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Entries in Engines (7)


Bitumen Bubble

This morning we have The Colonel with us, our conversation revolves around the "Bitumen Bubble" and cars.

Q- Colonel Good Morning...what is the bitumen bubble?

A- Connect the dots, and its becoming more transparent that there is a lot of oil available, more than we thought a generation ago. Bitumen is the tar sands.

Q- Between the tar sands, fracking, shale, is North America floating on oil?

A- Its starting to look like it.

Q- If its becoming obvious that we are floating on oil, why are we paying so much for gas?

A- Taxes, upholding an infrastructure, we have shut down refineries, a whole bunch of reasons, but we are not running out of oil.

Q- What was peak oil? 

A- Imagine immense oil tanks in the earth, at some point one would reach the top of the bell graph, between finding new oil, consumption, and depletion. Once you reach the peak its a downward slide on the depletion side (emptying the tanks).

Q- Its no longer the case?

A- Does not look like it for the foreseeable future.

Q- How about the price of gas?

A- We have known for several years that when gas gets close to $1.50 a liter its the pain treshold, it will not go down to uphold the infrastructure, but it will not go up. Who am I to speculate on the price of gas.

Q- Will more stringent fuel economy progress?

A- Absolutely...its the right thing to do...from several perspectives...congestion being one.

Q- How will the auto industry adjust or cope.

A- Pick ups will keep on selling, small cars (fuel economy) might just stabilise.

Q- How about hybrids?

A- Hybrids are a propulsion mode, folks that prefer an hybrid electric propulsion will continue to acquire hybrids.

Q- Where do you see diesels?

A- Diesels, catalytic converters, urea injection, 1,000 kms on a tank, at some point the trade off, to not really needing a diesel in any passenger vehicle will be debated. 

Q- Are you implying that if a vehicle is not working/pulling a load a diesel is not required. 

A- Precisely, at a GVW of 3,000 kilos you don't need a diesel, cars, and SUV's do not reach 3,000 kilos at 3,000 kilos and higher a diesel becomes a consideration and at a certain point an absolute necessity.

Q- Where do you see gas engines?

A- We have known for some time that V12 would become V8's with turbos, V8's would become V6's with turbos, V6's would become 4 cylinders with a turbo, and 4 cylinders would become 3 cylinders with a turbo. Its all there with various manufacturers touting what fits for their particular applications.

Q- These turbo motors how good are they?

A- In cars they work fine, in trucks with light loads they work fine, once the loads start getting up there, would you rather have a V6 with twin turbos working away, or a naturally aspirated V8 working away, or perhaps a diesel.

Q- Where is fuel economy headed?

A- It will progressively improve, especially in city, congestion, surface street applications and usage of vehicles. 

Q- On the highway?

A- We all know that you need a certain level of power to overcome wind resistance, time is an increasingly precious commodity, folks tend to drive faster than slower, highway fuel economy ratings are calculated at speeds that no one drives.

Q- Is it fair to say that we might have to re conceptualise some of our thinking?

A- Some...we will have to re evaluation many of our established assumptions and beliefs.

Q- We can keep on going...but Thank You or your thoughts this morning.

A- Fascinating subject, its a start, although we had better stop for this morning.




Building Engines

Informative video from Terry Walters Performance on their machining capabilities, and engine building, if you are of a certain age you will notice the "old school" distributor machine to check advance curves in distributors.




Engine Stories

Cadillac 331 one time cars had their specific engines, especially GM makes. Today all cars have generic manufacturer engines which are installed in all the different makes.

To get a feel for the time when GM cars had their specific engines, we have The Colonel this morning with us, we will ask him to join the conversation.

Q- Colonel Good Morning thank you for joining us, and sharing your perspectives. 

A- usual great to be here, and engage in a conversation with you.

Q- At one time Cadillacs had Cadillac engines, Buick had Buick engines and so on. 

A- Lets start that Fords and Chrysler had the same engines for all the makes. A Ford engine would make its way in a Ford, a Mercury, or a Lincoln, although the displacement would be different, and the identifications on the engine (usually the valve covers) would indicate the make of the car. A Hemi made its way into Dodges, Plymouth, Chrysler, De Soto, Imperial as an example. Yes GM had specific engines. 

Q- Cadillac had Cadillac engines...

A- Yes, a Cadillac had a Cadillac engine not available in any of the other GM brands, and so on. Not only engines, even transmissions...Cadillac and Oldsmobile had Hydra Matics, Buick had Dynaflow, Chevrolet had Powerglides. 

Q- The early days of automatic transmissions they were branded. 

A- It was a big thing...the transmissions were branded with names, Hydra Matic, Torque Flite, Dynaflow, Powerglide, and so on...

Q- The more expensive the car, the better the engine?

A- That was the marketing message for having specific engines, and yes it was assumed that a Cadillac engine, was a better engine than a Chevrolet.

Q- The early days of hot rodding / performance were based on engines from expensive cars.

A- Sort of...the Ford Flathead since it was readily available was the hot rodding work horse, then it was Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Hemis...we are talking the early days of hot rodding in the early 1950's.

Q- Why was that?

A- Those engines usually had more and better metal where it counted.

Q- You mean better crankshafts, and connecting rods (forged), more metal around the cylinder bores, and so on.

A- Precisely...big, robust, motors that could endure some high performance use.

Q- How about configuration and displacement.

A- They were all V8's...lesser cars has inline 6 cylinders. As for displacement, the early Cadillac V8's were 331 cubic inches, big for the time, small for later years, and big by today's standards.

Q- For hot rodding...where did these engines come from?

A- Where do you think...scrap yards, accidented cars, 

Q- The cars with these engines were not as widespread as lets say a Chevrolet with and inline 6.

A- probably had to do an amount of scrounging various junk yards, and put out the word, and perhaps even an amount to secure an engine at some point and time. Not as easy as ordering a crate engine today.





More Thoughts on Engines

1.4L EcotecAlmost 3 years ago we shared our Thoughts on Engines which at the time (earlier days of social media) generated an interesting discussion and comments.

During that times we also mentioned that we were experiencing the golden age of horsepower enabled by technology. We did our own quest for 600 HP, it was an interesting experience...don't even ask how much it cost.

We are firm believers that a true gearhead must own and enjoy a car with a 12 cylinder engine at least once in their lifetime...being the gearheads that we are, we had a naturally aspirated and tweaked 12 cylinder, and then a twin turbo and tweaked 12 cylinder. 

We are also firm believers that you need serious quantities of gasoline to make serious horsepower, and always find it interesting to read that such a vehicle with a good level of horsepower for some reason has poor fuel economy. No kidding...what else is new!

Our thoughts on engines have not changed, although they have evolved. In 2012 a 12 cylinder engine is still very desirable, although somewhat useless in a commuter application. The infectious quality of a 12 cylinder is that it starts to get going when other engines start to run out of breath. 

For all around vehicles our affinity for a turbocharged 4 cylinder has increased, lets repeat this...yes a turbocharged 4 cylinder. Especially one that is well matched with the correct algorithm to at least a 6 speed automatic transmission. 

Yes we will take an hybrid before a diesel...yes electric power captivates us more than diesel power.

To energise our passion...a V8 with a 6 speed manual transmission, and a clutch pedal will work every time. 





What lies ahead...