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Air Helmets

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by James E Gaydos, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. James E Gaydos

    James E Gaydos

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    I was diagnosed with COPD last week and now need to get an air helmet. I've been involved in woodworking for most of my life, now retired and I don't want to give it up. I'm having too much fun.
    Looking for input by those that use air helmets, pros and cons please.
    I do have a beard, and I don't want to give it up either.
    Thanks for any input
    Jim
     
  2. ebrannon

    ebrannon

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    fresh air

    Jim

    I use a Allegro supplied air system that provides fresh air from outdoors while I am turning. This way I am only breathing fresh air rather than "filtered" air.

    This way you are not breathing any chemical fumes.

    e
     
  3. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    do you consider the airsheild a helmet?
    positive air pressure, you must keep filters washed out/cleaned
    buy the extra battery
    i have been using it about 4 years, but am not a heavy turner
    i have not used anything else but nose/mouth covers/mask to compare it to, but it is much better than those
    i do not turn any exotics, worse thing black walnut, box elder, english yew
     
  4. Gynia

    Gynia

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    I have a use the Trend Airshield Pro. It works fine. There are some problems with it. The device is top heavy so you become accustom to keeping your head mostly upright. The device creates noise which is close to your head but you become accustom to that fairly quickly.

    I also have a Oneway dust hood attached to a 3 HP cyclone. I try to catch all the dust at the source. The issue with the dust collector is that it is noisy so the Trend has the ear muff accessory. I don't like to "capture" finishing fumes in the DC so the DC is turned on and off. I also have an air cleaner which needs the filters cleaned or replaced on a regular basis. The other thing I try to do is clean up immediately after each turning session. I put on a "shop" shirt as I enter the shop and I take off the "shop" as I leave (I have 20 "shop" shirts). Then I take a shower. I don't want to carry dust around after turning. If I am working exotic woods I wear long sleeve "shop" shirts and plan my exposure to be brief and at the end of my shop time.

    Respirator (Trend Airshield Pro)
    Collect dust at the source (Dust hood and DC)
    Clean the air (Air cleaner)
    Leave the dust in the shop ("shop" shirts)
    Get rid of the dust (shower)
    Cover up (long sleeve "shop" shirts when working exotics)

    This is a fair amount of effort and expense to eliminate allergic reactions.
     
  5. davidwalser

    davidwalser

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    Here are your choices

    Many of us have the Trend Airshield, the Trend Airshield Pro, or the Triton Powered Respirator. (I have the Triton and prefer it to the Trend.) These are "consumer" level products and may not be what you need. They are not rated for anything more than "nuisance" dust and cannot be equipped with filters that work with organic fumes (paint/lacquer). Their batteries cannot go for a full 8 hour day.

    However, you can overcome the battery issue by having an extra battery pack and these consumer models are much better than just a dust mask. Depending on how much faith you put on ratings, you may or may not believe they are better than a half-mask respirator. I think they are. The positive pressure design should keep particulates out of your eyes, nose, and mouth. The only question is whether the filter does the job of getting rid of the particulates. Since Triton's Powered Respirator uses the same type filters that are used with half-mask respirators, I think the air inside the Powered Respirator should be at least as clean as what you'd get breathing through a half-mask. (That's not necessarily true. The fan of the respirator might force the particulates through the filter rather than allowing the particulates to be trapped by the filter.) At any rate, testing is expensive and Trend and Triton haven't paid to have their products certified, so they cannot be rated for more than nuisance dust protection.

    Your other options are professional grade powered respirators (PAPR). 3M makes several PAPR models. The two that seem to be best suited to woodturning are the Airstream and the Breathe Easy 1 System. Both come with (what appears to be) the same helmet and face shield. The difference is the Airstream has the fan and filter located in the helmet while the Breathe Easy's fan and filter are belt mounted (the air is pushed up to the helmet through a flexible hose). This difference is more than one of where would you prefer to carry the weight of the fan and filter. The Airstream uses a custom HEPA filter. The Breathe Easy uses standard filter canisters -- giving it the flexibility to be used for both particulates and organic vapors.

