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"The Relay" Online Newsletter
February 2020 Issue

This is the monthly online newsletter for the car club council. All car hobbyist events are listed on this site under "Calendar." Just click on the link above to view the list of car shows and other activities.

President's Message

It was Greek philosopher Heraclitus (535 – 475 BC) who said “The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”. That is still true today. Hanlon Plating has closed. I as well as many other area car hobbyists have used their chrome plating service for many years. The business was started by Les Hanlon in 1975 and was operated by his two sons Tom and Jeff Hanlon. Chrome shops have come under careful scrutiny by the EPA over the last several years. New regulations as well as the lack of chrome on late model vehicles hurt the business. They Hanlons got a great offer on the property and sold it. If you have been to that part of Richmond lately you will notice all the new building. The economy is doing well which means more construction and building. There are still a couple of chrome shops open in Virginia - one near Fredericksburg and another in Norfolk. It won't be long before all plating is done overseas.

We've seen a big change at the General Assembly. The democrats have complete control of the state government and have made rule changes to the Assembly and are pursuing their agenda. The governor's proposed budget is 20% greater than the previous state budget. This is a really BIG increase and a sign of what it going to happen to the state - more spending, more taxation. I invite every citizen of Virginia to go to LIS (Legislative Information System) and look through all the bills and resolutions. You should know what those who represent you want to do. Here is a link to LIS: lis.virginia.gov - click on Bills & Resolutions: Status of individual bills and related information and take a look at all of them - all 40 (!) pages of them. I know you will find several of them very interesting and some that may affect the things that you do.

This is February so you can begin sending in the spring/summer/fall cruise-ins to be posted in the calendar. This is the BEST car hobbyist event calendar in the state. It is free to post and gets a lot of hits.

We are moving forward with the car show and council 25th anniversary on May 16. We even have some registrations for the event at this early date. The council volunteers and Pamplin Park are going to do everything possible to make this a great event. Let's keep hoping that 2020 will be a very good year.

~ Fred

Dues Were Due in January

If your club has not paid the dues please do so and I have sent invitations to several clubs that are not members asking them to join. Please have your club or organization send a check for $10 for the council dues. Make the check out to CCCCVA and mail to Fred Fann, 15628 Rowlett Road, Chesterfield, VA 23838. If you have any question about the dues or if you'd like to find out if you club has paid them email fredfann@comcast.net. Thanks for being a member!

Next Meeting

Our next meeting will be Monday, April 27th at 6:30 PM at a location to be announced in the April newsletter.

Car Hobbyist News

Keep in mind while you read this that the General Assembly session is ongoing and bills can be amended and changed. Plus most of the bills that have been introduced have not been heard in committee yet. January 17 was the last day to introduce new bills so it appears we may have dodged the TCI. The governor has signed Virginia up for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). A bill for TCI has not been introduced and since TCI would create a tax on gasoline and diesel the legislature must act on it. The governor cannot add a 10 to 17 cents a gallon tax with an executive order. That TCI tax would be used for bike paths, electric car tax rebates and public transportation – things that can be paid for with the general fund. In fact the governor’s proposed budget is a whopping 20% higher than the previous state budget. Of the eleven original states committed to TCI, New Hampshire has already withdrawn from the compact and there have been published reports of concerns being raised in Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Massachusetts is already contemplating a Plan B where it would cooperate only with California, its Northeastern coalition falling apart. And it should fall apart. In Virginia we need over $12 billion to upgrade poor condition roads and bridges to fair condition so any gas tax needs to go to infrastructure. There are two gas taxes being considered by the Assembly. One is the 4 cents a gallon in the governor’s budget that would go to 8 cents in a year and then 12 cents the following year after which the rate would be indexed to inflation. There are a couple of bills that would create a regional gas tax of 7.6 cents per gallon - which means gas prices could increase by 12 cents a gallon in July. Also in the governor’s budget is ending vehicle inspections and cutting vehicle registration fee by half.

There are bills that would require everyone – even back seat passengers – to wear seat belts, several bills to make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving, a bill to require seat belts on school buses, a few special plate bills, a couple of bills to alter reckless driving from 80 to 85mph, and plenty of transportation bills. See all the transportation bills on the VAACC website at vaacc.org/legis1.html

There are a couple of bills that are of interest to car hobbyists. The first one is HB 616 Motor vehicles; when headlights to be lighted - requires every vehicle in operation to display lighted headlights. Yes, you read that right – lights on 24/7. A few years ago a bill like this didn’t make it out of committee. Hopefully this nonsense will also not make it out of committee. No state in the US has a law requiring headlights to be on 24/7. There are a few countries near the North Pole where this is required because of the lighting conditions near the pole.

The second bill of concern is HB 344 Exhaust system; aftermarket exhausts - authorizes the use of aftermarket exhaust systems in motor vehicles, provided that such system is appropriate for the motor vehicle and prevents a level of noise above the accepted industry standard. The bill requires the Department of State Police to enact and maintain regulations setting an industry standard noise level for exhaust systems. I don’t think the State Police want to come up with an “industry standard noise level”. SEMA has come up with a decibel standard and a test for vehicles with aftermarket exhausts. A couple of states like California made it the law but have now gotten rid of it because it’s just too much trouble to test vehicles. A few years ago SEMA got a bill introduced in Virginia’s Assembly and it failed to make it out of committee. One member of the House told me that they couldn’t afford decibel meters for every police car in the state.

One final note – I wrote about the RGGI program last month. There is a bill to create it: HB 1152 Carbon dioxide cap and trade program; establishes program, etc. - Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative; Energy Efficiency Fund. This bill would put another tax on your electric bill to fight climate change. The problem is this will do little to cut greenhouse gases while raising tax dollars. I’ve seen estimates of a 10% tax. In fact things are quite a bit different at the General Assembly this year. The democrats have made some major rule changes and are pursuing their legislative agenda. Next month we will discuss what bills passed in transportation and what the final gasoline tax will be.

2020 VA Hot Rod & Custom Car Show
2020 VA Hot Rod & Custom Car Show - click to see all the photos

The Briefs

In 2018, the top five best selling passenger vehicle brands in the USA were Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, Honda and Nissan. Which brand was number six? Jeep (Interestingly, FCA sold twice as many Jeeps than Dodges.

Tesla is producing its Model 3 electric vehicles at a rate of 28 per hour at its new Shanghai plant, or more than 1,000 per week given 10 hours on shift each day, according to a report from the Global Times. The plant was built and began vehicle assembly in just under a year.

