Hot Rod Heaven

   My hot rod lady pal Missie White told a friend of hers on Face Book, I’ll see you in Hot Rod Heaven. So I started thinking what that would be like.

   Here’s my take on that. We get up to the pearly gates and St. Peter says, “Yeah hath done well in the eyes of the Lord with thy hot rod. Ye hath done thy best to maketh your hot rod as fast as it could be.”  “Go forth unto the kingdom of heaven for I have prepared a place for thee in thine shop, and at thy track so that ye may dwell at the drag strip of the Lord forever. Ye shall become legendary even unto heaven!” 

   Boy with a greeting like that I can’t wait to get into heaven! So the first day I get there, here’s my Cutlass! Yep it never got sold it went right up here with me! Cool!  I walk into my shop and it’s neat and clean for a change. There’s a note on my argon bottle on my welder that says “forever full, no charge.”  There are 240 vdc outlets anywhere I want them in the shop. There are a double row of engines sitting on engine stands, waiting to be put back together. Of course all the machine work is done to them and it’s all perfect to be sure.  This line up of engines includes 455 Olds, 454 & up Big Block Chevs, there’s a few Chrysler hemis there, and one of the “shop angles” says that the last to in line are 392’s!!!   There’s a double decker shelf full of 6-71 thru 14-71 blowers sitting there and next to them are racks of Enderle and Hillborne hats. I even notice a couple of old square two hole Enderle injectors sitting there “just because.”  There’s a whole box full of Sid Waterman and Hillborne fuel pumps. I see a box of old Vertex Scintilla Magnetos and there’s half a dozen Schiefer magnetos there too, all brand new of course. In the back of the shop there’s a lineup of every possible Goodyear Drag slick ever made, and a complete line of Goodyear front runners too. Right next to that are rows upon rows of American Racing Mags, Weld Wheels Cragars, you name it.  I asked the shop angle why there were not “manure spreader” 21-24 inch wheels in here and he said “well we even have limits in Heaven Dave.” Good enough for me.

   There were three paint booths on the front side of the shop and they all were stocked with a full supply of House of Kolor paints and notes on all the cans that said “never empty ever!”  There were at least a hundred different spray guns hanging up most were DeVillbis or Satas. These were all new as well. There was several apprentice shop angles working around the shop making sure it was clean enough to eat off of.  The main shop angles Name was Pete. I asked him about that and he said” I suppose you were thinking something like Gabriel then?” “We’re pretty down home here.”  So Pete said to me, “Hey I gotta show you something!” So we went around to the back side of the shop and here was another building that I never even knew existed. He opened the door and here was a 60’s era front engine top fuel dragster! It had a blown 392 Chrysler hemi in it Enderle bug catcher on top and ran on 98%!  He said “The Lord wants to see you run this car tomorrow!”  “Don’t worry you can’t die doing it you already did that! “ Then he laughed.  He also said “even though you never drove one while you were alive you can drive this like your name is Don Prudehomme up here!”  Well this put a smile on my face.

    So by now I was a little tired. Yeah you get tired in heaven too but it’s not the same you still feel like a million bucks and your feet don’t hurt.  It’s just a nice way of going from day to day in heaven.  Pete told me it’s an easy way to live for eternity up here.

  So I woke up and here’s Ziggy standing over me licking my face!

I can understand him too! He’s asking me what’s on the agenda for today. So I told him that the Lord want us to run a top fuel car all day!  Ziggs thought that would be fun but was concerned the noisy thing would hurt his dog ears.  Pete said “Hey I heard that, nope it won’t hurt your ears and there’s a back seat for Zeph in the car too!”  Wow!  Next thing I know Zeph and I are sitting at a table at the Zigg Zag Inn!  They serve dogs in heaven right alongside humans. Ziggy’s having left overs and Iams Minnie Chunks. I have hotcakes and whip cream and some perfect bandannas on top. I’m sipping a cup of Kona Coffee that is 100% fresh and it’s perfect, whip cream on top of it too. No cholesterol or fat worried up here.  I get done and we’re at the track. I see Pete pull in with my dually with the digger on a trailer. There are lots of new top fuel cars here and tons of expensive corporate trailers and trucks. Seems like the high dollar guys got into heaven after all. Pete sees me looking at this and says, “Don’t worry about this, Dave this is part of the fun here. God does have a sense of humor.”  I still didn’t know what he was talking about.  I help Pete roll the digger off the trailer.  There’s a drum of nitro on the trailer that also has a sign on it that says “never empty.” We fuel up the digger and I get into the car. A couple of crew angles come over and fiddle with the hat and barrel valve. They stick a starter motor on the blower drive and Pete says “flip the mag switch on Dave, and don’t touch the throttle.” So I do. The starter motor rolls the big Chrysler over with no trouble pumping its low compression pistons up and down like there’s no spark plug in it.  One of the other crew angles is spraying something into the hat out of a funky looking plastic bottle that looks for all the world like a ketchup bottle. All of the sudden the car rocks back and forth the the motor is running!  Wow this is great!  Pete yells at me, it’s just on gasoline right now I’m gonna switch it over to Nitro.  The car is vibrating and shaking pretty good and it’s idling at about 1850 rpm.  Pete does something up on the barrel valve and the motor starts sounding like a series of explosions!  It’s really shaking now. Pete says “wing it a couple of times Dave.” I give the throttle a quick stab with my right foot and it explodes in front of me then returns to a semi-reasonable idle. The rpm climb in these motors is fantastic!  Pete changes something again that the motor goes back to being Dr. Jekyll instead of Mr. Hyde. Pete gives me the “slit your throat “gesture which means shut the engine down.  I kill the magneto and the motor quits.

