Monday, July 27, 2009


The Politics of electricity.
So now the big push is for electric cars, seems like a good idea on the surface. Reduction of pollution, less dependence on off shore oil, a good thing by any thinking.
How long ago was it that we were being told to reduce electricity usage? The grid was going to melt down, and it did at one point. Had we known at the time all that was required was a global warming bad science scare and the electrical grid would be just fine, who knew.
Have I lost you here?
Think of it this way, peak usage time is when everyone gets home and turns on all their stuff. In the last several years more and more 'stuff' uses power even when it isn't actually turned on. No doubt usage has gone up. The biggest use is motor load, as in air conditioning and heating. When you get home you adjust the temperature to your comfort level.
What is going to happen when all these electric cars get home from the daily commute and get plugged in? Simple the grid load factor goes up, adding to everything else demanding power. Don't worry though, global warming fixed the grid.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

living or existing?

In this world there are essentially two types those who do and those who live vicariously thorough those who do Ok may be three, the third being those who don't know any better.
Some of us live our obsession every waking moment, and sometimes in out dreams. Ever dream about your obsession?
personally I think of myself as one who lives my obsession, however I am unfortunately stuck in a rut of sorts. Roots prohibit me from selling off all the extra and moving to a large garage and small house and living. Such is life.
For those who know me well I am vehicular obsessed; if it has wheels and a motor I figure out a way to modify it to be different. So many project so little time.

One of my good friends; Bill Burke, in my opinion lives the ideal life. Outdoors, Off Road, Teaching how to play safely, what more could you want?

Something here for the Automotive manufacturer world to take note of, to really excel you have to have people who have a passion for your product. Not just someone who talks the talk, someone who walks the walk.

There are hundreds of these kind of people out there, just ask the communities and they can be found.

No idea where I am going with this, so I think I will go back to modifying my Defender.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Selling the lifestyle

Marketing is all about lifestyle. So why is it that those auto makers who offer four wheel drive vehicles don’t seem to get it. Take a look at the advertising on television for guys. Hair restoration is a huge market, and they claim that if you have a full head of hair you get confidence. Never mind if you never had a whole lot of confidence, once you follow their program you will be over flowing with the stuff. They also point out that you will be able to hook-up with drop dead gorgeous ladies. Sure you will.
So now you have the hair, but it is gray, oops another problem, never fear a solution is available. These guys must get together on this, because if your hair is gray, confidence is out the window. You can get the youthful, full of confidence look back just by adding color. The biggest thing now seems to be just enough color so your head says experience, never mind you look like a horse, full head of slightly color hair gets the ladies. Compete and win in the bar with the young bucks. Who wants Tony-the-pony when a Mustang is available?
So you have your chosen lady, but you can’t get it up, for whatever reason. No Worries there is a pill for that. Side effects can be nasty, loss of vision, loss of hearing, hard on for maybe four hours, notify your doctor if any of this happens… So it’s all about lifestyle, being youthful, virile, tough experienced and confidant.

At one time Chrysler had the Jeep Jamborees, a contractor put on all the events, and they had someone else do all the work. Those who attended always had a good time and told all their friends and associates. Maybe these people wanted to drive off-road or not, but large numbers bought Jeeps; so they could live vicariously and be a member of the clan.

At one time Land Rover had the Camel Trophy, people still talk about that series of events. Swag from the event still sells for crazy money. People will sell their souls for a Camel Trophy vehicle. Regulations killed the Camel Trophy; cigarette advertising became politically incorrect. This heralded the end of the series, and Land Rover for some reason decided an off road image was no longer something to have. Blame that on California, at one time the sixth largest market in the world, and the home of the Tree Huggers. Better to try the luxury approach, however for some reason this has not worked out as planned.

So in a miss guided attempt they tried to get back to lifestyle with the G4, interesting idea. It missed in connecting a Land Rover with lifestyle, nothing to live vicariously through. Nothing in the G4 was something only a Land Rover could do; probably do everything with a Lada Neva, oops.

Life style sells no matter what you are selling. Sell the concept of going to far reaching places that no one else can get to. Sell the rugged and ready for anything image.

