OPOC Diesel Engine a “GO”….But there is a catch!

Well, it appears as though the OPOC engine technology that I wrote about some time ago is a “go” for production. But there is a catch. EcoMotors is reporting to Fox News that the design has been backed by a foreign company with the catch being that the engines will ultimately be produced in….China. Here’s hoping that EcoMotors has a good QC department!

Link to the story

Reportedly EcoMotors has a letter of intent from Generac to use the engine design in their generators. A stationary application like this may prove to be a very good proving ground for this up-and-coming technology.


The sound of distant thunder

I know it has been a while since my last post here. It has, indeed, been a busy summer but I want to write a post this morning to highlight an article that a friend of mine turned me onto this morning.

The article lays out an argument for a coming economic storm that, some say, threatens our way of life. While there seems to be little that the experts agree on, there is one common theme that they all seem to resound upon. That is the fact that we CANNOT continue to go the way we are going now. Regardless of the severity of the storm, most of those who are in the know agree that there is a storm approaching. I don’t have the time right now to go into my ideas for what to do to be ready, and honestly I am not sure I know how best to prepare, but I do have a few ideas I may take the time to highlight in the coming days. In the mean time, here is a link to the article. I will warn you, it is a little scary to hear the way these guys talk about this not in terms of “if” but in terms of “when”.

Civilization May Not Endure ‘Death Spiral’
Not a cheery way to kick off the weekend, but I don’t think there is ever a “good” time to hear reports like this. At the same time, though, sticking our heads deep into the sand of our every day lives does not make the problem go away.
More to come on this subject…

Summer is here!

Well as is evidenced by the infrequency with which I have been making new posts these last few weeks, Summer has arrived (actually it arrives later this evening at 7:09 pm EDT). We are busy with the yard, the garden, several automotive projects, and camping too. Forgive the hiatus. I will be back when time allows me to once again put the ideas and projects down for all to see.

An Exhaustive look at the sounds of a 7.3 Powerstroke Diesel

Did you hear the one about the guy that dreamed he was a muffler? Yeah, he woke up exhausted.  I guess you could say that this was an exhausting post to develop. Or you could say that the whole project is just a lot of hot air. Maybe even that the whole thing just stinks. But I am not just blowing smoke…

Regardless of the pun you choose, one of the most irritating things to me about looking at exhaust options is the lack of the presence of a good sound clip of what the exhaust sounds like on a given vehicle. After all, that’s why you’re changing the exhaust right? To change the sound!? Youtube has proven to be a useful tool in getting an idea of what to expect in many different configurations, so I thought I would make an addition to the noise.

With that in mind, and since I had some options to play with, I took a few videos of different options as I was building my latest variation of the exhaust on my truck. I know the sound quality of these videos isn’t great, but it should give you more than enough to hear what the different options sound like.

All these videos were taken with the 3″ dowpipe and EBPV (Exhaust Back Pressure Valve) delete already done to the truck. I simply didn’t think to take any before that. Most people know what a stock PSD 7.3 exhaust sounds like anyway.

So here are some different setups that I have tried on my truck.

Stock exhaust:

Forgive the shaky camera on the ride-along videos. The trucks ride like, well, like a 1 ton truck…

Here are 2 videos of the stock intermediate pipe (no catalytic converter) with the 3″ downpipe, EBPV delete, 6637 kit, etc.

And finally, here is a pair of videos with my finished (albeit unconventional) straight pipe exhaust. It measure about 4.5″ OD and is about as straight a straight pipe as it gets. I will give a rep point to the first one to guess what this pipe setup it.

This setup is LOUD! I am not completely satisfied with the sound. Although the turbo whine is impressive the drone of the exhaust bothers me a little. I’m not sure my neighbors are going to be happy with me either when I leave the house at 0515 either. For the most part the noise level can be adjusted means of the skinny pedal on the right, demonstrating the effectiveness of the term “loud pedal”.  I figure I will run this one a while and see how I feel about it after a few weeks/months. I still think a full 4″ exhaust with a small straight through muffler might be the setup of preference for me because I don’t like the obnoxious drone. The 7.3 is far from a quiet running engine regardless of the pipes attached, but I am going to give this setup some time before I pass my final judgement on it. One thing is for sure, the few hours that I spent on making this pipe setup (which is the only real investment I made in the current configuration), was a lot cheaper than buying a $300-$400 exhaust kit.

