Issues Archives: Volume 3 - Issue 3

Five Reasons Why a Jump Starter Beats Booster Cables (Every Time)


With the incredibly inclement weather seen this winter, it has been common to see TV news articles addressing ways vehicle owners can be prepared and survive the cold and snow. Inevitably, one of the items they talk about is booster cables and the jump starting process. Occasionally, they mention a jump starter, but usually stick to booster cables. As the maker of Booster PAC and Jump-N-Carry jump starters, we, of course, are biased, but the way we see it, a jump starter trumps a set of booster cables every time. Here are the top 5 reasons why.


1. You don’t need to ask for help when you have a jump starter.

The most obvious advantage of a jump starter is the fact that it eliminates the need to find someone to loan their car to be used as a host vehicle, which is required when using booster cables. This advantage isn’t just about the hassle of having to find someone willing to help you. It is also a safety consideration. If you have your jump starter in your trunk, you can pull it out, connect it and get your vehicle started immediately, which is great when stranded at night or in an unfamiliar area.

2. There’s no concern how the disabled vehicle is parked.

You really don’t have to worry about the position in which your disabled vehicle is parked when using a jump starter. Not so with booster cables, where a major consideration is whether the host vehicle will be able to get close enough for the booster cables to reach the disabled vehicle’s battery. We’ve even had a Clore Story submitted by a customer in which this exact problem surfaced, as it was impossible to get another vehicle close to the disabled vehicle. A jump starter, in this case the JNC660, solved their problem.

3. Twice the connections means twice the chance for issues.

With booster cables, you have to make two sets of connections, which is twice the chance for issues. Reversed connections are very dangerous to the operator and the vehicles involved. They can create sparks, which could result in an explosion if battery gases are present. They also can cause damage to expensive electronic components on one or both of the vehicles involved, depending on when in the connection sequence the reverse connection takes place. With a jump starter, there is just one set of connections to make, simplifying what can be a confusing process.

4. Concerns of damage to the host vehicle.


Even when care is taken to ensure a proper connection sequence and starting procedure, there remains the concern of whether the host vehicle is up to the task of providing the additional power needed by the disabled vehicle. If any components of the host vehicle’s electrical system are marginal or suspect, the additional requirements of the jump starting process may push those components over the edge. We remember how we once brought a friend’s car’s electrical system to its knees while borrowing it to use for a jump. We were young, the car was old and it was on the scrap heap within days. This is an extreme example, but there are always risks to the host vehicle when jump starting.

5. Today’s vehicles make booster cables inherently risky.

There are several reasons why using booster cables on today’s sophisticated vehicles brings inherent risks not present when using a jump starter. The first is that noise from the host vehicle can be transferred to the disabled vehicle. This noise can include voltage spikes and other anomalies that could damage sensitive electrical and electronic components on the disabled vehicle. As a jump starter is essentially an extension of the vehicle battery, short of a reverse connection, this concern does not exist.

In addition, the process of removing booster cables after the jump can have a similar damaging effect on vehicle electronics, as warned by Pat Goss on a recent edition of Motor Week and as summarized by Gary Witzenburg on the Green AutoBlog:

As long as the cables are connected,” Goss continued, “the two batteries act as buffers to contain maximum voltage rise. But as soon as the first cable end is removed, the systems go nuts. When the first cable is removed, the voltage reference is gone. It instantly changes from the level of two batteries and two alternators to one battery and one alternator.

During this period of adjustment, the voltage regulator allows the alternator to climb to a very high voltage level. The alternators of both cars are unregulated for a few milliseconds, and during that brief time, the alternator can produce several hundred volts of low-amperage electricity. This high-voltage spike shoots through the electrical systems of both cars.

The effect is like a voltage surge running through a computer. It rarely destroys anything instantly but can weaken components of both vehicles, including engine control computers, alternators, sound systems or any of the dozens of electronic modules in modern cars, and there are usually no immediate symptoms because these parts are merely weakened.”

Goss recommends using either a jump starter or “smart” booster cables to avoid this dilemma. While smart booster cables will help to avoid this specific problem, they cannot resolve issues 1-3 above, which is why we believe a jump starter is the best answer.

Jump Starter Dilemma #1 – Keeping it Charged


As we stated above, we know we’re biased on this one. Of course we think jump starters are the best answer. We’re the jump starter people and we’d always think a jump starter is the right answer. But, many would counter, the big issue with a jump starter is keeping it charged and remembering to charge.

