Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Example capacity of Polar Bear / AO Coolers 24-pack soft cooler

At the beer store today, I see this:

Hey, why not?

OK, so this is a pretty lousy "cooler", I admit.  But it has two great redeeming features:

1.  It's free.

2.  It's just about the same interior size as a "proper" 24-pack soft cooler.  Such as, the Polar Bear 24-pack soft cooler I've been eying as a means to take lunch to the park.

I was uncertain if the 24-pack was too small, too large, or just right for this.  This cheapie surrogate lets me try it out without spending $75 for the privilege.

Here's a sort-of pack for a hot dog / hamburger lunch for 4.  It's rough but it's just stuff I had lying about that I would probably take.  I would put the hot dogs or patties in a separate "hot box" cooler so they don't go in here.

Not-so-full house (yet)

The usual suspects

Obviously this is missing two major items: buns and ice.  However:

-  Taking out the granola bars leaves room for buns in a Tupperware container
-  I've fit full-size bottles and jars of condiments in there without difficulty, but I could obviously take smaller containers
-  Also fit three water bottles and two 1 liter boxes of juice, which could be pre-frozen to help things stay cool
-  There is still room for ice packs or loose ice

From this, I'm pretty sure the Polar Bear 24-pack is about right for my needs.  The Polar Bear or AO would obviously be a little bit different, but only an inch or so either way.

I sure know I don't want the 48-pack - just look at that beastie:

The car camping "fridge"
How would you even lift that?  No thank you!

I will note the Molson came with an entire 24-pack of beer inside of it - that was kind of the schtick in the store.  So it's obviously a 24-pack cooler!  (It did not have room for any ice or anything, making it a 24-pack in name only, but this is very typical for coolers.)  It is also obviously very thin material and of virtually no use as a cooler, but will do fine for plates, cups and stuff.

For comparison, here's the Molson "cooler" and case in my new Macwagon.  (It's just for size, I don't drink the stuff.)

Wagon ho

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Abus 92/80 lock and Oxford Anchor 14 chain capacities

One of the more difficult items to figure out from measurements alone is just how much chain a lock or anchor can accommodate. 

As some examples might shed some light, here are some pictures of the Oxford Anchor 14 and the Abus 92/80.

Our guests for the show

Note that this is not a review, as such.  I have absolutely no interest in debating the merits of these devices, and I don't even want to mention the word "p*ck*ig" for fear of getting this blog mixed up with all of those videos of yahoos people who want to show off their mad skillz hard-earned skills.  I just want to show what these devices physically can and cannot do.

Oxford Anchor 14

As previously mentioned, the Oxford Anchor 14 is - well, enormous.  Really. 

From the photos and measurements available on the 'net, I figured it was likely to accommodate a single loop of 7/16" security chain.  It turns out this was vastly underestimated.

In my defense, my primary reference was this photo from Chain Reaction Cycles:
Just does it

This certainly seems to show that it can hold one, or maybe two, loops of chain.  Given the anchor fits "all Oxford security chains", their largest is 1/2", and marketing people love to show off, it sure looks like a single loop of 1/2" chain might be the maximum capacity.

In reality, it can hold a ton more.  Here's the anchor compared to a length of 3/8" Grade 70 transport chain:

Big, meet bigger

And here it is holding no less than FOUR loops of that same chain - with room to spare for more.  I'd guess 6 or 7 loops would be no issue.  With a fabric chain sleeve, maybe you'd be down to 4 or 5, but I doubt it.

Big mouth

Obviously a single Anchor 14 will do for just about any practical purpose, regardless of chain size.  So you needn't worry about the anchor fitting your chain - you only need to worry about having a space big enough to mount it.

Abus 92/80

The Abus 92/80 was another question.  It's a damn big lock, and both measurements and reviews said it would accommodate two end loops of 3/8" or 7/16" chain without difficulty.  Sure enough, that was the case.

End game
Incidentally, it did not really sink it for me until I tested it that this lock also has a minimum chain size, as the locking hasp is relatively thick.  If the links are too small, the hasp simply will not fit through them. 

I had calculated all of this while selecting my lock, so I knew it should be OK.  But it didn't really come to the fore until I tried it out.  I'd say that anything much less than 3/8" chain would not work at all.

(For reference, a standard chain link is 6x the listed size in length, and 3.6x the listed size in width. From there you can calculate the minimum opening sizes.)

Of course, chains are rarely precisely the right length.  Since securing a chain tightly can help defeat those with bolt cutters, you often want to secure it in the middle somewhere. 

What I could not tell - except by test - is if the Abus would also fit an end link plus a middle link.  It turns out it will do so without a lot of difficulty.

Tight fit

This naturally led to the question of if the Abus could even accommodate securing two middle links.  Turns out it will even do that, but only just.

Playin' both middles against the ends

Despite the above, I would not recommend trying to use two middle links in any practical situation.  You can make it work, but it just barely fits.  This makes it quite difficult to actually secure the chain in the lock, especially if access is awkward in any way.  I was able to make it work on my bench, but real life applications rarely allow such freedom of movement.

