Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Improvements need to be bought

Dateline: 28/4/10. Cinderford, Gloucs. Freed from pounding out the novel I return to my roots. The comments will fall away but I took up blogging to fill in a techno-void. Rhyming couplets are OK but nuts and bolts hold things together.

My four-year-old car is here at Winner’s Garage for only its second scheduled service which will cost at least £800 (actually £768.83). There’s nothing wrong but they’ll be replacing the cam-belt (the cogged strip that snakes round the gears in the pic) which means pulling the front of the engine to bits.

The belt drives the camshaft which opens and closes the valves to admit fuel and allow exhaust fumes to escape. In olden times (still the case with some large US engines) the shaft was buried in the engine and valve contact was by rackety push-rods. Now the shaft sits on top of the cylinder and is rotated via a plastic belt. Much more precise, greater engine efficiency, but at a price. Over time the belt stretches and the tensioners no longer tension. Left to its own devices the belt may slip a cog or break, a valve no longer synchronised touches the piston and excessive derangement ensues. A replacement engine for my car costs over £2000.

Nothing comes for nothing. An overhead cam engine is a great improvement on a push-rod engine but plastic belts don’t last for ever; similarly with chain drives. Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? Meanwhile the world waits for an eternal belt.