In Jefferson County, Colorado, would-be car thief Todd Sheldon, 36, has finally admitted it's just not the vocation for him, according to police. Fox News reported Sheldon had tried over recent weeks to steal multiple vehicles, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, but each time he was caught in the act -- first by a homeowner, then by sheriff's deputies minutes later "just down the street," shocking the deputies by telling them, "I'm trying to steal this truck." He was taken into custody and bonded out, but a week later, deputies responding to a report of someone trying to break into a car again found Sheldon. "I really suck at this," Sheldon allegedly told an officer. Sheldon remained in jail as of Dec. 27.

Sandra Smith, 59, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was cited for careless driving on Dec. 29, after crashing her 1994 Oldsmobile Cutlass into a mausoleum at the Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery, damaging the facades of three above-ground graves, WFLA reported. Florida Highway Patrol troopers said Smith was driving in a grass lot at the cemetery when she "failed to avoid a mausoleum on the property." Her passenger, 63-year-old Betty Strickland, went to the hospital with critical injuries.

Two workers with the Chicago Park District were spreading salt on an icy lakefront bike path on Dec. 11 when their pickup truck hit a slick spot and slipped into Lake Michigan, the Associated Press reported. It was halfway into the water before it got stuck on a breakwall. The workers were able to escape the truck and move to the shore uninjured. Park District spokesperson Michelle Lemons reminded Chicago residents that the path slopes toward the water and lake levels are high. "It might not look like it's dangerous, but it could still be a sheet of glass," she said.

Virginia Saavedra, 37, ran to a home in Sophia, North Carolina, on Dec. 11, telling the resident she had just escaped being kidnapped by a stranger. When the man let her sit in his truck to warm up while he called 911, Saavedra allegedly stole the truck, according to the Randolph County Sheriff's Office. Officers responding to the 911 call spotted the truck and engaged in a 26-mile high-speed chase before trapping the truck. The Associated Press reported Saavedra then rammed a patrol car before trying to flee on foot. She was eventually charged with more than a dozen crimes, including felony assault with a deadly weapon on a government official.

A driver in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England, caused an "enormous bang," according to witnesses, on Dec. 14 when he lighted a cigarette in his closed car after spraying air freshener. Nearby buildings shook from the impact, and the car's windshield was blown out, along with windows of nearby businesses, the Manchester Evening News reported. The driver sustained only minor injuries. West Yorkshire Police said the situation could have been worse and implored people to open their windows when using aerosol cans and open flames.

A manhunt is underway for a Milwaukee driver who allegedly shot two children after they threw snowballs at passing vehicles. The Milwaukee Police Department said they responded to a shooting on the 6100 Block of West Birch St around 7:50 p.m., where they found a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy suffering from non-life threatening gunshot wounds. Officers applied first aid to the victims who are being treated at an area hospital. A manhunt is underway for the driver of a white Toyota, who left the scene of the crime, according to police.

Prosecutors in northern Minnesota accused a man of fatally shooting a woman who yelled at him to hurry up and honked her horn while waiting for him outside his home. Angelo Borreson, 56, was charged Friday with second-degree murder and second-degree assault in the death of 51-year-old Angela Wynne. Borreson told authorities Wynne drove to his home near Badger on Wednesday morning to help him get gas for his vehicle. According to the complaint, Wynne arrived before Borreson was ready to leave and started yelling at him to hurry while honking her horn. Borreson told authorities that he accidentally shot Wynne multiple times. He said he did not mean for his shotgun to fire, the complaint said. He then called 911.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that General Motors will dust off the Hummer name and use it for an all-electric pickup to be sold under the GMC brand, confirming rumors that GM would soon join the electric pickup game.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated Ford v Ferrari for Best Picture of 2019. Surprisingly, for a movie nominated for best picture, the film about Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles taking on both Ford and Ferrari to win at Le Mans in 1966 received no nominations for acting. Though Matt Damon and Christian Bale made their characters believable, it was Tracy Letts’ characterization of Henry Ford II, which gave the industrialist a human side, that initially garnered speculation about a Best Supporting Actor nod. Ray McKinnon’s portrayal of Shelby American’s technical wizard Phil Remington was also very good.

The new mid-engine C8 Corvette proved to be too alluring for a pair of GM employees, who were busted by police for street racing two Stingray test vehicles near the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. According to Kentucky television station WNKY, a Kentucky State Police trooper stopped Alexander Thim and Mark Derkatz on January 8 for exceeding the posted speed limit, reckless driving, and racing motor vehicles on a public road. Thim was caught driving one Corvette at 120 mph and Derkatz at 100 mph in a 45-mph zone. Both men were released on a $1000 bond.

Dash Tools For All Vintage Vehicles

The dash tools that I manufacture will perform a variety of operations. In general, they are manufactured for each specific vehicle, although they may work on similar vehicle. The basic tool will remove the decorative bezels and retaining nuts on the head light and windshield wiper switches. In addition to the basic tool there are attachments that will bolt to the wiper end of each tool that will remove the ignition bezel on that particular vehicle (unless the ignition bezel is not a screw on style) as well as other bezels and retaining nuts found on the vehicle such as remote mirror, courtesy lights, A/C switches and others. In general, each attachment will have a bolt that is affixed to it that cannot be lost. Each tool will come with instructions.

Special Offer:
If you are planning a full or partial restoration to you dash components and I don’t have the tool described above in stock I will manufacture it and send it to you for free. That way I will have that tool that has been tested to offer to other customers. Just send me the old bezels and retaining nuts (they will be returned) to obtain the correct dimensions to make sure the tool works correctly the first time. I will cover the cost of the tool and shipping to you.

Current Available Tools

Chevrolet
58-67 Corvette, 62-64 Nova, 64-66 Chevelle, 67-68 Camaro, 61-63 Impala
60-64 Corvair, 65-67 Corvair, 60-66 Chevy/GMC Trucks

Ford
73-79 Ford truck, 78-79 Ford Bronco, 69-70 Mustang

Mercury
67-68 Cougar

Along with the basic tool, ignition bezel adapters are available for each tool

Prices for the basic tools range from $20.00 to $30.00 with most ignition bezel adapters priced at $25.00 Contact me for prices on other adapters that may be used with the basic tool such as but not limited to remote mirror, courtesy light, A/C and other components. I also offer standard and CNC machining capabilities for any other restoration repairs that you may require during your restoration on parts that cannot be easily purchased elsewhere.

