29th April 2011

Manufacturing Troubles Remain a Drag on Recovery, Trade & Jobs


via The Seattle Times

by Jon Talton

Top of the News: The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index seems consistent with recovery, coming in at 53.6 for November; any number above 50 signifies expansion in the sector. Unfortunately, the reading sagged from 55.7 the month before, tripping up what economists had hoped would be a steady climb out of recession.

A deeper look shows that the index provides no relief for the biggest immediate problem facing Americans, unemployment. Only six of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in employment. Only 11.7 million Americans worked manufacturing as of October. That compares with 17.3 million in October 1999.

Not only do manufacturing jobs pay better than their counterparts in service industries, they tend to add real value to economic activity (as opposed to selling mortgage swindles). They are also twined with our trade issues. Even fewer manufacturing jobs are now in industries that export, a key part of our huge manufacturing trade deficit.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon was happening even before the Great Recession. A report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that manufacturing employment between 1965 and 2000 never dipped below 16.5 million. This even as manufacturing shrank as a share of the economy (take out Boeing and it would be much smaller). This changed as imports surged after China joined the WTO and other Asian factory centers upped their game. By 2004, the number was lower than any time since 1950.

“It is often claimed that declines in manufacturing employment stem entirely from productivity growth,” according to EPI economist L. Josh Bivens. “However, rapid productivity growth is the norm, not the exception, in manufacturing. What is new about the manufacturing job crisis of the last four years is the sharp downturn in the ratio of domestic production to demand.”

Indeed, American steelmakers are shrinking yet again.

The Back Story: The official unemployment rate including discouraged workers and part-timers seeking full-time work is 17.5 percent. But Shadow Government Statistics, a provocative and reliable site, argues even this underestimates the problem. Try…22 percent.

Complete Article



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29th April 2011

Subaru Timing Belt Repair Gone Wrong


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Subaru Timing Belt Repair Gone Wrong

Not every customer automatically knows who should service their Subaru, many don’t do any research at all prior to making appointment somewhere.

I often stress that you should have a good relationship with your service provider, so that when its time to have something done you know where your going.  This can eliminate situations where you are calling around and making a decision based on price rather than quality and expertise.

Pictured below is what happens when someone doesn’t fully understand all of the proper adjustments and repair procedures when replacing the timing belt on a Subaru.

Damaged Subaru Timing Belt

You can see in the picture that the timing belt has been severely damaged.   The reason for this is the person who replaced the timing belt didn’t adjust the guide over the crank sprocket to the proper specification and as a result  the belt rubbed into the guide.

Subaru Timing Belt Guide

The guide over the crank sprocket is there to prevent the the timing belt from skipping or jumping especially if the vehicle is in gear and the car rolls backward.  This came about when Subaru switched timing belt tensioner types in the late 90s.  I have seen and repaired Subaru’s that didn’t survive a trip from Japan on the barge before this guide was implemented.  It can and will cause valve damage if the cam shaft sprockets are allowed to spin out of time with the crank shaft sprockets.

The guide is installed on most to all Subaru engines with a Manual transmission from 1998 on.  The DOHC Turbo models also have guides over each camshaft sprocket as well.

There is a gap that must be established and a specification for that gap so the belt wont rub as it expands and wont jump or skip either.  If the guide is not installed on a manual transmission equipped Subaru it can ruin the engine under the right circumstances, and if its not installed properly the same is true.

You should really only take your vehicle to a specialty shop for important repairs.  Its not the same as buying a pair of shoes where you can gravitate to the lower price with out to much consequence.   Whenever there is service work involved the skill set, knowledge of the platform and ownership of the proper tools and literature are required.    This is the same reason that there are eye specialists, orthodontists, and vascular surgeons.  You wouldn’t make an appointment to see the surgeon when little Johnny has the sniffles and you surely don’t expect your family doctor to perform a triple bypass.  What I am trying to point out is there are to many variances between a Subaru and a Audi and all of the makes in between to know enough about all of them.  Its why we specialize, its why I suggest wherever you are you take your car to a specialist, unless that isn’t an option for you.

