Saturday, October 21, 2017

1959 Volkswagen Type 1 Beetle - when there's no gas gauge

Early model Beetles had a lot of quirky features, none more strange than the "reserve fuel tap" to compensate for the fact that they did not have a gas gauge on the dashboard.

The regular fuel tank was 10.6 gallons, and the reserve tank was 1.3 gallons. From the owner's manual: "For vehicles with a fuel tap, the operating lever should be set at "Open". If the engine begins to "shutter" due to lack of fuel, just turn the lever right to "Reserve."

The owner of an old Beetle described what this meant in practical terms: "Of course, there was no way to check the gas level while you were driving, which meant that you could be straining down the freeway at 65 MPH one minute and windmilling down to zero the next when you ran the tank dry. So the VW designers gave the driver a little valve next to the foot pedals that you could work with your toe, which turned on a reserve fuel supply good for about 30 miles, which they figured was enough to get you to a gas station. So when the engine quit, the drill was to leave the engine in gear, cut into the slow lane, flip the valve with your foot and pump frantically on the gas pedal to restore the flow of gas. If everything worked, the engine started up again after about 5 seconds of terror; if unsuccessful, you cut onto the shoulder and coasted to a stop."


Monday, October 9, 2017

1991 Honda Acty - minitruck roundup

All of the big carmakers in Japan make this same truck: very small engine mounted forward of the rear axle under the bed, full-time 4-wheel drive, manual transmission. The Acty engine is 547 cc; an engine that size would not be considered large in a motorcycle. These trucks do not of course meet American standards for safety and emissions, but it's legal to drive vehicles on the street that don't meet those standards once they are 20 years old. The other two trucks below are a 1990 Mitsubishi Mini Cab with dump truck bed, and a circa-1990 Suzuki Carry 660.