Ideally I would like to keep the drone and raspy tone to a minimum but keep the turbo whistle. I don’t know that this is possible with these trucks but anything is better than the exhaust that was on the truck when I got it. Some moron had fitted up a true dual exhaust system to it that used the stock pipe up to a splitter then ran about 1 5/8″ duals OUT THE BACK. It would about asphyxiate you to leave the truck running and hitch up a trailer and towing for any amount of time would leave soot all over the front of your trailer. Maybe not a big deal if you were towing a utility trailer or something, but I got tired of cleaning off the front of our camper.

At any rate, there are some videos to watch and some sounds to be heard. Enjoy!

A fuel economy rant

This all started with a video sent to me by someone else. Here’s the rub.

Watch this video:

I love how this guy starts the video by saying “I got something here to tick you off!” It worked…

Now I know that the numbers are a little fuzzy and they don’t convert directly, but here is my thought process. Follow me here:

I wanted to make sure this comparison was as close an “Apples to Apples” comparison as possible so I selected the Jetta since it was available in very much the same configurations in the US and UK. Both were 6 speed manual transmission 2.0 TDI powertrains, in the same model car.

HERE is the link to the US version and HERE is a link to the UK version. Following me so far? Good.

Now to complicate the comparison slightly is the fact that the MPG rating of the two vehicles are measured differently. The UK rating is based upon the imperial gallon which, of course is about 20% larger than a US gallon (1 Imperial Gallon = 1.2009504234173434 Gallons US). Also, European cars are frequently rated in liters of fuel used to travel 100km. So you have to make the conversion to be able to compare the hard numbers. Luckily, once again the internet is your friend and saves you from having to strain your brain to recall all of those long forgotten algebra lessons. HERE is a link to a handy conversion site that I like to frequent for matters such as these.

So… you punch in the numbers and this is what you find out: The UK version of the same car gets the equivalent of 38.559 MPG (US) city and 57.369 MPG (US) highway. You can calculate this by either converting MPG Imperial to MPG US or by converting the L/100km figures to MPG US.  They agree either way.

One of two things must be going on here. One possible explanation is that the fuel in the UK is more efficient than what we have here and that could make some sense, but more likely in my mind is the fact that the US models are saddled with more emissions controls than the UK versions and that decreases their mechanical efficiency. Either way this is pretty frustrating. In addition, the 1.6 liter Blue Motion TDI engine that is mentioned in the video (which gets 45.2 MPG (US) city and a stunning 65.4 MPG (US) highway) isn’t even offered in the US. I can’t speculate on the reasoning for the exclusion of this option from the US market, but I don’t have any reason to doubt the explanation offered in the video.

All this begs the question “what is the goal here?”. Are we really striving to make the most fuel efficient vehicles possible or are we trying to shape the market to fit our preconceived goal or reshaping the way that America moves and works? Is it just a power grab? Why the obsession with gas/electric hybrids when these TDI’s get as good or better fuel economy? Why the big push to the all electric vehicle when it clearly isn’t what the majority of Americans want? I guess it is just another case of “Big brother knows best”. Maybe we peons aren’t smart enough o know what is best for us. It’s a good thing we don’t have to fend for ourselves out there in the big, scary world like all those folks in the UK who get to choose their cars from all the options available.

One think is for sure, It does tick you off to think about it (at least it does for me).

A “Throwback” — What is so good about “old fashioned”?

A year or two ago, Pepsico introduced a series of “throwback” sodas. Throwback Mountain Dew was one of my favorites and is actually one of the best sodas (we call it “pop” here in the midwest) I have ever had. The idea, or at least the marketing ploy, was that these were made with the old formula and used all natural sugar instead of all the high fructose corn syrup that is typically used in the recipe for the cola. I haven’t seen that stuff in a while now, so I am assuming its limited run has expired and we’re back to the “new” stuff now. The Throwback however just had that old fashioned taste that I remember tasting at my grandpa’s little general store when I was little. He had a big chest style soda cooler full of different kinds of soda in glass bottles. As a kid he would let me pick one out, I would open the bottle cap on the bottle opener on the side of the cooler and then sit there and sip the sweet nectar with Papaw. It had a distinctly “old fashioned” feel to it. The fact that I feel the need to link to a Wikipedia article on what a bottle cap or a bottle opener is amuses me and serves to reinforce my point here.

