Spanish GP this weekend


Barcelona is the venue for the fifth Grand Prix of the season. And probably the last Spanish GP for a while as the Dutch GP wants the slot.

The Spanish GP is on this weekend, and the questions on everyone’s lips is can Ferrari take the game to Mercedes and will the Ferrari pit wall allow Leclerc to pass Vettel, and can Bottas keep his team mate behind him?

Spain has a long history in GP racing, and the 5 km Circuit Catalunya was opened in 1991. A temporary chicane was built at ‘Nissan’ (a very shallow curve) in 1994, but for 1995, ‘Nissan’ was straightened reducing the length of a lap to the 5 km length.

Will it be another dirty air DRS? Will Ricciardo find reverse gear again? Will Kvyat do another torpedo trick? We will know the answers to all these questions by Sunday night.

I will be watching the F1 in front of the screen in Fletchers Folly, Siam Country Club Road, opposite MAXXis tyres and 300 meters from the Mitkamol (Chicken) intersection. The race will start at 8 p.m. but we get there early and have some dinner from the pub menu. Why not join me for dinner and a beer before the race?


Welch plugs

Any DIY motorist has come across a leaking welch plug at some stage. Please note this is not a discourse on Welsh people in the world.

I was reminded of this after reading Gavin Charlesworth’s Facebook item on correction of some sloppy work where a previous owner had tried to stop a welch plug leak with a smear of silastic or similar on the outside when the initial problem is on the inside.

Back in the early days when my transport was a 10 year old 1949 Austin A 40, the welch plug at the rear of the block began to weep. This I ignored, but by the time it had got to Niagara Falls proportions I realized I was going to have to do something.

Looking at the problem and listening to the advice which was, “Take the engine out.” This was far beyond my nascent skills, so I looked for Plan B.

Eye-balling the plug I could see I could measure its position relative to the engine side of the firewall. After that I could use the same measurements on the cabin side of the firewall, which should lead me straight to the leaking plug, provided my measurements were accurate.

Using a hole saw I cut through the firewall and Hallelujah, there was the culprit in direct vision. Hammer and chisel soon dispatched the rusty welch plug.

I cleaned the hole where the new plug was going to sit and offered it up, through the firewall. A couple of blows and the plug flattened itself into position.

All that was left was to close the hole in the firewall which was done by using the circle from the hole saw and some duct tape.

From that humble beginning I went on to such technological marvels as extracting broken exhaust studs, retrieving screws dropped into the inlet manifold, un-jamming a gearbox locked in first (as the ball bearing was stuck partially out of the synchro ring).

Whilst I am not at the level of Gavin, I am a dab hand with a gas axe to remove mudguards!


Tesla posts surprisingly large 1st Q loss

Tom Krisher & Michael Liedtke

San Francisco (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk had prepped Wall Street for a first quarter loss but analysts were still stunned by its size: $702.1 million, among the company’s worst quarters in the past two years.

The net loss of $4.10 per share left Musk spending much of a conference call explaining how it happened. But he also extolled his forecast that demand and profit margins will increase as Tesla rolls out updated products and pricing for its three models, and sells more battery storage units.

Musk predicted another loss in the second quarter but said Tesla would be back in the black in the third quarter. The first quarter loss came after two consecutive profitable quarters, the first time that’s happened in Tesla’s 15-year history.

The company said that due to “unforeseen challenges” it was only able to deliver half of the vehicles ordered in the quarter by March 31 as it ramped up deliveries in Europe and China.

Tesla’s cash balance at the end of the quarter shrunk by $1.5 billion since December, to $2.2 billion. The company attributed the decline to a $920 million bond payment, and Musk said it might be time for Tesla to raise capital again.

The company still expects to produce 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, and if a new Chinese factory hits volume production at the end of the year, it could make 500,000.

Tesla likely is nearing its “cash floor,” the amount it needs in the checking account to pay all the bills, said Gartner analyst Michael Ramsey.

“It’s anxiety provoking,” Ramsey said. If Tesla continues burning cash at the first quarter rate, it would run out of money in less than six months.

