How a Gargantuan Caterpillar Mining Truck is Built

There’s no need for an assembly line with this behemoth. It’s so big that it is literally assembled on-site.

Everything about this mining truck is massive. It’s got 4,000 horsepower, the engine displaces about 6,500 cubic inches, the entire truck weighs more than a million pounds, and it can carry 400 tons. Colossal doesn’t do this thing justice.

Caterpillar shows us just what it takes to build this mammoth machine. It all starts at the plant in Decatur, IL, but the whole thing isn’t assembled until they get out to the job site.

I’ve attached the video. It’s certainly worth about three minutes of your time. Let me know what you think of this cool timelapse video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAVYizVoLww

Porsche Never Designed the 911 Around it’s Rear Engine

It’s certainly one of the most iconic automotive designs ever.

I’m sure that if you named just one thing about one of the air-cooled Porsche 911’s, it’s been written about.  While being in and around the car is like watching a movie you’ve seen multiple times, it still has that mystical allure that reels you in each time.

Seeing the car is an experience that is hard to forget.  It’s probably because you can’t compare the design to any other car on the road.  It’s incredibly and undeniably unique.

Yes, it’s got a hint of VW Beetle and the Porsche 356 that preceded it, but we tend to forget those cars when we see one.  The car was designed to carry four adults and their luggage around in comfort and style, yet be fun to drive.

Most “true” sports cars only have two seats, yet the 911 has four.  This is odd, but somebody high up at Porsche presumably wanted something that could carry more than two people.  Unless they wanted to make it incredibly long, the engine would have to be behind the rear axle.

However, this isn’t the universally-accepted truth.  The idea that Porsche is wedded to the engine-in-the-back philosophy is one that you could seriously consider.  The 911 was preceded by the mid-engine 550 Spyder, then followed by the mid-engine 914, the front-engine 924 and 928.  The purpose-built racecar built by Porsche in the same era, the 904, was mid-engine.  The car that truly preceded the 911 was the rear-engine 356, which was essentially a rear-wheel-drive VW Beetle with a nice interior.  For all essential purposes, the 911 is the second and final Porsche rear-engine design, redone a few times.  Even the 356 began as a mid-engine car.

This rear seat thing is why the driver sits higher than most other sports cars.  It allows their legs to be slightly more bent, which gives more space to the folks in the rear seat.  This is also what makes the roof so tall, as well as how far forward the windshield goes.

It’s flat-six engine is only three cylinders long, so the rear overhang is no longer than most front-engine sports cars.  But, it’s also significantly lower overall than most other sports cars.

Most people rail on the car because of it’s rear-engine location, but the truth is, that’s not the most interesting part of the design.  They should focus more on the tall and forward-positioned windshield, and the single sweep backwards to the tail end of the car.

The original Porsche 911 was a massive 15 inches shorter than the Jaguar E-Type, which is really the only comparable car in terms of cabin space and performance.  In short, the 911’s proportions are more to do with the fact that it was designed to carry two people in the back, rather than having the engine in the back.

The real allure of the 911 for me is the fact that Porsche placed function over form, yet created an intensely beautiful and unique car that nobody else was capable offering.  It is utterly unique, and nothing can quite compare to it.

The interior is nothing special, but there’s something beautiful and understated about it. It’s very simple, but owners say that the car is far from basic.  The car may be small, but it’s far from cramped.

There is something that draws me to the surprising compactness of the original 911.  It’s actually a small car.  While I know that modern cars have grown substantially, the original 911 is about the same size as a stock 1930 Ford Model A.  It’s really not a big car, yet it’s got an impressive amount of utility to it.  I really want to drive one, or at least ride in one.

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This is the infamous Porsche 550 Spyder. James Dean died in one.
This is the infamous Porsche 550 Spyder. James Dean died in one.
Most racers in the 1960s got started in either an MG or a Porsche 356, both of which dominated the road racing circuit for many years.
Most racers in the 1960s got started in either an MG or a Porsche 356, both of which dominated the road racing circuit for many years.

