Gate 1 - Project Planning

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Work Proposal

\'\'\'Disassembly\'\'\'

\'\'\'Step 1:\'\'\' The first step to the disassembly is to remove the plastic handle, engine casing, and air tube. This step will require Phillips and flat head screwdrivers and will take an estimated time of thirty minutes.

\'\'\'Step 2:\'\'\' The second step to the disassembly is to remove the outer components of the motor. This includes the fuel tank, blower fan and belt, and carburetor. To remove these parts, previous tools will be needed, as well as wrenches, sockets, and a can of WD-40 to lubricate swollen parts. Estimated time of completion for this step is thirty minutes.

\'\'\'Step 3:\'\'\' The third step is to disassemble the engine. This will include the removal of the cylinder head from the engine block, removal of the crankcase housing, removal of the rod and bearing cap, removal of the piston, and finally the crankshaft. This will require previous tools and will take approximately two hours.

It should be noted that the estimated times listed above account for the physical dissection of the leaf blower. While one or two people are working on actually taking the unit apart, the remaining group members will be carefully documenting each step. We intend on significant amounts of added time to organize and present the material that we study.

After we have concluded our analysis of the product, we will then begin to reassemble the leaf blower.

\'\'\'Reassembly\'\'\'

\'\'\'Step 1:\'\'\' Our plan is to conduct the exact opposite procedure we used to disassemble it,using the notes taken. We will reassemble the engine block, cylinder head, crankcase housing, piston, and crank shaft using the same wrenches and sockets that were initially used. We anticipate this to take roughly two to two and a half more hours.

\'\'\'Step 2:\'\'\' We will then replace the engine\'s outer components, including the fuel tank, blower fan, and carburetor. If all goes smoothly, this should take about thirty to forty five minutes.

\'\'\'Step 3:\'\'\' Finally, we will replace the plastic handle, blower tube, and outer housing of the unit. This should complete the reassembly process.

Estimated total time for disassembly is roughly three to three and a half hours, while reassembling the leaf blower may take closer to five hours total.

alt text
This Gantt chart shows our projected time line.

We feel that we are very capable as a group. One of our members has extensive experience with rebuilding automotive engines, and the remaining members are mechanically inclined. We also have a member that is confident with his skills in Microsoft EXCEL and Auto CAD. Mechanically speaking, we do not feel that have significant shortcomings, however we will constantly be monitoring our abilities and looking for room to improve. Due to the estimated time it takes to disassemble this product, it is not worth a self repair.

Management Proposal - Dissection of a Leaf Blower

This proposal provides our fundamental plan for successful completion of this project. Because of the complexity of this project and the time that we expect it will take, beginning with an initial plan of action is vital. To help us be more successful, we have discussed group roles and responsibilities, meeting times and locations, and a basic plan of attack regarding each gate.

\'\'\'Group roles and responsibilities:\'\'\'

\'\'\'Pete Eichensehr\'\'\' (petereic@buffalo.edu) – Project Manager + Communications Leader

  • Point of contact for professors
  • Help break up tasks
  • Keep all group members informed
  • Communicate with professors
  • Collect final product and turn in documents
  • Make sure group is on schedule

\'\'\'Nick Barnhard\'\'\' (ndbarnha@buffalo.edu) – Computer Specialist

  • Import all data, lists, tables, etc... to the computer
  • Use Auto Cad when needed
  • Email documents to group manager

\'\'\'Jason Santangelo\'\'\' (jasonsan@buffalo.edu) – Technical Expert

  • In charge of advising for taking apart and reassembly of leaf blower
  • Documenting tools used and needed
  • Record exact steps when taking apart and putting together
  • Email documents to group manager

\'\'\'Chris Mayer\'\'\' (ckmayer@buffalo.edu) – Research Specialist

  • In charge of looking up unknown data and facts
  • Help record data and findings
  • Help with overflow from other jobs
  • Email documents to group manager

\'\'\'Travis Zappia\'\'\' (travisza@buffalo.edu) – Research Specialist

  • In charge of looking up unknown data and facts
  • Help record data and findings
  • Help with overflow from other jobs
  • Email documents to group manager


\'\'\'Project Plan:\'\'\'

Our plan for completing this project is to specifically follow the gates on a week by week basis. Each Monday, we will meet and look at anything due that week, or the following week. From there, we will divide the tasks at hand discuss how we will complete them and how they will be combined for submission. In addition, we will meet immediately after a gate is due to discuss the next gate, and what will be required from each group member. It is very important to us that we not fall behind in this process, and that we are continually making progress. By having checkpoints so often, we feel that we have created a comfortable and sustainable schedule.

\'\'\'Meeting and Group Collaboration:\'\'\'

Our most basic form of meeting will be directly after class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the lobby of Knox lecture hall. The purpose of these meetings will be to discuss where we are as a group and where we need to be. We will discuss what is due and what needs to be done. It is expected that group members will bring a print out of whatever they had previously been assigned to work on. This will give other members of the group a good chance to see what has been completed, and make suggestions for improvement. These regular meetings will be a good way to stay connected and make sure all group members are on the same page.

In addition to the basic meetings, we intend to carry out the dissection of the leaf blower in the lab during the week. Because of the fact that everybody has a very busy schedule that varies from week to week, we will decide at our Monday meeting which available chunk of lab time will be best for that particular week. We feel that this method will improve attendance for the more important meetings.

Additional meeting will be scheduled on an as needed basis. We strongly feel that the time and location of these meetings would be best addressed at a later date, allowing us to work with each group member\'s individual schedule. Whenever possible, these meetings will be held in either 621 Furnas or 408 Fronczak.

