Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Ok, I get it - Miles Davis & Peak hour driving

It's pretty clear from this blog that I like old things. Let me rephrase...

I LOVE old stuff.

What might surprise you is, there are various parts of old cars that I just don't get. In fact it's not just that I don't get them, I openly mock, disrespect and in some case, despise them.

I despise carburetors.

Sound like a weird thing to say, but I reckon carbs (and points) are the things that make old cars evil. They get junk in em, they foul, they wear, they ice up. They're fiddly and they're about as complicated as a toilet...

Of course I'm exagerating, but carbs as we know it do generally work, like a toilet.

The 'needle & seat' arrangement in the fuel bowl works in the same way a the valve in a toilet works. A float rises and stops the fuel bowl overfilling with fuel. While that happens, air rushing through the carb pulls fuel out through the 'jets' where it mixes with the air.

Sounds simple right?

And for the most part it is. The thing is, carbs are just not that efficient. They do a few things well but, unlike EFI, they can't be tuned properly across the whole rev range on any engine. They become an impediment. So I really hate them...

Well at least I did, until other day.

Sydney traffic is pretty awful these days. Peak hour lasts 2-3 hours. I found myself sitting on a 'motorway' for an hour and a half to do a trip that should have taken 30 minutes. All in a 60 year old car with around 25hp at the wheels and a piddly carburetor. Which is when it hit me...

"For modern traffic, this is all I need"

That's right. No heater, no air con, AM radio, 3 pedals, a gearshift and a steering wheel, and that's it. If I put big tyres on the back it would be similar to driving a tractor. Not once during the 90+min trip did the carburetor fail to deliver everything I needed to get home. Not once did I need to accelerate faster than the car could manage.

So Miles Davis was right.

During the heyday of 1950's motoring when my car was made, he created with a new form of Jazz that totally flew in the face of the music of the day. Spartan, open, less notes and yet every bit as effective as John Coltrane's supercharged bebop.

Less was more, than enough.

Why was I building a 120hp engine when this got me home without an issue? Why was I swapping over to EFI and intercooling when I couldn't have used it on this journey?

Needless to say, I felt like a tool... again.

Smog tests and modern regulations have killed the carburetor in the west. No doubt about that. But I am left wondering if we've done something silly in demanding systems we don't need to fix issues that didn't need fixing.

Sorry little carb, you are owed all my respect.

Course, the next morning I realized why I was building a newer stronger engine when I checked the oil. The current engine is drinking it like a camel at an oasis...

Apparently; less power = using more oil.

Oh well.

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