But Ramsey said that’s not likely. If Tesla can produce and sell all the vehicles that it predicts in the current quarter, it will generate a lot of cash, easing its problem. Tesla said it believes deliveries will hit 90,000 to 100,000 vehicles from April through June.

Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn, meanwhile, hinted on the conference call that Tesla will build its new semi starting next year at its factory near Reno, Nevada. That’s where the battery and electric drive units will be made, he said.

And Musk said the company will decide in the next few weeks whether it will build the Model Y small SUV in Nevada or at its Fremont, California, factory. Deliveries are scheduled to start in the fall of 2020.

Tesla Model Y.
Tesla Model Y.

Another problem for Tesla is fading sales of its higher-priced models S and X as the vehicles age. But Tuesday night, the company announced updates to both, including a new drive system that increases the range by 10 percent per electric charge. Long-range versions of the S will be able to go 370 miles per charge, for example. The vehicles also will get new suspensions, faster acceleration and more comfortable rides, Tesla said.

Tesla has lost more than $6 billion since setting out to revolutionize the auto industry 15 years ago, but Musk foresees a profitable future fueled in part by a ride-hailing service made up of electric cars driven by robots.

Musk believes Tesla’s technology is capable of letting the vehicles drive themselves. That terrifies some critics who worry Musk’s plan to transport passengers in self-driving Teslas without a human to take control in emergencies will maim and kill people.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, what is this car? It was another example of engineers hoping six wheels would bring improved traction and handling on the track. The car was set to compete in the 12 hours of Sebring event in 1970, but it was stolen by some teenage hooligans before the race. It was an Alfa Romeo T33/6/12 race car that was tested at Sebring Raceway on April 1, 1970. (Date significant?)

So to this week. Here are the specifications for a very important car in the history of the automobile.


one-cylinder, four-stroke

Displacement: 1660 cm³ Output: 2.5 hp (1.8 kW) at 500 rpm

Surface carburetor

Valves: automatic intake valve, controlled exhaust valve

Cooling system: water/thermosiphon cooling system

Lubrication: drip-feed lubricator and grease cap

Ignition: electric high voltage buzzer ignition

Tank: 4.5 liters in the carburetor

Starter: turning the flywheel

What car was this? Clue: Driven by a lady on Sundays.

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops and water and store in a dark cupboard), be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Car Club (Aka Natter, Nosh and Noggin)

The Car Club enthusiasts meets on Monday 13th May at Fletchers Folly Siam Country Club Road, 300 meters before the Mitkamol (Chicken) intersection and opposite Maxxis tyre outlet. Very casual group, starts around 6.30 – 7 p.m. The meeting is for enthusiasts, you don’t even need to own a car! Lively chat covering everything from ball bearings to ball tearers.


Vintage pick-up required.

Norm Aylward, a friend of a friend lives in Pattaya, and is a Harley Davidson enthusiast. He has both modern and classic bikes that he uses and shows. He’s probably the most knowledgeable guy on Harley Davidsons in Thailand. He’s a Canadian but speaks fluent Thai.

Norm has asked if I know of any car enthusiast friends or group members who has a vintage truck (pick-up) who likes to attend car and bike shows, as Norm would like to team up with someone who can transport his old Harley Panhead and go with him to attend various shows around Thailand. Norm says there is an event, which is mainly attended by Thais, up at Srinakarin Dam, Kanchanaburi on 16th November 2019 that he’d like to attend, so he’s interested to find a like-minded enthusiast with a classic or vintage pickup for that visit.

Any suggestions or contacts that I can pass on to Norm would be very much appreciated.


Old Benz wanted

I’ve sold my Jaguar XJ6 and am looking for a 1984 to 1991 Mercedes Benz W126 body either a 280 SE, 380 SE of 500 SE as a daily driver. As long as it has a solid rust free body and a clean and tidy interior I’ll be happy. I’ll even be interested in one retrofitted with a Toyota engine. Looking around the THB 150,000 price range. If you hear of one for sale please let me know.

Graeme Moore, email [email protected]

Mercedes Benz W 126.
Mercedes Benz W 126.
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