Friday, October 30, 2009

Driving eyesight requirements

Letting the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) know about eyesight conditions

When applying for your driving licence from the DVLA you should let them know if you have:

  • any visual condition which affects both eyes (not including short or long sight or colour blindness)
  • any visual condition which affects your sight (not including short or long sight or colour blindness) eg if you have sight in one eye only

If you have had sight correction surgery you should declare this when you apply for your provisional licence.

Eyesight requirements for the practical driving test

Before the practical driving test, your driving examiner will ask you to read the number plate on a stationary vehicle.

The distance requirement for the eyesight test using old style number plates is 20.5 metres or 20 metres if the new-style number plate is used. New-style number plates are easily identifiable starting with two letters eg AB 51 ABC.

If you can't speak English or have difficulty reading, you may copy down what you see.

You can’t read the first number plate

If you can't read the first number plate correctly, you'll be asked to read a second number plate, if you can't read this number plate correctly, you'll be allowed to walk forward until you're just over the appropriate distance away.

If you still can't read the number plate correctly, the examiner will ask you to read a third number plate and will measure the precise distance from this number plate. The distance will be 20.5 metres if you're asked to read an old-style number plate and 20 metres if you're asked to read a new-style number plate.

You can’t read the third number plate

If you can't read the third number plate correctly, and the examiner is satisfied that you don't meet the required eyesight standard, you'll fail the driving test, and the practical test will not continue.

This test failure will be marked on the driving test report form (DL25) with a mark in the 'Item 1' box. Your interpretation of the number plate along with the correct one will be written on the back of the form along with the measured distance.

Wearing glasses/corrective lenses to pass the eyesight test

If you can only read a number plate using glasses/corrective lenses for the eyesight test, the law requires you wear them whenever you are driving and throughout your test. You're not allowed to remove your glasses/corrective lenses when carrying out test manoeuvres (reversing etc).

If you used your glasses/corrective lenses to read the number plate and take off/out your glasses/corrective lenses during the practical test, your examiner will remind you the law requires you to wear them; if you refuse to wear them, the test will not continue.

If you have broken, forgotten or brought the wrong glasses, you should tell your examiner at the start of the test. If you don't tell the examiner and attempt and fail the eyesight test, your test will be recorded as a failure and the remainder of the test will not go ahead.

Failing the eyesight test

Should you fail the eyesight requirement; the examiner will ask you to sign a form DL.77 –which acknowledges you were unable to comply with the eyesight requirements. The examiner (using form DL.77 form) will notify the DVLA that you did not meet the eyesight requirements and your licence will be revoked.

To reapply for your licence, send to DVLA an ‘Application for a Driving Licence’ (D1), available from the DVLA form ordering service or Post Office® branches. You can also download and complete the medical questionnaire V1 and return it with your D1 form.

When your application arrives at DVLA they’ll ask the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) to conduct a separate eyesight test for you at a test centre. If you’re successful you’ll still have to pass the DSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turbocharging and Supercharging

Engine with Turbocharger
Turbochargers and superchargers are fans that force compressed air into an engine’s cylinders. A turbocharger fan is powered by exhaust from the engine, while a supercharger fan is powered by the engine itself.

Both technologies allow more compressed air and fuel to be injected into the cylinders, generating extra power from each explosion. A turbocharged or supercharged engine produces more power than the same engine without the charging, allowing manufacturers to user smaller engines without sacrificing performance.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Aliphatic Polyisocyanate Paints In Automotive

Two-component, polyurethane paints containing aliphatic isocyanates are widely used in autobody spray painting. Such isocyanates can cause asthma, and skin exposure may be an important route of sensitization and may contribute to the development of isocyanate asthma. Autobody workers are frequently in contact with recently painted, dried auto parts. It is not known how fast the newly painted car surfaces are fully cured, that is, for how long unbound, isocyanate species remain on painted surfaces after initial drying. To address this question, scrap sections of auto bodies were painted and dried by autobody shop painters following regular practice. Routinely used paints were sprayed 23 different times on the parts. Drying was accomplished by baking the part in a paint spray booth by heating it with a heat lamp or air drying in the shop.

The 23 sprayed surfaces were sampled at regular time intervals after drying to determine the presence of free NCO groups using the semiquantitative SWYPE technique. Quantitative isocyanate analysis was also performed on two sprayed parts using NIOSH method 5525. Geometric mean curing time of 23 painted surfaces was 56.4 hr (range: 0.8 hrs to 32 days). Unbound isocyanate species of similar composition to the original bulk material remained present on the majority of sampled painted surfaces for up to 120 hours for typical paint formulations and for 1 month for others.

The actual curing of polyurethane paints in autobody refinishing can be a slow process. Unbound isocyanates may remain on the surface of painted car parts for prolonged periods (days to weeks) after dried. Such surfaces are an under-recognized potential source of skin exposure to autobody workers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Consumer Assistance Program Fact Sheet

The Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) provides financial assistance for qualified consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial (every-other-year) Smog Check. The statutory authority for CAP is found in the Health and Safety Code and is implemented through regulations adopted by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR). Participation in CAP is limited to available funds.

How do I qualify for CAP?

