A bit of music from the lamented Radio Blog Club

Le Français

Toujours, je suis désolé pour mes amis( et amies) français(es), mais il est difficile pour moi d'écire en français. Peut-être un jour...
S.V.P. regardez ce LIEN

Monday, December 31, 2007

All the Best for 2008

Thank you all for following my ramblings here; I genuinely hope that all of you have at least found something interesting, thought-provoking, or even irritating in these pages - so long as it wasn't boring.

For this year I have included something which has become over the years an extraordinary tradition in Germany and a number of other countries - though not France (perhaps something to do with the advice that appears in every booze advertisement: Consommez avec modération). So despite the fact that this is Fulvias in France, here is something pour les autres that will be enjoyed by millions around the world today.

It is a little piece of English slapstick featuring Freddie Frinton; so established has it become in Germany that between 1:30 today and 12:00 tomorrow, there will be no less than 37 broadcasts of it there!

A bientôt

Friday, December 28, 2007


Je t'aime, je l'aime!

A bientôt


Source: here

The French Government has now issued a form of words, reported by the BBC here

As I suspected, they are going to allow us to welcome the new year and after that, fines!!

A bientôt

Les Fonctionnaires

Source: here

A sympathiser has emailed me a list of the various fonctionnaires that I understand will be harassing French smokers as from 2nd January.

Les officiers et agents de police judiciaire, inspecteurs et contrôleurs du travail, agents du ministère de la Santé et assimilés: médecins inspecteurs de santé publique, ingénieurs du génie sanitaire, inspecteurs de l'action sanitaire et sociale, ingénieurs d'études sanitaires, techniciens sanitaires, ingénieurs et techniciens territoriaux, inspecteurs de salubrité de la ville de Paris et inspecteurs de salubrité de la préfecture de police.

It appears to me that these people have far more important things to do; I hope that their various duties will not be neglected...

Source: here

A bientôt

French Anti-Smoking Law

You might have noticed that my announcement at the top of the page is now headed "Correction".

Following the chat on this subject (see Chat box on the right of the page) it appears that some official "made a mistake". Accordingly, café society in France ends not immediately after midnight on 1st January, but on 2nd January.

I have to say that the idea of the CRS and the numerous other divisions of the French Police bludgeoning innocent French smokers celebrating (what?) at the beginning of the New Year and dragging them off to the cells is not a scenario that I find particularly convincing, so perhaps the "mistake" was deliberate?

I am also informed that there will be Special Police to enforce this inhumane legislation; it is of course, classically French to find a reason to employ even more fonctionnaires as it is, despite President Sarkozy's protestations to the contrary, always necessary to maintain French public spending at the highest level possible! (This policy keeps Les Syndicats (trades unions) happy).

A bientôt

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Double Your Money?

Well it seems that you could have! Of course hindsight is a wonderful thing as we all know, but on reflection, it doesn't seem as though Apple was so much of a risk; after all it's been around for a few years!

Again, this comes from Fledermaus News...

A bientôt

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Apple iPhone: Don't try this at home!

Source: here

The Apple (tm) iPhone (tm) has attracted enormous news interest since its announcement. First reactions that I have read have been most favourable, and it seems that Apple has a hit.

Most of us have just seen a picture like the one above, but Techrepublic has done us a favour: they bought one and dismantled it, producing a photographic record of the procedure.

Read all about it here!

Source: here
A bientôt

AdSense - another HTML headache

You might have noticed a new box at the top of the page marked "AdSense".

This contains targetted advertising, which I hope will prove interesting for some of you.

However, adding the HTML has changed the appearance of this blog and I have no idea how to restore it! Still, for the long-sighted ones it will be easier to read at least!

A bientôt

Monday, December 24, 2007

As I was saying...

It seems that I am not alone in my views:

I wrote:

But now here's something sinister: Apple Computer offers a friendly and informal face to the public, it likes to contrast itself with what it suggests (to me at least) as the stuffy, grey and dull Microsoft.
[... ]
Now I am not suggesting that other big organisations do not do or try to do, similar things, but it's the contrast between the projected image and the reality that made my jaw drop. I really should know better, but there it is!

