Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Scene of the Crime

Never mind that some people say, "Just drive 'em," while others might remark, "Make the pedestal a little bit higher," or you could hear, "Hot-rod the thing," and, "Preserve and polish," plus, "It's only an old car - do whatever," "Restore," but also, "Rusty junk!? That car is worth a zillion dollars and it's happy in that swamp!" Everybody has an attitude, and do-it-yourself types fit right in with theirs. The important part they profess is, "do-it," which implies that you should be working on the car as a serious avocation, in every spare moment. I enjoy some of the work I do on my 911, and other of the work not so much. Below I mention certain mechanical irregularities infesting my car that need eventual attention, and most of the DIY class would not hesitate to dive right into fixing those, since the car is now 'put up' for the winter. That's what you properly do in the off-season. 

It's okay, but there are details to neaten, and noises that I might get to.

My looming heresy is this:  I confess here and now that I'm tired of fixing my car all of the time, even if some repairs would make it functionally right for a while. Maybe I can endure a season of improperness and be done with it. It's not as if there is a broken piston or something that I could not ignore, so I'm tempted to put off the winter's anticipated mechanical mending this time around and just do the things that I want to do, that are mainly cosmetic and for the most part entirely unnecessary. To the DIY diehards (actually I am one of those) this plan is probably anathema, since many live to tinker and fix, and allowing an imperfection to linger for a season would be entirely out of the question. Heretics think differently.

There is no negative intent here, on the contrary there is a positive one. It's fun and fascinating to keep learning more about the mysterious mechanisms that make up my Porsche, as I fix it, and it is equally rewarding to complete a task that will make the car better in any way. Then, if the idea of it all is enjoyment, why should I allow anyone else's expectation to govern my fun? It runs well enough - it could be better - so I prefer to run it, heedfully. That's my plan of the moment. Subject to adjustment. Implementing my cosmetic intentions for the car will give me just as much fun. Maybe more, because it is a creative act.

Winter is about to arrive, although it's late this year because of El Niño. There is a visible layer of salt on the roads already, in answer to the trivial snowfall that has shown up - the deepest accumulation so far has been an ignorable four inches (10 cm), but it is slippery when the road beneath the snow is still relatively warm. So, my Porsche is now content in its mothballs, waiting and pondering its fate.

I see some crappy looking paint on the car's structure. I'll redo that.

There are things that the car undeniably 'needs' as I've said, and there are things that I want to do to it that it doesn't really need - said that, too. The things that are needed are those repairs, of course. At the same time, I drove the car this past summer with all of these repair issues already present. Unfortunately, the required repairs necessitate removal of the engine and transmission, and that equals a bunch of work. And money, especially for the transmission which has both a noisy fourth gear (and that means a matched pair of gears), and a noisier crown gear and pinion. Both of these problems have been around for some years, but at last the noises annoy me too much and I'd prefer to get rid of them. On the other hand, for the transmission to continue to function, I don't have to repair anything, just yet. Since the special tools ($$$) needed for the transmission and ring and pinion work are rare, if and when I do want to eliminate those problems I'd give that work to a local guy near here who actually has the Porsche factory tools. He knows how to use them well. The hard part would be finding good used parts, because new ones from Porsche are dear. No wonder I'm putting it off. Obvious equivocation.

The engine needs attention as well, paid to its valve train. The repairs are not extensive or grave - actually relatively piddling with only small parts to change, but special tools are needed here, too. And, the engine has been running in this fashion for a while and can continue to do so, also. I could do this work myself.

I stated in an earlier post on this blog that one reason for owning a 911 which has now passed its 42nd birthday is that it is relatively easy to work on, because it is unencumbered with complexities, having no modern-day gizmos, such as power anything, or electronic anything. As a result, I should be happy to work on it and make all of it shipshape. I will do that, with a specific, and different focus.

A plain vanilla 911 such as mine is made to drive on the road; it's made for touring; for travel. The well publicized idea that any Porsche can be taken from the dealer's showroom straight to the racetrack does not mean that very many people actually do this. It will run quite nicely on the track, thank you, but this is not entirely what the car is 'made' for. Rather it is one of the car's potentials, just as agile touring is another. I am content to nimbly tour the countryside in a sporting manner.

When I got my car, one of the first repairs I performed was to rebuild the pedal cluster, since these devices tend to become fouled by corrosion, dirt, and wear. That's what I found, but with one additional ingredient in the mix. The accelerator pedal was bent into a pronounced concave curve, due to the heavy pressures that were regularly applied to it. This car was not driven by a little old lady on sunny Sundays. It had been hammered; so much for dainty touring. Never mind, it is over 42 years old and still going, and that means that it will handle all of the above and nicely ask for more. There are those repairs that my car will need eventually, but given the car's capabilities, it will take more than a few obstacles to stop it. I'll have fun as I prefer.

