the grass survived very well, only the entangling moss was ripped out, leaving a lot more room for the grass to spread out evenly into the space cleared.
Also needed for healthy grass is aerated soil. I remember helping my dad do it on our small lawns at home - plunging a pair of garden forks at intervals into the soil. We only did it once! The Classen RA-21 reciprocating aerator is the professionals’ way of doing the same job, and believe me, it is the only way I would consider doing it again. A look “under the bonnet” of the RA-21 reveals a sturdy cast iron crankshaft with the aerator cores attached to it. These cores can be solid or hollow according to need and soil type, but it clearly needs the powerful Honda GX120 motor for this demanding job. The steel chassis and foldable tubular handle are rigid and strong. There is no need for self-propulsion because the action of the cores into the soil drives the machine forward at a very controllable 2.8 mph and the specs say that an operator should be able to cover about 26,000 square feet per hour. I can believe this – I managed to aerate several hundred square feet in a few minutes, leaving a carpet of cores behind me.
What better to clean up the mess I had made with the rake and aerator than to try the Little Wonder Pro Vac SP? It is a big solid machine, but with its 270cc Honda engine and hydrostatic transmission it is very docile and easy to control. The vacuum nozzle is easy to set at the correct collecting height and it incorporates a shredding blade so that by the time the waste arrives into the 282 litre collecting bag at the rear it is as compacted as it can be. Emptying the bag is easy too – it simply unclips and with the aid of the handle underneath, it can be tipped onto the compost heap. Despite the damp conditions where the autumn leaves tend to stick to the ground, the Pro Vac left behind a clean wake on tarmac and grass. Definitely one of my favourites that day.
But the best was kept to last – the Little Wonder Hydro Brush Cutter is not so little, but it is wonderful. The machine is built from solid steel plate with massive tractor style 16-inch wheels on the back. With a Honda GXV390 engine it has a forward speed of up to 4.2 mph and a reverse of up to 1.7 mph. Despite the more complicated controls on the handles I was able to get the hang of it quite quickly and was soon creating clear spaces in patches of nettles and brush that was up to chest height in places. The brush cutter never faltered and I must admit the feeling of power was tremendous. It can cut individual brush stalks up to 50mm thick. The best fun I have had testing for ages. In my view it is one of those machines that once you have seen it working, you will be convinced – it is just very capable and strong and it looks like it will last forever. Apparently, a working life of over 15 years is not uncommon.
Despite the weather, I had a great day trying out machines that do exactly what they are supposed to do and are simple to operate to get the best out of them. Green keepers and estate managers everywhere should take a look. Highly recommended.
For information on Mantis Products, please visit mantis.uk.com
Aimed at:- Anyone who needs a tough radio – mostly site pros I guess.
Pros:- Bluetooth, phone charging and good sound and lots more.
Dedicated worksite radios are now quite common. Thank goodness. The old paint-and-plaster-splattered, slightly out of tune, and usually very loud, radio tuned to Radio 1 is now nearly a thing of the past. The wonders of Bluetooth, MP3 players and new broadcasting technology mean that site workers have no excuses for poor sound quality and endless audio rubbish. Workers and clients can breathe a collective sigh of relief. In fact I had a client come over and examine the Hitachi a couple of weeks ago because he did not believe that the sound he heard (some Bob Dylan if you must know) was coming from something that he didn’t recognize as a radio.
I am rather taken with the shape of the Hitachi UR 18DSDL - it is a bit like a Hitachi Black and Green cheese wedge trapped inside a wedge shaped cage. This not only looks very modern and “designer” but clearly the outside cage provides some bump protection, an assortment of ways to carry it and a stable base on which it can be sat. Even on a dirty and dusty worksite, only the cage will be in contact with the muck.
Modern listeners have become fussy, so it is not enough to simply have a radio – lots of other features have to be included too. This radio has to be set up like any other electronic device like a phone or tablet. Time to head for the instructions!
Probably the key thing here is fitting the backup batteries into a small compartment contained within the main 18v battery compartment at the back of the radio. It is a bit of a fiddly job, but once done should last a long time.
A standard 14.4 or 18v Hitachi battery is probably the most common power source for the radio on site. All you need to do is open the back compartment and slide it in on the rails provided.
There is also a mains adaptor provided with the kit should you run out of battery and are lucky enough to have mains power on site.
Now you can set the time, date, alarm, sleep etc etc settings using conventional computer logic. Anyone used to setting up a tablet or phone or games console would be very familiar with this process. To tell you the truth I wondered about all the settings – it is just a site radio isn’t it? But a short poll amongst a few friends soon showed me. Apparently you never know when you might need these functions, so better have them than not.
The radio can receive DAB, AM and FM bandwidths, so users should have all they need, including listening to England (hopefully) winning the cricket on Test Match Special or on Five Live. There is a choice of manual or automatic station selection and users can then select presets so that they can go to the stations they want very quickly. The folding antenna on the back of the machine can be adjusted for the best reception.
