Defense Verdict in Case Involving Unstable Motorcycle by Curtis Beloy, P.E.

Defense Verdict in Case Involving Unstable Motorcycle by Curtis Beloy, P.E.

A motorcycle customization business faced a lawsuit after a motorcycle it had worked on crashed on an open section of freeway in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The motorcyclist was on the first day of a riding trip and was accelerating to catch up to her riding group when she lost control of her motorcycle and crashed.  The plaintiff claimed her crash and injuries were a result of improper fitment of a rear tire that was installed on her motorcycle just prior to her trip.  It was argued the defendant installed a tire on her rear rim that did not provide sufficient clearance to the surrounding motorcycle parts.  The plaintiff’s accident reconstruction expert identified tire rub marks on the inside edges of the rear fender and the inner edge of the drive belt.  He pointed to this as evidence supporting the plaintiff’s argument that a problem with the motorcycle caused the crash.  The accident reconstruction expert did not have an explanation of how the alleged clearance issue would have resulted in the loss of control experienced by the plaintiff.

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Crane Staff Members Contribute to 2018 NFPA 54 Handbook Revisions

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The National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (NFPA 54/ANSI Z223.1) explains in plain language technical aspects of NFPA 54 requirements.  Included in the handbook are explanations of fuel gas safety concepts that engineers, technicians, contractors and consultants use to ensure fuel gas piping, appliances and venting are installed safely. NFPA 54 is a vital investigation tool used by our engineers while investigating accidents involving fuel gas.

Tom Crane, P.E. and Matt Wilber, CGE, CFEI have both been members of the National Fuel Gas Code Committee for many years with Tom being a former chairman.  The two of them along with Andy Thielen, P.E. (formerly the administrative engineer for the State of Minnesota Mechanical and Fuel Gas Codes) were major contributors to the 2018 Handbook revisions.

If you have specific questions, or need help understanding the key changes in NFPA 54 please contact Matt Wilber.   

Maintenance and the Standard of Care By Steve Hamilton, P.E.

Maintenance and the Standard of Care By Steve Hamilton, P.E.

Maintenance should be a key consideration when investigating the failure of a piece of equipment. Most equipment requires some level of maintenance.  Combustion engines require oil changes; furnaces require filter changes.  Insurance policies have property exclusions that can vary widely, including “wear and tear” situations that can be avoided with proper maintenance. There are several established philosophies to maintenance that cover a spectrum of care.  The standard of care for maintenance will vary depending on many variables. 

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Rogue Particles: Sometimes It’s the Little Things By Mark Weiss

Rogue Particles: Sometimes It’s the Little Things  By Mark Weiss

The presence of particulate matter in devices is a common concern. Often the particles are of obvious origin, but sometimes the origin is unclear. When the origin is unclear, analysis of the particles along with a bill of materials for the device/project may combine to identify the source. In other cases, multiple components may come together to form a new compound or precipitate that is different from the materials used in the system and a more complex analysis is required.  

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Reverse Engineering By Lloyd Meissner, P.E.

Reverse Engineering By Lloyd Meissner, P.E.

Reverse engineering can be defined as the process of obtaining design information from a product or assembly.  This may be one of your company’s legacy products, a product from a company you may have recently acquired or a competitor’s product for benchmarking purposes.  This process begins with data and information gathering using a variety of techniques. This data is then compiled into a detailed component or assembly drawing that was previously unavailable.

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Virtual Testing: Use of Computer Simulation for Better Products By Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

Virtual Testing: Use of Computer Simulation for Better Products By Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

Physical testing can be costly and time consuming in the product development process. Physical prototypes need to be created, then the test hardware needs to be procured, data logging needs to be setup, etc. Furthermore, the tests may not yield expected or desirable results thus necessitating the proverbial “back to the drawing board.” This holds true whether one is testing a product like an entire automobile or just a component of that vehicle’s suspension. Therefore, reducing the number of testing iterations is obviously desirable.

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From Uptown to Downtown: Issues Regarding Mixed-Use Multi-Level Construction James Panko, P.E.; Scott A. Nesvold, P.E.; Andrew J. Thielen, P.E.

