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Update January 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update Saturday, January 20, 2018 - January 26, 2018

Pump with no water

Pump with no water.

The water supply to my pump failed and without water couldn’t put itself out! Result? A small electrical fire which could have set fire to the house. Answer, insurance! Doesn’t put the fire out, but lessens the smoke damage to one’s wallet.

A Trent XWB Turbofan for F1?

Trent XWB Turbofan.

The Trent XWB turbofan engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce is designed to support the Airbus A350 jetliner; initially certified as the XWB-75 in February of 2013 by RR with a 74,200 lb-ft thrust rating (per engine), the latest variant, the XWB-97, makes 97,000 lb-ft of thrust per engine. The monstrous engines measure in at 228.8 inches of length–just a tad over 19 feet long from front to back – and over 50,000 horsepower. More impressively, the XWB’s $35-million-dollar price tag includes the latest innovations in material science and engineering techniques designed to provide superior performance in passenger aircraft.

Much like the automotive performance industry, the aircraft industry makes use of ceramic coatings, and the ones applied to the internal pieces of the XWB-97 allow 2,000-plus degree internal temperatures, which the company says minimizes emissions and maximizes fuel economy.

But perhaps the most impressive part of the XWB engine is the delicate assembly from start to finish with over 20,000 components, hundreds of nuts and bolts, and what appears to be miles of safety wire, the XWB is brought to life.

The mesmerizing process of assembling each engine is one that takes many hours to complete, a wide variety of complex and specialized tools, large cranes, and a massive manufacturing facility. Also not to be overlooked is the extremely specific training provided to the builders, and the massive facility required to bring these engines to life. The room needs to be spotless – all the time to provide the builders with the sterile environment they require to ensure the engines will perform as required, for millions of hours.

For the medical page?


I couldn’t let this one go after Barry Taylor an old drag racing friend in Australia sent it through to me. Ladies reading this week can skip to the next paragraph.

Lots of bits and pieces this week. The first fatal motor accident was in 1832 when the boiler exploded on a steam omnibus. Turned out that the stoker had wired the safety valve shut. Two years later another steam omnibus broke a wheel and turned over, bursting the boiler and five people were killed. This happened as the Turnpike Trustees put rocks on the road as a deliberate sabotage.

By the late 1840’s the steam coaches were becoming reliable. Francis Hill drove his steam coach from London to Hastings and return in 1840, a distance of 128 miles (170 km).

There is still dispute over who invented the internal combustion motor car, and Lenoir in France building a gas engine, with ability to vaporize petrol to be independent of gas supply. The builder admitted that it was very slow taking one and a half hours for a 10 km journey.

The next up to be considered to be the inventor of the petrol engine car was an Austrian, Siegfried Markus in 1873. He demonstrated his internal combustion engine at the Paris show in 1873. This was the second one built by him. This featured a four stroke engine and magneto-electric ignition. Markus did not carry on with his vehicle.

In Germany, Karl Benz was the first to sell horseless carriages built to a pattern. These had a four stroke gas engine with a surface petrol carburetor. In 1887 he sold one to Emil Roger and gave Roger the rights to make more of them. Who would have thought then, that we were on the brink of an industry that would change the world.

The biggest automaker at the turn of the century was De Dion Bouton et Cie. Between January 1900 and April 1901 they sold 1,500 voiturettes as well as tricycles, quadricycles and engines for other manufacturers, including Louis Renault.

The number of cars produced grew exponentially with the introduction of Henry Ford’s Model T. In 1909, 10,607 were built. By 1923 they sold 2,011,125 with assembly plants in Canada and the UK.

And pity the second daughter of Monsieur Jellinek. Her name was Maja, but her elder sister was called Mercedes. Maja did get a small recognition as the Canstatt Daimlers in Austria were named after her and not big sis.

Mow your lawn, Mister?

