atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#1021: Yeah, just blow it up.

Last night they had an extra-long episode of Mythbusters on. Among all the other things they were fooling around with they decided to test the "Impala/JATO" story again.

I missed the first time they tested that story. Apparently they have never re-run it, either. (I'm sure they must have. Just when I wasn't looking.)

The Internet legend revolves around some guy putting a JATO bottle into his Impala, going out into the desert, and lighting off the JATO bottle. The car then proceeded to go straight for several miles at high speed--despite the guy's increasingly frantic attempts to change the car's trajectory--until it left the road entirely and slammed into a mesa at about 300 MPH.

To test this story, Adam and Jamie bought a nice-looking 1967 Impala from an unsuspecting car enthusiast. A nice car that ran well with a perfect interior.

...and they proceeded to mount two 8" pipes in the trunk, cutting up bodywork to make 'em fit, all the while knowing that the end result of their work would be a destroyed car, one way or another.

WTF.

Any car would have done for this test, so why did it have to be such a nice example of the late 1960s Caprice/Impala? A 1977 would have done as well as a 1967. A 1987 would have, too. They could have done it with a beat-up pickup truck or a worn-out taxi cab.

*sigh*

Anyway, so they proceed to have professionally-built rocket motors made for the thing. They go out into the desert and make a ramp, and the rocket guys put the motors in and everything is in readiness, so they start the run.

The car gets about halfway up the ramp and the rocket motors explode.

I mean, it's not even a partial success: the thing hits the ramp and kablam, there's flaming ammonium perchlorate all over the place.

Adam asks the rocket technician what he thinks happened: "Uh, well, it looks like it overpressurized."

No shit, Sherlock.

...in fact I would wager that the fuel slug cracked when the car hit the ramp. Cracks mean more surface area; more surface area means more fuel burning; more fuel burning means--yep--"overpressurization". Which is a technical way of saying "it done blewed up!"

The fuel slug was made of MTBE/ammonium perchlorate--the composite fuel which is used in the Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters--and it seems likely that it's not the best choice for "rocket cars". MTBE is a rubbery plastic but when mixed with AP it becomes brittle.

Why A&J needed a 1967 Impala for "authenticity" but couldn't be bothered to obtain a real JATO bottle for "authenticity" is beyond me.

Anyway, so the end result was, they wasted a bunch of money on blowing up a car.

* * *

They also added all sorts of bits from the episode(s) where they tested various car myths on an old Cadillac donated by an enthusiastic viewer. They tested the "put XX in the gas tank to get revenge" myths and some others; and at the last they put bleach into the oil.

"Bleach in the oil definitely causes engine damage."

You know why? Because the bleach you buy at the supermarket is mostly water, and putting water in the engine oil is a bad idea. It's not because of the minor fraction of bleach compound in solution; it's because of the solvent (water) not the solute (bleach).

Let me explain it this way: a cup of pure bleach added to your average load of laundry would probably peel the paint off the inside of the washer and reduce your clothes to fibrous mush, but it wouldn't matter to you because the fumes would probably kill you. (And yeah, it would ruin an engine if you dumped it into the oil.)

But typical household bleach is a highly dilute solution; it's mostly water--and they don't even use a chlorine compound any more because "chlorine is bad for the ozone". (Argh.) And as I said, water in the oil is bad.

* * *

Otherwise my Saturday was pretty uninteresting. I slept a lot, had Chinese for dinner, and read the last Emily: The Adventures of Il Fronte book.

In the third book, Ilse reveals that she's in love with Perry. It was supposed to be a shocking revelation, I'm sure, but to me it was obvious from the first book that that was the case. I wish I was that perspicacious in real life.
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