Daylight At The DOT

Or Licensing And Testing Centre or whatever it is called. The place where you go to renew your car licence or get a concession on the price.*

I think I have the answer to cutting down road crashes and road rage. All you need to do is set up a license and facial recognition camera pointing at the one-way lane in front of the centre. The one ringed with ” Do Not Enter”, ” One Way “, and ” Go Back ”  signs and arrows leading out of it.

Then clock the plates and faces of the drivers who ignore them and sail blithely up the wrong way to park astraddle two bays in front of the building. As they present themselves inside, match the faces and plates to whatever papers they are trying to shove over the counter. Then put those papers into a bin and set fire to them. Have the car outside towed away and dropped into a compactor. Direct the speechless applicant to the bus stop.

A win-win for us all…

  • I found out that I could get my driving licence free and 50% off the car rego. Triple win.

 

The Bus Tour – Route 33 – Somewhere, Eventually…

If you want to test your character as well as your stamina, get on the wrong bus. I did recently and found out a lot.

The basic problem was the Sunday schedule of the Transperth buses brigaded up two quite different routes at the same stop. And, as I was unfamiliar with the stop and did not look at the reporting sign on the front of the vehicle. I stepped blithely aboard the first one that presented itself.

I travel free on Sunday as a senior, so no money changed hands.

But when the bus turned off the main highway into the backstreets of a suburb, I guessed instantly what I had done. And then I examined myself to see what I thought about it and what I planned to do. I found that I was fine with the whole thing – I have all day to sit in the air conditioning on the bus and wherever it ended up, it would eventually return to where I got on. Or perhaps I could amend the problem half-way along. SI I settled for the ride.

Eventually it debouched me at our Technology university – at a bus port designed for what must be thousands of weekday commuters. It was deserted, but the bus driver was able to point me to a stand where I might catch another onward. With less than 10 minutes’ wait, a bench to sit on, and a magazine to read, it was no disaster. Eventually another bus I had never travelled on took me to a train station I recognised and I could resume what I started.

What did I see? I saw the densely packed housing around the university, the sprawling campus ( as always, under construction…) and the far reaches of 1930’s suburbia. When you can look out of a side window you can see far more than driving a car.

I have had a small adventure, and it suggests further ones spent on the public transport during weekends. With no anxiety about parking or traffic jams on the way, lots of destinations take on a new appeal – and if there is time to spare everything you see is rewarding.

Sour Grapes Plates

The personalised number plate business in Western Australia is booming – closely followed by a number of people who decry it. For every citizen who is prepared to pay the state government $ 535 to $ 685 for their own lettering on the plates – there is another internet poster who thinks it is foolish and believes that it is their mission life to scoff.

Well, I like scoffing as much as the next anonymous Facebook writer, but in this case I think the detractors are in the wrong – for a number of reasons:

  1. The decision to buy a personal plate is not forced upon any motorist. They are free to take whatever the dealer places on their car at a lower cost.
  2. The wording of the plate must pass some official scrutiny and the rules that govern it are fairly spelled out. No profanity, no incitement, etc. A plate doesn’t appear without permission.
  3. The money raised from the plate sales presumably goes into general coffers – and thence to public works, like roads, schools, and hospitals. More money than standard plates, hence more contribution to state welfare.
  4. The plates are distinctive. This is both a good and bad thing for the driver – they are more likely to be remembered and spotted than if they have standard plate. if they behave with care and distinction on the road this means we can praise them and if not, they can be easily identified.
  5. The are sometimes amusing to read – sometimes puzzling -and sometimes a prudent warning about the mind set of the driver. This can be very useful when the motorist is an hoon or idiot – you can avoid them.
  6. They are a harmless amusement. Hard to find harmlessness these days as everyone is uptight about everything, but a Mini car with ” The Moocher ” on it is a pretty cheerful sight.
  7. All too often we are a number -a Centrelink number, a bank number, an ABN number. Or just a series of passwords and PIN numbers. We often lose our names to everyone else. How nice to have a distinctive plate that we choose.
  8. A personal-plated car is more likely to be cherished, maintained, and driven carefully by the owner.
  9.  A personal plate on a Mercedes, Volvo, Lexus, or BMW that features a number of “8”s on it is as good an identifier as a roundel would be on an Air Force plane. Sort of an IFF signal, but in this case an IFW. If you know what to look for you know to give it a wide berth in car parks.
  10.  For my part I would like to see a return of the old-fashioned yellow ” L ” plate and red ” P ” plate fixed at a standard height on a standard position – the bumper bar or the grill of the car. The practice of plastering something behind a windscreen or rear window that cannot be seen other road users defeats the entire purpose of the warning.

