Did You Know . . . ?

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As with software (and hardware) every now and again, it’s necessary to do an update. Same goes for automotive knowledge. Maybe a better term would be conventional wisdom. Things change – and new things come along. update pic

For instance:

A lot of people still assume that 28-32 pounds of air in a tire is about right. It was about right… 20 years ago. And while there are still vehicles that have tires that want 28-32 pounds of air in them (most of these are trucks with M/S-rated tires) it is very common for car tire pressures to be in the 40-45 psi range nowadays. 32-ish pounds would be grossly under-inflated, in that case. The tires will wear faster (as well as unevenly) the car will not stop as quickly, handling will become sloppier – and rolling resistance will increase, meaning poorer fuel economy. And your tire pressure monitor – if your car is equipped with this – may not let you know until the tires are really low on air. Even if you have a tire pressure monitoring system, it’s important – if you care about tire longevity, braking distances, handling and fuel economy – to manually check the air pressure in all four tires at least once a month. And if they’re down, inflate them to the specified pressure – not what you remember from the ’70s as being “about right.”tire pressure pic

. . . .

Intermittent wipers are murder on wiper blades. Sounds silly, right? Wouldn’t intermittent wipers – which cycle less often – reduce wear on the wiper blades? Sure. Except when you have one cycle left in the system before you shut down for the night – on a cold winter night.

Let me explain.

You’ve just rolled to a stop in the driveway and are about to shut the engine off and head inside. But you haven’t turned off the wipers first – and let them complete their cycle – before you kill the ignition. Next morning when you go to start the car – and there’s a frozen film (or ice and snow) on the windshield – the next thing that will happen after you turn the key (or push the start button) is the wiper motor will try to cycle the blades… which may be frozen to the windshield. This places extreme strain on the electric motor that drives the windshield wipers, as well as extreme wear on the wiper blade edges, as they’re literally torn loose (or jerked hard trying to break loose). And if the blades cycle back and forth a few times over ice/snow-encrusted windshield glass, they’ll lose their edge real quick – and smear more than clear.wiper blades pic

To avoid this – and to get the most life out of not-cheap windshield wiper blades – turn the wipers off (and let them cycle to the “down” position) before you turn off the car’s engine and shut her down for the night. Next morning, scrape clean the windshield before you turn on the wipers.

. . . .

Topping off – you know, squeezing in as much fuel into the tank as you possibly can after the automatic pump shuts off – it’s probably not a good idea. If your car was made after about 1990, anyhow. Reason? Pushing additional fuel into the tank beyond “full” may cause problems with a late-model car’s evaporative emissions control system – and trigger a “check engine” trouble code that you’ll have to get cleared by someone with an OBD (on board diagnostics) scan tool.fill up pic

Too much gas in the tank – in the filler neck, especially – is the problem. The evaporative emissions system – which includes the gas cap – is designed to contain raw gas and gasoline vapors, to prevent either from escaping or being vented into the air. By manually cycling the gas pump after it clicks “full” on its own, you are asking for trouble. And for what? You might manage to dribble in an extra quarter to half a gallon or so beyond “full.”

How much farther is that going to get you?

. . . .

No Keys For You! Keyless wireless door opener fob

An ever-diminishing number of new cars come with old-school keys. Instead they have fobs. Little plastic transmitters you keep in your pocket or purse. The upside is you don’t have to fumble for keys – or mess with locks. The doors unlock automatically when the car senses its owner’s proximity – and to start the engine all you (usually) need to do is push a button.

But there are downsides – including what happens when you run one of these fobs through the wash because you forgot to take it out of your pocket. This will not hurt an old-school key, which is just a piece of metal after all. But electric gadgets do not like water – or the spin cycle. Sometimes, you can dry them out and they’re ok. Other times, not – and you may have to buy a new transmitter fob. Which can be a lot more expensive than having a new key cut at the hardware store. key pic 2

Also, like any battery-powered gadget, the batteries eventually run low. When they do, the car might not open up for you – or start. This happened to me recently with a new Nissan I was test driving. Luckily, I was near a Lowes – and able to get a new battery.

Some advice: When negotiating the purchase of an new car, make sure they give you at least three fobs rather than the usual two. That way, you’ll have a spare when one goes through the wash – and you won’t have to spend $150 at the dealer for it, either. And – change the battery in each fob once a year, whether you think you need to or not. Better to do this pre-emptively, when it’s convenient for you, than to wait until the day it’s not convenient.

PS: Some  transmitter fobs have a secret (hidden inside the fob) old school emergency key for just in case. Look for a little catch on the transmitter fob case – or read your owner’s manual to find out how to find (and get at) the emergency key.

And do it before there’s an emergency!

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. I’d love to have a $150 replacement key. The keys for my Land Rover LR3 cost $500 to replace (I’ve bought whole cars for that before now).

    On the good side, the keys come with rechargeable batteries which recharge while in the ignition. The downside of that is that I have to remember to swap keys every few months, to make sure the spare is charged. They seem to be quite long-lasting, though. I have both the original keys from 2006 and (he says, jinxing himself) so far they seem to be holding up…

    There is a procedure that will let you unlock the driver’s door manually, but you have about 12 seconds from opening the door to putting the key in the ignition or the car bricks itself.

  2. I am one of those who never saw the advantage of key fobs. One can unlock the door from a distance but still must walk to the door and open it. Perhaps a half second is saved with the key fob. Fortunately my schedule is never that tight. I like Fords for the single reason that there is a key pad on the door. My key and fob never leave the car. Never lost the Ford keys.