\'\'\'Conflicts:\'\'\'

Group conflicts will be dealt with immediately after they arise. We will discuss the conflict as a group and go to the professor if we cannot come to an agreement in a timely fashion. It is extremely important that conflicts don\'t fester because we will be on a tight timeline, and we cannot afford to waste time. It is expected that if one member of the group has a legitimate concern with another member, they will politely bring the problem to the surface to be dealt with.



Preparation and Initial Assessment:

\'\'\'Development of the Leaf Blower:\'\'\'

Our leaf blower was developed in 2001 however, the basic leaf blower was invented in the early 1950’s initially as an agricultural chemical sprayer. Once the creator of the chemical sprayer noticed that many of its users were taking off the chemical sprayer, and leaving behind the blower, they determined that there might be a market for this product. The obvious key economic and global concerns at the time of development were to help the average person clean up their property in a more efficient and timely manner. The product is intended to be sold in areas with many trees whose leaves fall during the changes of the seasons. Selling leaf blowers in areas where the leaves don\'t fall off the trees was not the intended due to the fact that there would be a lack of consumer intrest. The intended impact of the leaf blower is to help keep properties more clean as well as allowing people an easier way to clear leaves from their yard.


\'\'\'Leaf Blower Usage:\'\'\'

The leaf blower is intended for the average human who owns a property with many trees, and needs to find a way to collect all of the leaves in order to bag them. It can take hours in order to rake all of the leaves that accumulate in your yard over a couple of days. Having a leaf blower will not only cut down on the amount of time it will take you to clean your lawn, but it will also cut down on the physical amount of work you have to do in order to clean your lawn. This product is used both for home and professional use. There are many lawn mowing companies out there who are paid to clear leaves and cut grass. The leaf blower is also a good product for an individual, because if one wanted to clean his or her lawn, it can be done easily and efficiently. This product has a motor and a fan that causes a large amount of air to blow out of a tube that is faced in a direction of leaves and debris that is to be moved from one place to another.


\'\'\'Energy Profile:\'\'\'

The leaf blower uses mostly mechanical and chemical energy. It takes gasoline and burns it in the engine which causes an expansion of gas and forces the piston to move up and down causing the shaft to rotate as well as the fan inside casing of the leaf blower. The mechanics of the engine then turn this energy into rotational energy which spins a fan. The fan forces air through the tube which then blows the leaves.



\'\'\'Anticipated Product Complexity:\'\'\'

There are a number of components that make up the leaf blower, including:

  • Small gas motor
  • Frame
  • Carburetor
  • Air filter
  • Tube
  • Fan
  • Spark plug
  • Bag
  • Springs
  • Recoil string
  • Inner wires

Although the leaf blower consists mainly of components such as these, we anticipate there could be as many as one hundred individual components when it is broken down into its simplest form.

In a basic leaf blower, the components and their interactions with each other are not extremely complex. Before starting the motor, the user must choke it, putting gas in the carburetor. The motor is then started by pulling the recoil string and the carburetor controls the amount of gas that enters the engine. User input from the trigger pulls a throttle cable that transfers mechanical energy to the gas motor, which then converts into rotational energy, where the fan will blow or suck air at high speeds. The tube allows the air to be aimed at a single small area, but also acts as an extension, so that the body of the leaf blower (where the handle is located) can be held in a comfortable spot about waist-high. A bag is attached in case the user decides to suck up leaves or other soft debris.



\'\'\'Material Profile:\'\'\'

The materials used to make up the leaf blower are not very diverse. There is a clear visual of the plastic that makes up the outside frame as well as the tube in which the air blows from. There are a number of screws holding the frame in place. In terms of the inside, there is a lot we cannot see and will learn more about upon dissection, so for now we must make assumptions. We can assume the majority of the motor is made from metal to ensure quality and endurance. Parts that will have less stress on them might be made from plastic to reduce manufacturing costs. There also must be rubber tubing to insulate any wires. Table 1 shows a list of several materials and the possible components that are made out of each material.


Gate 1 figure 1.JPG


\'\'\'User Interaction:\'\'\'

The leaf blower relies heavily on user interaction to function. It is not capable of doing anything on its own. The operator needs to fill the unit with fuel, manually start it, control the throttle, and point the leaf blower where they want it to blow. The interface of a leaf blower is very simple to understand. It is designed so that a normal person can operate the unit with little to no training. The leaf blower also relies on the user to perform maintenance on a semi normal basis. For a mechanically inclined individual, maintenance should also be simple. The most common forms of maintenance would include changing the oil, changing the spark plug and filling the device with gas. Although the leaf blower heavily relies on a user to operate and maintain it, it is an overall simple product to use and it can be utilized by almost anybody.


\'\'\'Possible Product Alternatives:\'\'\'

A leaf rake, a popular alternative to the leaf blower.
A hand held yard vacuum is another popular alternative to the leaf blower.

There are many devices that are good alternatives to the gas powered leaf blower. One option is the rake. \'\'\'See photo to right.\'\'\' Advantages of using a rake rather than a leaf blower include the fact that a rake is lightweight, easy to store, emissions free, noise free, and requires no maintenance. You can get a rake for about $15 just about anywhere. The downside is that using a rake is slower and takes more effort.

Another alternative to the leaf blower is the Yard Vacuum/Blower and leaf shredder with an electric motor. \'\'\'See lower photo to right.\'\'\' Advantages of using a yard vacuum are similar to using the rake. It is quieter than a leaf blower, emissions free, and it collects and condenses debris rather than blowing it around the yard. The cost is around $80 and is easy to find at any hardware store. Just about the only disadvantage to the yard vacuum is that you have to empty the bag if you choose to vacuum the debris.

Both options listed above seem to be better than using a leaf blower. The gas powered leaf blower is loud and bad for the environment. The average cost is also higher at about $150.