It is true that a depleted jump starter is of no use when your vehicle’s battery is dead, but that’s an easy problem to solve. We offer free recharge alerts for your jump starter so you can be sure it is ready when you need it the most. Just click the link below to sign up for quarterly alerts. It’s quick, easy and will help you avoid the number one dilemma people mention when it comes to jump starters.


Clore Automotive

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Straps and Chains


By Simon Birch

This month, we are going to discuss straps and chains. We will cover their uses and applications, ratings and sizes, and care and maintenance.




Nylon or Polyester straps have become the industry standard over the last decade or so. They are available in as many different shapes, sizes and configurations as you can think up, and most strap manufacturers have the ability to custom produce straps for any application.

They are being used on every size and style of towing and recovery vehicle, from the smallest wheel lift to the largest rotator. We are using straps to secure vehicles to our trucks, winch vehicles from ditches and wrap around over turned vehicles to upright them, all without incurring any further damage to the casualty.

The benefits of using straps over chains in many situations are numerous.

Since straps are lighter and easier to handle, strain on the operator is reduced. They can be used in many situations where chains would cause damage, like during recoveries when the chain would be up against the side of the vehicle, potentially cutting into the vehicle or scratching the painted surfaces. Straps can also be fed into locations that chains could never fit.


As the design of the automobile has progressed, many manufacturers are omitting tie- down slots and replacing steel or cast suspension parts with lightweight, stamped pieces, which can be very susceptible to damage if hooked onto. In response, strap kits have been developed to secure vehicles to the transporting truck by its wheels and tires, thus eliminating any body or chain contact.

These tie-down strap kits are available in many configurations, including 4-point over the wheel, 4-point through the wheel and 8-point over the wheel. They can be paired with almost any size and style of ratchet or custom ordered to fit the operator’s specific needs and requirements. The use of these tie-down straps  has now expanded to the auto hauler industry, as operators that are transporting new cars to dealerships from factories and sea ports are being faced with the same challenges of securing the vehicles to their haulers as the towing operators are.

When it comes to vehicle recovery, few can argue the benefits of straps and web slings. For years now, heavy duty operators have been using 6, 8 or even 12 inch wide straps to support, lift and catch trucks and trailers that have overturned, run off the road or been involved in an accident. Often used in conjunction with Air Cushions, these have become an integral piece of equipment in every heavy duty recovery fleet. Now, with the increasing presence of large rotator recovery vehicles, these recovery straps are helping operators perform complicated jobs that in the past would have taken much longer, and used more trucks and operators.

The arrival of endless loops or round slings has also added to the “tool box”. These synthetic polyester, continuous loops are available in a multitude of lengths and strengths, depending on their usage, and are a perfect complement to the recovery straps already discussed. These are lightweight, washable and very flexible and are being used in all types of recovery situations, both large and small.



Although the development of recovery straps has led to them replacing chain in many applications, chain still plays a very important role in our industry. Graded by strength and available in many sizes, there is a chain available for every task.

Grade 70 is now regarded as the minimum grade for transport and towing applications. V bridles, light duty tie down chains and safety chains are almost always Grade 70, but grade 40 is still available if preferred.


Recovery work should only be performed with a Grade 80 or higher chain, and, depending on the task and equipment, can be sized anywhere from 5/16 to 5/8. Most heavy towing and recovery operators are using Grade 100 or 120, in ½ inch or higher, as their standard for recovery work, with Grade 80 being used for tie downs or securing axles, drivetrains etc.

One thing to pay note to is that you should always pair your chain with the same grade hardware and hooks. Installing a Grade 70 hook on a Grade 100 chain will render that entire assembly Grade 70. The weakest link is always the item with the lowest grade.

Chain maintenance is often overlooked, and, as a result, failure can occur when you least expect it. Keep your chains clean, and inspect your chains for flat spots, cracks and link failures on a regular basis, and they will last for a very long time.

Simon Birch, Technical Support, AW Direct

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Cutting Corners, What Our Testing and Research Shows

By Fritz Dahlin
Testing Strap Research

Note: Please be aware that this testing was done with new product under controlled conditions. NO product should EVER be used above its WORK LOAD LIMIT. Minimum break strengths should NEVER be used to determine the suitably of a product. Failure to follow these warnings may result in property damage, personal injury or death.  The intention of this article is to show the effect of improper loading over a corner has on the product.

One of our salesmen called me back to his desk the other day. He said, “So and so sent me a picture of a strap that broke. Can you take a look at it and see what you think?” I said, “Sure. Pull it up.” As soon as the picture opened, I said, “It was cut.” He asked, “How do you know?”  “Easy.” I said. “Those hundreds of fibers did not all break at the same time and same place for no reason.”