CAP offers two options for consumers whose vehicles fail their biennial Smog Check:

  • Repair Assistance: Qualified consumers can receive financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs to help their vehicles pass their Smog Check inspection. Approved applicants must take their vehicles to a Gold Shield repair station for repairs. Gold Shield stations are licensed Smog Check facilities that are independently owned and under contract with the State of California. There are two ways to qualify for repair assistance.
    • Income Eligible - Qualified consumers whose household incomes meet the income guidelines (derived from the federal poverty guidelines) can receive financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs. A copayment is required and will be applied toward diagnosis and emission-related repairs. The CAP application includes an income eligibility table to help consumers determine if they meet the income requirements.
    • Directed Vehicle Eligible - Certain vehicles are directed to Test-Only or Gold Shield stations for their initial smog tests. If your Department of Motor Vehicles registration notice requires a test at a Test-Only or Gold Shield station, and your vehicle fails, you may qualify for financial assistance toward emissions-related repairs at a Gold Shield repair station. Test-Only stations cannot perform repairs. A copayment is required and will be applied toward diagnosis and emissions-related repairs.
  • Vehicle Retirement: Eligible consumers can receive payment to retire their high-polluting vehicle. There are no income or Directed Vehicle eligibility requirements. Approved applicants must take their vehicle to an authorized dismantler. The vehicle must pass a visual and operational inspection before it is retired.

How do I apply?

You must first submit an application. Do not have any repairs done to your vehicle until you are notified that your application has been approved. If you applied for repair assistance, you will then receive an approval letter and a list of Gold Shield stations. If you applied for vehicle retirement, you will receive an approval letter and a list of contracted dismantlers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

FRA Train Horn Rule Fact Sheet

Purpose: The goal of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in developing the train horn rule is to ensure safety for motorists at highway-rail grade crossings while allowing communities the opportunity to preserve or enhance quality of life for their residents by establishing areas/times in which train horns are silenced.

Historical Background: Since their inception, railroads have sounded locomotive horns or whistles in advance of grade crossings and under other circumstances as a universal safety precaution. During the 20th century, nearly every state in the nation enacted laws requiring railroads to do so. Some states allowed local communities to create whistle bans where the train horn was not routinely sounded.

In the early 1990’s, the FRA observed a significant increase in train-vehicle collisions at certain gated grade crossings in Florida which coincided with a statewide whistle ban on the Florida East Coast Railroad (FECR). In 1993, FRA issued Emergency Order #15 requiring trains on the FECR to sound their horns again, pre-empting the 1984 Florida statute that created the ban. The number and rate of collisions at affected crossings returned to pre-whistle ban levels.

In 1994, Congress mandated that the FRA issue a federal regulation requiring the sounding of locomotive horns or whistles at all public highway-rail grade crossings; and to provide for exceptions to that requirement by allowing communities to establish "quiet zones." In 1996, Congress added that special consideration be given to communities with long-standing or legacy whistle bans.

Before finalizing the rule, FRA held public meetings around the country and solicited comment from scores of affected communities and stakeholders. Based upon the voluminous input received, FRA published an Interim Final Rule in December 2003, refining its original proposal and inviting additional public comment. The final federal train horn rule became effective on June 24, 2005.

The rule provides the first opportunity ever for many local communities around the country affected by train horn noise the option of silencing horns by establishing quiet zones.

Sounding the Locomotive Horn: Under the Train Horn Rule, locomotive engineers must sound train horns for a minimum of 15 seconds, and a maximum of 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings, except:

  • If a train is traveling faster than 45mph, engineers will not sound the horn until it is within ¼ mile of the crossing, even if the advance warning is less than 15 seconds.
  • If a train stops in close proximity to a crossing, the horn does not have to be sounded when the train begins to move again.
  • There is a "good faith" exception for locations where engineers can’t precisely estimate their arrival at a crossing.
Wherever feasible, train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long. The horn must continue to sound until the lead locomotive or train car occupies the grade crossing.

For the first time, a maximum volume level for the train horn has been established at 110 decibels. The minimum sound level remains 96 decibels. Railroads have until 2010 to fully comply with the maximum volume level requirement.

Establishing a New Quiet Zone: A new quiet zone must be at least ½ mile in length and have at least one public highway-rail grade crossing. Every public grade crossing in a new quiet zone must be equipped at minimum with the standard or conventional flashing light and gate automatic warning system. A quiet zone may be established to cover a full 24-hour period or only during the overnight period from 10:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M.

Local governments must work in cooperation with the railroad that owns the track, and the appropriate state transportation authority to form a diagnostic team to assess the risk of collision at each grade crossing where they wish to silence the horn. An objective determination is made about where and what type of additional safety engineering improvements are necessary to effectively reduce the risk associated with silencing the horns based on localized conditions such as highway traffic volumes, train traffic volumes, the accident history and physical characteristics of the crossing, including existing safety measures.

Examples of additional safety engineering improvements that may be necessary to reduce the risk of collisions include: medians on one or both sides of the tracks to prevent a motorist from driving around a lowered gate; a four-quadrant gate system to block all lanes of highway traffic; converting a two-way street into a one-way street; permanent closure of the crossing to highway traffic; or use of wayside horns posted at the crossing directed at highway traffic only.

