Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Good Effort, whats been happening. New Discs, good bye 7 series and hello disaster 320si.

Wow that was good effort my last entr ywas over a year ago. 

As far as the site goes not a lot has been happening, I've been thinking about ways to make the generation of the tax discs a bit smoother online and removing the manual bit of me having to push a button to generate the discs and email them. It's not a real hassle for me but it means there can be a delay in generating and sending the discs someone requests them on the site.

However by the nature of how my hosting works it makes this a bit more complex than normal. Part of the the purpose of this project was to do something, which didn't cost a lot to host and run so I can make the discs free so I have to work within the limitations.

I also noticed no-one uses the QR Code part of the disc, which I thought was a good idea. I'm not sure if it's just not clear, badly executed or just a bad idea.

I've also been thinking about generating some new types of discs. I have the EV one but I though maybe something inspired by Back to the Future 2 and the floating cars and the future hill valley or possibly some 1920's art deco inspired designs. I'm thinking that could be quite an interesting thing to do given there's no more new tax disc designs coming from the DVLA. 

On the car projects I've still got the high mile Megane R26 featured on the site. I'd like to give that some love this year if money allows as other than change the oil and some work on the front suspension it's had very little done to it. It still runs great and goes like stink so I've no complaints

I also sold my 7 series after the aircon broke on the hottest day of the year while on holiday and we had to drive back home with our heads out the windows like ace ventura.  It  turned out part of the clutch for the AC compressor had fell off . While we we're lucking it didn't munch through the belt it wasn't so luckly when I had to pay £450 to replace it when I got home. That was the last in a series of bills including it failing it's mot on an active shock that cost £1200! I had to import a second hand one from California for £250 that did the job as I'm not paying £1200 for anything car related that's not a complete car.. I really loved owning it, it was amazing and so much value for money for what you pay to buy it. Just don't mention what it takes to run. Live meant I had to return to reality so sold it and bought a 2018 Megane diesel estate. A great car that does 53mpg, has apple car play and duel climate control but is dull and whenever I visit someone they think I've turned up to fix their dishwasher such is it's domestic plainness. 

Come in no 7 your time is up

I haven't eradicated all stupid BMW's from my life infact I think I own the one of the worst BMWs ever made. In 2006 BMW needed to homologate some E90 3 series BMW for racing. To do this they create a special edition called the 320si, which was basically a 320i msport but with a hand built by Sauber engine.  The engine is based on an earlier engine used in the e46 with a trick cylinder head supposedly similiar to whats fitted to one bank of an v8 M3. This made a not that impressive 173bhp but did have a nice carbon fibre rocker cover. BMW brought 250 of them to the UK and sold them for less than a 320i msport. This meant they fell into the unwitting hands of people buying them for company cars who soon found their boots full of broken engine parts rather than the computers or carpet samples they're trying to sell

In their rush to homologate the engine and get it out the door BMW didn't really fully consider the implications of using alloy liners in the engine. This result is a lot of engines suffered fatal liner cracks sometimes resulting in chunks of the liner falling into the engine. The only permanent solution was to get the old liners bored out have cast iron ones inserted, which also required new pistons and piston rings Any one who watches M539 restorations on youtube will know the difficulties this brings as he found on his Alpina v8 engine rebuild.

Legend has it that toward the end of the 320si run and during many engine replacements BMW updated the engine with cast iron liners but I'm not sure that's true,. 

Combine this with timing chain issues and exploding rear diffs has thinned the herd somewhat so there's quite a lot less than the 250 brought in remaining.

I was really fascinated with the story of this car with the racing links and just how badly BMW executed it. I never planned to own one then one day I did. £800 with a stretched timing chain I bought site unseen and got it put on the back of a truck and brought home

I'd never heard it run, it was described as a runner but when it arrived all the coil packs and spark plugs were in the boot. other wise it was incredibly rough stinking of "herbal" cigarettes and finding an uneaten vintage greggs bacon roll in the centre console. I did a budget refurb on the wheels, painted faded wing quite badly and fitted a new timing chain having found the unicorn timing tools for sale in eastern europe. It now runs, not great but it runs and there's no indication the liners have cracked. It then failed it's MOT on knackered shocks. I dismantle all the suspension before Christmas and have totally lost the will to put it back together. I however now have parts incoming and I'm hoping warmer weather may inspire me to finish it. It'll probably then blow up.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Goodbye Diesel it was fun (up to a point)

I don't think it's breaking news that diesels are being legislated out of existence. This is  partially down regulations that will make it more and more difficult for diesels cars to pass their mots as they get older and more and more difficult for new cars to meet the constantly updated regulations.

In the case of new cars the cost and engineering complexity of making those cars meet those regulations becomes near impossible (hence whyVW cheated). It also makes the cars more difficult and expensive to maintain.

I guess that's fair enough as the world moves towards EV's but we should remind ourselves that in the 90's it was a new generation of turbo diesels which showed us we could have of economy and performance. 