I keep repeating this theme - enjoy the car, and don't sweat the small stuff. It makes sense, except to those for whom it makes no sense, because they believe that it is a Porsche and they must be kept perfect. It's a car, albeit a nice one, but it is not an object to worship. It's taken me a considerable stretch to accept this realization, but I have done so and I don't regret it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

RUF Automobile parts available in Northeast North America


Ruf Automobile GmbH
RUF Automobile GmbH, Pfaffenhausen, Germany, builds high-end, high-performance, bespoke automobiles, all of which have some roots in various models from Porsche. However, it is considered to be an independent vehicle manufacturer by the German government, because Porsche is simply one of Ruf's many suppliers, plus Ruf designs its own version of virtually every component one could find in a car. It's just that some big ones start life at the Porsche works, but Ruf even uses V-8 engines of its own design, so they are independent. That said, a lot of their cars look like unusual Porsches, because bodies (without VIN numbers) are some of the parts they buy but modify.

In any case, high-performance is Ruf's main focus. They will also restore your 356A to totally original condition, or modify any model or year of Porsche car that a customer possesses. I don't know how many customer cars Ruf rebuilds, or re-imagines, but built from-the-ground-up cars carrying the RUF logo on them, instead of Porsche, number around 30 per year. Pretty rare. Likely there are more cars 'tuned' by Ruf on the road than there are full-on Ruf named cars out there.


All RUF stuff.
So, what happens to all of the mostly brand-new Porsche parts that Ruf removes from cars it is modifying? Interestingly, shipping containers full of them show up at a small business in rural Quebec. Genuine Ruf parts show up there also, plus that business can get you any additional Ruf parts you might want, too. 


A set of four wheels, carbon fiber, from a GT-3.


Need a GT-3 exhaust system, or some 991 brake calipers and rotors, or Boxster fenders, or a complete set of carbon-fiber GT-3 wheels, or a variety of other Porsche wheels complete with tires on them, and on, and on? I also saw Ruf wheels, Ruf bumpers, Ruf rear wings, Ruf steering wheels, and Ruf carbon-fiber body panels, etc., surplus to their needs, I guess, or else they changed the design, whatever.

Ruf stuff doesn't come at a downmarket price, because it is some of the best out there. Ruf cars outperform Porsche cars, but Ruf describes that their main objectives include longevity of their products, and the contentment of the inhabitants of their cars. The Ruf CTR-3 will whisk you along at 380 kms per hour in air-conditioned comfort.

You can't go down to your friendly neighborhood Ruf dealer in order to have a look at their cars and kick the tires. There are only eight places on the planet Earth where you can order a Ruf car. One in North America (soon to be two when a dealership opens in Vancouver), one in South America, one in Europe, and five in Asia. Interesting. I guess we see where the money is these days.



Need calipers? I think the RUF ones have been used. Possibly take-offs from an upgrade.

But, not spending too much money is the name of the game at the small business in rural Quebec. You see, although parts may be new, when they are removed from a production Porsche they become "used", or one might say "new-used". So, the parts are imported as used parts with a lower tariff, and they are sold with used part prices. I saw a PDK transmission with 70 kms on it. New in my book, but for sale as a used part. Evidently the Ruf customer wanted a manual trans, so the PDK came out of the car.


PDK. "Used" 70 kms.
The rare places where you can order a Ruf car are suitably high-end establishments that are appropriate to the extreme nature of the cars, both in performance and price. So, what is a small concern in the boonies of Quebec doing with all of these fancy parts?

The answer is family. Alois Ruf Jr. is the son of Alois Sr., who founded his business in 1939 as 'Auto Ruf'. Jr. is the CEO of RUF Automobile GmbH, today's metamorphosis of that company. Mr. Ruf Jr., being a normal human being, has relatives. Around the corner from my house, approximately, is the home of Alois' niece and her husband. This lucky husband has a special arrangement with Alois in Pfaffenhausen. Basically, the deal is this: Ruf has parts it doesn't need and can't easily sell in Germany for various bureaucratic reasons, so it ships them here for sale as used parts. Everybody wins.


Tires, with Porsche wheels in them. Take-offs.
 Keep in mind that the dealer here does not operate an 'official' distributorship of Ruf inventory, because these are not parts that Ruf is in the business to sell. Therefore, Ruf and Porsche parts, cheap, so to speak. If you email Ruf in Germany, an employee will answer that you should contact one of its dealers for Ruf parts. Okay, but this is a different situation. It's a relative bargain.

What's the difference between this place and a 'Porsche dismantler' elsewhere? Dismantlers, as a pretty fixed rule, take apart cars that have been wrecked; or maybe someone blew the engine; or the car is sad and old, but it has usable parts; or it was in a fire and the front half is still good; etc. The place I'm talking about sells new - or very near to new - parts that have zero or slight use. This is interesting. I have no affiliation with this business, too bad for me. If the pictures look rough, that's because this is not a storefront. Sales are via the Web. Click any photo to enlarge.

The business's name is initially confusing, and the website needs work, but if you want more information, here's the business card:



P.S.  I just checked this website and it was down, so I telephoned Eric and he will check into it and get it running again. While on the phone he mentioned that he is now selling Viper cars and parts on the site, in addition to Ruf and Porsche parts. Cool.

Plus:



Of no use to Ruf, but you might want it.

Or, perhaps you prefer another recent Porsche wing . . .
Unloading a shipping container. Porsche wheels and tires, exhaust systems, RUF bumpers. Etc.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An Out Of the Ordinary "Barn Find"

Okay, this is not a post about finding James Dean's 550 Spyder in a barn, cobbled back together by a tinker and in fine running condition in rural Vermont. Sorry. And, I really beg your pardon this time, it isn't about the barn find of an ancient exotic touring automobile that once belonged to King Farouk, covered in dust but an easy clean-up.

