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Saving the World, One Car at a Time

carsIn the search for cars that are efficient, fast, and earth-friendly, a lot of car makers have attempted to create unique vehicles that can help lower pollution without the risk of slowing down transportation for drivers and passengers alike. Some have failed and some have come up with brilliant ideas that most of us have embraced today. One of these ideas is the methane powered cars – cars that use biogas that has effectively helped in lowering air pollution throughout the years. (more…)

Transporting Large Used Car Parts With a Hire Trailer

trailerIf you are repairing or restoring a vehicle there will come a time when you need to transport the parts required for repair. In most cases, repairs require a few small parts that are easily transported, but what about a larger repair where car body parts or larger mechanical parts are needed? This isn’t a problem if you have a large vehicle or truck, but not all of us have this type of vehicle. In this situation a standard vehicle may have trouble transporting these parts and you may need an alternative. This is where a hire trailer could make the job much easier. (more…)

Choosing the Right Off-Road Vehicle For Your Hunting Trips

Truth be told, we live in a generation where no one lacks an opinion on anything. It is very funny to find out how polarizing hunting is as a topic – there are those who admire it while some are extremely ambivalent about it. In fact some would even love to see hunting banned, however the topic on cars needed for hunting has never been too far from the court of public opinion.

A wise head once told me, “When you decide to cut down a forest, invest your time in sharpening the axe!”. It will not only save you time but also much of your calories. I just love hunting trips! But just like how important a Vernier Caliper or a Micrometer Screw Gauge is to an engineer, there are also a number of items that are a-must-have for any hunter intending to have a successful hunting experience.

One sure way to completely ruin a perfectly nice hunting day is to forget an important piece of equipment or find it in a poor non-working condition when you need it most. To avoid this, it is always important to have a checklist with every piece of equipment laid out, and examine each apparatus carefully to make sure it is in good working condition. Organize it all together in one place, ready to be packed in a powerful modern off-road vehicle for the hunting trip.

With that being said, let’s focus on an area which is least regarded as important during the preparation period – the transportation machine. Every successful hunter can attest to the fact that it is important to use a powerful and modern car for a hunting trip. Well, not every car can go hunting. You need a car that will take you back home safely. You have to choose a car that will withstand the terrain of the wilderness and one that will offer you with maximum comfort throughout your hunting experience. Advancement in technology offers us many choices from which we can select the best motor vehicle to use for a hunting trip.

Every hunter has an opinion on which car is the best to use for their hunting trips. For me, I would be interested in anything four cylinders based. It could be a Nissan, Toyota or even Samurai. However when selecting the car to settle for it is important to consider the resale ease and cost of maintenance. A four banger standard cab short bed for instance would be ideal for rough terrains. Ideally the car doesn’t need to have insane axles or be lifted too high. I have come to the conclusion that 3” lift 32s, short wheelbase would be ideal wheel travel. The two door Jeep Cherokees would also be a perfect choice. For those who hate the cold as I do, Rhino or Quad is completely out of the question.

Getting the right car for the task can be difficult. But with the current era of technological advancement, we can easily get different choices for off road hunting vehicles available on the market with ease. Make sure you do your research when choosing the vehicle. Luckily we live in a day an age where we can make informed decisions before we purchase. Just hop on the internet and check out some comparison and review websites to see what other hunters are driving and suggesting and find what is right for you. A great source to get you started is this 10 best off-road vehicles article. For the rest of your hunting needs you can check out Hunting Nerds which has some great advice on rifle scopes and all other equipment you may need.

Hunting is one of the best activities to undertake in the jungle, but it’s even better when done with the right equipment. Just like a game of Chess, making the right move requires keen research on the choices available. Any slight error will ruin what would have been otherwise a heartwarming hunting experience. So remember, prepare yourself with the right equipment and don’t miss one of the most important requirements; the right off road vehicle!

The Benefits of Buying From An Auto Salvage Yard

As a car lover with my own auto parts website, I am always on the looking for ways that my readers can save money while keeping their own cars on the road. I am always a computer love, and in my daily life, I work with them all day long. Today, I’m going to tell you all, my very loyal readers about why I love junkyards, which are also known as auto salvage yards, and why using them will not only get your car back on the road for less money, but you will also do something for the environment too.