Digital radio can be very sophisticated and a good listening experience and this Hitachi has its DRC (Dynamic Range Control) system that can make quieter sounds easier to hear when the radio is used in a noisy site environment.
Equally, bass and treble can be adjusted to suit, so there really is no need for distorted sound whichever station or method you are using to listen.
I am a happy iPod user, and I love the idea of having only my choice of listening on hand, especially when I am on my own in the workshop where my choices won’t affect anyone else. The Hitachi is capable of playing back from smartphones, MP3 and other devices. Some devices small enough (like iPods) can be fitted into the front of the radio. Simply open the front cover and adjust the ratcheted holders left or right to hold the device securely. It took me only a few minutes to set up my iPod to play via Bluetooth through the radio. Simply select Bluetooth mode on the radio and on the device, and enable them to pair before listening!
Some devices will need either an L cable or straight cable to connect with the radio; both are cheap and easily available.
Smartphones and other small devices can also be charged via a USB cable connection to the radio in every other mode except AM mode. As long as the volume isn’t past 21 level, charging should take place.
There is a lot more to like about this Hitachi apart from its practicality. The two big speakers on each end of the radio provide good quality sound in stereo, where possible.
The wedge shape is quite compact and makes it easy to place the radio in a position where it is stable and not that easy to knock over. I found that I could run the radio for several days before I needed to recharge the main 18v batteries that I used. In the workshop, with easy access to mains power, it made sense to use the AC adaptor.
Just about everyone I asked commented on the quality of the sound. It is great to have the adjustments for bass and treble so that both music and speech radio sound good and are easier to hear. Having all the radio options, FM, AM and DAB, means that you can have the sound quality and the stations that you wanted. Some of my clients thought that was a great idea – especially the more elderly ones to whom slightly out of tune Radio 1 was not their favourite!
The control panel is logical and easy to use, providing lots of options for the way in which to use the device. All in all, I think the Hitachi UR 18DSDL is a well thought out, well-designed piece of kit that I am sure many Hitachi users will adopt wholeheartedly. Adopting a battery platform these days means that brand loyalty is a major part of deciding which bits of kit to buy, so I think it might be a shame if this radio doesn’t get more of a following. Oh well, there is always the mains adaptor option!
For more information on Hitachi Products within the Tool Trade, please visit www.hitachi-powertools.co.uk
Aimed at: pros and amateurs alike who need to clean up difficult things like grease and glues.
Pros: Easy to use, lots of them and big wipes too.
Wipes and cleaners have become very much part of the tool market as Health and Safety concerns have inevitably focused on healthy skin too. The days are gone when cleaning up was done with powerful solvents that left hands and skin stinging and dry. I confess that I always have a canister of wipes in my workshop and I use them regularly to clean away a variety of glues, paints, varnishes and oils.
The new Draper Hard Graft Wipes come in a large black and orange tub that holds 90 wipes. Opening the flip top lid seal the first time reveals a foil covering that seals the wipes for a good shelf life. Once this seal is broken you have to pull the first wipe from the centre of the roll. A simple system of grooves in the lid guides the wipe so that it can be pulled through and then separated from the next one, which is trapped in the groove ready to be pulled out for next time. The lid actually provides a decent enough seal to prevent the wipes from drying out.
Testing wipes is a good excuse for getting dirty hands, and it says on the container that Hard Graft Wipes are effective on glues, oils, sealants and paint – although this list is clearly not exhaustive.
Accordingly, my first job was to check and top up the oil in my car as this inevitably results in greasy, oily hands. I did all the other maintenance checks too, and when my hands were suitably dirty I pulled out a wipe and cleaned my hands. Results were pretty well immediate – the oil was quickly transferred from my hands to the wipe and I was left with sweet smelling, slightly slippery hands. If left for a while, the slippery feeling soon evaporates, but if you want to, a quick wash with ordinary soap returns the hands to “normal”.
Mostly I use woodglues, and even after I had allowed them to dry on my hands, the active ingredients in the wipes just lifted the residues off my fingers and left my hands clean. Superglues on the other hand, are very differently formulated. I had a little experimentation by putting a popular make of make of superglue on my fingers and letting it go off. Initially, the Hard Graft wipe didn’t appear to be shifting it, but after a while as I kept flexing my fingers the active ingredients crept under the glue and lifted it off. Result!
Both gloss and emulsion paints were shifted with the Hard Graft wipes, and as expected, the oil-based gloss took a bit more wiping and handwringing, but I was left with clean and sweet-smelling hands.
With their capacity to shift oil and residues, the wipes are also great for cleaning tools and equipment and wiping down at the end of a working day. I used the wipes to clean dirty finger marks from a newly-painted door after I had fitted some new handles for a client, when a damp cloth had failed to do the job.
The Draper Hard Graft Wipes that remain have now been given a prominent place in my workshop ready for cleaning my hands as needed. Good Product!
Click on this link to see a video of the Draper Hard Graft Wipes: - https://youtu.be/F65OY3KMH1k
For more information on all Draper Products, please visit www.drapertools.com