Booster Masthead

Restoration Blvd.
April 2007

Columnist — Allen Wright

Cars, Computers, and Keeping Things Simple

What I like most about computers is the way many things can get handled quite quickly and simply, kind of like old cars.

You need basically two things with cars and computers: a spark and a source of fuel. It seems pretty simple. However, when you load them with features and add-ons, there can be trouble. Look at the newer cars. I understand fuel injection but I am a bit afraid of it.

I recently purchased a printer for photos from my digital camera. It took several hours of work, program installation, rewiring, reading the manual, rewiring again but we finally got it figured out. I got a disc burner/CD/DVD attachment and it still doesn't work. All of this is hooked up to the computer with wires and cables everywhere.

At the 2007 L.A. Auto Show I met Reeves Callaway and was quite taken with the new C16 Callaway Corvette. At $119,00 it's quite a car with a six-liter engine supercharger making 600 horsepower and 582 pounds of torque. The Callaway Corvette runs 0-60 miles per hour in 3.3 seconds and gets through the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds. Add to this the 28 miles per gallon highway mileage. The electronics are Chevy Corvette and look quite complicated.

I met Mr. Callaway when he was trying to adjust the video monitor for his press interview. He was having a bit of trouble with the video player. Like the computer accessories, the video player is on the list of things that don't work well.

One thing that has never worked is my ability to back up vehicles close to a trailer. Many do it by sound: when you hear the vehicle hit the trailer hitch and bend the license plate, you know you are too close. Conversely, you can creep back, jumping in and out of the tow vehicle until the hitch is right over the ball.

Now I have two high-tech options to test to improve this process. One is quite simple, basically a mirror and a pole with a magnet on it. The second is a back-up camera which mounts on the license plate frame and transmits the image to a TV monitor in the cab. The installation instructions for both seem pretty simple and I will be running the test and reporting my results here in a future column.

Before I start, though, I have a concern about the camera location on the license plate. This may be trouble as this is the first thing that gets hit when backing up toward a trailer hitch. Simple might have a chance in this test.

Every year, San Diego hosts The Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) Auto Parts Swap Meet at Qualcomm Stadium, formerly Jack Murphy Stadium. I had gone years ago and this year I wanted to go back. Somehow, this swap meet has stayed pretty true to auto parts and accessories. There were a lot of vendors selling antique, performance, and vintage '30's, '40's, '50's and '60's auto parts. It was a bunch of old-time guys selling real auto parts.

This was a big change from the Pomona Swap Meet where you can buy everything from plumbing supplies to used military uniforms. The Pomona Swap Meet is turning into the Wal-Mart of auto-related events: you can find a little bit of everything in its aisles.

The Long Beach Swap Meet has turned the corner and is somewhat cleaning out their plumbing, home electronics department, garden, and pet sales departments.

Being a Mopar guy, I really like the Mopar events. Mopars On the Strip is coming up as is the Spring Fling and Fall Fling at Woodley Park. There is less junk and distraction at Mopar events — it's just cars and parts, pretty simple.

At the Big Three Swap Meet, I met a guy by the name of Joe. He and his wife were unloading auto parts from their garage. He was a masonry contractor by trade and had just bought a new Chevrolet 2007 3/4 ton pickup truck. In the back, he had the largest tool box I have ever seen in a pickup bed.

I made some comments about the storage box in the back and he mentioned that he had a used one that would fit in my GMC. You've probably seen them under the Husky brand or other similar brands. They hook up to the side rails. The next day he brought his old one, powder-coated black, and a deal was struck.

My new tool box is called a ToughGuy II and it was a simple setup, although I had one problem when I first installed it in my truck. Forgetting that I have an alarm on the GMC, I simply opened the tool box after it was secured in my truck bed. That woke me up. The sensors on the alarm will operate if the vehicle is disturbed, a simple feature, and opening the tool box was enough to sound the alarm.

What's more simple is the fact that now I can store all my stuff in the box and not have it rolling around under the seats or under foot.

This week, I file my taxes. I used to think that it was easy to do taxes and thank God I was never audited using that system. Now I make my taxes simple. I go to the accountant and see if I paid enough all year.

I recently got this message on my computer: "In the U.S. and Canada daylight savings time starts three weeks earlier than your PC currently recognizes." What does this mean? Why do I care?

The message continued, "If you are based in the U.S. or Canada time zone any calendar appointments you entered during March 11 to April 1 and October 28 to November 4 do not recognize the change."

They also noted that there are several ways, including computer patches, to fix this issue. It is not a simple thing at all!

What is simple is the fact that you send up with more daylight in the evenings thanks to George W's energy policy act. I plan to use the extra daylight to enjoy my family and work on my old cars and let the computer folks figure out what time it is in computer land.

I am sure the computer guys can find a way to make the time right. After all, I already have it figured out for my system: just turn the hour hand forward by 60 minutes.

Originally published in the April/May 2007 Automotive Booster Magazine.
Copyright 2007 by KAL Publications Inc.

Covering the California auto parts aftermarket since 1928.