Now maybe I am just reminiscing about childhood memories and that association has clouded my judgement, but it seems to me that there is something special about how things used to be. Maybe I am just longing for the simpler days of my youth when I had no responsibilities, but is it possible that there is something to be said for the “old fashioned” approach? I had a conversation with a friend this week about this subject and I have been thinking about it a lot since then.I had this conversation with a friend and fellow blogger who writes the blog Heritage Breed Farms. We were discussing his series on homesteading and watching his cows graze and felt that a philosophical discussion was appropriate. I was retelling that I had heard a story recently that Americans spend less of their time and resources on food and shelter at this point in time than they ever have. Reportedly, it takes us fewer hours per week of working our jobs to put a roof overhead and food on the table than has ever been the case in the past. With that in mind, it would appear as though in many ways these are the “good old days”, but are they really? Why the fascination with the old fashioned? Are we really happier and better off now than we were? Is all that leisure time doing us good or harm?

We live just minutes away from one of the largest non-electric goods retailers in the country. Lehman’s Hardware in Kidron Ohio sells tons of non electric and old fashioned tools, home items and appliances. This place is an old-fashioned homesteader’s dream! All kinds of old fashioned, quality built tools, toys and supplies can be found under one roof there at Lehman’s. And it is BIG business. Go there on a Saturday in the summer time and you will see what I mean. The place is packed and they do volumes more mail order business on top of their retail business. Apparently the “old fashioned” approach is in vogue. Why is that, I wonder? Well let me take a stab at an explanation if I can.

I once heard a radio commentators talking about this very subject and his thoughts on the matter resonated with me. His point was this. Things that are good are often hard to do, and often things that are hard to do are good.  This seems at first to be a simplistic approach to the subject, but I that his statement is more profound when you think about it a while. Good things in life often come at the price of hard work. And I would propose that to some degree hard work is in and of itself a good thing. The satisfaction of having worked hard to accomplish something gives a deep sense of gratification that few other things can compare to. Another benefit of working hard is the sense of delayed gratification that comes from working long and hard and waiting for the fruits of your labor. At our house home made ice cream is a good example. Sure I could go and buy a pail of ice cream at the store and just scoop and eat. Sure it would be easier. It would probably be cheaper too. The difference is in the gratification of making it yourself the old fashioned way. The “elbow grease” that it takes to crank that ice cream freezer just makes the end result so much sweeter.

So here is to springtime, gardening, hard work, slow progress, and the “old fashioned” approach. May you sweat for and earn your satisfaction this spring. Some things are just better done the old fashioned way.

What is the Tinkerer’s Tool Chest?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the direction of this blog. In addition to being a project log of sorts, this is a place for me to organize my thoughts, learn a little bit about things that intrigue me, and to voice my opinions about the issues at hand. But what kind of tool chest does the tinkerer use (no, the blog is not the “tinkerer Stool chest” as some have mused that’s just gross!).

Let me give you a hint in the form of a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci:


The human head drawn by Leonardo da Vinci

The human head drawn by Leonardo da Vinci (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tool chest to which I refer is the noggin’ that the Good Lord gave each one of us. The tools that are used in tinkering are for the most part your mental faculties. Regardless of what mechanical aptitudes or physical tools you possess we all have the ability to gain knowledge. Knowledge it the greatest tool of all.

I have talked some in previous posts about my approach to the “Prepper” mentality, and I think this subject is the perfect example of what I am talking about. I don’t know how most other people are, but I react much better to a difficult situation if I am mentally prepared. Having prepared mentally for a challenge makes success much more likely.

So while I may talk some about tools here (My previous top 10 tools posts) the majority of my time at the keyboard is spent talking about subjects that can teach us something. Regardless of the funds available, the time that you have to spend, or the availability of the facilities to work on a project, we all can read and learn. Having the knowledge of a few basic skills makes us all more rounded individuals and a better asset to the society in which we live.

So get out there and try something new. This weekend. Learn a new skill or exercise an old one. Work, sweat, and strain those muscles and mental faculties. It makes us all a better people for doing it.


“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” — Vincent Willem van Gogh