Once all necessary safety engineering improvements are made, the local community must certify to FRA that the required level of risk reduction has been achieved. A quiet zone becomes effective and train horns go silent only when all necessary additional safety measures are installed and operational.

Quiet Zone Exceptions: In a quiet zone, engineers have no legal duty to sound the horn, but do have discretion to do so during emergency situations (i.e. the presence of a vehicle or a person on the track).

Under federal regulations, engineers must sound the horn to warn railroad maintenance employees or contractors working on the tracks.

Monitoring Quiet Zones: If a railroad or particular engineer is observed failing to sound horns as required or is repeatedly and unnecessarily sounding the horn in an established quiet zone, FRA will seek to remedy the situation or take enforcement action.

Effect of the Rule on Pre-Existing Whistle Bans: Legacy whistle bans were established by local ordinance or through agreements with specific railroads in accordance with existing state law, or through informal agreements honored or abided by a railroad. The new rule required communities with whistle bans to affirmatively state their intention to preserve it by submitting specific paperwork converting the ban to a "pre-rule quiet zone." Those that failed to do so by a specified deadline lost their special status and railroads resumed routine sounding of horns.

Pre-rule quiet zone communities that completed the required paperwork have been granted an extended grace period (from 5 to 8 years) to achieve compliance with certain rule requirements. During the grace period, local communities must periodically file paperwork to demonstrate their progress toward compliance or the horns will start sounding again.

The Chicago area’s numerous pre-existing whistle bans are temporarily excepted from compliance with the rule because of their unique experience with this issue. After an ongoing collaborative review is completed, the FRA will determine the final status of the Chicago pre-rule quiet zones.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Preventing your car in Winter Weather

Winterize your car, maintain a full tank of gas, and keep moisture out of the tank. Keep an emergency kit in your car to help you stay warm, visible, and alive if trapped.

You can avoid many dangerous winter travel problems by planning ahead. Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends. In addition, every fall:
  • Have the radiator system serviced, or check the antifreeze level yourself with an antifreeze tester. Add antifreeze, as needed.
  • Replace windshield-wiper fluid with a wintertime mixture.
  • Replace any worn tires, and check the air pressure in the tires.

During winter, keep the gas tank near full to help avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.

The new technology of door of cars

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to Dispose of Automotive Batteries?

Automotive batteries may only be disposed of by delivery to: a) a retailer, distributor, collector, or recycler of automotive batteries, or b) the Special Waste Disposal Site, which is located on Staten Island at the Fresh Kills Complex on Muldoon Avenue. Automotive batteries may not be disposed of in the municipal solid waste system. Automotive battery retailers are required by State law to accept up to two batteries per month per person for free. There is a $5 surcharge added to the purchase price of all new auto batteries. If an auto battery is returned at the time a new battery is purchased or within 30 days after purchasing a new battery, the $5 surcharge will be waived or refunded.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Restructured GM to Build a New Small Car in the United States

Photo of the Hummer H2, a large, rugged, boxy utility vehicle
General Motors Corporation (GM) declared bankruptcy on June 1, and as part of the company's restructuring, it plans to revive one of its idled U.S. factories for the production of a future small car. The new small car will add to a group of small and fuel-efficient vehicles that the company is planning to roll out in the near future, including the Chevrolet Cruze and GM's plug-in hybrid vehicle, the Chevy Volt. The retooled plant will be capable of building 160,000 cars annually, including both small and compact vehicles, but GM has not yet decided which of its manufacturing plants will be retooled.

The plans for reviving the plant were among the few positive outcomes included in the restructuring announcement, as the company plans to close assembly plants in Wilmington, Delaware, and Pontiac, Michigan, by the end of this year, while idling assembly plants in Orion, Michigan, and Spring Hill, Tennessee (the closure of two other manufacturing plants in Michigan and New York was previously announced). GM will also close three parts distribution centers, located in Florida, Massachusetts, and Ohio, by the end of this year. By the end of 2010, GM plans to close six additional manufacturing plants in Michigan, Ohio, and Virginia, and idle a stamping plant in Pontiac, Michigan, while a stamping plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, will be closed in late 2011.

GM will also focus primarily on its four core brands—Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC—while selling, discontinuing, or scaling back its other brands. On June 2, GM announced plans to sell its Hummer brand of premium off-road vehicles to a Chinese company, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., Ltd. The Sichuan-based company intends to expand the Hummer dealer network worldwide, particularly into China. The Hummer H2 led the 2009 list of "meanest vehicles for the environment," which is part of the annual "Green Book" produced by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The White House characterized the GM restructuring as a shift toward a new leaner, greener GM, which will aim to break even with annual sales of 10 million cars. GM previously had to sell more than 16 million vehicles per year to break even. President Obama declared that the restructuring "will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM; a new GM that can produce the high-quality, safe, and fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow; that can lead America towards an energy independent future; and that is once more a symbol of America's success."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Small Engine Mechanics

Small engine mechanics repair and service power equipment ranging from jet skis to chainsaws. Mechanics usually specialize in the service and repair of one type of equipment, although they may work on closely-related products.

When a piece of equipment breaks down, mechanics use various techniques to diagnose the source and extent of the problem. The mark of a skilled mechanic is the ability to diagnose mechanical, fuel, and electrical problems and to make repairs quickly. Quick and accurate diagnosis requires problem-solving ability and a thorough knowledge of the equipment’s operation.

