This issue ofThe Newshas quite a bit of information about the latest high-tech tools and test instruments based on the most recent International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) in Orlando, Fla.

At about the same time all this information was coming in, I happened to come across information on one of the more basic products in our industry.

It's called the Spooter refrigerant recovery pump. It has been around for a while. But it reminded me that tools can range from the most complex to the most simple.

The pump doesn't use electricity. It can be used as a control testing pump, an oil pump, and a pressure test pump. It can also be used to transfer refrigerant from one cylinder to another. It is capable of recovering about 1.5 pounds of refrigerant per minute in liquid form. It can be disassembled and the O-rings replaced when the originals become worn.

The product is made by ICOR International (, and therein lies a story. The company is probably best known as a producer of refrigerants, and that work is done at its headquarters in Indianapolis. There are huge refrigerant tanks on the site and a sophisticated process is used to create the blends the company sells. Just across from the room where the blending process takes place, there is space set aside for product inventory, including the Spooter.

There is a message here. Contractors and technicians need a lot of tools and test instruments on the service van to deal with daily jobs. There is probably far more product out there than could ever fit in one vehicle. Contractors need to carefully evaluate the range of jobs that a service technician may face on a regular basis, then make some well-informed decisions on what tools and test instruments are needed.

There may need to be a mix of simple tools and rather high-tech test instruments. The selection process needs to be done on a piece-by-piece basis, based on the types of jobs that will be encountered each day.

Orlando Side Note

One other thought on the AHR Expo. The hotel weNewstypes stayed at was about a mile or so from the Orlando Convention Center. Both were on International Drive, as were most of the other hotels we went to for press briefings and social functions.

For the record, most of us never got near Walt Disney World, Sea World, or Universal Studios, the highest profile tourist sites in Orlando.

However, the mile or so stretch we encountered had its fair share of hotels, restaurants, gift shops, shopping centers, and even a few modern versions of the old fun houses I used to go into as a kid while spending a few weeks each summer at Ocean City, Md.

The expo week was strictly business, but the walk along International Drive from hotel to convention center and back again each day showed me there would never be a shortage of stuff to do in Orlando ... as long as the checkbook holds out.

Peter Powell is refrigeration editor. He can be reached at 847-622-7260, 847-622-7266 (fax), or

Publication date: 03/14/2005