  3. Thank you P.M. Lawrence for bringing up Heinlein’s 1983 unpublished novel discovered in 2003. Really looking forward to attempting to read this.

    For Us The Living – R Heinlein

    Ayn Randesque idea-dense works like this are my favorite.

    Furphy – A Project to Testbed Concatenative Functional Language Constructs With Forth

    Concatenative Yahoo Group

    Kevin Carson’s – Mutualist

    “P.M. Lawrence is a polymath with a wide-ranging body of knowledge on history and economics, and in particular an MBA with some direct knowledge of the inside world of corporate management. His critical intelligence and erudition have always been enthusiastically welcomed here. PML has never made any pretense of being a left-libertarian, left-Rothbardian, or mutualist, or anything else but an interested reader who likes to point out error (wherever he finds it) and offer helpful information.

    He is not guilty of any hypocrisy whatsoever, or of any inconsistency with his stated principles.” – Kevin Carson

  4. I’d like to buy one of those, PML. They’ll be the preferred transpo in my soon to be built Heterotopia of Illusion, Toropolis. I’d like to delve deeper into your heterotopia, but it’s hard when I’m so absorbed in my own several hours in the future from you whenever I look to the West.
    – – – –

    Toropolis will be a magical 3rd generation nuclear floating metropolis, floating on the Bering Sea between Nome, Alaska and Uelen, Siberia.

    Right now looking West it’s UTC +12 hours. Looking East it’s UTC – 9 hours. It’s 8AM Saturday this side. And 5AM Sunday that side.

    Toropolis is the timeparadoxical 50 mile diameter Stargate betwixt the Ursa Major Russian Bear and Ursa Minor American Bear. The Moebius strip of the world, where forced order frays and disorder stays.
    – – –

    The limits of the metacity concept – the current reality du jour.

    Modern global communications and hand held personal communication devices have greatly facilitated the proliferation of heterotopias of illusion in the post-modern society of the metacity.

    Fast changing information is paramount when constructing new sites to maintain the heterotopias of illusion of the Internet Generation.

    The key to mobile and temporary site construction is the number and shifting sets of relationships that connect at a point inside the network, creating a temporary node from
    a set of relationships.

    Whereas the Panopticons of the past had rigid disciplinary codes enforcing a set code against deviance, the codes of the heterotopia of illusion are fast changing, hybrid and flexible, giving the illusion of freedom, and keeping the masses happy and productive without too much risk.

    Multiple voices and actors control their spaces and are free to interact within the heterotopic space. Though harder to perceive, there remain distinct finite limits to the freedom allowed in the post-modern heterotopias of illusion that continue the tradition of only providing an illusion of freedom.

    The whistleblowers of Wikileaks, like Private Manning and
    Edward Snowden, amplified by newspapers like the NYTimes and London Guardian, have revealed the massive scale of US and Allied government spying on their citizens activities, including planting paid political agitators as spies inside grass root groups like Occupy Wall Street (2008) and various world wide resistance organizations.

    The Boston Marathon terrorist bombing (2012) demonstrated the impossibility of processing the massive data collected, and the subsequent armed manhunt of the suspects centered on cctv, TV, and tracking the location of a stolen cell phone after a shoot out in the street.

    Old school authoritarian manhunts remain plan B and are quickly and brutally deployed. The surviving, wounded suspect was ultimately located by a homeowner noticing blood leaking out from under a boat cover in his back yard in
    the locked down working class neighborhood of Watertown. But the message was clear, they remain in charge uber alles.

    While the metacity and its informational structures facilitates the appearance of freedom in the megacity and megablock, it too has its rules and structures that were clearly delineated by Disney’s EPCOT almost 50 years ago.

    The widely distributed city territory including agricultural belts forms the basic format of the megablock in the metacity and megacity alike. Within this larger network and framework a great diversity of fragmentary systems of exist as urban actors sponsor a dynamic ecology of urban patches within a
    local, regional and global economy.

    The shining spectacle of Foucault’s heterotopia of illusion triumphs as the actors shift and change their priorities quickly in the shifting networks of the territory. With the collapse of the old neo-liberal financial system of public-private partnerships in the market crash of 2008, new patterns of association and finance using the internet and collective communities on the internet will now emerge from the chaos of lost home ownership and empty new ghost towns.

    The metacity remains a work in process and the impact of the city as information and as a projection of central planners and their wardens of cryptoprison must still be investigated more fully.

    It’s a small world – Disneyland Paris

    Metacity; origins and implications – D.G.Shane

    It’s a tiny tiny world – Fox Family Guy

  5. I learned something new (about the windshield wipers). Here in NY, if people know or even suspect that there’s going to be frozen stuff falling out of the sky overnight, they take their windshield wipers and pull them away from the windshield and leave them sticking up in the air. That way, it’s easier to clean off the windshield (wipers are out of the way) and the wipers are easier to clean off too. It is an extra step, but it’s worth it.

  6. Dear Eric,

    Eric, consider that there is no rational answer to all such questions of the form: “Why did the Germans…”

    Eyes Wide Shut Party Masks

    If you look at the 5 masks in the picture, imagine that each mask is an empire conglomerate du jour. Let’s say: far lefto to far right: 1_Commonwealth, 2_New World Anglo-Spaniard American, 3_Axis/Italy/Japan/German, 4_SouthEuro Spain/Port/Franc, & 5_Russian/Slavic.