A Cheaper Way To Find Necessary Car Parts

My loyal readers have a great love of cars just like I do, but when it comes to finding the right car parts, they can be quite costly especially if it is a car restoration that is going on. Original car parts, especially for older cars, can cost a lot of money. However, with an auto salvage yard, finding parts like original rims and wheels is preferable because people may not want to use alternatives like OEM rims or stock replacement rims from online dealers. Though it may not be an easy task, using a junkyard can meaning finding the exact part for a low price.

The Ultimate Form of Recycling

We all live on one planet, and we have to do our part to take care of it. Everyone should recycle, and for those of you loyal readers that do things like sort your trash and recycle your newspapers, and all paper products, I salute you, but believe it or not, you can also recycle when it comes to car parts. By buying parts from an auto salvage yard, you are doing your part for the environment because those car parts are being put to good use instead of just rusting away in the sun.

A Fun Way To Spend The Weekend

Going out to junk yards to find auto parts can be a great way to spend the weekend, and any free time you have, because it is an exciting and challenging hobby to have. Why spend the weekend sitting around on your butt when you can spend it searching through hundreds of cars finding car parts that are very valuable? As a computer geek, I love all things mechanical, and hunting for car parts is a lot of fun for me and I highly recommend you all do it if nothing more than for the thrill of the hunt!

Give Me A USB Microphone and I’ll Start A SpyEng Podcast!

When I was younger I was always tinkering with the car in the garage, tuning her up and tweaking for optimum performance.

In those days as well as working on the car the sound system was almost as big a project and I was one of those guys that had no room in the truck because all the space was taken up by massive speakers!!!

Yet as I got a bit older and more mature, I shifted away from thumping beats and gravitated towards talk radio. My love for tinkering with cars remains to this day but in those long nights in the garage you’ll most likely find me listening to some chat phone-in show.

As you guys will know some car restoration projects can require many long nights toiling the garage and when I don’t have my buddies round I like to have some chat shows on to provide some “company” while I’m working away.

I love the sports talk shows but there were never any decent radio shows about cars that was until I recently discovered a few podcasts about cars.

Podcasts have gotten a whole lot more professional in recently years and although a lot of them are made by amateurs the quality is actually pretty high.

My Favourite Car Podcasts

Show’s like CarTalk have been running for years and basically cover everything to do with cars.

Buying, selling, repairing, driving, you name it! CarTalk is now my preferred way to spend an evening in the garage when I’m tinkering on a project.

Autoblog is another top car podcast that is relaxed and funny. The guys drop and the journalistic pretense and just talk cars it’s great fun.

I Want To Talk!

I love both shows and also sometimes listen to Under The Hood but of course with someone elses show you don’t get to decide what to talk about.

Since I’ve been running the SpyEng blog for a while and since I have really started to get into podcasts I wondered about maybe starting a SpyEng podcast.

I’ve looking into the technical requirements of podcasting and while it does seem quite to daunting according to this guide I can create a podcast with just a cheap usb microphone. On the other hand, sites like this seem to take a more serious approach and recommend a full audio interface (whatever that is).

My expertise has always been in cars not computers. I know enough to get by but I’m no computer whizz so I’d probably go down the usb microphone road.

My expertise is in auto parts and repairs. I think with my knowledge I could maybe put together a show featuring some tips about how to do some repairs, maybe with accompanying blog posts for images on the site, as well as some shows about how to find discount auto parts.

To be honest I’ve had this idea for a while but I’ve been putting it off because I’m a bit scared how my voice sounds. When this happens in life I usually procrastinate for a while before it annoys me so much I just get on with it. So expect a test SpyEng podcasts sometime in the coming months!

Manic Football Fans and Their Cars

You have probably seen them more than once: American Football fans, who wear jerseys, paint their faces and vividly cheer for their team, but there are a few fans that decorate more than just themselves.