Now read this:

[...] Second, the ThinkSecret story provides a sombre reminder about the danger of being taken in by clever corporate PR. Apple has brilliantly established an image as a company that is not only cool and chic, but also on the side of the consumer. Its technology provides terrific toolkits for user-generated publishing and movie-making. It was the first company to offer consumers legal music downloads on reasonable terms. It portrays its customers as free-thinking libertarians compared with the serried ranks of Microsoft serfs. And so on.

It's a great story, but nobody should be taken in by it. Apple is as single-minded as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM or Google. Jobs may wear velvet gloves, but they're lined with lead.


You can read the complete article here, once again, thanks to Fledermaus News

A bientôt

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

Sicilian Avenue Dec 1998 - photo by me

I should like to wish all my readers the very best for Christmas.

A game or two is quite traditional at this time of the year, and if you like games but do not feel inclined to vaporise the aliens or practise electronic karate or pursue monsters and dragons in some mediaeval dungeon then I have something for you, sent to me by a friend a few minutes ago.

It is called "know your world" and is great fun. I scored 110 in my first attempt (you are notified of your "traveller IQ" at the end of the game).

Enjoy it!

A bientôt

In the Interests of Balance

In my last post I mentioned Apple in a not entirely flattering connexion.

To preserve a sense of impartiality, here's a piece about Microsoft from The Korea Times, again courtesy of Fledermaus News.

A bientôt

More Computer News

With regard to Vista, well I am still using it, and whilst I may have got used to it - a bit -I still find it irritating. Canon have been most helpful in getting my scanner up and running, but what a struggle compared with installing it on XP.

Oh yes, and my girlfriend's wi-fi. I reported the struggle we had trying to make it work here. Well she (being cleverer than I) finally solved it, no thanks to the so-called instructions. It turns out that wi-fi operates on a number of channels. A "quick installation" depends upon the user having a crystal ball with which the appropriate channel - there is a choice of twelve - may be determined. The crystal ball is also helpful in informing the user that there are indeed channels to start with...

But now here's something sinister: Apple Computer offers a friendly and informal face to the public, it likes to contrast itself with what it suggests (to me at least) as the stuffy, grey and dull Microsoft.

Here, courtesy of Fledermaus News is another side to Apple. There are more Apple stories to be found on Fledermaus's news feeds.

Now I am not suggesting that other big organisations do not do or try to do, similar things, but it's the contrast between the projected image and the reality that made my jaw drop. I really should know better, but there it is!

A bientôt

Isn't it Lovely?

Source: here

Do it yourself?

I don't think so. Despite having this wonderful picture to hand, I am not yet able to offer servicing and overhaul of Napier Sabre engines!

A bientôt

One Way to Attack the Knock Problem

No more worries about inexact ignition timing: now it's possible to programme the ignition to suit your own Fulvia.

This illustration comes from Mecaparts; it shows a reasonably-priced programmable ignition system that can be easily adapted to the Fulvia. Of course it is in French, but this is Fulvias in France! It is the system fitted to my Norman client's car about which I wrote here. My French is not nearly good enough to offer to translate the entire site, but I can probably help with specific queries if you care to email me.

If you visit the Mecaparts Site here, you will find a number of Acrobat files which give full information about the installation and programming of the system. It can be calibrated up to 11,900 rpm which should be enough for any Fulvia! On my client's car, the advance weights had been removed and the distributor locked (i.e. the rotor arm can no longer move relative to the distributor shaft) this is obviously necessary since all the advance is controlled by the electronics.

To me this seems to be an excellent solution for the Fulvia - especially as I doubt if many wish to go the route of complete engine management. Here is a system that could be installed by any competent amateur. Programming however requires a certain amount of knowledge and it would probably be best to set the the system up to an approximation of the original advance "curve" (some straight lines actually) and then take the car to the rolling road to establish the ideal parameters which could then be programmed into the system - or done on the spot with a laptop.

Should the car in question be further developed, the system could easily be re-calibrated to suit. And of course you would have the capacity to deal with any eccentric changes in fuel quality that may be implemented should the "Green" lobby decide to make things difficult for old cars.

