Sunday, April 9, 2017

For Gearheads

This post is for all you gearheads out there.  If you don't know, a gearhead is a car or truck enthusiast...the kind of person you want to have around when your car goes Aruur aruur aruur aruuuuuuu....and then is all quiet.  That's when you call your gearhead friend, who comes over, throws open the hood of your car, and starts teaching you what my students call "strong field language," while getting your car to run.  Most of gearheads work for either beer or brownies (or both :-)

We've driven over 8,000 miles on this trip, and I tell you, the number of interesting cars we've seen can about be counted on your fingers, and have some left over for donuts.  Interesting goes two ways, but I'll let you judge.  Here's my list:

  1. Two Lamborghinis (one about to rattle apart while doing 55 on a rough road)
  2. One Maserati - ugly
  3. One Porsche 911 with a targa top, and a couple of those Macons or Bacons or something.  A few Boxters.
  4. One really nicely done Studebaker as a leadsled, cut, chopped, lowered, with a LOT of  shiney chrome
  5. Quite a few nice tow vehicles at campgrounds...a lot of Ford 350 and 450's, in Lariat, Platinum, or King Ranch edition.  Lot of dualys.  Lot of ridiculous bull bars and chrome.
  6. A cool VW Thing converted into a sand buggy (my top pick)
  7. A decent Baja Bug
  8. Maybe two MGB's and a Spitfire
  9. A flatblack semi-truck lowrider with twin flat black exhaust pipes that looked about as big around as stove pipe...about  a foot off the ground, but working for a living hauling a load.
  10. A Lexus SUV with a snorkel (don't really need to say more, do I)
  11. A decent number of FJ Cruisers
  12. A lot of sand buggies and rails when we were near the Dunes in California, including some of those off-road racing trucks with the spare tires in back, and full-on racing stickers.
  13. One beatup Rolls Royce.

All in all, if you're looking for cool cars, you're not going to find them out on the road.  It's a Civic Camry world.  

So, near one of our campgrounds was a winding Alpine Road, like in the Italian Job.  I wanted to go up it in my Ford F150 4x4 High Performance Sport Utility Pickup Truck, but Mrs. Dr. V said, "No Thanks."  Well, she might have commented on my state of mind, too, but in any event, I got to drive up it while she chilled in the trailer.  Here's what I saw.

This is about half way up, looking out over the valley.  You can see some of the road switchbacks and the like on the hill to the right.  I wish I had my son's friend's Miata to drive here.  Well, no, I wish I had a shiney new Miata with good brakes and steering.  That snow capped mountain on the other side of the valley is about 15 miles away, and I'm up about 3,000 feet above the valley floor.   You can see a very straight road in the middle, that's actually an airport runway, and the shadows of the clouds in the valley.

I called Mrs. Dr. V to come out of the camper and see me.  She couldn't.  The campground is the bottom left bit of white looking development at the left side of a road.  With my amazing eyesight, I was able to see her clearly, but later inspection from the ground showed that what I thought was her was actually a clump of tumbleweed.  This realization did not aid my marital status.

Here's the gearhead part of the trip.  If you look down in the valley below the curve....

You see the mangled bodies of cars that didn't make the curve.  While I was taking the picture, a (insert strong field language here) driver came into the hairpin curve "hot" in a Nissan, one hand on the wheel, looking down at his phone while texting.  I guess his time is coming soon.

While I was at the Mission Mine, I checked out their dump trucks.  They had a progression showing how the trucks got bigger and bigger and bigger.  This is a small one, holding 170 tons and weighing 310 tons with a 1,600 HP motor.

That one wasn't big enough to be economical, so they got these bigger ones.  That's me by the left front wheel doing a Vanna White.  You saw this picture in the Mission Mine post.

Here's one of me by the wheel, doing my Vanna.  

Even my massive forearm is no match for the tierod on this beast.  Oddly enough, you just loosen those bolts and turn the leg sized shackle to align the steering, just like any old car or tractor.

Sturdy, that.

I want to say "Hey, guys, check out this differential," but actually, the truck is a diesel electric.  The diesel motor turns a generator that runs an electric motor to power the thing, like a locomotive.  This way, there's no gears and you get a massive amount of torque to start the load moving.  I'm almost certain that what looks like a differential is actually the electric motor that powers the thing via direct drive.

Here's the fuel tank, and the filler way up there...

This truck was too small too, so they retired it and have even bigger trucks, which I talked about in the Mission Mine post.  I'm looking for more interesting vehicles as I head north :-(

1 comment:

  1. When I saw those tires, all I could think about was floating down a river in a humongo-sized inner tube! It's interesting to me that as a consumer I have little to no visibility into how the goods and services I consume are produced..let alone their environmental impact.