Wednesday, May 18, 2005

All About Blueprint Storage

We understand that you want to store your Blueprints safely and securely, but do want to have them organized for quick and easy reference and retrieval. What we will provide in this article are points for you to consider before you make a purchase. In many cases we cannot recommend a specific item due to; we have not seen your office space, have not seen number of workers in your organization, how the workers are situated such as on multiple floors of an office building, and do not know the number of prints you plan to store today and in the future. Our article will simply get your thought process started and hopefully point you in the right direction.

When seeking Blueprint Storage Solutions, you must first start by considering how many sheets and plan sets you have that you want to store. And, then consider how will your collection grow in the future. Will you have some storage solutions that offer quick retrieval but less protection? For example; a Blueprint Rack (also known as a Blueprint Stand) that is located near the people that use the plans the most. The stands offer quick access to hanging files where the hanging clamps can be removed easily and then laid on a workers desk, or laid out on a reference table. Think, it would not make sense to have a worker walk back to a storage room to pull drawings out of a steel flat file drawer that's located 50 feet away from their desk. So, you may want to mix your solution selection, such as; Hanging File Centers (again also known as Blueprint Racks or Stands) that would be located next to workers, but have Steel Flat Files located in a back room for archived or prints that are used less frequent.

Basic starting points to consider when seeking to organize your Blueprint Storage would be; do you want flat storage, rolled storage, permanent storage, locked storage. These are things to consider. Rolling drawings up takes time, but it does allow for them to be stood up on end beside a workers desk. Corrugated Upright Roll Files and Wire Upright Roll Files offer quick access right beside a workers desk.

We mentioned security such as locked storage previously in this article. Some companies either put locks on the drawers or either build a secure area which is typically called a "Plan Room". Depending on the volume of prints that need to be secured and the amount of space you have in your office, can dictate whether or not to build a Plan Room. Plan Rooms are great as they can have a locked door with all of your Flat Files located in a dedicated room within your office.

Something else you should consider is your investment in the plans you have. Some are prints from CAD files that you printed on a CAD Plotter. These prints can be printed again and again, even if you have a disaster such as a fire. As long as your drawing data is backed up by your computer network administrator, you should be fine. But, what if your drawings have notes, or have been hand-drawn, or what if they were the only available original drawings. Your drawings may have many many hours invested in them and as a result make the documents become very valuable and not easily replaced. Many Universities and Plants have the problem of having only originals that are available. Once these documents are gone, they are lost forever. In these cases, we recommend secured Plan Rooms with fire suppression (possibly not of the water type, you would have to learn more about fire suppression systems which is outside the scope of this document), and we recommend Steel Flat Files that secure the drawings and add a level of protection. Some Blueprint Cabinets even offer fire protection as one of their features. You would need to read more about what each cabinet has to offer and how these levels of protection work.

In summary, we have touched on various points of which you should consider before you make a purchase of a Blueprint Storage Solution. We would even recommend possibly getting a meeting together within your company to discuss what each user would want. Would some want Upright Roll Stands beside their desks, would some want to build a Plan Room. Does your documents need to be secured? There are many questions that you should ask yourself and others that will be using the storage solutions. Hopefully our document will help get your thoughts and questions started so that you will be satisfied once your solution is decided upon and plan put into effect.

Disclaimer; By reading this guide on our website, you agree to not hold anyone responsible for any misuse or misunderstandings that you may make. does NOT assume any responsibility with providing this information.

How to buy a Measuring Wheel

Measuring Wheels are great tools for the Appraiser, Estimator, Engineer, Architect,Contractor, Surveyor, Banker, Realtor, and anyone that is interested in measuring large distances in a short period of time. Most Measuring Wheels are for estimating and get fairly accurate, but we do recommend if you want ultimate accuracy you should consider a measuring tape and not a wheel. One thing to consider is measuring from against an object like a wall inside of a house for example. If you put the wheel against the wall and start rolling, you must add the distance of the radius of the wheel on both sides of the room. So, basically you add the diameter (radius x 2) to the distance you measured in order to measure from wall to wall.

There are basically two types of Measuring Wheels to choose from. There's the Mechanical type, and then the Electronic type. Here are some pros and cons of each;

Pros: Does not rely on batteries and is usually very simple to operate.
Cons: One Measuring Wheel typically offers a single unit of measure.

Pros: Can handle multiple units of measure all in a single wheel.
Cons: Have to have batteries. What if your batteries die when in the field?

Other things to consider when shopping for a Measuring Wheel are;

If you're concerned with cost of the product you're planning to buy, consider the useful life expectancy. You should consider the price being spread out over these years and not be as concerned with price in our opinion. We always think of the nice steak supper for $50 that lasts only a few hours. That's a good way to think about where your money is going.

Will you be wanting to use your measuring wheel indoors or outdoors? Or possibly both places? If only inside use is planned, we would recommend a smaller wheel, possible dual-wheel model. If outdoors, you may consider a 10 inch or 12 inch model. If you're going to use for both indoors and outdoors, then maybe consider a 6 inch model. We are referring to the diameter, which is the distance from one side of the wheel to the other and traveling through the center of the wheel.