I would also like to see similar plates for us elderly drivers – perhaps a red/yellow striped plate that warns others that we are going to drive more slowly and cautiously.

Thank You, Tourist Driver

And I am not being sarcastic when I  write this – thank you indeed for being who you are, doing what you do, on our freeways.

You are slower than the rest of the entitled aristocrats in their Audis and angry tradies in their tray top Toyotas. You are in the left-hand lane, and about 10 KPH below the speed limit. You are doing the sort of speed I want to drive at, and you are a convenient haven.

I can tuck in behind you and look as if I am caught by your slow speed. In reality, I am slipstreaming you and would not pull out to overtake for quids. You are doing what I want to do. If you are driving a Bayswater Hire Car, so much the better. Your inexpertise advertises itself and takes the blame off me.

Please continue. I shall not flash my lights or toot my horn.

Imperial Purple

I have reported some years ago about another purple car seen frequently at car shows. It is still making an appearance – I saw it just a month ago at the WA Hot Rod Show and it had the familiar ” For Sale ” sticker on it. At least it is a reliable vehicle – if not an immediate seller.

The car in today’s post did not have a ” For Sale ” sticker that I could see. I daresay it might in the future – kit cars like this are as salable as any hot rod or restored vehicle and if they possess the coveted license plate they can be driven as much as the owner dares.

The driver of this car might need a bit of daring, as it really does have an engine under that long bonnet- a large one. The styling of the engine compartment has been taken a bit from that of a big Mercedes of the 30’s, and they probably had in-line engines. Hence the bonnet line has had to be widened a little to fit the V-shaped engine. And there has been some imaginative and busy shoe-horning to get the exhaust manifold to approximate that of the Mercedes. I have no idea how functional the side pipes are, but I volunteer someone else to put their lips on them to see if they get hot.

The wider engine bay may also mean that the interior tub space is a little wider. The dash seems quite rectangular in shape – probably because the cowl is too. In any case, it is wooden in there, with what look to be 70’s North American appointments. At least there would be power enough under that bonnet for the A/C. I wonder what the top and side sealing arrangements are to contain the cool or warm air?

 The suspension is a straightforward adaptation of a modern unit, which is wise given the stresses the engine on one side and the tyres on the other would generate. I rather like the horn.

Altogether, I do admire it. I was a little taken aback by the tubular nature of the front bumper with the orange plastic ends…but I daresay a few weeks consultation and work with a good hot rod shop and chromer would change that.

I wonder…were Mercedes ever painted this colour? Perhaps for the playboys of the period they were.

 

 

 

Dashboard

Every time I open the WordPress site I get a dashboard that lets me control the weblog. Every time I get into my little Suzuki I sit behind a dashboard that lets me control the car. It is a comfortable place to be in both cases and I can see the wisdom in naming the set of electronic quizzes and sliders that we operate for sites and computers the same as the automobile – we are nearly all familiar with one somehow.

Well, leave the weblog and the computer aside and follow along to a couple of car shows as I look at the dashboards. I find them a fascinating insight into the minds of both the designers and of the society they serve.

DSCF0114The first dashboards literally dashed the mud aside as buggies and wagons followed horses. I’ll bet that the horses were not fooled – they could think of ways of spattering the people behind them anyway. But the dashboard of the wagon might only need to have a footrest, and no other controls. This leaked onto the first horseless carriages – they have few things happening in front there either, though they start to add pedals and switches to deal with braking and transmissions. Sometimes with the acceleration of the engine, though in many of the old cars this was still happening around the steering wheel.

