Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Here in My Car, I Know Nothing at All, I Can Lock All My Doors Because Electric Locks Come Standard on Honda CARS.....

So I can't get over this desire I have to learn more about cars. Or at least not sound like a total dunce when speaking of them. And unfortunately for me, I found my dad's lectures on how cars work to be annoying and not worth paying attention to. This is the same dad who for months teased me with promises of the "Greatest Birthday Present of All Time" when I was 12. Then on that much-anticipated day, I opened my eyes only to find that my dad decided that, though I had never expressed any interest in such a thing, that he was going to build me a custom dune buggy with some crazy large engine. I'm pretty sure he just the whole "daughter's birthday" thing was just a front. My dad just really wanted a big, loud, dirty and obnoxious dune buggy. So if you're keeping score, that's:

12-year-old Amanda Who Never Wanted Nor Asked For Nor Even Thought About Dune Buggies: 0

Dad: 1

Now I kind of not only wish I had the dune buggy, I REALLY wish I would have paid attention when Dad was doing his best to turn his me into some sort of mini-girl-gearhead. So I decided I would try to learn about cars from the technical side. First off, I want to learn what exactly horsepower is. But then I run into this:

1 hp ≡ 33,000 ft·lbf/min by definition
= 550 ft·lbf/s since 1 min = 60 s
= 550 × 0.3048 × 0.45359237 m·kgf/s since 1 ft = 0.3048 m and
= 76.0402249068 kgf·m/s 1 lb = 0.45359237 kg
= 76.0402249068 × 9.80665 kg·m²/s³ g = 9.80665 m/s²
= 745.69987158227022 W since 1 W ≡ 1 J/s = 1 N·m/s = 1 (kg·m/s²)·(m/s)

Or given that 1 hp = 550 ft·lbf/s, 1 ft = 0.3048 m, 1 lb = 4.448 N, 1 J = 1 N-m, 1 W = 1 J/s: 1 hp = 746 W

cross multiply and cancel out:
550 ft-lb/s 0.3048 m 4.448 N 1 J 1 W
1 hp 1 ft 1 lb 1 N-m 1 J/s

= 745.66272 W or 746 W

Which I am pretty sure is not even in a language that I have ever known. So horsepower is some sort of long division equation wherein numbers are cross multiplied then canceled out. Ok, well now that I'm clear on that I will move on to fuel systems. Fuel makes cars go. Apparently. Also, I once owned a Volvo 740 which had two fuel pumps, neither of which seemed to work for longer than a few months at a time. Let's skip fuel for now and just pretend it's delivered to the engine via a network of fairies and wood sprites.

What about transmissions? This is probably going to be a sticky subject for me as well considering that I once owned a Toyota Tercel for 3 hours which I returned to the dealership after realizing that it should not take 4 traffic light cycles to get your car from neutral to first gear on a manual transmission. Let me rephrase that. It can take four light cycles if you are me and when it does take that long, motorists behind you get very very angry. Technically, I should have only owned the Tercel for one hour but it took me three to get it 12 miles back to the dealership. It could have taken even longer had that police officer not taken pity on me and told me to get out of the car so he could at least get it through the intersection and into a parking lot. So maybe transmission should be another task for another day. Let's see, what else is on a car? Brakes? Those make cars stop. There's also a thing called a rotor that can somehow get badly damaged when you hit a curb very hard and then the shop won't resurface them and you have to buy brand new ones. So I think I understand brakes.

Seriously though, I want to learn about cars. I want to be able to sound cool when I say the phrase "hemi". True story: I thought that was some sort of redneck sexual practice until I found out that it comes standard on Dodge trucks so now I've got it narrowed down to "something on a car that is totally NOT a sexual technique". I don't know if I should take a class but the fact that I have dropped out of college no less than four times leads me to believe that is probably not my best option. When I emailed my dad to ask him how I should go about learning how cars work, he incredulously asked why none of my friends knew about cars then remembered "the kinds you hang out with" which was my dad's nice way of saying "loser musicians and art fags". So please, if you or someone you know can explain to me the basics of how cars go forwards and backwards, email me. I can repay you by giving you a very low speed tour of the Uptown area including multiple extended stops at red lights followed by a symphony of honks and expletives. Any takers?


DTC said...

what precisely do you want to know? ive got some pretty extensive experience, because in high school, if you drive garbage and dont have any money, you have to learn to work on it yourself.

amandacobra said...

i pretty much need to know how to use words like "rear differential" without snickering.

DTC said...

well, differentials are used to make the wheels spin from the engine. in all wheel drive situations, theyre used to increase power from wheels that are losing traction to wheels that are holding.