Last week, I was surfing around the web and landed on an article that shows why the Pittsburgh Steelers have the NFL’s best fans. Number 10 on the list was a Chrysler PT Cruiser completely painted in black and yellow and Steelers badges all over it as you can see in the picture above. This made me thinking and I wondered if Steelers’ fans are really the only ones who decorate their cars like that.

After some more digging, I found a gallery of 20 NFL Fan rides. The ones I especially like are a Dodge Charger of a Kansas City Chiefs fan that doesn’t have any team badges, but is completely colored in the Chiefs colors red and yellow. Then there is a Honda Accord of a Washington Redskins fan. I don’t really like the type of car, but the art on the front lid with the redskin head and the Washington State Capitol is epic. The Pittsburgh Steelers Mercedes-Benz is kind of cool, too. But my two favorites are the San Francisco 49ers Hummer H2 and the Dallas Cowboys Dodge Challenger. I watch a lot of Dallas Cowboys games online and know that their fans are very loyal and try to express their loyalty in every way they can. So it is absolutely no surprise, that most of the NFL fan cars you can find online are ones of Dallas Cowboys fans.

During my research, I also found a nice gallery of 41 NFL players and their cars. Surprisingly (or rather not?) none of their cars is painted in the team colors or has any team badges on them. In the end, NFL fans are much more enthusiastic about their teams than the NFL players themselves. The most interesting car is probably a Smart owned by Chad Ochocinco, wide receiver of the Miami Dolphins. The most exotic car – in my opinion – is a Lamborghini Murciélago of Cleveland Browns’ cornerback Joe Haden. All cars are top of the line, but not that extraordinary as you might think. There are some big SUVs like Range Rover or Jeep Grand Cherokee and luxury sedans like the Porsche Panamera or the Mercedes-Benz CL65.

If you are also an enthusiastic NFL fan and want to pimp your car, you probably don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a complete painting or expensive art work on your car. But you can still express your liking for a team with these car gifts for NFL fans. You will find NFL car flags that you can attach to the window of your car or NFL floor mats and NFL car seat covers that will bring some American football feeling to the inside of your car. You can also buy NFL automotive fan kits consisting of steering wheel cover, seat covers, floor mats, rear view mirror dices, air freshener and seat belt shoulder pads. Last but not least, you can use car decals as bumper stickers or put them on your rear window to show support for your team.

UK dealers really feeling the pinch

My involvement in this site gives me a really privileged position when it comes to having my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in both the car and auto parts sector.

I get to see what’s selling like hot cakes, what’s commanding high prices and what’s sinking without a trace. This overview is really interesting for me because it not only allows me to see the highs and lows of individual traders and businesses, but it also lets me see what’s happening in the industry overall.

There is no doubt that the opening up of internet selling has been a great thing for the consumer and the dealer, but those people who haven’t kept abreast of developments are finding things really tough. When the internet first arrived, there were plenty of cynics who thought it would “never take on” and even if it did, it would be limited in its capability to seek out and convert potential clients. After all, everyone in our industry wants eye contact, a handshake and the full personal touch. Absolutely not an impersonal contact!

Not so very long ago, smart car traders and auto parts businesses got themselves an online presence and reached out to a global audience. Overnight the people who did this well increased their potential client base in numbers that beforehand they could only have dreamed about. Smart local traders suddenly had clients on the other side of the world who were sniffing out what they had for sale and paying good prices for it. Shipping costs became less of an issue as the growth in distance buying became more popular. Suddenly everything became possible for anyone with an open mind.

However, not everyone was quick enough or wise enough to get in there. I spoke to a guy in the UK the other day who was seeking my advice about getting online for the first time. It was clear from our chat that he’s not a man who turns to Google to find solutions for his life’s problems. I can say pretty confidently that I suspect he’s never even bought on eBay or Amazon. But now he realizes that if he wants to survive he’s going to have to cast his net much wider than he did before.

Over the years he’s seen the margins in his parts shop being squeezed and squeezed until there’s not an awful lot left. Add to this the effect of the recession and it’s easy to understand what he’s up against. But that’s not all. He tells me that as an employer in the UK, he’s soon going to have to set up and contribute to a qualifying pension scheme for his employees. The scheme that governs this is called Pensions Automatic Enrolment and it could be the final straw for Ed. What he’s hoping is that an online presence will help him keep his head above water at least. It’s a tough call; but clearly I’m doing all I can to help.