    So, the Airstream allows you a little more convenience -- it's easier to take on and off, you don't have a tube connected to the helmet, etc. It also costs a bit less than the Breathe Easy. On the other hand, the Breathe Easy should be more comfortable to wear since the weight of the fan and filter will be on your belt and not supported by your neck. In addition, if you buy the right filters, you can use the Breathe Easy when sanding AND when spraying paint or lacquer.

    Here's a link to a firm that sells the Trend and 3M products: http://www.envirosafetyproducts.com/...tors-papr.html

    Here's a link to a firm that sells the Triton, Trend, and 3M products:
    http://www.airwareamerica.com/tritonworkshopsystems.aspx

    HTH.
     
    Dan Stromberg likes this.
  6. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Well, it's expensive, but you can't do better than the 3M Airstream. I bought mine at Airware America and like It is industrial duty and approved by MSHA and NIOSH. It comes with a HEPA filter, has an airflow of approximately 10 CFM, is comfortable, and relatively lightweight at less than two pounds. The battery hangs on your belt which is good because it weighs over a pound. Having the battery separate keeps the helmet relatively lightweight. The helmet can also be used with ear muff hearing protectors if you are working in a noisy environment such as using a chainsaw. The cost of a replacement battery has gotten to be really expensive, but the good news is that they last a very long time. Mine is about six years old and still going strong. You can run the unit all day long without the need to recharge the battery. Sometimes I go for several days before recharging the battery. You could probably rig up your own battery pack for a lot less money, the thing that make the battery so expensive is that it is certified to be intrinsically safe for use in explosive atmospheres such as in a coal mine. Not many woodturners need to worry about using a battery that is rated intrinsically safe.

    If I turn any kind of dry wood without using my Airstream, I will develop a major URI. When I am wearing the Airstream, it does such a good job of filtering that I can't even smell the wood that I am turning. Sanding used to be especially tough for me, but it is no problem with the Airstream.
     
  7. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Actually the weight difference if the helmet assemblies is only 0.2 lbs. The HEPA filter is a "sock-like" affair and is lighter than the canisters. The blower motor and pre-filter are very light plus the Breathe Easy has to incorporate some "ductwork" to adapt to the hose and then to route the air up over the top of the head and down over the face. This added weight mostly offsets any weight saving of removing the motor and blower. To me, the Airstream feels very lightweight at 1.9 pounds and it is very well balanced and there is no problem with moving my head or leaning in any direction.

    Airware America sells all three powered units, the Triton, Trend, and 3M products. Additionally, I have found them to be very helpful and friendly -- first in choosing a system and later in setting up the system for best comfort and performance. I intended to buy the more expensive BreatheEasy, but they convinced me to go with the less expensive Airstream and provided justification for their recommendation.

    In any event, I would stay way from the Triton. The Trend is much better, but talking to a friend who owns one, the extra weight of the batteries in the headgear (it is not a helmet) made his neck stiff, it felt top heavy, and the air flow was marginal. I don't know what sort of filter it uses, but the system as a whole is not rated -- this is important because of air leaks that allow dust to enter around areas of turbulent air flow.
     
  8. odie

    odie

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    I have the Airstream as well......I've never had any other powered respirator, so can't compare it to anything else. However, I've been very satisfied with mine, as it seems to to a very good job.

    There is a dust mask affair for it that accomodates beards, but I am clean shaven, so don't know how well that works. I know that Richard Raffan uses one, and he has a beard. I believe I've heard him comment that it works for his purposes.

    The battery pack clips to your belt, and there is a wire that you will have to be aware of......it could represent a hazard if it catches on anything. I wear the battery pack at the small of my back, so it's behind me and out of the way.

    The Airstream is an expensive outfit these days, but when I bought mine about 20yrs ago, it was around $300 at the time.

    Like face shields, the face will scratch and will need to be replaced from time to time. The filters are replaceable, and I've only replaced them a couple of times......with wood dust, they last a long time and can be cleaned up with air reasonably well.

    ooc
     

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  9. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    I have some basis for comparison.

