Heavy Duty Car Equipment

Not all car equipment you find in garages and workshops are easily managed, some of them by design need to be massive both in size and in weight. But why are they so large? Let’s see…

An engine hoist is a device or machine to use lift the engine out of the car—some places can only be access with the engine out. And it gives you a look at the engine close up. These machines are not always mechanical in nature, but they always take up room. Although simple ones can raise 2 tons the more complicated chain block hoists can raise as much as 5 tons and go up as far as 78.7 inches, the equivalent of 6 feet 7 inches.

A load leveler is there to hook to something like a crane, or in this case a hoist and helps compensate when the load is off level.

You can remove a car engine without a hoist by parking on a level surface and applying the brake. Next you place a jack under the chassis at the front so the vehicle is high enough to work under it comfortably.

As you may have guessed by the name, a car ramp lifts the car up a sloped surface which makes repair easier – alternately it can just lift the front wheels. If your car has low ground clearance – for example sports cars – they need a special kind of ramp.

A scissor lift creates a platform which can rise almost effortlessly for objects as heavy as 20 tons. You need to make sure it fits all the required standards and may include items such as guardrails. There are also double, triple and even quadruple scissor lifts out there. For longer vehicles you may need to acquire a tandem scissor platform lift.

A more flexible device but still quite heavy is a trolley jack. This can also fit in low level cars such as sports cars. For safety’s sake it’s best to use it in combination with axle stands in case something goes wrong.

Other fairly large items you need include tool chests and cabinets as well as battery chargers or starters – also known as jump starters and electric tire inflators. It could be a problem storing electrical items in the winter as many have problems if there is frosty weather outside and least when you plug them in but if your garage is fully insulated there should be no problem.

Bulky Replacement Parts:

It might seem like keeping enough parts around to account for any part that’s likely to fail or wear out is going to require a lot of storage space, but in reality you can stock a lot of parts in a smallish space.

However, some parts are going to take up room. Radiators can be large and take up space unless you only work on one type of car. Exhaust systems are long and difficult to store in a shop. Best to acquire these as needed.

You can get replacement car batteries for your vehicle if necessary. Most people don’t realize that they tend to last a mere five years or so, hence the need for battery checks.

If a car battery has to cope with extremes of temperature, inactivity or the number of rough journeys. The chemical reactions in the car battery tend not to work. A parasitic drain causes it to wear out before its time.

Batteries don’t seem that bulky if you have an I.C.E. car because you only need the one to start the car up. However, modern electric cars take many which makes for a very expensive service every five years—or less. The disposal casts alone (core charge) is pretty costly.

You may not be aware of what fume extraction is, it’s to do with removing the smoke that comes from constantly starting cars up. Some are fixed in one place while others allow for greater flexibility. Parts such as nozzles and hoses can be replaced if need be.

If you’re running your own shop, say out of your home, space can be an issue. You’ll need a safe place to keep entire cars while you wait for parts you order. While on your property these cars are your responsibility so a good fence is a must. Also, upgraded insurance.

Car Theft & Prevention

From the UK Desk

There are so many awful car crimes out there. The Ford Pickup, especially the 2006 version, was the most stolen car in the US. The car in second place with this dubious honor was the Chevrolet pickup. This may surprise drivers of the pickup as it is not the most comfortable pickup in the world.

The state which has the most theft of vehicles is Colorado with 524 thefts out of 100,000 inhabitants or 0.5%. Overall, in the US a theft of a motor vehicle occurs about every 41 seconds.

If you steal a car from someone by force, usually violence, it is known as carjacking. Carjacking occurs to all sorts of cars; even armored ones.

The British Journal of Criminology in 2003 called the crime of carjacking “under-researched”. In order to rectify that they commissioned a study-it was all to do with the value of the vehicle in the underworld or in the open market.

Ways Cars are Jacked:

Sometimes carjacking is planned but at other times the thieves have no idea what they plan to do with the car or its parts, it’s just opportunistic.

The first action may be bumping into the car and taking the vehicle when the driver leaves the driving seat to exchange details.

Alternatively, it could be faking a car accident and stealing the potential first aider’s car. It may also be pretending that there is something wrong with the victim’s car and taking it when they are distracted–anything that gets your attention. Finally, there are those who block the gate to the victim’s property.

