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Response

Some of this week's Letters to AutoSpeed!

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Falcon LPG Performance

I've been reading your story on modifications to naturally aspirated Ford Falcons – Awakening the Aussie Ford Six - Part Two - and was quite surprised at some of the power figures that could be achieved without a bolt-on blower or turbo. Do you know of any similarly available upgrades/mods for the factory LPG dedicated Falcon?

According to Ford, they strongly advise against converting BA/BF Falcons to aftermarket LPG and state that their E-Gas engines have a higher comp ratio, stiffer conrods as well as intake valves and valve seats that can withstand higher temperatures for LPG combustion. It seems like all these revisions from the factory would make a good platform for aftermarket power-up mods.

Winston Ng
Australia

We haven’t seen anyone modifying a dedicated LPG Falcon – can any readers offer some information?

MegaSquirted!

Re: Engine Management for Turbo Conversions

Those who are on a budget yet still want the flexibility of a full standalone should take a look at MegaSquirt (www.megasquirt.info). I've ordered mine from DIYAutoTune.com (no affiliation) and the service/speed was great. It doesn't have any official support so you will need to do some of your own reading, however the MegaSquirt forum (www.msefi.com) is an amazing resource with lots of smart people.

The standard software on the MegaSquirt is fairly limited but if you run the extras software (megasquirt.sourceforge.net) it adds support for a much larger range of engines and sensors, plus you get other neat stuff like boost and launch control. Another good thing to note is that the software is open source, so you are free to make changes to it if you have the ability.

All up I’ve spent under AUD$400 and I have a working standalone with a ton of features!

Tim Kent
Australia

Hip and Fun?

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These are quotes from Eliminating Negative Boost - Part 1 by Julian Edgar...

** "The hairy, horrible nakedness of power-robbing negative pressures."

** "You just need the stomach to confront the smelly, ugly, aggressive, loud-mouthed, obnoxious, arrogant, argumentative critters that are negative boosts...."

** "I probably don't have to tell you what a boost gauge is - but I will anyway cos unless you understand this basic stuff you're gonna be totally rooted in all of the next parts of this series, which stretch on infinitely if I can drag out each sentence like I have this one."

** "So what's this atmospheric pressure thingy .... Isn't that nice, we're all wrapped (rapt?) in an invisible blanket... So why aren't we all staggering around, crushed by this heavyweight burden down to the height of malnourished, dwarf ants working in a production line environment where there is no spark, no life, no excitement because the boss is an olde world disciple of Marx - Karl not Groucho."

** "Y'know, those big H and L symbols all over synoptic charts."

** "...which I'll ignore cos they'd make the confusing style in which this article is written even more confusing..."

** "The air flows in through the airbox snorkel, blasts its way through the airfilter, charges through the airflow meter, tumbles through the throttle body and into the plenum chamber, squeezes down the individual intake runners, ducks past the intake valves, and - whew! - finally fills the cylinder. After which it throws up because it gets real bad travel sickness."

** " Well, it's pretty likely that some air that should have made its way into the mouth of the duct, gets lost and doesn't. Doesn't what? Doesn't get in the duct, that's what! .... If the duct is as full of air as the atmosphere is full of air, then the air pressures will be the same. If it's 14.7 psi in the McDonalds Drive Thru, and it's 14.7 psi inside your intake air duct as you do a full-load burn-out through the drive-thru, then that intake duct is as perfect as can be. More perfect - even - than the Big Mac you're picking up."

** "Aaah, but what about if the air pressure inside the duct during that burn-out is only, say, 8 psi absolute? In other words, what if it's 6.7 psi less than atmospheric? Then you have an intake duct that is working godawfully. In fact, much too godawfully to be real - basically, it's just a silly example I made up."

** "... followed afterwards by hysterical, bubbling stomachs of joy."

** "Negative boost? Well, that's a cause of slowness, of bad fuel economy, of decreased power. Of boredom and despair. 'Ban Negative Boost' should read the placard-waving protestors outside the airfilter box. 'Negative Boost - We Don't Want You'. And - from the confused - 'Same Sex Marriages For Negative Boost'."

** "Instead, we'll use two lots of units (Yes - two. No, not one set only - even though that'd be easier. I SAID TWO LOTS OF UNITS!! Hmmmph. Everyone seems to have left the room.)"

** "Next week: we pull back the covers to reveal the sexual depravity of negative pressures in all their hairy, horrible nakedness."