Perfect really!

I have also found something interesting regarding the mixture side of things; more about this soon.

A bientôt

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Private Eye to the Future

Private Eye has a fine record in anticipating events and indeed, nemesis for certain individuals; there is often in the magazine a piece called "Curse of the Eye" where the Eye's predictions which have subsequently become true are reported.

Source: Private Eye No 1120

Depressingly this cartoon appears to represent the status quo. From my point of view things are not going to get better...

Bon Noël à tous, et à bientôt

New Post

Apologies for the delay, the new post has now appeared, several posts "ago". In other words you have to scroll down. I am so sorry, but as I wrote earlier, it is not my fault.

To help you find it, here is a link.

My girlfriend was indeed able to help: she has reserves of patience that I cannot begin to comprehend, despite my having worked on Fulvias for 25 years. In the end I rather - or further - lost my temper and deleted one word: "embed" and added another: "object" each with those infuriating chevrons, and lo and behold, the bloody thing worked!

A bientôt

Friday, December 21, 2007

On smoking and aero engines

I mentioned in an earlier post Roy (later Sir Roy) Fedden boss and chief at Bristol engines, in connexion with a biography of the great if sometimes eccentric, engineer.

In this book, the story is told of Lord Beaverbrook, proprietor of the Daily Express and also Minster of Aircraft Production during the Second World War. His mission was to put a rocket up the backsides of the aircraft manufacturers - which indeed he did.

On a visit to Bristol''s engine department, shown around by Fedden, he remarked (in an effort no doubt to raise workforce morale) "Why are none of the men smoking?" Fedden replied "You can't have chaps working to a tenth of a thou (0.0001" = 0.0025mm) with a fag dangling from their lips".

But at least they could have a "fag" in peace after the shift was over with their pint in the pub. Their descendants are now denied this simple pleasure.

A bientôt

Quick Note - Sabre again!

In this thread on a forum I found, some kind soul has scanned a set of pages from Setwright's book "The Power to Fly" which gives a bit more of the story.

Especially interesting on fuels.

A bientôt

L.J.K. Setwright & the "Sabre" engine

Now thoroughly gripped by the subject, I have found a super article about the Napier Sabre Engine.

The original and iconoclastic L.J.K. Setwright was obviously as smitten as I am! The article is replete with his interesting and highly technical observations - in particular note his comments about combustion chamber shapes. The horsepower figures, apparently from a reliable source more than confirm what I wrote the other day, but Setwright is, I am sure, incorrect in his observations about thinwall bearings, which he credits to Napier. These were invented by the Clevite Corporation in the U.S.A. and it was Tony Vandervell who, by staying on the reception sofa at Clevite's offices for two days in or around 1932, finally got them to give him the European licence to make the bearings in his works at Acton, west London.

The article also "lifts the lid" on the acrimony and bitter competition between the aero-engine makers in England, whilst the country was fighting for its life. I have read the biography of Roy Fedden, boss and designer at Bristol engines and the author, whose name I regret escapes me, endeavoured to fight Bristol's corner, rather as Setwright has tried to do for Napier.

A bientôt

More Smoke

Those of you who had a look at the video I posted on this subject will have deduced, probably correctly, that the French fumeurs et fumeuses are resigned to their loathsome fate.

Not so Les Allemands it seems, if this article from the International Herald Tribune is to be believed.

Good luck to them: it is worth remembering that it was one A. Hitler of the N.S.D.A.P. who wanted a "smoke-free Germany" by 1941 - and he failed - ha-ha!

A bientôt.

More "Tempestuous" Stuff

The Tempest has taken me over.

As I said, it is one of my favourite aircraft. My excuse for including the clip (from You Tube) is the glorious sound of the 24-cylinder, 2000+ HP, sleeve-valved, supercharged, 150-octane-guzzling Napier Sabre engine.

This film is obviously an Air Ministry training feature intended to obviate "friendly fire", but there's some good flying, great sounds and the whole thing, given the epoch, was very well done I think. Imagine the work - without computer imaging!

A bientôt

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Knock, knock, knock + an Apology

Source: here

I must have been asleep!