Just what is a Briggs and Stratton lawn mower doing on a car page? The oil crisis in the 70’s looked like bringing forth petrol misers, and in the USA, the government really started to panic. To get over this sort of problem, the government did what governments do all over the world – throw money at the problem and it will go away.

The generous handouts from Uncle Sam attracted the Briggs and Stratton who had ideas of a hybrid design, using their own two cylinder coupled with a battery engine.

Whilst this seemed new, it wasn’t really. In 1902 Dr Porsche produced the Lohner Porsche with four electric hub motors and a small internal combustion engine to charge the battery.

Briggs and Stratton had done this exercise before in 1920 but it didn’t take off. So here we were again in 1980, and fuelled with a chunk of government money they came up with a car called the Hybrid, long before Toyota.

This had 12 car batteries in the rear and the twin cylinder engine up front. Two rear axles were needed to support the weight of all the batteries, so it was a six-wheeler.

In the two cylinder mode, it would do 80 km/h. With both battery and petrol it could struggle to 110 km/h. However the batteries would go flat in 50 km and took all night to recharge.

It was described by Car and Driver magazine as “what you get when you mate a garden tractor with a golf cart.”

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I tried to be smart and get you to identify a car on display at the Pebble Beach concourse. You googled me! It was a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 GS coupe.

So to this week. A European lady designed the seating on a new car for her regal boyfriend. I want the royal, the lady and the body. Now that should keep your head down for a few hours.

For the free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected]

Update Saturday, January 13, 2018 - January 19, 2018

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Holiday Safety. Feel free to spread this warning throughout your friend data base. Please, take care of yourself out on the roads this holiday season. A recent joint study conducted by the Department of Health and the Department of Motor Vehicles indicates that 23 percent of traffic accidents are alcohol related.

This means that the remaining 77 percent are caused by people who drink bottled water, sip at Starbucks, or drink soda, juice, energy drinks, and stuff like that. Therefore, beware of those who don’t drink alcohol. They cause three times as many accidents. This message was sent to me by someone who worried about my safety.

Whilst that was sent to me for the purposes of mild amusement, it does show just how numbers can be manipulated. Is the glass half full or is it half empty?

It also draws attention to the world’s worst road toll yet again, a statistic Thailand should be ashamed of. As in previous years, alcohol is indicted in around 50 percent of the fatalities and motorcycles in 80 percent. It doesn’t need rocket science to see where the main thrust of effort is needed, but governments have managed to miss this fact year after year.

Are you a Mercury man?

Mercury Cougar.

In the US, automakers competed directly with each other in various niche markets, and even competing with itself. Take Ford and its Mustang, the first of the ‘pony’ cars, where three years after the Mustang Ford released its own Mercury Cougar.

Where the Mustang was considered a compact, the Cougar was a big car, and Ford regarded the Cougar as a bigger pony car. Amazingly, a niche.

With a choice of engines (4.7 liters through to 7 liters), a niche within a niche formed and the Cougar generated a strong following. The performance wasn’t all that brilliant, zero to 100 kph in 7.7 seconds and a top speed of 170 kph, about the same as today’s shopping trollies. But Cougar made a statement during its life (1967-1973) and still draws attention even today.

Locally, most of the 60’s – 70’s American iron were brought over by GI’s stationed at U-Tapao or Ubon Ratchathani and were left here when the US pulled out of the Vietnam contretemps.

There are a couple of Cougars in Pattaya, one a restoration in progress, and still has the original 351 engine, the Isuzu diesel being an engine found in many of the large Americans, but this one escaped.

The Great National Lottery scandal!

Achille Varzi.

Gentle reader, please do not immediately jump to the conclusion that there has been another attempt to alter the course of chance (or justice) in the Thai national lottery. Quite the contrary, the following tale is true and represents inspired thinking, incredible collusion and damned hard work to bring it all off. And it didn’t happen here.

At the outset, be aware that corruption has been all around us, and I’m not talking Thailand. I am talking motor sport. Le sport pure. And Grand Prix racing in particular. May I present the 1933 Grand Prix of Tripoli!

