Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Residential

Working on the Waves While Working the Waves…

The rumors of my pending retirement have been greatly exaggerated…..

Ever since I heard about The Great Loop I have wanted to cruise it (  To successfully complete the Loop, one needs to have 3 things: adequate equipment, adequate time, and adequate health. I had the first and third.  To secure the second, I had floated the idea of a two-year sabbatical.  A year to complete any existing cases and a year to execute The Great Loop.

With the arrival of COVID-19, our firm went to remote work. I found that I was able to be just as productive on my case work from a remote location as I was at the office.  There is no reason that “remote” has to mean my house, it could mean aboard the  “Two by Two”, our 2003 Magna Marine Nova Scotia 47 Pilothouse Trawler, with a little modification.


There were three places I considered for a working space: the saloon, the pilothouse and the guest stateroom. I rejected the saloon because that is where we sit, eat relax and visit with friends. I did not want to have to remove my work items from the table for every meal. I rejected the pilothouse because that is where we navigate from and I did not want my work materials in the middle of that area. I settled on the guest stateroom as the best place to set up shop and do my work.

Clearance to lower Murphy bed

Unit collapsed for sleep

The guest stateroom on Two by Two is about 6 ft by 8 ft with a bench seat in front of a Murphy bed. It has a small closet on the port side, a small table just forward of the closet and a door leading to a guest bath on the starboard side. In my work I review documents provided and read depositions on my second generation Ipad pro (12.9 inch), and I write reports on a Dell XPS 13 9370. In my land office I have a Varidesk Pro Plus™ 48 stand up desk with a Dell docking station and dual monitors which I really enjoy. I wanted to replicate this land office setup as much as possible on Two by Two. I also wanted to be able to use the Murphy bed in the guest stateroom when our grandchildren were visiting with us. This meant that everything had to be out of the way when the bed was laid down. The solution I designed and installed was based around an Ergotron track mounted LX Sit-Stand Wall arm. This device has a 32.8 inch reach and a 20 inch lift.

Sit-Stand wall arm work unit

Unit collapsed for sleep and travel

The onboard office is working great. I can sit on the bench and work or raise everything up, rotate the arms 90 degrees and stand facing the port wall.  When the time comes to lay down the Murphy bed, I remove the laptop, the I-pad and the keyboard and rotate the three arms against the wall. Everything clears the bed frame when it comes down. For travel, a couple of rubber straps secure the arms and keep them from bouncing around.

Supply shelf

As part of this workspace project, I also added three shelves forward the guest bath for a printer and another place to store other office supplies. My next project is the installation of a router and proper antenna for improved internet connectivity.

My plan is to cruise and work from my boat as much as I can. If you have a case involving mechanical engineering, machine design, machine safeguarding, risk assessment or safety, please give me a call. I welcome the opportunity to consult with you about your case.


Jeffery H. Warren, PhD, PE, CSP, is the chief engineer and CEO at Warren specializing in mechanical, machine design and safety.  His deep expertise in machine design and safety analysis makes him a frequent presenter, trainer and expert witness. In addition to investigating more than 2000 claims involving property damage and injuries related to machinery and equipment since 1987, Jeff has an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of North Carolina as well as a Master of Science and a Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — both with machine design emphasis.

The CE Mark and What Should It Mean to You? Part Two


In the previous blog (Part One) we discussed the backstory behind the two stylized letters CE and what it means to the design of machinery bearing the mark.   We outlined some of the requirements of the “Machinery Directive” (MD) which include what are known as “Essential Health and Safety Requirements.” The Essential Health and Safety Requirements incorporate an iterative risk reduction process during design that takes into account the intended use as well as foreseeable misuse, identification of the hazards, elimination of the hazards where possible, reduction of risk, and warning of the residual risk among others.

So, let’s look a little closer look at Read More

Construction Techniques to Prevent Water Penetration at Windows

Windows, and their interface with the exterior walls, are an important part of a building’s envelope that resists the intrusion of water. Most builders take many precautions to protect a house from water damage. One of the most important factors in keeping the water out is the installation of window flashing, a thin material that prevents water from seeping in around a window. Read More

The CE Mark and What Should It Mean to You? Part One


Two little letters, CE.  Perhaps you have seen those two letters on a machine nameplate or some other equipment.  What is the meaning behind those two stylized letters and how does it drive the design of safer machinery?  Let’s take a closer look. Read More

Hidden Heat: The Unseen Hazard of a High Resistance Connection


A typical residence can have upwards of 10,000 feet of electrical conductors installed, most of which are buried in the walls, attics and crawlspaces.  A commercial building can have 100,000 to upwards of 1 million feet of electrical conductors.  At each device such as a switch or a receptacle are at least three, and typically six or more connections of these conductors within a junction box.  The connections can be in the form of twisted connectors, screw terminals, push in terminals and crimped connectors.

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Why the Structural Load Path MUST be Considered During Renovation to Prevent Property Damage

Understanding the structural load path is imperative when considering renovations in a home that may require the removal of a load-bearing wall. Some homeowners consider adding a new door or window opening and worry if the structure will collapse. Another reason could be that the owner wants an open concept floor plan. The goal is to remove walls and open their living space. Read More

Hail Isn’t Cool


Hail property damage is frequently reported after an HVAC service call.  Building owners are often unaware there is damage until the power bill starts trending higher and the HVAC system is simply not cooling effectively. Take look at the fins! The National Weather Service reported over $722 million in property damage from hail in 2018.  Based on NWS data, hail caused more property damage than tornadoes or thunderstorms.  Only Tropical Storms/Hurricanes at $12 billion, coastal storms at $1 billion and flooding at $1 billion were more costly than hail to property.

One of the items very susceptible to damage is the HVAC system.  The heat that is removed from the interior of a building must be rejected to the environment.   As such the HVAC system is placed where it can have unhindered access to outdoor air in order to function properly.  This often results in the unit being placed in a large open space such as a rooftop, making it susceptible to damage such as hail.  Read More

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down… Retaining Wall Basics

A wall is really boring until it fails. A retaining wall is supposed to hold back soil to either support a structure or keep a space clear. When it fails, both of those roles are compromised. A retaining wall does not have to collapse to fail. In fact, a failure is perhaps better defined as when the wall does not perform as expected. Read More

Stop or I’ll Soot!!!

Fire. Something about fire touches our brainstems…both good and bad!  Uncontrolled fire is terrifying and deadly to be sure.  But the controlled burning of wood at a campfire or in a fireplace in your home almost can’t be beat, to my mind! For that very reason, a fairly common amenity to houses nowadays is the gas log fireplace insert.

When not installed properly, these logs will generate soot. These soot particles can leave the fireplace and meander.  All. Over. Your. House.  Read More

Machine Guarding and Risk Assessment


The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) “Top 10 for 2018” violations once again have Machine Safeguarding earning a position on the list. Machine safeguarding was the 9th most cited standard as noted in the list below:

  1. Fall protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501)
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200)
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451)
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134)
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147)
  6. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053)]
  7. Powered industrial trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178)
  8. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212)
  10. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102)


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