Some jobs require minor adjustments or the replacement of a single item, whereas a complete engine overhaul requires hours to disassemble the engine and replace worn valves, pistons, bearings, and other internal parts. Some highly skilled mechanics use specialized components and the latest computerized equipment to customize and tune motorcycles and motorboats for racing.

Handtools are the most important work possessions of mechanics. Small engine mechanics use wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers on a regular basis. Mechanics usually provide their own tools, although employers will furnish expensive power tools, computerized engine analyzers, and other diagnostic equipment. Computerized engine analyzers, compression gauges, ammeters and voltmeters, and other testing devices help mechanics locate faulty parts and tune engines. This equipment provides a systematic performance report of various components to compare against normal ratings. After pinpointing the problem, the mechanic makes the needed adjustments, repairs, or replacements.

Small engines also require periodic service to minimize the chance of breakdowns and to keep them operating at peak performance. During routine maintenance, mechanics follow a checklist that includes the inspection and cleaning of brakes, electrical systems, fuel injection systems, plugs, carburetors, and other parts. Following inspection, mechanics usually repair or adjust parts that do not work properly or replace unfixable parts.

Motorcycle mechanics specialize in the repair and overhaul of motorcycles, motor scooters, mopeds, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles. Besides repairing engines, they may work on transmissions, brakes, and ignition systems and make minor body repairs. Mechanics often service just a few makes and models of motorcycles because most work for dealers that service only the products they sell.

Motorboat mechanics, or marine equipment mechanics, repair and adjust the electrical and mechanical equipment of inboard and outboard boat engines. Most small boats have portable outboard engines that are removed and brought into the repair shop. Larger craft, such as cabin cruisers and commercial fishing boats, are powered by diesel or gasoline inboard or inboard-outboard engines, which are removed only for major overhauls. Most of these repairs, therefore, are performed at docks or marinas. Motorboat mechanics also may work on propellers, steering mechanisms, marine plumbing, and other boat equipment.

Outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics service and repair outdoor power equipment such as lawnmowers, garden tractors, edge trimmers, and chain saws. They also may occasionally work on portable generators and go-carts. In addition, small engine mechanics in certain parts of the country may work on snowblowers and snowmobiles, but demand for this type of repair is both seasonal and regional.

Work environment. Small engine mechanics usually work in repair shops that are well lighted and ventilated but are sometimes noisy when engines are tested. Motorboat mechanics may work outdoors in poor weather conditions when making repairs aboard boats. They may also work in cramped or awkward positions to reach a boat’s engine. Outdoor power equipment mechanics face similar conditions when they need to make on-site repairs.

During the winter months in the northern United States, mechanics may work fewer than 40 hours a week because the amount of repair and service work declines when lawnmowers, motorboats, and motorcycles are not in use. Many mechanics work full-time only during the busy spring and summer seasons. However, they often schedule time-consuming engine overhauls or work on snowmobiles and snowblowers during winter downtime. Mechanics may work considerably more than 40 hours a week when demand is strong.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 SAE Powertrains, Fuels and Lubricants Meeting

The realities of todays transportation needs make your access to the latest and most innovative technical knowledge an imperative. The SAE 2009 Powertrains, Fuels & Lubricants Meeting is an open forum for discussion an opportunity for you and other professionals in the industry to exchange information and ideas in a shared effort to promote progress and growth.

The SAE 2009 Powertrains, Fuels & Lubricants Meeting provides state-of-the-art technical information and first hand experiences relating to the interactions of engine designs, fuel blends and alternatives, combustion techniques, lubricants and emission controls.

Emission regulations due to increasing levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the environment, the shortage of oil, escalating fuel costs, proposed alternative energy sources for both diesel and gasoline fuels, all continue to be headlines for the automotive and heavy duty industries. This conference provides insights and updates on the science of the combustion of fuels and its impacts on powertrain system designs in the global automotive and heavy duty markets. Different engines, different fuels, different lubricants, different additives, different combustion temperatures and pressures all generate a host of different scenarios emitting pollutants, which must be understood and acted upon for the industry to survive.

Presentations from leading experts currently engaged in cutting edge technology will highlight the pathways to emissions compliance and strategies that are under investigation so that breakthroughs will result in future powertrain designs.

Proposed topic areas include:

  • Advanced Power Systems
  • Combustion & Fuels
    • Compression Ignition Combustion
    • SI Combustion
    • Low Temperature Combustion including HCCI
    • Fuel Injection & Sprays
    • Multi-Dimensional Modeling
    • Heat Transfer
    • Cold Start
    • Diagnostics and Measurement Techniques
    • In-Cylinder Diesel Particulates & NOx
    • CI Performance with Alternative Fuels
    • SI Performance & Fuel Effects
    • Alternative & Advanced Fuels
  • Lubricants & Powertrain Systems
    • New CI and SI Engines & Components
    • Lubricants & Bearing Systems
    • NVH
    • Supercharging Systems
    • CI & SI Power Cylinder Systems
    • Small Engine Technology
    • Materials
    • Heavy Duty Diesel Lubricants
    • Novel Lubricants
    • Driveline Fluids
    • Rheology & Tribology
  • Exhaust Aftertreatment & Emissions
    • Aftertreatment Systems
    • Catalysts
    • Emissions Performance of CI and SI engines
    • On-Board Measurements
    • Exhaust System Modeling
  • Control & Calibration
    • Engine Controls
    • Vehicle Controls
    • Optimization Techniques
    • Variable Valve Actuation
    • On-Board Diagnostics
    • Vehicle System Models

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parts expo attracts heavyweights

Parts expo

The China International Auto Parts Expo will open on Sept 24 at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.