Thank You
Russell Davis
Blue Chip Tools
bluechipmach.rd@gmail.com
(757) 642-0665

Polar Bear Run 21
Polar Bear Run 21 - click to see all the photos

Chesterfield County to Participate in Electric Bus Program

From the Village News:
Chesterfield County’s fleet of school buses is getting a jolt from one of the country’s largest electric utilities.

Dominion Energy is preparing to deliver two electric school buses to the county by the end of the year as part of the company’s Electric School Bus Program.

This the first time Chesterfield County will be adding electric school buses to its fleet of over 630 buses.

The Electric School Bus Program aims to reduce emissions and operation and maintenance costs, and it will allow Chesterfield County to expand its footprint as a “green fleet leader,” reads a press release.

“I’m very excited Chesterfield was chosen,” said Dr. Joe Casey, Chesterfield County Administrator. “Dominion has always been a great business partner, and this innovative program fits right into the county’s goal of being good stewards of the environment while making sound financial decisions.”

Aside from reducing maintenance costs and emissions, the new buses’ batteries will be able to store and inject electric energy into the local power grid during periods of high demand when the buses are not in transport.

“We are excited to be included in this initial phase of Dominion’s program,” said Craig Willingham, fleet manager for the Department of General Services, Fleet Services Division. “Chesterfield County is already recognized as one of the top green fleets in the nation. By entering the electric bus space, we can monitor the success we anticipate with these buses in addition to our existing alternative-fueled vehicles.”

“The potential cost savings and environmental benefits to the community are impressive,” Willingham said. “We’re pleased to be partners with Chesterfield County Public Schools in this endeavor.”

Chesterfield County Public Schools is the fifth-largest school system in the state, educating more than 62,000 students countywide. An average of 45,000 students a day rely on the school division’s fleet of buses to carry them safely to and from their respective campuses. It also transports thousands of children to field trips and sporting events throughout the region and state.

Last year alone, the county’s fleet of school buses logged more than 9 million miles.

“We are grateful to be a part of this historic opportunity,” Chesterfield County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty said. “Partnering with Dominion Energy on this exciting initiative is in line with our efforts to be the most effective and [energy] efficient school division that we can be.”

Dominion’s initial launch to deploy electric buses in Chesterfield County is part of the firm’s overall plan to bring electric school buses to its operating regions.

If approved by state legislators, Dominion hopes to expand the program to bring nearly 1,000 additional electric school buses online by 2025, with the goal being to replace 100 percent of the state’s fleet of diesel-powered school buses – including in Chesterfield County – by 2030.

“We are excited to move forward with our commitment to bringing the benefits of electric school buses to the customers and communities we serve,” said Dominion Energy chairman, president, and CEO Thomas F. Farrell II. “This is an innovative, sustainable solution that will help the environment, protect children’s health, make the electric grid stronger, and free up money for our schools.”

Please note: SB 988 Electric utilities; electric school bus projects. would expand this program: Electric utilities; electric school bus projects. Authorizes Dominion Energy Virginia to implement projects designed to encourage the proliferation of school buses that are fueled in whole or in part by electricity, along with associated charging and other infrastructure, for the purpose of transporting students and that may also serve as electric grid stabilization or peak shaving resources. Under an electric school bus project, Dominion may (i) purchase, own, manage, or control electric school buses, along with associated charging or other infrastructure; (ii) enter into third-party agreements for the purchase, lease, or use of electric school buses, along with associated charging or other infrastructure; (iii) enter into agreements with any the school board of any public school division located in the Commonwealth for joint ownership of or for leasing on commercially competitive terms of electric school buses, along with associated charging or other infrastructure; (iv) provide financial incentives or rebates to any school board to promote or facilitate the purchase and ownership by such public school board of electric school buses, along with associated charging or other infrastructure; and (v) engage in other activities to promote the development and proliferation of electric school bus transportation in the Commonwealth. The bill also provides a tax exemption for electric school buses and associated charging and other infrastructure that is related or incidental to an authorized electric school bus project.

2020 Central Virginia Seed Exchange

As the coordinator and event emcee for the 2020 Central Virginia Seed Exchange, I’m writing to invite you to participate in the inaugural ‘Seeding Opportunities with the Classics’ Winter Cruise-In on the picturesque campus of Willow Oaks Country Club, located on the south banks of the James River in Richmond, VA. If no precipitation is falling, the family-friendly, public fundraiser will take place from 9:20am to 12:20pm on leap year day (Saturday, 2/29/2020). Because the classic and period custom car show is an atmosphere-setting component of the 2020 Central Virginia Seed Exchange: The Seed Time Machine, admission for show cars and spectators both will merely be one or more packets of garden plant seed per person to place on the public exchange tables. In the Clubhouse, we will host the seed exchange itself, fun activities and contests that highlight American life for the last 2 centuries, manned information tables for multiple local non-profit organizations, a silent auction to benefit multiple charities, food, abundant door prizes, and more. Inviting multiple regional time-period interest groups, there will be many Kodak moments on campus with classic cars outside, vintage props inside, and folks mingling as the Botanical Time Machine revs up. Will it be powered by a Hemi, flathead 6, or a big block V8? You’ll have to come find out, hopefully dressed the part with your friends or family in tow.

There’s much fun to be had and funds to be raised for a dozen or more good causes that benefit fellow Virginians in need. We’re looking to have as many makes and models as possible, from the working man’s Ford to the elitist’s Duesenberg, with particular interest in brands that don’t exist in modern times any more. Bring out those LaSalles, Hudsons, Packards, Oldmobiles, Pontiacs, Studebakers, Plymouths, and more to fill our lot. While most car owners will prefer a no-touch policy on their baby, can we please have at least a couple owners set aside in a special area where folks can contribute to a charity of your choice and have a short ride around our campus in a classic car or hot rod driven by you to get the next generation interested in our hobby? Today’s youth have no idea what it’s like to cruise in a design icon muscle car, street rod, or classic with the windows down and motor grumbling happily.