    An NHRA dude is walking over to me. He says I get to be the first one down the track this morning. This doesn’t sit too well with the guy standing there with a big Al Anabi logo on his shirt and Energy drink baseball hat on. He says to the NHRA dude, “no he’s not we’re first we have to do a test run to see if our tune up is right.”  The NHRA guy smiles at him and says, “go back to your car and sit down. When all the rest of these guys are done maybe I’ll let you corporate guys run, maybe.”” If you give me any trouble about it I’ll send you downstairs and you can polish the red cars that get real hot and smell like sulphur.”  The corporate driver goes back over and pops the top on one of his energy drinks.   Gee this is fun! 

    We fire the digger back up and Ziggy is led over to the car. He’s got a special doggy fire suit on and a helmet with ear holes cut in the top. He looks cute in his get up. He’s panting and telling everyone how much fun he’s having.  Pete lifts him up and puts him in the seat behind me. The car is running good and making lots of racket. The crew rolls it up to the starting line. Pete says they got some sort of throttle stop on it for the burn out. He says all I gotta do is line it up, let the clutch all way out and hammer it for a second or two. Then push the clutch back in and hit the hand brake. Simple enough. The car looks like it’s a mile long. The motor is so huge it’s hard to see over. Actually all I can see is the magneto, rear of the blower case and the back end of the hat. I can see two tiny motorcycle wheels on the front axle of the car and in between them is a small aluminum wing.  The front wheels roll thru some Holy Water.  I wait till the slicks get wet and I let the clutch out. The car lurches forward a bit. I hammer the throttle and the whole back end of the car goes into white tire smoke instantly. It literally throws me into the seat so hard I feel like I’m gonna puke, but then you can’t puke in heaven it’s impossible.  I let up on throttle the same time I shove the clutch in and grab the hand brake. The motor goes to idle and the car slows down nicely.  I shift the reverser in and wait till the smoke clears.  Pete is standing in front of the car and backs me up in my own tire tracks with hand signals. Wow! Never thought I’d be doing this ever! I guess it pays to be nice while you’re alive.  So I get back to the starting pad and now they are inching me up to the Christmas Tree.  Actually the Christmas Tree is highly revered up here in heaven due to its name. God is pleased that we named this piece of eq        uipment after his Son’s birth, so you see drag racing is a fairly Holy sport.  The stage lights come on. Pete tells me to hold the clutch in and when the light goes green dump it and floor the throttle. I’m a little apprehensive about doing that even if I am in heaven. Old habits die hard I guess.  The second stage light comes on. All the crew angels are gone and its just me, the Christmas tree 1320 feet of immaculate asphalt and God as the spectator and Ziggy as my back up. 

   Oops here comes the first yellow light. I pick the rpms up anyway despite what Pete said, like I said “Old habit die hard.”  At last the last yellow goes out and dump the clutch and nail the throttle.  The car leaps forward and the front wheels go up into this nice slow wheel stand.  The car is going forward at warp speed and is accelerating so hard I’ve lost my breath. The front wheels come down gently and the car is like a cruise missile by now. It’s easy to control the long wheel base makes it as stable as a yuppie’s BMW.  The blower is whining like crazy, the exhaust is a deep roar that’s vibrating all the air in my lungs. The nitro stings my eyes but that gets fixed instantly we are in heaven after all. This motor is singing to me and I love it. We go thru the last MPH clock and I pull the fuel valve shut, pull the parachute and cautiously hit the hand brake. I’m letting the motor run out under compression to flush the nitro out of it. Later on Pete will tell me I didn’t have to do that because motors don’t’ blow up in heaven unless you have a corporate sponsor then they blow up quite routinely, much to the chagrin of the crew chiefs.

   Ziggy is laughing and panting like a locomotive! He tells me he’s never has so much fun!  Digger doggie, I like that a lot.

   I see my friend Missie has pulled into the pits with a brand new Chev dually. She’s got her Olds on a nice trailer and it’s sporting a brand new paint job and some huge slicks that Pete and his crew put underneath her car one evening while she was asleep. They helped Missie do some major engine work to her car because I was busy.

    “Hi Dave!” Missie says in her cute Tennessean drawl. “Thet was a really cool pass you made, you ever driven one of them things before?”  “nope I never did!” I tell her and I then explain that you can drive whatever you want to up here. This makes her giggle and laugh. Boy I wonder what thoughts went thru that pretty head of hers?”  Makes me laugh too. Pete says that God wants us to give the corporate people a lecture on manners tomorrow.  Sounds like fun to me I can’t wait. God told me that he wants Ziggy to talk to them too. This should really be fun!




What’s An Automatic Rifle?

The liberal press is fond of grouping all “assault weapons” into the “automatic” group. This is incorrect.  Technically there are two categories for auto-loading guns. Semi-auto, that only shoot with every pull of the trigger, and full auto that shoot as long as the trigger is pulled. The full auto guns are considered “machine guns.” Machine guns require a tax stamp and license from the BATFE. A rigorous background check is done and if you have any skeletons in your closet you don’t get a license period. All full auto guns are exorbitantly expensive which puts them out of most buyers range to begin with. I’m talking on the order of four or five thousand dollars a copy. Machine gun dealers are under a really big magnifying glass from the FBI, BATFE and just about any other law enforcement agency. They don’t want to wind up in jail and lose their license either.