The only show in the industry sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, the China International Auto Parts Expo (CIAPE) is set for Sept 24 to 26 at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing as a forum for top domestic and foreign auto manufacturers, distributors and purchasers, as well as CEOs from multinational companies.

Thirty-two auto industry associations from 10 countries and regions and top global auto parts groups will join 20 of their business association peers from China at the expo, said Zhang Ji, a senior official in charge of machinery equipment industry of the Ministry of Commerce.

"The expo has high-profile participants as exhibitors must have an annual domestic sales of above 10 million yuan or an export value of $1 million, Zhang said. "They must have no illegal actions that infringe on intellectual property rights (IPR)."

The expo will set up an IPR protection office as in previous sessions to receive any violation claims from visitors and exhibitors.

Zhang added that no infringement cases were brought to the onsite office at past events.

He told China Daily that the expo aims to create an international trade and exhibition platform for China's auto parts industry, helping more enterprises go overseas and attract more to enter China.

He stressed that China has a critical need to enhance overseas sales of its auto parts and foreign shows alone are not enough.

The expo is also an import forum to attract more auto enterprises to China, which is in line with nation's opening up policy.

"More importantly, China's auto parts enterprises are often discriminated against or unfairly treated in overseas expos. For example, the exhibition areas are decreased or placed in corners, or some of the products are sealed illegally and maliciously," the department director said.

He himself was a witness when foreign auto parts company workers expelled visitors from Chinese booths, "so an independent expo is critical to domestic firms", he said.

Over the past seven years, China's auto parts industry developed rapidly, with its products entering 196 countries. Their export value grew over the period from $3.2 billion to $20.6 billion through annual growth of 36.4 percent, 8.5 percent higher than average foreign trade volume.

During the first half of this year, China's auto production and sales both hit 6 million units to become the top market in the world.

To date, a total of 2,000 enterprises have registered to join the event.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recent developments in car sales

In recent years, the sale of used cars has become a major source of profits for many new car dealers in the wake of shrinking margins on new cars. And to make them acceptable to more customers, some dealers promote “certified pre-owned” vehicles to customers who want a warranty on their used vehicle. This often raises the price, but in return provides customers with peace of mind. In economic downturns, the relative demand for these and other used cars often increases as sales of new cars decline.

Nationwide used automotive dealer chains have increased in popularity over the last decade. Like the used car departments of new car dealers, they capitalize on the relatively large profits on sales of previously owned cars, trucks, and vans. Some of the larger dealers offer low-hassle sales on large inventories of these used vehicles. Growth in leasing agreements and rental company inventory will continue to provide quality vehicles to these large independent dealers, thus providing for future employment growth in the used car market.

In an effort to achieve greater financial and operational efficiency and flexibility, greater emphasis will be placed on aftermarket services, such as financing and vehicle maintenance and repair, at both new and used car dealers. These services typically provide large profit margins for dealers, and remain less susceptible to business cycle downturns. They are also part of an effort to enhance customer loyalty and overall customer service.

Perhaps the most significant recent development for automotive dealers has been increasing use of the Internet to market new and used cars and light trucks. Through websites, consumers can easily access vehicle reviews; view pictures of vehicles; and compare models, features, and prices. Many Websites also allow consumers to research insurance, financing, leasing, and warranty options. As a result, consumers are generally better informed and spend less time meeting with salespersons.

Friday, October 09, 2009

NASA Awards Construction Contract For Rocket Engine Testing

NASA signed a contract Tuesday with Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport, Miss., for a general construction package on the A-3 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract's value is not to exceed $45 million. Contract work includes installation of the general mechanical and electrical support for the A-3 test stand.

The A-3 test stand is being built at Stennis to test the J-2X engine for NASA's Constellation Program. The Constellation Program is developing next-generation spacecraft systems to send astronauts to the International Space Station, the moon, Mars and destinations beyond. The J-2X engine will power the upper stage of the Ares I crew exploration vehicle and the Earth departure stage of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle.

The A-3 test stand will allow engineers to analyze the J-2X engine's operating parameters by simulating conditions at altitudes as high as 100,000 feet. For these simulations, the test stand will generate approximately 4,620 pounds per second of steam and use it to reduce the engine test cell pressure.

Construction began on the A-3 test stand in summer 2007, with the first test scheduled for 2012. The structure is the first large test stand to be built since the south Mississippi site was established in the 1960s.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Advantages & Disadvantages of E85

E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, can be used in flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which are specially designed to run on gasoline, E85, or any mixture of the two. FFVs are offered by several vehicle manufacturers. To determine if your vehicle can use E85, consult your owner’s manual or check the inside of your car's fuel filler door for an identification sticker.

Cost. Cost varies regionally. It is cheaper than gasoline in some areas, such as the Midwest, and more expensive in others.