Now, as much as I’d like to say I thought that up all by myself, I can’t. Credit goes to Michael Gelskey, a fellow member (and past president) of the Web Sling Tie Down Association. One of my jobs at B/A Products Co. is to attend the semi-annual WSTDA meetings. We talk about exciting stuff like the recommended pin diameter for testing 12” slings, what the minimum corner radius round slings should be loaded over, and my personal favorite, whether poly and nylon slings should be washed or not.

Mike gave a presentation about a sling his company made that failed and resulted in a fatality. As he told the story, there was a picture of the sling on the screen. The sling had been laid over the angle iron arm of a transmission tower. The sling was laid over the arm of the tower, unprotected, and loaded repeatedly. The arm of the tower contacted the same place on the sling each time it was loaded, until it wore through (cut) the sling with catastrophic results. To those of us in the web industry, the cause was obvious. To many outside the web industry or those who may not have been trained on proper use and inspection of web slings, it may not be. And I won’t limit that statement to web. Wire rope and chain, when used in a manner that they are not designed for, or are not protected from damage, will fail. They will also leave telltale signs. The goal of this article is to make you aware of the damage that a seemingly innocent corner can cause, the signs that a piece of web or wire rope was damaged or cut, and some basic inspections that must be performed on a regular basis.


I wanted to recreate some things that I see on a fairly regular basis. Another of my jobs at B/A is to do the testing of inbound materials, as well as inspecting returns to try and determine cause of failure, so I have not only seen a lot of broken things, but I have broken my share of them, as well. I decided to try to replicate what happens when a piece of wire rope or web is pulled over a 90 degree corner.

To set up the tests, I cut several lengths of 2” x 2” x 3/16” angle iron to fit over the top edge of the carriage of one of our test beds. I then figured a way to secure a piece of tie down web, wire rope, 2” 2 ply sling and a V strap leg so it was pulled over the outside corner of the angle iron.

Test set up for tie down strap.

Test set up for tie down strap.

Let’s get to the testing. For each item, I loaded 3 samples over the angle to get a good average break, and did either a straight pull test or used test results from my files for each product to use as a control sample.

First up was a cluster tie down strap, rated at a 4000 Lb. Work Load Limit, 12,000 Lb. minimum break strength. Keep in mind that the minimum break strength (MBS) should NEVER be used as a rating or for selecting a tie-down, strap chain or wire rope.

The control sample broke at 11,664 Lbs. As you can see from the photo, the webbing shredded at the stitching. The straps were set up with the free end of the strap wound up in a ratchet, and the mini J of the cluster hooked to the underside of the test bed.  The samples that were pulled over the angle were marked where the web contacted the corner, and two inches on either side of the angle. Force was applied until the samples failed. As the force increased, the web stretched and the contact point with the angle moved about two inches. Failures occurred at 7519, 7383 and 7181 Lbs., all where the web contacted the angle.

38-100 strap control sample.

38-100 strap control sample.

38-100 strap pulled over angle iron.

38-100 strap pulled over angle iron.

Notice that the strap pulled over the corner is cut cleanly across the width of the web, and all or nearly all the fibers are the same length, with minimal fraying. Compare these with the control sample. This is the indication that the webbing was cut.  The average failure was at 7361 Lbs., for a 37% reduction in MBS. Look at it another way: Work Load Limit is based on a ratio of the MBS. In the case of this strap, the 4000 Lb. WLL is a 3 to 1 ratio of the 12,000 Lb. MBS. Since our MBS over a piece of angle iron is 7361 Lbs., divide that by 3, your WLL is now 2453 Lbs. Now, I’m not suggesting that the straps be rerated because it is being pulled over a corner, but the reality is if the strap is pulled around a corner, the strap will fail at a lower load.

Let’s put a 2” two ply sling to the same test. WSTDA ratings for this sling are a WLL of 6200 Lbs. in a vertical hitch, with a 5 to 1 design factor for a MBS of 32,000 Lbs. My control sample failed at 31,820Lbs., the webbing again shredded at the stitching.

2” sling control sample.

2” sling control sample.

graph for 2” sling control sample

graph for 2” sling control sample

The test samples were installed in the test bed with one eye over the hook, under the carriage, over the angle and to the second test bed hook. The samples were marked the same way as the cluster strap, and force applied until failure. As force increased, the strap stretched until the 2 inch mark was adjacent to the corner. During one of the test pulls, the test bed ran out of stroke. (The ram was fully retracted before failure occurred. I did the testing over several days and this sample was hooked to the test bed differently.) I took the strap out of the test bed to reset the test and noticed the damage to the strap where it had been in contact with the corner of the angle. I’ll show you that damage a little later.