No, not this. = ?
Instead it's about many special cars in one barn, and all but one of the cars in this story are already beautifully restored by a master, so the 'find' consisted of surprise and delight for a group of PCA types who thought they were going to see a '55 Chevy or something before having hot dogs and hamburgers in the back yard. Yes, we went to a farm in rural Vermont. It had a modest and typical farm house, and a smallish barn that had a few additions tacked onto it. When the barn's well-disguised doors opened, our jaws dropped.



This: Elvis Presley's 1964 Rolls Royce
The very first car that we saw in there was a gigantic, chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine that Elvis Presley bought new in 1964. It's easy to find pictures of this car online, but I took my own while there. This was the only car in the place that did not belong to the man whose barn this is, but he was redoing the well-used back seat (see additional photos below) before the car gets employed as a major prop in a documentary movie. It's a special car, it's original owner is still special to many, but there were more amazing cars in the place.


Are you familiar with early Bugatti designs? One of his efforts sits in a corner, the only car that is in pieces. It's a small and unassuming runabout, and it suggests nothing about the Type 41 Royale, and others, that would follow years later. It is so tiny that I doubt that I could get into it at all, but it is the real thing. Probably it was previous to Type 13, Bugatti's first real commercial success in his own factory.

The other cars were crammed together (some about 12 inches or less apart [30 cm]), so making photos was a challenge and even my very wide angle lens was hardly up to the task. So, mainly you will see pieces of great cars.


The Packards were stunning. The 1952 XK-120 Jaguar coupe was to die for. Loved the additional British cars, and an American brass era EMF.             

A star of the show in my opinion. 1952 XK-120 coupe. Squashed between two Packards. = Me

While the Elvis R-R has some interest because of its once-upon-a-time owner, I'm sorry, but that car really pales in comparison to the two Packards, which are world-class cars, like so many of their era. The Packards were mainly hand-made and stunning, but the Rolls looks awkwardly hand-made, and run of-the-mill in a way that isn't anywhere near in the same class as those Packards. Of course, the Concours winning Packards were restored by their talented owner and the Rolls wasn't, except for the work being done that I mentioned above.

One uncommon part of this event, sort of, is the fact that the restorer's wife is the one who organized the PCA affair that brought a group of us to see this collection, plus it was she who organized and led a tour of the area that turned out to be one of the most spirited drives I've ever taken on public roads, bar none. I won't say that speeds were extra-legal at times, and I won't say that I learned something about the handling of my car with a passenger aboard, and I certainly will not mention anything about details like hitting the rev limiter more than once. Those sorts of activities are not appropriate on rural roadways, so it's good that you learned nothing about such behavior from this blog since I didn't mention any of it.


Okay, let's take a look at more images.

This is the back seat of Elvis's car that needs work. = ?
Not only is the upholstery worn on the velvet back seat of the Rolls (Elvis appears to have preferred sitting on the right side), but the oddly stained green shag carpet needs to go. The eight-track tape player will stay, but I don't know if it works. That might not matter. In 1964 Elvis probably had to work for at least several weeks to pay for this car.





That MG is really sweet. Too bad I couldn't fit it all in. = Me

I didn't mention that the owner and restorer of all of this also does boats. That's an ancient Chris-Craft over there with a Chrysler engine in it, I believe. There is another speedboat in the lower portion of this building that had just had its engine reinstalled. 'Gray Marine' it said on that engine, which was a marine engine company that existed from 1901, until 1967. Many of its engines for small boats were based on automotive engine blocks. Trivia aside, the work was as splendid on the boats as it is on these cars.


The paint on all of the the owner's cars is like glass. This is a recent show winner.
There was not one single speck of dust on any of these cars, nor any fingerprint, either. Fingerprints were restricted to the Elvis Rolls. People cared about Elvis, not so much his car, so they gawked inside to see where 'The King' had once parked his bottom, and they tried to guess what went on in that car, which one could only imagine. With the Packards and others, the cars were the stars, so as a matter of deep respect nobody put their greasy paws on any of them.




A newer Packard. This car has a special ultra private passenger compartment.
Maybe it's possible to learn this information, but it is probably a challenge:  Who bought these Packards in the first place? Did they come from Chicago? Were they robber barons? Run-of-the-mill industrialists? Movie stars from another era? The extreme privacy of the passenger portion of the back of this car raises many questions. Why the secrecy? Never mind, whoever owned them is long gone, but thankfully their cars were not eaten up in the WWII scrap metal drives; and so we can feast our eyes in jealousy.  




I drank my Mimosa from this glass. It appeared that the owner/restorer purchased about a case of these, no doubt from a session of competing down there, but I didn't think to ask - he was busy grilling hamburgers at the time. The level of quality of his cars was up to the Pebble Beach standard, so I have little doubt that he has at least shown there. He has the transport vehicles and equipment to take his cars anywhere.




One corner of the workshop.
It's nice to have such a workshop tucked away in a 'commonplace' barn, somewhere in the wilds of Vermont, unknown, even to the locals. That's a good thing, of course, lest it all vanish. That's why I'm making no mention of which part of the state it's in, and that's why I'm not mentioning the name of the owner, either. All of this could be anywhere, and I might just trip over another extraordinary thing next time I venture out. Actually, I know of a local warehouse full of Ruf parts ...