Is that now awful? Now, I don't know if the author is simply in love with himself or if this is a gruesomely failed attempt at making a technical article "hip" and "fun". What I do know is that it not "hip" - it is juvenile and it is not "fun" - it is annoying and off-putting. I believe Mr Edgar knows his subject well enough that he is capable of clearly explaining it and bringing it to life for his readers. But nauseatingly kitchy and self-absorbed asides and literary antics is not the means by which that will be achieved. In the meantime, his work - and AutoSpeed as a whole - would greatly benefit from a liberal application of an editor's red pen to his writings.

If Mr Edgar is as young as I suspect, he will laugh about this writing in years to come. If he is not young, he should be embarrassed by this writing now.

Martin Eby
USA

That article rates as one of our best-read tech pieces – not bad when there are more than 700 of them!

Oxy Sensor Fiddling

I was very glad to see your article Electronic Ways to Improve Your Fuel Economy when I pulled up AutoSpeed today. Reading through, I found most of the normal things I was expecting to see. However, you don't have any mention of devices to control and/or alter the oxygen sensor signal. It would seem that this would be the best way to control closed-loop air-fuel ratios. Perhaps this is illegal is some places. However, I do know of a place where they make such devices. Its nothing really fancy and it’s not programmable but, through reading about it, seems like it would do the job. The website is www.eagle-research.com. They have a device called the EFIE (Electronic Fuel Injection Enhancer). This device creates a voltage offset that modifies the signal coming back from the O2 sensor to the ECU. The voltage signal is increased to simulate a rich air-fuel ratio and the ECU leans out the mixture. I haven't used the device personally but it makes sense in theory.

Tim Fulton
USA

Thanks for the interesting link. We have unsuccessfully attempted oxygen sensor signal modification in the past - see Altering Closed Loop Mixtures and Modifying Closed Loop Cars that Need LOTS More Fuel! Part 1 for more.

BOV Bull?

I was wondering if you could shed some light on the topic of blow-off valves. I recently read a write-up from someone in the performance/tuning community who went on to say that blow-off valves perform little to no function at all. Additionally, the removal of blow-off valves has no impact on turbo life at all. I had always believed the blow off valve was vital to turbo performance. Any information you had on the subject would be much appreciated.

Matthew Allen
Australia

There is a lot of conflicting opinion on the subject. From a performance point of view, it should be easy to tell if there’s an improvement with a new blow-off valve; this will be reflected in better performance times (ie 0 – 100 km/h) and response. Note that many OE blow-off valves leak at high boost pressure and an aftermarket valve will achieve better performance by sealing all of the pressure delivered by the turbocharger. From a longevity point of view we are yet to see anything definitive.

Outback in the Outlander

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I have read the reviews that you have posted regarding the Mitsubishi Outlander – New Car Test - Mitsubishi Outlander XLS and Mitsubishi Outlander MIVEC VR-X. I have to disagree rather strongly with you with regard to its "lack of off-road ability."

Have any of the reviewers actually tried it off road? I have had my Outtie since May ‘03 and it has gone places off-road that most people tend to be amazed at. Land Cruiser Mountain Park, Black Duck Valley, The Farm 4WD Park (near Blackbutt) and a lot of weekend getaways up Teewah beach and general rugged bush tracks where cars won’t go. I guess that I am somewhat biased but I definitely feel that this car will go places most people wouldn't even try.

For some examples, check the photos and videos on my webpage - www.tinmansplace.multiply.com. The Outtie is quite able to go up or down 25 degree rocky, or muddy slopes and that is on road tyres. Okay, I admit that the clearance has been a minor issue in the past but if you are careful, this little "soft" roader is quite agile in the rough. I have put off-road rubber on it in the past week and there’s now a little more clearance and about 50 percent more off-road ability. The new tyres have given it an extra 25mm clearance which does help a bit.

With regard to overall reliability, this is by far the best car I have ever owned. I drive all over the country for my job, and now have over 192,000km on the little beast. It still hasn't missed a beat. No issues at all. Not bad for a small car, but I do keep it regularly serviced.

Love your website, as it gives a good indication as to all a car's good and bad points. Just thought you should know that, in the right hands, the Outlander is quite able off-road.

Mark Coleman
Australia

Overkill Mazda3 MPS

I just have two main notes I wish to push through...

Re Driving Emotion, I agree wholeheartedly about choosing a car for its abilities not its looks. I just recently bought a Mitsubishi Ralliart Colt. By far not the best looker, but she'll hang around a corner tighter then most, (read about its recent Targa West results), is cheap to run, has lots of space and is very exclusive.

My other bit of response is in regard to a day I recently attended with Mazda. I went to a trackday that was essentially a ‘mini press release’ for the new Mazda 3 MPS. On this day we got to (under some heavy supervision) belt a 3 and 6 MPS, MX-5 and RX-8 around the track as a passenger and as a driver. I have to say, I was expecting the Mazda 3 MPS to be a bit of overkill (190kW FWD!) but nothing prepared me for the on-off nature of the car. And now I will explain my disappointment with the car.