    I didn't like the Triton because the units I used/tried all had some distortion in the visor that I just couldn't get past.

    The Trend AirShield Pro is (in my opinion) the best bang for the buck. I used one for two years. It's well constructed, and the company's service is first rate.

    Currently I have three different configurations that my wife and I share.

    • A 3M Breathe Easy helmet with waist mounted blower/filter/battery. The nice thing about this rig is that I can swap in organic filters instead of particulate filters.

    • A 3M Breathe Easy helmet that's tethered by a hose to a wall mounted HEPA room filter. This is a sweet setup, low weight, and very quiet because the fan is a few feet away

    • A 3M AirStream helmet (with self contained fan/filter). I've just completed hooking up a small LiOn battery to it... very very pleased because the battery is inexpensive, only weighs 4.5oz and runs for 9 hours, and I'm experimenting with mounting this lightweight battery on the top or rear of the helmet, making it self contained, like the Trend.

    So I've got some good toys, each configuration has its strengths. Fortunately, through some diligent searching, I've gotten very good deals on these items... nothing was retail <vbg>

    Another pretty new item is one I haven't tried, but looks very good: the 3M VersaFlo. It has a lightweight, compact belt mounted fan/filter. The helmet is lighter than the other units (there are two styles) and it uses a LiOn battery. It can take particle or organic filters. I don't know anyone who has one, but I really like the design.
     
  10. Betty Scarpino

    Betty Scarpino

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    Jim,
    Not only wear an air helmet, also get the sawdust off you and your clothing after turning. Start with an air hose or vacuum cleaner. Then shower and change your clothing. That way, you won't be carrying the wood dust into the house and bedroom.


    Betty Scarpino, editor, AW
     
  11. squirrel

    squirrel

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    Hi,

    it all seems very severe precautions. probably necessary but I'm wandering how I have to manage all this precautions!?! being and a turner and a housewife I turn, go in to cook potatoes, turn, do the washing up, turn, have a chat with my husband, turn, take a rest .... good heaven, if everytime I need to change all my cloths ... don't know how to manage that ... I will think about that.
    By the way what is the ilness you are suffering from? Is it a kind of allergy?

    And did anybody ever had experiences with the PowerCap Lite Impact Protection Wipeable 8 hours rechargeable helmet with lithiumbatteries and weight 440 gr? Made by JSP manufacturing for safety in the UK?
    I want to buy such one - I'm just afraid about the potential noise it can make (my head cannot stand noises close to my head since I had an accident) and also I do not know how they are tested. Woodforums say they are very comfortable.

    Squirrel
     
  12. odie

    odie

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    Squirrel........In your case, you might want to think about a lightweight "jumpsuit" that you can quickly put on and off that would cover your regular clothes........(Several sizes too big would make it easy on an off over your clothes.)

    ......just a thought!

    ooc
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  13. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    They are not sold in the US. Looking at the JSP web site, it appears to be a very light duty shield that is mainly for respiratory protection. The cloth baseball cap that supports the shield along with the word "Lite" in the name leads me to believe that the shield does not provide any significant protection from high energy impacts. The airflow of 160 liters/minute which is equivalent to 5.6 CFM is inadequate in my estimation. It certainly would not be comfortable if the weather were very warm.
     
  14. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    I also have the Airstream and also got it 20 years ago. My only complaint is the noise. So I cant use it to demo as the folks would hear this loud noise from the motor. In the studio its on my head most of the day. I vacuum out the filter and wash and change the prefilter often. I now rebuild my battery pack myself. We have had 3 other helmets. One that is no longer made was my wifes favorite. My daughter wears a trend.
    I use a shop vac with a brush to get dust off myself. I do have long sleeved shirts for roughout or nasty turning. It stays until it gets washed.
    So whats it worth? My helmet paid for itself many years ago. I dont use it with chemicals. If I did I would dedicate a filter just for that. When the property is dusty I wear the helmet when I get on the tractor to mow. My lungs and eyes thank me. So they are pricy upfront. And it does take a bit for your neck muscles to get used to the weight. The benefits you will have you will find out about the first time you use it.
    Or any other helmet for that matter.
     
