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Old 10th June 2019, 07:37 AM   #1
GlennB
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Sciency things I don't understand, part MXVII

The hot weather arrived so it's time to break out our several fans from storage. They needed a good clean, which involved removing the front cage, taking off the blade and giving it a wash (removing dust from the blade makes huge difference to their efficiency btw ) Every one had a reverse threaded nut to clamp the blade to the spindle.

I think my angle-grinder also has such a fitting, maybe the chuck on the electric drill and perhaps the head on my petrol strimmer (weedwhacker); I'm not certain.

Sometimes the rotating bit needs to spin a certain way (the circular saw, for example), but not the fans.

The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?

[/idle curiosity, as he sits in the cooling breeze of a fan that's strong enough to destroy Trump's comb-over]
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Old 10th June 2019, 07:47 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The hot weather arrived so it's time to break out our several fans from storage. They needed a good clean, which involved removing the front cage, taking off the blade and giving it a wash (removing dust from the blade makes huge difference to their efficiency btw ) Every one had a reverse threaded nut to clamp the blade to the spindle.

I think my angle-grinder also has such a fitting, maybe the chuck on the electric drill and perhaps the head on my petrol strimmer (weedwhacker); I'm not certain.

Sometimes the rotating bit needs to spin a certain way (the circular saw, for example), but not the fans.

The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?

[/idle curiosity, as he sits in the cooling breeze of a fan that's strong enough to destroy Trump's comb-over]
This won't answer your question but it could be useful nevertheless.
I did brief overview of this country's summer climate which would indicate a more effective cooling method would be something known as a swampcooler.

Last edited by Steve001; 10th June 2019 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 10th June 2019, 07:54 AM   #3
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Received wisdom is that for machinery that rotates, a reverse-thread nut will be less succeptible to vibration-based loosening.

I have no idea if that is actually tested though.
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Old 10th June 2019, 07:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
This won't answer your question but it could be useful nevertheless.
I did brief overview of this country's summer climate which would indicate a more effective cooling method would be something known as a swampcooler.
I did try one for a bedroom, but it was pretty ineffective. Maybe it was just not good quality or maybe it's the generally low humidity in these parts? Anyway, the fans are handy for a localised breeze, including outdoors.
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Old 10th June 2019, 08:01 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
Received wisdom is that for machinery that rotates, a reverse-thread nut will be less succeptible to vibration-based loosening.
A reverse-thread nut for a motor spinning the other way would be a regular-thread nut.

Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?
I don't know why most fans originated going that particular clock-wise, but reversing the motor spin would also require reversing the orientation of the fan blades. Too much money to redesign?

Or intended obsolescence? If you have a fan long enough to get dirty, they want you to break it and buy a new one.
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Old 10th June 2019, 08:02 AM   #6
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Arbitrary industry standard. Chen Fu in China makes small electric motors and fans, has all the tooling to make them by the billions with left hand threads. Wal-Mart wants fans it's far cheaper to get fans branded for them by Chen Fu than spec one that uses common hardware.

Both would work equally well but development costs are long past on the current products.

A lot of stuff of a disposable nature uses odd hardware as it was never intended to be serviced. Those swamp coolers were meant to get regular services however. Two wrenches and s screwdriver take them down easy. If not too rusty.
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Old 10th June 2019, 08:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
Received wisdom is that for machinery that rotates, a reverse-thread nut will be less succeptible to vibration-based loosening.

I have no idea if that is actually tested though.
I thought it was to do with the direction of rotation, which would tend to loosen a wrongly-threaded nut ?
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Old 10th June 2019, 08:06 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The hot weather arrived so it's time to break out our several fans from storage. They needed a good clean, which involved removing the front cage, taking off the blade and giving it a wash (removing dust from the blade makes huge difference to their efficiency btw ) Every one had a reverse threaded nut to clamp the blade to the spindle.

I think my angle-grinder also has such a fitting, maybe the chuck on the electric drill and perhaps the head on my petrol strimmer (weedwhacker); I'm not certain.

Sometimes the rotating bit needs to spin a certain way (the circular saw, for example), but not the fans.

The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?

[/idle curiosity, as he sits in the cooling breeze of a fan that's strong enough to destroy Trump's comb-over]
Because deazil is the good, honest god-fearing way for things to rotate, and widdershins is Satans direction.

If you sat in front of an anticlockwise spinning fan for more than an hour, you'd probably start dreaming about black masses.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:11 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post
Because deazil is the good, honest god-fearing way for things to rotate, and widdershins is Satans direction.

If you sat in front of an anticlockwise spinning fan for more than an hour, you'd probably start dreaming about black masses.
Well, in South Korea, if you go to sleep with a fan on, you die.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The hot weather arrived so it's time to break out our several fans from storage. They needed a good clean, which involved removing the front cage, taking off the blade and giving it a wash (removing dust from the blade makes huge difference to their efficiency btw ) Every one had a reverse threaded nut to clamp the blade to the spindle.