    Back in WWII days on some falsifiably historic night they held a world empire war-orgy and decided that “tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1939!” The German Empire is “it” they’re the villian this time.

    Consider that for the P-who_think-TB, the masks depicted are easily taken off, or exchanged for another. Or they can even be themselves at times until they get bored and bloodthirsty.

    It is only for us mundanes, that the masks are real, and permanently attached.

    We here speak American English/Commonwealth English, were raised in English Memes, we’re branded bred by it all, but for them it’s only one possible mask of national drama.

    It is nearly impossible for us to be anything else, but the predesigned artifices of their Almighty Anglosphere. Yet English itself is merely West German, and nothing noteworthy or distinct, at least not for Them.

    The German mask of I.B.Farben is long discarded. But lives on today now in the masks of Hoechst, BASF, & Bayer,

    – holy clusterspeak tl;dr, any great deeds can be done by any great men wearing either English, French, Russian, German, or American masks however they please. Masks they invent, make rise and fall, and discard at their leisure.

  7. In many ways, I’d be okay if all this “knowledge” was completely lost. Whatever knowledge one needed to build the 4 Cylinder 25HP 1952 Volkswagen Bug. A car that will last for a lifetime. Is still more than sufficient for almost everyone.

    Seinfeld and David in Episode 1 of CICGC

    The humble rear split-window bug from Ferdinand Porsche was constructed in two pieces. Cheap to manufacture; cheap to maintain; cheap to enjoy. Great transportation without the miserable cycles of debt and bank dependence.

    Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee – Episode 1 of 22

    The episodes feature Jerry Seinfeld introducing a vintage car, picking up a guest comedian, and then taking them out to have coffee or to eat at a restaurant.

    • The humble rear split-window bug from Ferdinand Porsche was constructed in two pieces.

      No, the original design had a simple open louvre without glass, that allowed a rear view with little airflow getting in – once the car was moving forward. It turned out to be impractical because cars have to stop in traffic even with driving rain, snow or hail coming from behind. And the original used a reserve tank system rather than a fuel gauge, and the windscreen spray tapped the spare tyre pressure, which made for awkwardness changing a tyre.

      • And there you have it.

        The collectivist consenter, happy to be told and to retell that such cars are sour grapes.

        Purveyor of the utmost cracker yakking about any topic from the predator’s perch of a round world his master’s’ve buggered and jolly rogered beyond all recognition.

        Those cars they had to be put out of our reach, my good lad, it’s all been sorted for our own good. Not cars to be wanted. So impractical and so awkward they surely were. You only get what you pay for, but with approved credit, you get so much better.

        We are always at the ready, brill armchair engineers in gilded bureaucratic throne, designing and shaping a better more suitable world for you all.

        * just strawmanning ya, P.M.L. , bit of a binge whinger me self, I appreciate any rebuttals and scientific falsification attempts on philosophical grounds of course.
        – – –

        Production numbers for War-era 1938-1952 Beetles (at this time called the KdF-Wagen, after the German phrase “Kraft durch Freude,” meaning “Strength through Joy”) were low, and few cars would survive the Allied bombings.

        The British Army took control of the KdF factory in 1945, and, rather than destroy it, put it to use producing war vehicles (and Beetles).

        The 9,931 bare-bones 25-hp Beetles produced in 1946 lacked turn signals, gas gauges, synchromesh transmissions, or any chrome trim.

        Yet, build quality was good, and the simple design was easy to work on and ably traversed war-ravaged roads.

        Soon embraced by the American market, chrome trim was added in 1947, a convertible top became available in 1949, and an optional “Rag Top” sunroof was added for 1950. That year also saw the primitive cable brakes replaced with hydraulics.

        Gears were syncromeshed in 1952. A Wolfsburg hood crest marks cars built between 1951 and 1963. These earliest Beetles, dubbed “Split Windows,” are quickly identified by their split oval rear windshield
        – – –

        – Brits like you and me are both so nice. Always there to take over production facilities from the wayward sons of our eternal world war horror show. True humanitarians, the lot of us.

        • I agree with you that there is an element of conditioning involved. That is, a car like the Beetle is indeed a perfectly satisfactory A to B transportation appliance – and one that almost anyone could afford to buy outright, or save up to buy outright. Once bought, upkeep and maintenance was also inexpensive.

          Marketers make their living by “up-selling” people – convincing them that wants and needs are synonymous. The average new economy car has far more capability than most people need or will ever use. Yet they have been up-sold to believe they need and so must have (as examples) 120 hp engines, 120 MPH top speeds and 8 second to 60 MPH capability – rather than a 60 hp engine, a 90 MPH top speed and zero to 60 in 12 seconds.

          The former, of course, entails debt – and perpetual payments (for most people).

          And that is precisely what’s wanted.

          If people were not driven by emotional-social manipulation, a car such as the Beetle (or perhaps a bit more modern, such as an ’80s-era K Car) that could be purchased for say $8,000 brand new would be preferable (financially, practically – and thus rationally) to a $16,000 car such as the typical new economy car.

          Don’t even get e started on the idiocy of $35,000 “family cars” with 260-plus hp and 140 MPH top speeds….

          • “Marketers make their living by “up-selling”” –

            I think you nailed it. That might just be Team America’s greatest claim to fame. We are infinitely upsellable. Fuck Yeah!