Semi Auto rifles shoot one round with each pull of the trigger. You can’t make them go full auto unless you are a gunsmith and have good knowledge of how the trigger and sear mechanisms work. Each manufacturer is different.  “Assault Rifles” is really kind of a bad moniker that got hung on military guns. They are a light infantry weapon. Most full on military weapons have a selector on them that limits them to either semi-auto fire or full auto. The ones sold to the public are minus this select fire function. They will only shoot in semi-auto mode. Oh yeah I’ve hear all about how to get an AR-16 to shoot select fire. You have to know what you’re doing and be a good machinist to make a select fire sear for these guns. Most of them have aftermarket actions that preclude this modification anyway. I’m not going to call these rifles “assault rifles” any more.  They are infantry rifles. They are semi-auto and are no more dangerous than the Remington Model 760 auto loading deer rifle. Remington Model 760 rifles are chambered in a variety of calibers, .270, .308, .30-06 and a few other’s I’m not familiar with. The only advantage an infantry rifle has over one of these rifles is in the magazine capacity. They usually hold about ten more rounds. Yeah I know that’s dangerous. Well I’m here to tell you that you can reload a Remington 760 quicker than say an AK-47, everyone’s favorite scary rifle. Actually the AK-47,s were manufactured in several different countries, USSR, China, etc.  No matter where they are made none of them are very accurate. At close range this isn’t’ much of an issue. You have about the same kind of luck throwing a bag of rocks at someone past 50 yards. They are junky pieces of shit and I wouldn’t own one of them. They are dangerous to the shooter as well. There are stories of them disassembling themselves when the trigger was pulled with extreme prejudice to the shooter. There are some semi-auto infantry rifles made in Belgium by Fabrique National, that are really very good guns. You can make a nice deer rifle out of them; they are the same caliber as the American .308. They shoot the NATO 7.62 X 51 MM round. This is nothing more than a .308. They are lighter than most semi-auto deer rifles sold my Remington and Savage for example. There’s no difference shooting a deer or elk with an FN-LAR or a Remington Model 760. They both shoot the same round!  I can take a 760 Remington, refinish the blueing on it to a flat black, put a camo stock on it, and a Picatinny rail with a big scope on top of it and make it look like a big bad scary “assault rifle”. A sheep in wolves’ clothing here. 

I think the news media doesn’t have their facts straight. I seriously doubt there are that many full auto machine guns out there right now.  

Maybe there is, if this is accurate then the financial levels of most criminals has been elevated to a new level which includes average Americans.  Like I said machine guns (full auto) legal or illegal guns are out the price range of most peoples.

I wanted to illustrate the difference between these two types of “auto loading” rifles. There’s a hell of a difference between the two types of loading and firing actions of these guns. Machine guns such as a select fire AK-47 shoots at 600 rounds per minute. An old M-14 on full auto is 760 RPM. Some of the other machine guns like the 7.62 M60 light machine gun is in the 550 rpm rate of fire. A semi auto is up to how fast the shooter can pull the trigger. Maybe half the rate of a full auto gun? 

So let’s call a spade a spade here. Then there’s the issue of ammunition. You can still purchase 7.62X 39MM (AK-47 fodder) in tracer and armor piercing rounds. Same with the NATO 7.62 X 51MM.  I really don’t see the need for this. I can’t think of a real legitimate use for either type of round.  Tracers are a great way of setting things on fire. Armor piercing rounds go thru hard object like they aren’t there. They just keep going and going sorta like a nightmare version of the Eveready Bunny.  They don’t make good hunting rounds because they won’t put a deer or elk down instead go whistling right thru them like the animal is made out of so much ice cream.  Full metal jacketed bullets have their place in dangerous game animals. You need deep penetration if you are shooting a large dangerous animal like a grizzly bear or an elephant. These bullets have a thick copper jacket that surrounds a lead core. Some of the newer bullets that Barnes Bullets markets are called Monolithic Solids and are made from a hard alloy of solid copper.  The military full metal jacketed bullets have a steel core, some of them have a solid steel tip in front of a hard copper jacket. They are made to penetrate armor plating on combat vehicles. The Geneva Convention mandated full metal jacketed bullets in their attempt to make warfare a gentler, more humane act. Ha what a joke. The full metal jacket bullet idea is that it’s just supposed to take a soldier out of action not kill him if shot in a non-lethal area. I’m sure anyone in a gun fight is gonna worry about the enemy abiding by the Geneva Convention. “Gee I wonder where I should shoot him so he won’t’ die?”  Nope not gonna happen. But this is where these types of projectiles came from. They’re still being made for the military today. So it’s no wonder they found their way into the civilian market.

On the other hand a soft point or hollow point legal bullet that most deer rifles shoot has a soft point that forces the bullet to expand when it enters any kind of medium it was designed for. This causes about a caliber and a half of expansion in the bullet. This forces it to bleed momentum and dump most of its kinetic energy into the target and not go rampaging on through the target and find something else to run into like another human being. They take the game down in a semi humane fashion. Well as humane as shooting anything is. Personally I don’t like shooting living things like deer. Paper targets yeah I’m a real John Wayne on those things, but nothing that’s alive.

If you were to shoot a deer with a military bullet, it would likey as not go clear through the animal. Deer being the critters they are, like to run a long ways even when hit with a decent placed shot with a hunting bullet. Now pop one with an FMJ (full metal jacket) and he probably won’t even know hes been shot right at first and just take off. The hunter may not even find the animal, who has run off to bleed out someplace out of sight.

So I don’t see the use of tracers and military armor piercing bullets.

So those of you who already know this stuff can just smile and read something else. Those of you who don’t know, now know the difference between these types of firearms. I’m just setting record straight here.






Listen to Yourself.


If it’s one thing I’ve learned from time, and playing guitar it’s be nice to you. By that I mean don’t constantly beat yourself up over your abilities. The much told phrase “I’m my own worst critic” is one of the most truthful statements mankind has probably ever made. Because each one of us resonates in the universe just a little differently than our friends means we all see things a little differently, we hear things that others may not hear. This is especially manifested in music. But it applies to everything else as well.  

