Slippery weather means that drivers of 4×4 vehicles can justify their machine’s power sapping complexity which conveys their potentially stupendous ability to plough through snowdrifts. My own car, the rear wheel drive BMW 1 series is about the least suited to driving in snow yet it had no trouble dealing with the snow encountered this January. I was intrigued to read a road test of a rear-wheel drive BMW fitted with snow tyres. Apparently the experienced road tester thought that the snow tyres gave the BMW better traction in the snow than a 4WD on tarmac tyres. I did not have snow tyres fitted this year but if I had, I would love to have had a photo of my little car towing a Range Rover on tarmac tyres up an icy slope.
I missed half a day’s work on Wednesday 23 November. I was walking the dog on the Blythewood Estate, an enormous bang emanated form a house about fifty metres away, followed a moment later by a sickening rumble as it almost completely crumbled into a pile of bricks. Others came onto the scene before me to help the couple out of the house and I continued further down the cul-de-sac to return the dog. I drove back the short distance to the scene of the accident but the Police, who had arrived at the scene swiftly, had closed the road due to the possibility of a further explosion due to leaking gas.
I understand the couple who owned the house survived and are recovering despite up to two thirds burns. The house had to be demolished. It can be seen from the pictures that they had a very narrow escape.
Nitrogen dioxide is found near roads and in cities. City dwellers are more susceptible to coughs and sneezes so nitrous oxide has become the scape-goat. Consequently monitoring stations have sprung up, those mysterious grey or green cabins set a few metres from the road with a tube sticking out of the top These robots constantly monitor this gas and send information alerting authorities when nitrous oxide levels are high. Presumably those individuals who are susceptible to asthma can stay at home until the scare has passed.
Nitrous oxide levels are falling due to the rats nest of pipes found under the bonnets of modern cars which effectively suffocate our engines. These pipes reduce the quantity of fresh air sucked into our engines by diluting it with the exhaust. Effective though this arrangement is at preventing nitrogen dioxide emissions, more fuel has to be burnt to overcome the fact that there is only just enough oxygen in the engine to burn the fuel. This system works well enough on new engines but exhaust gas contains a small percentage of ash and carbon. Inevitably this clogs up the pipes which are supposed to reduce the engine’s emissions. The result? lower engine efficiency, more soot from the exhaust pipe and more carbon dioxide being released. A driver can detect this loss of performance after a car has travelled a high mileage. Some of those in the tuning business who operate dynamometers have the view that road cars can lose power after just 20,000 miles and this causes a commensurate increase in fuel consumption.
Unfortunately manufacturers only need to ensure that their cars meet strict standards emission standards when new. The promulgators of the regulations, I feel have not taken the bigger view that the emissions produced in a cars lifetime should be more important. Research on new vehicle emissions is easy pickings. Regulations should really be based upon real life vehicle use and not centred around nitrogen dioxide simply because its concentration is easily monitored.
Nitrous oxide does not build up in the atmosphere. It is too soluble and unstable. It is found in higher concentrations in cities where it is blamed for chest infections. I have always been under the impression that infections were caught from other people. Cities have a high concentration of people. Could this be the main reason for chest infections in cities?
Phew! What a hot day. The Christmas decorations are now being installed on the lamp posts of Ascot High Street. Any day now we’ll be seeing summer holiday adverts on TV. Christmas in three months.