atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#5808: Hard to do, but they've done it.

Mazda has perfected the HCCI engine. "HCCI" means Homogeneous charge compression ignition and basically it's a gasoline engine that runs like a diesel. It doesn't use spark plugs to ignite the fuel-air mixture, but the heat of compression, giving diesel-like efficiency in a gasoline engine.

The main difference comes in when the fuel is mixed with the air. With a diesel engine, the fuel is injected into the cylinder at compression, and is not really well-mixed with the air. With the HCCI engine, the fuel and air is well-mixed before compression. It results in a cleaner burn.

Cleaner, and much more efficient: Mazda is scheduling for production mid- and full-size sedans that hit 50 MPG.

This is something automakers have been trying to do for a long time.

* * *

So last night Mrs. Fungus and I were in the computer room, playing games, when I noticed flashing lights outside. Mrs. Fungus observed that it looked as if there were emergency vehicles at our neighbor's house, to the north, so I went outside to see if I could learn anything.

Turned out that someone had come down the intersecting road towards the T intersection, had a coughing fit, and lost consciousness. His vehicle, unguided, then proceeded through the intersection to collide with the house immediately opposite the intersection. No one hurt, only property damage--and for that the Fungal Vale sent out two fire trucks, an ambulance, and four or five police cars.

"Our tax dollars at work," my informant said wryly. I had to agree with her.

Anyway, once apprised of the situation I went back inside, until I saw the tow truck pull up. I went back outside to watch, curious about what kind of vehicle it was and what damage it sustained.

Well: turned out to be a very large Ford pickup truck with duallies, and it had hit the house hard enough that the rear axle was sprung on the passenger side--shifted back far enough that the dual rear wheel on that side was wedged under the bodywork.

Now, the rear axle in a truck like that is mounted with a leaf spring. It takes a lot of force to yank that spring out of its socket and let the axle move back. I mean, a lot of force, especially when we're talking about a two-ton pickup truck. ("Two-ton" bed capacity, not weight. And that truck can go as high as three tons in the bed depending on options.)

Now, I know in American Graffiti Richard Dreyfuss puts a hoop of cable around the pinion snout on a cop car, and when the cop car goes roaring after the gangsters the cable yanks the rear end out of the car, and that was a leaf spring rear end. There are two things wrong with this compairison to what I saw last night.

1) Movie is fictional, and car was rigged to have its rear end ripped out in hilarious fashion.

2) Rear end was ripped out by yanking on the axle from the middle.

This incident, last night, applied force where the mount is strongest--at the outboard end--and tore the thing right off. Now, that's a heavy truck--almost three tons--but he still must've been going better than 20 MPH to do that much damage to it.

The pickup-based wrecker couldn't budge the thing. They had to get the flatbed to pull it out.

Anyway, no one was hurt, and only property was damaged, so if there had to be an accident, it was the best kind.

* * *

The inefficiency of socialized education.

* * *

One of the worst things about the kind of weather we've been having is that you can't win. It is just cool enough outside that it feels like a waste to run the AC, even though without it the house would be far too warm inside. So either you save money on electricity and you swelter, or you pay the freight and run the AC and feel guilty about it. *sigh*

Of course, truly hot weather would justify the AC and enable the use of the pool. But we've only had a few days this summer like that. Argh etc.

* * *

Big list of chores to accomplish today. As usual.
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