            Faithful darlings of the bankster brigands, we never say no. We always put out.
            – – –
            Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Episode 2

            I like the second episode even better. Ricky Gervais plays the classic nervous passenger/clover. The absurdist anti-sitcom series takes John Q idiot Tee-Veegan watcher/snacker much further down the idiocracy rabbit hole this time.

            Episode 2 CICGC Car: 1967 Austin Healey 3000

            It seems David&Seinfeld must actually reach through the screen and start strangling and bashing viewers heads before they finally sense the grim message these sitcoms really have for the insipid worlds they happily choose to inhabit!

            Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Episode 2

          • Well… unless carrying a lot of baggage, the Volkswagen is too rear-heavy for proper handling in all conditions, and of course it was designed without the help of the ideas that later went into hatch-backs.

            If I were to specify a “simple” car for today, it would only be simple in materials and construction but would incorporate some sophisticated ideas that we now know with the benefit of hindsight, i.e. learning from other people’s mistakes and good work. As such, here is a “retro” reworking of old approaches with more recent methods and materials:-

            – A two-door hatch-back layout, but with a wide and deep suspension.

            – Front engine, air cooled flat four split piston two stroke with a special scavenge pump to pre-scavenge with an air burst, so improving mixing (this and the suspension draw on the Trojan car). Yes, a suitable, simple pump design is now available for that (it used to be that doing that made a two stroke engine at least as bulky, heavy and intricate as a four stroke engine with the same power, so it wasn’t worth it).

            – Constantinesco mechanical torque converter between the engine and a pedal operated, model T Ford style epicyclic gearbox (two pedals on the left, the leftmost selecting reverse and the other selecting the starting/low range, interlocked to prevent pressing both together).

            – Phosphor bronze sprags in the torque converter, bearing into a V groove in the driven element at a shallower angle than would be possible if bearing on a simple drum, to reduce forces and cope better with metal fatigue.

            – That new Australian universal joint for the front wheel drive (sorry, I forget the name off hand, but I do recall that it is in wikipedia somewhere).

            – Optionally, an improved gasifier to allow local fuel sourcing. It would make most sense to have this as a detachable unit; I would go for mounting it on a trailer with this layout: two hinged mounting points on the car’s rear, so allowing vertical but not lateral movement, with the gasifier forming the third corner of a triangle with the mounting points, supported on a (sprung) castoring wheel so that lateral movement isn’t needed. This not only simplifies the gas tubing connection, it allows reversing without special measures.

          • I’ll go with UK’s India as the most sensible country in the world.

            The Royal Reptilians have really outdone themselves in terms of molding and shaping a land of productivity and livability.

            They use English, so they’re a ready resource of what a saner sensibler America could look like.

            Anyways, in India the Top selling car = Maruti Suzuki Alto

            Actually it’s the top seller in the world.

            It costs only 3.26 lakh. Every one buys one, and stays with it for life. They only come in black with minimum frills of course.

            Cost is $5,339. $1.00=61.06 rupee. 100,000 rupee=1 lakh. 326,000 rupees/61.06 exch rate

            Feb2014 Indian Car Sales

            Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 – (See Desi Darling at 0:22 she’s an important feature)

  8. Keyless doors. I hope the gizmo-crazed car buyer will remember his ecstasy with electronically driven doors when some 14-year-old gangbanger with a black box in his hand unlocks the buyer’s doors. Won’t that be a hoot.

    • I’m with you, Ross!

      As I see it, the small convenience offered by keyless entry/ignition is outweighed by the potential liabilities, including cost. I suppose I’m just a cheapskate, but I have never been able to fathom why someone would prefer a $150 fob that requires a visit to a dealership to replace over a $15 piece of metal that can be duplicated at any hardware store for $5.

      • I’m well aware that correlation doesn’t mean causation but maybe it’s because of exactly what you indirectly say. It’s much easier for a criminal to create a fraudulent key or keylike device than it is to create something that fakes the fob’s signal. Auto theft stats comparing 2003 to 2012 indicate that the number of cars stolen in the US dropped from over 1.25 million to just over 721,000, despite the fact that there were undoubtedly more cars on the road in 2012 vs. 2003. I’d assume at least some of that is due to many more cars on the road now having key fobs thus making it more difficult for thieves to drive off in stolen cars.


  9. I have an older car, it is Mazda 626 1990, takes a bit of licking but sure keeps on ticking. 400, 000 miles. I wear Yokohama Avid 195/60R15 88H, them being as close as I could find for an outside diameter to the stock 14 inch tires. Had been wearing them ever since I got the car – in 2000. I absolutely love my car, the look the feel, everything, not that I couldn’t afford some new plastic car.

    The thing is, I know of old dictum 28-32, and then the modern dictum of autoshop 35psi. Yet, even when I inflate to 35, (and that also is the recommended pressure on the sidewall), the front tires seem to be a bit soft, you know the kind of slightly unhappy look. What gives?

    Wouldn’t they recommend 40 or 45 if that was right? No problem with performance, – I always push the car hard, and on these tires it always goes where I want it to go (don’t really care about leaving rubber on the road – that’s just a price for friction). But the pressure bothers me.

    Would it be better maybe to judge the correct pressure from a wet print instead?

    Secondly, where does a man can verify his pressure gauge? I like it sharp, to the single PSI, but all the gauges show different pressure on the same tire, especially the worn to the ground gas station ones. Is there a place one can go to to have his gauge checked? (no cracking up jokes, please).

