Hybrid or hype?

August 30, 2009

The new Chevy Volt is EPA rated at 230 mpg. In advertisements it sounds almost too good to be true. I believe it is, and I’m not alone. Fuel powered vehicles run less efficient at low speeds and more efficiently at speeds approaching highway speed. Hybrid powered vehicles run efficiently at various speeds until the batteries are discharged and the gas powered motor kicks in to power the generator to recharge the batteries. If you factor in the times when the vehicle is running only on gas it would drop to around 50mpg or less. Either vehicle consumes more energy when speed reaches 65 mph and above due to wind resistance.

GM claims that the new EPA methodology will be stated in terms of kWh per 100 miles traveled, and that by this metric, the Volt will go 100 miles on 25 kWh of battery charge. This seems a less than perfect way of rating the fuel economy, since the Volt will only run 40 miles on a charge before the gasoline generator kicks in. To arrive at the 230 mpg number, GM assumes a 51-mile driving cycle with drivers charging up their Volts once a day, so the battery powers 4/5 of the distance.

Taking GM’s claim at face value though, we can calculate that the Volt gets about 4 m/kWh. This can be compared to approximately 0.8 m/kWh for a typical European diesel car getting an average 40 mpg, or about 0.4 m/kWh for a typical American gasoline car getting an average of 20 mpg. (Newer models have a range of higher fuel economies, but those are the averages of the current fleets.)

For a little more on the subject go here for a blog post by a former Tesla officer’s blog post and links to like sites.

And what about cost per mile? It is quite possible the cost per mile for the Chevy Volt is at eight cents per mile. If this figure is proven correct, the cost per mile is the same as a gas powered car. But what if gas prices go up again? Let’s say $6 a gallon in 5 years. If cap and trade goes through it could at least double our utility bills making the charging of the battery packs more expensive. So once again it would be draw between the hybrid and a gas powered car that got 40 mpg.
Comments are always welcome.

A couple of things

August 28, 2009

The QC Times had an article today listing the candidates for the City Council. If you haven’t seen it, you can go here. Looks like I might have spoken
too soon when I said it might not get interesting.

Yesterday I recieved a phone call that took me back over 30 years
in an instant. An old friend who just went missing about five years
ago called me out of the blue. The second I heard his voice I cupped my hand over my bad ear. I did that because a little over 30 years ago we were cruising country roads while consuming mass quantities of cheap alcohol when he grabbed a snub-nosed pistol, stuck it in front of my face, and emptied it out the passenger side window.

I never got my hearing back in that ear, but remember the night well.
We spent the night in jail in a small town, the car and the gun got
impounded, and my ears didn’t quit ringing for a couple of days. He
called to say he’d been sober for two and a half months and wanted to stop by this weekend. We’ll see how it goes.
Comments are always welcome.

Half rant

August 27, 2009

It must be Thursday and that means I usually do a rant. Since I’ve
been on the sick list all week I haven’t been able to spend as much
time as I’d like on research. Now that I’m feeling better I’ll put more
effort into things.

Before the rant I’d like to give a nod to Keith Meyers who has filed
to run for Alderman-At-Large. We wish him well and will vote him
in the election.

A revised deficit projection from the government now says the
old projected deficit is around $2 trillion too low. While this news
won’t bankrupt our country it will ensure our children and grand-
children will be paying for it. If Obama has already quadrupled the
deficit in eight months, I have to wonder what it will be at the end
of his term.

I was sorry to hear about Ted Kennedy’s death but have a feeling
it may be used to get sympathy votes for Obamacare. And yes, I
heard Obama say the healthcare bill isn’t about him. I also heard him
say that about the banks, before his administration took them over;
and the auto industry, before his administration took them over.

Lastly, days like today make me wonder how the global warming
people can even believe what they’re saying.
Comments are always welcome.

A little laugh

August 26, 2009

Sometimes I get an email that gets me laughing. A friend sent one
to me today and I thought I’d share it with you in case you haven’t
seen it.


Democrats, realizing the success of the President’s “Cash For Clunkers”
rebate program, have revamped a major portion of their National Health Care Plan.

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Sen. Reed are expected to make this major announcement at a joint news conference later this week. I have obtained an advanced copy of the proposal which is named….

