Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hydraulic Handbrakes In Rally Cars

Hydraulic Handbrakes In Rally Cars

In every motorsport vehicle, you need high performance car equipment to stay above the competition. This applies to rally races too. The components used in race cars need to be highly reliable and sturdy to survive high speeds.

Rally racing is a very popular sport and is liked and watched by many around the world. The race courses for rallies are different from other races. Unlike other races that take place on proper roads, rally races usually take place on surfaces like asphalt, gravel, ice, snow and sand. They are sometimes held in extreme climatic conditions such as heavy monsoon rains or in bitter cold.

The unpredictable nature of the races, the weather and the roughness of the race courses require cars that can survive such tracks. These cars need to be high performance reliable vehicles that can survive on rough terrains and tolerate severe stress.

The driver should be able to drive them faster, turn them faster and stop them immediately without skidding. Without such abilities, the car is prone to get out of the driver's control. This can result in the car literally jumping over huge bumps or sliding swiftly over icy terrain.

For rally cars, hydraulic handbrakes work best. They have extreme importance in drift or rally vehicles. Hydraulic brakes are extremely powerful in braking and use a pressure mechanism to brake the car. The system operates in a way which allows pressure in the control unit near the handbrake lever to get transferred to the actual braking system near the wheels of the car. The brake fluid used in hydraulic brakes is usually ethylene glycol which is compressed in a master cylinder.

When the handbrake lever is pulled, it forces the piston in the master cylinder to push the liquid into a pressure chamber which exerts pressure on the entire braking system. This pressure forces the fluid through the hydraulic pipes towards the calipers. The caliper pistons prevent the fluid to escape.

The pistons in the brake calliper then exert force onto the brake pads. Due to this, the pads get pressed against the spinning rotor causing friction between the spinning rotor and the pads. The friction results in the vehicle to immediately break its speed and eventually stop.

In rally race cars, hydraulic handbrakes play a major role in keeping the car in the driver's control. They work better than standard cable type handbrakes. Their grip on the wheels is tremendously strong and help the driver to either lock or break lose the rear wheels.

Hydraulic handbrakes allow the driver to take extremely sharp turns, drift sideways to the edge of the track or spin their cars on the spot. It can even act as a substitute braking system if the actual braking system fails. Without a hydraulic handbrake a rally car can slide off into shrubbery and then would need some reversing to get back onto the track. Therefore, hydraulic handbrakes are the best braking systems for high speed motorsports.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Why Owning Chickens is Easier Than You Think.

Thanks to Chhaya Kolavalli, Our Local Food - Kaw River Valley intern, for this outstanding blog post!!!!

 Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS
   Until fairly recently, the concept of keeping a small flock of chickens in your backyard was familiar and commonplace.  In fact, up until the 1930s, many urbanites kept a few chickens in their backyards as a complement to their kitchen gardens.  But as industrial agriculture grew, the practice of urban chicken raising diminished and the concept of families keeping a few chickens in their backyards grew to be foreign, and more often than not, against city ordinances.
   But the recent "urban chicken movement" has made backyard chickens legal again in many cities, and growing numbers of chicken enthusiasts have made many areas of the U.S. chicken-friendly once more.  Small backyard flocks of chickens are welcome in a growing number of Kansas cities. Chicken-friendly cities and neighbors, and the wealth of chicken-raising knowledge circulating online, in print, and among Kansans, makes now the perfect time to start your own flock.
Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS
   Aside from being great entertainment and affectionate pets, chickens provide a wide range of benefits for you and your backyard. Chickens are a great way to help kids learn about where their food comes from.  Many people start a backyard flock simply for the fresh, healthy, better-than-store-bought eggs!  A hen will lay about six eggs per week, depending on breed, age, and health.  In addition to eggs, education, and entertainment, chickens will also provide you with free pest control, and will gladly help weed your garden.  As if that weren't enough, chicken manure is rich with nitrogen and makes a great fertilizer.   
   Chicken raising may at first seem daunting - especially to urban and suburban folk who have had limited access to farm animals - but it's much easier than you think!  Here's what you'll need to consider before bringing your chickens home:

Getting started:

-Find out if it's legal.
Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS
  Don't make any investments before you check your city's laws and ordinances regarding chickens.  Most cities will specify the maximum number of birds you can keep in relation to your property area, and may regulate coop size and distance from other houses.  Many cities will not allow you to keep roosters - but they aren't necessary for your hens to produce eggs anyway!  Look up the relevant laws and ordinances by asking a city clerk or checking your municipal code online. has a great reference tool for several Kansas cities:

-Decide what your goals are.  The breeds of chicken you decide to raise will depend on what you want to do with them.  While many people raise chickens as pets and entertainment, fresh eggs or backyard-raised meat might be a priority for you. If you decide to raise chickens for meat, local farms may help you butcher the animals. For example, Bauman's Cedar Valley Farm in Garnett, Kansas has a USDA certified processing facility and will slaughter chickens for you:
Most, however, choose to raise backyard chickens for their eggs and companionship, rather than meat.  In this case, choose friendly breeds that are good egg-layers. conducted a member survey of the best backyard breeds, which can be found here:  Some hardy and friendly backyard breeds, as chosen by Barbara Kilarski in "Keep Chickens! Tending Small Flocks in Cities, Suburbs, and Other Small Spaces" are:

·       Black Australorp
·       Buff Orpington
·       Plymouth Barred Rock
·       Rhode Island Red

·       Silver-laced Wyandotte
·       White Wyandotte
·       New Hampshire Red
·       Sex Links (hybrid birds)

Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS

-Get a coop and supplies.  While a coop is certainly the biggest expense involved in chicken raising, it doesn't need to be fancy or expensive!  Chickens need protection from predators and harsh weather, so your coop should be built - or bought - with this in mind.  Renee Caldwell, "Kansas City Urban Chickens Examiner," has written a great article that explains the important aspects of a chicken coop:

Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS
If you have the time and resources, building a coop yourself may be the cheapest option. has quite a few step-by-step coop building guides that can make construction easy, even for a novice:  If you're not that handy, there are plenty of premade coops for sale online, and pre-used, reasonably priced coops are frequently offered on craigslist. 
Your supply list will be minimal after you've acquired a coop - you'll need chicken feed, a waterer, and flooring material for the coop, among other things.  If you decide to start with chicks you'll need to get them during a naturally warm time of year or have a brooder set up… but this can be as cheap and simple as a cardboard box and a light bulb-heat source. 

Photo courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS
-Buy your chicks or pullets.
  Now that you've done your research and gotten your supplies, it's time to get some chickens.  Keep in mind that chickens are social creatures - you should plan on keeping at least three so that they won't get lonely!  If you decide to raise chicks, do some reading on chick-care first - has a quick guide:  Alternatively, you can start with pullets - fully-grown young hens. 
Chicks and pullets can be bought through craigslist or local classifieds, local hatcheries and feed stores, and online hatcheries.  If you decide to order online, be aware that there will likely be a minimum order requirement - often 20-25 chicks.  Buying collaboratively with fellow chicken-enthusiasts can help you bypass this problem.  For eastern Kansans Cackle Hatchery, in Lebanon Missouri, may be near enough for a drive:, but many other hatcheries can be found in's hatchery directory:  

Photos courtesy of Meryl Carver - Lawrence, KS

  Once you've got everything set up, chicken care and upkeep is minimal - they'll need just as much, maybe even less, attention than dogs, cats, or fish!  Basic daily chores will include feeding and watering, collecting eggs, and closing the hens in at night.  The coop will need to be cleaned at least once a week.  Other than that, you'll get to enjoy watching your hens and getting to know their personalities.  For more information on how to get started, check out the resources below: 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Apples, Peaches, Plums and MiniGolf

On a recent Saturday afternoon, my sweetie and I took a quick drive up highway 99, north of Emporia, to The Orchard.  We picked some peaches, then played some miniature golf on the coolest native stone mini golf course you've ever seen.  It was a wonderful afternoon and evening.

Bob and Elaine Karr grow more than 30 varieties of apples (800 trees!), 8 varieties of peaches (100 trees), as well as several types of Japanese plums and pie cherries. 

With this much variety, there's always something ready to pick from late May through October.  This year it's been a solid three months of peaches alone!

Despite this summer's drought and high heat, Bob kept the fruit coming on strong all summer by irrigating.

Even this late in the season, there are two peach varieties still picking. 
The ones we got recently wereoutstanding!

All the trees are pruned to a perfect height for easy picking. 

When picking peaches, be careful not to SQUEEZE, just give them a gentle tug - if they come off in your hand, they're ripe and ready!