    One more old myth: The one where they tell you all oil is the same. Nope. I use only Synthetic Royal Purple 20/50. Doubt I would get this mileage with regular oil.
    (Of course, they just changed their can design to where the spout is so big, the can no longer fits in the filling hole to stand up by itself and drip down.)

  10. On top of the 28-32 PSI no longer being the standard, a lot of times the front and rear tires are designed to be run at different pressures.

    And although many cars run with higher tire pressure, some sports cars run with lower tire pressure.

  11. Was not aware that many new car tires are designed to operate in the 40+ PSI range. I assume that if in doubt, it is still safe to inflate within whatever pressure range is indicated on the sidewall?

    • Performance tires (on 17, 18, 19, 20 inch – and larger) rims are now pretty common; these tend to have higher inflation pressures.

      Also for fuel economy reasons – that is, for CAFE purposes. Less rolling resistance (but possibly, faster – and uneven – wear as well as a harsher ride).

      • Dang! Will you guys quit crapping on the idea, on the look. My fat tires on my truck look cool as hell.
        They are not the fattest ever tires. But they are fat, I’ll admit that.
        They sure as heck aren’t skinny tires! [Not that I don’t appreciate the abilities of skinny tires. And, oh shoot, checking the air pressure Every month?]
        Anyway, so far, I get around ok in the snow.
        Also, floating on the mud, is a good thing.
        Could we say it’s a trade off?
        This article seems kind of Winter orientated, rather than all-season.
        The Winter *WIll* end. …And fat is, “The Shit” in the mud.

        What’s ‘The Best’ middle ground?

        It’s going to be in the 30’s and 40’s here this week,… your area is next. …It’s Over! The Hell of it is done. No more Paid days off for dom!
        Yayy! Half naked chicks will be jogging around your area in no time flat. This Summer we’ll have to appreciate them all the more so, and next Winter will prolly be a dud, eh? Because next Winter you’ll go to Florida. And that’s what happens when you go to Florida. The Winter is mild. Is that a rule?

    • The type of tires and recommended inflation pressures are in the manual..best to read and heed. They’re all different..those for the Genesis coupe are rated at over 160 mph and they require different pressures that say a Jeep, or std sedan.

  12. My first job lo these many years ago was at a gas station, and very nearly 100% of our customers would top off their tanks every time. It always seemed like the world’s most pointless ritual to me, especially since (at the time) Massachusetts law mandated goofy “green” gas pumps with bizarro rubber baffles on them to contain escaping gas fumes. The usual result of “topping off your tank” would be that the baffle on the pump would fill with all that excess gas you’re paying for, and then prevent the pump from working properly until somebody (read: I) went out there and drained it.

  13. Huge pet peeve of mine after the person overfills their tank is then they slide that cap in there and turn…..and when they hit the torque limiting click built into the cap they give it a few more turns just to make sure. Click,click,click,Click,click,click,Click,click,click…Click,click,click,Click,click,click,…..Click,click,click,Click,click,click,Click,click,click,

    MORON….once it clicks ONCE it WILL NEVER GET ANY TIGHTER…so stop clicking the damn gas cap!!!!

    Stop it!!!

    Thanks for all you do….

    • Hi Sic!

      Shoot mang, that doesn’t bother me in the least when people do that sort of crap. I’d even offer them help or some words of encouragement. You can bet every tool in there tool box serves multiple functions too (screw drivers as punches etc..). People like that help people like us get lightly used/slightly damaged goods for excellent bargains. Now on the other hand, if someone does that to MY gas cap, or MY tools I’ll flip out.

    • Dear Sic,

      Many tech ignoramuses do indeed fail to use their noggins when confronted with unfamiliar mechanical devices.

      Re: torque limiting gas caps

      My take is that it’s another dumbed down “solution” that actually creates problems.

      My two cents? Just make it so that it has a positive stop after a 90 or 180 degree twist. Many lids on jars are designed like that. Overtightening is highly unlikely if one can feel the positive stop.

      But your point is taken. Idiocracy rules. Just look at our “political leaders.”

      • Morning Bevin!

        Speaking of idiocracy, here’s a True Tale:

        One of the press car delivery services dropped off an Audi TDI for me a few months ago. A week later, the driver came to collect the car.

        So far, so good.

        Before heading back to the fleet HQ, the driver stopped to fill ‘er up.

        Now, this vehicle was part of Audi’s “clean diesel” advertising effort. It had billboard black letters (the car was white) along its flanks proudly announcing Audi Clean Diesel. It had “TDI” badges on the trunk lid. Inside, on the gauge cluster, was emblazoned “Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel Only.”

        Perhaps you can tell where this is going…


        The driver topped ‘er off with half a tank of unleaded premium (even better than unleaded regular for a diesel) and then trundled off down the road…. for a little while.

        I heard later through the grapevine that it cost over $4,000 to tear apart the top end of the engine and purge the entire fuel system of that poor car….

        Never saw that driver again….

          • My guess was wrong. I guessed that the person was about to fill the tank with kerosene or off-road diesel. Both of those choices would have worked in older diesel engines, but I have no idea whether or not modern cars with ECMs would detect incorrect fuel. Back in the ’80’s I was an ignorant young man/sheeple who assumed that older adults had rational reasons for their beliefs, and I was an Army soldier. Even back then the military had multifuel engines as standard equipment on non-gasoline-only vehicles. I as a former M-60 tank mechanic never had the opportunity to test those engines with the alternative fuels, but I read about them. There was even back then a sensor that could detect fuel types and control the amount of fuel being injected. The pistons were shaped in such a way as to allow puddle formation of gasoline for controlled flooding so that the diesel/multifuel engine could run on gas without self-destructing. For those of you who don’t know: gasoline engines back then had I think between 7:1 ratio to 12:1 ratio. Diesels were in the I think 17:1 – 22:1 ratios.

