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Jack Moore's "Letters to the Editor" (Technical!) Page.

Technical - Motoring
  1. Motoring Writers
  2. "V" engines
  3. Honda Insight
  4. Petrol Price
  5. Diesel fuel price
Technical - Other
  1. Patents
  2. Collect Firewood
  3. Gas heaters
  4. Swan river dying
  5. Alternative Wall Construction
Other Pages

8 August 2000
The Editor
Wanneroo Times
Dear Sir,
Motoring Journalists

I read quite a few articles on motoring in various journals and papers and I am always struck with how confident the journalists are. Or perhaps pig - headed.

The worst offender I would think is "name withheld" of the West. He always talks about "kilowatts of power" as if you can have kilowatts of petrol or kilowatts of jam. Kilowatts is a measure of power, only, pure and simple.

I also wonder about your "name withheld" . I have sent him information twice, and neither time was it acknowledged. Would not a "noted, thanks" or "I agree, but we are in the minority" be too much to ask?

I must take him to task over some recent articles. The test of the V6 Mondeo for example. Why call cruise control an unnecessary item? The car was fitted with a radio and if he bought it, I bet it would have a mobile phone and hands free kit. Cruise control is more necessary than either.

Please also note that hands free mobile phones are not any safer than hand held ones. When driving you need to concentrate on the job!

And who says an advanced driver uses his left foot on the brakes of an automatic? Not what I was told. The drawback of a foot operated parking brake as on the Toyota Avalon is obvious for a manual gearbox, but it is using spare space on an auto.

I think I read in the West that the new Pulsar engines have "poor man's variable valve timing". So what is rich man's variable valve timing?

Also a car engine had "sequential valve timing". I can't imagine how an engine with valves would work without the valves being opened sequentially!

Journalists need to lift their game.


The Editor, Chartered Mechanical Engineer
(Published) Sept.

Dear Sir,


Can someone please explain to me why Porsche and others need to pay Mitsubishi for use of their patent balance shaft.

I thought the principal was patented by Lanchester over 50 years ago.

Surely you can't patent old, patented ideas. And you can't patent an arrangement.

On the subject of patents and engines, how can Ralph Sarich need to hold 400+ patents on his engine? Surely the only novel idea on the engine is the air blast fuel injector. the other elements of his design - variable exhaust restriction and positive oil feed are used elsewhere for free. Can readers help?

Yours Faithfully,

JHN Finer of Walsall agreed and gave example of a time-lapse pill dispenser, a plug gauge and a profile milling machine when patents existed. He comments "the Patent Office lives on granting patents".

The Editor

Wheels Magazine and
The Automotive Engineer (Published)

Dear Sir,


Readers may have noticed that some V engines have a different design to others i.e.:

Those with 2 connecting rods per crankpin, and

Those with only 1, and a crankpin for each cylinder

Confining our discussions to engines with even numbers of cylinders, examples of 2 connecting rods per crankpin run from 2 to 16 cylinders.

Assuming even numbers of cylinders, there are examples of engines with 2 connecting rods per crankpin from 2 to 16 cylinders.

With only 1 connecting rod per crankpin, we can have any number of included angles from the almost in line VolksWagen 15deg V6, to 180deg V (flat) types and still obtain even firing intervals. There are examples from 2 to 6 cylinders even if we exclude flat types. So what do we call these two types?

I feel a real V engine has the shared crankpin. But what do we call the 60deg V6 so common now? A bent in-line? Or should we call it a V and call the other a (multi bank) part radial? What do readers think?

Readers may also have noticed that the experimental B.M.W. V4 and V6 engines are unlike competitive engines. The V4 is a normal V type while the V6 is a bent in line (to use my own terminology). This tells me their comparison is invalid.

The real value of V type engines is their compactness. This has given them a competitive edge in the Commodore, Rover cars and 4 wheel drive, and the Vincent!

Yours Faithfully,

The Editor
The "Wanneroo Times"

Dear Sir,

Whinge when petrol price reaches UK price

I remember when fuel went up in 1978. People were buying four cylinder cars, selling V8's and driving very gently. Car pooling started to a limited extent, and house prices near the city went up. This time things are different. People demand that the government do something about it. They are taking an extra 2 cents a litre - not really much of the 30 cent rise. I say walk, cycle or use public transport and stop whinging. Petrol in England is $2.20 a litre!

Jack Moore

The Editor
The "Wanneroo Times"

Dear Sir,

Collect Fuel for Firewood

Your article in WT 25 January "Burn off saves bush" is the official CALM approach where bush is burnt to reduce fuel for a possible wildfire.