There are people who can play guitar a lot faster than I can. I look at them and the first thing that used to pop up into my mind was, “hey I’ve been doing this longer than they have and they are better than I am.” Faster maybe, not better. If you mention the band Dire Straits, most folks know who Mark Knopfler is. He is the main driving force in the band, and their only guitarist. Most of Marks Music down through the years is very melodic and beautiful. He’s become a famous musician because he writes his music from his heart and he hears it from his heart. Mark can play fast as well but he chooses to make his music as melodic and pretty as he can. He strives to do this, and it has taken him as far as or perhaps further than some of the guys shredding guitar these days.  

I also read Guitar Player Magazine. A wonderful publication too I might add. But I am constantly reminded by this publication of how many really great guitar players there are in the world. It’s staggering actually. This can be intimidating if you let it. We shouldn’t let it. You take a really great guitarist and put him next to another unknown guitar player chances are the great one will like how the other one plays because the other plays and executes his music differently. I don’t know of many guitar players whose head is installed so far up their asses that can’t learn a new lick or two. Most players such as Jeff Beck are really down to earth people. Jeff has this young lady named Tal Wilkinson (hope I got her last name right) play with him from time to time. She’s just a youngster and she is really good. It’s so heartening to see this sort of thing. It just amplifies her drive on the instrument; she’s a bass player by the way.   

L and I have had so many conversations about playing. Laraine is relatively new to the bass. She has this tremendous capacity and drive to learn music. I can see it in her. After doing this for almost 40 years, (yeah can you believe that?) I can see the player inside her. It would be criminal if she were to quit playing. I can see this because of the way she holds her instruments, she’s not afraid of them. Some people hold onto a guitar like it’s a dead cat or something. Not L, and just thru that illuminates the musical spirit within her. It shines thru to other musicians. If I were to ask her band mates if they saw this in her ALL of them would say yes!   So the trick to this is to keep it going, keep the spirit bright. This applies to all of us not just musicians. We are all destined to do something. God doesn’t put us here for the hell of it. I was blessed with two parents both of whom were gifted musically. I got a double barrel of music shot at me a long time ago. I am thankful that both of my parents were insightful enough to encourage the music within me. What a gift to give your child. We never had much money. So I never wound up with lots of fancy clothes, toys, cars but what I did come away with was such an appreciation for music and with an attitude all I had to do was work at it. I think sometimes this spirit is killed by selfish “me first” parents. They unknowingly kill this spirit in their children and that my friends is selfish and a crime. 

So I have developed a way that keeps me playing year after year. This can apply to anything else we as humans want to do too. Several years ago during my “hippie times” as most of us our age remember, was the year we heard of “transcendental meditation.” Ravi Shankar’s sitar droning in the background, strange looking folks sitting cross legged with eyes closed thinking about God knows what.  Meditation takes many forms. First of all I consider it a discipline. To some of us discipline has a negative connotation. It sounds like something unpleasant and forceful. Actually it isn’t. A discipline to me is something that takes study, and time and thought. If this isn’t like meditation then I’ll throw in with ya.  Practicing and playing a musical instrument is a discipline, and it’s also meditation too. If guitar were an easy instrument to play then everyone would be playing it. How nice that it isn’t!  It can be daunting too. It can be discouraging at times, but only if we let it get us down.  It is challenging to say the very least. So I decided that when I was starting to get something that resembled intelligent sounds out of a guitar that I needed to continue with it. So  I developed what I call “fooling myself.”  It takes a few different forms. The first one I figured out by accident one day. I was playing and got frustrated. I didn’t like how I sounded and couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I wasn’t having fun. So I put it down. I never picked the guitar back up for a month after that. When I did I was scared that I would not even be able to play it again. But I did, and I liked what I was playing. It was almost like it was brand new and so I also decided that I would not get to the point that almost washed me out on it before.  I decided to put it down way before I got tired of playing it. So the very next day I couldn’t wait to pick it back up! Sounds simple huh? Well judging where that burn out point is takes some time. It takes listening to yourself. It takes introspection. But somehow I managed to find it. I still do it to this day. I must admit that my endurance on the instrument now is not measured in half hours as I can play for hours and still have a smile on my face. I should be able to because of the length of time playing.

   The next part of the story is in the equipment you are using. Here again I refer back to my conversation with Laraine yesterday. She was distressed over her amp’s behavior, and even more so from the amp tech that told her “there’s nothing wrong with your amp.” I understand her distress.  The whole thing here is if your guitar or amp isn’t doing what you want with it then it does not matter if the president of Gibson Guitars tells you there’s nothing wrong with your guitar or amp , that’s bullshit. If it isn’t getting YOU musically from point A to point B then there is something wrong with it and it’s time to replace it. I wish I had all of the guitars, amplifiers I’ve been thru in the last 38+ years I’ve been playing I could open a guitar store.  Until you find the ideal amp and guitar most insightful musicians will “play all the notes out of an amp.”  I have done this with several amps. My current amp is a Marshall MF 350. It’s one I’ll stick with because it continues to amaze me every time I play it. Same thing with my 8 string.  L will find a new amp, something I’m committed to help her with. This will keep her playing and make her practice sessions fun and something she will look forward to. It’s my job as a friend and fellow musician to see her aspire to her highest attainable point in her musical life. Hey if buying a new amp is what it takes to make her musical life continue it a cheap price to pay for such a rewarding accomplishment. New instruments are ways of “fooling yourself” like new amps are too. I have “fooled myself” for years in music. I’m my own fool here if you want to look at it like that.  Hell I’ll be the court jester for music. It makes my soul alive.  

