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Are We Still in Kansas?

Steve Thomas just told all the good and honest readers of JLC where he keeps the spare key to his truck ("Duct Tape for Dummies," Letters, 8/04). By including his first and last name and city and state, you could have just helped get his truck stolen!

After a quick search on the Internet, I found two possible Steve Thomases. Now someone would just have to drive by and see which one has a pickup parked in front and check the tailgate for a key.

Don't worry: I just called Steve's home and let him know that he should move his key!

J. Mann

Somewhere in Texas

Steve Thomas responds: So I get this phone call from a guy in Texas — a guy in the insurance business — who seemed alarmed about my disclosure as to where I keep a spare key for my truck. I thanked him, told him I appreciated his concern, and reassured him that I'd moved the key. I too did some homework on the Internet and found out where he lives — a nice little town between Paranoia and Way-Too-Much-Time-On-Your-Hands, Texas. My intent was to suggest a safe spot to tuck a key away should you be locked out (as stated, I do this with surprising frequency), not to get my truck targeted for theft. Meanwhile, I remain comfortable with my disclosure — I'd like to hope not too many felons subscribe to this magazine.

Compressor Specs

I found Victor Rasilla's article on stacked-tank compressors (8/04) highly informative. The only quibble I have is that some of the manufacturers' stated specs may not be true in real life. My Porter-Cable CPLDC2540S reportedly draws only 12 amps, which was the lowest current draw among the review subjects. On the job, however, it routinely trips 15-amp breakers on startup, generally when it's recovering after the initial tank charge. Sometimes I even have to run the compressor off the inverter in my truck when I can't access a 20-amp receptacle.

Jonathan Ward

Durham, N.C.

Long Spans and Tile

Regarding the item "Setting Ceramic Tile Over Long-Span Steel Joists" (Q&A, 8/04), L/360 isn't typically a good indicator of a firm floor except for spans under 15 feet. L/480 is optimum for spans up to 20 feet, which equals 1/2-inch deflection at full load. For the 24-foot span in the contractor's question, deflection of 1/2 inch would equal L/576. The Wood Truss Council recommends that to avoid cracking of tile floors, deflections should be less than 1/4 inch at full load, which in this case would be a floor design of L/1,152. For a marble floor, the deflection would be even less, something closer to 1/8 inch.

Robert Riggs

TrimJoist Representative

Lexington, Ky.

Doubling Compressed Air Output

Your recent article on compressors ("Stacked-Tank Compressors," 8/04) brought to mind something I learned on the job site many years ago, while nailing off sheathing. I discovered that we could double our compressor output simply by doubling our compressors — literally. By using a double dongle — a fitting with two male ends, which costs a couple of bucks — we simply connect two compressors, using the second output nozzle to feed the nail gun. No adjustments are necessary: You just plug them together and go. If your compressor has only one output, just add a T-fitting.


With two pancakes working in tandem, I can nail off sheathing without having to stop and wait for the compressor to catch up. Ganged compressors are also handy when I run air-hungry tools like a metal nibbler or an air ratchet.

I've found that two small compressors can typically run on one 20-amp circuit, as long as their cut-in settings are a bit different. Two compressors kicking in at the same time can trip the breaker. Plugging them into separate circuits is also an option. I suppose there's no limit to the number of portable compressors you could daisy-chain, as long as you've got the circuitry to handle them.

Carl Hagstrom

Montrose, Pa.