The Tripoli GP was a star spangled affair, proposed by Marshall Italo Balbo, the military governor and viceroy of Libya. For 1933 they decided to throw in a nationwide lottery which would be held in conjunction with the GP. The concept was simple. Twelve lucky punters would draw one of the names of the twelve drivers, and the winning driver and his ticket holder would share the prize money. Prize money - ah, how does the equivalent today of 860 million baht sound? It sounded then just like the large fortune that it is today and enough to get some of the greatest racing brains more than slightly revved up.

So the plot was hatched. Four of Italy’s best drivers, Nuvolari, Varzi, Campari and Borzacchini got together with the holder of the “Varzi” ticket and they agreed to pool their winnings and share the proceeds, after Varzi had won the event with their help.

Of course, there were eight drivers not “in the know” and any one of these could ruin the master plan. In the first few laps, that was just how it looked as Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin, stiff upper lip and all, roared into the lead in his Maserati.

Fortunately, the Englishman developed tyre trouble and after a botched pit stop rejoined well down. Unfortunately, Varzi also had tyre trouble and his pit stop took even longer. During the lengthy stop his engine temperature rose and when Varzi rejoined, the Bugatti was definitely off song.

Meanwhile, at the sharp end of the race there were the three Italian co-conspirators. On cue, Campari and Borzacchini developed tyre and mechanical problems and they dropped out, leaving Nuvolari in the lead.

Once again Birkin became a bother as he stormed through the field to get within 10 seconds of Nuvolari, by the half way mark, who was driving looking over his shoulder for the non-appearing Varzi!

Again luck was on their side as Birkin’s tyres said enough and the English threat was over. However, there was now another problem. No matter how slowly Nuvolari was driving, Varzi’s Bugatti could not catch it. With great creative thinking, Nuvolari began to make several unannounced pit stops, changing anything that was changeable on the Alfa Romeo. This became so frequent that one mechanic was heard to mutter, “We’ve rebuilt everything. If he comes in again it must be for a pee.”

Now while this managed to get Varzi back into the lead, the locals began to get restive. They could smell a rather large rodent. Race fixing was almost a national event in the camel racing stakes, after all they had been perfecting it for over 2000 years. There were more than mutterings from 90,000 enraged locals and 11 unhappy ticket holders.

Nuvolari then attempted a new ploy. He would break his Alfa Romeo. Unfortunately, that Alfa Romeo was made of stout stuff and refused to break, no matter what the little Mantuan tried to do to it and it looked as if Nuvolari was going to be forced to win.

Again fate smiled on the “Varzi” ticket holder, when his driver scorched into the pits, ripped off the air filter and the Bugatti sprang to life again. Simultaneously Nuvolari experienced genuine tyre problems and was forced to pit. When he rejoined, Varzi was in the lead and the two Italians put on a brilliant display of scripted choreographed racing, with Varzi getting to the chequered flag first. He declined his “lap of honor” and Nuvolari disappeared. But the race was not to end there.

There were numerous protests, probably ninety thousand and eleven, but history has not recorded that fact. After deliberations, the Club Royale degli Automobile di Libia cleared all four drivers of any wrong doing. Cynics noted that within a few weeks three of the five board members were driving new Lancias, the fourth a new Alfa while the fifth suddenly found the money to visit an aged uncle in Chicago.

The only real loser (other than the 11 remaining ticket holders) was in fact Marshall Balbo who died a war hero after being shot down by his own anti-aircraft gunners! Perhaps a fitting end?

So if you read in the future that Red Bull has protested about the size of Hamilton’s rear vision mirrors or something equally as fatuous, you can see just how petty we have become since 1933. Races were run and won with panache. And a fair bit of trickery to boot.

The tale of the Tripoli GP was written by the late Leo McAuliffe, a true enthusiast, who incidentally taught me to drive by making me go from rest to 3rd gear and back to rest without spilling any water from a paper cup sitting on the bonnet of his RME Riley. A classic British motor car, with many kept in enthusiasts garages these days. The bodywork was ash-framed and the engine was either a 1.5 or 2.5 liters. I wish I had one today.