Anything you love to do is good for the soul. It doesn’t’ have to be music. All the gear head guys I love are like this. It amounts to a constant refinement of the art. Most musicians, mechanics, hot rod builders are in a constant state of flux. We are striving for perfection. We won’t ever reach it but get “PDC” (pretty damn close. 🙂 )   There’s only one entity that’s perfect, God. He knows how much I’ve asked of Him to help me with my music.  It’s okay to ask this of Him too, I think He likes this. 

We don’t’ have to be a musician for any of this to work. If you are a housewife, which I think is probably one of the most difficult things to be, you also can apply this sort of stuff I think. What I’m saying here really is to love yourself for who you really are. You are special in the universe. You are star dust as we all are. You are the constituents of a thousand super novas, which make you special for sure. You have a unique celestial signature that only you have. Listen to yourself and your heart. You are beautiful in your own special way. Everyone is. Be happy with how you see things and if you think you need work in some area then approach it with a smile and don’t worry about it. It will work out. If it takes some “fooling yourself” kind of logic to do it then so be it. There are always people who can do things we can’t. These same people see you the same way, they see someone that can do things they can’t. So really it’s in balance.  This is the way I handle things from one day to the next. No one’s told me I’m all wet, maybe I am but so far it’s working for me and the Dog. Actually I learn a lot from my Dog. He’s smarter than I am in more than a few ways. I think animals are human’s mentors, we just haven’t figured out how to listen to them yet. 


Fuels: The Various Types

Unfortunately we all know what gasoline is all about. We have to put up with the oil companies skull duggeries about pricing their products. Gasolines have done a slow decline in their performance qualities since 1970. The EPA said that the US of A had to lower its tail pipe numbers so all that choice high octane gasoline that used to come out of the Chevron White Pumps has gone the way of the Doh Doh Bird. 

Here’s what wrong. High compression ratios tend to make a piston engine more efficient. All the compression ratio is, is a reciprocal of the combustion chamber volume to the swept cylinder volume. That’s all it is. Think of it as an improper fraction if that sits with you better. An increase in compression from say 7.5:1 to 9.5:1 isn’t gonna make that much difference in most car engines. But raise this from 9.5:1 to 11.5:1 and it makes a big difference. This is where today’s gasolines fall all over themselves. Today’s octane ratings won’t support compression ratios much over 10.1. Gasolines from the 1960’s gas pumps would do it and then some. Gasolines are refined from a heptane stock which has a pretty bad octane rating. So the oil companies got on the ball and started adding a stock called iso-octane. The fancy geek name for this is called 2,2,4 Trimethylpentane. This in itself is assigned a RON and MON number of 100.  RON means Research Octane Number. MON stands for Motor Octane Number.  MON is a measure of the antiknock quality of a fuel measured by the ASTM D 2700 method. It is a guide to the antiknock performance of a fuel under relatively severe conditions under full throttle etc. RON numbers are a guide established by the ASTM D 2699 protocol. It shows the resistance of fuel to knock when a vehicle is operated under mild conditions, such as low speed. And low loads. This is almost a worthless test scenario, most engines even running high CR’s on shit gasoline won’t knock under light loads. So you can see that the MON number is much more meaningful for a performance engine.  Okay lets rewind a bit here. Back to the 1960’s. The oil people finally just decided to blend iso-octane by itself as the base for gasolines. To boost the octane numbers even further the decided to add a chemical called Tetra ethyl lead. Just a little bit of this stuff would boost the octane number of gasolines way up. So then we started to see octane numbers which showed up on the pumps as 104- 106 and 108. These numbers represent the percentage of TEL above the base stock of iso-octane.  Likey so; iso-octane= 100, =4% TEL = an octane number of 104 and so on.  Well it didn’t take very long for TEL to get dethroned as the chief octane booster. The EPA started complaining that TEL was gonna make us all go blind and have three headed babies etc. so down it came. They replaced it with a few other chemicals that sound even more dreadful. The first one I’ll mention is an oxygenator and octane boosted called MTBE. Methyl Tertiary butyl ether.  It’s chemical structure of CH3-O-C4H9.  So it’s a fairly large molecule, has five carbon atoms one oxygen and no less than nine hydrogen atoms attached to it.  It’s cousin MMT has a really unpronounceable name; Methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl.  Told ya it was grim. This stuff was used in conjunction with TEL and sometimes on it’s own in unleaded gasolines.  None of this stuff worked as well as TEL did. But there were drawbacks to using TEL, it is dangerous stuff to deal with. It hammers sparkplugs pretty good, so good that oil companies started blending in additives that helped keep plug electrodes clear of lead deposits.

     Be that as it all may, there are other things that affect gasolines ability to give decent performance across a wide range of driving conditions. One of the most important is it’s “distillation curve.” This is how the various hydrocarbons in it’s blend vaporize across an operational temperature spectrum. We need a fuel that won’t vapor lock in cars still using carburetors, yes there are literally millions of cars still using carbs. This isn’t problem in fuel injected cars but can be problematic in cars without well insulated carb float bowls.  Another thing that is very important on how easily a car starts up is the fuels RVP. (Reid Vapor Pressure number) .  This is; a measure of the vapor pressure of a liquid as measured by the ASTM D 323 procedure. The higher the number the easier starting a car is especially in cool weather. The fuel will flash off to a vapor easily in the intake manifolds. This even effects fuel injected cars. Fuels with low RVP’s such as Av gas are real booga boos to fire up even in warm weather.

     A fuel’s specific gravity is also a measure of fuel density compared to water which is 1.00.  Most pump gas is around .750 and up. Alcohols are denser by a bit and nitromethane is was denser. It’s even heavier than water coming in around 1.139.  The denser a fuel is the better it behaves thru the metering circuits in a carburetor and fuel injectors. In computer controlled fuel systems, usually a denser fuel will result in better mileage to a point. If the engine can produce more power as a result of higher energy content of the fuel charge delivered to it then it will use less fuel to produce the same amount of power. This can sometimes go too far over the fence, and then you get into stoichiometry issues with a given fuel.

