Author Archives: bowtie6

Chevrolet Volt Fuel Stats

2013 Chevrolet Volt

My friend Lee purchased this 2013 Chevrolet Volt about 2 years ago.  Lee’s goal from the beginning was to achieve as much efficiency as could be obtained by driving as smooth as possible (more on this later, see below).  He has made it a priority to avoid gas stations!!

I’ve read much about hybrids and from my research there is a mind-shift one must make to meet the highest level of efficiency.  For yours truly, this would certainly be a steep learning curve but I digress.  Back to Lee’s Volt and the subject of this story.

You see, this week Lee texted me the following pair of photos when he filled the Volt’s tank with regular unleaded for only the third time since he bought the car!!  

Mileage since last fill up

This is the first photo of the Volt’s dashboard.  It shows mileage since the last fill up.  Lee explained he only resets the “B” odometer every time he fills up with fuel.  And here is the follow-up on the note in the first paragraph:  notice the indicator with the ball framed between the two brackets on the right of the picture.  Lee explained that is the indicator that helps you drive as efficient as possible:  the goal is the keep the ball in the middle the majority of the time.

Mileage since purchase

And this photo shows the “A” odometer, displaying total mileage since Lee purchased the 2013 Volt.  15,734 miles on exactly 23 gallons.

How the 23 gallons were used is an interesting story in itself.  Once the batteries are exhausted, the 4 cylinder engine kicks in and generates power to replenish the batteries.  During winter months, the engine helps provide heat and during summer months the engine provides help cooling the car.  The Volt’s computer also engages the engine when it “needs to run”.  On several occasions Lee has told me of the indicator that reminds the driver of this.  Pretty cool, huh?

Finally one of the neatest stories Lee has shared was shortly after purchasing the Volt.  You see, he bought the car in Asheville NC and drove around town a bit on electric power.  Then, on the way back to Greenville SC, the steep drive down I-26 provided enough braking (energy recovery) to recharge the battery almost to capacity.  Pretty cool stuff…

Needless to say, driving a Volt takes discipline.  Lee has proven with these results that a hybrid car is a very practical and real alternative.  I am a big offender because my Camaro is the complete opposite to the Volt.  It is downright embarrassing:  Lee has owned his Volt for almost 2 years and has filled up 3 times.  I have owned my Camaro 2 years (on the 10th of December) and I have filled up 70 times to travel almost the same distance.  Granted, we are missing the electric part of the cost of ownership but I think these stats are remarkable.

Thoughts?  Comments?

New Honda Battery

“Genuine Performance”…

My 2003 S2000 got treated to a brand new Honda battery today.  A couple of days ago when I tried to start-up the S2000, the old battery seemed a bit weak.  And it makes sense because the prior owner had replaced it before I took ownership and that was 5 years ago!

So today, I made a few phone calls.  My heart was on a new Optima dry cell battery (like the one in bowtie6) but damn!  These batteries have become very, very expensive these days.  Just for shits-and-giggles, I called the local Honda dealer and was very surprised with their answer:  they had a genuine new Honda battery for less than what I would have to spend at a generic auto parts store.  And, it comes with a generous 100 month replacement guarantee.  Hmmm…  Can’t go wrong with that.

Note leakage on the top seam… Not good!

The dead battery was an aftermarket generic replacement from the home-town of the original owner.  Fair enough…  Upon closer inspection the battery was certainly past its expiration date because the battery had leaked some of that oh-so-wonderful-acid that wreaks havoc on battery trays…

Plastic battery tray saved the day!

Fortunately the good folks from Suzuka designed a plastic tray fitted over the battery box holding the battery.  Funny because this is one of the most common “issues” on Triumph TR6’s – the battery leaks right on the battery box and 9 of 10 TR6’s show acid damage in this area.

Old battery gone. Here is the battery box saved by the plastic tray…

New Honda battery installed and ready to go…

Not wanting to leave well enough alone…  You know me!  The battery is held in place by two metal rods that hook to the bottom of the battery box.  The rods are not originally painted and this looks unfinished.  So, I cleaned each rod with a little Scotch-brite and sprayed them with low-gloss rattle can paint.  I think they turned out right nice…

Rods painted in low-gloss black…

And finally, today’s mileage…

Not bad for a 2003 model S2000!

 

Refining the Stance

Back to bowtie6’s birthplace for a few suspension tweaks..

First a Little History

If you look at enough TR6’s as I have through the years, you will notice very few (if any) have consistent gaps between the fenders and doors.  To help solve this problem, factory workers at the Triumph factory, added spacers between the TR6 body and the frame.  Quality back in the UK in those days was not great and on top of that, after years of use the frame would sag and the gaps had a tendency to get really bad.  Next time you go to a car show, pay close attention at any “original” TR6’s and you’ll see what I mean.