All three samples failed at the angle, with an average failure of 13,023 Lbs, less than half of the straps MBS. Using the same logic as the cluster tie down strap, the WLL has effectively been reduced from 6200 Lbs, to 2604 Lbs. Once again, I am not suggesting the strap be rerated; I am trying to illustrate how damaging loading over a corner can be. As with the cluster strap, the fibers at the cut are relatively even with minimal fraying.



2 inch 2 ply slings after being pulled over angle. Arrow shows direction strap was being pulled.

Let’s switch from web to wire rope for the next test. For this round, I tested 3/8” EIPS IWRC (Extra Improved Plow Steel Independent Wire Rope Center) made into 10 foot long sections with thimbled eyes at each end. The samples were attached to one hook of the test bed, laid over the angle on the carriage, then run under the carriage and tied off to a cross member of the tester.

The wire rope test set up.

The wire rope test set up.

This resulted in the sample contacting the carriage in two places. In all three tests, the end of the wire rope attached to the movable hook of the test bed failed (the end having force applied), including one test that I inadvertently ran under the carriage to the hook (it failed on the edge of the carriage, not the angle).

The control sample failed at 16,397 Lbs., at one of the swages.

graph of 3/8” steel core wire rope control sample

graph of 3/8” steel core wire rope control sample


The three samples pulled over the angle failed at an average of 9503 Lbs., a reduction of 42% from the control sample. In each case, the wire rope failed where it was contacting the corner. Four of the six strands failed on two of the samples, and two of six failed on the third. I stopped each test once the failure occurred. If I had continued to apply force, the remaining strands would have failed, but the load would have been lower that the first failure point.

damage to three samples pulled over angle.

damage to three samples pulled over angle.

detail of failure over angle. Damage to the angle is from previous wire rope tests

detail of failure over angle. Damage to the angle is from previous wire rope tests

It should also be noted that the wire rope sample contacted the carriage on the test bed in two places, and the point where failure did not occur was damaged, as well.

So far, the testing has gone pretty much as I expected. All of the samples failed where they contacted the corner of the angle iron at an average of 46% below their Minimum Break Strength, due to the damage the corner inflicted.  Next, I tested individual V strap legs, and things get very interesting. My goal was to recreate the damage you see here:

V strap returned by customer for inspection.

V strap returned by customer for inspection.

Take a look at the bottom leg. Notice how the fibers are smooth and even for the first two inches of width from the bottom. They compare very closely to the cut tie down strap and 2 inch sling shown earlier, but also take a look at the top leg. Notice the mark that mirrors the cut on the lower leg? Most likely both legs were riding against a cross member or control arms.

To simplify the testing, I had single legs of our V straps made up. Our V straps have a 4700 Lbs. Work Load Limit.

I set up the V legs so the last 3 inches or so of the strap was contacting the corner of the angle, and applied force. The first two legs I pulled got fairly high readings: 13,181 Lb and 13,272 Lb. On the third leg, I moved the contact point slightly and got 15,712 Lbs. Samples 1 and 3 were cut at the contact point with the corner, sample 2 was a cut on either side of the leg at the contact point, and then the oblong pulled through the remaining center inch or so of the eye. The control sample failed at 16,032 Lb., the oblong elongated significantly and cut through the web at the end of the eye.

Three V strap legs after being pulled over the corner of the angle.

Three V strap legs after being pulled over the corner of the angle.

V strap test set up

V strap test set up

V strap control strap after test.

V strap control strap after test.

The average reduction in break from the control sample was 14%. Why is the reduction in MBS on the V strap leg only 14%, when the average reduction of the other parts is 46%? The V strap legs have a Cordura pad sewn over the eye at the hook end. In all 3 tests, the Cordura pad was at the angle or pulled to the angle when the leg stretched. That cordura pad made the difference.  “But the control sample looks just like the other legs, the fibers are all the same length with minimal fraying. What gives?” I’m glad you have been paying attention. It’s time to talk about some of the signs of damage.

Let’s start with the V strap legs. In reality, the control sample was cut, as well. Take a look at the oblong links in the photo of the test samples then the oblong link in the control sample. The test samples elongated very little, which shows that they were not getting the 14,000 Lbs. or so average it took to break the sample. The oblong of the control sample elongated considerably, indicating it was seeing the full load applied to the sample.  As it elongated, the contact point with the eye of the web became smaller and smaller, until that point could no longer support the load and the web failed. This is a good example of why it is important to check the entire assembly during routine inspections or after a failure. The example of the green V strap shown earlier backs up this point. The side that did not fail shows that there was contact with an object.

