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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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Ground crew ready for liftoff of DIY drones


Patrick Sherman and Brian Zvaigzne want to make a couple of things clear about their drone.

by: PHOTO BY JONATHAN HOUSE - Patrick Sherman, left, catches the drone, while Brian Zvaigzne, holding the goggles and the controller, looks on. The two men were flying the drone near a natural area in Wilsonville.First, they fly drones as a hobby, not a business. Sherman and Zvaigzne don’t get paid for any of the activities they engage in (it’s an important distinction).

Second, they are not spying on anyone on the ground. “Our drone can’t see through walls or windows, and it cannot hear what you are saying,” Zvaigzne says, noting that drones sound like “flying lawnmowers,” so they are not going to be sneaking up on people.

The two Tigard residents and drone hobbyists plan to make a zany presentation titled, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Drones,” at 11 a.m. Saturday at Portland’s Mini Maker Faire in OMSI’s north parking lot.

Sherman is an administrative analyst for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office. Zvaigzne is a small-business owner.

Although they have a website, Roswellflighttestcrew.com, Sherman and Zvaigzne say because they aren’t paid for flying the drone, they do not need a license from the Federal Aviation Agency to fly the radio-controlled aircraft, but they must follow certain guidelines.

Portland’s Mini Maker Faire Saturday and Sunday is a “showcase of invention and creativity,” says Andrea Middleton, OMSI events director.

Middleton noted that the event is called a “mini faire,” because the original Maker Faire in the San Francisco area features 800 to 1,000 makers.

What has impressed her most about the more than 100 participants in the Portland event is “the sheer variety. We have robots, rockets and crafts — we even have a guy who has wrapped his car in yarn.”

The event is family friendly, and will be enjoyed by late elementary school and high school students and adults, she says.

Sherman says that after their presentation Saturday morning, the two men will set up their equipment and give people “drone rides,” by letting them put on goggles and follow the drone’s progress as it flies over the Willamette River.

They are expecting a group of like-minded people to be at the OMSI event, Zvaigzne says, adding that the faire will be made up of “extreme do-it-yourself people. If you can make it, people are doing it.”


Zvaigzne and Sherman first became serious about radio-controlled aircraft about two-and-a-half years ago. They built their “hexicopter,” a six-rotor helicopter, from scratch, using a bright yellow upturned Rubbermaid mixing bowl, six motors, propellers, a flight controller and other components, most of which were purchased online.

“A couple of years ago, local hobby shop owners looked at us funny when we asked about parts, but now they stock them,” Zvaigzne says.

The craft is powered by a lithium-polymer battery that is standard for radio-controlled cars and airplanes, Zvaigzne says, adding that their drones can fly five to 10 minutes before the battery needs to be recharged.

A key component of their drone is a camera, made by FLIR Systems, the Wilsonville company that began making infrared-imaging systems in 1978. Many fire departments across the nation use FLIR cameras to find people trapped in burning buildings.

“We are incredibly fortunate that FLIR is in Wilsonville. We make videos explaining how we do things, and they stumbled on our website and provided us with one of their cameras,” Sherman says.

The camera allows the drone to record both in visible light and thermal images, and it is the latter that is so crucial.

“The camera can see the heat coming off objects, which is useful when the drone is

participating in search and rescue missions, because it can spot the humans right away,” Sherman says.

Research and rescue

“Drones have gotten a bad rap from stories about military drones dropping missiles on people,” Sherman says. “But our interest is in scientific research and helping first responders.”

In April, Sherman and Zvaigzne flew to West Virginia to work on a University of West Virginia river-restoration project.

The Cheat River is a native brook trout stream, and the trout thrive in colder water, “but you can’t tell just by looking at the river where the cooler springs, seeps and tributaries come in. We flew the thermal imager over the river and found those places with extreme precision,” Sherman says.

As for helping first responders, it is in the realm of public safety that the two men and their drone have made some great strides.

They flew the drone during a controlled burn of an apartment complex in Longview, Wash., and assisted Portland Fire & Rescue with a controlled woodland burn in North Portland.

On Aug. 7 and 8, Sherman and Zvaigzne worked with Eugene Fire and EMS, on a three-story burn house, a river-search scenario and a hazardous-spill scenario.

During the spill exercise, the fire chief directed them to fly over a nearby stationary train, and in an unplanned demonstration of the drone’s capability, it detected that one of the rail cars was emitting heat.

“We zeroed in on the car and switched to thermal imaging. We then were able to read the placard on the car and discovered that it was carrying molten phenol. We inspected the valves on top and there was no leaking. It was perfectly safe,” Zvaigzne says (phenol is always shipped hot).

In this situation, no laws were broken and the railcar did not pose a hazard to anyone. But in real, potentially hazardous conditions, without the drone it would have taken “a dozen firefighters an hour to get the same information it took us two minutes to get. Hazardous material spills are a deadly threat to the public and first responders,” Sherman says.

Pumpkins, balloons and floats

Sherman and Zvaigzne consider themselves to be “technological evangelists, because we believe that technology will change the world for the better,” Sherman says.

That is part of their mission at the upcoming Portland Mini Maker Faire, but the two men also have participated in some decidedly quirky events.

They flew the drone and photographed the Tigard Festival of Balloons, the Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin, where participants carve giant pumpkins and race them in the Tualatin Lake of the Commons, and two Willamette River float activities sponsored by the Human Access Project.

The first was on July 5, when 620 people, holding hands and floating on inner tubes, beat the previously held Guinness Book of World Records for “Most People in a Floating Line,” and the second was on July 28, when the two men flew the drone over the Big Float, “capturing aerial images of 2,000 people floating from the base of the Marquam Bridge to the bowl at Tom McCall Park,” Zvaigzne says.

“We want to demonstrate that drones are not something to be afraid of,” Sherman says. “Whenever we flew by people at these events, they waved and smiled.”

Taking wing

What: OMSI presents the Second Annual Portland Mini Maker Faire

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14 and 15

Where: OMSI’s north parking lot, 1945 S.E. Water Ave., Portland. Cost: $12 for adults, $8 for youth (3-17) and seniors (63 and older)

More: For more information on the many participants, visit makerfaireportland.com, call 503-797-4000, or visit omsi.edu.

Find out more about Patrick Sherman and Brian Zvaigzne at roswellflighttestcrew.com. Be warned — the two men go by Lucidity (Sherman) and Techinstein (Zvaigzne) on their website.