Monday, October 29, 2012

Installing a Weltmeister Shifter Lockout Kit in an early Porsche 911

Hi folks -- the extra springs are in,  and the shifter has been repaired! The car now shifts the way it should, and while I need to get it on the road, there is no question that reverse is not going to be easily mistaken for second, and nicking will be much harder to accomplish.
OK, there are many horror stories about this installation and kit, and rightly so. First, after pin punching the spots to drill .5 in inside existing spring shafts, use a pilot drill before you use the special hardened steel drill bit that comes with the kit.  Second, be careful as the drill hits the inner lockout plate -- you are drilling through two pieces of steel on one side of the shifter, and you can easily catch the drill bit and thus break it.

Now that the holes are drilled the real fun begins.  Honestly, three people helped to get my springs in, tow of which are skilled mechanics (one of the two installed three of these kits in the past!).  One person is in charge of holding the shaft in with a metal block on the outside of the shaft;  another (me), used a flat screwdriver to keep the spring from coiling in a "U" while the thrid guy used a pare of pliers to compress the end of the spring and move it into position.  Then "me" no longer needs to hold the screwdriver, but used a hammer on the metal block outside the shifter and shaft to drive the shaft home on the other side through the far hole.

Whew!  But it is worth it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rebuilding an early Porsche 911 Shifter -- a hellish little job!

Hi folks -- it started as a project to add two Weltmeister springs to a worn shifter mechanism. It is now something bigger!  Once I got the shifter mechanism off I noticed that the lockout plate was worn.  It should be a totally straight piece of metal. I got a new one at Automotion (very prompt order delivery!). I put that on and decided to first pout the two stock springs on.  First one went on pretty easy -- just I just strained my guts for about 5 minutes.  The second proved near impossible. After exhausting myself and taking a break, I came back to th project after looking at the photo in my Porsche shop manual.  Aha! This time using my magic self made tool the spring went on.  Shifting still somewhat difficult in terms of avoiding reverse when I go from first to second gear.  I did readjust the coupler to no avail.  Next step putting in those Weltmeister springs, after I finish grading papers. Note the special modified screwdriver. You need to make this no matterwhat else you do, or otherwise you will be doomed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Auto Industry Bailout, Ohio, the Heart of it all, and the Election of 2012

Every day now the Dayton Daily News has an article on the significance of the auto bailout to the saving of the Ohio auto industry and the outcome of the 2012 election. So today the article was written by Phillip Elliot and entitled "Auto Bailout May Hold Ohio Key," (p. A1, A10).

There is no question that the 850,000 workers tied to the auto industry in Ohio are grateful for what the Obama administration did to shore up General Motors in 2009. And Obama knows this, for he continues to hammer Romney on the later's New York Times Op-Ed Piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt." But in a world of simplified campaign rhetoric aimed at winning emotions rather than reasoned thinking, Romney's assertions have been distorted and demonized.

What did Romney actually say?:

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
I love cars, American cars. I was born in Detroit, the son of an auto chief executive. In 1954, my dad, George Romney, was tapped to run American Motors when its president suddenly died. The company itself was on life support — banks were threatening to deal it a death blow. The stock collapsed. I watched Dad work to turn the company around — and years later at business school, they were still talking about it. From the lessons of that turnaround, and from my own experiences, I have several prescriptions for Detroit’s automakers.
First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.
That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.
Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.
The new management must work with labor leaders to see that the enmity between labor and management comes to an end. This division is a holdover from the early years of the last century, when unions brought workers job security and better wages and benefits. But as Walter Reuther, the former head of the United Automobile Workers, said to my father, “Getting more and more pay for less and less work is a dead-end street.”
You don’t have to look far for industries with unions that went down that road. Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th. This will mean a new direction for the U.A.W., profit sharing or stock grants to all employees and a change in Big Three management culture.
The need for collaboration will mean accepting sanity in salaries and perks. At American Motors, my dad cut his pay and that of his executive team, he bought stock in the company, and he went out to factories to talk to workers directly. Get rid of the planes, the executive dining rooms — all the symbols that breed resentment among the hundreds of thousands who will also be sacrificing to keep the companies afloat.
Investments must be made for the future. No more focus on quarterly earnings or the kind of short-term stock appreciation that means quick riches for executives with options. Manage with an eye on cash flow, balance sheets and long-term appreciation. Invest in truly competitive products and innovative technologies — especially fuel-saving designs — that may not arrive for years. Starving research and development is like eating the seed corn.
Just as important to the future of American carmakers is the sales force. When sales are down, you don’t want to lose the only people who can get them to grow. So don’t fire the best dealers, and don’t crush them with new financial or performance demands they can’t meet.
It is not wrong to ask for government help, but the automakers should come up with a win-win proposition. I believe the federal government should invest substantially more in basic research — on new energy sources, fuel-economy technology, materials science and the like — that will ultimately benefit the automotive industry, along with many others. I believe Washington should raise energy research spending to $20 billion a year, from the $4 billion that is spent today. The research could be done at universities, at research labs and even through public-private collaboration. The federal government should also rectify the imbedded tax penalties that favor foreign carmakers.
But don’t ask Washington to give shareholders and bondholders a free pass — they bet on management and they lost.
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check. 