Here's proof that a bunch of Porsche owners were actually there, and that's the sacrosanct barn.





















Here's the inside of that little MG, that we see part of above.



And finally, the whole Elvis limo. = ?

Friday, August 21, 2015

The 2016 PCA Porsche Parade - A Preview

Before you go any further, you might want to read this alarming news release from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission:  SEC.gov  


The 2016 Porsche Parade, the Porsche Club of America's biggest yearly event, will be held at and around the Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont. The resort occupies space on the northeast side of the mountain, and the bulk of the mountain is within Jay Peak State Forest. The mountain, which receives the largest amount of snow of any ski resort in eastern North America, is located 5mi (8km) from the Canadian border, or about 40mi (64km) from my house, which is more important.

Last weekend the Green Mountain Region of PCA held its August event at the resort as a preview of what next year's Porsche Parade might be like, and to give a general impression of the venue's facilities. On offer was the typical luncheon and tour of roads in the area, plus a walking, guided exploration of some of the resort's facilities, including a gondola ride to the top of the mountain at no extra charge.


That tram car can hold up to 60 people. Fun, but that many will be squashed together like sardines in a can.

Estimates of the number of attendees for the Parade range from 2,000 to 2,500 people, with the bulk of them remaining for the week-long duration of the event. I've never attended a Porsche Parade, so although I have read about the car related activities that take place, I haven't heard quite as much about the amusements that take place in addition, although there must be plenty. The Jay Peak Resort is something of an amusement park, making it a four-season destination, so I guess this fits right in with expectations and routine practice.

The waterpark. Open summer and winter and all of the water is warm.

We were given a guided walking tour of the facilities by a smiling woman in a formal, floor-length gown, who pointed out the rolling grass area - that looked like a very large putting green (our luncheon was at the golf facility) - that will be the presentation area for the Concours d' Elegance, although it was mentioned that a circus-size tent(s) will be on hand in the event of poor weather.

Your golf game starts here.

The 'Jay Peak Ice Haus' will be temporarily converted into a banquet hall to seat the entire 2,000 (+/-) collection of celebrating PCAers all at once; that's a lot of tables and chairs. They will thaw the ice, drain the floor, and install new flooring, and suitably decorate the place, one imagines. Otherwise, this venue hosts hockey, figure skating, and curling. If they hosted short-track speed skating competitions, I'd drive there to watch those. Actually, the resort complex has numerous hotels, restaurants, a zillion condos, shops everywhere, and a smiling staff of 1,600 (in the winter, but not quite so many in the summer time). 

The Jay Peak Ice Haus on the left, and the backside of the waterpark on the right. And some of us.

So, it's a large operation and it's easy to understand that it can handle a bunch of Porsche fans, demanding though they are. I'm not talking about you, of course, but some.

Although Jay Peak handles large numbers of revelers all of the time, I guess it seldom receives 2,000 to 2,500 guests all at the same time who want to stick together and talk about one subject, probably  Porsche. Therefore, some surrounding towns - remember, this is an isolated place - are digging deep in order to get a piece of the action, although I've noticed more digging than building. The Jay Peak Resort enterprise has long arms, though. For example, it is the fixed-base-operator of the Newport airport, next to the town of the same name twenty minutes from the resort, and it is to this airport that some PCA types will fly while their Porsches get trucked in for the event. Since airports have large, well-paved spaces with no obstacles to get in the way, the Auto-X events will be staged there. It isn't clear to me where they will launch the rallies.

I've driven the roads in this area often, and they are very pleasant and mostly fun to drive, plus the local governments are at work to improve a number of them in the general locale. That's a good thing. . . I participated in a rally here a couple of years ago, but I was focused on doing well and didn't have time to enjoy the scenery to any great extent. Don't make that mistake.

As far as mountains go,  Jay isn't much. As a matter of fact, it's vertical drop is only the fifth highest in the state of Vermont, but it is well developed, if you enjoy amusement parks, and it appears that PCA estimates that you will.

So, we took our free cable car ride up to the top of the mountain. It has been a few years since I rode in a Teleférico (in Venezuela), and that one, at Mérida, reaches 4,765 metres (15,633 ft) of elevation, which dwarfs the Jay operation that reaches just 1,176 metres (3,858 feet). Never mind, the small hill at Jay doesn't cause anyone to suffer from hypoxia, and the view is nice, considering.

Up at the top of Jay.
For me, mountain tops are delightfully special places. Once you are up there, the world becomes so much more quiet; the money changers, and elbowing crowds, and snarling Porsches all fade into a distant recent memory, allowing you to enjoy the luxurious embrace of a passing cloud. The kiss of that cool cloud on a hot summer's day is elegant magic. I have never truly acknowledged that there are places on this planet that allow the emanation of some form of mystical energy, but mountain tops must certainly be close. In such a regard, without ever thinking about it, I realize now that I have never been disappointed in any experience, at all, that I have had on a mountain top. But, it has to be high enough to keep away the noise and the elbowing crowds.