Another approach is to collect the fuel for firewood. The 'goodness' in the wood taken could be replaced with mulch, or the ash from the fires returned when people collect the wood.

We need to try to reduce burning as well as bushfires!

Jack Moore

The Editor
The "Wanneroo Times"

Dear Sir,

Honda Insight

Some of your readers may think we are entering a new era of cheap transport after reading your article on the Honda Insight in this Tuesdays WT.

If the Honda Civic were built like the Insight, with an aluminium body, low friction engine, electric power steering, special tyres, streamlined shape with back wheel spats, and small frontal area, its performance would be improved considerably.

Would Civic buyers want to drive a car with a hard ride and poor roadholding which is unstable due to a narrow rear track and also give up 2 adult seats?

The Insight is not a hybrid and can not move on battery power alone. I'm not sure how you would inch forward in stop start traffic.

In a recent economy run, the Insight beat the standard Honda Civic at 2.75 lit per 100 km v 3.3 lit/100km for the Civic.

The promised cheap transport would appear to be an illusion.

Jack Moore

In England, Professor Tring wrote to Professional Engineering stating that Hybrid cars would not contribute to the fuel use problem. This may turn out to be true.

The Editor
The "Wanneroo Times"

Dear Sir,

Diesel fuel price needs explanation

I thought the explanation of the fuel price in Mal Washer's "Washerway" was excellent.

One thing needs more explanation, the price of Diesel fuel. Why is it always dearer than Petrol?

But time moves on and the role of the GST has been revealed. The States do not now appear to "receive every cent that is collected". The amount received is the subject of a formula as per the States' share of income tax. Is it really so hard to give the States back the GST that was taken from them ?

Jack Moore

The Editor
The "Wanneroo Times"

Dear Sir,

Flued heater has advantages

Thank you for printing the letter from Janet Forster of the Chemical sensitivities self help group. I certainly don't want to breathe harmful exhaust gas from my flueless gas heater.

An alternative however is to install a flued heater, giving a fume free room.

This will cause a loss of 30% of the heat, so costs more to run. Probably slightly more than a reverse cycle air conditioner. These machines draw heat from the environment so you get something for nothing. This effect follows Murphy's law in that it works better when it is warm. On a cold night, the gas heater probably costs less to run. And it stays on during power cuts!

Another drawback of a reverse cycle air conditioner is in the summer. An air cooler is far cheaper to run and more healthy as well.

What people should also consider is the green house effect. Gas is burnt in gas turbines to make electricity. You would be lucky if only 55% of the heat went up the chimney, a few percent would also be lost in generating and transmitting the power. So less greenhouse gas with gas heaters.

Two further points for Janet:

    Mercaptans are in LPG, but not natural gas.
    Wind and solar contribution to the grid is not really significant.

As Howard Gretton said, it is a complex subject.

Jack Moore

Footnote: Janet Forster has pointed out that reticulated NG contains 4 parts per million of odorisers.

23 June 2003
The Editor
The West Australian

Dear Madam

Our Swan River

Our beloved Swan river is dying and due to actions of us humans. We wash our cars and our clothes, we have septic tanks, we fertilise our lawns, and our farmland.
Meanwhile, we build on our wetlands and prevent some natural filtration taking place.
But what to do? If you could stop putting it in, how long would it take to come good?
I say why decide which polluters to concentrate on. Take the "pollution" out. It is nutrients after all, and therefore valuable. I would rather have Swan River mud on my garden than sewerage sludge with its heavy metals.
Why can't we get a suction dredge working and reverse the harm done over the last 100 years?


19 January 2006
The Editor,
West Australian
Alternative Wall Construction

Your comment on building houses and not using double brick deserves consideration.

You raised it as a suggested way of saving money so more people can afford housing.

Always bearing in mind, should it be possible to save money using alternative wall construction, we still have by far the largest expense item to contend with.

Building with masonry goes back thousands of years, and double brick cavity walls about one hundred.

It has the benefit of needing only one trade to erect, a skill that can be learnt quickly if only simple walls are required.

Brick veneer however, needs a bricklayer, a frame erector and a cladding fixer, the last two needing more skill than a non time-served bricklayer.

The frame also impedes insertion of horizontal pipes or cables.

A more modern idea is tilt-up construction. I believe this is more suitable for office or factory construction as a single leaf is the usual practice.

Several skills are required for this - detailed design and planning, concrete formwork, crane operation and safely joining the walls.

Cladding is a difficult option, meaning the outside of the wall is usually painted.

Internal lining requires specialised trades depending on the lining material. If it is glued to the concrete wall, poor insulation and ventilation result.

I would be grateful for more information on this subject, but I think we will require some clever solutions to avoid double brick.


E-Mail: Jack Moore