Note the arguments in this essay -- they are far more brilliant than what Obama wants American to think of Romney's views on this matter.
A) Romney is visioning about the long term viability and future of the U.S. and the auto industry.  It is about viability a decade from now, not year to year. Yes, we the taxpayers have put GM on life support but not life much beyond the next election. Labor costs remain high, business at GM is still far more like the old usual practices, a badly needed desperation has been avoided, but complacency has not. Labor owns a good chunk of GM. Government has kept people working, no different in style than what is happening currently in France where a socialist prime minster is saving 8,000 Peugeot jobs.
B) The last two sentences of Romney's essay are key. The federal government has a role in a managed bankruptcy. It will provide guarantees for financing.

In sum, what the election will decide is what economic policy path the U.S. will follow during the next four years, and probably well beyond.  If you believe that capitalism is the best way to create prosperity and economic growth, then Romney is your man.  If you think that larger government, more powerful unions, social intervention is the right course, then Obama is your choice. In the end, America will get what it deserves.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The difference one bushing makes in my early Porsche 911 shifter

Hi folks -- the play and vibration on my 1971 Porsche 911T targa got bad enough that I decided to work on it this last weekend. My goal is to get this thing shifting so good that ultimately my daughter and son-in-law will want to take over the car when I am done. To that end I bought a Weltmeister shift lockout kit consisting of two strong springs and a special drill bit, and was ready to get into it on Saturday night. As I was taking out the shifter (5 bolts on the floor), I was stunned to find that I had no bushing at all on the ball cup!  What! I know I had purchased one years ago.  So I checked my parts bin and there was a new one -- never installed. Apparently I had neglected to install it when I replaced the bushing on the shifter rod and the rear coupler bushings. Only a shade-tree mechanic could have overlooked that.
So I put some grease in he cup, popped on on the bushing, and discovered that the shifter was now without any play and indeed needed to be worked in to get proper play!
So the springs await some break in, which should take place this Saturday if I get time.  First principles first!  Now shifting has no play and for a new driver, one does not have to have quite the intimate feel I had to have to find the gears and avoid "nicking!"

The absence of this little guy was the source of much of my problems!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Selected List of Libraries and Archives for Automotive History

Hi folks -- this list was compiled by Arthur Jones for the Society of Automotive Historians(SAH) about 4 years ago. The list is incomplete and some personnel have changed, but hopefully in the near future a more comprehensive list will be produced that includes such sites at the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida.  This does provide the would-be scholar with a start, albeit imperfect. Thanks to Arthur.  If you are interested in auto history, please consider joining the SAH.  The organization's website is easy to find via search engine.

Libraries and Archives for Automotive History

National Automotive History Collection                                 
Skillman Branch, Detroit Public Library
121 Gratiot Avenue
Detroit, MI 48226

Chris Ritter, Librarian                                                              717-534-2082
Library and Research Center                                         
Antique Automobile Club of America
501 West Governor Road, P.O. Box 417
Hershey, PA 17033-0417

Dale K. Wells, Curator                                                             616-671-5089
Classic Car Club of America Museum                           
Gilmore Car Museum
6865 Hickory Road
Hickory Corners, MI 49060

Mark Steigerwald, Curator                                                       607-535-9044
International Motor Racing Research Center                  
610 South Decatur Street
Watkins Glen, NY 14891-1613

Jon Hart                                                                                   925-736-2277 
W. Everett Miller Automotive Research Library                      Ext. 248
Blackhawk Automotive Museum                                   
3750 Blackhawk Plaza Circle
Danville, CA 94506

Jeff Taylor, Curator                                                                 810-237-3440
Buick Gallery and Research Center/Perry Archives       
Alfred P. Sloan Museum
303 Walnut Street
Flint, MI 48503