For those of us who love and live the life, don’t hold your breath, unless you like the blue tinge skin look.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

recycling a frig.

Well it happens to everyone eventual, the frig gives up the ghost. At one time getting rid of the sucker was easy, drag it out to the curb, take off the doors, safety first, and the trash company would take it away for a nice burial in the land fill. Now-a-days things have changed, seems the coolant and the atmospheric ozone don't get along well. Some areas will recycle the old thing for free, other make you pay.
Why give up a perfectly good tool?
I bet that got your attention. Several useful things can be made out of old fridges, store paint, welding rods, parts even. All that stuff is just too easy to do with other storage methods.

How about a Sand (media) blasting cabinet? Wouldn't it be cool, sorry, bad pun, to be able to clean small or large parts without the mess of blasting media all over the place?
Simple stuff, use the freezer part if you want a small cabinet, use the refrig part if you want a large cabinet. Scratching your head?
Remove the door, whichever one, and carefully fold back the magnet strip, you will notice a strip with screws, remove all of them, and set aside the magnet strip.
Measure the opening and go get some Plexiglas, reattach the magnetic strip to the Plexi, add hinges and you have a cabinet door. Remove as much of the interior as you want, however the shelves might come in handy.
Strip out the other compartment, and drill a hole with a big hold saw, this is where the vacuum hose will go to keep thing neat.
Drill a hole in the side of the cabinet for the air line, or better yet make up a hard connection.
Cut a couple of holes in the Plexi door and attach some heavy to the elbow gloves and you are done.
Did I mention you have to turn things upside down if you want to use the big section? OOPS.
Making tools is so much fun when you get to recycle at the same time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

state of the off road union

Off road is in trouble, no question. For decades the 'tree huger' groups have been doing their best to restrict access to just about any place. Vast sections of land are now off limits, unless you are on foot. Think about this for a second, if an area takes a day to drive across, a hiker will take a week, more or less. Now how many hikers will actually do this? The greenies claim they have to save the habitat of the cute furry animals, good idea on the surface, however an off road vehicle trail through the wilderness hardly threatens these same animals. Maybe they should focus their attention on the companies who clear cut the forests. But they can't do that, put too many people out of work. Ever see a logging operation, almost fully automated, one machine cuts, removes branches, cuts to length, and delivers the logs. That is one person. Once the logs reach the road, one more person loads the transports. At the mill, again almost fully automated, maybe five people. So how many, in this simplified example, do we have? Seven people, plus maybe three more for the transport delivery, that would be 10. OK I admit over simplified, I am just trying to make a point here, let's double that number for sake of argument, 20 people.
Keep this number in mind for a second
Land Closure combined with the current recession (read depression) as caused a great number of off road manufactures great fincial problems or to file a chapter 11. The list includes; Fabtech, Superlift, Poison Spyder, Solid Axle, Stak T-cases, Procomp, 4 Wheel Parts, just to name a few I have heard about. Some of these companies have been sold, most are still operating, but at reduced volume, and therefor staff. It is rather hard to convince someone to buy parts for their off road vehicle if they have to drive for hours to get to a place they can 'legally' drive it.
The 'legally' drive your truck is another issue, ever see a trail closed signed gate with an obvious drive around trail? No Motorized vehicle sign with tire tracks leading off to the horizon? Guess what, it's the yahoo factor, the plan doesn't work.
Sorry, back on topic, so a large number of off road manufactures reduce staff, or file for Chapter 11. What does that mean? massive loss of wealth, read money flushed. People without jobs don't spend, companies who can't pay debt cause ripples down the supply chain.
Last year the largest off road show, the spring off road show in San Diego was canceled. Basically no one could afford to display their goods. Last years SEMA Show, the off road section was at the point of being irrelevant, less than half of the smallest hall. Spring Off Road SEMA Show is no longer happening, again, due to lack of affordability.
Seems rather silly to bow to the Tree Huger groups and allow their influence to wipe out hundreds of millions in annual sales, and all the local benefits that go with those sales.
Remember to 20 above who clear cut? That is a tree to a 2x4, ok a bunch of 2x4s. Most of the land that is being cleared is off limits to orr road vehicles as well. Now that makes sense.

