If it\’s got an engine. . .

Dorri probably likes it

Archive for October, 2005

Google Base – What’s the real plan?

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 30, 2005

Warning: not auto related!

There’s been a lot of speculation about what Google Base is really all about. Ideas abound. An Ebay killer? A Craigslist killer? Some people seem to think that it’s just a ploy to get you to categorize your content for them so their search results will be more accurate.

I think Microsoft should be worried. But not for the reasons you might think.

Why do you really need your computer? Not the keyboard, mouse and monitor; that’s obvious. Why do you need a CPU and hard drive?

You don’t. Not if Google has free data storage and a massive computing infrastructure.

If Google has a central computer and your data is stored on it, you don’t need a computer. You only need a way to access Google. Google Base could be the first step toward this. Imagine – all your information and software accessible from any terminal in the world, as long as it has access to Google.

Software purchases would be instantaneous. Google would already be hosting the software; when you purchase it that door would be unlocked to you and you would instantly have access to that piece of software.

The big reason Microsoft should be worried is that nobody will need an operating system. No more Windows XP.

Perhaps we should all be cheering.


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Every conceivable type of engine

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 22, 2005

That’s what I want to own; every variation of the internal combustion engine.

I’m not just talking about 4 cylinder, 6 cylinder, etc. I’m talking about rotary, two-stroke, diesel, etc.

I already own just about the best example of the four-stroke piston engine I’m likely to be able to afford. It’s a V-12 in my BMW 750iL.

I should be able to find a rotary from an RX-7 pretty easily and then find a suitable home for it.

I’m not really sure what I’d do with a diesel, perhaps build a parts hauler around it. At any rate, they’re not difficult to come by.

The two-stroke will be coming from an outboard engine. I can’t think of any larger two strokes The 200HP Evinrude outboards have 3.0 liter two-stroke V-6s. Should be just about perfect for an MGB.

If I could find an old Cadillac V-16 at a Dorri-friendly price I wouldn’t be able to refuse, but I don’t see that happening.

The most difficult engine – to find and to house in an automobile – will be a radial engine. These were used in airplane applications and in a few tanks. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are just about the coolest engines in the world. Five, seven, or nine cylinders arranged radially around a crankshaft, firing sequentially.

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Those who do not learn from history . . .

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 20, 2005

. . . are doomed to repeat it.

That bears repeating, or at least paraphrasing. Anyone – whether an individual, a corporation, or a world power – who refuses to learn from their own mistakes and those of others will likely make those mistakes again.

The good men at Autoblog report that Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of GM, is defending his company’s strategy of selling large SUVs in these days of $3.00/gallon gasoline by stating that three years ago SUVs were selling like crazy. He then goes on to state that they are preparing for the future by bringing out 14 (!) crossovers in four years. You can read Autoblog’s article here.

Three years ago SUVs were selling well. It took GM three years to respond to that, by which time it was too late. Why oh why do they think that crossovers will still be selling well enough to warrant 14 (!) new models four years from now?

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Feature Car of the Week: See your car here!

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 20, 2005

I’m starting a new feature car of the week segment next week. I will include pictures, performance specifications, modifications, and any other information you would like to include and I will pick one a week.

Please note that I will only choose from those entries that include photos. You can email me pictures of your car at info@ifitsgotanengine.com.

Click here to complete the form!

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Illiteracy for fun and profit

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 18, 2005

How could misspelling a word be profitable? When would you ever intentionally spell a word incorrectly?

When others are expecting it to be spelled correctly.

Still confused? Allow me to elaborate.

When millions of people are listing items for sale on Ebay, odds are that some of them can’t spell very well. You can take advantage of that.

For example, suppose you are looking for a 1978 Camaro. There are hundreds of others searching Ebay for the same thing. There are usually at least a few that are misspelled in the listing as Cameros. Nobody sees those.

Therein lies the opportunity.

Whatever you are searching for, try obvious misspellings. If you find one, chances are you will not be bidding against very many other people, if any.

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Just what we need: more laws

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 17, 2005

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it already illegal to steal gas?

If people are still doing it, does anyone actually believe that passing another law against it will make them stop?

Do you think that anybody desperate enough to steal a tankful of gasoline will be deterred by this threat? I think that this will just result in more unlicensed drivers on our roads. The kind of criminal who drives off without paying for their gas will also continue to drive after losing their license.

The only thing this law (and others like it) accomplishes is an erosion of law enforcement’s already questionable credibility.

Maybe we should pass a law against that.

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VW Beetle: The greatest (parts) car of all time!