          • Multifuel engines.

            Interesting concept.

            I’d buy one.

            Brian wrote, “Back in the ’80′s I was an ignorant young man/sheeple who assumed that older adults had rational reasons for their beliefs”…

            That makes two of us.

        • If you think that’s bad, spare a thought for the hapless Luftwaffe mechanics and pilots who had to work with the Messerschmidt Komet rocket-powered interceptors. Not only did they have to fill two separate tanks with fuel and oxidiser (hydrazine cut with methanol and concentrated hydrogen peroxide, either of which is harmful on contact, not to mention refilling the fuel pressurising bottles with compressed nitrogen and refilling a small tank of calcium permanganate catalyst solution). No, they had to make 100% sure the right tanks were topped up, as those chemicals had been chosen to ignite spontaneously (they were hypergolic), so even one drop of the right liquid left over would ignite a new lot of the wrong liquid. Of course, because of the backwash or drips from the rocket motor the Komet would often explode on landing anyway if it didn’t have dry tanks by then, but that only took out the pilots.

          Trivia: hypergolic fuels made liquid fuelled rockets reliable, particularly if they had to be lit or relit in space away from a launch facility, but they were always hazardous until suitable procedures were worked out; it was actually the minuscule British space effort that found a way to ignite rocket motors that way without a risk of spills igniting (the U.S. and U.S.S.R. went for avoiding spills instead).

          • Oh yeah!

            But, the Komet was an amazing aircraft; IIRC its initial rate of climb still hasn’t been bested by a conventional aircraft.

            Ever read about Sanger’s Silbervogel? AKA the antipodal bomber?

            Those Germans were thinking ahead.

          • Actually, the initial rate of climb was bested a lot earlier; airships can start pointing up a slope rather than along an airstrip and don’t have to slow down while climbing at all (well, apart from a little extra induced drag from the elevators, which can be eliminated by re-trimming), as their buoyancy acts as a counter-weight (apparently, if you release a large enough volume of hydrogen or helium, it will accelerate upwards so long and so fast and mix so little with the air that most of it will reach escape velocity). Of course, Komets climbed faster fractions of a second after take-off, as soon as they curved up, and the related Natter that only reached the prototype stage launched vertically.

            Yes, I heard about the German supersonic long range bomber project. It was based on the idea of “skipping” in and out of the uppermost significant stretches of atmosphere, to alternate between a mode with lift but also drag and over-heating and a mode with radiative cooling and low drag but no significant lift. However, I gather that the early work was based on faulty data about what that would deliver, and a working version would have needed what was then unobtainium for its skin and/or disproportionate amounts of fuel to manage any serious range. But if the Germans had wanted to do a bombing raid on the U.S.A. for propaganda purposes like the Doolittle Raid on Japan, they could have managed it quite easily by just adapting their long range mail service flying boats to carry token bomb loads, refuelling them from U-boats. They wouldn’t have been able to sustain a bombing campaign that way once air defences were in place, but then again they would have gained by forcing resources to be switched to that.

            • Good stuff!

              And: There was at least one prototype four engine long-range aircraft built – apparently – for “Amerikabomber” duty. The Me264. In reading about this, I came across a very interesting document in which there is a graphic depicting downtown NYC and what appears to be an aerial blast radius with the epicenter at Wall Street/the financial district and radii from that point outward, each marking different (and, apparently) lesser areas of damage as one moves farther out from the epicenter. It looks very much like maps I have seen of US atomic weapons testing.

              I have often wondered how it is that Germany – far advanced in so many areas of technical development – did not develop a nuclear device (n particular a uranium device rather than a plutonium device) first….

          • On 1930s ideas of possible future war damage to the city of New York, here is part of Spider Robinson’s introduction to Robert A. Heinlein’s first (pre-war) novel, “For Us, The Living”, in which Heinlein extrapolates the results of a raid on Manhattan: “He [the protagonist, knocked out in July, 1939 and awakening in January, 2086] learns, among other things, that a United Europe was formed and led by Edward, Duke of Windsor; former New York City mayor LaGuardia served two terms as president of the United States; the military draft was completely reconceived; banks became publicly owned and operated; and in the year 2003, two helicopters destroyed the island of Manhattan in a galvanizing act of war”. I can quote the text from the body of the novel too, if anyone wants it, but it is comparatively lengthy as well as more detailed.

            This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some of the factors that stopped Germany from going for the A-bomb:-

            – A lot of the early atomic research was Jewish science, so the Germans would have had to redo a lot of that work to get a development project that was kosher, so to speak.

            – It is really, really hard to isolate enough uranium-235 to make an A-bomb in a short time scale, unless and until you have made enough breakthroughs. It is much easier to obtain plutonium-239 or uranium-233 to make an A-bomb, but bombs using those materials are trickier to make work (plutonium-239 won’t work with a simple gun design bomb, and uranium-233 is far trickier to handle, even after putting it in a weapon).