Availability. Several hundred filling stations in the U.S. sell E85, and that number is increasing rapidly. Visit the Alternative Fuel Station Locator for locations of service stations selling E85.

Performance. No noticeable difference in vehicle performance when E85 is used.

MPG. FFVs operating on E85 usually experience a 20-30% drop in miles per gallon due to ethanol’s lower energy content.

Advantages & Disadvantages of E85
  • Domestically produced, reducing use of imported petroleum
  • Lower emissions of air pollutants
  • More resistant to engine knock
  • Added vehicle cost is very small
  • Can only be used in flex-fuel vehicles
  • Lower energy content, resulting in fewer miles per gallon
  • Limited availability
  • Currently expensive to produce

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Aircraft Navigation Technology

Early pilots looked out of their open cockpits for roads, rail lines, and airports to find their way in daytime flight. Pilots watched the horizon to make sure they were flying with the aircraft's nose and wings in the proper position relative to the ground, called attitude. As airmail pilots began flying at night and in all kinds of weather in the early 1920s, new equipment helped pilots navigate and maintain aircraft attitude when they could not see the ground. Navigation aids were developed for use inside the aircraft and also to guide the pilots from the ground.

Simple equipment to help pilots maintain attitude was introduced during the 1920s. These devices included such ideas as a bubble of liquid to help keep wings level and a device that measured pressure at different heights, called an altimeter, that told a pilot his altitude above ground level. A simple magnetic compass for direction was installed either in the cockpit panel or held in the pilot's hand.

In 1929, Lawrence Sperry and his Gyroscope Company introduced important new technology—the Artificial Horizon—that operated on gyroscopic principles. With its sensitive attachments, Sperry's device could detect forces that upset the gyroscope's stable spin, then would activate the aircraft controls to maintain proper attitude while flying when visible flight was not possible.

In the 1930s, new mechanical aids emerged, some based on Sperry's gyroscope and others based on the rush of air through intakes under the wing or the aircraft belly to measure speed and altitude. Equipment outside the aircraft measured the velocity of the air as it entered one intake and exited another. The results were fed to the pilot to help him determine the aircraft's attitude and position.

Navigation information was displayed on a group of instruments called the basic or primary six, which included the attitude indicator, a vertical speed indicator showing the rate of climb and descent, airspeed indicator, turn-and-bank coordinator, a heading indicator showing the magnetic compass course, and the altimeter. These instruments are still used.

Refined versions of Sperry's invention appear in 2001 as the Inertial Navigation System (INS) and the Inertial Guidance System (IGS). These systems measure changes in the aircraft's location and attitude that have taken place since the aircraft left the ground. These new devices include an accelerometer to detect changes in airspeed as well as attitude. By determining the precise latitude and longitude before flight, then tracking every change in location, the INS or IGS tells the pilot where he has flown.

Radio navigation aids were developed around the same time as mechanical aids. In 1926, successful two-way radio air-to-ground communication began, and the first transmitter/receiver went into mass production in 1928. Teletype machines were installed so that all stations along an air route could transmit weather conditions to the pilot. Eventually the pilot used these stations to indicate the plane's location.

The earliest radio navigation aid was the four-course radio range, which began in 1929. Four towers set in a square transmitted the letters A and N in Morse code. A pilot flying along one of the four beams toward the square would hear only an A or N in the dashes and dots of the code. The dashes and dots grew louder or more faint as he flew, depending if he was flying toward or away from one of the corners. Turning right or left, he would soon hear a different letter being transmitted, telling him which quadrant he had entered.

The beams flared out, so that at certain points they overlapped. Where the A or N signals meshed, the Morse code dashes and dots sounded a steady hum, painting an audio roadway for the pilot. At least 90 such stations were in place by 1933, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) apart along the 18,000-mile (28,968-kilometer) system of lighted towers and rotating beacons. Unfortunately, mountains, mineral deposits, railroad tracks, and even the atmospheric disturbance of the setting sun could distort the signals.

The first radio-equipped airport control tower was built in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1930, with a range of 15 miles (24 kilometers). By 1935, about 20 more towers had been erected. Based on pilot radio reports, a controller would follow each plane with written notes on a position map. The controller would clear an aircraft for takeoff or landing, but the pilot still could decide on the best path for himself.

Until World War II, radio navigation relied on low frequencies similar to those of an AM radio. Devices such as the automatic direction finder and the non-directional beacon, like the 1920s system before them, used Morse code, and the detection of weaker to stronger volume let a pilot know if he was on course. After the war, higher frequency transmitters, called the very high frequency omni-directional radio range or VOR, further refined the early concept of allowing pilots to fly inbound or outbound along a certain quadrant on a line called a radial. These transmitter locations, their frequencies and identifying Morse codes are all printed on navigation charts. The various radio-based systems are sufficient for navigating between airports but are called non-precision aids because they are not accurate enough and do not provide enough information to allow a pilot to land.

Before World War II, the Civil Aeronautics Administration relied on pilots to radio their position relative to known navigation landmarks to keep the aircraft safely separated. During the war, radio detection and ranging (RADAR) was tested. Radar's primary intent was, and still is, to keep airplanes separated, not to guide them to a specific point.