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 16, 2005

No other automobile ever produced has sacrificed itself to so many different pursuits. VW’s were the basis for the vast majority of kit cars for many, many years. Their engines have been found in everything from sand rails to formula vee race cars to airplanes to air compressors. The simple, yet effective front suspension is used on a variety of homebuilt cars and trikes.

Here are some examples of VW parts uses you may not be aware of:

  • Volks-air air compressor. This kit allows you to convert a beetle engine to a two cylinder engine and two cylinder compressor. It consists mainly of a new camshaft that allows the rear cylinders to continue to function as an engine, while the front cylinders act as an air compressor. This unit will supply 58 CFM at 100 psi.
  • 1/2 VW airplane engine. This is a VW type 1 engine that has had the case and cylinder heads cut in half and is therefore a two cylinder engine. The advantages for experimental aircraft are many: light weight, ready parts availability, no cooling system. The engine makes 35+ horsepower and weighs only 87 pounds.
  • Formula Vee race car. This is a all-out race car utilizing VW engine, transaxle, and front suspension. The rear suspension is just about as simple as it can be and the cars are very light weight. With ~170 horsepower they are surprisingly fast. They are also surprisingly affordable, with used examples in excellent condition available for less than $10,000.

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How to smoke a pipe

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 15, 2005

Warning: Not automobile related!

There comes a time in almost every man’s life when he wants to try smoking a pipe. Most of us, however, have no one to turn to for advice.

If you find yourself in this situation, do not fret; there are plenty of resources available to you. If you happen to live near a tobacconist’s shop (not very likely these days), stop in and have a chat. They will be able to help.

If, like most of us, you’ve never even seen a tobacconist, go to your local grocery store and buy yourself a corncob pipe. They don’t last very long, but they only cost a few dollars and they smoke very well. Buy a small pouch of pipe tobacco; anything they have in the grocery store will be fine. This also will only cost a couple of dollars. Lastly get some pipe cleaners; these are utterly necessary. Your total investment should be less than ten dollars.

Pack the pipe loosely with the tobacco, stopping frequently to ensure you haven’t packed it too tightly. It should be about like sucking on a straw.

When first lighting the pipe, lightly char the entire surface while drawing the flame into the bowl. When this is done, retamp the tobacco lightly and relight.

Do not smoke too aggressively or you will burn your tongue. It is perfectly acceptable to allow the pipe to go out and relight it several times. Just retamp and relight.


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Speaking of crazy ideas . . .

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 13, 2005

Here’s another one.

This is something I’ve been considering for several months now; I just haven’t taken the time to do any serious number crunching on it. Preliminary calculations look promising.

It’s pretty clear that massive improvements in electrical storage density (read: batteries) aren’t going to be made any time soon. It’s also clear that that’s what is needed to make electric cars viable today. Traditional batteries don’t store anywhere near the amount of energy per pound as gasoline.

My proposition is to use a heat battery instead of an electrical (chemical) battery.

Take a block of something fairly cheap, concrete maybe, and run tubing through it (more on this later). It needs to have a fairly high specific heat capacity. Wrap it in some pretty serious thermal insulation. Sink some heating elements into it. Then connect it to the heat engine of your choice: steam engine, stirling engine, etc.

When not in use, the heaters would be plugged into the grid, heating the battery to a predetermined temperature. When you were ready to drive, draw heat from the battery by passing the working fluid through the tubing.

Maximum efficiency (see Carnot engines) is limited by the temperature difference between the battery temp and the ambient air temp. Charging efficiency is excellent (all losses show up as heat, which is what we want), limited only by the ambient losses.

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What’ll they think of next?

Posted by ifitsgotanengine on October 12, 2005

And will anyone pay attention?

Let’s put it another way.

I can just imagine that this conversation took place once upon a time:

  • Inventor: “Hey listen, I’ve got a great idea!”
  • Friend: (muttering) “Not again” (out loud) “Great, let’s hear it.”
  • Inventor: “I’ll take the exhaust coming from my car, use it to spin a fan, connect that fan to a pump, and use that pump to pump more air into the engine. It’ll be great! More power without having to use a bigger engine!”
  • Friend: “Are you insane? While you’re at it, why don’t you put a fan on the roof and mount a sail on the hood? Then you won’t have to burn any gas.”

What the inventor was describing, of course, is a turbocharger, and they work fine. With a little understanding of thermodynamics it actually makes sense, but to the layperson it seems like something for nothing.

I wonder how many other great ideas are lost because nobody takes them seriously?

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