  15. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I have read that in general HEPA filters should be replaced and not try to clean them. I discussed this with the owner of Airware America and he said that the information that he has from 3M is that the performance of the filters will degrade with cleanings, especially if compressed air is used. He also said that he knows a lot of woodturners who use compressed air to blow out the dust from their filters despite being warned about this. Shaking out the contents or even using a shop vac probably is not too bad, but the high pressure blast from a compressor will damage the delicate filter material. It will still be better than no filter, but probably not as good as one would like -- considering that about $750 is shelled out for high quality dust protection, it seems interesting that some users would degrade the performance to the level of a comfort mask. The big sock filter on an airstream will go a very long time before it need to be replaced -- because of its location at the back of the head, it is only picking up the finer dist particles.
     
  16. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    "The airflow of 160 liters/minute which is equivalent to 5.6 CFM is inadequate in my estimation. It certainly would not be comfortable if the weather were very warm."

    Bill,

    5.6 CFM for the AirCap seems to be on the lower end of a pretty reasonable and useful range.

    For comparison

    The specs for the 3M AirStream says:
    Airflow: Greater than 6 cfm (170 lpm)

    Specs for the 3M Breathe Easy says:
    Airflow range 4 to 15 cfm (114 to 425 lpm) (depending on headgear).

    Specs for the Trend AirShield Pro says:
    Airflow: Initial 7.06 cf/min (clean filter, fully chargedbattery)
    Minimum 5.6 cf/min
     
  17. Bernie Weishapl

    Bernie Weishapl

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    I have the 3M Airstream. I talked with their people last week and told them I could tell the air flow was down. They recommended I change the hepa filter. That did the trick. He also warned me not to try and clean it with compressed air because it would compromise the filter and couldn't quarantee it would filter properly. I wash the pre-filter after every turning session. I had problems with bronchial and sinus infections before using paper mask. My doctor told me it could lead to emphysema. The local grain elevators use the 3M Airstream so I thought it had to be pretty good. Haven't had a infection since I got it about 2 yrs ago. Pricey but piece of mind and no doctor visits is well worth it to me.
     
  18. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I think that you have an older Airstream or perhaps you are using the AS-200. The models that are currently marketed are the AS-400 and AS-600, both of which have a rating of 10 CFM. The AS-400 that I have says the flow rate is 10 CFM. There is a flow tester that comes with it that gives a GO / NO GO check on the filter when using a fully charged battery. I don't recall the threshold flow rate for replacing the filter.
     
  19. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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  20. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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  21. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    First of all, a GO / NO-GO tester of any sort is not a measuring device to give a specific readout of the parameter being tested. This type of tester is a simple device that does not require making a measurement and comparing it to a performance requirement -- it just simply, as the name says, a device that tells the user if the condition is GO or NO-GO.

    The principle is no different than it is for the BreatheEasy tube and ball tester. If the pressure differential is sufficient to hold the indicator on the intake then that is a pass condition for the GO / NO-GO test. If the pressure differential is not sufficient to hold the tester, then that is obviously a NO-GO condition for meeting the spec flow rate.

    Because of the design differences between the two units, the devices are necessarily different. Although woodturners are free to ignore the filter condition and use them as long as they please, MSHA and other industrial users requires checking the airflow before donning the equipment as a matter of standard safety operating procedures.
     
  22. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    Bill,

    I am not questioning the validity of go/nogo indicators, and I understand the differences in the respirator configurations (I own or have owned several of them)

    I am trying to figure out where you are getting the 10 CFM values you are reporting for the AirStream because it is clearly not coming from the indicator.

    Just curious.
     
  23. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    You are correct that the guaranteed minimum performance spec for air flow is 6 CFM. The 10 CFM comes from what is advertized, which presumably means the ideal performance attainable with a battery in perfect condition and brand new filters. This sort of implies that the value of 6 CFM is the minimum flow rate that will keep the indicator in place and with anything less, it would not hold (for those who are not familiar with the Airstream, the indicator that Alan shows is placed at the air intake with the prefilter removed -- the pressure difference will hold the indicator in place if the airflow is satisfactory -- otherwise, the indicator will not stay put).