WIRE ROPE: The samples were pulled over two 90 degree angles; one end was tied off to the frame of the tester, the other end tied off to the ram of the tester. Failure occurred at the 90 degree angle closest to the ram (even on the sample I ran incorrectly). Where the wire rope contacted the second angle, there was damage, as well.


This damage creates a weak spot that can fail when a load is applied later. Also take a look at the photo of the break in the wire rope while it is over the angle. The ends of the individual strands show two different configurations. Some are flat, like a chisel or knife blade. This is an indication of mechanical damage, such as crushing or being bent around a corner. Others show a cup and cone shape. When an individual wire is overloaded, it will stretch. When it cannot stretch any more, the wire breaks. One side of a break looks like a cone, the opposite side like a cup.  Overloading will also leave signs. The thimble will stretch at roughly twice the Work Load Limit of the wire rope.

thimble that has not been subjected to overload. Bottom: Thimble used in break test.

thimble that has not been subjected to overload. Bottom: Thimble used in break test.

WEB SLING: I mentioned that during the testing I had to reset the strap and noticed damage. The strap had been pulled to 12,109 Lbs. Here’s the damage:

Damage to strap pulled over corner without failure.

Damage to strap pulled over corner without failure.

When the strap was reset and pulled again, it failed at 12,110 Lb., 1 pound over the previous pull. Do you think the damage had something to do with that? Compare the previous photo with the photo of the strap after it was pulled the second time. It failed in the same place. Still not convinced? That strap broke lower that the other two by almost 1000 Lbs. Once again, previous damage can and will weaken the assembly.

Same strap from previous photo, after being pulled over angle to failure.

Same strap from previous photo, after being pulled over angle to failure.

Also notice the wear and marks at the letter “S.” In the test set up, the sling contacted the carriage of the test bed in two places. While most of the load applied to the strap was concentrated at the angle where the strap ripped, there was enough force at the second corner to create additional damage. All of the 2 inch slings and the cluster tie downs exhibit this damage.

BA Products graph

So, how can these failures be prevented? What kind of inspections should you be doing? And what about chain? I’m going to cover those subjects next month.

One thing before I go: In the opening, I talked about going to WSTDA meetings and some of the topics of discussion. Please don’t get the wrong idea; I really do enjoy the meetings. And yes, those are really topics we discuss. The answers, in case you are interested: 12” sling testing pin diameter 4.5”, span 13”; minimum corner radius for round sling, depends on the sling, a yellow round sling is 5/16”, and no, slings should not be machine washed (or washed at all).

Fritz Dahlin is vice president of B/A Products Co.,

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The Customer / The Service

DJ Harrington and Dan Messina

By Dan Messina

Over the years, the customer has gotten smarter and smarter. They are better educated at all things in life, including service. Today’s customer has experienced it and they like it. You can no longer ask them to choose between lower price or better service; they want both. Offering a good service can present several problems, but it also creates opportunities.

As an owner, we have a tendency to promise too much and then we don’t deliver. By underachieving, we make the customer mad, and rightfully so. It’s our fault because we raised their expectations too high and then they become unhappy when we don’t deliver. We want to learn to set expectations high, but make them realistic so we can deliver.


Not only does the customer want good service, they also want it faster and easier. Most of our competition has the working capital to run their business, they offer the same types of service as you, and they buy technical products right off the shelf to support their business. Our only competitive source we have that’s different is our people and the service they provide. It’s no longer good enough to hire good smart people; you must now look for people with great attitudes, personalities, and have the “I love to work here” frame of mind. These people are out there or you can create them, and, when you do, work becomes a whole lot more fun.

When I sold my company, I had 36 employees and no one ever quit. I created a working environment that was fun for my employees and me. When you have this environment:

  1. Your employees are happy.
  2. Your employees are more productive.
  3. They have fewer damages that cost you money.
  4. Your customer is happy.
  5. Every employee becomes a sales person that grows your business.
  6. It made me happy and increased profits.

How can you create this environment? Several years ago, a study was done in Texas where they took 100 successful businesses and compared them to see what they had in common. Some were well educated, where others barely made it through high school. Some had a lot of money to start and others had to borrow, but they all had one thing in common; they had spent a lot of time with someone that was very successful. They had a mentor they could learn from. When you are in business, you cannot afford to stop learning. To be competitive, you must continue your education and stay on top of changes in your industry.

Here are a few things I learned that help make me successful:


Ask the customer what they want and give it to them again and again.