    One thing that needs to be cleared up right now. There’s an idea that high octane fuels have some magical component to them that makes them burn faster, or produce more power. This is False. The octane improvers just help manage the flame front inside the combustion chamber when it gets lit off. If your car doesn’t need a 106 octane number then why run it? Your motor isn’t making as much power as it would with a lower octane fuel. Many times a lower octane fuel will have a higher flame speed than a high octane fuel does.

     There is confusion and misinformation on how alcohols work in an engine too. Basically you have two types of fuel alcohols; methanol, and ethanol. The latter one we’re most familiar with. Ethanol is made from biodegradables such as corn, potatoes, it’s the same alcohol that’s in Vodka, Whiskey, beer etc. The other is Methanol. This stuff is very toxic and it WILL KILL you if you ingest it. If you don’t believe me look up its MSDA data on the internet. Of the two Methanol makes the most power as a high performance motor fuel. This is due to a couple of different things. It has a lower stoichiometric air-fuel ratio than either gasoline or ethanol. It makes best power rich of stoich at 4.1. Ethanol’s stoichiometric air-fuel ration is around 9:1.  Ethanol has a higher energy content to it than does methanol.  Ethanol has 12,900 BTU’s per gallon than does methanol at 9800 BTU’s Gasoline’s the energy king here at 20,900 BTU’s per gallon.  Okay so why does the alcohols make more power than gasoline?  There are a couple different reasons. First of all  it has to do with the air-fuel ratios of each fuel. Gasoline needs lots of air to burn. It’s air-fuel ratio is 14.7:1. This means it takes almost 15 parts of air to burn up one part of fuel. So you have to pump in lots of air in the motor to get the gasoline to burn up correctly. Also gasoline has no oxygen groups attached to it like the alcohols do. This gives the alcohols an advantage over gasoline right off the bat even though they produce less energy. This isn’t relevant when we consider the fuels SE, (Specific Energy) levels. This is the relationship of how much fuel to air is burned inside the engine as it’s metered into it. To find this energy level you divide the fuel’s air fuel ratio into the total BTU content in a gallon of fuel. In gasoline’s case we divide 14.7 / 20900= which give us 1421. Now divide 9800 by 6.5= 1507. This is Methanol’s SE. Ethanol is a bit lower at 11500/9=1277 SE. Not as good as gasoline you say? Well no but that’s not the whole picture either. Gasoline’s best power AF is about 12.1.  20900/12.1=1727. SE for gas at best power. Methanol can be run as rich as 4.1.  9800/4=2450 SE. Way better!  Ethanol can be over rich on stoich as 7.1.  11500/7.1=1619 SE. Still not on par with gasoline you say at best power?  Okay Alcohols have a little molecule attached to them called a hydroxyl group. It’s an oxygen-hydrogen pair. This allows much more oxygen into the fuel than gasoline does. The alcohols all have this nifty hydroxyl group on them. They also have a much higher latent heat of vaporization. Gasolines compared to alcohols vaporization rates are almost non-existent.. Next time you see an alcohol dragster or funny car with the body up and it’s running look at the frost all over the top of the hat. This vastly improves mid-range torque in an engine. It gets sprayed into the air fuel column in a carbureted engine and cools the charge column way down. It gives it more mass which adds to it’s inertia column as it’s piling into the cylinders. This vastly improves cylinder filling and torque. Gasolines can’t touch the alcohols in this area.  

    The alcohols also have wonderfully high octane ratings. Because of their high latent heat of vaporization allows much high compression ratios due to their cooling effects on valves, combustion chambers and sparkplugs, piston crowns. Engines like alcohols!

   One other area that alcohols and nitromethane really beat up on gasolines is the reactants / volume after combustion. What this means is that there are a lot higher volume of combustion products produced with a cylinder full of either alcohol and air or nitromethane and air. Both fuels produce much higher combustion byproducts than does gasoline. Just the nature of the brute is all. In this case is a big plus for alcohols and nitromethane. Nitromethane really takes the cake here. It can be run at a stoich of 1.7:1.!  It can even be over rich at 1.1 and still run. It has lots more oxygen than do the alcohols.  It’s chemical composition is CH3NO2. It has a nitro group attached to it, one nitrogen atom and two oxygen atoms. The problem with nitromethane is one of severe engine stress. It’s combustion process is more akin to an explosion than a controlled flame front type of combustion process. This characteristic of nitro places severe stress on piston domes, connecting rods, rod bearing and crankshafts. Most top fuel crews feel blessed if they are getting half a dozen passes off of a top fuel crank. Having such a rich a/f ratio makes driving a car anywhere other than around the block impractical. 

This is just a small overview of fuels.  I’ll get into Diesel fuel later.



Hanging out In Brightwood with Dave


   I thought I’d sneak in a quick story about today Dave doesn’t know I’m on the computer again. I have a tough time with the keyboard but I figured out how to do those stupid little buttons with my toe nails.

I think a keyboard for a dog would be pretty big. So lately I’ve been hanging out with Dave in the shop. It’s too wet and cold to have much fun chasing the ball outside, but I’ll do that in any weather though.

Dave has been making lots of sparks and bright blue lights in the shop. I think he calls it welding and he has this gadget that hisses really loud and shoots lots of orange sparks all over the floor. He calls that thing a “plasma cutter?”  Beats me what a plasma cutter is, sounds sorta final to my dog ears. I like to snoop in the shop, there are all sorts of new smells out there, and new deely-bobs to play with. I get kinda dusty when I’m in there but Dave usually blows me off with this hose like gadget that sounds like a big snake. It gets all those silver curly que things outa my hair too. Dave said those are metal shavings. I don’t know what he’s up to but he’s working on that Oldsmobile car of his. I love riding around in it!  I’m getting excited just thinking about it, pant pant!  Sorry, but I feel like I’m real cool sitting in my own seat in that car. There’s no back seat so it must be my seat then right? Dave said it was anyway. I believe him.