Thanks for reading

Justin

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29th April 2011

Zagato Unveils TZ3 Stradale

Italian coachbuilder Zagato will build nine copies of its Viper-based TZ3 Stradale (left) as it wraps up a program to mark Alfa RomeoÂ’s 2010 centennial. That’s the one-off TZ3 Corsa on the right.
| April 28, 2011

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29th April 2011

Study: Steering Wheels Dirtier Than Toilets

As we enter our collective lunch breaks, we thought this number might make you think again before eating and driving: There are nearly nine times as many potentially harmful bugs on your steering wheel as there are on an average toilet seat.

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28th April 2011

Field Expedient Engineering: JB Weld Porsche Cylinder Head Repair


When your 1980 Porsche 924 craps out minutes after the start of its first race and you’re in rural Texas, parts might be a little hard to find. You won’t get far with a blown head gasket and big ol’ notches burned in the head itself. But, damn, the clock keeps ticking! The Moose Knuckles team called every junkyard within 500 miles, but nobody had any 924 (or Audi 100) cylinder heads. In fact, nobody had ever heard of them furrin thangs.

The Moose Knuckles were able to find a head gasket a few hours’ drive away, but they came up with exactly bupkis on the head. But then one of the guys remembered the fine print on the JB Weld package: Repairs Engine Blocks. Block, head, what’s the difference?

Picking up some JB Weld and JB Kwik, the Moose Knucks got right to work. Sure, combustion-chamber temperatures get higher than the JB Weld-rated 500 degrees F, but we’ve seen such repairs work in the past… on cast-iron heads. What will happen with an aluminum head?

Fill in the holes with that magical gray stuff, sand it down, and slap the head back on the engine. Take the car on the track. Return behind the tow truck. Repeat. Endlessly.

Because the track exit at MSR comes before the transponder loop, and the Moose Knuckles’ Porsche never managed a full lap under its own power, all those laps that ended on the hook didn’t count. Official race results counted the car as a DNS. On the bright side, the Moose Knuckles took home the I Got Screwed award.

Just so you don’t think JB Weld repairs always fail at LeMons races, here’s a JB-patched E30 oil pan from the same race. The car wiped out, bottoming the pan and cracking the hell out of it. Thanks to a generous application of metal-filled epoxy, the car finished the race.

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28th April 2011

Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4

The wait is over ladies and gentlemen: Lamborghini’s next hypercar has made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show, and dare we say what a hypercar it is! The new Bull God will feature an earth shattering 700hp V12 and the highest power to weight ratio of any car in its class. Yes, this is the new, long waited Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4.

Lamborghini is really good at creating sinister super sports cars, but it is equally as talented at naming them. According to the company, “Aventador” was the name of a bull that entered into battle on October 1993 at the Saragossa Arena, earning the “Trofeo de la Peña La Madroñera” for its outstanding courage. Having the courage to go up against a new world of super sports cars will be the name of the game for the new Lamborghini flagship. Today’s world is extremely high-tech and many new players have entered the arena. Lamborghini has been promoting its carbon-fiber monocoque technology and the Aventador’s 2.9 second 0-62mph, but will that be enough?

According to Stephan Winkelmann, President and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “The Aventador is a jump of two generations in terms of design and technology, it’s the result of an entirely new project, but at the same time it’s a direct and consistent continuation of Lamborghini’s brand values. It is extreme in its design and its performance, uncompromising in its standards and technology, and unmistakably Italian in its style and perfection. Overall, the dynamics and technical excellence of the Aventador LP 700-4 makes it unrivalled in the worldwide super sports car arena.”

UPDATE 03/04/2011: Lamborghini has placed an online configurator up for our greedy little consumption. We’d talk more about it, but we’re on our way over to build ourselves an Aventador!

UPDATE 04/25/2011: About a month ago, the people over at Inside Line managed to get behind-the-scenes video of the new Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 commercial that was being shot in the middle of the Californian dessert. Fast forward one month and we have two new video from Lamborghini: One is an incredibly done one-minute teaser video that gives us a glimpse of what the Aventador is poised to become, including some snazzy CGI work to illustrate the list of expensive materials used in building the supercar and the other is the full commercial. Check them out by clicking on the picture above. Make sure you click the next button to see the second video!

Hit the jump to read more on the new Aventador.

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