When you create rules like answering the phone by the second ring or giving response time of less than 30 minutes, you assume you know what the customer wants.  The only way to find out what the customer wants is to ask them. Create a questionnaire that allows the customer to give you information like, was my price too high, too low, or am I competitive with others?  Was my response to your call acceptable? If you provide what the customer wants, you get fewer complaints.

Customers expect you to keep your word.

When you are a small business, your word is your company. Once you establish trust with your customers, you will have them forever.  I did not offer the cheapest service, but my customers loved me because they could believe whatever I told them.  I always underestimated and overachieved when the customer made a request. This made me look good to my customer. No matter what business you are in, it doesn’t matter what your price structure is; it’s all about service. Can you deliver what you are selling faster, easier, and more convenient than your competitor?

When the customer asks, the answer is always yes.

In order to be successful, it’s not always about money. After all, your price might be higher, so it becomes a service issue. Offer convenience. If the customer asks if you can do something, the answer is always yes. I would tell my sales staff if the customer wants a green suit, sell him a green suit, even though we only had blue suits. You will figure out how to make it work. When a customer asks you to do something not totally related to the business, your competition will say no because it’s a distraction to his business, but remember your business is taking care of a customer. Do the extra and don’t charge if you can help it. That’s how to keep customers.

Every employee that deals with the customer must have the authority to address complaints.

Customer service should be a function of every employee in your company. Every employee that talks to a customer should have the authority to handle a complaint. If a customer calls with a complaint, they don’t want to hear the answer that you have to talk to a manager. The customer calls and talks to that person every day, and the customer would love for that person to handle the complaint right away. Remember that the only competitive source you have over your competitor is your people, so let them work. The businesses that can save time for the customer will be the ones to succeed.

Treat your employees like your partners.

In order to get good people and keep them, you must pay them. You should want to pay them more than they could make somewhere else. You want people to take pride in their work, and a bigger pay check helps. Get in the habit of asking them how you can help them make more money. Good people make fewer mistakes and tend to be more productive and resourceful.  Your staff is your customer service.

Knowledge is power so measure everything.

It always amazes me how many people run their business day to day without knowing the details of their business. I knew who my best employees were because I measured everything they did.  I also knew who my worst employees were. This allowed me to set up training programs for them. I knew who my best customers were so I could take of them better. I also knew who my worst customers were so I did not spend as much money on them. I also knew the cost for every function and service I provided. This allowed me to change services when necessary. Let your employees do the work so you can monitor the results. When you know what your company is doing, you will be more successful.

Show people respect and be polite; it works.

This starts with you showing respect and being nice to your employees. When you do this to your employees, they pass it on to the customers. When a driver picks up a car, have them thank the customer for their business. When a person comes pay the bill, have your employee hand them a piece of chocolate candy. Candy creates a pleasant feeling just like when a hotel leaves a piece of chocolate on your pillow. When people notice the little things you do, they will be repeat customers. Remember, good employees give you a competitive advantage.

Find a good mentor, follow what they did, and improve on it when possible.

As I pointed out earlier, most successful people have a mentor that they could learn from. I did not have a mentor, but I joined a group of small business owners that met once a month and shared ideas and listened to each other’s problems. I paid $500 a month for this service, but, at the time, I felt it was worth it. This is why “” was created. This allows you to learn and share ideas, but, more importantly, have someone you can share your problems with, someone who has gone through the same things you face today. If we don’t have the answer, we can call on other members for help. It’s all about helping each other. Our objective as a company is to make everyone that is a member of “” successful.

Owning your own business can bring many problems and a lot of stress, but if you do it right, it can also be fun and rewarding. Keep in mind that your success depends on happy customers, and that begins with good customer service.

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Engine Oil Filtration

Oil Filters

By Dan Watson

I have spent the past several issues of Tow Professional explaining oils and how they lubricate.  Understanding the fundamentals of lubrication and selecting the proper lubricant is certainly the primary responsibility of the maintenance personnel. Once that choice is made, it is now necessary to insure the oil is as clean as possible to function to the highest level to provide protection for the operating equipment.

First, let’s take a look at how engine oil gets contaminated and understand exactly what we are trying to filter out of the oil as it is in use.


Dust and Dirt

The quality and design limitations, especially the proper fit and seal of air cleaners and crankcase ventilation systems, allow a certain level of dust and dirt into the engine.  Intake systems, including the structure supporting the air filter and the turbo charger, can permit unfiltered air to enter the engine. Proper maintenance of the engine and its accessories can minimize the amount of contaminants entering the lubrication system.

