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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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Steamships on the Willamette 'gone bad'


by: PHOTO COURTESY: CLACKAMAS COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY - Steamships gather on the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn. The vessels could carry up to 500 tons of cargo.In the mid-1800s, Oregonians hailed steamboats as an empowering sign of state progress — transportation’s deliverance from dependence on the whims of the wind, oxen and mules.

Steamboats could carry up to 500 tons of cargo, rapidly transporting grain and produce from the Columbia River Gorge and Corvallis, to the Pacific. Mass transport of livestock, timber and lumber, salted salmon, mail and even gold dust (from Idaho to the San Francisco Mint) revolutionized the Western economy.

But the bottom of the Willamette River is mired with the personal belongings, bones and dreams of countless lives lost to steamboat catastrophes. Steam engine explosions peaked in the mid-19th century. Just as noted American author Mark Twain lost his younger brother Henry Clemens to a boiler disaster on the Pennsylvania out of New Orleans in 1859, the explosion of the Gazelle claimed more than two dozen lives just above Willamette Falls in 1854.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, March 28, the Museum of the Oregon Territory, 211 Tumwater Drive, Oregon City, hosts a free public program, “Steamships of the Willamette and Boilers Gone Bad.”

Program presenter Ed Wilson, a retired Navy commander and mechanical science engineer, is the Oregon Maritime Museum librarian. He will speak about the importance of steam-powered vessels in the Northwest and the frequent disasters that befell early steam pioneers and their passengers in Clackamas County.

The program complements MOOT’s new exhibit, “100 Years of Steamers on the Willamette.”

Built in Clackamas County

Clackamas County Historical Society Collections Manager Karin Morey said, “From 1850 to 1889, at least 50 steamers, both side-wheelers and sternwheelers, were constructed at Oregon City, Linn City (West Linn), Milwaukie, and New Era. The launch of the steamer Lot Whitcolm at Milwaukie on Christmas Day 1850 opened a century of transporting goods and passengers by water on the upper and lower Willamette River.”

The Oregon Belle was the first steamer to be entirely built in the West. Its iron, from engine to bell, came entirely from Oregon City foundries. Prior to that, the industry was monopolized by engines built on the East Coast and shipped around Cape Horn.

Countless Oregon steamboats were lost to fire (The Willamette Chief and the Leona, whose wreckage is still visible in summer’s low water in La Center, Wash.), to sinking (the Ramona, the Oregon), and even to tumbling over the rocky Willamette Falls (the Portland).

But none perhaps is as famous as the Gazelle, built in Linn City (now West Linn), whose double-engine boilers exploded, killing 24 people and badly injuring 30 more. Boiler explosions in older steamships could have been attributed to deficiencies in steel strength or failure of safety valves due to corrosion, caused by dirty river feed-water.

But the Gazelle was less than a month old. It is suspected that operator error — physically overriding safety valve action to speed up temperature for departure — may have been the cause. The Gazelle’s chief engineer Moses Toner was sighted jumping overboard a few moments before the Gazelle blew. He rapidly fled the Oregon Territory, when indicted for “gross and culpable negligence” by a coroners’ investigatory commission.

Rise, fall of steam vessels

Steamers depended on both cargo fees and passenger fares, and as with most businesses, time was money. Captains of the fastest steamers, such as John C. Ainsworth of Milwaukie’s Lot Whitcolm, were paid up to $500 a month — nearly $130,000 a year in today’s terms.

Steamboats used the power of wood fuel to heat water for their steam-propelled engines. They could burn more than four cords an hour. Yet even the Lot Whitcolm, which cut the trip to Astoria from two days down to 10 hours, often only reached speeds of 12 mph.

Ocean-going, propeller-driven ships could only navigate the 101 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the point where the Willamette meets the Columbia River in Portland. The additional 19 miles upriver to Oregon City were more hazardous for deep-draft vessles, so cargo transfer to side-wheelers or sternwheelers was required. Steamboats were all side-wheelers before 1854. None in Oregon survive. They needed great docking width, and were eventually displaced by the more maneuverable sternwheeler.

At best, steamboats built in this region served for a handful of years, and then — if fast — were sold to areas of higher demand (Lot Whitcolm), or — if hopelessly outdated — were often repurposed as sawmill engines. Steamboats became quaint and nearly obsolete with the expansion of railroads. However, steam turbines still provide up to 90 percent of electric power in the United States.

In his talk at the Museum of the Oregon Territory, Wilson will shed light on the causes of boiler explosions and why they still occur, even with the availability of modern engineering, design and testing. Wilson grew up on a California farm in the heart of “Steinbeck Country.”

His first sea experience was gained as a teenager, when he and a friend built their own boat to pursue king salmon along the Pacific Coast. Wilson taught college courses in naval architecture and marine electronic systems, although he claims “everything I need to know I learned on the farm.”

He enjoys singing songs of the sea and traditional chanteys, reciting nautical poetry, and, of course, telling “sea stories.”

Museum of the Oregon Territory admission is free.