FM wasteland

ted | chicago | Friday, March 31st, 2006

Ever since Howard Stern went to satellite radio in January, morning FM radio has been nigh unlistenable in my neck of the woods.
His replacement, “Rover” is about as bland and boring as listening to the AM farm report on pork belly futures. His ads are truthful, tho – they used to read “Radio With Bite”. It’s true. The dude’s show does bite.
Chicago Public Radio has been doing their pledge drive, so screw trying to listen to that.
WXRT’s “Regular Guy” is perhaps the most honest movie reviews ever, but he’s only on for 5 minutes on Tuesday & Thursday and their beloved Lin Brehmer gets a little too faux-philosophic for me.

So I’ve been sticking to the tape/disc head unit and the 6 disc changer.

Afternoons are much better, mostly because of Steve Dahl. He gets too far into Bears crap than I care to hear sometimes, but overall an entertaining listen (especially when his Swiss friend, Chef Hans, does the Swiss Sports Report). While talking about Scott Posednik and his newly pulled groin muscle, he said something to the effect of “Well, at least that’s a legitamite injury that keeps a player from performing well. You know, unlike the Cubs.”



ted | chicago | Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

I had a really strange day a couple weeks ago.

Woke up and remembered a dream – it’s been a long while since that’s happened.

Took the bus to Midway for a business trip to (ugh) Fresno. Not a block west on 63rd street, I saw two eight year olds running down the sidewalk, yelling. Then I saw the possum chasing then.

True story.

Chicago area biodiesel, part III

ted | junk | Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Still making my rounds of the local bio pumps. Skipped a doctor’s appointment and went in late to work, but swung by the Road Ranger B10(?) pump at 909 E Roosevelt Rd in Lombard today. Nice. Didn’t notice the blend posted but filling up was easy easy easy. Ventectomy halfway thru the last tank allowed me to put in almost 13.5 gallons! In my departed Volvo, the same miles on one tank (458.1) would’ve made me put in at least 17 gallons, assuming I made it that far. I left the receipt at work, but I believe it was $2.559/gal, less than PUG.

Just as I was leaving, some old coot pulled up behind me in an older Mercedes diesel. Unfortunately, he saw the price and decided to go to another station east on Roosevelt… he drove off before I could pull around and talk him out of it!

On a side note, I also have a chipkey coming from the Al Warren Oil Co that will allow me to use their pumps at 43rd & Knox in Chicago and their B11 pumps in Summit & Channahon. The lady I’ve been talking to – Sue – says their Summit pump currently does not accept credit cards but due to public interest in B11, they should have it accepting cards again in a week or so.

Ethanol Madness, an update

ted | driving | Monday, March 6th, 2006

It’s no suprise I traded in my 1995 Volvo 850 for my shiny new 2006 VW Golf TDI (this is for me – engine: BEW; transmission: 02J), but i neglected to post the finale to my ethanol madness.

Turns out it wasn’t the fuel filter. Nor do i think it was solely the ethanol. It was the air intake hose between the mass air flow sensor (MAF) and the throttle body. Specifically, it was the 20 or so small holes and the 5 or so big ones in that ducting.

See, ethanol has a higher oxygen content than unleaded gasoline (which is one of the reasons it has better emissions than RUG). My hypothesis was that since my car was naturally aspirated, the air being sucked into the engine was being split perhaps 10% through the holes in the duct and 90% through the MAF. The MAF corroborates data with the oxygen sensors and the engine computer ciphers up how much fuel to use. Since i had extra oxygen coming in from two sources – 1. E85; 2. holes in the air duct – the oxygen sensors detected more oxygen in the exhaust than what would be possible with the amount of air the MAF said was flowing through. So this was actually a problem for several years, but using a higher ethanol concentration pushed the problem to the point where it would trigger a CEL.

So at lunch one day, i drove to my local hardware store and bought a roll of black duct tape. I wanted the shiny aluminized duct tape that’s actually used for sealing ductwork (unlike the cloth duct tape, which is shit) but ended up buying a roll of black Gorilla Tape brand, mainly because it was less expensive than the other duct sealing tape they had in stock.

One razor blade and 20 minutes later, the ductwork was fixed.

cold air duct fix

Drove it home that night and no CEL. Fixed.

So if there’s an E85 pump nearby, try a lil extra alcohol in your gas. My car ran smooth, strong and cooler on it.

Then again, the thermostat was stuck open so the lower amount of wasted heat was a curse. The temperature gauge would often be pegged out at the low end of the gauge while driving home on the interstate.

Chicago area biodiesel

ted | driving | Sunday, March 5th, 2006

I have filled up my car exactly twice and topped off once since I bought it almost 2 weeks ago. Once with straight D2 at some random Citgo the night I bought it. The second time with B11 biodiesel at the JR Fuels, 1100 N Ellis St, Bensenville IL – near O’Hare. They only have biodiesel at pump #11. It’s an out of the way station, the pump is dirty, mislabedel (has a “Premium Diesel” sticker on it) and generally not a great experience. The pump must’ve clicked off early, as I calculated 52 mpg from the first tank. I then went ahead and using the venting instructions i read at the TDIclub forums put in another couple gallons. If i used the average 1.5 gallons extra space when venting, i should’ve been able to fit 8.5 gallons in before the pump normally shut off, yielding 43.5 mpg. Nice.

Topped up at the Al Warren Oil Co‘s pump at 7625 W 59th St in Summit, IL. This one was properly labeled, clean, and despite a confusing credit card swipe machine, worked great. Topping up here with B11 a day after filling up in Bensenville yielded a more believeable 43.4 mpg, far closer to what the first fill up should’ve been. Nice.

Man, this is a sweet car.

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