From Uptown to Downtown: Issues Regarding Mixed-Use Multi-Level Construction James Panko, P.E.; Scott A. Nesvold, P.E.; Andrew J. Thielen, P.E.

Multi-story wood construction has been a popular trend in recent years. The building codes are changing to allow larger and taller buildings to be constructed using wood.  Wood construction can be less expensive and faster to construct than other alternatives.  This presentation will discuss various issues that can arise from this type of construction including story shrinkage, façade systems, mechanical systems and fire protection issues. 

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Motor Vehicle Technology Trends—Forensic Engineering in the Approaching Age of Autonomous Vehicles Luis C. Flores, P.E. and Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E.

Motor Vehicle Technology Trends—Forensic Engineering in the Approaching Age of Autonomous Vehicles Luis C. Flores, P.E. and Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E.

From the time of its conception, dating back to Karl Benz’s Patent-Motorwagen in the late 1800s to the present, the automobile as we know it has been gradually evolving. Currently, there are various vehicle control systems in place, primarily designed to help the driver arrive at his or her destination in a safe manner. These can be found in a modern vehicle in the form of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and Lane Departure Warning; all which aim to keep a vehicle on track in the event of an emergency and ultimately lessen the potential consequences of human error.

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Carbon Monoxide Incident Investigations By Matthew W. Wilber, CGE, CFEI and Scott A. Sollars, P.E.

Carbon Monoxide Incident Investigations By Matthew W. Wilber, CGE, CFEI and Scott A. Sollars, P.E.

Any incident investigation can be challenging. Carbon monoxide (CO) incidents can be particularly complex. A CO incident is invariably a result of interactive conditions and/or actions within an enclosure or structure.

In this session we will discuss scene preservation requirements, early documentation needs, party identification, complex and interactive diagnostics, codes and standards involvement as well as how these issues might impact the litigation process.

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Crane Engineering Presents

Many of Crane Engineering's professional staff speak at events across the country.  Following are a couple events we have coming up next month:

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What Is That Goo? by Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI

What Is That Goo? by Hernán Mercado-Corujo, P.E., CFEI, CVFI

Clunking sounds, reduced engine power, wrecked hydraulic pumps. These are some of the symptoms of foreign substances making its way into an engine or transmission. Fuel and lubricants can become contaminated in several ways, including vandalism/fraud, inadvertent fluid mix-ups, and weather exposure, among others. If this happens on a piece of agricultural, industrial, or commercial equipment, the replacement and/or repair costs can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. For this reason, an inspection of the equipment along with the collection of substance samples may be worth the effort when analyzing, examining and assessing an engine or transmission failure claim.

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What is the Difference between a Biomechanic and a Doctor? by André Loyd, P.E.

What is the Difference between a Biomechanic and a Doctor? by André Loyd, P.E.

The difference between a doctor and a biomechanic is the same as a mechanic and an accident reconstructionist.  Mechanics are experts in diagnosing and fixing what is damaged on a vehicle, while accident reconstructionists are experts on deciphering what happened during a vehicle accident.  Likewise, doctors are skilled at diagnosing and healing an injury, but biomechanics are trained to tell you how the injury occurred.  An accident reconstructionist looks at the physics of an auto accident, just as a biomechanic looks at the physics behind an injury.

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Upcoming Presentations

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Employee Spotlight: Adam Wise, P.E.

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For over fifteen years Adam Wise has worked in the areas of motor vehicle accident investigation, reconstruction and product liability analysis as a mechanical engineer with Safety Engineering Associates. He is experienced in accident site and vehicle documentation; motorcycle, ATV, and passenger vehicle testing; design analysis; and much more.

An interesting case Adam recently worked on involved a motorcycle operator riding a 1000cc sportbike on an interstate highway who claimed that he was “bullied” by a driver operating a loaded tractor-trailer.  The motorcycle operator testified that the truck driver prevented him from exiting the highway by slowing significantly as the motorcyclist was attempting to slow and move behind the truck from the left lane.  Adam analyzed data recorded by the truck’s electronic control module (ECM) and proved that the truck driver had maintained a nearly constant speed around the highway exit.  Adam also compared the performance capabilities of the plaintiff’s motorcycle and the defendant’s tractor-trailer to illustrate how easily a motorcyclist could outmaneuver a tractor-trailer, if desired. 