Antennas and rocket ships, apparently.
And, up on top, I felt that I came into contact with an intense sense of belonging - a connection to the Earth - then I realized that down below there were squealing hordes in the waterpark, having fun as they consumed stupendous, stunning amounts of energy in their all-glass, wet fantasy world, while skiers cruise by outside in the snow and sub-zero temperatures. But not today.        

There is a different reality down there amongst those celebrators of warm water and splashing that is removed from mountain tops, and Porsche talk, too. Time to go down and face it all.

Life on high.

At least the gondola descends into a welcoming, wooden inn and restaurant where you are reunited with commercial realities with some grace. It could be worse.

Every room with a beautiful view.
By the way, the wet gravel roads that we were led onto during our introductory tour of the surrounding countryside will be newly paved well before next year's Parade, so we were promised.

I did confess, above, that I have never been to a Porsche Parade, so I have no realistic idea about the suitability of this extensive venue, or even if it is in fact extensive. Maybe it's average, or perhaps it's fabulous. I simply don't know, but I do know that I look forward to the event. Even though I likely won't stay in one of the hotels - I live 45 minutes away - I should be able to get in on enough of the action to make the whole thing a memorable experience. After all, the visual adventure alone, of a thousand impossibly shiny Porsche cars, should be worth the price of admission.   

Stopped, on wet gravel! Good thing it didn't rain and turn to real mud.
 
Pay attention. I saw the mountain up close, and even hiking may be a challenge.


Have fun, stay safe, and relax.

Note: For a few more photos, go to Green Mountain's website: 
Click link:
GMT Photo Gallery - 2015 Jay Peak Tour


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Demise of Porsche

PROLOGUE
Ignore the date just above. It is June 2 as I start this. Also, be forewarned that there are some harsh invectives used in this post.

The commentary I'm going to present in this post has to do with unlimited growth: of Porsche sales, of world population (mainly), of resulting consumption, of the economy, of Porsche sales, of everything. It's about the disquieting human occupancy of the planet Earth, because there are simply far too many of us. When we reach a critical mass in the very near future and possibly collapse, Porsche goes with us, but not in total innocence. There has got to be a way to continue to enjoy the Porsche experience.  

In a nut shell and more to the point, the human race is going to fornicate itself out of existence, because, like any other species that makes the reproductive mistake of boundless expansion, it's numbers will soon exceed the Earth's capacity to provide for it in any manner whatsoever - never mind supporting nonessential sillinesses like Porsches.


Porsche goes off into the sunset. From flickr, © = ?.
Yet, there is much talk of 'Green Growth', or a 'Green Economy' which increase agriculture, and industry, and every form of 'progress' in a way that is respectful toward and even advantageous for the planet. It is a vision of benevolent perpetual growth, in a limited environment (!?), that will see to the needs and wants of humans, while keeping nature pure and intact. Regrettably, this is a fiction, because we want and demand too much, and nature has unequivocal limits. In the words of the brilliant thinker Kenneth Boulding, “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Surprise, among multiple things, Boulding was an economist, but he frequently spoke memorably against infinite growth and its probable disasters. He was right.

But sadly, many with little imagination believe that we humans are somehow immune to the tragedies that befall other species when they overpopulate themselves into fatal bloat. Nature is US, not the 'Other', and we're in trouble.

In 1779, T. Robert Malthus wrote:
Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.
— Malthus T.R. Pub. in 1798. An essay on the principle of population. Chapter VII, p61

Malthus' position may seem severe, and we could be tempted to have faith that our advanced technology will certainly save us. I submit that technology isn't the answer, either, it's part of the problem with its putrifying detritus, because we here on Earth will simply run out of everything and destroy ourselves and our environment with our astounding contaminations well before we have any chance to exit the place to ruin another planet elsewhere. I have to admit upfront that I am not a scientist able to provide authoritative facts of my own to support what I am saying here, but this doesn't mean that my remarks are incorrect, and I will provide good sources of evidence for what I say. 

Plus, I am very sad to see the beauty of our planet erode - as we endanger ourselves - and it's our own fault. While traveling a fair amount around the world over the years my response to what I have seen on every continent I visited was very much the same.  There are way, way too many of  us, and our numbers are growing at a frightening rate. For humans to survive - and I'm only talking about a time frame involving a couple score of years - our numbers must decrease dramatically. We are almost a plague on the Earth, crawling over the poor thing like bacteria and in comparable numbers. Were Adam and Eve a big mistake?
 
These are brash remarks and possibly disagreeable to some, but while my presentation may be flammable and histrionic, it ain't wrong. Something has to give, if we haven't totally blown it already. Is this about Porsche? Of course it is, very pointedly so, as we shall see.


CHAPTER ONE:  CAUSE AND EFFECT  THE POPE BEAT ME TO IT !
 
Earlier, I said that I've been thinking about the above issues for years, and this is rigidly true. Perhaps I thought a bit too long, because on June 18, 2015, in Rome, Pope Francis released his encyclical letter LAUDATO SI’ [Praise Be to You], on the care of our common home, which receives ongoing worldwide review. That teaching letter considers the state and health of the Earth, and measures that should be taken to preserve, restore, and polish this tragically damaged world. As a result, much of what I intended to discuss in this post he covers in well annotated detail. I think he has a larger staff of scholars at his disposal. Admittedly, his global influence is almost unparalleled, so good thing he did it.