1973 Porsche 914

Porsche 924 Porsche 928 GTS

1964 Jaguar E Type

2003-Volkswagen-Beetle

1930 Ford Model A Sedan

 

Why a Rare Porsche Will Top $1.5 Million at Auction

While you could say that just about any Porsche 959 is a stunning car, this one is just an absolute neck-turner.  It’s black over carmel brown, and it’s one of only three made in this color combination.  Talk about rare.

Porsche only made 337 959’s from 1986-1989.  Each and every single one of them is still a technological tour-de-force, but when they came out, there was truly nothing else like it on the road.

The car that I’m talking about is a 1988 model, and it could be yours, should you be going to the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach auction in August.  It’s sale price is estimated to be between $1.6-1.8 million, which, if proved accurate, will only reflect the voracious appetite for collectible Porsches like this.

The Porsche 959 remains one of the most technologically-advanced and interesting supercars ever built.  Up until recently, they were a rare, astonishing sight in the US, due to the idiotic, bureaucratic import laws that the US has.  Why?  Because only 50 out of the 329-337 (production numbers vary, depending on who you ask at Porsche) built between 1986-1989 came to the US.  However, since the bulk of 959’s were built before 1988, the import laws are completely open on them, meaning that you can drive them legally on US roads without fear of the car getting crushed and you getting massive fines.  This is very good news for American car enthusiasts and collectors.

Gooding & Company is calling this car a “Komfort” model, which means that it’s the road-going version of the 959.  Komfort was Porsche’s way of differentiating the road-going 959 from the “Sport” version of the 959, which raced in everything from rally to endurance racing.  The Komfort cars were powered by a 444-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, 2.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine that was connected to a six-speed manual (most cars at the time still had four-speed manuals – a six-speed was simply out of this world).  It was completely ahead of its time in terms of speed, technology and handling.

“Car & Driver” recorded a smoking 3.6-second 0-60 run, and somehow had the cojones to get it all the way up to 190 mph.  Porsche says that the car has the potential to hit 205 mph, so it seems obvious that “Car & Driver” just didn’t have the nerve…That being said, the 190 mph that they recorded held their top speed record until 1997 and the McLaren F1.

What made the car so revolutionary was the fact that it had electronically-controlled AWD. The only other production car to use electronically-controlled AWD was the Audi Quattro, which started using the system back in the mid-1980s.  This system could distribute torque depending on the dynamic load on each wheel.  It could also be locked at a fixed torque split.

I’ve never quite seen such a beautiful Porsche, and while I’ve never seen a 959 in person, this is an absolute stunner.  The 959 is high up on my automotive bucket list, and this one only elevates it to be alongside other legendary cars like the Pagani Huayra, Dodge Daytona, Ford GT40, and Shelby Cobra, among others.

I’ve attached the link to the car from Gooding & Company for you to look at.  There are very few details on it, but they will be available closer to the auction date (think late July).  http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1988-porsche-959-komfort-2/

If you can’t afford that much, there is a beautiful 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS Lightweight at the same auction that is estimated to go for $1.0-1.2 million.  I’ve attached the link for it also.  If you have the means, I highly recommend buying both and driving the wheels off of them.  Cars like these are meant to be driven.  http://www.goodingco.com/vehicle/1973-porsche-911-carrera-2-7-rs-lightweight-3/#tab1

This is the 959 coming up for sale in August.  It's beautiful.
This is the 959 coming up for sale in August. It’s beautiful.

A Fun Music Video

This is going to be a quick and fun post.  For those of you who remember the band “Berlin” from the 1980s, you might know their 2013 single “Gasoline & Heart.”

For those of you who have never heard of Berlin, let me give you some background:

Berlin is a synth pop group formed in 1982 in Los Angeles by bassist John Crawford, singer Terri Nunn, and keyboard player David Diamond.  They quickly made the charts with their provocative single “Sex (I’m A…),” which came from their gold-selling debut EP Pleasure Victim.

