Thursday, July 21, 2011


On the way back from our break at the beach last week, we called in for a cuppa at my brother’s place.

He’s made an art form of buying homes and renovating them, and making lots of money in the process. He has the uncanny ability of sizing up a bargain with potential, and also the ability to actually do the bulk of the work.

He has obviously inherited all the renovation genes in our family of six. At last count he had renovated five houses, and the one in the mountains behind the Sunshine Coast is the sixth.

As we were about to leave, my daughter spied a furry creature under our car. It was a woozy looking rat. Brother had used Ratsak because he thought he’d heard them scuttling around underneath his project house. He was right – they were setting up residence.

Anyway, the rat simply disappeared, and what was stranger, my brother and his wife didn’t see it after we drove off.

We drove the 150kms home, and put the car in the garage.

I had to drive west the next day to do three days work in schools, so didn’t give it a second thought.

My bride phoned on Monday night. She was not pleased. There was a horrible smell emanating from the garage. Obviously the aforementioned rat had found a place to die somewhere in the bowels of the car. Fortunately you can’t smell it from inside the car, but it’s not much fun to be standing downwind.

What’s the solution?

Our pet canine is part terrier, and I used her nose to tell me that the critter is in a housing above and in front of the offside front wheel. It can’t be reached without some minor dismantling.

The car needs new tyres, so I’ll phone around until I can find a company that will throw in rodent removal with a good deal on 205/45 87VR16s.

I’m not in the mood for rodent removal.


I wasn't in the mood for it today, either, but I took Cav's advice.

That's the last bloody time I'll ever do that.

What he should have advised was -
1. Fetch someone with good eyesight unencumbered by graduated lenses (daughter).
2. Fetch something with excellent olfactory skills (small dog).
3. Then jack car up and take wheel off.

What actually happened was that I followed Cav's advice, and ended up with wheel arch liner and plastic undertray detached, but still no sign of rat. The smell was emphatic, so I fetched the dog who immediately became very interested in the n/s disc brake assembly.

Daughter spied what was left of the rat who had been well and truly mashed by the first brake application. It had perched on top of the calliper. It was well hidden on the inside (rear) of the calliper.

It took one minute to remove what was left of the rat using a set of disposable gloves, and two hours and a lot of bad language (moderated somewhat by daughter's presence) to reassemble the car.

Friday, July 1, 2011

One Myth Debunked

You've probably heard the phrase "they don't make them like they used to" as applied to motor vehicles.

It's probably just as well when you look at the results of a staged collision between two Chevs, one a 2009 Malibu and the other a 1959 Bel Air.

It was set up by the US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The accompanying blurb explains -

In the 50 years since US insurers organized the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, car crashworthiness has improved. Demonstrating this was a crash test conducted on Sept. 9 between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. In a real-world collision similar to this test, occupants of the new model would fare much better than in the vintage Chevy.

"It was night and day, the difference in occupant protection," says Institute president Adrian Lund. What this test shows is that automakers don't build cars like they used to. They build them better."

The crash test was conducted at an event to celebrate the contributions of auto insurers to highway safety progress over 50 years. Beginning with the Institute's 1959 founding, insurers have maintained the resolve, articulated in the 1950s, to "conduct, sponsor, and encourage programs designed to aid in the conservation and preservation of life and property from the hazards of highway accidents."

A decade after the Institute was founded, insurers directed this organization to begin collecting data on crashes and the cost of repairing vehicles damaged in crashes. To lead this work and the Institute's expanded research program, insurers named a new president, William Haddon Jr., who already was a pioneer in the field of highway safety. In welcoming Dr. Haddon, Thomas Morrill of State Farm said "the ability to bring unbiased scientific data to the table is extremely valuable." This scientific approach, ushered in by Dr. Haddon, is a hallmark of Institute work. It's why the Institute launched the Highway Loss Data Institute in 1972 — to collect and analyze insurance loss results to provide consumers with model-by-model comparisons.

Another Institute milestone was the 1992 opening of the Vehicle Research Center. Since then, the Institute has conducted much of the research that has contributed to safer vehicles on US roads. At the anniversary event, current Institute chairman Gregory Ostergren of American National Property and Casualty summed up a commitment to continue what fellow insurers began in 1959: "On this golden anniversary of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, we celebrate this organization's accomplishments toward safer drivers, vehicles, and roadways. We salute the vision of the Institute's founders and proudly continue their commitment to highway safety."

Nothing more to say really.