Beware black snot

Posted on April 22nd, 2012 in Driving Emotion,Safety,tools by Julian Edgar

If you’ve been sawing, grinding or filing metal, it’s likely that you’ve ended-up with a nose full of it. Not just snot – but black snot.

For years I thought it a just curiosity that resulted from that pursuit.

But now I am rather wary of it.

Recently, after spending a full day cutting and grinding, I started feeling a bit ill. The next day, going back to doing some more cutting and grinding, I wore a light dust mask.

But that night I still had black snot – and a hacking cough.

After a few days of feeling crap, I went to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor, but this one had the advantage of being the most beautiful doctor I’ve ever been to. And what did she say? You’ve got a virus – harden up.

But despite that opinion, I really do wonder if the metal dust that I’d been getting into my lungs didn’t have something to do with it.

Now when cutting and grinding, I wear a half-face respirator that has two double filters, one to catch particulate matter and the other for fumes. The result? No black snot – and filters that after only a few days of work, have changed from white to black.

Better caught in the filter media than in my lungs – or in my snot.

Beware that black snot….

The Underwhelming Mercedes

Posted on April 2nd, 2012 in Driving Emotion,Reviews by Julian Edgar

While I don’t write new car tests any more, whenever I am interstate and have the opportunity to hire a car, I drive it with rather more than usual interest.

So the Camry Hybrid (by now the previous model) was a great disappointment (surely a 10 year old Prius is better in every real-world respect?); and a Hyundai i45 was scarcely any better (what happened to the great Hyundai promise exemplified by the i30?).

And what about the BlueEFFICIENCY C200 Mercedes?

Perhaps I am getting old, with all the implications in both perspective and experience, but I thought the car had a direction that was at times bizarrely stupid.

I have to start with the tyres. Here is a small – not compact, small – car that has simply enormously wide, low profile tyres. Is that good? Nope – not in 99.9 per cent of road driving conditions… in this country, anyway.

So what was the tyre size?

Try 225/40 on 18 inch rims – and that’s crap for ride, crap for fuel economy… and oh yes, great for absolute grip. Just what you need on lousy roads and in a country with heavily-policed, low speed limits – not!

So what’s this BlueEFFICIENCY tag? A hybrid electric/diesel maybe?

Er, no.

It’s a turbocharged 1.8 litre with heaps of torque down low (270Nm at 1800 – 4600 rpm – excellent) and a reasonable amount of power at 135kW. And all connected to a 7 speed auto trans – one that has such terrible gear-changing logic that a five-year-old Honda craps all over it from a great height.

Reads well on the spec sheet; performs poorly on the road.

But what about fuel economy?



Ten years out of date.

On my gentle country drives, I got between 7 and 8 litres/100km. And that’s just what the official government test specs say I should be getting. But isn’t that good? Nope, not if you’re driven anything with similar room that’s powered by a diesel, or by a hybrid.

Or, and this is where it gets ridiculous, even a 20 year-old small/medium car.

Cos the Mercedes had just Godawful interior space. I banged my head against the roof rail above the door several times (there wasn’t room to turn to look around) and at all times I felt myself to be in this little, squashed car.

More room in a 1980s Holden Camira? I’d think so.

More room in a 1960s Austin 1800? Without a doubt, vastly more so.

And then we go from the sublime to the ridiculous. This squashed little car weighs-in at 1470kg. Yep, just under 1.5 tonnes. No wonder the fuel economy is nothing to write home about…

Good aspects? Build quality, the sound system and….hmmm, I’d imagine safety. And I loved the self-tightening seatbelts.

More bad points? Yep, can think of lots of those – the steering vague around centre, the hard seats, the rebound damping that was so overdone it’s ridiculous, the lack of space… oh did I mention that last one already?

At AUD$65,000, why would you bother?