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Millbrook GM European Proving Grounds

European Proving Grounds Millbrook is a 700 acre facility about 40 miles north of London with test tracks and testing facilities for aerospace, military, vehicle production, driver training (Aston Martin), and real-time online vehicle tracking. Here is link to the Millbrook website. Construction began in 1968 for a smaller version …

Auto Body Tems

Automotive Body Terms Every automotive professional has been challenged by their lack of knowledge regarding this particular terminology. Complications arise when the same parts and sub-assemblies are referred to with different names even if everyone speaks English. Furthermore, every automotive technical professional has been frustrated by their lack of knowledge …

Low Speed Vehicles – Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

  LSV Low Speed Vehicles and NEV Neighborhood Electric Vehicles represent a classification for a Federally approved street-legal vehicle that is speed limited to 25 mph.  This United States Department of Transportation [USDOT] legislation was put into effect by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard [FMVSS] 500 in 1998.  Simply put, NEV’s represent a …

Auto Battlefront 2011

Cruze, Focus & Elantra, The 2012 Models King Kong vs Godzilla vs Smog Monster — An epic battle is in the works for 2011 and it is definitely not some of my favorite from the classic 1950-1960’s sci-fi mega-characters. Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra are the three 2012 models that are on the …

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Racing “On The Beach” At Daytona

Where Did They Race On The Beach At Daytona Beach?

North Turn Restaurant SignBeach racing at Daytona Beach was the foundation that led to today’s Daytona International Raceway built by “Big Bill” France who organized NASCAR.

Original beach racing photos and movie coverage is captivating … assuming that you like that sort of history with all of the drivers and unique challenges associated with an earlier era of technology and safety issues.

North Turn Restaurant EntranceToday, if you want to go to the actual beach race course the best location is Racing’s North Turn Restaurant which is located at the point of the north turn along the beach.  Inside the restaurant are hundreds of photos and memorabilia.  Spending some time at Racing’s North Turn Restaurant is an opportunity to look back at history.

Automotive Memorabilia

Automotive Memorabilia

Pontiac ServiceChaos brings opportunity for automotive memorabilia.  With closing of thousands of dealerships there will be substantial memorabilia available t collectors.  Opportunities are significant for small to large items signage and logo items and absolutely new to very historic.

Everything that you can think of and much that you have never heard of or forgotten will be on the market.  Getting a mental grasp on the magnitude of this situation is not easy.  Every car enthusiast has seen the big signs out front and on the buildings.  Showroom decor, parts and service all have unique signage and logos.  Corporate branding and related or product_branded items.  The list is seemingly endless.

Dealership Pontac SignWhere Are The Opportunities

Dealerships that have closed or will closenear you are fair game.  Owners may be too busy to speak with you directly right now but eventually they, or their representative, will be ready to speak with a liquidator of assets.  If someone does not buy and remove the items then some great things ar going to the dump.  Unfortunately, a lot of great stuff will end up at the dump.  The dealership closing numbers are just too great to save a lot of great historical memorabilia.

When Are The Opportunities

Opportunities are going to be there for the collector over tenext few years, for today’s dealerships that are closing.  If there is an immediatete change then the items will be available for removal right now.   If it takes years to resolve issues then it may take years for an outcome.

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SAE – The “Society of Automotive Engineers”

A Universe of Automotive Societies

Automobile design, manufacturing, maintenance, and disposal historically account for about 4% of the Gross Domestic Product of the US.  Contemporary acknowledgement of the significance of the “Car Business” is well documented in a 2003 report to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.  Since the Car Business is such big business there are many very important professional societies involved with transportation.  This post will provide some relevant background that may be of interest to the Automotive Tribune reader so that you can consider beneficial or educational affiliation.

Society of Automotive Engineers – SAE

sae1SAE is the professional society for transportation engineers involved in space, aviation, highway, off-highway, and marine transportation.  SAE membership is around 80,000 worldwide from all of the disciplines and professions that are involved in automotives professionally.  Not all members of SAE are Engineers but all members are Professionals.  A good historical background is found on the SAE web site and here are a couple of significant paragraphs from that text.

In the early 1900s there were dozens of automobile manufacturers in the United States, and many more worldwide. Many of these manufacturers and automobile parts companies joined trade groups that met their needs for promoting business and raising public awareness of this new form of transportation. A need for patent protection, common technical design problems, and the development of engineering standards was quickly emerging, however, and many engineers in the automobile business expressed a desire to have “free exchange of ideas” in order to expand their individual technical knowledge base.