If the chain is relatively loose and the lock is right in front of you, you may be able to make it work.  For most applications, though, I'd recommend using one end link and - at most - one middle link.

I do not know if two middle links of 7/16" or 1/2" chain will be worse or better than the 3/8" shown above.  The links are a bit fatter, but also longer, so possibly it will even out?  You'd have to try it out to be sure.

Practical security IRL

And no, I'm not planning to use the Grade 70 chain for my actual security needs.  Not that there is anything wrong with that - it's a damn good chain, IMHO, and will be enough to deter most thieves.

No, the Grade 70 was just the biggest chain that was available off-the-shelf in my area, and made for an excellent (and relatively cheap) surrogate for my preferred chain.  Which was extremely costly, 4 weeks away, and non-returnable.  Hence all the testing - I'm not dropping hundreds on a combination that will not work together!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Information on the Oxford Anchor 14 bike anchor

I recently purchased 2 of these to secure items outdoors.  I was rather surprised at some things when they showed up, so I thought this info might be useful to somebody.

I purchased the Anchor 14, and not the Anchor 10, because I was worried that the 10 might not fit my security chain.  My chain is 7/16" and I intend to put a sleeve over it, if I can.  I also wanted the 4-point mounting of the Anchor 14.

(I read someplace that some consider the 10 to be superior because the baseplate resists prying attacks better.  I can't fathom how this might work, so I didn't care.)

What I didn't appreciate from the product descriptions and photos was just how BIG this thing is!  It's HUGE!  In fact, it is so big I can stick my fist right through it!  I am admittedly a small guy, but still, that is impressive.

One of the reasons is that the bracket proper is fixed to two 10mm metal standoffs, which raise the bar further off of the mounting surface.  I'm not sure I quite got that from the photos I saw on the net.

In retrospect, my concerns about fitting a single loop of 7/16" chain through the Anchor 14 were kind of laughable.  This could probably fit three loops with room to spare.  If I'd known this, I might have purchased only one and used it to secure multiple items.

(I also think it pretty likely that the Oxford 10 - which is the baby brother bracket - would also fit one loop of the biggest chain you could hope to realistically get your hands on.  Though I still haven't seen one of those, so I'm not sure.)

Here's some pictures for reference.  I've tried to include some objects that might give you a sense of scale of the thing.  Click on the photos to get original resolution.

On a typical "Shop Towel" as sold in Canada

Those big standoffs

Small arm in big bracket (bracket IS still lying on the table)

Typical 500 ml bottle goes right under it
"Standard" 355 ml pop can juuuuuuust fits

Vertical height

Horizontal width

Another view of those big feet

That 750 ml bottle won't quite fit, but it's close

DVD, not Blu-Ray (but a classic either way, nyah)

That's one big-ass anchor.

For Canadians, the cheapest place I could find these was Chain Reaction Cycles, which is out of this wee town in Northern Ireland.  I was lucky, as they were on sale when I decided to buy, so they were only about $50 $CAD each and I got free shipping over $99.  Which in itself is impressive since the brackets weigh quite a lot.  They arrived promptly and - so far - without any brokerage or other untoward fees.

I recommend you pair something like this with this security chain from Peerless, which cannot be cut even with industrial-strength bolt cutters.  You can purchase this in Canada if you contact Campbell Mack in your city; otherwise, you can try E-Rigging for cross-border shipment.

Note: I paid for all of this stuff, so if it sucked, I would definitely say so.  I don't like getting ripped off any more than the next guy, and I'm not so lucky to get $15/foot chain for free.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Internal bed dimensions for Mac Sports Folding Wagon (Costco / Home Depot)

The Mac Sports wagon is extremely popular these days.  However, nobody lists what it can actually carry inside.

For anyone who is curious, the basket / bed dimensions of the wagon are:
-  30" long
-  17" wide
-  10" deep

Obviously you can put taller items in as well.  It will fit most kids to about 7 years old, but fitting two 4-year olds might be a little tight.

The weight limit is rated at 150 lbs.  For reference, a Coleman X5 Extreme cooler - 52 quart, I think - plus 5 bags of ice, 12 water bottles and 18 cans of pop is 82 lbs.

[However, note that the X5 will only hold 5 bags of ice in total - that is, the 5 bags will completely fill up the cooler with NO room left for anything else.  So 82 lbs weight is probably heavier than you will ever get in real life.  The X5 would also take up most, if not all, of the wagon.  I'd expect around 35 lbs max for a medium-size soft cooler with lots of stuff - maybe 40 for a 'wet' cooler filled to the brim with ice, water and drinks.]

In case it helps, I found the wagon in stock at Home Depot for $10 less than

I'm curious to see if a Polar Bear 24-pack soft cooler will fit sideways in the wagon.  The wagon is 17", and the cooler is 18" - but it is soft, so who knows.   (AO Coolers are the other best buy recommendation, but are far too expensive in Western Canada.)  I'd think a 12-can model is too small for a family outing for 3 or 4 people.