The Mazda 6 offers good drivability, has excellent performance without rough edges and has all the smoothness of a luxury car.

The MX-5 has God-like handling and is very communicative.

The RX-8 revs evenly and gives you a nice steady power delivery (though lacking in toque).

The Mazda 3 fails to do any of these. The accelerator may as well be an on-off switch – it’s either gentle driving or shredding tyres with the traction control light going on and off faster then a railway light. This means that you essentially have a Mazda3 or an uncontrolled tyre-shredding beast.

The obvious result is hard toque steer even with the traction control on. After just tapping the accelerator, it instantly became obvious why the instructors had strictly forbid us turning off the traction control. Compared to the road manners of the Ford Focus XR5, I think anyone who drives the two will agree with me that the XR5 offers a much better, liner power delivery (though still somewhat turbo mad). For the money Mazda is asking for this car, I think most buyers will save some on a XR5/Astra SRI or pay the little bit more for a WRX

David Embury
Australia

Interesting stuff – we are planning reviews of the Ralliart Colt and Mazda 3 MPS.

Deadly Bonnet

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In replying to a reader's question about ways to reduce the weight of a Ford BA XR6, it was suggested he look at a carbon fibre bonnet – see Response. It should be noted that carbon fibre bonnets are illegal as they can have huge changes on frontal impact and pedestrian impact safety. For instance, depending on the carbon cloth used, the carbon fibre bonnet may be more likely to cut into a pedestrian rather than bend and buckle like a metal bonnet. Cars are generally getting heavier these days due to a higher focus on safety. There's not a cheap or easy option around it. Even supercars are getting heavy - the Bugatti Veyron for instance is well over two tonnes.

Evan Smith
Australia

Disappointed

In regards to Driving Emotion...

I am again, very disappointed in Julian's stance on the matter. Not including high performance vehicles or the Toyota Prius (there's one to bitch about its looks), when has the coefficient of drag or the coefficients of lift EVER been part of a car’s introduction? The first time I saw the VY/VZ coefficients, and the VT for that matter, was in an article done by AutoSpeed a while back - but well after the VY was released. I've never heard the Falcon's coefficients or nearly any other car for that matter. In hindsight, very few high performance cars state the coefficients too. I can remember seeing a Porsche’s stats once as well as the Bugatti Veyron. But when you're not allowed over 110 km/h, a few points either way doesn't really affect drag that much anyway.

You want to know about frontal pedestrian impact safety? Do some thinkin’ of your own rather than needing everything to be spoon fed to you. The Commodore has a high, blunt nose which is safer for legs. The windscreen is raked close to that of the Monaro which, as I hope you know, leads towards the pedestrian *glancing* off the windscreen rather than stopping on it or coming through.

This is the information that I got from the press release and associated media releases; there's a much deeper plastic honeycomb "cushion" behind the front bumper and 80 something millimetres of compression at the front before any metal frames are struck. How about this - bigger brakes. It's not only from a performance standpoint. And then there's the brake assist (in emergency applies the brakes harder, because research has shown the driver doesn't usually apply enough force), retuned ABS and stability control (if the driver swerves, much less risk of losing control and possibly hitting more pedestrians).

Side impacts? Are you blind? Impact tests were one of the MAJOR focuses of the whole release! There was even a side impact test done in front of media! There are also videos all over the web of other crash tests, even focusing on the airbag deployment (front, side, and curtain for that matter).

You, once again, had a crack at fuel economy too. Once again I will say, that considering the weight gain of the car, having improved economy (no matter how slight) on the family focused cars is a massive achievement - and only a slight loss of economy on the performance models is just as bigger achievement. Especially considering there are power and torque increases across the range.

You're supposed to be a motoring journalist. That means a personal bias should not show through in your articles. Start being professional about your work. And just as importantly, if you're going to have an ongoing crack at a car, get your facts right.

P.S. Have you noticed fuel prices are coming down? Or are you neglecting to acknowledge this because it's not negative news?

Evan Smith
Australia

This Time I've Thought First...

The last few emails I've sent have been pretty negative. I'd just like to let you know that I do enjoy reading AutoSpeed and I do (believe it or not) value your opinions. I understand that no car will ever make everyone happy and that other people have different priorities when it comes to cars as well. I'd also like to say, that as an outsider, it's very easy for me to criticise, when really, I don't have much of an idea of what goes on behind the scenes there. All in all, great mag and keep up the good work.

Evan Smith
Australia

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