Posts filed under ‘Automotive’

LEGO is the Largest Tire Manufacturer

By Chad Upton | Editor

One of the oldest tire manufacturers is Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, founded in 1898 in Akron, Ohio.

A couple years later, Firestone Tires and Rubber Company was also founded in Akron. It’s unclear why both companies formed in the same city, but there’s no question they were the kings of the tire world for over 75 years.

Tire Comparison

If you ask someone which company makes the most tires, they’re likely going to answer Goodyear or Firestone. Goodyear does have one Guinness World Record, although it’s for fuel economy. But, the company that produces the most tires is LEGO.

It seems reasonable once you think about it, but the number of tires they product is absolutely stagering. The first LEGO set with tires shipped in 1962 and that set was one of the top sellers in 1967 with 820,400 units sold. In fact, nearly half of all current LEGO sets include a tire of some kind. That adds up to about 318 million tires per year or 12 tires every second.

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Sources: lego.com, guinness world records, wikipedia (firestone, goodyear)

February 19, 2013 at 2:00 am 2 comments

How to Read the Numbers and Letters on Car Tires

By Chad Upton | Editor

The weather is starting to change in many parts of the world so this may be when you start to look at new tires for your car.

Tire specs can be confusing, but it’s just like replacing a vehicle fuse, light bulb or most other car parts — you look at the model number or specifications of the current one and you try to find another one just like it. The confusing part about tires is that you have more options; slightly different sizes, treads and styles are likely compatible with your wheels.

Understanding what the numbers mean will help you make the best decision about new tires.

Because the tread and maintenance of your tires is so important to your safety, fuel economy, and performance, it’s very important that you buy tires that are suitable for your climate and performance needs. (more…)

April 6, 2012 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Japan: Where the Streets Have No Names

By Chad Upton | Editor

The U2 song, “Where the Streets Have No Name” refers to the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the streets actually do have names. Bono wishes they didn’t have names because they can be used to determine the class and religion of some people.

In Japan; however, a majority of the streets do not have names.

So, how do you find a location? Instead of the streets being named, the blocks between the streets are numbered.

The houses and units inside a block are also numbered. The blocks are inside a named district, the district is within a city or town. So, other than the block numbers and street names, it’s quite similar to the Western address system.

In Japan, directions to a location often include references to visual landmarks or subway stations. The block numbers could also be good for driving directions; if someone told you to turn right at the end of block 4, you’d see block 4 on a utility pole and know that the next turn is yours. In the Western system, you rarely know when your street is next, unless you’re in one of the few cities that are built on a perfect grid and have incrementally named streets.

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Sources: songfacts, goabroad.com, Wikipedia (Japanese Address System)

July 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm 5 comments

The President’s Limo Carries a Supply of the President’s Blood

By Chad Upton | Editor

My car is well equipped for typical roadside issues. I’ve got jumper cables, a flashlight, gloves, tools, snacks and a space pen for writing notes on Earth’s coldest days.

The space pen is probably extreme, but that’s nothing compared to the US President’s limo.

It’s officially known as “The Presidential State Car” and unofficially known as “Cadillac One”, a reference to the naming convention of presidential aircraft like Airforce One. It’s a custom built vehicle, based on a heavy duty truck chassis, which can carry a lot of weight, much of which comes from heavy armor to protect the occupants from gunfire and explosives.

The passenger compartment is hermetically sealed to protect against chemical attacks and includes its own oxygen supply and fire fighting system. There are two driver vision enhancement systems that allow the driver to see in complete darkness and see through thick smoke.

The doors do not open by simply pulling on the doorhandles, apparently only the secret service knows exactly how to unlatch the doors. None of the windows roll down, except for the driver’s, which drops just enough to pass a big mac through.

With its top speed of 60 mph (96.5 km/h), it’s not going to win any car races, but that’s not bad considering the estimated 15,000 lbs this tank weighs. That’s part of the reason it has heavy duty truck tires that are re-enforced with bulletproof kevlar.

There is a full communications and command center on board, along with multiple weapons. In the event that the president gets badly wounded, there is even a backup supply of his own blood on board.