I think my angle-grinder also has such a fitting, maybe the chuck on the electric drill and perhaps the head on my petrol strimmer (weedwhacker); I'm not certain.

Sometimes the rotating bit needs to spin a certain way (the circular saw, for example), but not the fans.

The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?

[/idle curiosity, as he sits in the cooling breeze of a fan that's strong enough to destroy Trump's comb-over]
The answer is likely economics then science. IMO it’s likely cheaper and easier to get a nut/bolt that is reverse threaded than it is to reverse the windings in the motor.

The motor is the more expensive, more difficult to manufacture part of the device. It’s more efficient for the company making the motor to only sell one design in a given range instead of two. While the same is true for the nut, it’s a much smaller fraction of the final cost of the fan so it adds less cost to the final design to change the nut instead of the motor.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:19 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Worm View Post
Received wisdom is that for machinery that rotates, a reverse-thread nut will be less succeptible to vibration-based loosening.

I have no idea if that is actually tested though.
That is the correct reason.

Also check out bicycle pedals. Since they are on opposite sides of the bike one has a normal thread and the other is reversed.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:23 AM   #12
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Chrysler used to have left-hand-thread wheel nuts on one side of their cars. I don't think it made any difference.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Chrysler used to have left-hand-thread wheel nuts on one side of their cars. I don't think it made any difference.
I'm not entirely sure it made no difference. On steel wheels properly torqued it's not enough to warrant, but if a nut is poorly tightened it would.

The funny thing is that nowadays cheap alloy wheels do loosen fairly easily, and left hand threads would really be a benefit now, but nobody uses them.
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Old 10th June 2019, 11:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Doubt View Post
That is the correct reason.
But is it true or just commonly believed? I suspect its the latter. I strongly suspect the truth is more economics and inertia than anything. Likely, back in the day it was more expensive to get a reverse wound electrical motor but now a days, its mostly because that's the way its always been done.

Last edited by ahhell; 10th June 2019 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I did try one for a bedroom, but it was pretty ineffective. Maybe it was just not good quality or maybe it's the generally low humidity in these parts? Anyway, the fans are handy for a localised breeze, including outdoors.
Swampcoolers only work in low humidity through the action of evaporative cooling.

Last edited by Steve001; 10th June 2019 at 01:30 PM.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:25 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Steve001 View Post
Swampcoolers only work in low humidity.
Now you mention it that makes perfect sense. Cheapo product I suppose.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:29 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Doubt View Post
That is the correct reason.

Also check out bicycle pedals. Since they are on opposite sides of the bike one has a normal thread and the other is reversed.
Yes, so it's to do with the direction in which the device rotates relative to the thread. Meanwhile lomiller has explained that if you have a range of electric motors then it's cheaper to vary the nut than vary the motors. Makes sense.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:47 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I did try one for a bedroom, but it was pretty ineffective. Maybe it was just not good quality or maybe it's the generally low humidity in these parts? Anyway, the fans are handy for a localised breeze, including outdoors.
Low humidity is exactly what you want for an evaporative (aka swamp) cooler. They don't work worth a damn in high humidity.

In order to work well, they need to be set up in a window, or a hole in the roof or wall, such that the inlet is getting outside air, and the outlet discharges into the building or room you are trying to cool. You also need an exit path for inside air to go outside. This can be an open window at the opposite side of the area you are cooling from where the cooler is blowing in.

It is also important that the cooler has adequate capacity for the volume you want to cool. If these conditions are not met, the evaporative cooler is going to function more as a humidifier than a cooler, which is not what you want at all.
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Old 10th June 2019, 12:51 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I thought it was to do with the direction of rotation, which would tend to loosen a wrongly-threaded nut ?
Yes, that is correct. There is nothing inherently better about a left-hand thread, assuming other factors are the same.

Some cars used to use left-hand threaded lug nuts on the wheels on the left side of the car. I think Chrysler was the last manufacturer (American, anyway) to abandon the practice.
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Old 10th June 2019, 01:35 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
The hot weather arrived so it's time to break out our several fans from storage. They needed a good clean, which involved removing the front cage, taking off the blade and giving it a wash (removing dust from the blade makes huge difference to their efficiency btw ) Every one had a reverse threaded nut to clamp the blade to the spindle.

I think my angle-grinder also has such a fitting, maybe the chuck on the electric drill and perhaps the head on my petrol strimmer (weedwhacker); I'm not certain.

Sometimes the rotating bit needs to spin a certain way (the circular saw, for example), but not the fans.

The question - why build them like this rather than have a normal nut and have the motor spin the other way? I'll bet that plenty of people have damaged such devices by hauling away on those nuts in the conventional way. Some characteristic of electric motors?

