Ooops – meeting a random emissions test station!

Posted on May 28th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Australia, while there has been talk about roadside sniffers and the like, unless you are a company selling a bolt-on upgrade package or you otherwise wish to stick very closely to the letter of the law, you can safely ignore emissions performance.

And so nearly everyone with a modified car does just that.

For example, none of my modified cars has ever been formally emissions tested – a full test cycle costs thousands of dollars and is simply not a requirement of a normal individual enthusiast. (There are some exceptions to this – say a major engine transplant, or other mods requiring engineer approval for registration.)

That’s not to say that I consider emissions performance irrelevant – not at all. At AutoSpeed we’re one of the few publications that’s actually had a good look at emissions testing procedures (see our Dirty Stuff series starting at Dirty Stuff – Part 1 and Emissions Testing). And personally I think those people who punch a hole through their cat converters are environmental vandals. But at the same time, I’ve never felt the need to check that my own cars meet emissions.

So when yesterday I found myself subjected to a Queensland Government Transport Onroad Vehicle Emissions Random Testing inspection, I was a bit taken aback. Especially given the car I was driving…

The Alnor Velometer Jnr

Posted on May 23rd, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

I have always liked gauges and instruments. My first car – an air–cooled Honda Z – gained an oil temperature gauge. It was a daring move for someone who knew nothing about cars. Subsequent cars were equipped with gauges including auto trans temp, intake air temp, boost pressure, oxygen sensor output and intake air restriction.

And my interest in instrumentation hasn’t been confined to those gauges normally found under the ‘automotive’ tag. Instruments from completely different fields also often have a place in car modification. The Dwyer Magnehelic gauges, for instance, are useful in assessing aerodynamics, radiator and intercooler flows, and pressure drops through intakes. (For more on using the Magnehelic gauge, do an AutoSpeed site search.) 

But the trouble with non-auto gauges is that in the past they have often been very expensive. Primarily because they’re made in small numbers, these specialist gauges from other industries have often retailed for more than they’re worth. More than they’re worth for automotive use, anyway.

But on-line auctions have changed all of that. On eBay, for example, you can find the most obscure instruments and gauges at bargain prices. They’re mostly being sold by people who don’t know what they are, what they do, or how they work. So that makes the starting price low. And if they’re really obscure, then bidding will be lukewarm too…

I’d like to give you the details but…

Posted on May 9th, 2004 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

I think that I am largely an instant gratification personality. I build it, then I like to immediately sample the results.

When I edited a print magazine, one of the excruciating aspects was waiting for the issue to come out – sometimes that would be months away. (It was even worse when I freelanced for magazines: in that case, you could wait over a year to see your work in print!) Of course, working with a web magazine like AutoSpeed has meant that if I want to see something published a week after I write it, that’s possible.

However, the major projects that I have been working on for the last year fall into the, er, distant gratification basket…

As I mentioned in my September 2003 Driving Emotion, I’ve been working on an electronics book that I am preparing with Silicon Chip, an Australian electronics magazine that we at Web Publications now also publish on-line. The book will cover a range of DIY electronic modification kits designed for performance cars. In that article I mentioned a brilliant new kit interceptor that can allow the alteration of air/fuel ratios across all loads – mentioned there was the Mark 1 version; electronics designer John Clarke and I are now up to Mark 3.

And each version just keeps getting better and better.