I assume it has a space pen too.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Popular Mechanics, Jalopnik, Telegraph

Photo: Wikimedia (cc)

April 18, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

How to Clean Up a Leaking Battery

By Chad Upton | Editor

Most household batteries are “alkaline” batteries. Under normal use, they’re relatively safe and stable. But, they are prone to leaking potassium hydroxide when the conditions are right.

Some causes of leaks are:

  • Trying to recharge disposable cells
  • Mixing battery types (ex. alkaline with nickel-cadmium)
  • Mixing new batteries with old ones
  • Heat
  • Damp environments
  • Leaving batteries installed during long term storage

These conditions put strain on the batteries in different ways that can cause them to leak. This leaky material is often called “Battery Acid” although in the case of alkaline batteries, it’s actually not acidic at all — it’s basic (the opposite of acidic on the pH scale).

But, it’s still a corrosive material that can cause skin, eye and respiratory irritation. Additionally, if a battery leaks inside your electronics, this crystalized material can corrode the electronics and prevent them from functioning properly.

To clean it up you’ll want the following:

  • Eye protection
  • Skin/hand protection (gloves)
  • Face mask
  • Neutralizing acid (lemon juice or vinegar)
  • Q-tips, Paper towel and/or disposable rag

The key thing to remember is that you don’t want to come in contact with the potassium hydroxide, so use a Q-tip to wipe the material away from the batteries. If you have trouble cleaning it off of battery contacts in electronics, you may try a drop of neutralizing acid on the end of the Q-tip.

If the battery is an acid battery, such as a car or marine battery, you can use baking soda (an alkaline) to neutralize the acid (ie. don’t use lemon juice or vinegar in this case).

For information about battery disposal, see: How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

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Sources: Wikipedia (Alkaline Battery, Alkaline, pH)

February 23, 2011 at 2:00 am 1 comment

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste

By Chad Upton | Editor

Every home has things that should NOT go in the trash. Yet, many people don’t know what to do with them or even what some of these items are.

Some examples are:

  • batteries
  • compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • paints and stains
  • pesticides and herbicides
  • fertilizers and poisons
  • cleaners and disinfectants
  • car fluids
  • medicines and prescription drugs

The main concern is that when many of these hazardous materials make it to landfills, they will eventually leech into our water supply and have potentially dangerous consequences.

Many large retailers such as Lowe’s, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Whole Foods and many others will accept certain types of batteries, Ni-Cad and Car Batteries being the most popular types accepted. Some retailers, like Home Depot and Lowe’s, will also accept compact fluorescent light bulbs.

For most other hazardous materials, you’ll likely need to go to your city’s drop off depot. Sometimes this service is paid for by your taxes, other cities charge a usage fee depending on what you’re dropping off.

A great site to help you find a nearby retailer or city depot to recycle or safely dispose of some of these items is earth911.com. You tell it what hazardous material you have and where you are, it will try to tell you the nearest place you can take it. I got really good results for everything I tried.

For medicines, check out this previous post: How to Dispose of Medicine.

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Sources: Oregon Live, Earth 911City of Toronto

January 3, 2011 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

Why Some Cars Have Fake Convertible Roofs

By Chad Upton | Editor

Have you ever seen a car that appears to be a convertible, but you’re almost certain that car is not available as a convertible? Chances are, you were looking at a “landau” car.

Large sedans, town cars and of course hearses are popular cars for Landau conversions, although the occasional sport sedan or midsized car is fashioned with it too. I say “conversions,” because there are no mainstream automobile manufacturers who currently offers this option. In the past, the Detroit automakers offered it on some vehicles from the 1960s through the 1990s. To understand why, we have to go back a century.

Cars replaced horse drawn carriages as the way to travel long distances. Convertible carriages were named “Landau” carriages after the city of Landau (Germany), where convertible carriages were first produced. Landau carriages typically had soft tops that were stored behind the passenger seats and deployed to cover the back, top and sides of passengers for privacy and protection from uncomfortable weather — this exact feature is still evident on contemporary baby carriages (aka strollers, buggies, prams, push chairs). (more…)

November 22, 2010 at 3:00 am 4 comments

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