So what to do? Send a letter to your local official, yes one of those paper things, yes you have to use a stamp. One letter carries a lot of weight. Why? Because it is old school and it takes time and effort. A letter carries far more weight than an e-mail, however do that too.

We the Off Road community have to get organized, one voice, not a couple dozen. There are far too many voices, it's akin to kicking a hornets nest, an annoying buzz that makes you run away as fast as you can.
SEMA also has work to do, off road suppliers are lumped into the light truck market group. Granted there are overlap areas, however go to a show and all you see is Tonneau Covers, just screams off road doesn't it! A dedicated committee needs to be created for the Off Road and Four Wheel Drive manufactures. For no other reason than to actually offer them a voice and the feeling of being included and a worthwhile part of the community that is the aftermarket.
Tuners have a group, why not the Off Road?
Another letter may be in order, at least an e-mail. Question the lack of representation.

Global warming, saving wilderness and any other silly reason are killing our life style, time to step up and demand attention, we need one voice.

We are independent types by nature. What other personality type would get so much joy of driving off into the woods essential by themselves. You should be with others, just in case, but you are more or less alone in your vehicle, you are alone behind the wheel.
Put aside a tiny bit of that independence and raise your voice, because soon it will be far too late.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Go On, convince me...

The art of marketing, selling someone something they really don't need, by creating a need within a cultural group.
What am I on about today? Just listening to a radio advert for a hair restoration company. Seems if I have hair loss I also get confidence loss. Those I interact with will never take me seriously. I will never be able to meet beautiful and willing ladies in bars (not that that is an issue, been married over 30 years).
Seems as soon as the procedure is finished life will be well, god status re-established.
Do people really believe this crap? Of course they do. No wonder we are in the middle of a depression.
The TV is on in my shop as well, see I can multi-task with hair loss, just in case something in the automorive how to shows catches my attention.
I love these shows, every tool under the sun, all the cool parts, and lots of people to do the work off camera.
Today, there was a segment about plasma cutters and welders by one of the suppliers of what I consider to be very good products. A while back I did a pole on an off road forum, one of the really big ones, so as to get a good cross section of the international market.
The question was; would you buy something just because of some celebrity saying they used it?
The resounding answer was a big NO WAY. This can be extended to the how to show if you think about it for a second.
Off track again...
So how is the average home builder going to afford all those tools? simple answer is they are not going to be able to. Even if they could, from my experience people but what they see the others in their network or community using. When I needed a welder, I went out and asked others who were into the same hobby as I am what they had. I then asked some people who made their living as fabricates what they used and what to watch out for.
So why do these companies not understand this concept?
Story time. A while back I was looking for a plasma cutter that I could use on a CNC cutting table. My budget was rather small, but a company on one of the how to shows claimed to have an affordable system. 15k is not affordable, no matter how you cut it, gotta love puns.
Good news I now have a winter project, with a bit of research I discovered I could build a CNC Plasma Cutter table for less than 3k including a torch.
Now to figure out how to build a tube builder on the cheap??

Saturday, July 11, 2009

There back!!!