Just look at these beauties!  YUM!!!

Apples have been coming in well for over a month now, with new varieties ripening each week.  With 30+ varieties to choose from, there truly is something for everyone!

Bob is a regular at several area farmers markets, including the Lyndon FM on Mondays, the Morris County FM on Tuesdays, the Emporia FM on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Americus FM on Fridays.

Occassionally, he or Jon get up to the Cottin's Hardware FM in Lawrence on Thursdays, and/or one of the many FMs in Topeka when they have the time.

Another attraction of the place is farm pup Gracie.  A real sweetie. She guided us through the miniature golf course.

The handsome guy with Gracie is Steven (Doc) Graham - my husband of 23 years.

The golf course is a real Flint Hills treasure - all 18 holes are lined with native stone.  

Some of the rocks are local, and others have been recycled from stone buildings that have gone into various states of disrepair.

Jon Karr (Bob & Elaine's son) purchased them from landholders all over the state, and has used them to build a truly unique and special golf course.

It's only $3 to play 18 holes. 
Give it a try - it's a blast!

Many of the rocks have well-preserved fossils.

And some even have hand-carved figures, relics of the buildings from which they came.  

Does anybody out there know what those symbols on the left mean?  
Please share if you do!  Jon's really curious about it!
Kinda looks like a bird's head, or maybe a human eye, with three linked olympic-type rings below..  It's a puzzle!

While we played, we got buzzed by an ultralight aircraft.  

One of the Karrs' neighbors flies over on a fairly regular basis.

Miss Gracie does her part around the place by helping with the weeding...

... and 
entertaining the guests.

Tom, Rachel and Payton Andrews were there for a sunset round.   

It looked like they were 
having a great time!

The Orchard Farm Store and golf course is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 8 pm; and Sunday, 1-8 pm.

It's at 1128 N. Hwy 99, just east of where 99 makes that 90 degree turn from NS to EW, just 8 miles north of Emporia.

To see what's new at The Orchard, check out their facebook page.

On warm days, get yourself an icy cold cider slush.
On cold days (yes - some day it will be cold again), you can get a hot cider.  
So it's always a great day at Karr's Orchard!

Do come check out the golf course, and pick up some fresh fruit, cider, honey, Alma Cheese, and/or the other wonderful goods available in the little country store at The Orchard. 

Gracie's waiting for ya...
With her kitteh...
She wuvs her kitteh...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Food Day - Keeping it Real...

The Emporia Area Local Food Network encourages you to make your own Food Day pledge.

On Wednesday, October 24, communities across the nation will be celebrating Food Day, and Emporia will be one of them. We are inviting you, your business, or community group to make a Food Day pledge and share it with us.

Did you know?
  •  Annual medical costs for diet-related diseases are over $100 billion.
  • More than 2/3 of American adults and one in three children are overweight or obese.
  •  About 46% of adults’ added sugar intake comes from sugary drinks.
  • 1 of 3 children born after 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
  • Children ages 2-17 see, on average, 4,400-7,600 commercials for food products each year.

How do you make a food day pledge?
That’s the beauty of it. We recognize that every individual and group faces their own challenges and priorities. That’s why we are asking you to create your own Food Day pledge rather than prescribing a pledge for you.

Just to get you going, we’d like to suggest that your pledge fall somewhere within or along the lines of at least one of the following Food Day priorities:

  • Get Active,
  • Eat Real Every Day,
  • and Encourage Families and Children to Develop Healthy Lifestyles.

You are welcome to keep your Food Day pledge to yourself, but we would like to encourage you to share the fun and see how many Food Day pledges we can get in. You are invited to make your pledge public, share your goal, or issue a challenge on the Celebrate Food Day Emporia Facebook page, or drop it off at the Emporia Farmers Market. 

Sample pledges:
  •  I will eat fresh fruit or vegetables instead of junk food for snacks through the month of October.
  •  I will start each day in the month of October with a walk around the block and eliminate sugary drinks.
  •  I will invite my friends to a “Local Only Feast” to celebrate Food Day on October 24.
  •  I will shop the farmers market twice each week through the month of October and try a vegetable that is new to me every week.
  •  I will challenge my co-workers to eliminate junk food from the break room.
  •  No labels on the table! This week I will eliminate meals prepared from a box