As well as locking the doors, either manually or through an electric lock, it’s advisable to ensure that all windows and the sunroof are closed. The number plates are at risk from theft so make sure the screws are tamper proof. The wheel nuts also need to be secured as they are often stolen.

Steeling Part of Your Car:

It’s a good idea to make sure that items like roof-racks and tailgate racks are secured. Make sure there’s a car alarm and a steering wheel lock. Most would-be thieves will see a steering wheel lock and immediately go elsewhere. But be sure that the steering wheel lock fits the specific type of steering wheel – not all of them are the same.

Rim locks and tire locks secure wheels – whether a car, ATV or even lawnmower. It’s possible to get wheels made of a soft PVC to prevent the wheel from scratching. If you worry about having the engine stolen, and there are such people, you should invest in a hood lock.

Theft of Items from Your Vehicle

There’s a problem too with cell phones, coins, wallets and credit cards – make sure they are well hidden. 39% of all thefts although 39%, followed by 19% with exterior fittings.

There are various discussions on what the car’s most prestigious part is. It could be the catalytic converter or maybe a satnav. A suction pad on the glass may give the idea that there is a hidden satnav in a vehicle.

If you want to use a smartphone app or a remote to open the car you should keep away from the kill switch. When fitting one of these devices it is best to hire a professional, but they are easy to remove when you require the car.

Sunroof Problems

Sunroofs are seen in the most higher end cars and their ability to allow more fresh air to circulate is a desirable quality, but what are the downsides of having a sunroof?

Most people don’t realize that having a sunroof increases the cost of insurance.

Some Types of Sunroofs

Cars like the Honda Civic have a pop-up roof where the window tilts up. Which only seems to be another access point for criminals or water, but the bigger challenges come with panoramic roofs.

A panoramic roof is a much larger roof going all the way from the front to the back where part of it can slide open. There will also be an additional amount of heat on the seats on hot days, so that’s another problem with this type of roof.

Unsurprisingly panoramic roofs aren’t very good in a rollover crash. No one wants to learn this, but your sunroof is another way you might exit your car in a crash if you aren’t wearing a seatbelt, but the moral of that is to wear that seatbelt. Fortunately, only 1% of all crashes are rollovers.

Exploding Sunroofs

An exploding sunroof sounds unbelievable, but it does happen, it’s just the sunroof shattering but it’s traumatic to people who experience it. There’s usually no reason and unfortunately it’s more likely to occur if you own a panoramic sunroof. Several lawsuits have been made against car companies over exploding sunroofs.

This kind of accident fortunately doesn’t happen that often. It’s more common to encounter things like cracks or chips which cause it to be replaced. Just one more window to get hit with rocks and road debris.

Gas Mileage

Driving at speed with the sunroof down creates additional drag and means that the fuel consumption is higher, as bizarre as it may seem.

You may even not use your sunroofs for months on end, especially if they are driven in a cold environment. A panoramic sunroof can even weigh as much as 90Kg.

They can also remove the headroom as cars without sunroofs just have more room for the tops of the seats. 

Regular maintenance of the workings – the electrical components, the glass and so on – is required. The electric problems could be something like a broken motor or a fuse going. The annoying part is that they may be stuck in the open position. Even something like dirt getting into the works can affect it, so it’s best to keep a car with a sunroof in a garage or similar.

Older and Cheaper are more Prone to Problems

They is especially a problem in older cars as they are more inclined to leak. Seals get old over time and the sun ages them. Sunroof seals are in the sun whenever there is sun to be had. Though this is less of a problem with the more expensive cars.

Problems with the rubber rim aren’t too expensive to repair, it’s just time consuming. It’s advisable not to take a car with a sunroof into a car wash. Rust can also form around the sunroof’s rim as it gets older.

To add to the problems, they are also much harder to sell. It’s desirable for buyers to have but it’s not always that desirable.

Lastly, the scientists have wondered if there should be an airbag in the sunroof? The research is mixed on how much it would help.

Truck Racing

From the UK Desk

Truck racing began in Atlanta in 1979. Unfortunately, the speed of the trucks are limited at 160 mph and no truck can weigh greater than 5500 Kg. Before the race the trucks need to be rolled into position. It tries to be a non-contact sport but the odd crash is not uncommon.