            – Test reactors were needed to get the numbers to design even uranium-235 bombs, just as bigger ones were needed to make the material for plutonium-239 or uranium-233 bombs. Such reactors can be made using pure enough graphite as a moderator, but much high-grade commercial graphite is synthesised from feedstocks in a process that uses boron in the machinery’s electrodes – and boron is one of the worst possible contaminants, as it absorbs far too many neutrons. So the Germans’ preliminary tests wrongly indicated that a reactor needed heavy water since they had bad luck with their graphite batches, and they had huge production problems getting enough heavy water (it now appears possible that a poor man’s CANDU reactor that doesn’t need enriched fuel might barely work using supercritical carbon dioxide as a moderator, or even better using carbon monoxide fluidised sugar charcoal made by dehydrating sugar with sulphuric acid, particularly if power generation is not the object – and if I learned that from publicly available sources, the Iranians probably did too, and those people seeking controls over their activity should also know that that horse has already bolted; similarly, the Iranians probably also already know to make a dirty bomb within a week or two of getting the raw materials, which they can source domestically – but even so I do not think it would be responsible to describe how, since that is realistic for groups who couldn’t manage a reactor).

            – Early indications had been that atomic weapons would only be an order of magnitude or so more powerful than chemical explosives (one of Eric Ambler’s pre-war novels has a weapon like that, and one of Robert A. Heinlein’s early stories takes it as given that only a dirty bomb would be practical). It didn’t seem worth the development work to the Germans until too late, what with their not having the latest results that even the non-Jewish émigré scientists took first to Britain and then to the U.S.A. If they had known then what we know now, not only would they have known it was worth it, they would have known how to build small, short lived test reactors using very little heavy water (aqueous homogeneous nuclear reactors).

            – The Germans had walked away from the whole idea of long range strategic bombing in the mid-1930s, when its leading Luftwaffe advocate was killed in an air crash, so they had too much emotional investment in not revisiting the idea and weren’t able to develop suitable delivery systems in time for when they needed them (if they had had a Ural bomber before Stalingrad, not only could they have destroyed the U.S.S.R.’s logistical capacity to regroup and counter-attack, they could probably have made their Stalingrad airlift work). So they didn’t see much point in having an A-bomb in the period when they could have worked on one, and it was too late to start by the time they realised it might be useful (they could have managed a dirty bomb, but they never had the conditions to use those anyway, any more than they had the conditions to use the improved war gasses they had developed). Similar things delayed their V-weapons and jet aircraft until very late in the day. Without strategic bomber delivery systems, A-bombs were much less practical.

          • PM, you have an amazing breadth of knowledge! It is a pleasure to read these posts–especially the German nuke research.

            Problem is every time I read one of your posts I go down a two-hour rabbit hole of research…no doubt leaving a bread crumb trail for the NSA even tastier than the one before.

            If you guys ever hear of some crazy guy in Texas the DHS trots out for a patsy, avenge me!


          • The primary reason that Germany avoided the nuclear research was that it was long term research. It was accurately forecast to take at least 3 to 4 years before a weapon could be built (we took 3 1/2 of all out effort). And everyone knew the war would be over in 2 years, so this would just be wasting scarce engineering capability.
            A secondary reason was a scientific error. The leading German expert had determined via measurements with CO2 that carbon had a neutron absorption cross section that would preclude it’s use in a reactor. Faulty data, and no one would contradict Herr Doktor.
            A tertiary reason was money. Germany was a smaller nation than the US, it did not have the GNP or population to engage in many super science projects. We on the other hand were rich, so we did the Manhattan Project, B-29, radar, radar proximity fusing, the Iowas, carriers, and other mass production efforts as well as build a 10 million man army, and supply the material for a good part of the rest of the Allies.
            one single oil field (the East Texas Oil Field) supplied 25% of ALL oil used in WW2.
            But so critical was that field , that a direct hit by a hurricane on Houston in 1943 (the hurricane is referred to as the hurricane that never happened because of the top secret status and news censorship) came close to extending ww2 by at least a year by destroying the facilities at the Baytown refinery. We would have been ready to invade Normandy about the same time that the Red Army reached the Atlantic.

          • Why not? (also a Heinlein quotation). Here is Robert A. Heinlein’s own material on 1930s ideas of possible future war damage to the city of New York, from his first (pre-war) novel, “For Us, The Living”, in which he extrapolates the results of a raid on Manhattan:-

            … The most startling single incident in the war was the raid on Manhattan.”

            “Tell me about that.”

            “One would think that Manhattan would have been evacuated early in the war, but it was extremely inconvenient to do so and the public had been assured that no enemy force could possibly get that far north. As a matter of fact, practically all the fighting had been below the equator. Except for two raids in the Gulf and one on Palm Beach, none of which did much damage, the United States was untouched. But in 2003 December two aircraft carriers, the Santa Maria and the Reina Borealis raided Manhattan. They had proceeded to New York by a route that took them far east in the Atlantic and by luck and partly by foresight they reached the North Atlantic without discovery. They were aided by the weather for the last thousand kilometers had to be made in a thick fog. They attacked at noon, dropping out of a cloudy sky with a ceiling of less than two hundred meters and in some places lower. The attack must have been worked out with great precision, for each ship seemed to know exactly where to go. The bridges were destroyed first, and the landing platforms. It must have been a terrifying sight to see those great helicopters settling out of the clouds and proceeding leisurely to destroy their objectives while the more agile fighting planes that escorted them buzzed around like hornets. The tubes under the rivers were bombed also. A helicopter would settle at the last station, its crew would gas the bystanders while a working party commandeered a train and loaded aboard the explosives. Then with controls and time bomb on board the train would make its last run.”

            “How much damage was done?”

