Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:39

British GP this weekend

The British Grand Prix will be held this weekend at the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held there in 1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo, for the collectors of F1 history).

Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:36

Quality? Try a Kia

Kia has climbed to second spot in the quality rankings, just behind luxury brand Porsche. The quality of cars and trucks made by European, Korean and US companies has improved so much in recent years that Japanese automakers, long the industry standard, are having trouble keeping pace.

Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:35

BMW wins Engine of the Year award

Ford Motor Company has won the International Engine of the Year award for the last three years from Engine Technology International with its 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine, but this year, BMW was declared the winner with its 1.5 liter gasoline-hybrid powertrain used in the futuristic BMW i8.

The TwinPower turbo 1.5 liter three-cylinder engine produces 231 horsepower; and when paired with the 129 horsepower electric motor that drives the front wheels, total power output is claimed at 357 horsepower and 570 Nm of torque. As the electric motor drives the car for up to 30 km of gasoline-free enjoyment, the 76 MPGe rating of the i8’s powerplant provides excellent fuel economy to go along with the claimed 0-100 km/h time of 4.2 seconds.

Once the battery power is used up, the gasoline engine comes online to help the i8 operate in hybrid mode, and recharges the battery at the same time. Charging can also be carried out by plugging into a 24 V source. Recharging time is around 90 minutes. The future is electric, even if it is not right now!

Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:35

Physics be damned

I was taught that everything on this earth could be explained by using simple physics. I was given tommy twaddle.

A couple of weeks ago we looked at Lucas fuel pumps and how to get them going again with a bit of physical abuse. But another bit of engineering that defies physical laws lies in the universal joints in the propeller shaft. A kind of metal X with case-hardened caps filled with rollers. Despite all the greasing in the world, these things would always seize up, and you had to pull it all apart. Remember those days?

The owners manual made it look easy. (Those were the days when the manufacturer actually allowed you to touch the car. These days your warranty would become null and void and you would probably be subjected to some kind of exquisite electro-torture. Tomorrow you will be shot if you open the bonnet.) But back to the manual, plus pix of some chap in a dust coat. “Tap the yoke lightly and the bearing will appear” was what the good book said. Not one solitary word as what to do when the bearings didn’t appear - and they never did.

No, the tapping physical law does not exist. You have to get the biggest cold chisel you can and split the casing, and by the time you have thoroughly butchered it, then the bearing will appear - in bits. “Tap the yoke lightly” indeed! Physics be damned!

Thursday, 02 July 2015 11:31

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned the Ford GT 40. I noted that the GT 40 show car of 2002 was legal, but GT 40s built subsequently would have been illegal. I asked why? Hint: do not forget the legal 2002 car in your answer. This was a typical legal hassle. A British company, Safir Engineering, who made continuation GT40s in the 1980s owned the GT40 trademark at that time, and when they completed production, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small American company called Safir GT40 Spares based in Ohio. Safir GT40 Spares licensed the use of the GT40 trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car, but when Ford decided to make the production vehicle, negotiations between the two failed, and it was all over money! They wanted too much and FoMoCo said ‘stuffem’.

So to this week. What limousine had air suspension which raised it off the ground when the engine was started. Clue: Think ‘massive’.

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 15:27

La Maladie des griffes du chat

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are so many difficulties put in your way if you wish to import your pet cat? Well, one of the difficulties relates to “La Maladie des griffes du chat” known in English as Cat Scratch Disease.

Now most people know that dogs carry diseases, including the deadly rabies, but the other domestic pet, the cat, carries its fair share as well. However, almost every household has at least one cat, and often more. Cats are affectionate, warm pets that will sit on your lap for hours, purring away, while it licks your hands. During that time, it may even be giving you more than love. It may be giving you a little present called Bartonella henselae, AKA Cat Scratch Disease! Yes, your cat is a walking, purring receptacle of illness.

Tell me more, you say, while wondering if you should strangle the cat now or later! But first a little history. A little over 50 years ago, the clinical signs of Cat Scratch Disease were described, and despite 50 years in between, it is still in the feline population.

Cat Scratch Disease affects between 2-10 people per 100,000 head of population in America, so whilst it isn’t an everyday diagnosis, most doctors will come across a few cases in their medical lifetime.

The presenting symptom is a regional swelling of the lymph nodes, generally in a young person or a child, and the usual scenario involves a panicking parent who is sure the child has lymphatic cancer.

What actually happens is that the cat is carrying the organism known as Bartonella henselae, which is found all over the world, and which it inoculates into the human system. This bug in turn is trapped by the lymph glands, within which one almighty fight takes place, with the end result being that the glands swell dramatically and can even burst through the skin as a suppurating discharge. Other signs and symptoms include a fever, sore throat and headache.

Now there are many causes for swollen glands, fever, headache and sore throat, so how do we pick on the family pussy cat? Quite simply, there will be a history of having been bitten or scratched by the family moggy, and the inoculation site will drain into the affected lymph glands.

So just how does the cat give you a “shot” of bugs? Well, firstly somewhere between 20-40 percent of cats are carrying the organism, and it lives in the cat’s saliva as well as in its blood. While licking its claws, pussy cat leaves a collection of the organism there, which in turn becomes yours when the cat scratches you. Deliberately or accidentally.

Cat Scratch Disease, although generally localized can even end up infecting internal organs such as the liver, spleen, heart and brain, though this is very rare. For most people who contract the illness they quietly recover, though it can sometimes take some months. However, for people with compromised immune systems, spontaneous recovery is not the norm. Children get the disease more than adults, because children tend to spend more time with pets, and pull more than the occasional tail.

There is treatment, with one of the most appropriate antibiotics being Doxycycline, while the most usually available penicillins are fairly ineffective. There are tests which can be done in the laboratory to prove or disprove infection by Bartonella henselae, so what we call a “Definitive” diagnosis can be made. Again you can see the dangers in self medication. If you do indeed have Cat Scratch Disease from the cat bite, the penicillin you bought is useless!

So should we all go out and take our cats down to the vet and consign them to the great veterinary hospital in the sky? The simple answer is no, but the moral to this tale is that we should be on our guard. Cat scratches and bites should not be taken lightly. Immediately after any injuries you should wash the wounds with soap and water and after a thorough cleansing only then apply your favorite antiseptic, and at the first sign of problem, pop into the hospital and get it checked. But just leave the cat at home!

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 13:22

AFG joins the chambers for June

The AFG (Automotive Focus Group) held its June networking event at the Marriott Hotel in the Rose Garden Room. This was part of a Joint Chamber event, being hosted by the AustCham Thailand in conjunction with the Austrade arm of the Australian government.

Wednesday, 01 July 2015 13:22

AFG joins the chambers for June

The AFG (Automotive Focus Group) held its June networking event at the Marriott Hotel in the Rose Garden Room. This was part of a Joint Chamber event, being hosted by the AustCham Thailand in conjunction with the Austrade arm of the Australian government.

Thursday, 25 June 2015 11:23

Ford to challenge Le Mans again?

Le Mans has just been run and won by Porsche, taking the glory away from Audi. However, in 2016, Ford has indicated they will enter the new Ford GT in the LM GTE Pro class.

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