Metal Particles

Normal wear of engine parts produces very small metal particles that are picked up and circulated by the oil. Particles of road dust and dirt increase wear rates and generate larger, even more abrasive metal particles that are circulated through the engine by the oil. While oil filters help keep these particles at a minimum, they can’t remove them entirely.

Combustion By-Products

Soot and Carbon

Incomplete combustion produces soot, carbon and other deposit-forming materials. An engine running too “rich,” or with too much fuel, increases contaminant levels.

Soot is a natural product of diesels engines; ultra-low sulfur diesel coupled with improved turbo control of intake-air has reduced the level of carbon soot produced by modern diesel engines.  Unfortunately, the requirement for exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) creates a high soot load for the diesel engine oil.  Light-load, low-speed gasoline engine operation and high-load, low-speed diesel engine operation increase levels of these combustion by-products.

Realizing that it is impossible to avoid the engine oil becoming contaminated, it is obvious that finding effective filtration mechanisms is critical to achieving desired engine life.  There are two methods of filtering engine oil: Full Flow filtration and Bypass (Side Stream or Parallel) filtration.

Full Flow Filtration

Full-flow oil filters install directly into the line of oil circulation; the oil passes through the filter as it travels between the oil pump and the engine (see Figure 1). A full-flow oil filter must remove and hold contaminants without obstructing oil flow to the engine.

Because they use a thin layer of porous filter paper, most oil filters on the market compromise the filtration of finer materials. Such filters have almost no extended cleaning ability because they have a low capacity for storing dirt.

These “surface-type” paper filters quickly become restricted as debris builds up on the paper surface, forcing the filter by-pass valve to open and allow unfiltered oil into the engine.

Illustration of Normal Oil Flow

By-Pass Oil Filtration

Because oil must be filtered quickly while removing most of the particles, the average full-flow filter can only trap particles as small as 20 microns. By-pass oil filtration uses a secondary filter (see Figure 2), with the purpose of eliminating nearly all contaminants in engine oil. By-pass filters have high capacities and eliminate much smaller particles than full-flow filters, including those in the 2 to 20 micron range, soot and sludge.

* Courtesies of Amsoil Inc.

Oil Circulation using an AMSOIL Spin-On By-Pass Filter

Illustration of By-Pass Filtration

By-pass filters operate by filtering oil on a “partial-flow” basis. They draw approximately 10 percent of the oil pump’s capacity at any one time and trap the extremely small, wear-causing contaminants that full-flow filters can’t remove. The continual process eventually makes all the oil analytically clean, reducing long-term wear and helping extend oil life.

Filter Ratings

Filter media is the heart and soul of the oil filter; regardless of how you construct the filter, if the media is inefficient at removing contaminates the filter is junk.  No matter how much I dress up a Donkey, I can’t make that Donkey a Thorough Bred race horse. With filter media, performance is all that matters; you get what you pay for.

Filtration is measured in percent efficiency at removing particles of certain sizes. For example, a filter may be rated as nominal at 40 microns; this means the filter removes a nominated amount of contaminate, by weight for the rating. Inconsistent methods of determining a nominal rating has resulted in nominal as being virtually useless as a rating. Absolute rating, on the other hand, is very accurate and useful in rating filters.  Absolute is defined as: the cut-off point, which refers to the diameter of the largest spherical glass particle, normally expressed in micrometers (mm), which will pass through the filter under laboratory conditions. In simpler terms, no particle larger than the absolute micron rating should get through the filter. In the real world, this is not completely true, so a system of establishing filter efficiency has been established.

* Courtesies of Amsoil Inc.

Establishing a Beta ratio is done by dividing the number of particles of a particular size in the upstream flow by the number of particles of the same size in the downstream flow:

where bx is the beta ratio for contaminant larger than x mm (microns)
Nu is the number of particles larger than x mm (microns) per unit of volume upstream
Nd is the number of particles larger than x mm (microns) per unit of volume downstream.

The beta ratio is an indicator of how well a filter controls particulate; i.e., if one out of every two particles (>x microns) in the fluid pass through the filter, the beta ratio at x microns is 2; if one out of every 200 of the particles (>x microns) pass through the filter the beta ratio is 200.

Therefore, filters with a higher beta ratio retain more particles and have higher efficiency.

Efficiency for a given particle size (Ex) can be derived directly from the beta ratio by the following equation:

The following table lists some selected beta ratios and the correspondent efficiency:

b value to x microns

Cumulate efficiency %


for particles x micron












Filters have to store contaminates removed, and this is referred to as capacity. It is not easy to find an actual capacity rating, but you can determine how many miles the filter can be used before it must be changed. The longer the filter is allowed to be used represents how much debris the manufacturer has designed the filter to store.