Sometimes pipes and gauges were added to cope with fuels, or water, or oil. There might even be electrical gauges if the driver needed to know what was going to fail next…

Gradually the gauges took on more significance and prominence. People might not have needed to know how fast they were going early on because they were not going fast at all. When they sped up, someone wanted them to slow down, and quantified that – speed limits were evolved and drivers needed to know how quickly the vehicle was moving. The speedometer appeared. Followed by the speed trap and the fine.

Technical brother to the speedometer was the tachometer – how many revolutions per minute the engine was making. The driver could use the information to decide when to shift gears, if the screaming of the transmission or the passengers did not supply the signal. Old timers probably paid more attention to this one and regulated themselves in their district on hills and turns they knew by watching their revs.

People needed to know how much petrol or other fuel was in the tank and for a long time the only way they could determine this was a dipstick in the tank. That or a glass gauge with a tube in it somewhere near the tank. Or sticking their tongue in the tank. It was a long time before a reliable petrol gauge appeared on the dashboard…and I am waiting any week for one to show on mine…A guess is as good as a mile in many cases and that is how far you’ll be walking when you ignore the little floppy needle.

Oil? All engines and many navies needed it, but the original measure was a dipstick on the crankcase for when you had it and a grinding clank when you didn’t. The idea of putting an oil gauge on the dash to worry the driver came along pretty quickly but it was generally done by means of a tube from where the oil pressure was to the gauge in the dash where the needle swung over. The inevitable vibration and fatigue fracture would send the hot oil somewhere unpleasant. It was quite a while before they thought of a sensor and electrical reporter for this.

Electricity, coming or going, is invisible. You only ever hear it when you are holding a spark plug lead and the block and some comedian cranks the engine over. Then it makes a noise like bad words. For some time the designers did not really know what to measure as far as electricity went and there were few sensible gauges. Eventually they settled on a little bobbing needle that went one way when you were using it up and the other way when you were making more. You could even measure the battery to see how much electricity was in there but it was always a blasted lie.

Most other measurements and reports were only commentary. Various makers decide to tell you or not, depending upon the market and whether they thought you wanted to know or would understand the message.

Will post later…must dash…

 

 

The Question Of Race

race

I went to a wonderful museum last year and wandered at will amongst the cars  – they had apparently been collected by a local mining magnate and were stored in a country town about an hour out of Perth. The collection was an eclectic one, and I was unable to fathom why some of the items were of interest to the owner. But I got in cheaply on a seniors ticket and looked my fill.

The most puzzling of the cars were the racers – mainly because they were such a mixed bag and there wasn’t clear story of how they fitted into the story of local car racing. I puzzled out a few things for myself, but have probably gotten it wrong.

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This imposing beauty may well be a replica of something that raced elsewhere in the world. I think it a 1904 Samson Napier from the sign but the condition of it seems too perfect. The really impressive part is the use of the copper tubing to form both an engine compartment and a cooling radiator. No seat belts or windscreen seem to make the position of the mechanic more perilous that need be as he is denied even the comfort of the steering wheel to hang on to.

DSCF7030

Smaller, lighter, weirder…this yellow boat tail seems to have a motor-cycle engine partially buried in the front of the chassis. The front axle has the same sort of steering action that we used to see in billy carts or soap-box racers – albeit with a vertical spring to rest on.

The final drive is also a thing of interest – is it really going to go forward with just a rubber vee belt and two pulleys? Not with that particular belt, I imagine…

And the single light at the front…acetylene, one supposes, and certainly an elegant little brass accessory. But it argues that this mechanical confection was let loose on the open road after dark. A midnight apparition.

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Now we’re getting somewhere…but unfortunately we never did. This special is the partially – built remainder of a project that was to have been the salvation of a young man of good family. Alas, it did not succeed.

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Here is a racer! I am assuming an Offenhauser under that bonnet and mag wheels and all the trimmings that made American speedway racing great in the 40’s and 50’s. I am at a loss as to how it got here or exactly what tier of racing it competed in over there. Was it an Indianapolis car?

DSCF7033

Here is an Australian car of the 50’s and 60’s. Home made but to a quasi-continental style for circuit racing in the eastern states. It almost echoes a Mercdes style, though the engine is likely to be American or Australian.

I wish I knew more. On another visit I will get more information. Please note that there are wilder birds seen at other Perth exhibitions from the early days of motor sport in the state. Few of them ever look good, but they do attract the eye.