Pre-registration will happen via email to Paul Haden at paulchaden@aol.com. Please list: your name, vehicle make/model/year, hometown, what club you happen to belong to (if any), and most importantly a charity or non-profit organization beneficiary close to your heart that you would like event participants, spectators, and sponsors to send timely donations of volunteer man-hours, needed materials or funds to. In past give-back-to-the-community Seed Exchange events, we raised funds for over a dozen charities via Silent Auction, had Walmart match our food drive cans to FeedMore Richmond, and found a rescue dog a home. What can you help us make happen this year? For example, I would like folks to announce that for every head in attendance at the 2020 CVSE event, they will donate X amount of money to Y charity. Wanting this to be a high quality, attention to detail event, pre-registration is necessary for show vehicles because I want to make sure we have an accurate count of parking spaces set aside for participant vehicles, enough goody bags, complimentary edibles and more. While participants may sit by their vehicles as they would at a typical car show, between browsing vehicles they are encouraged to come on in to join the Time Machine festivities inside, make use of the fire pits on the side patio, eat warm food, and enjoy the comradery of other folks who appreciate different decades and period Americana. Free plant seed, food and great cars are just an excuse to get people together. But, it’s what we do with a crowd of a couple hundred people that will make a difference in our community while having fun at the same time. Taking advantage of the colder weather, people can choose to make awareness of causes that help keep people warm, fed, housed, happy, etc.

For those interested, after the Seed Exchange activities are over (a few minutes after noon), I would love for most of the classic cars to leave in mass cruise style to nearby lunch location options, which I am working on getting to participate in our past decades themed fun. I would like to have multiple independent restaurants in close proximity each pick a decade to play the music of, wear attire from, and create one day lunch specials on the menu from. It will be great to partner with small, family owned businesses that also give to non-profits during the year for a final cruise-to destination from our car show, dance, and seed exchange. By pre-registering for the show and indicating if you are interested in the post-show cruise to somewhere like Positive Vibes Cafe (where you can eat in the old bank vault if you know the secret password) for a roughly 12:30 lunch on 2/29/20, we can then provide a total group headcount and see how many more businesses (if any) we will need to bring into the fold to not overwhelm one place with more than their seating capacity. By getting timely feedback, we can set the balls rolling to have a highly organized, smooth running car show and post-show gathering opportunity. The more diverse the group we attract and have as early committed attendees, the more trophies we will need, and so on. I want to have some fun categories like, Best Chrome & Tailfins, Best Period Character Attire, Best Period Artifact Display, Best Hood Ornament, Best Work in Progress, etc. Unlike most, this will be a no-stress, hoods-down, shining optional show to look like a period drive-in movie lot.

Being set on the campus of a normally private country club, this rare public event will have some basic common car show etiquette rules so that we can hold this gathering again. No burnouts. Idling is fine, but no intentional overly loud revving of your awesome sounding motor. We will be providing a soundtrack of car culture songs in the parking lot at a reasonable volume; so please don’t blast competing tunes at your vehicle. No alcohol or drug consumption, nor firearms please. Please leave your pets at home, but do bring your children and elders. I’m the managing horticulturist on this campus; so please pick up after yourselves and be respectful of the landscape and others using it safely. Stay on paved surfaces unless you are specifically told to and assisted in gently parking in an assigned turf or paver spot. Be particularly careful not to create ruts, oil spills, busted median curbs, and other preventable damage. Please do spread the word about our paired events so that we have a great turnout and raise more volunteer man-hours, materials and funds for local charities and non-profit organizations while having fun. Please do bring as many visual aids as you want to make your car display area great, and dress in character, whether it is the era your car was manufactured in or not. For example, it’s ok to be driving a ’59 Cadillac Eldorado and be a ‘60s flower child, ‘70s disco maniac, or ‘80s rocker. Please do take pictures and make positive social media posts about the Central VA Seed Exchange and ‘Seeding Opportunities with the Classics’ Cruise-In events. Please do come inside, eat, use the restrooms, bid often on our silent auction items, dance, participate in our fun competitive activities, interact with other period characters, and warm up as public attendee guests at the seed exchange. Feel free to set out brochures about collector car clubs or time period interest groups at your vehicle to raise public awareness of them. We want all attendees to have a quality experience at Willow Oaks and come back soon. While the Club is private, we do offer memberships and special event rentals in our Clubhouse venue rooms. This rare public event is a great open house opportunity to check us out.

In addition to seeking cars to participate in our cruise-in style show, we are also seeking sponsors to help with prizes, further marketing, and volunteers to help set up and keep the activity running smoothly. It’s a great opportunity to gain public awareness of participating clubs. Thank you for your time, effort, and consideration.

Paul Haden

31 Model A Pickup
31 Model A Pickup

The Electric Car Revolution Will Require Us To Build Better Batteries

This is the reason why we should think carefully about replacing all gasoline and diesel with electrics ~ Fred. This article was written by: Gene Berdichevsky is the co-founder & CEO of Sila Nanotechnologies. Prior to co-founding Sila, Gene was the seventh employee at Tesla Motors where he served as Principal Engineer on the Roadster battery, leading the development of the world's first mass-produced, automotive lithium-ion battery system. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Article is from CNN Business

The electric revolution in transportation is as significant as the switch from the horse and buggy to the Model T. In the not-too-distant future -- some project as soon as 2030 -- the majority of new cars on the road will be electric.

But it has taken a while to get to this point. Electric cars actually predate the internal combustion engine, and have been around since before the US Civil War. Compared to the speed at which we've seen other technologies advance — it took less than 25 years to go from the first cell phone prototype to the iPhone — it can seem puzzling as to why this technology has moved at such a glacial pace. Today, owning a Tesla or another electric vehicle is still a privilege of the elite — or at least the upper middle class — and we're still largely reliant on fossil fuels in cars, despite knowing for years that this is harmful to the environment and our future.

So what is holding us back? It all comes down to the battery.

It seems absurd, but the truth is the same humble carbon and metal oxide-based lithium-ion battery (commonly referred to as Basic Lithium-ion) that powered your Razr cell phone in 2004 is essentially the same thing powering every electric vehicle on the road today. Cars just use more of them.

And to add to the absurdity, the chemistry inside of that lithium-ion battery hasn't really changed since Sony introduced it commercially in 1991. Scientists and engineers have worked hard to try to make batteries more powerful, but the industry is now hitting the theoretical limits of battery chemistry. After over 20 years of those approaches making substantial progress, the last five years have delivered only 1% to 2% performance improvements every few years.

I faced this problem firsthand while working at Tesla on the first Roadster battery, and it's the reason why Gleb Yushin, Alex Jacobs and I founded Sila Nanotechnologies. Combined, we have spent 40 years researching, testing and building new battery technologies, and we have found that the best, fastest path to improve capacity and bring down costs for the scale we need today is Advanced Lithium-ion batteries.