Pope Francis' heraldic crest
I'm not a papist, nor even a believer, but I do have to openly admit that the Pope has covered a large swath of what is asunder on this planet, and he does so with admirable depth and sobriety. So, he has done me a great favor, because now I don't have to examine so many subjects anymore in this post, and this allows me to focus on my main subject, overpopulation.

Don't misunderstand the paragraphs below, because they aren't meant to be negative. This Pope, Francis, is authentic and helpful, and his efforts with the encyclical under discussion already have positive world-wide influence; we all owe him deeply for this. I'm being a stickler for details, a character flaw of mine.

That said, to me there are two grave mistakes in the encyclical, one a bit more grave than the other. I plan to delve into what's right more fully further on. 


Francis makes a forceful case that avarice in the form of capitalism critically disadvantages the poor, robbing them, in extensive parts of the planet, of their resources and production in order to fuel the whims and thoughtless 'needs' of the First World's privileged minority. This happens; it's obvious and ongoing. Capitalism is flawed. While capitalism isn't central to the main subject at hand, it plays a hand.

At the same time, capitalism has raised far more people from their rags than any other economic system experimented with at any other time. According to Winston Churchill, "It has been said that Democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried." Substitute Capitalism into that thought and you will concoct a similar truth. Capitalism may be reprobate and amoral on numerous fronts, but never has there been a superior system put into place throughout our common history. The high-minded believe in world-wide egalitarianism; good luck with that. Human interaction on this front will not evolve gracefully any time soon. Francis must joust at other windmills, rather than capitalism as he sees it. But, Francis doesn't support Marxism either - another subject. His ideas about Capitalism make up the Pope's lesser error. 

More importantly, as the New York Times says, "Many conservatives will be pleased with the encyclical’s strong criticism of abortion, and its dismissal of arguments that population control can be an answer to poverty." Possibly in very basic terms the Pope's arguments on these points make sense if the Times were wholly accurate, until the concepts of 'control' and 'poverty' be expanded to cover more than what is typically thought of them - for example, what does control mean, exactly? My view is that on this subject the Pope may be grievously wrong, and that's dangerous. It could make much of what he says otherwise meaningless and irrelevant. A number of semantic arguments need attention, though. Francis' exact words are, "To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues." Sorry, that's an incomplete thought with a short view, which has its roots in the church's intransigent position on birth control (which is an immense impediment standing in the way of women's empowerment over the control of their own bodies), and important related issues.

Here is a link to the encyclical:  Laudato Si'   To be clear, I have only skimmed the full document, but have not examined every bit of it in detail, and that is why my remarks above are equivocal. It is a comprehensive treatise and I'll get through all of it momentarily, even the parts that quote scriptures (which I tend to dismiss out of hand), because the references are pragmatic and grounded, as is the bulk of what is presented. It is not a lightweight letter, as is this flippant blog post, but I do intend to make solid and reasoned points before I'm finished. 

So, this blog post has morphed into a critique of the thinking of Pope Francis; who would have thought. . . I'll take my best shot below. 


CHAPTER TWO:  THE GRAND EXPERIMENT

Of course, we humans are the 'Grand Experiment', and that experiment may not be a success, because everything that is demonstrably wrong with this planet is clearly our fault. It seems questionable that this is what the experiment was aiming for. Yes, I know of the philosophical/religious arguments about our free will and related concepts, but they don't work for me in this context. I didn't invent this 'experiment' hypothesis; plus, naturally, it is implied that the experiment is the act of another power, and this notion, to me, is problematic. There are individuals who claim that without a supernatural 'being' out there, who is all-knowing, omnipotent, Just-in-the-absolute, etc., there can be no meaning to our existence. I do not accept this claim and find no logic in it. We are a fully, self-responsible accident of natural selection. 

I recall a paper some years ago, in a scientific journal, that argued via massive equations and the like, that if the correct conditions are present in an environment - here, or elsewhere -  then life must occur, and no experiment is implied, anywhere. The author of that article is a research physician, as well as a PhD physicist.

There is an organization called Global Population Speak Out that offers many substantive reflections on the question of rampant human population growth. Link to their website here. Among the most arresting arguments found via their site is the notion that anyone would be hard-pressed to find cultures where very large families are the result of women's thinking on the subject. In fact, worldwide, women typically want two children, at most (see link, above). It is predominately men who need to prove their image of manhood by demanding that women produce multiple offspring for them. Personally, I have heard the boast, "He is a Man!" on diverse continents, when the speaker considered the fact that an individual had fathered an abundance of children. Being a responsible and real man on this planet is not measured by sperm count.

By the way, I find that there are too many fascinating quotes, facts, and perspectives to be found on the Population Speak Out website for me to link to all of them here. Better that you go to that site and read what they have to say. You can examine and read their whole recent book online, free.

Sadly, as I read further into the Pope's encyclical it has become evident to me that nearly all of the points he addresses can be put down to our massive population and the pressures that it puts on the planet's resources. Therefore, this single fact, overpopulation, must be placed front and center.

The opening sentences of paragraph 50 of Laudato Si' are, "Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of 'reproductive health'. Yet 'while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development'." 