In my recent article about knock, I featured a picture of a Hawker Tempest, one of my favourite aeroplanes. Unfortunately, the version shown obviously has a radial engine, and was therefore, one of the Bristol-engined variants - my extracts at the end of the article related to the "other" engine.

The picture above shows a "proper" Tempest, fitted with the staggeringly complex Napier Sabre engine - the one that used the 150-octane fuel. For those who do not know about this, it was technically fascinating, but really a nightmare for anyone who had to do anything with it. It was a sleeve-valved, 24-cylinder, supercharged job, with the cylinders arranged in "H" formation - i.e. two flat-12s arranged one above the other. It was very powerful - I recall reading somewhere that Napier achieved 100 BHP per litre with a prototype, a staggering achievement in an aero-engine. The site (devoted to the Tempest) that provided the picture is here.

However, complexity has its price of course. It was said that during the Second World War, a horsepower from Napier cost the British taxpayer £3. A horsepower from Bristol cost £2, whilst a horsepower from Rolls-Royce cost just £1!

Napier (formerly a car manufacturer) was acquired by the English Electric Company in 1943; the final aircraft effort was even more outrageous: this was a cruciform ("X") engine; both supercharged and turbocharged, it produced over 4000hp, but jets had arrived so that, as they say, was that. Napier did have success later however with the fascinating "Deltic" engine, used in railway locomotives and also I think, in ships. A diesel, this was triangular in section as its name suggests. There were three crankshafts (one at each corner) and six (opposed) pistons per row. Think about it!

Meanwhile, following William's comment on the last article, I am looking into ignition modifications. If my searches are succesful I shall be back on the thorny "knock" problem.

A bientôt.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Black Day for France

There are of course, those who would disagree with my headline.

I refer to 1st January 2008. This is the day that the French government has selected for the banning of smoking in public places in the République.

On arriving here, nearly three years ago, I had a nice smug feeling: I thought that the French would never tolerate the kind of health fascism so fashionable elsewhere in the European Union (shortly to become another République). I was wrong.

However, as part of the obsequies for the passing of a great era I attach here a video (source which is a pretty good summation of how all the powerless ones feel.

I am with them - 100%

A bientôt

Monday, December 17, 2007

A New French Blog

Here's a nice idea: a news blog based in Paris, so English readers, here's a chance to brush up your French. It's called "Fledermaus News"

Now that Gordon has signed the Constitution - whoops! - what IS it called this week? - you never know what language you'll have to use in five years' time!

An attractive feature about this blog is all the news stories attached; I spent rather a long time there - these are largely in English you'll be pleased to hear!

A bientôt

Friday, December 07, 2007

Something Creative -

Source here

The capacity of original artistic creativity to suprise, never fails to amaze - and indeed to surprise - me.

You can see many examples of Terry's work on his blog; I think that he is incredibly talented.

No Fulvia yet though...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Suck, squeeze, bang, blow - and knocking

"Where's the next gas station with 150-octane?"
Source here

It's been a long time since I wrote anything vaguely technical here and I apologise for this to my visitors. However, needs must and I have been busy with a number of things.

First the eccentric heading to this post. The first four words are a colloquial reference to the four-stroke or Otto, cycle - that which powers all our Fulvias. The fifth word owes its presence ot the fact that over the past months I have received a number of emails from Fulvia 1600 owners who complain of "pinking" (known in the U.S. as "pinging").

Despite what you will hear in the pub, "pinking" is DETONATION. Detonation is a Bad Thing and should therefore be addressed as soon as possible. I have been doing a little research in order to provide some reliable information for you in the hope that you will be able to avoid this dangerous phenomenon.

First we have to distinguish between detonation and pre-ignition - in my many years around cars and their owners, I have long been aware that considerable confusion exists about these.

Pre-ignition occurs as a result of something in the chamber being so hot that the mixture ignites before the spark. Typical causes are incorrect heat range of plug, a red-hot sharp edge in a badly modified combustion chamber, or glowing carbon residues. A typical symptom of pre-ignition is "running-on" after the engine has been switched off.