GM and Chrysler have emerged, out of the legal closet as it were.
Chrysler has started off on the more or less correct path, they have decided to keep the Viper, as far as i am concerned that is a good move someone has to compete with the Corvette. I tried to buy a Viper once, a few days after i bought my Discovery I stopped by the dealer. I should have known I would have problems when the salesman who looked down his nose at me had more oil on his head than in the crank case. He reluctantly showed me the Viper, and, OH, OH he let me sit in it. Then the bone head asked me if I could afford one, what's with that?
I replied, and I quote; Look outside bone head, I just bought that Land Rover, and I think maybe I will go and find a more enlightened dealer.
The point of all this?
Lets hope that the Chrysler dealer network, or what is left of it, doesn't judge people, and actually provides service.
On the GM front, also known as government motors, I wonder if everyone in the US gets a business card?
GM claims they have a new culture? That they are going to have to prove.
GM had a culture that dictated that all the Directors were more or less untouchable, free reign, they could not do anything wrong. I was told this by a GM retiree at the SEMA show.
I hope when they proove to be total bozos that at very least GM upper management takes ownership and admits the mistakes.
Of course I have a story to illustrate this.
A few years back one of these 'untouchable' directors was a speaker at a SEMA breakfast.
During the meet and great after the breakfast, I spoke to said director, and we got to talking about a project I was working on. I explained I had a 55 Chevy pick-up that I was building into a hot rod, but with a difference, I was, was is the key word here, going to power it with a diesel.
He offered to get me a diesel motor, no problem he claimed, just drop me an e-mail after the show and he will set it up. Cool.
So I get home, send him an e-mail, and he tells me that he will get the wheels rolling.
About a month passes and I hear nothing from him, than another month. Considering I have a fair amount of design work to make this project work I send him another e-mail. A simple inquiry as to what is up. In return I get a very curse, almost nasty, piss off e-mail.
Wow, that was a massive turn around. Being the curious type, I responded and asked what happened? Why the change from loving the idea of the build to legalese, go away totally unfriendly.
Next I get a call from some security clown from GM, telling me never to contact said Director again, or there would be circumstances. Well, well, wasn't that nice, this Director goes from very friendly, offering to help with a project to send out the dogs attitude.
This is an interesting cultural indicator.
GM so called Directors, just don't seem to understand the power of word of mouth. Before the internet, a person would tell another person, who would tell five, who would each tell five, etc.
Now we have this thing called the internet. Apparently some people don't understand the concept. One posting can be seen by thousands, and they never really go away, things posted years ago still exist out there.
Again, the point?
This culture of untouchables is one of the major reasons for the demise of GM, lets hope they fix that flaw.
Needless to say I am no fan of GM, never really have been, I like the lines of the 50's era vehicles, however I am never going to buy a NEW GM vehicle.
They may be back, but they are still closing plants, 20,000 workers are now unemployed due to plant closings since GM came out of the bankruptcy closet. Yah right new culture. Sounds more like same old, same old. Go Chrysler! Go Ford!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

wet enough?

More rain, just what we needed. My frigged lawn looks like a pasture, the grass is so long. The only time the sun seems to come out is mid-week during the time I am stuck in my cubicle. I refuse to take time off to cut the lawn, that is just not right.
So we start with Global warming, and that get traction until someone noticed all the weather stations they were basing the hoop-la on were all in or very near major cities. No kidding cities are hotter than the country side. So as not to look completely silly the name changes to 'weather change'.
What has this to do with my over grown lawn? Nothing at all, I just got a bit off on a tangent.
Just going to be one of those years when it is a bit wet during the summer.
I remember the last time this happened, I had just purchased my first mountain bike. Heavy steel frame, tough as a tank and almost as heavy. i had a ton of fun with it, rain or shine, the guy two door down and I went out and did a 15 mile loop almost every day. Two crazy "A" type personalities racing through the trails, and the wet times were even more fun.
Too bad some one built a four lane highway right down the middle of the trail network.
Some riding might help he quit smoking.

Today is one of those days when the sun is expected to come out, maybe I should buy a goat and call it BBQ?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Oh they are so screwed

Chrysler has just released news of who will be on the Board of Directors.
No a single car guy amongst them, lawyers and investment bankers, the only exception being a CEO of one of the Fiat divisions. Why does no one learn from recent history?
Investment bankers killed Chrysler the last time, and a new bunch get to try again. It's not about the company performance one quarter to the next, it's about building a car that's different and all about the car culture. lawyers? Say no more, ever met one that knew anything about the car culture?
Maybe this bunch and the fools that WILL get appointed at GM will finally acomplish what sky high insurance and a gas embargo could not do back in the early 70's, kill the car culture.
NOT LIKELY, not going to happen, no matter how hard they try to make vanilla, people will always change it into chocolate moose.
Just think how great the North American Auto Industry could be if they actually made something different? Like all the round aero looking look-alike cars actually save any gas due to their shape on the daily commute. Hard to save fuel when you are moving 20 mph when you are moving at all.
Ford got it right with a Mustang that actually looks like a Mustang. Dodge blew it big time the new thing, and I will not abuse the iconic name by calling it that, looks like a pickup from the front and the sides are way too tall. GM, guess what, they missed too, sales have been fair, but again, it just looks wrong.
If you are going to build a retro muscle car, make it look like one, or it's not retro. It is just more vanilla.
maybe I will keep my 55 Chevy Pickup, it at least looks different than all the other bla comutomobiles out there.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why lay off marketing/research?