In the 90's I worked in factory doing IT things. I often had to take  equipment out to site or as junior member of staff be sent off on courier missions to drop off factory samples to other sites . The rule was you could ask any of the managers who had company cars for their car keys, which included a Citroen Xantia, Volvo v40 and various other nice for the 90's cars. If I was really unlucky and none of these was available I'd get lumbered with the old 1.7 non turbo mk3 Astra van.

I was walking across the yard one day and as I walked past one of the warehouse guys he said. "Pssst, have you drive the new van yet? "No I answered what is it? "It's a Citroen and it's VERY fast. everyone is fighting over the keys it in the warehouse". Okay, right I said not believing him and casting a picture of an old C15 van in my mind. A couple of days go by and I'm asked to take something to a factory 50 miles away. The something is in a big box so I need to take the van, which turned to be a Citroen Dispatch with the 110bhp turbo diesel engine.

Once under way I couldn't believe how fast it was. My car at the time was a 1980 1.6 ford Cortina and I think the most powerful car I'd driven was the 2.0 petrol Volvo.  The mid range punch this van had was like nothing any of the other cars had to offer.  This made over taking a breeze compared to having to ring the neck of something petrol powered to do the same yet it still managed to do over 45 mpg and had car like handling. Even in the motorway I could keep it in 5th and with a quick squeeze of the accelerator I was off. When I reluctantly returned it and got in my Cortina to go home it felt like a model T Ford.

Around the same time Peugeot released the 306 D-Turbo, which used the mid range torque of a modern turbo diesel but in their new Pininfarina sled hatchback. From there we got the VW PD engines of the late 1990's and 2000's that went up to 150bhp in production versions and infamously (and as anyone who owned one would tell you immediately) were quicker 40-70 that an Impreza WRX.

Owners also started to figure out that as the car has a turbo charger you can turn up the amount of boost and that turns up the power and torque for not much money. By spending some cash on bigger injectors and a bigger turbo some serious power can be made usually to the eventual cost of the drive by knackering the drive shaft or making the gearbox explode.

Back in the real world by the mid to late 2000's thanks to company car tax incentives oneconomy almost every family and fleet car became diesel powered. The diesel engine was still relatively simple even with high pressure systems like VW's PDI. However as c02 output of a diesel engine is relatively low the particulates are high and this is the bit that isn't particularly good for your health. Regulation then stepped in to reduce emissions, which lead to things like diesel particulate filters. water cooled EGR systems and ultimately ad-blue. 

To compound this the customers demanded more performance and more economy, which lead to things high pressure pumps and compound turbo setup to reduce turbo lag and increase economy.

All of this turned what was the a relatively simple engine into something containing multiple extremely complex systems. Out side of commercial vehicle applications I don't think many manufacturers will be developing their diesel engines. This may come as a relief to some who have been hit with massive fines for misreporting emissions and mpg figures and also because they must have been reaching the limit of what can be done to make a diesel engine run cleanly.

So as we wave good bye to diesels and usher in the EV's doing forget it was diesels who taught us we when it came to performance and efficiency we could have our cake and eat it.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hello to the QARECAR blog


I've been trying to come up with ways to promote my qarecar free tax disc service, which doesn't cost money and I thought adding a blog might be a good idea.

I've been a fan of cars for as long as I can remember. I remember writing to BMW HQ in germany in the 80's as I was such a BMW fan boy and being genuinely excited when I peaked through the windows of Ford passed on the street and they had that joy stick balance control. So high tech!

I've probably owned north of 100 cars over the years. I've had anything from a clapped out Lancia Delta 1.3 to a Mercedes CL500, and Jaguar XJR. I currently own an 11 year old F01 730d time bomb and a Megane R26 F1 edition with 204,000 miles on it so my tastes are mixed.

Having spent 4 weeks working as a painter and decorator when I was 17 I decided a job sitting on my backside was for me so kind of fell into Software Development. I designed and built quite a lot of cool stuff over the years and always found it a very creative process. There's now a lot of set frameworks to design and building software projects these days, which has removed quite a lot of the chaos from building software we experienced in the 2000's. It's also removed some creative aspect with the developer just being a tool to implement someone else vision using their methodology.

I started to think about something fun I could build in my spare time. Since the tax disc died I always thought there an opportunity to fill that space on the windscreen with something else.  I had this idea as when seeing nice cars at car shows it would be good to find out a bit more about the car without the owner having to set up a laminated bill board. Most modern smart phones have QR code reading capability in their cameras now so I though combining the replica tax disc with a QR code would be a good solution for this. I also thought it would work quite well as a subtle car for sale advert with the QR code leading to the actual advert on ebay or facebook marketing

If I'm honest most people who's had discs from me so far I'm pretty sure are just using them as replica tax discs but that's okay. I think they'd work really well in a museum or at a car show, which will hopefully happen one day.

Good Effort, whats been happening. New Discs, good bye 7 series and hello disaster 320si.

Wow that was good effort my last entr ywas over a year ago.  As far as the site goes not a lot has been happening, I've been thinking ab...