    I suspect that most of the consumer grade powered respirators are stating the ideal airflow for their units and not a guaranteed minimum. If that is the case, it seems most equitable to apply the same criteria to all units when making a comparison. I imagine on "Day One" my unit may have been able to provide 10 CFM, but I have no doubt that with a six year old battery and a filter with a couple hundred hours of sucking up dust that it is somewhere between the peak value and the guaranteed minimum.

    Look about 2/3rds down the page on this link to the Airstream at Airware America where airflow is stated as 10 CFM with the AS-115 motor assembly. Before about 2005, the previous assembly had a maximum airflow of about 8 CFM. Older units can still be upgraded by getting the newer assembly. Also, about the same time, the battery was improved to maintain a constant output voltage along with an exended run time between charges.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
  24. AlanZ

    AlanZ Resident Techno Geek

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    Unfortunately we don't know how the CFM is measured for the advertisement.

    I suspect that a fan with a 10 CFM rating will deliver the cfm across the face noted by 3M when you take into account losses from the ducting and air filter.

    So I don't know if the other companies are advertising the fan capacity or if they are advertising the actual system throughput.

    That's what makes it difficult to compare units based on their specs and advertisements.

    It's why I mentioned it in the first place... you mentioned that based on the specs, the airflow of the powercap "It certainly would not be comfortable if the weather were very warm."

    I'm just trying to raise the point that you can't necessarily draw that conclusion. I'm just guessing that those who designed and actually use the unit find it sufficient.

    Compared the the specs for the Breathe Easy, the AirStream could be assumed insufficient to do the job... but they both work fine.

    The AirStream is also the loudest (for the wearer) of all the units I've tested, and that has to be weighed into the comfort considerations. I don't know how it compares to the PowerCap.

    As mentioned, I have three 3M helmets... I like them. I've tweaked each of them to provide better comfort and runtime. Then again, I wind up fussing with almost everything I purchase... they all seem to do "almost" what I want them to do.

    Comparing the features and performance of the respirator/faceshield/helmet systems is a fine exercise and hopefully valuable for those who have not yet acquired these worthwhile personal protection items.
     
  25. James E Gaydos

    James E Gaydos

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    Thanks to everyone for their input, it has helped a lot.

    The Airstream is out of my budget for now, unless the kids want to be real generous at Christmas. (that's doutfull ):confused:

    I've decided to go with the spaceman look.:cool2:

    A Tyvec suite, a fine particle resperator, tune up my dust collector, and fix my clean air machine, that has a bad switch. I do use air to clean myself after working, the suit will have the advantage of keeping the dirt in the shop.
    I have to admit that I have some bad habits when in the shop, and my shop is small. I'm used to a larger working enviroment.
    I don't do a lot of work in the summer, just to hot and humid, would love to air condition the shop, maybe next year.

    I've recently started to learn how to make hollow vessels, I didn't realize how must dust was being generated during the hollowing process.

    I don't know about anyone else, but with a dust collector, air compressor, and clean air machine running all at the same time, the noise can be cruel, yes I wear ear protection, and a face shield. I'll get used to it.

    Thanks again, Jim
     
  26. n7bsn

    n7bsn

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    James

    I understand your cost concerns, but what is cheaper, a lung transplant or a really expensive helmet. :D

    That being said, there are other things you can consider

    Besides a helm (I used the Trend).

    I also have a DC connected when I am sanding.

    PLUS I have an over-head whole-shop air-filter (from Delta in my case).

    PLUS I have a Shop Fox HEPA filter. What I like about the Shop Fox is I can set it to run for up to three hours, after I leave the shop, this cleans up all the fines that are still floating.

    Between the DC, over-head shop filter and the Shop Fox stand alone, I no longer have a layer of dust all over the shop.
     