In 1956, a TWA Lockheed Super Constellation with 64 passengers and six crew and a United Airlines DC-7 with 53 passengers and five crew collided over the Grand Canyon, killing all 128 people. The incident led to new federal funding for rapid development of radar, air traffic control procedures, and technologies for more precise navigation. The crash also led to an aviation agency reorganization that included creation of the Federal Aviation Agency.

Today's aircraft are tracked as computer-generated icons wandering across radar display screens, with their positions, altitude, and airspeed updated every few seconds. Pilots and controllers communicate using both voice and data transmitting radios, with controllers relying on radar tracking to keep aircraft on course. Today, cockpit navigation information is increasingly displayed on a monitor, but the position of information and its format are nearly identical to the basic six instruments of early and simpler aircraft.

New technologies, though, have led to a debate as to whether the federal government, using fixed electronic stations, or the pilots should control navigation like in the earliest days. The global positioning system (GPS) is one technology that allows pilots to accurately determine their position anywhere on the Earth within seconds, raising the question whether they need any help from the ground.

GPS is becoming the primary means of navigation worldwide. The system is based on satellites in a continuous grid surrounding the Earth, each equipped with an atomic clock set to Greenwich, England, called ZULU time. The GPS units in the aircraft, or even in a pilot's hand, find the nearest two satellite signals in a process called acquisition. The time it takes for the signals to travel creates a precise triangle between the two satellites and the aircraft, telling the pilot his latitude and longitude to within one meter or a little more than one yard. In coming years, this system will be made even more precise using a GPS ground unit at runway ends.

Despite these advances, pilots can still crash because they get lost or lose track of hazards at night or in bad weather. On December 29, 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act came into effect. It requires most civilian aircraft to carry an emergency locater transmitter (ELT). The ELT becomes active when a pilot tunes to an emergency radio frequency or activates automatically when the aircraft exceeds a certain force in landing, called the g-force, during a crash. This form of navigation aid, which transmits signals to satellites overhead, saves lives of injured pilots and crew who are unable to call for help themselves.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Fuel Cell Systems

PEM fuel cells are the center of an integrated propulsion system-one that is radically different from conventional vehicle systems. The diagram below shows the basic components of a hydrogen-fueled FCV.

FCVs like the one above use pure hydrogen as fuel, stored onboard the vehicle in highly pressurized tanks. Other FCVs are designed to use a liquid fuel such as gasoline or methanol, which is stored in a conventional, non-pressurized tank. FCVs using these fuels also need a reformer-a fuel processor that breaks down the fuel into hydrogen for the fuel cell, carbon dioxide, and water. Although this process generates carbon dioxide, it produces much less than the amount generated by gasoline-powered vehicles.

Fuel cell vehicles can also be equipped with regenerative braking systems that capture the energy usually lost during braking and store it in an up-sized battery.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Vehicle safety questions for lorries and buses

These are basic safety checks that a driver should carry out to ensure the vehicle is safe for use. Although some checks may involve the candidate in opening the bonnet to identify where fluid levels would be checked, pupils will not be asked to touch a hot engine or physically check fluid levels.

As vehicle technology advances, more and more vehicles are being equipped with electronic diagnostic systems, which inform the driver of the state of the engine fluid levels and tyre pressures. It will be acceptable for a candidate to refer to the vehicle information system (if fitted) when answering questions on fluid levels or tyre pressures.

Lorry and passenger carrying vehicles (PCV) (categories C & C1, D & D1)

Drivers seeking vocational licence entitlement should be experienced and technically expert, the assessment criteria reflects this.

Candidates will be asked five questions which will be a combination of ‘show me’ and ‘tell me’. A driving fault will be recorded for each incorrect answer to a maximum of four driving faults. If the candidate answers all five questions incorrectly, a serious fault will be recorded.

For a list of the safety questions you could be asked in your driving test, click on the vehicle safety questions link below.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Microscopic "Clutch" Puts Flagellum in Neutral

It has been long been known that bacteria swim by rotating their tail-like structure called the flagellum. (See the swimming bacteria in the figure.) The rotating motion of the flagellum is powered by a molecular engine located at the base of the flagellum. Just as engaging the clutch of a car connects its gear to its engine and delivers power to its wheels, engaging the molecular clutch of a bacterium connects its gear to its engine and delivers power to its flagellum.

Now, a paper appearing in the June 20 issue of Science describes, for the first time, how the flagellum's rotations are stopped so that bacteria stop moving. Here's how the stopping mechanism works: while a bacterium is swimming, it releases a protein (shown in red in the stationary bacterium in the figure) that flows between its gear and engine. The presence of this protein detaches the bacterium's gear from its engine and thereby stops the delivery of power to its flagellum. This process is analogous to disengaging the clutch of a car, which detaches its gear from its engine and thereby stops the delivery of power to its wheels.

Once the delivery of power to bacterium's flagellum stops, the flagellum stops rotating, and the bacterium's swimming ends.

An improved understanding of how flagella work may give nanotechnologists ideas about how to regulate tiny engines of their own creation. The flagellum is one of nature's smallest and most powerful motors. The flagellum of some bacteria can, for example, rotate more than 200 times per second, driven by 1,400 piconewton-nanometers of torque. That's quite a bit of (miniature) horsepower for a machine whose width stretches only a few dozen nanometers.

