James May, A Toys Story, Touches on Power Systems

My favorite BBC presenter is James May of Top Gear fame. He has several series if you wish to look them up. In this episode they race the Germans over a 10 mile course between two cities that at one time were connected with rail service. Lots of interesting contraptions, RC, Glow Engines, Lipo’s, the logic of how they powered the rails and etc… An interesting show touching on many topics any modeler would appreciate.


Ford C-Max Energi Part 5

Clearly the electric powered functionality of this car is a most appealing gizmo factor for me. I like driving it in pure EV mode whenever possible. It has 3 modes, EV Now, EV-Later and Auto. We made a short drive to our regular Sunday morning breakfast stop from there to Menards then back home. All on electric. Puts a twinkle in my eye not to have purchased any fuel (or it’s embedded taxes) for that trip.

Speaking of taxes, I looked up my tax on fuel in Ohio on OhioGasPrices.com which seems to be part of a site called GasBuddy.com. This site provides fuel prices, tax and other related information for every state. Look up your own state. Ohio fuel tax is 28 cents per gallon. The lowest states are Georgia at 7.5 cents and Alaska at 8 cents. The big tax offenders are Washington and Pennsylvania at 37.5 cents. So, I ask, how is it that Alaska and Georgia build and maintain roads for less than 1/5th of Washington and Pennsylvania? Are the roads in WA and PA 5x better? I’m not going to dig, but my suspicions are there is probably a strong relationship to how much of that money gets vacuumed off by non-free market road maintenance contractors. Oh, lets don’t forget, the federal government adds 18.4 cents to the price of every gallon of fuel which should be added to the numbers you find at the links above.

So, where do we stand this week?

Driving Fuel & Eco Data Display
Driving Fuel & Eco Data Display

Above is the display we like to keep up while driving. You can see we are sitting at 859.7 miles, 52.1 Ave MPG. It’s a warmer day here so the total available miles for EV power is 15 miles. We are told the warmer it is, the bigger this number will be, possibly as high as 21 miles this summer. It increases with temperature and also considers your heat/ac settings impact on range. You’ll notice she still has a bit over 1/2 a tank of fuel. This is our second tank since purchase and the first tank we’ve paid for. Note fuel mileage is calculated at 52.1 mpg. I am certainly hoping to do better than this but waiting patiently for the minimum 1000 miles Ford says to wait before judging the fuel economy. The little yellow plug symbol on the bottom line is indicating the car is plugged in. It won’t allow you to drive away while it’s plugged in. I am wondering where the engineer sits whom presumes I don’t have a cord long enough for my trip?

Lifetime Summary
Lifetime Summary

Above we see the Lifetime Summary. This screen comes up every time you power the car down. 373.1 EV miles, 35.7 miles powered by reclaimed braking energy. It’s scoring us at 41.9mpg in equivalent MPG on electric. Not exactly sure how that last number of calculated. I can think of a few different ways.

Notice that even though the range of this car on pure electric in the cold of winter has been about 14 miles most of the time. Yet, 373.1 EV miles of the total of 859.7 miles traveled. That means even though the electric only range is comparably short, it accounts for 43.4% of all miles traveled.

Also note, the fuel powered miles would be 486.6. Subtract the 59 miles the card had when we got it, this leaves 437.6 miles. To this point, we’ve consumed approximately 18 gallons (12.45 first fill up, about 5.5 thus far in this tank). This would imply the ICE (internal combustion engine) is delivering 24.31mpg. YIKES! I do hope this begins to improve as we cross 1000-3000 miles range where Ford says you should wait to collect MPG info.

That’s all till next Sunday.


Ford C-Max Energi Part 4

First Fill Up Life Time Summary 01/07/13
First Fill Up Life Time Summary 01/07/13
On Monday January 7 of this last week, we put our first fill-up in the car. The odometer was reading 574 miles, subtract the 59 miles we started with (presumably on a full tank at the dealer) and that’s 515 miles on 12.45 gallons of fuel. We averaged 41.36mpg. Remember, Ford states not to judge mileage for at least the first 1000 miles.

A few thoughts come to mind:

1. The car says 230 miles have been driven on electricity, the balance of 344 miles driven on fuel. I’m a little confused here. Did we only go 344 miles on our 12.45 gallons of fuel. Yikes, that would be terrible mileage?? I need to dig in to the displays to see make sure the 574 is overall mileage as I am presuming and not just the fuel driven miles. Is my presumption wrong here?

2. Remember, midway through the tank, I changed the calculation from MPGe to MPG. It would be interesting to know if that effected anything or if there was a recalculation of the entire fuel/electric consumption so it reflected accurately at the time of the change.

3. I have not reset anything as of yet. I will perhaps do that when we get to 1, 2 or 3k so as not to have the break in miles figured into our average. Many cars don’t really give you a “since reset” average but rather a rolling average of only the last 300 miles or so. I’ll be interested to see how this car calculates that.

4. It’s notable the MPG calculator @ 40.7mpg is very close to my calculation of 41.36.

5. I hope I am not boring any readers. Writing along as I learn about the car. I’ll try to keep it down to 1 post a week on this subject. Expect them on Sunday’s. From here up was written on Jan 7th.


01/08/13 Notes: Bev actually reset the mileage computer when we filled it up, her habit with the Civic Hybrid. I discovered this when she returned from work today and I noticed the reading slightly over 50mpg.