While breakthroughs in energy storage technologies like solid state batteries, graphene supercapacitors and hydrogen fuel cells occur regularly, these technologies have underlying complications that come with them. Commonly, these are experiments that are only proven in a tightly controlled lab setting, and not in the real world, where variables such as temperature and product usage can be unpredictable (and therefore lead to unpredictable results). It often takes 10 years to bring a lab breakthrough to market, and almost all fall short along the way; the few that do get there underperform. For example, the promise of hydrogen fuel 15 years ago still has yet to come to fruition.

But even if these technologies are perfected, the reality is we need better energy storage now, and the infrastructure doesn't exist to bring these miracle technologies to consumers at scale because they're still so new and require entirely new methods of mass production. In the meantime, the infrastructure for Basic Lithium-ion factories already exists globally, and are capable of producing 285 Gigawatt hours worth of power today. This investment is growing exponentially, with an estimated 68 battery "megafactories" slated to be built, which will add another 1.45 Terawatt hours of capacity by 2028. Advanced Lithium-ion materials can be incorporated into these factories almost immediately, with no costly changes or delays for the manufacturers -- from their standpoint, it's a simple matter of swapping one black powder in the production line for another.

This brings us back to the core problem: How do you improve on a battery chemistry that has already hit its theoretical limits? Basic Lithium-ion batteries rely on graphite to store lithium when charged, but silicon has long been known to have significantly greater capacity for lithium storage and can be implemented in the same factories that today make Basic Lithium-ion. However, silicon hasn't been practical to implement because the particles will swell in size as the battery charges and discharges energy, ultimately breaking the battery after only a few charging cycles.

One solution to this problem, in simple terms, is to put a "case" around silicon composite particles to keep the swelling in check. Sila Nano has achieved this through eight years and 35,000 iterations of its materials, and have so far proven a 20% increase in battery capacity today. The theoretical limits of silicon mean these kinds of silicon-based materials could be capable of up to 40% improvement.

But what does this 40% improvement actually mean?

Today, electric vehicle batteries cost about $176 per kilowatt-hour, which translates to about one-third of the price of the entire car. For example, even the more affordable Chevrolet Bolt EV has a 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack, meaning more than $10,500 of the roughly $37,500 price tag is just the hard cost of the battery.

With energy density improvements, we could shrink the size and price of the battery proportionally while still achieving the same power, range and performance. Continued advancements will unlock even greater potential and help eliminate these tradeoffs entirely.

Today the typical electric vehicle has a range of just 200 miles and a 100,000 mile warranty. Imagine a world where we have a 500 mile range, and a million mile warranty. This isn't a dream about just having more convenience and features, it's about finally achieving the electrified automotive future that we've been promised — one that is better for our planet. While it will still take several years before automakers can fully implement the latest advancements, leaders like BMW and Daimler are already on board, so it's just a matter of time.

1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow
1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow

Repair Mistakes & Blunders

From Rock Auto
Our Toyota Tundra turned 100,000 miles, and I had changed every fluid in it but one, the power steering fluid. The owner's manual, Haynes manual, and factory service manual did not mention this procedure, but the factory service manual for our Toyota Previa did. I have done it twice to the Previa and consider it a worthwhile procedure. I pulled the return hose from the PS reservoir, plugged the nipple, added a length of tubing to the return hose, and directed it into an empty jug. This was a bit messy, but I was prepared for it. I positioned a funnel in the mouth of the reservoir and prepared to pour a gallon of fresh PS fluid. I instructed my son to start the engine, and I began to pour. Instantly, I was blasted in the face with PS fluid. "Stop the engine!" I yelled out.

After I cleaned off my glasses, I saw that the engine compartment, underside of the hood and the windshield were splattered with PS fluid. The radiator cooling fan blast just blew it away. I got a much bigger funnel to try to shelter the pour, tried again, and got another blast of PS fluid. Ah, such a worthwhile procedure. Next, I wrapped a clean rag around the base of the big funnel and tried again. This worked, and we soon flushed and filled the power steering system. It took me a lot longer to wash the truck and clean the engine bay. I still think this is a worthwhile procedure though. I like knowing all my truck's fluids are clean, and I hope my story helps others keep themselves clean if they try it.

Ty in Maine

1941 Ford sedan
1941 Ford sedan

Exhaust system; aftermarket exhausts and Vehicle headlights; required to be lighted

These two bills have been introduced into the General Assembly.

HB 344 Exhaust system; aftermarket exhausts.

Introduced by: Robert B. Bell

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:

Exhaust system; aftermarket exhausts. Authorizes the use of aftermarket exhaust systems in motor vehicles, provided that such system is appropriate for the motor vehicle and prevents a level of noise above the accepted industry standard. The bill requires the Department of State Police to enact and maintain regulations setting an industry standard noise level for exhaust systems.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 46.2-1049 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 46.2-1049. Exhaust system in good working order.

A. As used in this section, "exhaust system" means all the parts of a vehicle through which the exhaust passes after leaving the engine block, including mufflers and other sound dissipative devices.

B. No person shall drive and no owner of a vehicle shall permit or allow the operation of any such vehicle on a highway unless it is equipped with an exhaust system in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual levels of noise; provided however, that for. For motor vehicles, such exhaust system shall be (i) of a type installed as standard factory equipment, or (ii) comparable to that designed for use on the particular vehicle as standard factory equipment, or (iii) an aftermarket exhaust system that is appropriate for such motor vehicle and prevents a level of noise above the accepted industry standard. An exhaust system shall not be deemed to prevent excessive or unusual noise if it permits the escape of noise in excess of that permitted by the standard factory equipment exhaust system of private passenger motor vehicles or trucks of standard make.

The term "exhaust system," as used in this section, means all the parts of a vehicle through which the exhaust passes after leaving the engine block, including mufflers and other sound dissipative devices.

Chambered pipes are not an effective muffling device to prevent excessive or unusual noise, and any vehicle equipped with chambered pipes shall be deemed in violation of this section.

C. The provisions of this section shall not apply to (i) any antique motor vehicle licensed pursuant to § 46.2-730, provided that the engine is comparable to that designed as standard factory equipment for use on that particular vehicle, and the exhaust system is in good working order, or (ii) converted electric vehicles.

2. That the Department of State Police shall establish and maintain regulations setting an industry standard noise level for exhaust systems.

My take on this bill is that the State Police will oppose it because it will cost money to come up with a method to test the noise level for exhaust. From conversations with the Safety Division I believe they want no part of a testing program. Link to bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB344

HB 616 Vehicle headlights; required to be lighted.