How I Decided To Salvage A Used Car And Rebuild It

My son recently graduated from college. Before taking a job overseas, he decided to come home and spend a few months with his old man.

My son is a smart kid. He stepped into the world of entrepreneurship when he started an online store to sell the best vacuum for dog hair. By the time he graduated, his store was a hit and he was already making big bucks. We would often sit after dinner and look at the kinks in his online store system. Being a software engineer, I had valuable advice to offer to him. One day, while educating him about cheap penny hosting options available for his website, we decided it was time to get away from internet and take on a real life project. The next day, we went to a yard sale and bought a used car.

Tips to run a successful project:

The idea was to refurbish the car into a sleek vehicle for fun, and give my son the garage lessons he never got to have before. However, before getting into deep, we thought it best to lay some ground rules that would be useful to any budding mechanic looking to remodel a used car. First of all, we thought it would be best if we kept the difficulty level low. Taking on a complicated project would just kill our enthusiasm as we wake up each day to find a wreck lying in our garage that we can’t fix. We had limited time on our hands as my son was here for a few months only, thus we decided to take on a simpler project and build our confidence as it moves along.

The next thing mandatory before starting remodeling of a car is creating a budget. Make sure how much extra cash you have to spend on the project, account for all the parts you are going to buy and leave some flexibility for mistakes. You don’t want to spend all your money at the start and realize midway that the car needs more repairs or extra parts. Getting stuck halfway through the project is the most frustrating phase. You certainly want to avoid that and plan your budget smartly and efficiently.

As we started working on the car, we learnt that it was better to document every step. We discussed the pros and cons of every part we decided to replace, we did our research and talked to some mechanics to get their take on several matters and we took notes. That way, when we got back from the garage, we would look over the notes with fresh eyes and find out if any mistakes were made before it was too late.

The end note:

Last, but not the least, find your motivation. My motivation behind this project was to spend time with my son and build something extraordinary out of an ordinary used and run-down car that was good for nothing. Once you know the value of the project, let it be monetary or sentimental, you invest yourself into the project and don’t lose interest halfway!

5 Tips On Car Maintenance For Beginners

When you’re underneath the hood, car maintenance can feel like a jungle sometimes. A car is a being in itself, and it needs lots of love and care if it’s going to live as long as you’d like it to. Car mechanics can be cheap, and take you on a run for you money, so learning some basic DIY maintenance yourself just might save you a fortune. Regardless, it’s a fun hobby to take up, and it adds a more intimate bond with the device that gets you around and enables you to live your life.

Here are five beginner’s tips for car maintenance.

1. Checking your oil level.

One trick that’s easy enough, and most rookies should be capable of, is checking the oil level. You’re engine needs oil to survive, it’s more of its water than gas. Oil keeps everything working and running smoothly, and, like a plant, too much or too less of it is going to cause you some serious problems. To check the oil – the best time to do this is when you have not driven in a while, the engine needs to cool down to get an accurate assessment – find the dipstick and pull it out. Wipe the dipstick clean with a clothe and push it all the way back in. Once you pull it out again you’ll notice two dots with an “H” and “L”. This will tell you how much oil and to what level is in the vehicle.

2. Changing a tire.

First of all, you need to stabilize the car by making sure it’s entirely even on the ground, this is especially true with 6+ passenger vehicles. After doing this, take the jack and find the nearest jacking point to the tire you’re expecting to change. After you find the point you work the jack until the car is up in the air enough to take the tire off – then you work off the lug nuts, remove the tire, put on a spare, or new tire, and work the lug nuts back on.

3. Tire pressure.

Tires can be expensive, and keeping an eye out on your tire pressure will mitigate the cost of new tires. On the inside ledge of your driver’s door you should find the correct pressure rating for your vehicle. After find the pressure rating you’ll remove the dust cape and apply the pressure gauge. This will tell if your tire is over or under inflated; if the tire is under-inflated, you’ll need to add more air with an air pump; if the tire is over-inflated, you’re going to need to let some air out.