The first truck race was on dirt and the truck was not adapted. This has now changed; in the UK there is a special division – Division 1 – where all the trucks, including the braking and suspension, have been especially adapted.

In 1982 a top speed of 132 mph was at the Texas World Speedway. After 1986 the tag axle was removed, getting rid of 2000 pounds. The Bandit Big Rig Series began in 2017. It included the Hickory Motor Prize. Points were awarded in the qualifying rounds and included heat races, shootout races, challenge races and ultimately the final.

The FIA European Truck Racing Championship or ETRC includes events which have been running for thirty years. The championship, which attracts families, according to their website, usually has around 400,000 spectators or so.

The trucks are not supposed to emit black smoke and this will get them banned from the event if it happens twice in a row. The two categories are Chrome and Titan, the Chrome division plays for the Goodyear Cup. There are drivers and team categories too.

Each Competition takes place over two days. A day generally includes half an hour of practise followed by qualifying events and finally the championship race. The winner is the one allocated the most points.

Baja Trucks

A different type of truck racing involves trophy trucks or Baja trucks/trick trucks. Instead of the usual circuits this is off-road racing using high powered engines. The trucks are considered street legal but have been especially designed. There are minimal rules for each truck’s production.

When it began the trucks varied in design so drastically that no truck was the same. Over time a group of engineering firms got involved. The downside of this was that the trucks began to lose their individuality.

It’s weird but for a long period the trucks were two-wheel drive, but they now incorporate an all-wheel drive feature. Ford and Chevrolet engines are commonly most used. An air restrictor is required if the truck uses a turbo engine.

In order to maneuver against the terrain of the desert the minimum weight has to be 1,600 Kg. The gearboxes used have a choice of either being three speed or six speed.

Pickup Racing

Pickup truck racing has modified trucks which are more drivable in racing terms than most trucks but still aren’t as aerodynamic as the usual racing cars.

The NASCAR Truck Series began in 1995 and the electrical equipment and aerodynamics involved have evolved over time.

Whatever type of truck racing you decide to attend you are guaranteed a special event, which despite the size of the vehicle, still has some of the best racing drivers out there. 

Fiberglass Cars and Repairs

Fiberglass is a plastic which is fiber-reinforced using glass fiber. The advantage of using it on cars is that it’s light, tough, inexpensive and rust proof.

The few of the cars with fiberglass bodies include the Chevrolet Corvette as well as the Lotus Daimler and the Rochdale, in addition to several British sports cars.

There are also fiberglass kit cars out there, you will be hard pressed to find a metal kit car.

The Glasper

The cars aren’t completely plastic, they do include items like a metal chassis for example.

Glaspar 2

Using fiberglass has a long pedigree, all the way back to 1951, the first one being the Glaspar 2, built by an engineer more used to creating fiberglass goats, for example the Green Dolphin in 1947.

Fiberglass was known as glass reinforced plastic and marketed as a wonder material so an ideal substance to use.

The Glaspar is a sports car with the chassis of a Willy’s Jeep mixed with a Ford V8. Maybe if it hadn’t gained coverage by Life Magazine it would never have had a run of manufacture by General Motors and have appeared in 1961’s LA Motorama.

Glasper himself went on to create more fiberglass vehicles such as the Lancer and Skorpion, but they didn’t do so well.

Looking for an alternative to Metal

At the time Ford was also looking for alternative materials for making cars such as soya-based products and hemp.

It’s easier to create a car in fiberglass than metal, especially those with complicated curves. It’s biggest selling point is a strong strength to weight ratio, in other words not that strong but strong with it. It’s also harder to paint metal than fiberglass. Applying the layers of fiberglass creates the expense.

There are other selling points in using fiberglass such as the reduction in noise and vibration, which may explain why it was used in sports cars.

Rochdale

It tends to be a product used more by the smaller car manufacturers than the big names out there. It could be possible soon to create a fiberglass car using nothing more than 3D printing.

Fiberglass can be used to create or recreate various car parts; getting a car back after a dent for instance or, failing that, giving the illusion it has. Using fiberglass resin saves an expensive car repair.