Introduced by: Kenneth R. Plum

SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:

Vehicle headlights; required to be lighted. Requires every vehicle in operation to display lighted headlights. Currently headlights are required to be lighted only (i) from sunset to sunrise; (ii) during any other time when, because of rain, smoke, fog, snow, sleet, insufficient light, or other unfavorable atmospheric conditions, visibility is reduced to a degree whereby persons or vehicles on the highway are not clearly discernible at a distance of 500 feet; and (iii) whenever windshield wipers are in use as a result of fog, rain, sleet, or snow. The bill removes provisions making the failure to display lighted headlights when windshield wipers are in use as a result of fog rain, sleet, or snow (a) a secondary offense, (b) subject to no demerit points being assessed, and (c) not a defense to any claim for personal injury or recovery of medical expenses for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident.

Okay, this is just dumb. I've seen bills on headlights on 24/7 before and they failed for good reason. If this becomes law Virginia would be the only state to have such a law. Link to bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?201+sum+HB616. These countries have such a law - Canada, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden require vehicles to operate with lights on during the daytime.

1958 Chevy
1958 Chevy

This 82-year-old Drag Racer Isn’t Slowing Down

From Hagerty
With its mild winters and ocean vistas, Victoria, B.C., is Canada’s retirement paradise. The traffic moves slower here, with silver-haired old folks behind the wheel, headed towards the ferry terminal for a trip over to the mainland. Here comes one now.

And the guy is driving a 770-horsepower, manual-transmission 1965 Mercury Comet that runs the quarter-mile in 9.4 seconds at 140 mph.

Bill Friend, at 82 years old, is not much for retiree pursuits like bridge, bingo, or shuffleboard. He'd rather be staged up at a dragstrip Christmas tree, sitting behind a small-block Ford that's ready to be wrung out to the last rev. The green light illuminates and Friend drops the hammer, one hand on the steering wheel, one hand on the Comet's six-speed Tremec manual transmission.

The Comet rears back on its haunches, Friend nudges it back into line left-handed, and then powershifts through the gears—bang-bang-bang—en route to a low-nine-second pass. There are no electronic aids like throttle stops or delay boxes to help out. This is old-school drag racing at its best, with elapsed times down to driver skill.

Then, race weekend done and a few clean runs under his belt, Friend dons his coveralls and get to wrenching. He jacks up the Comet, takes off the drag radials and swaps back on street tires, bolts the exhaust back on, and lowers the car back down. The drag tires go in the back seat, the tools go in the trunk, and then he points the Comet’s nose back towards the coast and drives home. On the street. With a 770-hp race engine and a manual gearbox.

“I always had this romantic idea,” Friend says, “that you could have a car you drive to work through the week, then go racing on the weekends.”

The ’65 Comet Caliente hardtop has long been part of that dream. It’s Friend’s second Comet, the first one having been purchased new by his brother in 1965. Friend got the car a couple of years later, and began wrenching on it as he used the car to commute to and from as a glazier.

At the time, he was also involved in sprint car racing, crewing on a local team. Later, he discovered drag racing, and began running the Comet in the Pro class, which comprised anything in the four- to eight-second range at a nearby eighth-mile dragstrip.

But as the years passed, drag racing began to evolve. Big-blocks and automatic transmissions were more common, to say nothing of the sandbagging and sleight-of-hand that is part of the game of winning at all costs. Happily, a group of local racers got together 25 years ago and founded the SuperShifter Series, preserving the spirit of heads-up drag racing.

“I wanted to race more au naturel, I guess you could call it,” Friend says. “When I heard that they were putting together a manual-only series, I was interested right away.”

The BC SuperShifters’ official motto is “Beat ’em with a stick.” Hydraulics and pneumatic shifters are prohibited. So are throttle timers and delay boxes. Most of the racers run dedicated, trailered racing cars with competition transmissions, but driver ability is still the main variable. Beyond the manual-transmission requirement, rules are run on NHRA Sportsman guidelines. Also, the cars aren’t plastered with sponsorship stickers, so they look more like street cars, albeit burly ones wearing drag radials.

Some of the racers are die-hard manual fans. One guy even has a ramp truck with a stick shift—it runs 13s. Others are more interested in the way a lack of driver assists seems to level the playing field.

The overall result is racing that’s quite different than most other drag-racing classes. There’s more of a community feel to the competition. Friend had his transmission blow up late this season, stranding him on the mainland facing an expensive tow bill. Dave Posnik, who runs a 1967 Mustang fastback powered by a 428-cubic-inch V-8, stepped in to trailer Friend’s Comet back to Victoria.

It’s not the only time the SuperShifters have helped Friend out of a jam. In 2007, he rolled his first Comet 10 times while running at the Port Alberni dragstrip on Vancouver Island. The car was destroyed, and Friend suffered a broken arm and other injuries. But there was no talk of hanging up his racing helmet.

“Peter Willie enjoyed my notion of racing a street car and started getting a fund together,” Friend says. “I knew [the crash] wasn’t driver error, so I never felt nervous about going racing again.”

The community raised enough money to buy another Comet, which was reportedly something of a basket case, and work began. Input and help came from everywhere, though the rebuild took about three years. Soon enough, the Comet was lining up against Mustangs and Fairlanes.

With the transmission out and the Comet apart, Friend has settled in for a winter prepping for next season. Just recently, Dale Posnik and Howie Stevens, who runs a Mustang in the NHRA Competition Eliminator class and added a few tricks to the Comet's V-8, headed over to see what the engine would do on the dyno. A single-carb pump-gas setup, the V-8 is based on a 302-cubic-inch Ford small block enlarged to 394 cubic inches. It made a very healthy 770 hp at 7100 rpm and 607 lb-ft at 5700 rpm.

With a new set of tires, Friend is hoping for a 145-mph pass next season, which would represent a personal best for him.

“You've got to pay attention [to the Tremec six-speed],” he says. “It's got no synchros, so you've got to get it just right. I get that thrill from a good, solid, kick-ass pass, through the finish line at 8000 rpm and above.”

At his age, Friend is realistic about how much longer he can keep doing this. For now, his health and his eyesight are fine, but torquing bolts and hauling exhaust pipes around feels like heavy work these days. Yet you won't hear him put a time on retiring from the drag strip.

“I'm going to keep racing just as long as I can,” he says. A quarter-mile at a time.

