Monday, July 25, 2005

Wings from the Past

A CF-100 parked among friends at the RCAF Memorial Museum in Trenton Onatrio, July 2005

Along the Road in Ontario, Part 3.

Kingston City Hall, Kingston, Ontario, July 2005

Gananoque, Ontario, July 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

Along the Road in Ontario, Part 2.

On the shore of Dixie Lake, along the Trans-Canada, Northern Ontario near the border of Manitoba, July 2004.

A look at HooDoos. Memories of the West, Part 5.

HooDoos in the Bow River Valley, Banff National Park, Alberta, July 2004

HooDoos in the Badlands near Drumheller Alberta, July 2004

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Along the road in Ontario, Part 1.

Lake Superior, Ontario, August 2004.

This is just one of many different photos taken of the majestic and breathtaking beauty of Lake Superior.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Memories of the West, Part 4.

Takakkaw Falls, Kicking Horse Pass, Rocky Mountains, B.C., July 2004

Takakkaw Falls is located off the beaten path along the Trans-Canada highway. It is most likely overlooked by most tourists and thus seems to keep its remote natural appearance. The narrow cliff hugging road that winds above the valley is not for the faint of heart. The single “switch back” was an interesting and new experience. But in the end all the danger and excitement was well worth it. You can hear the falls long before they are visible. A river full of rock flour runs along the path towards the falls. Although it is not of the same grandeur as Niagara Falls, the power and beauty of a glacial water fall is awesome. This is a site that must be seen.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Contradictions in nature protection.

I’ve been recently reminded of a curious contradiction in the though process of the average person. In May when I traveled to Point Pelee for my annual bird watching weekend, I noticed that the parking lot was full of SUVs and mini vans. Most bird watchers are making these treks to view rare or even endangered species of birds in their natural habitat. These habitats, as most of them are well aware, are constantly under attack from external forces such as developers, loggers, pollution, human encroachment and many other things. And yet they ironically make the trek in their gas guzzling pollution spewing SUVs to these shrinking nature areas to view dwindling numbers of rare and close to extinct birds. The average SUV spews out about 6 000 Kg of carbon dioxide a year. Where as the average compact car pops out about 4 000 kg of carbon dioxide a year, for exact figures consult the Fuel Consumption Guide 2005 published by Natural Resources Canada. But, cars spewing out carbon dioxide are only one part of the problem. With the increase in the volume of cars on the road it has become necessary to create more roads. And were roads are made, urban sprawl is soon to follow. In our rush to view nature, those who manage the infrastructure have been called upon to make more roads so that we may get “closer to nature”. With the increase in green house gases and decrease in natural wildlife habitat, I wonder if in our zeal to protect and view nature whether we have not in fact done more harm then we would have if we just remained in our urban jungles? If we all drove low GHG emission vehicles to a central location and then used foot power or bicycles to proceed into sensitive nature areas, we may actually be protecting the very places we believe are valuable with out unwittingly damageing them.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So just how does a car spit out a spark plug? Finale.

My Neon is back on the road. The dealer had to strip the valve cover and spark plug tubes off the engine so that a machinist could create a new hole for a helli coil to be inserted into. This, of course, necessitated the replacement of all the seals associated with the valve cover and spark plug tubes. The Bosch platinum plug was also replaced with a Champion Copper Plus plug. The total damage was just over $500.00 CDN.

Today I replaced the other three plugs as well as the wires. I also bought a torque wrench with a 0 – 50 ft/lbs range. When I torqued the first plug into place, I realized that I just may have over torqued the other plugs. When I was talking to my friend, who knows a thing or two about metal, he explained to me why I may not have realised that I had over torqued the plugs. When aluminium is over torqued it will “bunch up”, as if it where plastic. The effect would be that you would believe that you had reached the end of the threads. In actual fact the threads have been “eaten” and are now jamming up the hole. As the plug vibrates it would start to loosen up the thread remains until they finally work their way out of the hole. The end result is that the plug would pop out of the thread less hole. This is most likely what happened to my Neon.

In the end I’m a few bucks shorter and a little smarter.
The highway’s calling gotta go.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Memories of the West, Part 3.

Moraine Lake, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, July 2004

So just how does a car spit out a spark plug? Part 2.

Currently my Neon is at my local dealer under going an intense examination. There were about a third of the threads left in the spark plug hole. I have been maintaining the spark plugs, along with brakes, oil and many other things as a backyard mechanic for five years. Unfortunately I have to work on the street, I'm an apartment dweller. So the work I can perform is limited. The first time I looked at the spark plugs on this car was 1.5 years after I had purchased it. I drove the Neon almost 64 000Km before I finally got around to looking at the plugs. They weren't loose or damaged. I cleaned them, re-gapped them and put them back in. Seven months and 25 000Km I cleaned them and re-gapped them again. Nine months and 33 000Km I repeated the ritual again. One year and 36 000Km later I decided that maybe I should replace the spark plug, after all they had been in the car for at least four years and 163 494Km. I installed the Bosch Platinum plugs with the understanding that they where better and would last longer than stock copper plugs. That was my second mistake, the first being that I bought these plugs instead of the copper plugs. The platinum plugs have been in the car for just over a year and about 54 000Km. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware that you had to pay more attention to platinum plugs than you would if you used copper plugs, i.e. 1.5 years before I even looked at the stock copper plugs and they were still tight. After driving for almost four years and over 163 000Km with the copper plugs, not once did I have a problem with the ignition system. Since then, in the span of just over a year and more than 54 000Km I have had one plug physically ejected from the engine and three more that had backed off from their torqued position. Is it possible that I over tightened the #3 plug? Sure. But my experience is that when you over tighten something you usually know it. As you torque the screw it will get harder to tighten until it wants to stop. If you continue to exert force you will exceed the strength of the material and strip the threads. You would know this immediately because the screw would become easier to turn. This never happened with the plug. Could it have been cross threaded? It’s not very likely. It would have been impossible to thread the plug into the cylinder head by hand, at the end of a rubber hose, and overcome the strength of the material. My guess would be that you would need at least a force in excess of 20 foot/pounds to damage the aluminium head. That’s a lot to ask the average unaided hand to exert.

My belief is that the platinum plug has a tendency to back off from its torqued position and therefore must be regularly re-torqued. My failure to realize this, and not inspect the plugs on a regular basis has resulted in this incident. This unfortunately doesn’t explain why there are still some threads left at the bottom of the cylinder head.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

So just how does a car spit out a spark plug? Part 1.

On Thursday while driving to work, my Neon, a 1997 SOHC ATX, ejected its #3 spark plug. This is the first time I have ever seen or heard of such a thing occurring. I purchased the Bosch Platinum plugs in April 2004, since then I have driven the car approximately 54 000Km. I managed to get the plug back into the cylinder head and "limped" the car home. On Friday I got a better look at the inside of the spark plug tube. There is almost no thread left on the cylinder head. Also the other three plugs where loose, I removed them and replaced them with an old set of Champion plugs. Now I'm faced with an interesting dilemma, what do I do next? Saturday morning I carefully drove the car to my preferred Dodge dealer where the service adviser informed me that they will either have to tare the engine apart to replace the cylinder head or possibly tap the hole and insert a heli-coil. The former expense as he put it” is thought the roof”. The later is somewhere in the range of about $120.00. The down side to all of this is that I finally paid off the car and it is now 8 years old with over 254 000Km on it.