The other night when I went out side with Dave I chased this damn raccoon clear over to the neighbor’s house! Boy that was fun!  I almost got him too. Dave told me to leave them alone says they might hurt me. I wouldn’t bite one I just like to chase them. They look real funny running, kinda pear shaped ya know? 

I’ve been shedding a lot lately. I don’t know why either. Dave has to run that noisy yellow thing all over the floors three or four times a week. Sometimes I think I make a lot of work for him but he never complains a bit about that. He’s always telling me I’m the cutest dog in the world, and that he loves me so I guess he’s not mad at me. He takes lots of pictures of me too. I guess maybe he forgets what I look like from one week to the next maybe?   He says he’s gonna brush my teeth one of these days! Gosh I wonder what that’s about? What’s a brush?  He says I’ll like it.  I don’t think so.

The guy next door with the smelly truck came by the other day. He drove that stinking noisy thing past our house and out onto the highway. I keep seeing this shiny metallic looking stuff coming out of the back end along with lots of black smoke. The guy that drives this thing smells funny too. He smells like he’s unhappy. His wife smells like she’s scared. I wonder if he scares her?

I wish Steve and Gabriella would come over. I love playing with Gabby. Her little voice hurts my ears when she screams, but she does that because she’s having fun playing ball with me. She’s so small. I have to be careful I don’t bump into her, cause I knocked her down one time. It was an accident. I didn’t get in trouble for it either. Steve is nice and he talks to his little girl a lot. I think he said she’s autistic whatever that means. She seems okay to me. In fact I think she understands me better than a lot of humans do except for Dave. I can’t get away with anything around him. I don’t care because he takes me most places with him.

I scared Chris and Jenaie’s little girl the other day. She started crying. Jenaie isn’t ascared of me though. She’s real pretty too. Chris is nice and he pets me a lot.  Jenaie said her little girl cries easily. I wonder why humans do that so much?  Seems to me they are pretty nervous bunch. 

Dave took me into town the other day. I was sitting in the car in the back seat. Dave doesn’t lock the doors when he goes into the stores, I wouldn’t let anyone get in the car but him anyways.  Well this guy that I didn’t like comes walking up to the car. He smelled real funny. Had this sort of chemical like smell on him like maybe he took a bath in Ammonia or something that Dave sprays on his glasses to clean them. I could smell other things on this guy. He was dishonest too. That’s a real bad smell. It’s a real heavy scent. I don’t think humans can smell stuff like this. I also got a whiff of something dangerous about him. Like maybe he had hurt someone a long time ago, but was still capable of doing it at any time. So he comes up and looks in the window. I sat real still until he had part of his face inside the driver’s window, then I snarled really loud and wrinkled up my lips so my teeth was showing. I tried to look real mean, it musta worked because he said something like “holy shit!” He jerked his head back out of the car. He walked away real fast. Dave doesn’t know about this. I think he’d get mad if he did.

I went up to Dave’s friends place in Welches! Boy that was fun! New smells coming in the window faster than I could figure them!  I got sorta dizzy from all the new smells! Cool!  I met Allen and Lorie’s two doggies, Tequila and Fitzmiller.  I think there’s something wrong with Fitzmiller. He’s what Laurie calls a Basset Hound. He’s misshapen little thing, looks more like a footstool than a dog. He’s got these real stubby little legs and long floppy ears. He’s cranky and tries to start fights with me. He even nipped at my front legs the other day. I was on my best behavior at their house so I never shook the little bastard like I wanted to. Dave almost tripped over his little “footstool ass” the other day. He gets right in the way all the time. Dave taught me to stay out of his way and to wait until he goes thru a door before I go out. He always lets me out 99% of the time anyway so why be pushy huh? Fitzmiller is real pushy and he’s as dumb as the foot stool he resembles.  Tequila is an older lady. She’s not cranky and shitty like “footstool” is. She reminds me of a sophisticated older lady. She finally started being nice to me when she saw what gentledog I am.   Fitzmiller is gross too! He started farting because Laurie fed him some left over refried beans. Man that was bad!  I asked Dave to take me out for some fresh air because my dog nose was toast!  We went home after that last insult. Dave likes those people and I do too but I don’t much care for Fitzmiller the Footstool.  Laurie likes me and she kisses me a lot and tells me how big I am. I don’t think I’m that big, she’s just around too many little “foot stool” doggies!  Snort, snort!  Pant pant. Dave told me not to pay any attention to Fitzmiller and that I was a good dog for not turning the little bastard inside out. I wanted to but that’s not nice in someone else’s house. Laurie is nice to me; I like it when she kisses me because she’s pretty and cute in a human sorta way. She smells good too. She makes me feel good around her. I think she’s a good animal human. She has a couple of horses too. I talked to one of the horses the other day and he said that Laurie treats him really pretty good. He likes it when she rides him. He also told me that Fitzmiller was a real pain in the ass. He said he almost stepped on his sorry little ass the other day because he followed Laurie into the barn and then ran into the stable.  He scared her horse and he almost stepped on “foot stool” by accident. Gee that’d be too bad.