                                                                     For more information on Adam, click here.  To contact him directly, click here.

Message from Tom Crane, P.E.

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Nearly four years ago, Crane Engineering acquired Safety Engineering Associates to further bolster and broaden our expertise as a forensic engineering company. I am proud of how the Crane and SEA personnel have come together and thrived since and during this transition.

We have now reached a point in our merger where we feel it’s beneficial to fully embrace one company and one brand. Over the next several months we will be phasing out the Safety Engineering Associates brand but they will remain a vibrant part of Crane Engineering.  This move will solidify and formally align the 2014 acquisition so we can better position the company to you, our clients, as well as other partners and prospects.

Throughout the rest of the year and culminating early next year, we will be embarking on a rebranding process. This effort will be anchored by the development of a new Crane Engineering logo, which will be incorporated across all of our communication vehicles to ensure a unified and cohesive brand going forward.

We look forward to celebrating Crane’s new brand and continuing our great partnerships together.

Sincerely,

Tom

Evaluating Electrical Systems after a Fire by Steve Hamilton, P.E., CFEI

After a fire, damage assessments begin.  One aspect of assessment is the electrical system.  There may be direct damage to electrical wiring or devices, or indirect damage from heat, smoke or water (fire suppression).  It’s surprising how frequently I see cost estimates for repairs that fail to include replacing, or adequately repairing, equipment that has been exposed to smoke or water.

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Crane Engineering Presents . . .

Many of Crane Engineering's professional staff speak at events across the country.  Following are a few of the presentations we have given in the last month:

  • Luis Flores:  ASCE Congress on Technical Advancement, Duluth, MN—Sept. 10.  Topic:  A Synopsis of Incident Site Documentation.
  • Scott Dillon:  Propane Gas Defense Association Fall Meeting, Chicago, IL—Sept. 28.  Topic:  Application of Technology, Forensics and the Scientific Method to an Alleged Propane FireCase Study of a Fire at a Furniture Store.
  • Luis Flores:  North Dakota Defense Lawyers Association (NDDLA) Annual Meeting, Bismarck, ND—Sept. 28.  Topic:  Passenger Vehicle and Heavy Truck Event Data Recorders.

Contact any of our staff members to see if they are available to speak at your event, or for general information contact Holly Taylor.

Timing in Fuel Gas Migration: Modeling and Analysis by Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

Timing in Fuel Gas Migration: Modeling and Analysis by Christopher J. Brand, P.E.

As the cliché goes: “timing is everything.” This often applies to forensic analysis of fuel gas leaks and their subsequent migration, whether it be natural gas or propane. Usual questions are, for example, how long did the leak run before an explosive mixture was produced? What was the gas concentration at the time of the incident? Would the odorant have been detectible?  The answers to these questions lead to an understanding of the incident.

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Employee Spotlight: Scott A. Sollars, P.E., CGE, IAAI-CFI

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With over 20 years of experience as a mechanical engineer, Scott Sollars has a solid background in mechanical systems, safety and hazard evaluation, combustion mechanics, and fuel-gas systems and components. He has extensive experience conducting site inspections, particularly those involving product liability.

Over Scott’s years of work as a mechanical engineer one thing he often sees is the mishandling of party notification.  He was reminded at a recent inspection of how important it is to fully identify interested parties prior to scheduling an inspection.  As he inspected a house fire involving a furnace the group realized a component manufacturer wasn’t in attendance and had not been put on notice.  The inspection had to be halted, the missing party was notified and the inspection was rescheduled for a later date. ASTM E 860 Standard Practice for Examining and Preparing Items That Are Or May Become Involved in Criminal or Civil Litigation requires that experts recommend to their clients that all interested parties be notified of destructive testing.  Following this standard would have saved time, money and frustration for an entire group.

Check out more information on Scott Sollars, or contact him directly with your mechanical engineering needs.