By 1916 the Society of Automobile Engineers membership had grown to 1,800. At the annual meeting that year representatives from the American Society of Aeronautic Engineers, the Society of Tractor Engineers, as well as representatives from the power boating industry made a pitch to SAE for oversight of technical standards in their industries. Aeronautics was a fledgling industry at that time, and few could have been expected to know the essential role it would take in world history in a very short time. Early supporters of the concept of a society to represent aeronautical engineers were Thomas Edison, Glenn Curtiss, Glenn Martin, and Orville Wright.

Out of that fateful meeting in 1916 came a new organization with new horizons. This was to be a new society representing engineers in all types of mobility-related professions. SAE member Elmer Sperry actually created the term “automotive” from Greek autos (self), and Latin motivus (of motion) origins to represent any form of self powered vehicle. The Society of Automobile Engineers became the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the most important chapter in the SAE saga was underway.

SAE International

 There is a great deal of activity in SAE and this post, in no way, addresses all of the educational activities to international relationships.  However, if you are interested in a professional level of interaction then spend some time researching the SAE Web Site.

Dynamic Environment = Environment + Vehicle + Driver

Dynamic Environment = Environment + Vehicle + Driver

The steering wheel  is for hands-on directional control of the vehicle and directional control is fundamentally determined by what happens with the steering wheel.  How you hold and control the steering wheel has a significant affect on vehicle control and ride quality.  Low speed maneuvers require a totally different steering technique than vehicle maneuvers at extreme speed.

Roadway Environment – Where You Drive – AASHTO and MUTCD

Driving the vehicle is a complex set of ever evolving issues.  Travelling on an open freeway is very different than driving on a congested inner-city street or urban highway.  Highway Planners are concerned with the Civil Engineering associated with roadway design including traffic flow, physical environmental appearance, water drainage, sight lines, physical contour of elevation, and every other physical aspect of the roadway.  After the roadway is built then it must be maintained.  If you are interested in the foundation of roadways then research the links to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials or  AASHTO and Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or MUTCD.

Vehicle – What You Drive

Every vehicle has some common characteristics and some unique traits.  For new cars and trucks there is a general dynamic to how they drive.  Two similar vehicles equipped in the same manner would be expected to drive in similar ways.  Two similar vehicles equipped in a different manner would be expected to drive in different ways.

To illustrate some basic differences here is a good example with two trucks sitting side-by-side, one is a basic plain-vanilla 1/2 ton the average person might have.  The second could be a fully equipped heavy-haul 3/4 ton.  No-load operation in the 3/4 is very solid.  Load the 1/2 like the 3/4 and driving stability is compromised and the suspension could break.

Two real world examples come to mind to illustrate this difference.  One was a 1/2 ton pickup with a total of eight (8)  workers on-board pulling a trailer with their equipment.  The pickup had a loss of control and overturned in a pavement resurfacing area on the interstate after traversing a linear 1″ pavement elevation.  Simply put the truck was overloaded.

A second example is the basic 1/2 ton fitted with multiple optional load devices to permit the truck to pull a heavy travel trailer.  This truck was – suspension wise – turned into a vehicle that could deal with a very heavy load.  Inspection of the truck after the crash revealed that a rear axle had snapped at the axle flange.  Simply put, there is a difference in load capacity of the suspension systems.

Dynamic Driving = Environment + Vehicle + Driver = Where you drive, what you drive and how you drive

As the driver you have to operate the vehicle safely in the driving environment.  To say that it is imperative to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times is fundamental and the Shuffle Technique can be used for general steering wheel movement.  Attention to what is going on with the vehicle ad the environment will prepare you what is coming up such as this example from the High Performance Driver Training Program:

after the classroom time, we took them on the 10 cent tour.  After taking the students through the various activities and heading back to our facility at about 60 mph the instructor would illustrate how to perform a set of controlled back-to-back 180 degree turns of the car.  After experiencing a set of driving maneuvers that they had never been through the students would conclude that the fellow behind the wheel knew something that they did not.

Attention to the vehicle and environment established a good foundation for safe driving.  Hands on the wheel and a focus on what is coming up down the road, provides a basis for you to cope with unexpected hazards.  Every roadway and every car have problems and limits.  Adding in the unexpected can bring excitement and terror such as a child running out between parked cars on a city street, or dog running out on a country road, or cresting a small incline and seeing a stopped car on the road, or seeing a steel part right in your tire travel path on the interstate.