Kristin Hartley, Director                                                          916-442-6802
Towe Auto Museum                                                      
2200 Front Street
Sacramento, CA 95818-1107

Ron McQueeny                                                                       317-492-6716
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum
4790 West 16th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46222

Roberta Watkins, Librarian                                                      619-464-0301
Automotive Research Library                                        
Horseless Carriage Foundation
P.O. Box 4119
La Mesa, CA 91944-4119

Jeffrey K. Leestma, President                                                  313-240-4000
Automotive Hall of Fame                                              
21400 Oakwood Boulevard
Dearborn, MI 48124
Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum                                        
1600 South Wayne Street, Box 271
Auburn, IN 46706

Antony Pacey, Manager of Library and Information Services 613-991-2982
Canada Science and Technology Museum                     
2380 Lancaster Road
P.O. Box 9724, Station T
Ottawa, ON K1G 5A3 Canada

Ann Sindelar, Reference Supervisor                                        216-721-5722
WRHS Library
Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum
Western Reserve Historical Society
10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106

David White, Archivist                                                            810-762-9661
Richard P. Scharchberg Archives                                   
Kettering University Library
1700 West Third Avenue
Flint, MI 48504-4898

Kim Bravo, Librarian                                                               215-686-5404
Automobile Reference Collection                                  
The Free Library of Philadelphia
1901Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Benson Ford Research Center                                                  
The Henry Ford
20900 Oakwood Boulevard
Dearborn, MI 48124-4088

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 1 GM numbers to ponder

Hi folks -- a few numbers taken from the GM October 2 Press Release:

689,334 total vehicles in Inventory, an 82 day supply.

240,810 Full-sized pickups, a 116 day supply.

Current year to date retail change vs. 2011 to Sept. 2011.
2011 not a great year by any stretch of the imagination.

Chevrolet -- +4.9%
GMC -- +3.9
Buick -- -2.0%
Cadillac -- -8.6%

Total GM up 3.4%

So Cadillac is on the way up?
Chevy the winner for GM in terms of numbers. Numbers are one thing, what about profits per unit?

Another Government Auto Boondoggle: A123 Batteries and a vision in trouble

Note that both Obama and Bush were sucked in by this company.  See photo below.  Text taken from an email sent to me by Ed.

No company has embodied Washington's hope for an American-built electric vehicle business like A123 Systems. The Massachusetts-based company was supposed to become the leading home-grown supplier of lithium-ion batteries for automakers in the United States and around the world -- fueled in part by a $249 million grant from the Obama administration. Today, A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy, saying much of its assets would be sold after losing $857 million over the past several years. Here's why it failed.
In an April 2010 speech in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Barack Obama hailed A123 with Chief Executive David Vieux on his left, for its plans to create 2,000 jobs by 2012. A123 also won $125 million in grants and tax credits from Michigan state officials for building plants there. I was in the audience covering the event, and walked out of the White House while talking to two new A123 employees -- both grateful engineers who had lost jobs in the recession and spent months e-mailing resumes with few responses.
When A123 opened its plant in Michigan later that year, Obama called again to congratulate Vieux: "This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America -- an industry that's going to be central to the next generation of cars," Obama said according to a transcript released by the White House. "When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America."
But A123 was never able to turn the promise of its creation by MIT students and faculty into real-world products. It lost out on supplying batteries for the Chevrolet Volt to South Korea's LG Chem, with General Motors executives at the time citing the more established firm as a safer bet. A123 did eventually win a GM contract for batteries in the upcoming Chevrolet Spark EV, but that wasn't expected to be a high-volume model.
A123's biggest bet lay with Fisker Automotive, and when the Fisker Karma suffered a series of launch delays and sales far below expectations, A123's finances began to take a hit. The company also had to spend $66 million on a recall of its Karma battery packs in 2011 due to a charging defect. While it tried to find other uses for its batteries outside the auto industry, none came close to generating the kind of revenue a major automotive supply contract might.
Since that Rose Garden speech, American have proven far less excited about electric vehicles than what the Obama administration expected. President Obama's goal of having one million plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles on the road by 2015 looks like it will come up short by some 600,000 vehicles, according to Pike Research. So far this year, Americans have bought about 31,000 all-electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids -- and all of their batteries were made by suppliers outside the United States.
While demand has fallen far short, battery supply has boomed. The Obama administration was far from alone in thinking that battery makers were a source of future jobs; A123 and Vieux had been guests of President George W. Bush when he touted his energy plans. Governments around the world, especially China and Japan, have poured billions of dollars into battery research and manufacturing. That money has yet to produce a breakthrough that would make EVs as usable as liquid-fuel vehicles, but it has created a mini-glut of battery makers, driving down prices. A123 attempted to lower its costs with deals in China and Korea, but neither paid off in time.
A123 says in its bankruptcy filing that its assets will be bought for $125 million by supplier Johnson Controls. Its failure will only strengthen arguments from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that the Obama administration wasted millions of dollars in its pursuit of green jobs. Obama was right on the broader point: Batteries will be essential to future vehicles around the world. But that change won't happen as quickly as he expected, and every nation that builds cars in volume will have its own favored firms vying for the same opportunity. Voters will have to decide whether the chase was worth the charge.

