Sunday, May 15, 2022

US Merchant Marine Academy Auto Show

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird

Here at the Merchant Marine Academy, out student Auto Club likes to put on an annual Auto Show and invite the local community to come on campus and have some car related fun. Last year we had to have the show just off campus in our Senior's parking lot (because Covid.) That made this year's show 100% better because we were able to return to campus, and have cars parked around the barracks (dorms to you civilians) as well as Wylie Hall, (AKA: Walter Chrysler's House) on the north shore of Long Island. Let's take a look!

Monday, May 9, 2022

Oil Analysis

Ruby gets an oil check-up!

Besides throwing in 3 quotations from Star Trek in this blog post, I'm going to tell you about my car's oil analysis. This was the first time that I submitted an oil sample for analysis, so it's kind of like getting your blood work done to see how you are doing. You can learn a lot from your bloodwork, and the same is true by having some experts take a look at your used oil. For drivers that really want to get more info on how their engine is performing, and mostly to find out if there are any signs of excessive wear, you can have your used oil analyzed and possibly avoid issues before they happen. My last blood work turned out to be in good shape, other than needing some more vitamin D3, so let's hope that Ruby is doing equally as well. 

The procedure is simple enough: Send off for a free (have I mentioned lately that FREE is my favorite flavor? Well, it is!) sample collection bottle from Blackstone Laboratories, and you'll receive all the packaging you will need to mail it back to the lab. Then, just take an oil sample when you change oil (or anytime I guess), package it up, follow the instructions, and send it back. You get the bottle and mailing for free, but they do charge a fee for the analysis. I think it took about a week or so for me to get my results. It looks like everything is (as Mr. Data on Star Trek might say) "operating within established parameters." But as Jordie LeForge, I mean actor Levar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, "Don't just take my word for it," you can read more at the Blackstone website: BLACKSTONE LABS

While I'm not a scientist, oops, I mean, as Dr. McCoy would say on Star Trek, "Damn it Jim, I'm not a scientist" so it's cool to read the report and have them explain anything that needs explaining to those of us that aren't sure about viscosity levels, zinc, molybdenum, etc. Hey, while I'm thinking about it, see your doctor sometime to get your blood work checked too, to make sure YOU are operating how you should!

Just because this guy is wearing a headset doesn't mean he knows anything!

The results include a paragraph summary, and then specific levels for various substances such as the following. 


    ROBERT: Your first oil analysis turned out very nice. Wear metals are all within just 2 ppms of universal averages, which are based on a shorter oil run of about 4,900 miles. The internal parts all seem to be working and wearing how they're supposed to, without signs of mechanical trouble around the bend. The flashpoint was high enough to show no significant volatile contaminants (like gasoline) so the low viscosity isn't any big deal. Low silicon shows the air filter kept airborne dirt and debris out of circulation, and low insolubles show the oil filter worked well. Nice Porsche!

Ideally any future oil analysis of my engine will help keep it in great shape. Here's the link where you can request a free test kit: BLACKSTONE LABS TEST KIT

Friday, May 6, 2022

Let's Go To The Video!

Slowest Driver From the Bunch of Idiots Team

Here's a few lessons learned from the recent 24 Hours of Lemons Race at Carolina Motorsports Park. My goal is to keep gaining experience at this, share those lessons, and hopefully become a quicker and safer driver. Remember, these lessons are worth EXACTLY what you paid for them! (HINT: it rhymes with "ZERO")

Lesson 1: The Yellow Flag

Here's I'm back behind a red car. Up ahead I spot a bit of dirt kicked up, meaning the red car dipped maybe one wheel off track. He slows a bit, and manages to stay in the center of the track. Now we're into the Carousel, a long couple of right hand turns that make one big sweeper. I keep looking up ahead and see I'm gaining, as well as spot another slow car just ahead of the red car. Coming out of the Carousel turn there's room to pass both cars on the right as we get onto the next straight, so away I go.  

A few laps later I get blacked flag for doing something wrong, so I go into the pits and admit I have no idea what I did wrong. They inform me I passed a car under yellow, so I believe them, and later review the film to see, and sure enough, that's what I did. Even though the one car was a little slow and kept control of their car, and the 2nd car I passed was slow anyway, it's still my job to spot those yellow flags and obey them. 

Lesson: Look at EVERY CORNER STATION for flags ALL THE TIME! 

Lesson 2: The Blend Line

At least in this lesson, I didn't do it wrong (for educational purposes of course!) This is video of my first time out on track in the race on Saturday morning. At this point, Brian has done a solid first stint of the day, we swapped drivers and refueled the car, so now I'm hitting the track. 

As I start from a stop after having a track marshal check that everything is OK (standard procedure in Lemons racing to keep things safe) I head out on track. As this is going and I approach turn one (a left hander) you'll see 3 cars already on track flying past. They're in the braking zone here, but going WAY faster than me. So, to prevent incidents, the track a blend line painted on the track that I have to stay on the LEFT side of, since the pit-out is on the left of the track. This requires me to stay fully left until the 1st corner, so that the higher speed cars can safely get around me as I get up to speed. 

This is the same blend line you'll see on every track, even Formula 1, and it's a big deal. It's a big deal if you mess it up and cross that line, because all of a sudden a slow car coming out would be right smack in the way of a much faster car. 

After the blend line lesson, my first few laps on the video were a blast. Somehow the team put me out in a great spot where I was able to pass multiple cars in those first laps, without having any faster cars pass me until later. Just luck of the draw, but it felt like a great way to start the weekend. Here's the link to the video:

                                                    BLEND LINE LINK       

Lesson 3: White Flag, Black Flag

At the start of this video, I'm approaching the left hander turn 4. You can see the corner worker is waving the white flag, which means that there is a slow vehicle ahead. I start looking for a tow truck, but there is no tow truck. Continuing around the long right hander and on to the straight, I see three cars ahead, the one in the middle is the slow car. By the end of this straight I'm close to it, but there is a faster car behind me, so I play it safe and follow the slow car thru the right hander turn 8. As I then get on the gas to pass the slow car, a bunch of faster cars are moving up on me, so I just stay where I am and let them go (being safe, maybe too safe?) Finally 4 more cars go past us, then I go right to pass, and then at about 54 seconds of the video I see the white and black flags at the corner station on the right. 

For a moment I was worried the black flag was for me, because they were also holding up the car number 28, and my car was number 287, but then I realized that the slow car I'd passed was number 28, so the white and black flags were still for him. I'm not sure if the black flag was for being in our way, but I did what I thought was the safest thing at the time. 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Colorful Cars and Coffee

Colorful Cars and Coffee at Macy's
Ruby Red Metallic Cayman and an Audi R8 closest to camera. 

May 1st was a nice day, and the local Cars and Coffee get together was a bit larger than the first few of the year. Instead of looking at how expensive, how fast, or how rare some of these cars might be, let's just appreciate them for their color. So many cars today are black, silver, or white, so I appreciate anything that is a real color!

Let's start with the coolest color car of the day, a color-changing Nissan GT-R. Check out the walk-around video:

Two blue cars, first up: Audi R8

Chevrolet Corvette

I'll guess it's a 1985 BMW in red

This Porsche is certainly orange. One of their names for orange is Lava Orange.

This head turner is red, likely Porsche's Guard Red

Another red BMW 2002 and a GREEN Lamborghini, with the orange Porsche too. 

"Green Lamborghini STO." Now that's something you don't see every day!

And a red car with a (SPOILER ALERT) big wing!
Not sure I believe that "student driver" sticker!

Two BMWs in the same color, whatever it is. 

One more blue car, this one from Porsche