I have been a motor racing fan since I was a boy. While some kids played football I was making rally stages in mother’s flower beds for my toy cars. Father took me to the VSCC meetings at Silverstone from an early age and from then on I’ve always liked being in motor racing paddocks. Like most at that age I devoured motor racing magazines and would not miss a Grand Prix or the RAC rally on the telly. Remember this was a time when the general public knew there were other forms of racing other than Formula 1. I’ve always had 4 circuits I want to visit. Spa Francorchamps, (more of that another time). LeMans, Monaco and the Indianapolis Raceway. The Company I work for has its Corporate base in Columbus, Indiana which is approximately 50 miles North of Indianapolis. Last year I had to visit there in May including a weekend stopover during the 500 qualifying weekend. Result!! The Indy 500 meeting is a month long event in Indianapolis. Early on the Saturday morning I was out of the hotel, into the hire car with Sat Nav instructed to get me to the circuit. The residents of Kirkby Mallory and the surrounding villages near Mallory Park need to take a leaf out the American’s book. As you arrive in Down town Indy you are met with sight of huge stands that tell you have arrived. The local residents who live literally across the road TOTALLY embrace the event. They throw street parties, offer parking on their drives or lawns for 5 or 10 dollars a day. To help sell the spaces on her father’s drive a six year old had dressed as Minnie Mouse and held a sign to create differentiation. Obviously that’s where I parked. As you get out of the car. Rock music is broadcasting from the Stadium creating an atmosphere you only see in America. At Mallory their up in arms if a mini has got the wrong exhaust fitted. To my shame I have always been dismissive of oval racing. Never again. As I walked into the circuit I saw the famous start and finish straight and watched a 16 The MVPS Bulletin March 2014 Solitary car fly down the main straight and just turn into turn 1. Throughout the whole of the week-end I did not get used to corner speeds. Phenomenal!!. It requires huge talent and courage Qualifying is not recorded in lap time like in F1 but is the average speed achieved over 4 laps. Here’s some stats. The speed achieved for Pole was 229.7 mph! (average lap speed). 4 cars only achieved speeds of just below 224 mph and had to re-qualify on the Sunday morning. Imagine 223 mph being too slow! It was qualifying so the stands weren’t full but the atmosphere was still amazing. Very American. Fantastically organised. Lots of whooping and hollering as cars achieved near pole times, brass bands, complete respect for the National Anthem. And lunch was a smoked Turkey Leg for $ 8.00. Brilliant! Sunday is bump day. This where all qualifying is complete so the teams have all day to change car set up for race conditions. (dirty air) An informal agreement ensures all the cars practise at the same time. So I got a feel for what Raceday is like. I sat on turn 4 as 30 cars exited the bend onto the home straight at 200+ mph. Amazing. They also celebrate their veterans on the same day and entry is free to serving military men and women Anyone who has been to the States knows a Brit is not on their own for long and I had a great time with some die hard US race fans Will I go again? No doubt. I have to see that Raceway when it’s full of 400,000 Americans celebrating who they are. I’m 50 in 2 years and it will be the 100th Indy 500. It’s a no brainer!
Boiling or Freezing
“ETHER WAY” a simple repair.
The temperature gauge fitted to the early cars uses a capillary tube principal to register the temperature of the water in the cars cooling system. This tube which runs from the dash mounted gauge to the radiator header tank can become damaged and fracture, thus rendering the gauge inoperative.
If your gauge is not working the following may be of help, firstly examine the capillary tube for damage, breaking or kinking. If damage is found and the tube fractured then the operating medium, Ether, will have escaped. You can repair it, it’s a simple operation, but requires great care, Ether is highly inflammable and requires respect, even in small quantities.
Firstly remove gauge and all its attached bits from the car, this will give you a dash gauge, the pipe and the capillary bulb. Unsolder the pipe from the gauge using extreme caution so as not to damage the gauge. The safest way is to use a good old fashioned copper bit soldering iron, heat it up over a camping gas stove and apply heat to the gauge union and the pipe will/should come away. If the tube is damaged or split it will need replacing or repairing.
Once the tube is in good repair we are ready to start refurbishment, you will need:-
Ether, obtainable from a pharmacy or chemist. A glass jam jar or similar for the Ether. A glass jam jar, filled with water and ice cubes. Soldering iron, large old fashioned copper tip. Old sauce pan filled with water.
Tin the end of the tube with solder as a preparation to re assembly.
Place the glass jam jar with ice cubes in the freezer over night, in the morning fill the jar with water and place back in the freezer, intention is to get the water as cold as possible without freezing solid.
The old saucepan is filled with water, placed on kitchen stove and brought to the boil, ready for transfer to the garage.