They quickly made the group whole with the addition of guitarist Rick Olsen, another keyboard player, Matt Reid, and drummer Rob Brill.

Their first full-length LP was the gold-selling Love Life album of 1984.  By 1985, the group had been trimmed down to the trio of Nunn, Crawford, and Brill.

The following year, they went platinum with their hit “Take My Breath Away,” which was the love theme from the Tom Cruise movie, “Top Gun.”

Nunn left the band in 1987 to pursue a solo career, so Brill and Crawford joined the Big F.

The band reunited in 1999 to record new songs, as well as perform a concert.  The studio and concert recordings were released as Berlin Live: Sacred and Profane, which was released in 2000.

2001 brought a whirlwind of recording sessions, which included co-writing songs with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, among several other artists.  The end result, Voyeur, was their first full-length album in well over 15 years.

How does this relate to “Gasoline & Heart?” Well, the single was created without Nunn.

Truthfully, the song is just OK, but it’s got great footage of classic hot rods back in the day. It’s a fun distraction for a few minutes.  Enjoy.

What to Look for When Buying Used Engine Parts

Used engine parts can be a great deal, if you know what you are looking for. They can also kill your engine. Here’s what to look for in used engine parts. Most of the places that you’d go engine parts hunting are swap meets. Bring a cheat sheet of engine codes and casting numbers with you, or you might end up with a completely different part than you need.

  • Intake Manifolds: Most factory performance air intakes are fairly easy to identify because there is a casting number and date code on them. Cast iron intakes are virtually indestructible, but are fairly heavy. Aluminum intakes offer better performance, but are more susceptible to problems. Look at the thermostat’s counterbore, as it is common for that area to get rusted and corroded on aluminum intakes only. If it’s not too badly eaten away, any good machinist can repair it. If it’s badly eaten away, look for another one. If you really want it, however, the bad area can be cut out, and a new piece can be welded on and machined to the original shape. It’s common to see other problems, and if it looks like it’s been modified, make sure that it was done well!
  • Pistons: Careful with these. Most new pistons are relatively inexpensive, but you can score a good deal on them at a swap meet if you know what you’re looking for. If there’s a full set of them and they’re still in the box, you’ve got a great deal. Get them if they fit your car. If they are used, be sure to clean off all of the carbon deposits from the tops and inspect them thoroughly. Also, check for ring lands and grooves on them – this means that something was wrong with the engine that they came out of, and that they are damaged. DON’T buy those! If they don’t fit your engine, they make great pencil or screw holders.
  • Connecting Rods: Used connecting rods are very difficult to evaluate without the proper equipment. Yes, it’s easy to bead-blast and hone an old pair, but you need to take them to a good machinist to make sure that they are good to put into your engine.
  • Camshafts: If it’s unused, in it’s original box, and has full documentation from day one, you can definitely consider it. When buying used camshafts, it’s very difficult to tell whether it’s a stock, weak camshaft or a high-performance camshaft. Plus, modern camshaft technology has advanced so much in the past 50 years that it’s worth it to just buy a brand-new camshaft. It’ll be easier to get one that’s essentially tailored for your driving style.
  • Exhaust Manifolds and Headers: Exhaust manifolds are sturdy parts, but can be abused and broken. It’s not uncommon to find a broken stud in an exhaust manifold. Luckily, they are fairly easy to remove. Used headers can be a great deal or a massive head ache. Ask the seller what they fit, rather than, “will they fit on my Challenger?” Check the welds and flanges on the headers – if the flanges are warped, they will not seal against the head, resulting in exhaust leaks. You don’t want to be like Freiburger and Finnegan from Roadkill. Also inspect headers for dents and scratches that could have come from bottoming out or from hammering them into place.
  • Carburetors: Have a carburetor cheat sheet on hand when you go looking for carbs. You can determine it’s original application and CFM rating. The overall appearance of a carburetor is a good indicator of it’s health. Rebuild kits are available for nearly every carburetor under the sun, so it makes it a good deal less risky to buy a used carburetor.
These are aluminum intakes for Chevy big-block V-8s.
These are aluminum intakes for Chevy big-block V-8s.
People will try to sell you pistons in conditions far worse than this. They don't even make good pencil holders!
People will try to sell you pistons in conditions far worse than this. They don’t even make good pencil holders!
These are brand-new connecting rods for a Chevy small-block V-8. You can luck out if you know what you are looking for at a swap meet.
These are brand-new connecting rods for a Chevy small-block V-8. You can luck out if you know what you are looking for at a swap meet.
This guy lucked out and found a camshaft for his Dodge pickup with the Cummins diesel engine at the Pomona swap meet.
This guy lucked out and found a camshaft for his Dodge pickup with the Cummins diesel engine at the Pomona swap meet.
This is what you'll see when you go in search of headers at a swap meet.
This is what you’ll see when you go in search of headers at a swap meet.
This is the sight you'll see when you go to a swap meet to find carburetors.
This is the sight you’ll see when you go to a swap meet to find carburetors.

