Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 16 January 2014 14:25

Smaller horses use less fodder

The death knell has been sounding for the big American V8.  Now too thirsty to be allowed to live in the (so-called) dwindling oil environment, both Ford and General Motors have reacted with plans to reduce America’s love affair with V8 engines.

It has been a very long love affair, with the first American V8 engine being an improvement of the European V8 of the CL model De Dion Bouton (put into series production in 1910) and manufactured by Cadillac in 1914.  Lincoln and Ford followed closely behind.  De Dion may be no longer with us, but GM and Ford have endured.

The automakers hands were partly forced by the American CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Consumption) legislation insisting on even tougher standards as far as fuel consumption was concerned.  The V8 had to go.  What with the American President’s decree and green being painted all over the world, anyone who uses more than their “fair share” of gasoline is being made to feel a heinous criminal.  What other stand could the American manufacturers take?

Now personally, I am not convinced that the world’s supply of oil is about to dry up.  I see no evidence of Exxon pulling up stakes, and my local Caltex station has just been refurbished.  With crude oil knocking on $100 a barrel, why would they cease production?  They can (and do) charge more for the final product, and even if the percentage profit is the same as before, that still translates into an increased gross profit.  I also read that OPEC have been considering lowering their output, to make sure the price of crude remains high.  Such a wonderful charitable stance, if ever I heard of one.  However, my take in all this is that if you want to pay for a gas guzzler, then the choice is yours.  US Presidents, OPEC and all who rode in on her can butt out!

Last week I asked what car was this?  Built 1924, 1100 cc dohc engine developing 130 bhp at 6,000 RPM, top speed recorded at Brooklands being 128 MPH.  There were only 40 of these cars made (so it’s not a Bugatti).  It was the Amilcar, very similar to the Bugatti, and these days, with such limited production, very rare.

So to this week.  Another ‘What car is this?’  V12, OHV engine, 9.4 liters, brake servo driven off the gearbox, 5.3 meters long.  An 11 liter option which gave the car a top speed of 115 mph.  Hint: Pre-war!

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 .

Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:36

Getting in the MOOD

Blues music aficionados celebrated the opening of the MOOD Blues Cafe on Pratamnak Soi 6, on the ground floor of Thepthip Mansion, with a small party and a large feast of music.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 17:24

Blood Pressure - Is it important?

Many of you have been having a check-up recently, taking advantage of the 50 percent offer in December 2013.  As part of that procedure, your blood pressure will have been taken.

However, one of the mandatory tests at my hospital when you see a doctor is a blood pressure reading, usually denoted as “BP”.  Now I take tablets to control my BP, but after a week of forgetting, I popped into one of the Out Patients Clinics and got the nurse to take my BP.  It was 158/87.  Too high.  I need to remember to take my tablets!  However, about 30 minutes later I had my BP checked again.  This time 147/76.  Much better, but still marginally up.  How could this be?  Was the machine wrong?

No, the machine was not wrong, but what you have to understand is that BP is not a static measurement, but one that fluctuates for many reasons - rushing, coffee, anxiety, cigarettes and a whole host of others.  This is why, if your doctor tells you that you have “hypertension” (high BP) on just one reading - don’t believe him (or her).

So how do you find out if your BP is too high?  Quite simply by repeated measurements.  Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one elevated reading does not necessarily mean hypertension.

As part of the routine in most good hospitals and clinics is the measurement of your blood pressure.  You should get this done at least twice a year.  Rising or elevated readings do mean you should get medical advice.

So why is BP important?  Because if you don’t you don’t have BP you are definitely dead!  However, if your BP is too high, it can mean you could be claiming early on your life insurance policy - or your relatives will, on your behalf.

High BP is otherwise known as the “silent killer” as there are very few symptoms of the increase in blood pressure, until a vessel bursts somewhere, generally catastrophically!  The good thing is you are dead within minutes, so you won’t linger.

Blood is needed to keep all the organs of the body supplied with oxygen.  This is done by the red blood cells which carry the oxygen, with the pump to drive the system being the heart.  The tubes from the heart heading outbound are the arteries, and those returning the blood to the heart are the veins.

This heart-arteries-veins-heart system is a “closed” circuit.  In other words, no leaks, otherwise you would be continually losing the life-preserving blood, but to make it go around, there has to be a pumping pressure.

The heart squeezes the blood inside itself and pumps it out into the arteries.  This squeezing pressure is called the Systolic, and is the upper number quoted when we measure your blood pressure.