Monday, October 15, 2012

As we approach the election, GM is anything but a long-term success story

So it is now time to start commenting on the GM bailout as we approach November 6. I saw an article in this morning's Dayton Daily News from a Columbus Dispatch writer that  suggested that the bailout benefited the entire auto industry as it kept parts suppliers in business.  That may well be true, and some good thinking was going on in the writing of that article.  But the key question is what will happen long-term related to the bailout -- not just short term, which is the way our political system is configured and the way Americans typically react to an economic crisis.
As of today, GM is still in a horrendous slide, which could be much worse if it were not for its success in China.  In the U.S., their cars are being sold as with deep discounts, or taken off the lots via fleet sales.  The GM Volt is manufactured for more than 60k per unit, and sold for half that! In Europe, GM is doing all it can to distance itself from the Opel brand and replace it with Chevrolet badges. Would any good German buy a Chevrolet knowing what GM has done to Opel, and of course in the recent past Saab? GM management located in the U.S. has thrown the Europeans under the bus, and the latter know it.
GM market share in the U.S. has slid from 23% in 2007 to 17.5% in 2012. The UAW made no real sacrifice with the bailout, while here in Dayton Delphi retirees have lost their pensions. And then stock values and wealth after the $33 share opening in November of 2010.  Now that stock value is at about $20 a share, which represents  a 49% government loss relative to he Dow Jones rise since 11/10 of nearly 20%.
All this begs the question of whether or not we will have to experience another bailout after the election.  If so, Mr. Romney, who has caught plenty of heat for his 2008 remarks, may have been right after all. Growing up Mit often listened to father George, whose old-fashioned business sense is perhaps worth following now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Greatest Swap Meet of Them All -- AACA Hershey, October, 2012

Hi folks -- Thanks to Ed for the photos. Old cars, more parts than you can ever imagine, old men, understanding wives.  That is what Hershey in October is all about. Foreign car parts are hard to find, but for Model T and A, Packard, Chevy, Cadillac -- it is somewhere on the grounds!  It takes days to see it all, and of course there are many dreamers as vendors who price goods well beyond they are worth.  And there are cars for sale -- Cadillacs, Chevys, Fords, Buicks, Mercs, MGs, expensive (200K+) and rusted out hulks. Almost all the folks are friendly and love to talk cars -- even those from the NYC area!  I didn't buy much --only one book -- as what I was interested in was overpriced.  There was one Model T anti-theft device a say on Thursday but could not find the vendor's table on Friday to close the deal!  The moral of the story: when you see it, buy it.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Great Cars of 1949 -- the Buick Roadmaster Convertible

One of the best-looking cars of the late 1940s had to be the Buick Roadmaster convertible. The style was new in 1949, as the pre-war look was finally shed. Its wheelbase and overall length were reduced, but the car's weight was actually marginally increased. The biggest change was a much larger two-piece, curved glass windshield that the sales brochure described as like an “observation car.”

It was also in 1949 that Buick introduced VentiPorts." Four were displayed on each of the Roadmaster's front fenders, with three on the fenders of all other Buicks. It was said that VentiPorts helped ventilate the engine compartment, and possibly that was true in early 1949, but sometime during the model year they became plugged. The idea for VentiPorts grew out of a modification Buick styling chief Ned Nickles had added to his own 1948 Roadmaster. He had installed four amber lights on each side of his car’s hood wired to the distributor so as to flash on and off as each piston fired simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter airplane. Combined with the bomb sight hood ornament, VentiPorts put the driver at the controls of an imaginary fighter airplane. Upon seeing this, Buick chief Harlow Curtice was so delighted that he ordered that (non-lighting) VentiPorts be installed on all 1949 Buicks, with the number of VentiPorts (three or four) corresponding to the relative displacement of the engine installed. It was one example of many from the period that illustrated just how powerful aviation motifs were in terms of then contemporary automobile designs.