[/idle curiosity, as he sits in the cooling breeze of a fan that's strong enough to destroy Trump's comb-over]
A shame it doesn't complete the task!!!
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Old 10th June 2019, 01:36 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I did try one for a bedroom, but it was pretty ineffective. Maybe it was just not good quality or maybe it's the generally low humidity in these parts? Anyway, the fans are handy for a localised breeze, including outdoors.
Sc's like the dry air!!!

Last edited by fuelair; 10th June 2019 at 01:40 PM. Reason: could
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Old 11th June 2019, 11:44 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
The answer is likely economics then science. IMO itís likely cheaper and easier to get a nut/bolt that is reverse threaded than it is to reverse the windings in the motor.

The motor is the more expensive, more difficult to manufacture part of the device. Itís more efficient for the company making the motor to only sell one design in a given range instead of two. While the same is true for the nut, itís a much smaller fraction of the final cost of the fan so it adds less cost to the final design to change the nut instead of the motor.
Of course, with brushless motors coming down in price, the economics might eventually mean that it just requires a software change.
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Old 11th June 2019, 12:16 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
Of course, with brushless motors coming down in price, the economics might eventually mean that it just requires a software change.
Inertia likely means this still won't change.

Its not clear that changing it would actually provide any measurable benefit as the fan industry is already set up for the reverse threaded nuts.
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Old 11th June 2019, 12:24 PM   #24
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Minor correction: this is an engineering-thingy more than a sciency-thingy.
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Old 11th June 2019, 12:25 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
Inertia likely means this still won't change.

Its not clear that changing it would actually provide any measurable benefit as the fan industry is already set up for the reverse threaded nuts.
True. After all why retool your machinery for making the fan blades?

It's just that brushless DC motors are quite a game changer in many fields.
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Old 13th June 2019, 07:49 PM   #26
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Some motorcycles/scooters have their mirrors mounted on thin stems that are screwed in, and need to be threaded in opposite directions because the main force they'll deal with in their lives is wind from the front of the vehicle (clockwise for the right mirror, counterclockwise for the left mirror).

I don't get whey they're screwed in at all. A flat-sided connector would hold steady no matter how much wind blew on it.
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Old 14th June 2019, 12:22 AM   #27
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The reason bicycles always have the chain on the right hand side is because if they were on the other side the sprocket on the rear wheel would need a left hand thread.
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Old 16th June 2019, 07:26 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Minor correction: this is an engineering-thingy more than a sciency-thingy.

Yes it is certainly. As an engineer perhaps I can throw some light on it.

Firstly it is right hand and left hand threads we are talking about - not regular and irregular. Boy I hate the way Americans have bastardised the meaning of that word.

Having the thread a certain way most certainly does help it not undo, when the direction of rotation, during acceleration particularly, tends to make it do so. Bear in mind there are other threads, possibly on the other end of the rotor, so if the thread that offends you is made right hand, then the other must be left hand.

Some things just turn out to be inconvenient at times. I remember my mother asking my father, (an engineer also), when helping him make a repair to the engine of a car - "Why don't they put all the nuts on top of the engine?"

That's about it. I'm off now to have an irregular cup of coffee.
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Old 16th June 2019, 08:54 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Thor 2 View Post
Yes it is certainly. As an engineer perhaps I can throw some light on it.

Firstly it is right hand and left hand threads we are talking about - not regular and irregular. Boy I hate the way Americans have bastardised the meaning of that word.

Having the thread a certain way most certainly does help it not undo, when the direction of rotation, during acceleration particularly, tends to make it do so. Bear in mind there are other threads, possibly on the other end of the rotor, so if the thread that offends you is made right hand, then the other must be left hand.

Some things just turn out to be inconvenient at times. I remember my mother asking my father, (an engineer also), when helping him make a repair to the engine of a car - "Why don't they put all the nuts on top of the engine?"

That's about it. I'm off now to have an irregular cup of coffee.
They do not make left hand coffee!
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Old Yesterday, 02:53 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
They do not make left hand coffee!
No they don't. You are absolutely correct. But they do sell an after market conversion kit!
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Old Yesterday, 04:25 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Doubt View Post
That is the correct reason.

Also check out bicycle pedals. Since they are on opposite sides of the bike one has a normal thread and the other is reversed.
It was a Wright Bros invention. That and putting ball bearings in there. It's how they financed their flying experiments.
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Old Yesterday, 06:25 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by casebro View Post
It was a Wright Bros invention. That and putting ball bearings in there. It's how they financed their flying experiments.
I'd forgotten that little detail. Smart fellows, those Wrights.
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Old Yesterday, 07:56 AM   #33
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Sciency things I don't understand
Being a Rocket Man. It's just my job, five days a week.
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Science is self-correcting.
Woo is self-contradicting.
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