            “The damage was practically complete. The water works were destroyed along with the power stations. The skyscrapers were almost completely wrecked. Incendiary fires were started throughout the city. It was remarkably efficient, for warfare, as explosives were not thrown around at random but carefully placed to do maximum damage. It is believed that the helicopters made two or three trips. The weather made the whole thing possible, of course, particularly the gas attack that completed the job.”

            “How was that?”

            “After the attackers had apparently exhausted their supplies of high explosives, they systematically patrolled the island, remaining always in the clouds and dropped gas containers. They must have returned to their floating bases time and again for they kept this up for thirty-six hours.”

            “You speak as if they had no opposition.”

            “There was opposition, surely, but consider–You are a pilot. How would you attack an enemy ship in a cloud bank.”

            “I couldn’t.”

            “That’s the answer. They destroyed Manhattan and nearly eighty per cent of its population. Although it wasn’t conclusive, hardly more than an exhibition of frightfulness, it lead [sic] indirectly to the end of the war.”

            “Why was that?”

            “Five out of six of the heads of the leading international banks were killed in the raid on Manhattan, not to mention the destruction of a large part of the records of the financial dealings that had started the trouble. And of course hundreds of the small fry in the banking racket. With the ring leaders gone Congress listened to the people of the country who had never wanted a war in the first place. An armistice was declared in 2004 February. The terms of the peace included moratoria on international obligations which was a polite word for cancellation, and established a Pan-American export-import bank to provide for resumption of trade on what amounted to a cash and carry basis.”

          • Earl Smith, the wikipedia article on nuclear graphite contains this:-

            Unlike the promising results in the US and in the USSR, German investigators came to the conclusion that graphite could not be used with natural uranium to produce a nuclear chain reaction. The purest graphite available to them at that time was a product from the Siemens Plania company, which exhibited a neutron absorption cross section of about 7.5 mb. Compared to that the graphites used in CP-1 exhibited average thermal absorption cross sections of 6.68 mb (AGX, National Carbon Company), 5.51 mb (Speer Carbon Company), and 4.97 mb (AGOT, National Carbon Company). (Haag [2005])

            And this:-

            Care must be taken that reactor-grade graphite is free of neutron absorbing materials such as boron, widely used as the seed electrode in commercial graphite deposition systems– this caused the failure of the Germans’ World War II graphite-based nuclear reactors. Boron and or equivalent boron content should be less than 5 PPM.

            – So it appears that the Germans did not rest their conclusions on graphite’s unsuitability as a moderator solely on extrapolations from measurements on carbon dioxide (though I am sure they drew on those too, though I had not heard of those before this).

            This shows the use of aqueous homogeneous test reactors as part of the A-bomb development process:-

            The reactor was called LOPO (for low power) because its power output was virtually zero. LOPO served the purposes for which it had been intended: determination of the critical mass of a simple fuel configuration and testing of a new reactor concept. LOPO achieved criticality, in May 1944 after one final addition of enriched uranium. Enrico Fermi himself was at the controls. LOPO was dismantled to make way for a second Water Boiler that could be operated at power levels up to 5.5 kilowatts. Named HYPO (for high power), this version used solution of uranyl nitrate as fuel whereas the earlier device had used enriched uranyl sulfate. This reactor became operative in December 1944. Many of the key neutron measurements needed in the design of the early atomic bombs were made with HYPO…

    • Tell me Sic, is it a hobby of yours to hang over someone filling their gas tank? Either you have elephant ears or is it your hobby to to stand over someone filling their tank?

      • I do. That way, when I bash them over the head to steal their car, I can do it knowing the tank is full.

        Why take a half empty car?

        Seems really obvious but I guess I have to explain it to you.

      • clover, must make sure no fumes escape from the tank to add to the air pollution problem. Besides, Sic is just acting as a clover to make sure he interferes in other peoples lives for no reason at all. Oh wait, the SAAAAAAAFEEEETYYYY factor. Mustn’t hurt any of those young kids who could breathe those excess petrol fumes…………

        clover doesn’t get it…………….. or can’t get it…………

    • The stant locking gas cap on my ’97 I must ratchet a few times so that it is at just the right angle so that the door closes properly. If I don’t the door hits the cap and remains open a crack. This isn’t an issue with the stock cap. Perhaps I should have bought a motorcraft locking cap instead.

    • @Sic- One of them or a close family relation invented the impossible-to-use new gas can fillers. And I am sure they both thought what a great boon to mankind they came up with.

    • My Genesis Coupe has a 1-clicker..the other car, a 2011 Jeep, has a 3 clicker. The daggone jeep fob is $200 which bugged the carp outta me. I hate the %^&ed electric ‘keys’ bks they are just a way to squeeze $$ from a customer.

      • Incompetence of any kind bothers me. A little thing like this–not a lot. But it’s the constant, grinding reminder of how ineffably stupid people have allowed themselves to become that bothers me.

        It’s Chinese water torture.

        Hardly anyone knows how the engine in their car works anymore. They don’t change their oil. They don’t even change their windshield wiper blades. They’ve lost touch with so much of the world around them; it’s not just the simple mechanical things, it’s every aspect of their lives not directly connected to whatever they do for a living.

        And it’s sad, and it’s wrong. Human beings have the capacity for so much, the mind is so powerful, but they choose to squander it, to let it sit fallow like a field of weeds.

        THAT’S what bothers me about it. It’s not the gas cap clicking; it’s the 10,000th sign of people not giving a shit.

        Does that clear it up?


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