4. Checking your coolant level.

Another thing your engine cannot go without, the Coolant level is something else to watch out for an relatively easy to check. Every engine has its own set-up, but if you check your vehicle’s handbook you should find where the coolant reservoir is located. In most cases, you’ll find it bolted to one side of the engine bay or another, and will likely be a white, semi-transparent bottle. This is another task you should do when your car has had the opportunity to sit for a moment as it’s best to do when the engine is cool. An important thing to remember is not to take the radiator cap off to check coolant levels. If you do this and the coolant system is still hot, then it is still under pressure and you run the risk of releasing this pressure that could very easily, and intensely, burn you.

5. Adding engine oil.

After checking your handbook to see what kind of oil your car requires, you can purchase the oil from most supermarkets and gas stations. Find the oil cap, unscrew it, and poor a quart or whatever the recommended amount in the vehicle. You can use the above mentioned to check the oil. Overall adding the oil is pretty self-explanatory, just remember to screw the cap back on or you’ll run the risk of a fire.

Formula One World Champion Races a Lawn Mower

Formula One racing driver Kimi Rakkonen, whom has won 1 World Championship and 20 races over a total career of 203 races decided to take a modified lawn mower tractor for a race. Check out the video on Car & Driver’s blog here. It looks pretty fun, hey? Anyways, since I like learning new things about cars I wanted to make some comparisons of the fastest lawn mowers (obviously modified ones) and the fastest cars. I’m mostly going to look at top speed. First I’ll look at regular riding lawn mowers and regular cars… And then I’ll take a look at F1 style cars and racing mowers.

Regular Riding Mower: 5.2 MPH

The best riding mower for most people is probably the Husqvarna that has a top speed while mowing of 5.2 MPH and can mow 2 acres in 75 minutes. This mower has 20 HP and costs about $2000. So compare that with a normal car that has usually 150 HP and cost about $20k. But then again a lawn mower is designed to cut grass and not to take you from the mall to your son’s soccer game.

Regular Commuter Car: 122 MPH

The regular commuter car I’ve chosen to use is the 2015 Toyota Camry with a top speed of 122 MPH. It costs $23k USD and looks sleek and classy. I wouldn’t buy one but I’m sure someone with a family would. Toyota is known to be very reliable and a very good deal.

Fastest Mower: 116 MPH

Honda, this year, modified a Honda lawn tractor to go fast. And they achieved a Guinness World Record of 116 MPH. The mower was fully modified from the ground up. The steel was replaced with carbon fiber and the engine re-designed to go much faster. However, since it was a fastest lawn mower record the mower still had to cut grass. And could it ever. It could cut grass at a speed of 15 MPH – much faster than any of the top range zero turn commercial mowers that max out at 12 MPH.

Formula One Racecar: 200 – 240 MPH

A Formula One car is meant to go around a track as fast as possible. Going around a track includes slowing down for turns and speeding up again for straights. For these reasons a Formula One car never really reaches its full speed potential. So for comparisons sake we’ll estimate the top speed to be 240 MPH since the top speed they reach in the Championship is usually around 200 MPH.

Comparison

What’s quite surprising to me is that the world’s fastest lawn mower is still slow than a regular run of the mill commuter car like the Toyota Camry. You would think that a heavily modified lawn mower should be able to go faster than a Toyota Camry. But I guess when you incorporate the need to mow grass you have to engineer it to do more than just go fast.

Not surprising to me is just how much faster an F1 car is to a regular car. Easily 2x. But again, even when saying that, it is surprising that a Camry for $23k is only that slower than an F1 which costs 5 to 10 million dollars.

How to Better Manage an Auto Parts Collection

As someone who is firmly into cars, I end up gathering a ton of car parts. I don’t know how but they just keep piling up and piling up. I usually have to clean up my collection on a yearly basis so that I can open up some space for newer items coming in. I lived my life like this for years and it had gotten so bad that at times some of the parts actually end up spilling into my home, where I often have to walk around them to get places.

When I had my personal injury a couple of years back, I actually finally decided (much to the relief of my family) that I would go ahead and clean up my stock–it had truly spiraled out into a mess and I needed to get it all organised or risk being invited to show up on that TV show about hoarders.