So why is it whenever a group feels the economic pinch the first to go is the marketing or Research group? Akin to blinding yourself and for good measure drinking Draino to kill the vocal cords.
The other approach is to turn these functions to an outside company. WRONG! Outside companies have no idea about your culture, no stake in doing their very best, and those left managing the company have no clue if the feed-back is even close to correct. All control is lost with and outside contractor, worse yet if no one is hired.
Research is cut when times get tough, how on earth do you find out what people are really thinking, what the trends actually are? Heaven forbid if if you are an association and your members depend on that research. Why not just shoot yourself now and avoid a long slow decent into irrelevance.
Can you imagine, when a company gets a call by a research firm claiming to represent your association and they want to know about how you are doing? Yah, right, sure they are going to give up information, more likely to hang up or worse, thinking to protect their company give up misleading information.
The company has no stake in retrieving accurate information beyond their contract pay, the company contracting has no idea if the information is accurate.
Soon an association who receives bad information, or inaccurate information starts to loose members to other associations. Good by old established group, hello numerous new groups, and everyone looses until they all get back together.
Nothing good can come of these moves, marketing and research are the most important part of any company/association. A cost center, well yah, but the eyes and voice, I sure hope you can trust your hired eyes and voice.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

mid-week holidays

So it's like this, I can't physically do more than three days in a cubicle, I work Tuesday to Thursday, sleep all day Friday. Cubicles are killers, designed to surpress creativity I swear.
So I go to work on Tuesday , Wednesday is Canada Day, a national holiday, and I have to go back today. Why does this feel like it is just not right? Staffing is going to be almost non-existent so nothing at all is going to get done. Mid-week days off just don't work.
On the up side it will only feel like a Monday until noon, then it's going to feel like a Friday.
Depression does very interesting things to the brain chemistry...

Really hard for some reason to think of something to write about, maybe I need more coffee.
that's the ticket, more coffee.

On the getting my Defender back on the road side of things, I am almost finished making the new battery boxes, Folded up the aluminum yesterday, and with any luck I will get them installed tomorrow.

OK here is a strange one I just heard on the radio.
A guy from New York is on an plane, he quietly takes off all his clothes and sits back down.
he refuses to get dressed, and refuses to cover himself with a blanket.
So the plane is diverted to the closest airport, Gander I think they said, and they arrest him.
Charged with interfering with the flight crew.

have a great day everyone, I am going to get more coffee.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Not quite as bad as we thought, GOOD NEWS

Great news about this years SEMA show.
Many of those who are displaying their goods this year have opted for a larger booth.
Show Management reported that of the nearly 1,400 companies that participated in the priority booth selection process this month, 12 percent secured more space.
See some people realize the fantastic opportunity that is the SEMA show, and also the state of the aftermarket is good.
To quote Peter MacGillivray, SEMA vice president of events and communications;
“Given the state of the economy, we are extremely pleased with the value our industry has placed on the Show”
Also of note; SEMA management has introduced several programs and incentives to make exhibiting at the SEMA Show more cost-effective and result in higher returns.
Exhibitors can take advantage of the extended payment plan, and guaranteed leads program just to name a couple.
Members have to keep in mind WE ARE SEMA, to make this show work, and to be successful take advantage of every opportunity our association management has made available.

Check out the show site at;


Ok so I couldn't think of a good title...
Happy Canuckada day everyone.
Typical summer day here in Ottawa, warm and very humid, probably rain just in time for the fireworks tonight. Hope not.

have a safe and happy day everyone