Detonation occurs when the advancing flame front at the time of ignition causes some of the remaining mixture in the combustion chamber to ignite spontaneously - i.e. before the flame front reaches it, so an explosion results. There are various causes of detonation. The best known are excessive compression ratio for the type of fuel being used, lean mixture, poor chamber design, bad gas-flowing, excessive ignition advance or any combination of some or all of these.

It is important to understand that the real danger point is that where maximum torque (or indeed Brake Mean Effective Pressure) is developed, for it is at this point where the engine is at its most volumetrically efficient - that is the cylinders contain the largest quantity of mixture achieved in the engine's rev-range. So putting your foot flat on the floor at around 4500 - 5000 rpm in a Fulvia is the time when real trouble might be expected.

Another fact that is often not understood is that a petrol engine's compression ratio, despite being quoted in the specification as say 10.5/1 in the case of a 1600 Fulvia, is variable! It is of course controlled by the accelerator pedal - when the throttles are shut, there is effectively nothing to compress. I recall driving in Italy in my own Fulvia (C.R. about 11/1) and being very frustrated because unlike elsewhere in Europe 98 octane petrol cannot be purchased - only Shell garages have "proper" petrol but at a price. So with the Fulvia's rather small tank, it was necessary to fill up with the so-called "premium" 95 octane stuff. Just to be on the safe side, I was careful to avoid large throttle openings and thus avoided problems.

I have found that when 1600s "pink" or knock, it is nearly always at low revolutions when accelerating. Two possible causes (and a third I shall come to in a moment) suggest themselves to me. First the miserable Solex 42DDHF carburettor; my readers well know my views on this excuse for a carburettor. Every one I have seen has enormous play in its spindles. this causes the uneven idle problems that has caused many to install the unsuitable 35mm Dell'Ortos which are perfect on 1300s (the Dell'Orto is a proper carburettor). The point is that when in "pick-up" mode the Solex provides fuel via the idle circuit and into the progression drillings which may be seen adjacent to the butterfly. Additional air entering via the slack spindle bushes may be enough to cause problems. Another possibility is timing chain slack which causes severe ignition timing variations. The third idea comes from a Carroll Smith book. he advised people to buy their fuel from a busy station that has a large turn-over as it is less likely that some of the more volatile elements of the fuel blend will have evaporated by the time of purchase. Thos considering gas-flowing should remember not to polish the ports to mirror finish but to leave them slightly rough; this prevents fuel dropping out of atomisation. My own car has Lucas mechanical fuel injection and despite all the modifications, I have never had pinking problems, which suggests that the carburettors and/or the inlet tracts may be in part to blame.

There is of course, plenty of information on the Web about this subject: Wikipedia is a good start. The technically-minded will be interested in two articles here and here. The two pieces are links from the Wikipedia article. In the same article there is a link to a company offering water-methanol injection; this was pioneered by the Luftwaffe during the war and greatly improved the performance of their Focke-Wulf 190 aircraft.

And talking about aircraft, if you feel you have problems feel sorry for the developers of the Hawker Tempest. Here's a quote from a footnote from this Wikipedia site:

Early Tempests suffered some engine problems mainly due to the 150 octane fuel being inadequate. One fault discovered was a problem with the propeller constant speed unit, which allowed the Sabre engine to go well beyond permissible rpm, leading to seizure or explosion. There were also problems with the induction system, the lubricating system, and the carburettor air intake (a simple backfire could lead to an explosion).

Any chance of Shell coming up with some 150-octane fuel I wonder? It would most likely be "adequate" for a Fulvia!

A bientôt.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More ebay

Last chance!

I am selling my last two sets of bearings: 1600 Fulvia big-ends by Clevite and another set of Federal Mogul main bearings

I also have a 1600 rev-counter for sale too.

Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Sod the Law!


New Internet Speed test

Music and Radio Blog Club

Radio Blog Club, a good friend for a while appears to be in some legislative difficulty...

However, in tribute to its brave effort, I shall leave the existing track on this page (which amazingly still works)

Sadly my Playlist no longer works (hence its removal) thanks to the absurd "Hadopi" legislation in France. Apologies to all.