If you have pushed the car to its limit and you have experienced a total loss of control then you have reached a terror point where you are totally along for the ride.  Outside of a proper training area, experiencing a total loss of control can be a very bad event.  In a proper training area the Skid Pad is used to gain comfort with a total loss of control and learn how to regain control after a loss of control.  Terror can be replaced with knowledge.

Maintaining optimal control is the mark of a great driver.  This is the real fun and success of successful driving.

Revenge Of The Electric Car

June 13, 2009 Auto Manufacturer Comments Off on Revenge Of The Electric Car

A New Electric Car Film, Information & Technical Updates

EV1 at the Henry Ford Museum

EV1 at the Henry Ford Museum

Much is happening on the electric car front.  The Chevy Volt final design has been finalized and GM is moving to have the car in dealerships in 2010.  Chevrolet has permitted a few journalists to drive the Volt and the reviews are all very positive.  There will be much more hype over this car as it comes to production.  However, the good thing is that this car appears to be carefully engineered and provides good driving and performance characteristics as addressed in Chelsea Sextons Road Test.  Much depends on the success of the Volt for mainstream electric cars.  It is clear that GM Current Product Engineering will be very involved with the Volt. 

Revenge Of The Electric Car

Who Killed The Electric Car DVD CoverChris Payne and P.G. Morgan were Director and Producer of Who Killed The Electric Car? and have teamed up for a new film Revenge Of The Electric Car which will debut in 2010.  A web site and blog have been setup to chronicle developments associated with the film and related technologies.  An intertesting and informative road test article on the Chevy Volt has been prepared by Chelsea Sexton.

2010 GM Volt Update

LG Chem of Korea got the contract to provide lithium-ion batteries for the Volt.  GM will incorporate the batteries into  their proprietary battery pack design and software control so that they will be able to manage continued battery development and provide the battery packs to other customers.

Nano Engineered Batteries

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to see a presentation about nano-engineered battery developments.  To say that nano engineering is a hot topic is an understatement.  In a fundamental way a base definition for nano engineering a battery would be to increase the energy density of the battery. 

Asking an automotive battery pack quesitons went like this: if an electric car battery pack weighing 1,000 lb were to be replaced by a nano-engineered battery what would the weight of the nano-engineered battery be?  Answer — 10 lb.

One thing is for sure, if the nano-engineered battery is anywhere close on performance and packaging then the entirety of the electric car will be light weight and spectacular.  Basically the car would represent a rolling chassis with minimum weight for the powertrain.  Such a real-world vehicle could have a curb weight of around 2,000 lb.

A Visit To The Closed Bill Heard Chevrolet Orlando

A Visit To Bill Heard In Orlando

hill-heard-i-4-signimg_0636-mediumSeveral days ago I had the opportunity to stop at the Bill Heard Chevrolet dealership in Orlando and take some photos for the Tribune.  Taking a look around the Bill Heard property in some ways is like visiting a grave sight after everyone has left and before the casket is lowered into the ground.  In this massive location I found everything to be totally quiet.  Looking around and seeing the totally quiet facility easily produced mental images of the greatness that had occurred in this Cathedral to Mr. Big Deal.

One Big Facility

bill-heard-orlando-google-earth_bBig signs, big buildings, big showrooms, big parts area, big service area, an administrative complex and other structures surrounded by acres of parking for new and used vehicles.  This is one absolutely huge place.

Life After People

Parts and Service

The facility looks like the doors were shut and the gates chained and nothing else has happened in the months after collapse of the Bill Heard empire.  Things take on the appearance of a sci-fi film about life after people.  Birds chirp and the wind blows.  There are no cars and no people.

Life With People

Used car salesNew car delivery area "Delivery Parking Only" signsLooking at the various structures on the property it became clear that in better times this was a massive economic and social engine.  Huge numbers of customers and employees were here every day.  Parts, service, sales, vendors, tool trucks, car shows, kids, adults, seniors, business leaders, community leaders, and the list could continue on-and-on; this place was a city of commerce and historical significance.  Bill Heard Chevrolet in Orlando is that big and it was that significant.

Photos in the article provide a general feel for the facility.  Additional photos are posted in the Gallery.

Random Photos From Automotive Tribune Site

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Richard Kubis Explains Solar Thermal Hybrid Automobile