Re-engineering the American automobile for new gas standards . . .
I think we need to engineer the concept of a car all over again. The reason is that we have way to many cars and trucks on the roads today. Looking in my own neighborhood I see an average of 3 cards per family. Two of them are sitting on the curb and a third is parked in the one car slotted driveways. It simply doesn’t make sense. The average car gets about 15-18 miles per gallon. If all those cars are in use and most of them are, then we are consuming way too much gasoline per week per car.
We need first to have car that is capable of being repaired by your home mechanic, not some technical miracle of engineering that costs an arm and a leg to repair. For this we practical engineering by people that actually work on cars. I think the worst idea to come along in 30 years is fuel regulated by a computer on board system. You do not need a computer, you need a more efficient system of distribution of fuel. Keep It Simple Stupid. (KISS)
If you want to redesign something. Start with the spark plug wires. Right now if you change the plugs, you had better consider changing the wires as well. The wires are designed to break if you touch them! Come on, surely you can design wires that don’t break easily . . . I would suggest a solid piece over the plugs that pops out of the way so that someone can change them. I would take advantage of the new chemical engineering to produce a product that has almost no in line resistance. No more wires at all. Simply a part over the plugs that fits onto the plugs themselves. Oh yes, make it at least 10 gauge or 8 so it can handle the electrical for a long time.
Redesign the spark plugs themselves. I want a plug that simultaneously fires all over the cylinder at the right moment. Not a match like device with spark plug gaps. That hasn’t really changed since the start of gasoline engines. I want an engine redesigned from the floor up. Simultaneous fire would mean more efficient explosions in the chamber. That means redesigning the piston to become part of the firing system. I suggest a ring that fires positive to negative ground on the piston.
Distribute the gasoline better. I want a vibrator in place that causes the gasoline to mist into the engine in such a way that it is equally distributed in the chamber in micro particles. I want the gasoline entering the chamber to go through a water radiator and be preheated to a set temperature. To keep the KISS principle can get complicated. While the engine is warming up, it is going to be inefficient. Once the water reaches 180 degrees F. then it becomes efficient. So you have to have two systems in one. The first system quickly heats the water to operating temperature. The second takes advantage of that system to adjust the gasoline to the new operating temperature. The result will be high gasoline mileage in the engine. It means adjusting the timing to take advantage of two entirely different octanes on the fuel. The high octane needs to go first as the engine warms up. Then an entirely different set of specs needs to take place as the newly designed fuel system is put into place.
Right now a good portion of the gasoline goes out the exhaust pipe unused. I would change all that.
I am not an engineer. I am a retired printer that did a lot of engineering type work in my trade. It was originally called markup. We determined what would work and fit in typefaces. We originally had 12 type faces in the newspaper business in hot type. These ranged from 6 pt to 72 point on linotypes. The rest was done on monotype with california job cases. In 40 years, things dramatically changed as computer science made much more available to the customer. The engineering just got more complicated as time went on. Graphic Artists do much of the work today.
Even I can see where an improved gasoline engine might take off. We are basically using a redesigned engine on most cars and trucks that was originally put together between 1920 and 1940. Over the years the design has been altered to take advantage of computerized fuel injection and better filters on the exhaust piple. The rest has been cosmetic engineering. As we used more complicated crap, the job of repairing them sent from barn-yard mechanics to highly trained technicians specializing in different model cars. The wages went from minimum wage to that payed in any skilled trade out there.
Guess who footed the bill for all of this. Yep, you guessed it. You and I payed for their badly engineered designs. What I have suggested above needs a competent engineer to make it work. I suggest they go back to keeping the repairs simple on such an engine. The chassis designed spark plug wires is costly. But if it is done right, it never needs to be changed again. The plugs I suggest would only change half the spark. The spark going from the top of the piston chamber to the grounded part of the plug on the piston. That means we need a simple way of changing the piston somewhere down the road. That part is not simple. It needs to be. That means accessing the piston needs a complete redesign. I would suggest simple removal of the pistons somehow through the oil pan being removed.
I would redesign the timing chain of the engine as well. We need a timing chain that either lives the entire life of the car or one that is easily accessed and changed on the spot. That is called real engineering. Not engineering designed to fail and cost customers enormous amounts of money in service.
For a start, I suggest we change the body to access the engine better. That means removable side panels on the engine compartment.
I would fire any engineer on the spot, that suggested putting the oil filter where I cannot get to it easily without throwing it on a rack.
Same with air filters. It should be as simple as changing the windshield wipers to change filters.
I would make panels to access the wiring behind the dash. That means simple repairs to the electrical system instead of time consuming repairs only a monkey would be comfortable doing. I would put the wiring harness in a metal container to keep rodents from getting to it. Same with the wires under the hood of a car. These are things any mechanic would tell you about if the engineer actually communicated well with the repair side of things.
I suggest entry panels with simple plug in design for adding ipads, radios, cd players, etc. Plug in your extras, take them with you when you park the vehicle.
I suggest also AC 120 volt plugin access. Simply by lifting a panel on the passenger or drivers side, give the customer access to warming the cab of the vehicle in the garage. Another access would warm up the oil or the water system under the hood. This could be done with a simple heavy duty extension cord to the house wiring. Put in a ground fault plug on the car. This simply switches the system off if it overheats the circuit.
The reason none of this will happen is economics. To do what I suggest would mean a complete turn around in assembling the cars. It would need a complete retooling to start.
I also suggest that we consider world markets. I suggest we go for a small engine model T type design that is useable anywhere in the third world at a price they can afford. A double cab truck using a 2 cylinder tractor engine might work. It doesn’t have to go fast. It just has to go. We put together a lawn mower tractor for under 2,000 dollars. How come we cannot put together a cheap double cab truck along the same lines as a lawn tractor that travels around 25-35 miles per hour. Most of the third world used to use bikes. I think they still do. But even a primitive water-tight cab with the same kind of engineering as a motorcycle would work. Again, we need to make it repairable and simple to use. It doesn’t have to be efficient. Just usable. I think India is doing this right now. Shame on us for not beating them to it.
The vehicle I described above would work with proper engineering skills . . . The real money would be in the manufacture of parts for said vehicles.
The reason it is not done is working out the economics to make it happen.