Working with Fiberglass

You can adapt a fiberglass mold for various car parts by flattening it slightly or making it taller. It can then be painted. Any particular part can contain up to 3 layers of epoxy resin. After five days the body mold will be cured and is safe to touch.

Any design should start with a drawing so make sure it is done correctly. It’s essential that you don’t pull the mold in only one direction. It’s not an exact science, many people make mistakes.

The disadvantage is that it’s itchy stuff to get on your skin and you don’t want to breath it in—EVER.

Fiberglass is also used in the rubber belts in the engine as well as the brake pads and clutch discs, even the automobile’s insulation.

When A Car Loses Control

It doesn’t matter whether its loss of life, injury, damage to vehicles or building, or other things like roadways, public lands, or societal infrastructure – out of control vehicles are a major concern to everyone, especially those on the road.

Sometimes drivers lose control because of rain which makes roads slippery or a deluge blinding the driver by overwhelming the wipers’ ability to clear it. When there are curves, bottlenecks, or obstacles, this only gets worse. An older vehicle is even more at risk, susceptible to break failure, suspension problems, or even blow outs. If the driver is under the influence of an intoxicant, anything goes. It doesn’t matter if the weather is perfect, your car is completely tuned up, or you are a seasoned track driver, it is always best to slow down when approaching a corner.

Bad habits like driving too closely behind another vehicle or by wandering in and out of one’s lane are big mistakes too. If you see someone driving erratically, it is best to keep your distance. If it is safe to do so, use your hands-free phone to contact 911 and report the driver, it could save lives.

As mentioned, driving in rainy conditions comes with the risk of hydroplaning. The treads of a good all-weather tire are designed with channels where the water displaced by the tire can be funneled away, allowing for a good connection between the rubber and the road. If the treads are worn down too far, or the tire is not rated for rainy weather driving, the water can separate the road and the rubber, causing it to lose contact and traction. In the Southwest, where it is often hot and dry, a sudden rainstorm can cause one to quickly lose control. If this happens to you, don’t panic, don’t make any sudden moves – of course that’s easier said than done.

For reasons we won’t discuss in this note, water displaced by the tire, which isn’t funneled into the water channels, tends to move along in front of the tire. For these reasons it is important not to drive through large puddles or any water where depth cannot be accurately anticipated. Besides, any pedestrians nearby won’t appreciate taking an impromptu shower as they amble by.

When applying the brakes, it is important not to hit them too hard, apply gentle pressure to the pedal, ease off, and then do it again. Cars with an automatic braking system (ABS) automatically follow this procedure. This process can help ensure that once the tires get traction, they are able to maintain it, rather than going into an uncontrolled skid. Steer the vehicle in the required direction, but don’t make any sudden changes. A quick jerk of the steering wheel will likely cause you to skid in the opposite direction.

If your brakes fail completely there are a couple of things you can do. First, try gearing down, meaning shifting the car into a lower gear. This uses the engine’s gears to control speed. Be mindful of the tachometer which shows how fast the engine is revving, if it goes to high (into the red) it could cause irrevocable engine damage (although a crash won’t do it much good either). Whether or not shifting gears helps, your final option is to use the emergency brake. It is designed for exactly this purpose, for use in an emergency – when all other options have failed.

Just to be sure, before an emergency arises, test your emergency brake by putting your car on a small hill, take your foot off of the brake pedal, and as the car slowly starts to roll, pull up on the emergency brake handle (or push the pedal if that’s the design of your vehicle).

With any luck you won’t lose control when driving, but if you do, hopefully these instructions will help you safely navigate the situation.

Locating Missing Cars

Looking for a particular vintage or classic car, you can actually do worse than searching through local barns and under trees in some back-forty. Though they will invariably be found under a layer of muck, brush, or worse, they are there to be found. Believe it or not, people don’t always think to protect these gems in the way you might imagine. Some have been found in the oddest places.

The Dino

A Dino was reported stolen in December 1974. A Dino, for those of who don’t already know, is a real-wheel drive car that was produced by Ferrari between 1957 and 1976. The car’s name was the nickname for Alfredo Ferrari, the son of the venerable Enzo Ferrari. The Dino finally turned up when two young boys were digging in their garden. How it ended up there, no one knows.