1955 Ford
1955 Ford

Support the RPM Act

Sign at this link: www.votervoice.net/SEMA/campaigns/45394/respond

The RPM Act is common-sense, bi-partisan legislation to protect law-abiding citizens who convert cars, trucks and motorcycles into racing vehicles. The bill clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a racecar used exclusively in competition. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment.

UPDATE TO THE RPM ACT - click link below
www.sema.org/epa-news

Lightning, Lottery Winners, and Texting Crashes

By Jack Baruth of Hagerty
Last week I wrote about the dangers of low-quality tires. To put the problem into a proper (and shocking) perspective, I compared the number of annual on-the-road deaths attributed by the NHTSA to tire failures with the number of annual on-the-road deaths attributed by the NHTSA to cellphone distraction. I was hoping that you, the reader, would respond with something along the lines of “Gosh, looks like these crappy tires are a real problem, and maybe I should take them as seriously as I take distracted driving.”

No such luck, at least in the majority of responses. Instead, you overwhelmingly told me that you believed “distracted driving” to be a much greater and deadlier problem than tire failures. Some of you said that the stats were wrong. Others said “It doesn’t matter which is a bigger problem—we need to fix distracted driving first!” And a few of you, the really honest ones, said “I just don’t believe the statistics, because they don’t align with my own feelings, observations, or experiences. Distracted driving has got to be a bigger problem than the NHTSA says.”

If you know me personally, you know that I am absolutely obsessed with the reliability of conventional wisdom, or lack thereof. I absolutely live for examples of “old wives’ tales” being more reliable than the latest medical thinking—or for counterexamples where the statistical or scientific reality of a situation is so far away from what “everyone knows” as to be truly shocking. I spent a lot of my life programming computers to deliver reliable real-world results in fields as diverse as online sweepstakes and oncology-medication dispensing, so I have an authentic and professional concern with separating speculation from reality.

So, as Alexander Pope once wrote, let’s flap this bug with gilded wings. Let’s take the emotion out of it, because many of you have an emotional investment in this idea that cellphones are literally as bad as drunk driving—or worse. Let’s just see how big of a problem “distracted driving” via phone truly is. Not because we want to excuse it, or because we want it to be ignored, but because this is too important an issue to address with our feelings.

NHTSA attributed 3166 deaths to “distracted driving” in 2017. This is a problem that predates the smartphone by decades—one of history’s most prominent VW dealers and distributors was killed on his bicycle thirty years ago by a young woman who was reaching into the back seat of her car for a cassette tape. You can be distracted by anything from your car stereo to a bag of Fritos. So NHTSA does its best to break it down a bit.

As I noted before, NHTSA doesn’t have the most reliable data at hand. While I have nothing but admiration for the Thin Blue Line, I’ve also personally watched highway patrolmen wildly mis-evaluate post-crash evidence. Car and Driver once hilariously quoted a cop who said that a 1983 Porsche 928 was going “about 200mph” at the moment of impact. Don’t get too salty about it. The men and women who evaluate motor-vehicle fatalities have to do so under time pressure, in bad weather, at all hours of the day and night, and often with just a fraction of the help they’d need to do the job right. In the modern “dashcam era” we frequently see evidence after the fact which flatly contradicts the written police report, and no one is surprised by that.

In other words, we’d be foolish to say that the NHTSA really knows exactly why all these crashes happened. Regardless, let’s roll with the data for the moment. The latest report says

In 2017 there were 401 fatal crashes reported to have involved cell phone use as a distraction (14% of all fatal distraction-affected crashes). For these distraction-affected crashes, the police crash report stated that the driver was talking on, listening to, or engaged in some other cell phone activity at the time of the crash.

Feel free to read the report yourself. I’m personally bothered by NHTSA’s blithe assumption that there is a margin of error in their reporting but that the margin of error has to be in the direction of underreporting distraction. Logically speaking, there’s no way to be certain. NHTSA claims that some people refuse to admit they were on their phone at the time of the crash, and that’s true—but I’ve also heard of crashes where the passenger was using a phone and the police attempted to pin that phone on the driver.

401 fatal crashes is a lot, isn’t it? I mean, it’s 401 too many. If you lost a loved one last year to a distracted-driving crash, it’s not a consolation to think that the tragedy was dammed close to a one-in-a-million event. And it’s understandable that you’d want any and all actions taken to eliminate distracted driving. The problem is that we, as a society, willingly accept all sorts of occasionally fatal results in the name of convenience. Consider the ride-sharing service Uber. Do you use it? I use it a hundred times a year. It’s very popular. In 2018, there were over three thousand sexual assaults in Uber cars, fifty-eight traffic fatalities—and nine murders! Keep in mind that American motorists and passengers outnumber global Uber customers by about six to one, so you’re… hmm… about forty times as likely to be sexually assaulted in an Uber during any given year as you are to be killed by a distracted driver. Got a preference as to which you’d rather endure?

You can rest assured that Uber won’t be closing its doors in 2020—and you can also rest assured that people will still use their phones behind the wheel in 2020, no matter what kind of penalties you apply or technological countermeasures you implement. In both cases, the juice is apparently worth the squeeze.

Here’s another one. Large trucks, by which I mean “Class 8 tractor-trailer”, not “F-250 SuperCab”, killed 4951 people in 2018. The burden of those deaths fell in hugely uneven fashion on the people who were not driving the trucks: 885 deaths in the trucks, 4066 in the passenger vehicles surrounding the trucks or among pedestrians unlucky enough to be in the way. So here’s an unpopular statement for you, based on those numbers: if you are on the freeway and your options are to drive next to someone who is playing Fortnite on their phone or to drive next to an 18-wheeler, maybe you should pick the smartphone addict.

Incidentally, as someone who has survived 26 years of motorcycling on American roads without a single incident, I didn’t need the actual data to know about the relative dangers. I’ve had smartphone users merge into my lane a hundred or more times, and I’ve always been able to predict or account for their actions. But semi-trucks are whispering death for motorcyclists. If the blown tires don’t kill you, then the complete and total inability of truck drivers to estimate safe stopping distances will. The vast majority of the times I walked into my house, hung my helmet on its hook, and said “I’m never riding a motorcycle again,” there was a truck of some sort involved.

What about drunk driving, which many of you think is equal to or even lesser than distracted driving? Get real about that, please. Drunk drivers accounted for 10,511 fatalities in 2018—but if you want to understand the true scope of the problem, you need to consider just what percentage of people are out there driving drunk at any given time compared to how many are operating a cellphone. That’s something we can’t know, but I’m willing to guess that it’s a tiny fraction. Maybe five percent. Maybe one percent. Equating cellphone use to drunk driving is like equating household firearm ownership to playing Russian Roulette with two out of six chambers loaded. Both of them can lead to you getting killed, but the deck is stacked for the latter.