“CASH FOR CODGERS” and it works like this… Couples wishing to access health care funds in order to pay for the delivery of a child will be required to turn in one old person. The amount the government grants them will be fixed according to a sliding scale. Older and more prescription dependent codgers will garner the highest amounts.

Special “Bonuses” will be paid for those submitting codgers in targeted groups, such as smokers, alcohol drinkers, persons 10 pounds over their government prescribed weight, and any member of the Republican Party.

Smaller bonuses will be given for codgers who consume beef, soda, fried foods, potato chips, lattes, whole milk, dairy products, bacon, Brussel sprouts, or Girl Scout Cookies.

All codgers will be rendered totally useless via toxic injection. This will insure that they are not secretly resold or their body parts harvested to keep other codgers in repair.

Remember you heard it here first…
Comments are always welcome.

Almost there

August 25, 2009

If memory serves me correctly we have two more days that candidates can file locally. This time the election news has been non-existant. I don’t believe there are too many people who know which rumors will be truth or talk. Even the rumor mill hasn’t been running like in past elections. I think that has something to do with the fact that only one of the eleven seats will be open.

We’ve heard some rumors, and as such they should not be considered fact. One rumor was that Keith Meyer was thinking about running for the open Alderman-At-Large seat and the only other one I’ve heard was that Charlie Brooke’s son was also considering the Alderman-At-Large position.

I’ve talked with a few people who had run in past elections and they had no desire to try it again. One even said it was almost additive. I
wouldn’t know and will never find out. I don’t know if the local
election will be as interesting as it has been in the past, but at
least we should know all the players soon.

Elections are funny things in that they take normally easy going
people and turn them into raving maniacs. Sides are taken and the
rules get thrown out the window. Soon the name calling will start,
threats will be made, PAC monies will get thown about,and we’ll find
out who the idiots are. I wonder if any yard signs will get vandalized
in this election cycle.
Comments are always welcome.

Two sides

August 24, 2009

Have you ever looked into something that has been argued for quite a
while and not know who to believe? In this case I’m talking about old
car rims. There is one group who say you have to run bias-ply tires on
these rims and can’t run radial tires. The other group says it makes
no difference.

Both groups state things that leave me scatching my head. The bias-ply
group say the bias-ply rims are made with a different alloy than the
radial ply rims. I’ve always thought steel rims are all the same. And
another issue that comes up is heat. The bias-ply people claim radials
run hotter and will cause rim failure due to excess heat. The radial-
ply side state radial tires run cooler.

Then there is the stress (flex) issue. One group says radial tires
have to be harder on rims because of sidewall flex and the other side
says bias-ply is harder on rims because they are more rigid and don’t
have as much “give”. Then there are the tires themselves.

The DOT has the following descriptions of tire types-

A bias passenger tire carcass is typically made up of two to four
plies of cord material that run from bead to bead at an angle of
approximately 35 degrees to the centerline of the tire. This type of
construction provides a very strong, durable carcass for the tire.
Because the ply cords criss-cross and all the cords are anchored to
the beads, the carcass is stiff and relatively inflexable. This type
of construction prevents the different parts of the tire from acting
independently of another when forces are applied to the tire. As a
result, a bias construction is susceptible to impact breaks because
it does not easily absorb road irregularities.

By comparision, a radial passenger tire carcass is typically made
up of one or more plies of cord material that run from the bead at
an angle of approximately 90 degrees to the centerline of the tire.
Because the cords do not criss-cross and because the opposite ends
of each cord are anchored to the beads at points that are directly
opposite each other, the radial tire carcass is flexible. The radial
tire is reinforced and stabilized by a belt that runs circumferentially
around the tire under the tread. This construction allows the
sidewalls to readily absorb road irregularities without overstressing
the cords. This independent actions allows two important things to
happen, (1) the tread of a radial tire ramains fully in contact with
the road over the entire tread with, and (2) the ply cords and sidewall
are able to absorb forces without exerting the twisting force on the
beads that are excerted by bias construction.

