Thursday 1 March 2012

Choke? Isn't That What Athletes Do?

Something I hear from youngsters – that’s anyone younger than me by 10 years – all too often is that life was easier in the old days. I’m not too sure that it applies to owning or fixing cars. Compare the following oft-repeated scenario to today’s fill - drive - change oil (maybe) - sell car lifestyle.

Q.Last year I had a tune-up done on my 1972 Chevrolet Caprice (454 engine). Since then, whenever I start it up it stalls. I have to repeat the starting procedure five or six times before it stays running. Is there any way to cure this problem? Will I have to have the carburetor overhauled or replaced?

A.First off, I don't think that the carburetor necessarily has to be rebuilt or replaced. Since the condition didn't start until after the tune-up, it must have been caused by the mechanic, not the car. Somehow, the automatic choke system or the fast idle mechanism was disturbed. Or something that was hiding the problem was fixed so that the stalling now appears to be the worst concern.

Tuesday 28 February 2012

B-Spec - The New Face of Entry Level Racing?

In May 1958 Road & Track magazine tested the Mercedes 180D. Performance was meagre: 0 - 60 was 32.3s. 1/4 mile time: 26.0s and top speed not quite 69 mph. In 1968 I bought one as my first car. Every day, on the way to the University of Calgary, it became a challenge to see how fast I could get going up University Drive from Crowchild Trail before I had to brake for the light at the end. I don’t think I ever broke the speed limit - by much.

What’s that got to do with B-Spec Racing? Everything. Based on B Cars including: Mazda2, Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Cruz these small, light and nimble cars will offer more skill-based racing than many earlier series like this.

Speed and power will take a back seat to line, momentum and finding the gap before it starts to appear. Couple that with a relatively low cost, how much more fun can you legally have? It's also a great way to entice new club racing prospects.

Cars will be stock with a few upgrades to tires and suspension allowed, equipped with the mandatory safety equipment and race certified. Drivers also need the normal race paraphernalia and licencing, but after that, it’s basically showroom stock with a multitude of fiddle factors like restrictor plates and ballast to even the playing field a bit.

SCCA has a complete set of rules and regs available at

Now all I need is about 25 grand and to be able to get in and out of the car.

Monday 27 February 2012

Crazy Wheel Alignment

With the end of snow season comes the time to dump the snow tires and put on the summer ones. It's also time to have that annual wheel alignment done on your vehicle. Just be careful so that you don't have the same problems as a friend of mine had.

He had the shop install some newer tires, which were already mounted on rims, before the wheel alignment was done. One of the tires was quite low on air but he thought that they would check the tire pressures before starting the alignment. They didn't. The tires were inflated to the right pressure afterwards and now the car pulled to one side. The shop was contacted but he was ensured that tire pressure wouldn't affect the alignment. He didn't believe it and neither should you.

Sunday 26 February 2012

Welcome to Georgethecarguy

“The more things change, the more they stay the same” - A. Karr.

As technicians (not mechanics anymore!) we’re faced with new and ever-changing technology that needs diagnosing, repairing and replacing. What a crazy and somewhat unrealistic demand. Social philosophy (a.k.a. customer expectations) combine with that to really put us behind the eight ball.

So, what to do? Remember the past, is what I say. Because nothing really has changed in the way things work. Only in the way we look at things.