Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fuel Efficiency

With gas prices these days,
Every one seems to be talking about alternate fuel sources.
Some (like my dad and I) are too impatient to wait for new cars that will implement these new energy sources to be developed.
And others (also like my dad and I again) are too cheap to buy those new vehicles when they come out.
(Did you know a brand new car looses 25% of it's value the moment you drive it off the lot?)

For those of us that are either to cheap or impatient,
There are some things you can do to increase your current vehicle's gas millage.
Here are some things that I've found that work.

I own a 2001 Honda Civic EX.
I picked this car for several reasons.
First it had a manual transition.
Sticks are known for having better gas millage than an identical model with an automatic transition.
Second, Honda is known for it's durability.
As much as I like working on mechanical things, I honestly don't have time to get elbow deep in it every weekend just to keep it running.
And finally, it was the best option in the area that was in my budget.

The first thing I did when I got my car was go to Walmart and get a small notebook.
In this notebook,
I write everything that has to do with that car.
Every time I fill up the tank,
I put in the date, current mileage, miles since the last fill up, number of gallons I put in, and the total cost.
I then use this data to calculate miles per gallon and cost per mile.
This gives me a pretty good idea of my efficiency.
A typical entry looks like this.
26-JUN-2008
98587 mi
354.4 mi 10.149 gl $38.86
34.9 mi/gl .110 $/mi

Kelley Blue Book says my car should get 32 mpg city and 37 highway.
And most of my driveling is city,
So this is about right.

every time I change a part,
It gets logged.
Every time I try a new fuel additive,
It gets logged.

This is the first and most important step in increasing your efficiency.
You can't know if you've improved if you don't keep a record.

I've noticed that the more moderate your speed,
The better you gas mileage.
So yeah,
I know the speed limit on that interstate is 70 mph,
And everyone else is doing 75,
And it'd be very easy for you to do 80 and get away with it,
But this will kill you efficiency.
(and yes, I have documented this fact)
Most cars are designed to be most efficient at 55 mph.
Unless you drive a corvette or a lamborghini,
In which case you probably don't care about efficiency.
During Vietnam the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was signed into law.
It set a national speed limit of 55 mph across the entire country.
The idea was if we could force everyone to be more efficient,
It would keep gas prices down.
(Some are considering bringing back a national speed limit given the current situation)

The next thing I did,
Was add a fuel additive to clean my fuel line and fuel injectors.
I used two different kinds.
the first one I used was "RXP Engine De-Carbonizer"
I got this at Auto Zone.
The second one I used was "Lucas Upper Cylinder Lubricant"
Found at Auto Zone and O'Reilly Auto Parts.
This gave the car a noticeable kick in preformance and a documented bump in efficiency.
You can ask the mechanics at your local auto parts store for recommendations as well.

By far,
The one thing I did that increased my efficiency the most,
Was to change my spark plugs.
I'm not even sure what the car originally came with,
But when I took them out,
They were most disgusting looking.
(In retrospect, I should have taken a picture for comparison)
I replaced them with Bosch Platinum Spark Plugs.
I got four at Auto Zone for $12.99.
This has to be the single best investment I've made in my car.
I changed them out when I had a half a tank left.
And when I went to fill up the tank,
This is the entry that went in my book.
27-JULY-2008
100721 mi
451.7 mi 11.528 gl $42.98
39.2 mi/gl .095 $/mi
First of all,
That's the first time I've ever gotten more than 420 mi on one tank of gas,
And the gas light on my dashboard usually comes on.
And my fuel gauge still showed at least a gallon left in the tank.
Second, that's a 4.3 mpg increase in just a day over a month.
That's a 12.3% increase in fuel efficiency.
Third, this is the first time I've been under .10$/mi since 02-APR-2008.
Seeing as how I have a 25 mi trip to school one way,
That means I'm finally paying less that 5$ daily just for gas.
I don't know about all of you,
But $5 is alot of money for a college student.
That's like 2-3 meals if spent properly.

In summary,
Things you can do to increase your fuel efficiency.

1. Keep a log
2. Get some fuel additives
3. change you spark plugs.

Unless you've already tweaked your vehicle to be more efficient,
These three things should give you a noted increase in your gas mileage.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What You Really Need Is Some Organic Fuel

My dad owns a Turbo Diesel Injection 2003 Volks Wagon Jeta.
He's been wanting to convert it to run on Bio Diesel.
And with gas prices these days,
I don't blame him.
He's bee working on it for a few months now,
But things are just starting to pick up.
We managed to find the right ratios of chemicals.

We made a small batch,
And it seems to work,
But it wasn't any where near enough to run the car on.
It made about one pint.

We're started making our first large batch tonight.
Should be about five gallons when it finishes.
After the machine finishes mixing it,
We'll have to wash it and filter it.
It'll be another few days before we find out if it worked.

Here's a Link to the photo album so far.

AHH!!! The Iranians have learned how to use Photoshop!!!

As I'm sure most of you have heard,
Iran "tested" several medium and long range missiles over the course of last night.
the barrage consisted of several classes of weapon systems.
Mainly surface to surface,
But a few surface to air as well.
These included the Shahab-3, capable of striking Israel and several of our bases in that region.
It's all part of a big military maneuver called "Great Prophet III" that's been going on for three days now.



Too bad it wasn't all real
That would have been a nice excuse for that missile shield.
Eh...
I guess it still is.

I say we "test" a MOAB in international waters outside one of their ports.
See how they like it when we test our toys.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

{Current Project} STATUS: Fail

Well...
I'm trying to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
This may sound trivial to alot of you,
But I'm trying to make it in larger volumes than your typical 9v battery can make.
(we'll discuss the purpose later)
The device I've built is too big.
I am unable to (safely) get the power I need to run it.
I'm going to try again.
I plan to make it smaller.
If it works,
I'll make several and connect them all