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Fall's Ultimate Car for Hot Chicks -- the 2013 Beetle Convertible

This is the ultimate accessory for the hot chicks, or chicks who want to be hot. Better than a Coach purse or Ray-Ban glasses, this piece of rolling sculpture expresses an aesthetic that carries over to the driver's seat!

 Will be on display at the LA Auto show in November, then on sale at a dealer near you!

From Ed: a Russian WWII 1941/2 Staff Car 4wd

This was taken at an open-air museum where some of the most fierce battles occurred between the Germans and the Russians near Sevestopol in the Crimea.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Ukrainian Taxi Driver and his Slavuto -- a contribution from Ed

Here is a Ukrainian story for “car guys” to enjoy.  We had a taxi driver in Kiev.  He drove one of the last Slavuto automobiles, the last “national” car brand made in Ukraine.  I have attached  photos of the young man and his taxi. 

We talked about the vehicle and he pointed out that Ukrainian automotive engineers had bought a French Peugeot and an Italian Fiat and attempted to take the best of each car for their design.

As you can see, it didn’t much work as the car is quirky and aesthetically unappealing. 

But the driver told me that “government officials” then mandated that the car company take out costs so that the car could be marketed more inexpensively.  He then showed me the wheels which, with normal small cars, would have five but sometimes four lug nuts at a minimum.  But the Slavuto had only three lug nuts and so they were able to decontent the car and save a few more pennies per vehicle.  Three lug nuts on each wheel it would be. L 

As we neared our destination, the driver handed me his business card and noted that he wanted to expand his taxi services to become more entrepreneurial.  His business card listed his name and contact information and then the three services he offers or plans to offer:


As I paid him, I asked him what “Special Services” were. 

His reply, with a wink: “Girl” J    Ah, entrepreneurship in the Ukraine J

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A-1 Auto Transport - a guest post

Use Your Cell Phone To Book Auto Transport With This App

When it comes to scheduling your auto transport, chances are you are trying to fit it in within the thousand and one things that you have to do within your day. You likely hardly have the time to sit down at your computer and look for quotes on this all-important service. Now, A-1 Auto Transport gives you the option to do it right from your mobile device. The A-1 Auto Transport iPhone app gives you real time quotes from some of the leading auto transport providers in the industry.

The app is laid out in an easy-to-use format, giving you the chance to input information such as the city of origin, your destination and important information about your vehicle. If you require additional moving services, you can enter this information as well, to get the most accurate quote and options of companies possible. Quotes are free and instant and even include international options, for those that are making a mover overseas.

A-1 Auto Transport is the perfect company to deliver this app, as it works with hundreds of auto transport companies specializing in helping customers with a vast array of transport needs. In addition to traditional auto transport, the app also covers boat, motorcycle and RV transport services. The rates provided through the app are generally affordable, designed to fit just about any budget.

The best part, however, is that you can now schedule transport services at any time and from anywhere, since you carry your mobile device with you wherever you go. Moving items – be it just a vehicle or an entire household – can be stressful and often requires multi-tasking. This app allows for that, providing free transport quotes right to a mobile device for those trying to get things done and on the go.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

More on well-used Ladas -- a Report from Ed in the Ukraine

We stopped at a gas station to fill up the Hyundai owned by one of our in-country research associates and, next to us, pulls this rusted out Soviet-era Lada with at least six little children in the backseat.  Mom and dad go into the carry-out for drinks while the kids literally climb out of the back windows.  Notice that, in the second photo, there is no door handle on the back door (it has apparently fallen off and the door was inoperable).  Not surprisingly, each of the six little kids scampered out of the back windows, delightfully squealing.  The third photo is of a young man who spoke broken English working to get his old Lada started.  He told me that the standard joke with these old Soviet built Ladas was that when they rolled off the assembly line they all had the hoods up........since that is the position they would most likely be in with their future owners.  An interesting take on Ukrainian humor, no?


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A "fast" Lada -- photo taken outside of Kiev, Ukraine

A photo contribution form Ed Garten, currently on travel in the Ukraine.  Taken outside of Kiev.

As Jesus once said, "the poor will always be with you."  And so unlike downtown Kiev, where there is a proliferation of Bentleys, Mercedes, Porsches, etc.,  in the outskirts of the city are the poor with their Ladas. And even if they don't go fast, this Lada has meaning as a symbol of freedom, although it takes a lot for the average person to dig their way out of the depths of society. At least one can dream of going fast and free.