The size of the wheel can make the measuring task at hand easier if the size of the wheel matches what you plan to do with your wheel. Read our section of "Inside or Outside" and see how we recommend the various sizes of measuring wheels. Please note that the overall size of the unit is something to consider, as some measuring wheels handles even collapse to save space.

The units of measure that you will want is up to you to decide. Will you want to measure in feet and inches, meters and decimeters, or tenths and feet? These are examples of units of measure. Please consider that a mechanical wheel you will need to decide and purchase the product that meets the units of measure that you desire. If you're buying an electronic wheel, most of the electronic measuring wheels offer multiple units of measure you and can typically push a button to select which unit of measure you want to measure in. This setting can be switched to your liking depending on the measuring units you want to perform. This is a benefit of an electronic measuring wheel, however please remember the disadvantage of having batteries to rely upon.

Most are one year, but you can find some with lifetime warranties. Something to possibly consider but most wheels last a very long time if properly cared for and used.

You may want to consider buying a measuring wheel that comes with a carrying case, or possibly buying an optional case. Using a case will help keep dust and water off of your measuring wheel and allow it to last longer.

We recommend taking the time to think about what you want to accomplish with a measuring wheel. Then, putting your criteria in ranking order before you make the purchase. Disclaimer; By reading this guide on our website, you agree to not hold anyone responsible for any misuse or misunderstandings that you may make. does NOT assume any responsibility with providing this information.

How to buy a Magnetic Locator

Buying a Magnetic Locator is a decision that many surveyors and municipal employees decide to make. It seems most purchases are based on someone seeing the product used by another department or someone that has been on the job for a long time.

The need for a magnetic locator is usually to locate ferrous objects under ground, under water, or in snow. Objects such as PK nails, iron pipes, buried metal objects, valve covers, masonry nails, manhole covers, wires, cast iron water and gas lines, valve boxes, septic tanks and well casings, and surveyors' markers.

Survey markers or pins are such a strong magnetic target that almost any magnetic locator will find them. Therefore a customer has to look at other factors in determining which locator is the best to buy.

Things to consider when buying a locator would be;

1. Do you need a case? If yes, a hard or soft case?
2. Do you need a visual indicator, such as an LCD?
3. Do you need a headphones (in case you are in a noisy area and need to hear the locators sound better)? If yes, get a locator with a headphone jack. (*See the negative side of using headphones below).
4. Battery life and battery level indicators.
5. Sound level adjustment knobs.
6. Size of the locator itself. Do you need one that collapes?
7. Cost.
8. Warranty.
9. Weight of the locator. How long will you have to carry it around?
10. Initial Cost of the purchase. sells brands of magnetic locators like; Dunham & Morrow, Schonstedt, Subsurface Instruments, and CST (Chicago Steel Tape) Survey. All of these locators are professional grade instruments and are built to withstand the rigors of aggressive environments. We do recommend taking care of your magnetic locator since it is an electronic device. Return your locator to it's case after each use is a great way to help protect your investment.

If you're concerned with cost of the locator you're planning to buy, consider the useful life expectancy. Some locators are used for twenty or thirty years by some surveyors. We have seen some surveyors with locating instruments that last them their entire career. You should consider the price being spread out over these years and not be as concerned with price in our opinion. We always think of the nice steak supper for $50 that lasts only a few hours. Thats a good way to think about where your money is going.

The Dunham & Morrow Magnetic Locators come with a Lifetime Warranty. The Schonstedt's warranty's vary from model to model. The Schonstedt Model GA-52Cx comes with a 7-year Warranty and the Model GA-72Cd comes with a 5-year Warranty. The CST Magna-Trak's come with a 5-year Warranty.

The use of headphones when operating a locator is considered to be dangerous due to the user cannot hear other sounds on a construction site, or in near highways. We do not recommend using headphones. If you do, it would be something to consider where and when you are using them.

Some customers have stated they like the soft case better than the hard case. You need to ask yourself if you want a case, and if so, what type. Some cases have shoulder straps that makes carrying the case in the field easier.

If you are looking for a locator that is easy to carry in the field, we recommend the Schonstedt MAC-51Bx if you want magnetic & cable locating abilities. The MAC-51Bx has optional accessories that can enable it to do a few more tasks than other locators. We have had many satisfied customers that have purchased the Dunham & Morrow brand of locator. It all depends on what you want to do and where you will carry your locator.

Some recommend that you contact the manufacturer every five or so years and have your locator calibrated and/or tested, especially if you are locating UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) or Weapons. Some manufacturers say that the need for calibration is unnecessary so its really a decision to be made by the customer if this type of maintenance is needed.

We recommend taking the time to think about what you want to accomplish with a magnetic locator. Then, putting your criteria in ranking order before you make the purchase.