Ram Truck Recall

Fiat Chrysler has announced that it is recalling 1,800,000 Ram trucks due to a problem with the brake-transmission shift interlock.  Under certain conditions, the interlock will fail allowing the transmission to be shifted out of the “park” position without the driver’s foot on the brake.  As a result, the vehicle can move on its’ own.  The suspected cause is the heating of the gearshift while idling in park.  Currently, the manufacturer is developing a repair and recommends that owners use their parking brakes to prevent inadvertent and unintended vehicle movement.  The manufacturer also recommends that children are not left unattended.  This recall applies to Ram truck model years from 2010 to 2017 and models 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500 and 5500 pickup trucks.  The recall does not apply to trucks built after December 31, 2016.  It should be noted that the shifter for this recall is mounted on the steering column.  Floor mounted gear shifters are not included in this recall.  Fiat Chrysler has not yet released a date at which time owners would be notified, when the recall parts will be available or when repairs will begin.  Consumers are advised to keep in contact with their local Fiat Chrysler dealers for updates.


Holiday Greetings

R.J. Hill Consulting would like to wish everyone a very

Happy Holiday Season!


R.J. Hill Consulting Scholarship

ATTENTION Tennessee High School Seniors and currently enrolled engineering students:  Almost half the school year is over and if you intend to apply for our scholarship, please remember that you have to write an essay and get your transcripts together before applying.  The deadline for applying is March 31, 2018.  You have a little more than three months before submissions are due.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  Our contact information is on our website locate at http://www.rjhill.com.  The instructions are also on our website under “Scholarship Awards and Instructions” on the toolbar.

How NOT to Install a Water Filter

We recently investigated the cause of failure of a water filtration unit that cracked and caused an extensive amount of water damage to residential dwelling.  During the course of the investigation, it was determined that a whole house water filter unit had been installed in a cabinet beneath the kitchen sink.  This location is perfectly acceptable as were the piping connections that were made to connect the unit to the cold water supply line.  However, when the upper and lower halves were assembled, the pieces were put together with pipe joint compound.  This is absolutely unnecessary and amounts to an improper installation.  The filtration unit comes with an O-ring that is intended to fit between the halves and seals any gaps while preventing water leakage.  Although the unit failed as a result of over pressurization,  the presence of pipe joint compound indicated that the filtration unit had been improperly maintained.  The failure of the unit is shown in the photographs below.

Continuing Education Update

We just completed a seminar on steam system design.  The course covered such topics as sizing steam valves, traps and pilot valve applications.  The course also covered piping distribution as well as load balancing.  Following accepted design practices is as important as correctly sizing the components that make up the system.  With more concern placed on the conservation of energy, the time when ignoring energy waste has come and gone.  More and more energy codes are being adopted by states in an effort to curtail energy waste.  Tennessee, for example, follows the International Energy Code.  As a result, architects and engineers can be held responsible for not following proper procedure as outlined in those energy codes.  More importantly, architects and engineers can be sued if their designs do not perform as building owners expect.  It then follows that insurance carriers that provide errors and omissions coverage for architects and engineers have to pay for designer’s mistakes.  Those of us that practice in forensic engineering will be looking for deviations from code requirements as well as accepted design practices.



BMW Recalls

BMW has recalled issued two recalls for approximately one million vehicles.  The first recall involves a defective PCV valve heater that can short circuit and cause a vehicle fire.  The recall applies to 2008 through 2011 model 128i; and 2007 through 2011 models 328i, 525i, 528i, 530i, X3, X5, and Z4.  The second recall is for a defective blower motor wiring connector that also poses a fire hazard.  The connector can cause the wiring to overheat and ignite.  The recall applies to 2006 through 2011 models 323i, 325i, 325xi, 328i, 328xi, 330i, 330xi, 335i, 335xi, and M3; 2007 through 2011 model 335is; and 2009 through 2011 model 335d.  Vehicle repairs are expected to start on December 18 and will be fixed free of charge.  For additional information, consumers can contact BMW by calling 1-800-327-4236.

The Problem With Oxygen Depletion Sensors…

The problem with oxygen depletion sensors is that they don’t sense oxygen.  Oxygen depletion sensors (ODS) are found on gas log appliances and are intended to shut the appliance off before the oxygen in a space falls to a dangerous level.  ODS sensors are thermocouples which produce a millivoltage when heated.  For this reason, the sensing end of an ODS sensor should be in contact with the pilot flame.  When operating properly, the flame heats the thermocouple which produces a millivoltage which in turn keeps the main gas valve open and allows gas to flow to the main burner.  When the flame cools as a result of low oxygen levels, the thermocouple or ODS fails to produce the necessary power to keep the main gas valve open and allows it to close, preventing gas flow and subsequent ignition.  The real problem however, is not low oxygen level, but the production and distribution of soot.  Anyone who has ever dealt with a soot damaged home knows how difficult the process can be to recover from the damage.  You see, appliances that burn with a yellow flame are already burning natural or propane gas incompletely.  That is, the carbon not consumed by the combustion process, will be visible and deposited as soot on clothing, furniture, draperies and appliances.   As a result, the ODS will NOT shut down the unit in time to prevent a soot production problem.  The lesson to be learned here is that even though your appliance has an ODS, don’t be fooled into thinking that you are protected.  Remember, if your appliance is designed to burn with a yellow flame, it is already producing soot.  Keep an eye on your fireplace insert, particularly if yours is unvented.  You will eventually see soot on the inside walls and if you see it there, it’s in the house!  The only way to prevent further damage is to quit using the gas logs set.


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