Popular Mechanics September 2018

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
what i did on my summer vacation

• Finally cleared the brush pile that’s been accumulating in the backyard since Superstorm Sandy. • Went to Dearborn, Michigan. Not a vacation destination, you say? Aha but you’re wrong! Dearborn is home to the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, which 1.8 million people visit every year. Be one of those people. The place is astonishing—an entire museum devoted to inventions, problem-solving, design, and progress. They have the Wright brothers’ airplane, electric cars, glassblowing, and the bus in which Rosa Parks rested her aching feet. There’s a village where you can ride in a Model T. We did the tour of the Rouge, a working Ford F-150 factory. Great day. Could have spent two more. • Saw the GM Heritage Collection, a dreamlike display of nearly 200 cars from the General…

1 min
flying car

READER CHRIS VERTA from Conway, South Carolina, has been dreaming of building a flying machine since reading Popular Mechanics as a kid. Recently retired, the 52-year-old decided it was time to give it a shot. Using his experience in investment casting and as a subcontractor for airplane manufacturers, Verta began designing. He drew inspiration from the McDonnell XV-1, an experimental helicopter–airplane combination created by the Air Force in the 1950s. Verta bought a Beechcraft airplane and started tearing it apart to see how he could improve the design. He then bought a fuselage from Sport Copter in Scappoose, Oregon, and created his own wings that detach, so he can drive the machine down the road propelled by his pusher prop. Verta had to make many of the parts himself. The toughest was…

1 min

Now You Don’t Have to Take Our Word for It… I read “55 Things to Do Before the World Ends” (May). I saw the picture of Antelope Canyon, and we booked a tour right away. We went to both upper and lower tours. It was worth the trip! —Byron Chong Salinas, California The Truth About Manufacturing “The Future of American Manufacturing” (June) hit the nail on the head. It asked: “What is the biggest challenge to manufacturing in the U.S.?” Answer: lack of proficiency in traditional skills. This is 100 percent correct. I applied for a factory job in 2010 because the position required a bachelor’s degree. In the interview, I recited all the cutting-edge technologies I knew. The interviewers responded by asking if I knew how to use positive and negative numbers. My…

1 min
rio hondo community college, california

Tesla, the electric-vehicle company, makes three of the five most popular EV models in an expanding U.S. market and plans to increase production to 500,000 cars per year. EVs don’t require as much maintenance as gas-powered cars, but there is some, and the national shortage of mechanics will affect EV owners, too. Tesla’s new START program fast-tracks students into the field. Here (from left), Tanya Aili Castro, Natalie Dovales-Flores, and Jose Chavez install a front diffuser, which improves undercar airflow, on a Model X. They finished 700 training hours in May as part of the second START class. Graduates get a full-time job at a Tesla service center and zero debt.…

8 min
is your house bleeding you day?

WHY YOU SHOULD BE TERRIFIED Air conditioning costs U.S. homeowners more than $29 billion each year. Replacing a clogged filter can lower energy consumption by 5% to 15%. An estimated 98 million U.S. homes are under-insulated. Sealing air leaks and adding insulation can save up to 10% in heating bills. Uninsulated attics can increase energy bills by 67% versus a space that is fully insulated to local standards. FIND THE AIR LEAKS ISSUE: Half the heat your house loses in the winter is through air leaks. SOLUTION: If a leak is big enough, you can find it by holding a stick of incense near doors, windows, and electrical outlets or switch plates. Whenever the smoke moves, you’ve found a leak. But the best option for finding leaks is a blower door—a fan mounted in a doorway that…

1 min
the great debate

Does turning the heat down at night save energy, or is the savings used when it has to run more in the morning? Turning the heating temperature down at night and then back up in the morning saves a significant amount of energy, as does turning the air-conditioning temperature up when the home is unoccupied. Mathematically speaking, the amount of energy required to keep a house warm is equal to the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures multiplied by the time that this difference is maintained. Some thermostats, such as the Honeywell RedLink, can be linked to your cellphone so that they know when you are getting close to home and can turn up the heat (or the a/c) before you get there.…