Flow Rate

Measured in gallons per minute (GPM) is determined by the engine manufacturer for proper lubrication of the engine. Most full flow oil filters must pass a minimum of 9 gpm, some larger diesels require more flow, so rely on your owner’s manual to specify only filters that meet the flow rate.

To select filters for your equipment, you should research the filter ratings on various filters. It may be hard to find the information you are looking for on the filter packaging. You should be able to research online at the manufacturer’s website and find the filter ratings. Look for ratings in absolute not nominal, and, in some cases, you may find beta ratings. Beta ratings are not likely to be found for auto and truck filters; they usually are there for hydraulic and industrial filters. Synthetic filter media is superior to cellulose and much less susceptible to streaming and medial failure. A superior filter will have an absolute efficiency of greater than 98% for 20 micron particles and a mileage rating greater than the recommended oil change interval.

Never change your oil without changing your oil filter. Dirty oil is abrasive and will shorten the life of your engine.

In the next issue, I will discuss the advantages of bypass filtration and explain why it is so necessary for modern diesel engines.

If you come to the Florida Tow Show in April, stop by the Amsoil booth and say hello.
(407) 657-5969

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If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, “What Am I Doing in the Pits?”

DJ Harrington - Fuel for Thought

DJ Harrington – Fuel for Thought

A great title for this article.  This original title was chosen for a book written by the late Erma Bombeck, “If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?”  What a real down-to-earth lady she was.  All of us at some time or another feel like we’re in the pits. We’re in the pits because we’re considered a cast-off or the last to be thanked for our efforts. We work hard on our business and all of sudden…SMACK…we get kicked in the face.

Coming up at the end of the month, I will be speaking for a large pharmacist group in St. George, Utah. What’s do cherries and cherry pits have to do with us and pharmacists? I know what you’re thinking – we’re not pharmacists! We go to the local pharmacy – that’s all. However, the pharmacists are just like us. They need people skills, and we need people skills. We should hire people that have good attitudes and can get along well with other people. We can teach the hard skills of driving a tow truck or working in the yard.

Last week, I heard a manager yell at a worker, calling him an IDIOT.  Maybe without realizing it, the manager just put a label on this person. Labels like this can last awhile. Hearing that conversation reminds me of the grocery store aisle where they place the damaged goods. Everything in that aisle is “damaged goods” because of one reason or another. Some are damaged cans; others are expired, “out-of-date” items. The outside of the cans maybe damaged, but the insides are not. Insides are still good. Those of you reading this column get out of the damaged goods aisle and go where you can believe in yourself. Don’t listen to what others may say. Maybe they’re saying that you can’t make it.  You are not what people say you are; you are what you feel you are. You have heard me say, “Whatever you think about, it will come about.” If you think business is going to be good, business will be good. However, if you feel you won’t pull through the month, you won’t. Right?

In life, all of us make mistakes. I have made a ton of mistakes myself. At that point, I felt like I had fallen, but I knew I wasn’t a failure. I did what that old Frank Sinatra song said to do…”I’ve been up and down and over and out, and I know one thing. Each time I find myself laying flat on my face; I just pick myself up and get back in the race.”

“That’s Life” is the song title. I can still hear “Old Blue Eyes” singing that song. Fans of all ages know of whom I am speaking. What a message in that song! Life does happen and all those life experiences aren’t fun. Life’s not a bowl of cherries. It can be sweet one minute and tart another. We can’t eat the pit. We don’t consume it. So, part of what we get isn’t good.  It’s not good for us to eat the pit, but it helps create and mold the cherry. The cherry pit is really the negative part of the cherry…the part we can’t consume or fix.  Negative voices you’ll experience in life will always play louder and can last longer in your mind. Whether it’s in your own head or being yelled at you, doesn’t matter. Keep positive thoughts and think good stuff and you’ll have a “cherry-of-a-day.”

It’s my hope that you take my articles, the ones you like, and pass them around the office. Let other team members have access to these articles. One particular company cuts the article out each month and makes copies to add to each payroll envelope. This way, the company knows the team members are having a better chance to read a positive article.

Some of you will remember this suggestion from Dr. Wayne Dyer: “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

Oh yeah, I was asked if I celebrate each birthday of every employee. No, I don’t!  But one day a month, I do.  We bring in a cake, and everyone who has a birthday during that month is recognized and celebrated together. Don’t let even one employee feel like they’re the pit. We need to put fun back into our business.

See you next time.

DJ Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He can be reached at 800-352-5252 or by e-mail at

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