Excuse me Mr. Pope, but that is nonsense. Some can "only" propose a reduction in the birth rate? Maybe that's true of some, but all of those who are not saddled with uncompromising dictates about contraception, as is your burden, constitute a very large number. Failure of the rich countries to provide for 'reproductive health' in less wealthy countries is irresponsible, but the Catholic church would not allow it. Failure of the rich to offer contraception to the less advantaged, and where sadly necessary, abortion, is irresponsible. These derelictions on the part of the developed countries ill serve women and help to keep them in a position of servitude, unable to participate substantively in the evolution of the cultures in which they exist. The result is disastrous population expansion at the expense of the planet, and all of us.

The Catholic insistence that birth control never be allowed is an example of a policy that potentially could kill us all, unless significant changes are made, and soon. And, by the way, in developed countries, such as the USA, a very important percentage of births are unplanned 'mistakes', for whatever reason. Since the population of the USA is one of the greatest per-capita consumers of all forms of the Earth's resources, rational control of population should start there first. 

Not all of this frightening reality can be blamed on the Pope and the Catholic church, of course, and the Pope is well intended with his environmental efforts and is accomplishing something on that front. I'm only superficially familiar with what other large religions have to say about producing offspring, except to the extent that most do not in any way promote limiting progeny. But no matter the religious or cultural belief, everyone in every stratum must address the issue, or see their children's children die in pitiful circumstances (a strong statement, but I truly believe it to be true). Yes, it is that important, and yes most religions need to change their views. Not an easy task.  

CHAPTER THREE: THE ROLE OF PORSCHE IN ALL OF THIS 

In 1964 there were 13 prototype model 901 Porsche cars built (later to be re-identified as the 911), and in 1965 there were around 3350 total examples constructed when the 911 went on sale. Some examples of the 356 model were also assembled during this time-frame, but the numbers were small, because the 356 was being phased out and production of it ceased in April of 1965.

50 years later, Porsche anticipates sales of 200,000 cars maybe before the fourth quarter of 2015 appears, a record that was not expected to occur until 2018. Why is this good news relative to my experience of my elderly 911? These sales figures are nearly worshiped in most Porsche blogs and newsletters, but to me this is merely tribal - like football team fandom - and has no substance in any tangible, seat-of-the-pants form, except for money in the pockets of VW shareholders. So 2015 is a milestone year for Porsche, but let's look more closely at the larger picture. What does this represent?

Some of you, dear readers, will be annoyed, or disappointed, or surprised, etc., at what I am about to say, but I think it needs saying. Porsche epitomizes much of the problem that the world faces. Not that Porsche itself is responsible for vast regions of devastation, or slavery, or widespread theft, but outright innocence isn't part of the equation, either.

Of course you already know that Ferdinand Porsche designed the world's first petroleum-electric hybrid car in 1901 when he was in his early 20s, as an employee of Jakob Lohner & Company, an Austrian maker of carriages and automobiles. That was a very significant achievement. It was his job; that's how he made his living. He was a brilliant engineer, and although at a later point he built race cars even though he had no customers for them, he was in it for the money, of course. There is nothing wrong with that; it's normal and nearly inescapable, and it's how we do things on this planet. 

A bit of light comic relief: An early Porsche marketing effort (King Tut's tomb). Web photo © = ?

  
Today, with Porsche under Volkswagen ownership really big money is involved, and making massive profits is job number one. Sure, today's Porsche automobiles are fantastically capable; they are also fantastically profitable. Porsche's profit margins are beyond most any other automobile maker, save perhaps some ultra rare and bespoke marque that doesn't matter. Why is this?

People in the developed world want luxury. They want luxury clothing, luxury homes, luxury food, luxury skin, luxury cars, luxury hair, and luxury everything else. Much of what they get is junk, but they want luxury, and that actually means objects and services that they don't need at all. Marketers are the evil geniuses at work behind nearly all of this and they are extraordinarily accomplished at it.

Cars that offer extreme power/performance are wholly unnecessary, and frankly absurd. They can't be used to their lofty potentials on public roads, so along with their über performance, and to make the package complete, they have become luxury-sports cars. The whole idea of them is a luxury, necessary for nothing but the delusion of the monied masses who wish to immerse themselves in high-speed opulence while they imagine that they are capable of actually using their car to its potentials. Total fiction at its finest. This statement won't win me any accolades from Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, but it's true.

(That said, I enjoy my engaging 41.5 year old 911; it let's me know who's boss. Please look at, "A Case for the Neo-Luddite Porsche," a post in this blog dated January, 2015. See the links in the sidebar. My car is a do-it-yourself project. It is uncomfortable in the extreme to drive; fun, but not at all luxury in today's view. That concept hadn't been marketed yet.)

Porsche of today, to me, is a supreme paradigm of indulgence gone over the top. The cars employ near wizardry in their conception and execution, and absolute witchery in the craft of charging obscene prices for 'must-have' options that should already be included in the stunning base prices of every model. Does this viewpoint on my part make me a true Luddite, complaining about 'them fancy cars'? Frankly, yes, it does, in a way. But not for the reasons some might expect. Nevertheless, a new Porsche = inescapable indulgence. The biggest selling model, the large and heavy Cayenne, is frankly a gas-hog. The planet Earth cannot afford this.