We’ve already covered how faulty tires are deadlier than cellphone use—although there’s some statistical smoothing to be done there as well, since:

• Not everyone uses a cellphone;
• Everyone uses tires;
• But many (most) modern tires have a failure rate which is statistically zero, meaning that;
• Some tires are hugely, terrifyingly more dangerous than using a phone.

Having covered all the things which are more likely to kill you than phone-related crashes, let’s see if we can find something which happens at a similar rate, even if it’s not vehicular. The NOAA says that, on the average, 51 people a year are killed by lightning. So cellphone distraction is perhaps ten times more dangerous than lightning, since not everyone in the country uses a car but only the most Morlock-esque among us never go outside.

Is there a well-known event which is statistically closer? Turns out there is. There are about 250-300 winners every year of major lotteries in the United States. I’m referring to the six-figure hitters and above—Powerball, SuperLotto, all those. The kind of lotteries which change your life if you win them, not the $201 or whatever you get from the OhioLotto Pick3. That’s fewer than 401—but wait, only one-fourth of Americans play the lottery, while more than ninety percent of us are in a motor vehicle at some point during the year.

Let’s run the numbers… oh boy, this doesn’t look good. Or it doesn’t look bad, depending on what you’re expecting. Looks like the average American lottery player is about three times as likely to win the big lotto as he or she is to die in a distracted-driving crash.

Don’t blame me. I don’t make the numbers.

It gets really uncomfortable when we start talking about the cost of saving the lives lost to distracted driving. Developing any system which effectively prevented in-car phone use would cost billions of dollars. Heck, even a $10 device added to new cars would cost $150M per year or more, and the average teenager could circumvent it in five minutes. Now let’s take a look at suicides among men from ages 45-54. This is the group most likely to commit suicide, and as a 48-year-old man I have some idea why. 6500 of us are dying every year. The most common cause: loss of job or financial embarrassment. So what if the government were to create a “Don’t Kill Yourself Tomorrow Fund” and put $150M a year into it? If you were a man aged 48-54, you could go get some help from that fund. Let’s say that $100,000 would fix your immediate problems and prevent you from killing yourself. We could prevent 1500 suicides a year by just handing out cash, which is better than reducing the cellphone accident rate down from 401 a year to something that is less than 401 but also certainly not zero.

Wait a minute—I have an even better idea, although it doesn’t benefit me personally the way the above plan would. You take that $150M and you install 225,000 sets of brand-new tires every year on automobiles operated by people on the fringes of our oh-so-globalized-and-Friedman-flat economy who are currently running on cords. How many lives would that save? The average set of modern tires will run five years under normal usage, so once the program was well and truly rolling, so to speak, you would be keeping one million motorists out of severe danger on a rotating, so to speak, basis. Betcha that saves more lives than some anti-phone measures which will be approximately as easy to enforce as Jimmy Carter’s double-nickel.

Which brings us to the stickiest point of today’s column: The NHTSA says that excessive speed killed 9378 people in 2018. That’s about 20 deaths for every cellphone death. Ask yourself, dear reader: You say that the drivers around you can’t be trusted to use a phone, but don’t you feel that you are personally entitled to break the speed limit because of your skill, your experience, or the immense capabilities of your enthusiast vehicle? The statistics suggest that you are twenty times as dangerous as that person in the lane next to you browsing Instagram while driving.

That’s the problem with turning over this statistical rock: you never know what kind of nightmare bugs will come scurrying out. But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking. It’s always better to know the absolute truth. Everything else, in the long run, is merely a distraction

Corvair van
Corvair van

Whispering to Your Carburetor

The two old cars with carburetors currently in my family's fleet get driven less frequently in the winter. Starting them up after weeks of sitting tended to be a hassle because of the unpredictability. Maybe the engine would start right up after setting the choke with a push of the gas pedal and turning the ignition key. Maybe pumping the gas pedal would be required to get enough fuel into the intake manifold. Maybe too many gas pedal pumps would flood the engine, and I would then have to wait for the fuel to slowly dissipate. All the while I would be concerned about repeatedly flexing the stiff, icy cold accelerator pump diaphragm in the carburetor and/or contaminating the engine oil with gasoline.

I came up with a new method of starting my carbureted engines (Ford 2100 and Carter ThermoQuad carburetors) a few years ago. It requires somewhat laboriously opening the hood and taking off the air cleaner cover but works every time, eliminating the uncertainty. To avoid injury, damage and other bad things, do not try this method yourself without first consulting your vehicle's owners manual, repair manual (find manuals under "Literature" in the RockAuto.com catalog), and/or the proper authorities familiar with your specific engine and carburetor. The oldest carburetor designs may not have accessible bowl vents and the last OE carburetors may have emissions devices controlling airflow in and out of the bowl vents.

I press the gas pedal to set the choke. Next, I send a short burst of compressed air into the carburetor bowl vent tube. When there are two bowl vent tubes, I block one with my finger tip to keep more air in the carburetor. Then I put the air cleaner cover back on, turn the ignition key and the engine starts.

To provide the compressed air, I currently use a small portable air tank. I hold a valve stem cut off an old bicycle tire tube against the air tank's nozzle and direct the flow of air down the carburetor bowl vent tube. This very leaky setup demonstrates it does not take a lot of concentrated air pressure.

Carburetor bowl vents prevent a vacuum from forming by allowing air to flow into the bowl as the fuel flows out of the carburetor into the intake manifold. A cold engine that has been sitting for days already has plenty of air in the fuel bowl. My puff of compressed air through the bowl vent tube slightly pressurizes that air which encourages fuel in the bowl to not only enter the intake manifold but circulate through the idle control orifices and other carburetor passageways that may have gone dry over time. I have never flooded one of my engines using this relatively gentle pressure.

My "carburetor whisperer" skills may only apply to my individual carburetors. I have been whispering with that Carter ThermoQuad for decades. The puff of air down the carburetor bowl vent tube technique has just worked so consistently for me that I thought I should share it. I want to see more people taking advantage of the occasional dry, sunny winter days by taking their trusty heirloom vehicles out for drives.

Tom Taylor,
RockAuto.com

1968 Camaro RS
1968 Camaro RS

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