After the squeeze, the heart relaxes to allow the blood to fill the chamber, ready for the next squeeze.  The pressure does not return to zero, because there has to be some pressure to refill the chamber.  This resting or ambient pressure is the lower number quoted and is called the Diastolic.  BP is then typically quoted as 120/70, being 120 (systolic) / 70 (diastolic).  The actual pressure number is measured in a millimeters of mercury scale.

So what is the correct BP?  The following table shows the categories of BP measurements.

Optimal: less than 120/80

Normal: less than 130/80

High-normal: 130–139/85–89

High blood pressure (hypertension):

Stage 1: 140–159/90–99

Stage 2: 160–179/100–109

Stage 3: 180 or higher/110 or higher

The problem with running at high pressure is that the heart is having to work harder, and therefore may be subject to heart failure.  The arteries are also subjected to higher pressures than they were designed to cope with and can burst, making the risk of stroke so much higher.  Other organs don’t like working at the high pressures either, and kidneys, in particular, can go into failure mode.

No, if you really have hypertension, get it treated - but remember to have repeated measurements done, and don’t let the doctor classify you as being “hypertensive” until repeated measurements confirm that your BP is too high.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:54

Range Rover Sport conquers desert ranges

As a publicity exercise, Range Rover ventured into the Saudi Arabian desert to demonstrate the versatility of the new Range Rover Sport.  For a vehicle most often seen outside school playgrounds at 4 p.m. this was a radical departure.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:51

Is the writing on the wall?

According to the Automotive Focus Group (AFG) blog, Toyota is to shift some of its Thai output base to Indonesia.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indonesia (TMMIN) has started producing its all-new Vios at the company’s plant in Karawang, West Java, as it gradually moves its production base from Thailand to Indonesia.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:49

Two wheels, 500 cc and no brakes!

We have all had many ambitions in our lives.  Me?  I wanted to be a speedway rider!

I can blame my father for this (which is why we have fathers - to be the recipients of ‘blame’) as it was he who took his young son to Meadowbank Speedway in Edinburgh to watch the Saturday night’s competition under floodlights.  The sound of the straight through single cylinder speedway bikes, the smell of Castrol R and the shoulder to shoulder racing enthralled me.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:48

FIA backs double points for the final race

Despite loud condemnation of the new regulation that will see the drivers earn double points at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, FIA boss Jean Todt has downplayed the significance of the new double-points rule for the 2014 season finale saying there are bigger and more important changes to focus on.

The rule will be implemented in the hope of spicing things up in the season finale and, unless someone has already won the title, give drivers a massive incentive.

The rule, though, has not gone down well with followers of the F1 season with World Champion Sebastian Vettel labelling it “absurd.”

However, FIA president Todt backs the concept.  “Many things have been said but it really is not a dramatic change,” he told Spanish newspaper AS.  “For me a much more important introduction is the new 1.6 liter engine with 40 percent fuel saving.  Our priority is to reduce costs; doubling the score in a race is not a revolution, it is a small change, nothing more.  I don’t understand why people are talking so much about a small change rather than things that are important to the sport.”

Quite frankly, Todt is talking nonsense.  Far from reducing costs, changing the engines will cost the teams millions of dollars, and to talk about fuel saving is quite farcical.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:47

Is Honda Thailand’s best seller?

The final figures are not out, but it would appear that Honda has outsold arch-rival Toyota in 2013 for passenger cars.  However, there is a snag - just what is a “car” and what then is a “commercial vehicle”?

It should be a simple matter, but it isn’t!  According to figures from Toyota Motor Thailand passenger car sales figures do not include models such as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5, which Toyota classifies as commercial vehicles and not cars.

However, both the CR-V and CX-5, although called sports-utility vehicles, are taxed by the Thai authorities as passenger cars.

The passenger car total after 11 months has Honda as the leader in the segment with sales of 178,973 units, while Toyota was second with 172,916 units, but if the CR-V is included that gives overall sales from January to November of 198,005 units, over Toyota’s 172,916.

As end of year figures are still not in as we went to press, the new Yaris, which is proving to be very popular, might be enough to get Toyota back on top again in the passenger car market.

However, adding both passenger car and commercial vehicles together, has Toyota well in front at 33 percent of the sales, including the popular Hilux, giving Toyota the number 1 slot it has held for many years.  Honda with no pick-ups remains in second position overall at 16 percent and Isuzu third at 15 percent.

Thursday, 09 January 2014 13:45

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park.  The next meeting is on Monday January 13 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m.  A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations).  Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers.  A couple of the members were scrutineers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, so they may have some scuttlebutt about the F1 scene.  Always a fun night.  Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)!  The Car Club nights are always on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!

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