The Bullitt Mustang

The stunt car from the original movie Bullitt disappeared not long after filming, turning up later in a scrapyard in Mexico. When found, it was hardly recognizable as a Mustang. It was riddled with holes, whether it was used for target practice or maybe as an object for someone drilling holes, it’s a mystery. Not even being in a movie was enough to keep it from being abandoned by its owner.

The Cuban Falconwing

A Mercedes Benz, a Gullwing (also known as a Falconwing due to how its doors open like wings of a bird), was reported missing in Cuba only to turn up in a lot far away. It then disappeared again, later turning up under the shade of a banana tree miles away. The most famous gullwing is probably the DeLorean, a model of car that never sold well, finally ending with hundreds of models being scrapped, sending the manufacturer into bankruptcy.

The Largest Barn-find

In another amazing barn find, over three hundred cars were found in a large barn in Europe. The collection began in the 1970s and included a Bizzarani, which was created in the 60s, a race car which had been entered in Le Mans. Created by a joint enterprise between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, this car was considered to be ahead of its time, likely being the reason why it didn’t last long.

How to Make your Own Barn-find

If you want to make your own barn-find, start with some research. Talk with people from the older generation, especially those who live out in the sticks – there’s no use looking for barn finds in the middle of Chicago, Dallas, or Seattle. It’s best to network your target area. People like mail-carriers, hairdressers, delivery drivers, and established real-estate agents may be the ones you need to get the break you’re looking for. Attending a swap meet or local holiday celebration or parade might just turn up the connection you’re looking for – putting you on the trail of the next big find.

Sometimes it’s just serendipity. You see a farm, miles from anywhere, one with a dilapidated old barn out back – maybe they have gems they don’t realize are there. Not sure where to start, pull up Google Maps, find an out-of-the-way community, and hit the open road.

Foreign Roads

Exploring foreign roads fully changes your perspective. It’s one of the best ways to expand your understanding of the different ways things we do every day can be done. The problem is navigating the things that are not the same as at home.

Every country does it differently:

What side of the road am I supposed to be on? What condition do they keep their roads in?

I bet you didn’t even thing to ask if the other drivers passed a recognized driving license test. Some countries let you buy your license which can be a surprise if you come from one that requires a test. It’s important to look into what other documents you need by law.

It’s a good idea to review the more obvious laws of the country they are driving in.

Next you have to consider what problems may affect the environment, anything from strong weather to natural disasters. Some roads in some countries flood routinely and locals hardly think to mention it.

It’s best to check and recheck the route of the journey beforehand. It’s a good idea to use a GPS it often updates with weather conditions accidents and the like. Look out too for GPS updates. It’s important that your system reacts to changes in speed limit.

If you rent a car check out everything including the headlights, tire tread, brakes, oil, water and so on. Take note of any scratches and dents you might see.

Some emergency equipment will be highly useful – everything from jump leads, the spare tire, a hazard triangle (again depending on the country), tow rope and extinguisher as well as the all-important first aid kit. In a number of countries, you can be arrested for not having the right equipment.

It’s a good idea not to speed, especially if the roads are unreliable. It’s never advisable to drive in a tired state.

Another easy to overlook item is that not all traffic police chase you in cars, some stand at the side of the road waving at you to stop. Also, not all of them are reliable – some may place a fake ticket on you-so it’s best to check it.

Look at getting fully comprehensive insurance – it may be the costlier choice, but it will be worth it.

It may be best to stay with the rest of the traffic as other drivers tend to know what they are doing. It may be wise to make a point to review what local road signs look like and mean before you go.

It should come as little surprise that most road accidents occur in countries with the lowest incomes, so road safety is important. In conjunction with the Red Cross and Red Crescent there are a number of projects out there to reduce the deaths in developing countries, whether by education, legislating or equipment.

One such enterprise is the 7% Campaign which finances motorcycle helmets for children from Thailand; only 7% of Thai motorcyclists currently wear helmets. This project is also supported by Save The Children and works with the public authorities of Thailand.

If your business involves logistics, it’s especially hard to drive a truck on more treacherous roads. It’s a good idea to become a member of the International Road Federation, a not-for-profit company which has been in operation since 1948. They provide information on roads around the world and advocate best practices. They also run a series of webinars.