Can You Text and Drive in This Great New Game?

I’d like to say sorry for this post coming out today.  As I had to attend a friend’s graduation yesterday, I was unable to post.  I do think however, that this post will make up for the delay.

Before we get down to business, let’s get one thing clear: texting and driving do not mix well.  If you get caught by the police, you get a big ticket, and could possibly lose your license, depending on if you’re a repeat cell phone law violator.  It’s incredibly dangerous, and can kill or injure a lot of people because you just couldn’t wait to respond.  Never, ever pick your phone up while driving!  Let’s all get one thing clear: texting and driving in the real world is much different than texting and driving in this hilarious new game called SMS Racing.

It’s a total remake of the 2013 browser game that had the same name.  The 2015 version uses all new material, and it shares only a name and a concept with the original game.

It was built for the 2015 Oculus Mobile VR Jam, where many app and game developers are teamed up to create the most captivating VR experience possible.

We’ve all seen or heard of the dozens of texting and driving games out there, many of which are dry, boring attempts to teach teens the dangers of texting and driving at the same time.  Enter SMS Racing.  It’s a whole lot of fun.  Let me tell you why.

When you start the race, you’re told to finish a lap as fast as you can while responding to text messages without crashing, all within a limited time frame.

An instructor talks to you during the race.  She encourages you to keep up with all of your social connections, and to focus less on the road.  This is when all of the sarcasm that the developers have kicks in.  She tells you that texting is an important part of driving, and that it would be rude not to respond to your friends.

Should you fail to respond to a message within ten seconds, you are told to “…restart, or keep driving and reflect on how it feels to have no friends.”  That’s cold.

The game has several features that were not in it previously.  It has a Time Trial and a Race mode, a head tracking feature to change your view based on movement, artificial intelligence rivals who also text and drive, and city and suburb maps.

This review is based on various user reviews, plus video recordings of the game.  I haven’t played it…yet, but if and when I have a chance, I will do a full review of it!

Users of the game say that the constant need to text can become frustrating at times, which only further demonstrates the sole purpose of the game.

They also say that when you finally get a lap in, you’ve probably cursed the game to hell and back, but you’ve probably crashed just as many times.  In the end, it’s all smiles and a good chance to laugh at how ridiculous it is to put texting before driving.

Please don’t. Driving requires a lot of attention, and you could kill yourself or others because you just had to glance down at your phone.  It can always wait.  If you can’t wait, pull over in a safe spot and read the text or social media alert.

Here’s some video from the VR Jam.  https://youtu.be/07hY2JenhMQ

You can check out the game, and even download it at http://vrjam.challengepost.com/submissions/36780-sms-racing

However, you need the proper VR gear, but if you do, it seems like it’s worth a shot.