As I was organising everything I realised a few things that could really help you too when it comes to organising your stash. Have a look at my tips below, maybe it will help you to fix up your storage shed (or garage, or warehouse) so that you won’t have to scratch your head as you try to find those parts anymore!

Heaviest at the bottom, lightest at the top
When I was organising everything I couldn’t really lift much because of my bad back. So I decided that I would put everything heavy down at the bottom instead of heaving it up and putting it on shelves. It’s a good idea to do it this way so that your shelves will also be more stable. To bring those heavier parts out, I just use a dolly with wheels–not a lot of lifting to do. Saves my back injury, does it not?

Bigger items at the bottom
The bigger items should be at the bottom, as with the rule above. It makes it easier to keep everything balanced and stable, so your shelves won’t sway or topple over at the slightest bump. I personally also like to put the bigger items at the bottom so I could just roll them onto my dolly if I need to bring them out of storage. Why make things any harder for me when I could do just that? Of course it’s a good idea to label the bigger items too.

Have bins for the smaller items and label them properly
To make sure that you do not lose smaller parts, you should have bins to put them in. Personally I bought bins for cheap at thrift shops. They had some on clearance and I was able to snag a bunch that were all the same so my shelves look nice and uniform. I put them all there with the smaller items within. I make sure that my bins are all labeled so that I don’t have to dig through everything just to find that one little part that I need for a repair or restoration.

Have a Filing System
Now that I had everything organised and inventoried, the next thing that I actually did was to go ahead and get all my items filed into a system. It doesn’t have to be anything special. For me I just encoded everything into an Excel document so that I could actually keep track of where things are and how many of an item I have left. I have it all in my system, down to the very last screw. Someday when I have the spare time I think I actually might create a program for my file system!

Think You Could Drive A Formula One Car? Think Again…

Many people seem to think that driving a racing car can be done by anyone, all you need is skill right?… Wrong! To be the best you also need to be extremely fit. Formula One is at the very pinnacle of racing tech, with cars reaching speeds of up to 225 mph and exerting huge forces onto their drivers. Some of the tighter, faster turns in the racing calendar can generate up to 3.5 g of force onto the driver, which over time takes its toll on the body and for the average driver could even be enough to make them lose consciousness. This is why all drivers in Formula One need to be physically fit, in both cardio vascular performance and strength.

Exercise

In terms of exercise most F1 drivers do running or swimming, with a few choosing to cycle and even one who prefers to roller blade to keep fit. This is normally combined with a weight lifting program that targets the main muscles used when driving. The problem for F1 drivers is that it’s difficult to prepare their muscles for the stresses that occur when driving just by doing weight lifting. All teams will have a special ‘rig’ that their drivers can use to replicate driving conditions by applying ‘loading forces’ onto them, particularly the neck, shoulders and arms. Not only are these muscles important when driving the vehicle, they can greatly reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash, which depending on the nature of the accident can normally cause huge pressure on the neck from the sudden movement of the head during an impact.

Nutrition

Formula One drivers are no different to any other professional athlete and need to have strict diets that regulate their intake of carbs and protein to help keep them in great shape. Their diet can also change for race days, where they will need to eat extra carbohydrates to keep them alert and will give them enough energy throughout the race, with pasta being a popular choice. Dehydration is also a factor that is very important, and drivers will need to drink a lot of water before they start a race because they will sweat as much as someone who has ran a marathon.

Amateurs

Like all sports there are many amateur racing championships all over the world, but even these leagues are fiercely competitive and only the drivers who keep fit and eat healthily will be able to consistently perform well.

I regularly race in a local stock car championship that is great fun but still requires a professional approach if I wanted to stand a chance of winning. The previous seasons I reached the top 10 drivers in the championship but this off-season I decided to improve my fitness to try and win. I ended up reading lots of treadmill reviews and got the best I could find then completely changed my diet to mimic the pros and it has really paid off, I’m currently in 3rd position in the drivers’ championship and only 2 points behind the leader. So if you are looking for ways to improve your racing skills then just hit the gym and start eating right, it really works!