The research team was led by Kris Blair of the University of Indiana and included Daniel Kearns of the University of Indiana and Linda Turner and Howard Berg of Harvard University. Their study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

EPA Kit Car Policy

The following represents a clarification of EPA's policy concerning the regulation of imported and domestically produced kit cars and kit car packages. Kit vehicles are understood by EPA to typically involve new bodies, used drivetrains and new or used chassis. Used components may or may not be refurbished. This policy applies to kits or assembled kit cars only. This policy does not apply to regular production vehicles offered for importation into or produced in the United States.

  1. Fully-assembled kit cars are "motor vehicles" under the Clean Air Act. Complete kit car packages are also "motor vehicles" under the Clean Air Act. These are packages which contain all of the major components needed for assembly (i.e., body, chassis, engine and transmission). As "motor vehicles" they are subject to all applicable emission regulations. If an assembled kit car or complete kit car package is offered for importation and the kit is not covered by an EPA certificate of conformity issued to an original equipment manufacturer, an EPA Form No. 3520-1 must be filed at the port of entry and the vehicle must be imported by an Independent Commercial Importer (ICI) eligible to import such vehicles or kits. The ICI then must ensure that the vehicle or kit complies with all applicable emission requirements.
  2. An assembled kit car or complete kit car package which meets the following guidelines will be considered to be a rebuilt vehicle of a previously certified configuration and will be considered to be covered by that configuration's original EPA certificate of conformity.
    1. The components of the drivetrain (engine, transmission, differential) must be exclusively or substantially used and/or rebuilt. Regardless of the combination of new and used components, the engine must be used or used and rebuilt. The engine block and cylinder head(s) must be used, other components of the engine may be new. "Used" means the component has been in a vehicle that has been titled to an ultimate purchaser. A rebuilt component is defined as a used component which has been refurbished with new or other used parts.
    2. All emission-related components and settings must conform in all material respects to those of one previously certified configuration. Therefore, all part numbers for the emission-related components of a fully assembled kit vehicle or complete kit car package must match or be traceable to the numbers specified in the application for certification of a previously certified configuration.
    3. Consistent with EPA Advisory Circular (AC) 64, which deals with modifications performed before sale to the ultimate purchaser, the vehicle weight of the kit configuration can be no more than 500 pounds greater than the weight of the originally certified configuration.
    4. All catalytic converters, oxygen sensors, and charcoal canisters must be new, original equipment parts.
    5. Kit vehicles must: (1) have the same transmission configuration (i.e., manual, automatic, semi-automatic, number of forward gears, and shift calibration) as the originally certified configuration; and (2) consistent with AC 17F, have an N/V ratio (speed of vehicle in miles per hour/speed of engine in revolutions per minute) which matches the N/V ratio of the originally certified configuration within three (3) percent in every gear.*
      • *The Agency would consider minor variations to these limitations upon an appropriate demonstration that the altered configuration will meet Federal emission requirements.
    6. Each vehicle and its accompanying documentation must be clearly labeled as to the make, model year, engine family, subfamily, and tune-up specifications represented by the originally certified vehicle.
    7. If the originally certified configuration required unleaded fuel, then the vehicles must have fuel filler neck restrictors and unleaded fuel labels which meet the requirements of 40 CFR 80.24.
  3. The production, sale and importation of automotive bodies alone (i.e., no chassis, engine or transmission) are not regulated by EPA since such units are not considered "motor vehicles" under the Clean Air Act. EPA form 3520-1 is not required for imported automotive bodies. A motor vehicle from which the engine has been removed is still a motor vehicle and is not considered a body.
  4. The production, sale and importation of vehicle parts (engines, transmissions, chassis, vehicle bodies, etc.) are not regulated by EPA because parts are not considered motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. However if the parts constitute a disassembled vehicle or an approximate disassembled vehicle, the combination is considered a motor vehicle under the Clean Air Act. Any attempt to use this policy to circumvent the Clean Air Act or the Imports regulations will be considered a violation of the Clean Air Act and will be strictly enforced. An example of such circumvention is:
    • A kit car maker who also provides the engine and transmission before or after production/importation of the body/chassis.
  5. "Motor vehicles" must comply with the Clean Air Act and may not be disassembled nor purchased in a disassembled form for the purposes of evading the Clean Air Act or the Imports regulations. In these situations the kit car body/chassis combination must be certified by the manufacturer, must be in a configuration which was previously certified by EPA subject to the guidelines discussed at "2" above or, in the case of an importation, an EPA form 3520-1 must be filed at the port of entry and the vehicle imported by an eligible ICI who must ensure that the kit car body/chassis complies with all applicable emission requirements. At the present time, there are no ICIs eligible to import kit cars.
  6. Except with regard to kit vehicles meeting the guidelines at "2" above; an individual or firm that assembles kits for hire or resale, that produces assembled kit cars for resale or that produces complete kit car packages for resale will be considered to be a manufacturer of new motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act. Such manufacturers and their vehicles are subject to all applicable regulations under the Act including civil penalties of up to $25,000 per vehicle for each new motor vehicle distributed in commerce, sold, offered for sale, or introduced, or delivered for introduction, into commerce, unless such vehicle is covered by a certificate of conformity issued by EPA.