Riley RM.

Autotrivia Quiz

In last week’s quiz I asked, what does XPEG mean to MG drivers? And what was the difference from XPAG? The answer was the T-Type MG engines began as 1250 cc (XPAG) in the MG TC’s, but in the later MG TF’s they were increased in capacity to 1500 cc (EXPEG).

So to this week. Each week I have to press the tired brain cells into action trying to beat human memory and Mr. Google’s electrotrickery. So let’s see if I can make it a little harder to Google. The quiz car this week was built in the 40’s, raced in the 50’s with five Le Mans starts, and had lightweight bodywork by Contamin. That should keep you guessing for a little while at least!

For the free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]

Update Saturday, Jan. 6 - Jan. 12, 2018

If you really want close racing

Speedway close racing.

Car enthusiasts have been moaning about the lack of excitement in Formula 1 these days. One of the reasons is the processional nature of the competition. A high speed procession indeed, but not exciting.

Recently I managed to get my son to show me how YouTube works and how to find a branch of competition which will get you on the edge of your seat. And no, it isn’t the British Touring Car series, which does give the viewer high speed processions, with biff and bash in between.

The competition is two wheeled speedway racing. Four laps shoulder to shoulder and if a rider nerfs another competitor, as the cause of the stoppage the rider is excluded from the next heat. None of these drive through penalties and steward’s decisions.

A little too much Americana with grid girls, but sheer excitement with each heat of around 60 seconds.

The bikes are 500cc, no brakes, no gears and riders with big cojones. Get on to YouTube and forget about the Prima Donnas of F1.

An electric Mog?

Morgan EV3.

The Morgan Car Company is probably the auto manufacturer most steeped in tradition in the UK. For example, the sliding pillar front suspension which was designed in 1919 is still being used today. The framework of the Morgan cars is still made out of wood! Likewise, the venerable three wheeled Morgan is still being built today. V twin petrol engine and all.

However, in an amazing step in the forward direction, Morgan has revealed the news that it is producing an EV, and even more radical, it will be a three wheeler!

The plug-in 3 Wheeler is called the Morgan EV3, with a 200-kilometre range, and it’s headed for production in 2018 after a two-year development program.

Although details of the showroom EV3 have just been announced in Britain, the Morgan 3 Wheeler will not go into production until next year.

“We’ll wait and see. At this stage it’s not scheduled for markets outside the UK,” says Morgan, “But it is shocking fun.”

The regular 3 Wheeler is powered by a Harley-Davidson style vee-twin engine that drives the rear wheel and it sells from A$103,900, with a range of dress-up items including World War II aircraft markings.

The EV3 is planned for production in the third-quarter of 2018 and, despite the traditional looks, it has been updated from the regular 3 Wheeler with everything from composite body panels to a 21 kilowatt-hour lithium battery and a liquid-cooled electric motor with up to 41.8 kilowatts of peak power.

The EV3 comes with claimed improvements to performance and handling over the usual 3 Wheeler, as well as fast-charging technology from Frazer-Nash Energy Systems.

But there is no detail on the pricing of the EV3 or the number that Morgan intends to build.

Natter, nosh and noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday January 8 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week’s quiz didn’t happen, as two different questions were printed on half the editions. My fault, rushing to make the deadline, used the question to be used this week.

So after a boot full of Mea Culpa’s, here we go for this week. What does XPEG mean to MG drivers? And what was the difference from XPAG?

For the free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected]

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Pump with no water

A Trent XWB Turbofan for F1?

For the medical page?

Mow your lawn, Mister?

Autotrivia Quiz

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Are you a Mercury man?

The Great National Lottery scandal!

Autotrivia Quiz

If you really want close racing

An electric Mog?

Natter, nosh and noggin

Autotrivia Quiz



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