When Jim and I worked on fitting bowtie6‘s body shell on the new frame, we took a long time carefully fitting the body shell, fenders, doors, bonnet and boot lid.  I remember we actually spent HOURS doing this.  The effort was well worth:  all body gaps came out very consistent.  The downside was we had to make thicker body-to-frame spacers for the rear half of the car.  This essentially slightly “bent” the body and caused the rear half of the body shell to come up and thus exaggerate the distance between the rear tires and the rear fender.

My first set of tires on bowtie6 consisted of four Kuhmo 215/55 tires mounted on those sexy Panasport wheels.  The rears fit just fine; however the edge of the front tires rubbed the edge of the front fenders. I really didn’t any body damage so I found a pair of matching 205/55 tires for the front.  This solved the rubbing problem.

But since building a custom car is not an exact science and one must make compromises, this resulted in the car having a bit of a “rake”.  Not too bad, but when looking at bowtie6 from the side, one would notice the rear tire and fender gap was not ideal.  As a matter of fact, I remember my friend Michael reminding me the rear suspension needed some tweaking.

“Drop it down an inch”, he said.  Yeah, umm-hu.

New Tires

As noted in a previous blog article, this summer I bought a new set of tires.  This time I ditched the staggered sizing in favor of a square setup:  I bought from The Tire Rack, four 205/55 Yokohama summer-only tires.  Well, with the different tire height (remember, we went from 215/55’s to 205/55’s) the rear fender gap got really bad.

Before… (for the “after”, see the last photo at the bottom)

See what I mean?  The rear gap was not quite right.  Well, I was not about to go digging out the body/frame spacers because this would throw the body gaps all to hell.  Fortunately, Jim was able to come up with a small but effective solution to the problem.

Solution and New Stance

When Jim modified the rear axle to handle the coilovers, he made vertical mounting pads for them to bolt on to.  You can see the outline of the pads in the photo above.  Today, we took all this apart and added an extender to the pad.  This extender basically moves the axle about an inch upwards.

And the result is amazing!

Before the tweak…


After the tweak…

And there you have it!  The rake is almost gone.  Jim and I measured the end result and there is about a quarter of an inch difference between the and of the front fender and the start of the rear frame along the center of the body shell.  The gap has been reduced dramatically and overall bowtie6 has a much more refined stance.

Before…


After…


After… (see above for the “before” version)

Can’t Fix Stupid

I am constantly amazed by the carelessness of drivers around me and in this particular case, that carelessness gets upgraded into the realm of “can’t fix stupid”.

Since I have had some issues with my internet service provider’s billing, I decided to stop by one of their offices.  Yes, I tried the phone but they were reluctant to help.  I thought a face-to-face visit might solve the problem, but no.  I was greeted by a very friendly person, but that is as far as it went.  The experience was a complete waste of time because the person on the other side of the counter gave me her minimum-wage’s worth of help.  But, I digress.

Back to my story…

On the way out of the internet provider’s office I noticed this parked sad and lonely SUV with a flat right-rear tire.  What struck me as odd was the ring on the sidewall showing evidence of severe wear.  It is very obvious, this tire had traveled a long distance completely flat.  So much so, that the sidewall material is showing through the rubber on the sidewall.  Just imagine how hot this sidewall got too!

Cord exposed on the tire’s sidewall due to severe under inflation

I suppose I am overly sensitive to stuff like this because I am very particular about the care of my automobiles.  However, in today’s world there are so many people who ignore the basics of automotive care.  Are drivers so oblivious they don’t notice issues with their vehicles?

Flat or under inflated tires are prevalent these days.  I’ve witnessed on several occasions SUV’s (driven by millennial soccer moms) with kids in tow and yet the tires on these vehicles are either low on air or past their prime (sometimes both!).  Then, I can just hear the conversations blaming tire quality when catastrophic failures like the one pictured above happen.

Can’t fix stupid.

Bedliner Clad Jeep

The other day, I walked to a little restaurant next door to the place I work at and in the parking lot saw this bedliner clad Jeep.  The olive drab paint job is indeed bedliner.  How cool is that!

I realize this is not something special.  This Jeep’s owner decided to treat this vehicle to an iron clad paint job that will quite frankly last forever.  Truth is to be told, I did the same thing (except in black) to the entire underside of bowtie6.

Think about it, this is one hell of a cool idea!  I walked up to the vehicle and touched it – the surface was far from “smooth”.  It was quite rough but looked awesome.  So much so, the material also covered all the emblems in such a way they could easily be read.

Pretty cool huh?