I use Porsche here as a broad example, but an excellent one, of consumer "need" for extravagant self-gratification, a disease that affects way too many in developed countries, causing them to lay waste to the resources of this planet - for no justifiable reason at all. And, the rest of the world's population (a large number of them at least) are increasingly guilty of such wants, too, since they suffer from the same weaknesses and are not blind to what the privileged possess. As a result, demands on the planet may increase at a rate exceeding the population's expansion.

The issue of over-population of the planet Earth is its greatest challenge. ISIS and similar filthy ilk come and go, politicians come and go, languages and countries come and go, economic systems come and go, political systems and dictates come and go, religions come and go. But the population keeps relentlessly growing, and the Earth is not growing. This cannot go on forever.

If we put a stop to it, and make rational use of what we have - instead of what we foolishly 'need' - maybe we will survive. If women are placed in charge of population density and subsequent retraction, we might just be able to operate Porsche automobiles that are fun to drive around, even as they are cleverly and responsibly concocted from dwindling, recycled leftovers of past fantasy growth and waste. It's possible. Or, Porsche just vanishes.    

Maybe that's enough.


EPILOGUE 

In a paragraph in the beginning of Chapter Three I briefly allude to the fact that Porsche isn't responsible for ruining the planet completely by itself. However, since I am more familiar with all things Porsche than I am with many other comparable species, automotive and otherwise, I use Porsche, as I have said, as an example of a broad trend that is dangerous. This does not absolve Porsche and I do question some of its recent corporate ambitions, but don't confuse this with a fuming, Porsche-bashing diatribe. That's not what it is.

This post is, I hope it's clear, a lament about dire possibilities if our population continues to inflate and consume the Earth voraciously. We can drive Porsches, or not, but when our numbers, especially, and our manifold obsessions reach a critical mass it will be game over. 

We're lucky to be living now, rather than at some decaying time in the future when all of the problems of today have mightily inflated into unfathomable chaos and pain. Science, politics, religions - none of them will stave off the inevitable collapse caused by gigantic population growth. Stopping population buildup by empowering women to make more meaningful decisions over numbers and timing of children is the only realistic hope for the continuation of the "Human Experiment" and the marvels that it has the potential to produce.  It's time for new values, new ethics, new enlightenment, new cultures, and new restraints.

Not a simple task.

Spring Cleaning

Life is complicated, and the more you do, the more you need to do on top of it. Something like that.

Since that is the case and I have no time to write much at the moment, this post will mainly be a pictorial exposé of recent events, Porsche related, that I am trying to complete before getting the car back onto the road. The winter that just finished here was the coldest since 1977, so the authorities say, and there was plenty of snow, too. As a result, the dirt road I live on has yet to fully thaw, and the first kilometer has many springs in it that force water to the surface, adding to the salty mud on top. No Porsche driving for me until it all dries out. So, I continue to fiddle with my car, as you see below.

There is more to do on the bottom than on the top, so the car is up in the air once again. It spends half of its life like this. Including the tires, there are eight support 'devices' under the car. This makes it awkward to work on some things, but at least the car should stay up in the air, rather than fall on my head. That could ruin the car.

This was/is a black-centered wheel, while on my car. A previous owner bought four wheels from several other cars to replace whatever my car had previously. The two front wheels had polished 'pedals' that were then painted black. This one was painted with a brush (badly), and the paint was coming off. It was very easy to remove the residual paint and I am going to repaint the wheel. However, having the 'silver' spoke color extend to the rim is not typical on old Fuchs wheels and I rather like it, but it won't stay. 

The other front wheel had been sprayed with a much tougher paint, but it was still shabby and the edges of the polished pedals had a sharp line that showed through. I filed the edges off and smoothed everything to my preference. I'm going to carry a rear wheel with me to a professional auto paint shop so that I can get some tough wheel paint to match exactly. I hope.

I didn't want to use this product on the wheels, but it worked well
 enough on the black valve covers, that looked grimy and grubby.


Wheel paint, and a clear coat over it, is tough. I used it on the fan and
 it has worked well, so I used the same thing on the valve covers.

The finished product. Very shiny, but it doesn't show here. I like it. Notice snow and ice still on the ground - April 22.

Much brighter than the original dirty, cracked black paint. Now I have to clean everything else.

Nice to have neat covers down here, too.

I warmed the transmission for 4 hours with an infrared lamp. Not too hot, and the thick oil drained easily and completely.

Inside - I don't like the roughness on that gear. I'm going to check this out. 
It is a bad fourth gear; it will run okay, but will make noise.

I use BP8ES, because they run nice and clean in my engine. But, there might be a small oil leak on the valve stem oil seal on the number two cylinder, and this fouls that plug. BP6ES is two numbers hotter. We'll see if that helps #2 to burn clean for the short term.

Scrape, scrape, clean, clean, paint, paint.

 I'm refilling the transmission with oil using that hose and funnel. Nuts to the bad 4th gear, it's been there for years, maybe.

And finally, May 5, this is the result of the repainting of one of the above wheels.  I like it.


There's more, but I ran out of pictures. The valves have been adjusted (see Kirk tool post below), I'm touching up stone chips in the paint, all the filters have been changed, I will shortly readjust the clutch cable - again, and the shift coupling, etc. A good amount of work needs completion, but I will hit the road on the first day that it dries up. Today it's snowing, still.