Now for the bit which needs very careful handling and safety is paramount, the Ether, this is very inflammable, so KEEP IT AWAY FROM NAKED FLAMES, etc.
Put a small amount of Ether into the jam jar, to give about 1”-2” fluid height.
Place the open (gauge) end of the capillary tube into the Ether and the bulb end into the boiling water. The heat will expand the air and push it out of the tube, look for bubbles in the Ether.
When the bubbles stop, take the bulb end from the hot water and put it quickly into the iced, freezing water, still keeping the open tube end submerged in the Ether.
The cold will now cause the air to contract sucking the Ether up the tube and into the bulb, (We Hope). Give it a minute or so. Take the tube out of the Ether and re-locate it into the back of the gauge and solder into place using the pre-heated iron.
Do not on any account use a blow torch, you will risk damaging the gauge and yourself if/when the ether ignites.
Place the bulb back in the boiling water, gauge should register movement and can be checked against a standard thermometer placed in the water, take the bulb out and place it in the iced water and it should drop down. Once again check with a thermometer. If it’s not registering correctly there is still air in the system and you will have to have another go.
This then is my layman’s way of attempting a low cost repair, tried and tested on previous 1930’s cars.
Please remember ETHER is very volatile, and also a very effective anaesthetic………
No, this is nothing to do with swapping big shoes with your friends in the 1970s (though I would love to see the photos :-)
This is actually an article inspired by the fun quiz, which Paul put in last month’s Bulletin, about different cars sharing the same underpinnings. I really enjoyed that quiz, as I am a bit of a car nerd and like to test my knowledge. Thanks for putting it in Paul and please keep the questions coming but, I am afraid that, I must out-nerd you on question one. The Jaguar S-type was not actually on the same underpinnings as the Ford Scorpio, though it was on a shared Ford platform. It was on astructure called DEW98 which stood for D/E sized (where a Fiesta is a B car, a Focus a C car and so on up the alphabet) and Worldwide. This was co-developed by Ford and Jaguar and was used under both the S-type and the, US only, Lincoln LS. The Ford of Europe Granada/Scorpio has a much lower tech chassis (basically a stretched Sierra), comprising of simple MacPherson strut front and semi-trailing arm rear suspension. This would never do for the thrusting middle exec saloon market that the S-type was aiming for. DEW98 had a far more sophisticated double wishbone front and multi-link rear setup Ford front Strut suspension DEW98 front double wishbone suspension
Apologies for jumping straight into some techy details but that is kind of what drives platform sharing. Different classes of cars have different needs but one thing that they all have in common is the high cost and long lead-time needed to develop a new platform. Car makers are therefore keen to get the most out of any new platform development. They either do this by keeping the platform for more than one generation of product or by making multiple products from the same platform, like the Jag and the Lincoln. In fact DEW98 survives today underneath the Jaguar XF, so they are really getting their money’s worth. It will finally be replaced later this year by an all aluminium replacement.
As Paul mentioned last month, the smaller X-type Jaguar was also on a shared platform, which it took from the first Ford Mondeo. In this case the motoring press liked to blame the relative lack of success of the X-type on this borrowing of a lowly Ford platform. I say that this is male bovine droppings. The general car buyer neither knows nor cares where the platform under their car came from. The X-type failed to meet its sales targets for a far more fundamental reason than that. It looked old fashioned! It was trying to target a new generation of cool and thrusting customers, but why would these young and upwardly annoying types buy a car which looks like they had just started retirement? The people who typically bought the car were already Jaguar customers who were happy to downsize into a smaller car, now that their nest was empty. This is not good business. The X-type failed because it was the wrong product, not because of its shared platform. Don't believe me? Well how about this platform sharing fact which I have yet to see written about in the press. The ultra cool, modern, sales success that is the Range Rover Evoque is also on a shared platform. The press tell you that it is based on the Land Rover Freelander. This is true. The bit they don't mention is what platform it shared. Freelander was on the Ford EUCD platform (European C/D segment) which underpinned a couple of Volvos and, you've guessed it, the last - about to be replaced - Ford Mondeo. This does not ever figure in the minds of the trendy urbanite buyers for the Evoque.
There are tens of examples of platform sharing and as legal requirements and customer demands drive ever safer and more complex/capable cars the more the car companies will proliferate models on a given platform to maximize their potential to make a return on that investment. This drives more choice at lower cost for the customers. Indeed, Jo's Dodge Durrango SUV is actually a Mercedes GL underneath giving all the sophistication of the best European tech but at about half the purchase price of the Merc.
Platform sharing is all good with me then, as long as I don't have to wear Phil's shoes.
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