  27. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    I take the hose from the shop vac and insert it into the sock and turn it on. I slowly pull the hose out. Turn the vac off and go for the other side of the sock. If I notice any degrade I will put in new filter. I did upgrade to a more powerful motor and a smart charger. So far air flow is just fine and I get no fine dust on my glasses. It is a hepa filter. I do have a dust collector but with fans blowing and trade winds blowing through the studio clouds of sanding dust can be moving around sometimes. I do take a leaf blower to the place now and again.
    Bottom line the helmet of any brand beats the eyes caked with dust. I used a double canister for many years before getting a helmet.
    I did the 3rd annual Honolulu symposium a couple weeks ago. Set up fans and tried not to breathe when I could see the dust coming into my face. I did two rotations in a row. Went to toss water on my face after and blew my nose. So much for having fans and trying not to breathe.
     
  28. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Here is a set of 3M videos on the Airstream covering just about all that you might want to know. I believe that it is video #3 that talks about not cleaning the the HEPA filter. I initially considered cleaning my filter, but then I learned that cleaning damages the sensitive membrane on any HEPA filter. Since I paid really big bucks to have really clean air, I could not rationalize that with using a recycled and degraded filter that does not perform as well under the guise of being economical. I said to myself, "there's something wrong with this picture".
     
  29. Ed Jarvis

    Ed Jarvis

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    powered respirator

    I have a 3m Adflo which set me back $1100+ at the Portland symposium I am very alergic to dust I never looked back or regretted it. In talking with 3m they tell me that they are comming out with a replacement for this or a newer one. My only complaint is that the helmet straps are not comfortable enough and I am thinking of puting a sticky backed foam pad under the straps that run over the top of the head to make it more comfortable. I wear a 7 3/4 long oval hat size.

    Ed
     
  30. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    On my Airstream, I was bothered by the two headband straps where they cross each other at the top of my bald noggin because they make a somewhat hard bump at that point. I fixed it by using a slightly padded bandage tape to smooth out the bump. It has held up perfectly (except for head grease discoloring it, if that is not TMI) and in my opinion is better than using foam weatherstripping type tape which would add a lot of thickness. I can't remember exactly what bandage tape I used, but I will try to get an answer.
     
  31. James E Gaydos

    James E Gaydos

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
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    Location (City & State):
    Ephrata, Pa
    N7bsn

    N7BSN, I realize a lung transplant would be more costly:eek:
    But I can't spend what I don't have. It will take a few months, like about 3, to save up enough to purchase an air helmet, or maybe sooner if a good turning job comes in. I'm on a very limited income, so I need to watch where every penny goes.
    Jim, The Pauper:D
     
  32. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

    Joined:
    May 16, 2005
    Messages:
    3,540
    COPD makes a tight filtration mask impossible to use. You'd fatigue too rapidly trying to draw air. Add the lack of elasticity short of emphysema that goes with aging, and even exhalation would SEEM impaired.

    Got CPAP? Filter its intake or move it farther away on a larger hose.
     
  33. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
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    This was discussed in a thread a while back, but I don't recall if anyone actually decided to implement it. One obvious problem is that thatere are very few masks that allow the user to wear glasses -- not unreasonable considering that you are supposed to be sleeping and not turning. :D
     
  34. James E Gaydos

    James E Gaydos

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    179
    Location (City & State):
    Ephrata, Pa
    Well, I tried out my new respirator mask today for about 2 hours and it went well. I did not have any difficulty in breathing or exhaling. Their is a slight resistance when taking a deep breath, but I got used to that very soon.

    It is an MSA Safety Works brand. Meets requirements for OSHA and NIOSH P100. It is approved for Scraping Lead Paint, Asbestos, and Mold. Replaceable filters, I got a few extra right away. It did form a bit of condensation on the inside, but that was to be expected. It's very light weight and does not obstruct my vision, and my face shield fits over with no problems.
    The mask fits very snug over my beard, it does have adjustable straps which work well for tightening it up.

    I rearranged the intake on my dust collector so it can be moved much closer to the work I'm sanding, and a lot easier, and added another blast gate to my set up.
    So far so good.
    Jim
     

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