January 29, 2010
BOCES auto students learn ‘green’ techniques
Program incorporates methods to manage, cut down on waste and air emissions
CORTLANDVILLE — Moving carefully from left to right, Shane Stiles applied liquid filler with a gun-like device in his left hand Thursday to a car fender lying in front of him, trying a task he could perform daily if he goes to work for an auto body shop.
The Cortland High School junior then used a plastic square called an applicator to smooth it so the material could be sanded, buffed and painted over.
The students in Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES auto repair classes at the McEvoy Center were getting a demonstration of ways that an auto shop could “go green,” generating less toxic waste to dispose of and allowing technicians to work in cleaner air and a cleaner shop.
The gun, about 2 feet long and similar to a caulking device, is made by 3M, costs about $400 and does not waste anywhere near as much filler or require as much time as the old method. It weighs about 8 pounds.
“It saves a lot of time, it’s a neater material and there’s no waste,” Stiles said, watching fellow student Steve Crawford, a Tully junior, try the gun next. “It’s a heck of a lot different.”
Usually a student mixes the filler from a gallon can, similar to a paint can, with hardener from a tube that is squeezed like a toothpaste tube. He then stirs it together on something — the students use cardboard plates — while looking for consistency. Then he carries it across the shop to the car he is working on, before it hardens.
The process leaves extra filler that the technician has to scrape back into the can, along the rim, leaving lumps of it and making it difficult to put the lid on tightly.
With the gun, said teacher Phil Ramey, the two liquids are already mixed in a 10-ounce can, so the filler is more consistent and the technician can work with it faster. Covering the repaired area of a car takes about one-quarter of the time, and there are fewer cans or containers to dispose of.
Green practices, which cut down on potential air or land pollution inside and outside a shop, are the future for auto repair technicians, Ramey said. He wants his students to understand that now and be ready.
Ramey’s guest speakers were Mike Cute of Kellogg Auto Supply, a NAPA dealer in Cortland, and Patrick Klase of Cicero, 3M manufacturer’s representative for the area. They showed a film about the gun in Ramey’s classroom, then demonstrated it out in the shop for Ramey’s 26 students in morning and afternoon classes.
“Two things I hear the most in shops around this area: find me a technician, and find me a good technician,” Klase told the students.
Cute said a few auto repair shops are using green practices, but there has been no government pressure yet to do so. Petrella Brothers on Luker Road, Cortlandville, is one shop that does.
“The state regulations aren’t there yet, here in the Northeast, but they will be,” Cute said.
Green practices include cutting down on volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, in the air; managing wastewater that contains toxic substances; cutting down on waste, such as empty cans, and disposing of it safely; and monitoring how paint is stored, to cut down on air emissions of the metals it contains.
The gun squeezes filler from a can-like tube through a tip, which creates a narrow bead that the technician spreads with his applicator.
“It will take some practice,” said Cortland junior Tyler Thayer, “but I like it and I see the difference. Mixing on a plate, you get all the stuff left on the plate.”
A gallon can of filler equals five or six of the gun tubes of filler, Klase said, depending on how much a shop’s technicians waste as they work. A technician will go through the tubes faster than through cans, but will waste less.
Ramey could not estimate how much money the gun and other green practices will save OCM BOCES, but a case of filler, or four cans, costs $180.
Klase said the gun also leaves fewer pinholes — tiny holes — in the dried filler. Pinholes are impossible to cover with paint, so the technician has to spread filler over them. The gun makes that less necessary.
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