Capitolist Buys a Plug In Hybrid? Ford C-Max Energi Part 3

You might wonder why a couple of proud capitalists would purchase a plug in hybrid car? The vast majority of media outlets never pass a chance to describe lovers of liberty and free markets as people who want dirty air and water. We reject their racist analysis. Racist? Ok, I’m taking lingual liberty. They certainly are drawing a circle around a huge group of people and saying “They are all bad like thus and thus….”. And, the statement is completely untrue. Perhaps racist isn’t the right word, however is it “news” if it’s delivered with a slant? No, it’s propaganda or opinion, not news. 😉

Anyway, we are to one degree or another technology nerds. Also, I’ve always had an interest in electric transportation. I’ve built some hot rod electric scooters that I use at shows. At the moment, I have some projects underway to electrify a classic mini bike. So, as a family, we have operational 3 forms of electric transportation.

A few reasons. I don’t like giving money to people that hate us. As an American, I consider it a matter of patriotic pride to limit my consumption of products imported from the Middle East. I like electric powered transportation and have always dreamed of building electric bikes, scooters, motorcycles and cars. My wife and I are technology nerds. It’s a cool car and technology is just fun to play with.

Not a reason: Man Caused Global Warming Hoax. This is a huge scam religion perpetrated by those wishing to weaken America (anti-capitalists), those wishing to take American pride down a few notches (can you name a few American Apologist Politicians?) and those in academia (scientists) who survive on money for government studies that seems to pour into any public panic. If you hate me for stating these things, don’t look up any data on rise of CO2 following global temperature rise, it will disappoint you in the so called scientists that signed the original report and Al Gore. CO2 does not drive global temps, it follows it. What warms the earth is (do you remember grade school?) is that gigantic ball of intense fire we call the sun.

I don’t need to make up lies or silly make-believe theory’s to justify being clean, thrifty or patriotic (my personal expression of one aspect of patriotism). Others may need a Santa Claus, I’ll stick to facts and logic. Hokey religions and Three-card Monte are no match for a good logic at your side, kid.*

*Hans Solo adaptation.


Ford C-Max Energi Purchased Part 1

2012 C-Max Energi Plug In Hybrid
2012 C-Max Energi
C-Max Energi[/caption]It was time to purchase a new car. My wife and I are fans of Top Gear, a european auto show. On that show they don’t like many cars, however, they all love the Fiat 500 Abarth. We also liked the Ford C-Max. These cars do not have too much in common, however it was the two we were picking from. We finally decided on the C-Max Energi. (my Abarth dreams are still alive) Her previous car is a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. The Civic is 9 years old with a little over 100k on it. I currently drive a 2006 Dodge Mega Cab Cummins Diesel pickup. We have decided to keep the Honda as I have been averaging about $254 a month in fuel expense commuting to work each day. However, I need the truck to travel to trade shows and fly-ins so we’ll be keeping that. I just don’t need to be driving it so much. I am planning that by driving the Civic will save us about $127 a month in deisel fuel.

The C-Max comes in several varieties, we choose the “Energi” version. The Energi is a plug in Hybrid It has an EPA rating of 100 miles per gallon. The car contains a lithium ion battery and can go 10-20 miles on battery alone.

I plan to write in this forum about the C-Max and out experience with it.

When we picked up the car, the avergage fuel economy guage was reading 13.5mpg and it had 59 miles on it. (YIKES!)

One of the things that concerned us was the lack of people reporting fuel economy for the C-Max, both Hybrid and the Energi Plug In. The few that did report all reported less than EPA sticker mileage. Typical for the C-Max Hybrid (sticker 47mpg city, 47mpg highway and 47mph combined) was from 32 to 36mpg. That is alarming. However, these reports all seem to come from reviewers who have cars on loan for a day to film and make reports. Also, for photogenic reasons the driving almost always was in the hills and canyons of California or similar. Test speeds always seem to be 70mph plus. We don’t drive like that. Also, what does any reviewer or test driver do? They stand on that throttle to feel the power, they film passing, they film jack-rabbit starts, the test the handling. All things your likely to get tired of doing after owning a car for a 1000miles or so. What am I saying? You can’t trust the media here (like you can’t trust them anywhere). In this case, they don’t have an axe to grind, they have a report to finish. There is no axe to grind, just human nature. So, I’m anxious to see if I am correct or in error. Will the car do much better than previously reported?

Also, not reported by any report is the Ford’s manual which warns not to measure fuel economy during the first 1000 miles. The most accurate time will be between 2000-3000 miles. Having mechanical and racing experience (and a dose of healthy logic), I can assure you with todays computer controlled ignition and fuel delivery systems could easily be programmed to run a little richer for a better break in. The manual does not state it in that way and no research indicates they’ve done that. However, there is no research that indicates they did not either. So, we’ll follow the directions and give it the miles before we get too critical.

I wonder if any of the online reviewers of the C-Max Hybrid bothered to read the manual? Remember, these are humans.

Engergi Lifetime Summary 01/01/13
Engergi Lifetime Summary 01/01/13
We have the Energi version which is perported to get 108mpg in the city and 92 highway. Of course with an electric range limit of about 20 miles, I would presume most of your trips need to be very short with charging before each trip to acheive this mileage. My wife’s commute is 60 miles a day and most of that is Highway. I’ll be quite happy if she averages 60mpg. We are starting with the car in the winter which creates heating loads.

Mileage Data Shot 01-01-13
Here is our first set of guage photos. I’ll try to add these from time to time so you can see how the Energi is doing.


Running out of fuel…..

wayne reece
Wayne as a young man
While on a recent trip to visit with friends in Flint Michigan, I had some time to listen to the radio. I discovered a facinating story telling show on PBS.

The show is called “The Moth”, the website where you can download many of these stories is www.themonth.com.

The moving short story I heard was told by Wayne Reece from episode 1207. To hear the story, follow the link to Wayne Reece / The Moth) where you’ll find a clickable player.

Radio Moth Hour Podcast Site
The Moth Homepage & Blog Site