Well, that really cleared things up didn’t it? And after all this
I’m told I also have to figure in tire size, tire width, inflation,
and vehicle weight. So if you haven’t guessed by now, I haven’t made
up mind yet. I may just try running radial tires on bias-ply rims
and see what happens.
Comments are always welcome

I wasn’t there

August 22, 2009

Earlier this week an 88-year-old retired trucker died in a nursing home. Nothing so unusual there, except he was the father of someone I consider a good friend. We were a lot closer while going through junior high and high school before life sent us in different directions with different interests.

The visitation was Thursday afternoon and I didn’t make it. I’m sorry Jerry, I know it was a big loss but I just couldn’t bring myself to go. I’m just not real good at knowing what to say at visitations and sometimes people take things the wrong way.

If you need anything let me know and I’ll do what I can. My condolences to the family.
Comments are always welcome.


August 21, 2009

I got an email about the perks of being 50 or older. I thought it was
pretty good, funny, and for the most part true. So here in no particular
order and without further ado are some of the perks of being an old fart.

People don’t call late because they don’t want to wake us after 9 pm.

Nobody expects us to run anywhere.

Things we buy now never wear out.

There is not much left to learn the hard way.

We can eat supper at 4 pm.

We don’t hold our stomachs in to impress anyone.

The speed limit isn’t a challege to us.

Our eyes won’t get much worse.

We can go without sex, but not without our bifocals.

Our investment in health insurance is finally paying off.

Our secrets are safe with friends because they won’t remember them either.

Our joints are more reliable at forecasting weather than the Weather Service.

Our brain cells have dwindled to a manageable number.

We know the words to the elevator music.

I’m sure there are a lot more, but you get the idea.
Comments are always welcome.

Just a rant

August 20, 2009

I was all set to do one more post on the Obama Czars today
and rant about that. Then a couple of things caught my
attention while watching the morning news on a local channel.

I’d like to say up front that the following is my opinion.
Nothing is written in stone, things can change, and you’re
certainly welcome to disagree.

The first was the big deal that was made over the fact that
the first lady wore shorts in Arizona in the summer. Is this
something newsworthy? Am I the only one who really doesn’t

Now we are being told that this administration will pass a
healthcare bill we don’t want and can’t afford. If we don’t
agree with the politicians we are insulted, ignored, or told
we’re going to get this bill whether we want it or not. One
politician will say there were no death panels in the bill
and another will tell us it was taken out. We are told one
day that the public option isn’t necessary, the next that
we weren’t told that and it can’t be passed without it. We
are told abortion won’t be in the bill while others say it
is in by omission. We are told rationing isn’t a part of
the bill but then told anything omitted is covered.

It started with us smokers. We got all the bad press and
the good lies thrown at us and the rest of the people began
to believe it. We got kicked out of most public places and
taxed heavily. Everyone else said we deserved it. Well get
ready kids because you’re next. Are you a few pounds
overweight? They’re coming for you next.

This healthcare bill has nothing to do with reform and
everything to do with a hostile takeover of our healthcare.
Elderly people will not get the level of care they now
enjoy, our private insurance will be useless, there will
be rationing of services, smokers and drinkers will be
treated like lepers, abortions will be publically funded,
and it will ensure illegal aliens get the best care

There will be bike paths built and farmer’s markets
funded. There will be taxes on anything that could be
considered fattening. We will be told what to eat and
how much we can weigh. It will also raise our taxes.
Is this the change some Americans voted for?
Comments are always welcome.

A big nod

August 19, 2009

Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, gave a press conference earlier today. I can see why people say he is well liked. To see this man get in front of the cameras with a big scar on his face, teeth knocked out, and his hand in ace bandages was enlightening. He thanked his niece, his wife, his sister, the emergency responders, and the medical professionals who have helped him since he was attacked trying to help a woman and her grandchild.

Modest as he is, he also stated he didn’t do anything that anyone else in Milwaukee wouldn’t have done. I’ll disagree Mr. Mayor. I think you did something a very small majority of people would have done. Some would have called 911 from a safe distance, but most would not have actually got involved.

I like stories where people lead by example, and Mayor Tom Barrett acted like a leader. I only wish he could have done it without getting hurt in the process. We wish you a speedy recovery. You sir are a
true American hero.
Comments are always welcome.