I don’t get to see my Golden Retriever girlfriend any more.  Her name is Emma. Dave told me with tears in his eyes that she’s sick and probably wouldn’t live very long. Her eye looked real funny the last time I seen it. I feel bad about that. I liked Emma a lot.  Humans think a lot of us dogs most of the time. At least the good ones do. I know they get really upset when something goes wrong with us dogs.  They had to give me this stuff at the vet’s office that made me get really sleepy and I just passed out for a while. I was pretty groggy when Dave picked me up and he worried about me all night. He was on the phone with the vet’s office for a while. He kept waking me up and petting me. He even brought my water dish in next to me. I was thirsty too. I drank a lot of water. Boy I had a heck of hang over from that deal at the vet’s office. I asked Dave what they did and he said that they X-Rayed my hips whatever that is. It never hurt so I guess its okay.

I knocked out one of my little tiny front lower teeth the other day on ball duty and Dave was sad and kinda upset. He tells me to “take it easy on myself.”  I was just havin fun is all. Besides it don’t hurt any. My vet is this pretty gal, Dave seems to think she’s pretty good. She told Dave that doggies don’t have much feeling in their teeth. I think she’s right.

Dave sure talks to me a lot. Sometimes I don’t’ know what he’s talking about but I like it anyway!  Makes me smile.

Anyway it’s fun hanging out with Dave. I never know what we’re gonna do from one day to the next. I like Dave’s friends. Ron is really nice to me all the time and lets me ride around in the back of his Blazer with Dave. Most of Dave’s friends aren’t ascared of me anymore. I used to make them sit in their cars when they drove up. Now they just get out and I take my ball over to them and we get a game started sometimes.

I can’t wait for summer to get here. More hose games with Dave!

 Zephyr Proffitt

The Empath


This story starts a long time ago.
When I found a flightless, damaged crow.
His misfortune of meeting a car.
His safety from the shoulder too far.

His black eyes frightened and pleading.
Flopping and fanning his broken leg bleeding.
And so I scooped him up and ran off the highway.
Wishing he’d taken his meal on some lonesome byway.

 And as I held him his breathing slowed.
And out of him into me his pain flowed.
My right arm seared with pain and I felt sick.
A pain so intense burning and thick.

But still I held him in my hands.
And his damaged wing began to fan.
His eyes became warm and calm.
His composure now colored with aplomb.

So I looked at his broken leg drawn into a fist.
His lower portion bleeding from a half twist.
I held him with my left hand.
I touched his bleeding broken band.

Again I made his pain flee.
And again it went straight into me.
Snapping, twisting, searing and seething.
So I fell upon my knees in agony.

Lying now on the side of the road feeling half dead.
The Crow walks up and gently rubs his beak on my head.
The pain in my leg is fleeting.
And the pain in my arm also retreating.

The Crow hops around me tilting his head.
For it surprises me that he has not fled.
Man has not been kind to this species of bird.
Still here he is cawing avian for our words.

 Seeing him whole again is worth my pain.
Tis a trivial part of my existence for this exchange.
A simple Crow-healing that I could do.
Simple for me but not for you.

Something I would not wish on my fellow man.
An exchange of pain rather than.
This trade of sorts not without consequence.
A trade repaid with severe recompense.

To take another’s pain and suffering.
There is no celestial buffering.
Between the broken and the whole.
These trades always take their toll.

 For years I’ve asked God to give me this.
And so he has without any dismiss.
For his universal order.
For I have become a human pain recorder.

Each time I take on an exchange.
I get a physiological change.
And so it seems I gain a few hours of youth.
So I see these events from the owner’s own truth.

Reliving each accident and through their eyes.
Wondering if this time they will die?
Feeling the pain of lies.
Feeling the tears in their eyes.

Affairs of the heart bad as broken bones.
A heart full of holes, and dead zones.
I’ve touched the betrayed and heartbroken.
Recipients of the sharp edged words spoken.

 A friend came to me in great need.
His wife was sick and he did plead.
With me to help her for he knew of me.
And so he said unto me “she is dying you see.”

So we went to the hospital where she was.
And one of the nurses ran up to us because.
His wife was dying and called out for him.
The doctor’s face dark and painted  grim.

So I asked the doctor what was wrong with her.
And he told me that she had some type of cancer.
So my friend asked me to touch his wife.
And his request filled me with fear and strife.

I became sick with fear and so afraid.
So close to the death she was laid.
For I had not been so close to death.
And I could not catch my breath.

I wondered if this exchange would be my end.
This ultimate sacrifice for my friend.
As I looked into her eyes saw her life light waning.
Her life light running out of her in the minutes remaining.

 Doing her best to hold on.
Most of her now already gone.
I have seen too much death in my time.
Her life now beginning to sublime.

So I could not let her go.
And into me her darkness did flow.
Surging and black as night.
And I saw this white light blinding and bright.

 I heard this voice saying “I cannot let you do this.”
“I will return the woman from death I dismiss.”
So I awoke in a hospital bed.
Doctors and nurses shinning lights on my head.

A doctor spoke to me and said.
“Your friend’s wife is back from the dead.”
“I don’t know how you did this.”
My friends face bright with bliss.

And the doctor asked me how I felt.
So I told him that I had been dealt.
With another chance at life.
I turned to see my friend kissing his wife.

I cannot exchange with humans now you see.
Being so close to death is not fine with me.
I can still take animals pain away.
It extends my life line my doctors say.

 I do less now because it still hurts like hell.
I help old dogs, and horses, pray tell.
And any other animal I feel like healing.
Such an odd experience their pain stealing.

But I have minutes of wellbeing in my soul.
From the brief pain from them I extoll.
So I have been able to see that animals have souls.
And that makes my damaged heart whole.

So to God I said one day.
“I have something I need to say.”
“If all my dogs aren’t’ in heaven then I ain’t going.”
And he said to me, “They’re all here and with you go in.”

So if I stop making exchanges I will die someday.
And then in heaven with all my dogs I will play.
And with all the animals that I have fixed.
From now till then betwixt.

Dave Proffitt