Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Steam locomotives were the semi tractors of the 19th century.

I recently took a vacation trip to Colorado and New Mexico. I shot these short videos of one of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad trains leaving New Mexico and heading north into Colorado.

The first video is of the train leaving the yard in Chama, NM.

Cumbres & Toltec #484 leaving Chama, NM

The second video is the same train a little further north in Colorado. The grade to the top of the pass is about 4%.

Cumbres & Toltec #484 in Colorado

Sorry the quality of these videos aren't first-rate. I wasn't really expecting to make these, just happened to be there when the train was loading passengers. Think of these locomotives as the semi tractors of the 19th century. They also resemble trucks in that although large and heavy-duty, their design was intricate and ingenious. Check out this site on different valve gear used to control the steam to the cylinders and you will have some idea how much development went into later designs.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tampering with truck emission controls - just don't do it !

Hello, and welcome to The Toolbox. I recently came across this article on emission tampering, and it opened my eyes to several things. I knew unhooking or deleting an emission device has been illegal for some time, but I didn't realize the fines involved or the extent of possible liability. I also didn't realize the law pertains to ALL road vehicles, including medium and heavy trucks. Below is a link to the five-part article.

                       While you read, look for the following facts pertaining to this issue:

  • Any modification of a vehicle engine or its emission system that impact NTE (not-to-exceed) emissions, GHG (greenhouse gas), or fuel efficiency, is illegal.
  • Service facilities can be fined up to $37,500 per incident, customers up to $3,750.
  • Service providers who identify tampering during emission system maintenance and fail to bring the vehicle into compliance can be fined the same as if they had tampered with the system. (Note that to be in violation, the service provider must be hired to perform work on the emission system.)
  • A recent survey showed that only 55% of dealers were aware of the $37,500 fine, and 24% thought the maximum fine was $3,750. 15% thought there was no fine at all.

                                                         hazards of emission tampering

If you think for a moment you can easily come up with nightmare scenarios about customers who don't want to pay for the repair the law requires. If this happens you are supposed to inform the EPA. Do you think you will still have that customer after you throw him under the Federal Government bus?

What if a customer comes in with a dead injector and during scanning and testing, you discover a modification that also sets an emission - related code? What if that customer tells you he won't fix it because you were hired to diagnose a driveability problem, not one related to emissions?

The article does state that the government is working to clear up grey areas in the law, but there are sure to be instances of unfair application of the rules, and we all know that an independent repair shop is almost certain to be at the losing end of such an exchange. All technicians and shop owners need to be fully aware of these laws and decide beforehand how incidents will be handled.

Thanks for reading, and come back soon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vehicle Technical Writers wanted

Hello, all. After a few years of posting to this site, I find that I am running out of ideas for new posts.
Therefore I am extending an invitation to anyone who wants to post here.

You don't need any formal writing experience, and I don't care what the topic is. Just make it something to do with vehicles or vehicle repair.

It could be how to diagnose a common problem, a repair shortcut, a customer relations or service horror story, a humorous anecdote, computer or software solutions, or anything else vehicle or repair related.

I usually try to limit posts to 500 words or so, longer posts are usually split into separate posts. But length doesn't matter. Sometimes short posts turn out the most successful.

Naturally, you will be credited as the author, and those interested could be added as co-authors on the site.
Just send me an Email with the document attached and I will take it from there.
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