Thursday, April 30, 2009

Getting your vehicle through the Emission Test

A gentleman takes a certain amount of pride in his motor. It goes without saying that the said motor, like the gentleman himself, should be in perfect working order. Imagine therefore my horror, when my jeep failed the test. Thus began a saga that cost me in excess of 50,000 rupees, a great deal of time and enormous heartburn. Here are some tips for the unwary. The information below applies to diesel vehicles.

The test

The test being performed here is known as the is the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J1667 Snap Acceleration Test. The link has more details but the basic test is to sharply accelerate to 'maximum operating revs'. The maximum is not precisely defined but is around 3000-3500 for diesels.

The test is conducted without load, so A/c, lights and all accessories should be off.

The test measures the opacity of the smoke, which is indicated by the k factor. The higher the k factor the greater the opacity of the smoke and thus pollutants.

The test is conducted (for diesels) by:

1. Inserting one probe through the dipstick (to measure oil temperature)

2. Placing a probe on the engine that derives the RPM from the engine vibration. This is a derived reading so it is important that this is placed properly so that the reading corresponds to the RPM counter in the vehicle. If you don't have an RPM counter read the manual or search the web to find out the normal idle speed on your engine. Usually engines idle at around 750-800 for diesel engines and slightly lower for petrol engines.

3. A third probe is placed in the exhaust. This is a light probe that measures the opacity (k factor). A beam of light is passed between two points on the probe and the strength of the light beam measured to identify the k factor. If you have fancy curved or twisted exhaust pipe it could cause problems. If you are in doubt, I found the full SAE J1667 test procedure (about 43 pages) on the web. This details the proper placement of the probe for unusual shaped exhausts.

The standard (or pass mark)

This is the standard according to the Government Gazette. However the dates are wrong. Since this is the first year of testing, the applicable k factor for diesels is 8.

The pass mark of 8 is pretty low: your vehicle has to be a real belcher to miss this target. The problem is that the test is performed thrice and the variance in the k factors between tests should not exceed 1.

To my mind high variance between tests should indicate an invalid test, but the system simply fails the vehicle, which is why it is important to ensure that the test is conducted properly.

If your vehicle fails the test examine the report carefully. Look for the average k factor. If it is below 8, then there will be the word "Pass" in small letters next to the average, although the overall result is "Fail". If this is the case, then your engine is generally ok, what you probably need to do is follow the test tips carefully.

Tips for success

The 4x4 Club has published some useful tips here. It is important to note that :

1. Engine should be warm, give it a good run before the test.
2. Stamp on the accelerator at least thrice, taking the RPM upto 3000-3500 and holding for a few seconds. This clears a lot of old soot and other pollutants trapped in the system.
3. Ensure that the probe monitoring the rpm is giving the correct reading. Once the probes are placed they should not be shifted around in between the the three tests. This could cause unusual variances between the tests thus resulting in a fail.
3. Make sure that all a/c, lights and all accessories are off.

If your vehicle does fail, try a new air filter or a change of fuel (to super diesel), these may cure marginal failures.

I did not realise any of the above when I took the jeep in for the test. It was failed with an average k factor of 1.17. It was failed on the variance. Had I known that the standard was 8 I would not have gone to too much trouble. Instead I foolishly listened to the staff.

I was asked to clean the air filter and to pressure the injectors and I foolishly went to to the garage and asked them to do this plus service the injector pump, all of which were entirely unnecessary. A good warm up and a few stamps on the accelerator to clear accumulated soot would have done fine.

Two overhauls of the injector pump, two rounds of pressuring the injectors, a change of the three main belts, replacing the main pulley (which got messed up probably attending to the other repairs) not to mention 50k poorer, I advise you guys its no big deal to pass, just make sure the test is conducted properly.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Frangipani : a dance performance by nATANDA.

A dance group that I have not previously heard of, nATANDA is having a performance today at the Lionel Wendt theatre.

Went for yesterdays poorly attended show and it was rather impressive, worth going if you have the time this evening.

There is a write up here.

Details of show:

Date and time : April 23 at 7:30pm
Place: Lionel Wendt Theatre

Facebook link

Friday, April 17, 2009

Abolishing the Provincial Councils

Yet another Provincial Council election is underway, the streets are littered with election propaganda and I think its time to ask ourselves: what purpose do these councils serve?

They were brought about by the 13th amendment to the constitution in 1987 as part of the Indian imposed peace agreement. The idea was to devolve power to the provinces as a permanent solution to the war.

It has patently failed to achieve it prime objective, so is there any purpose in continuing with this futile exercise? Why it failed is a question that can be looked at separately, perhaps there was no real devolution, perhaps that was not the solution needed, maybe there were other reasons, but failed it has, which means we must return to the question: why persist with the exercise?

What does the Provincial Council DO? I'm not very sure to be honest. Will someone please enlighten me? To the best of my knowledge they perform some of the functions previously carried out by the Municipal Councils. Have services improved to the population in the provinces? Certainly not.

What purpose does the PC serve? Its a money making machine for the politicians. I had a friend who had a friend who was contesting for a certain PC. He had told my friend that the target for a PC Chairman was to earn Rs.30m over a five year period. This was earned by granting building permits, water and electricity connections and other types of permits and supplemented by commissions from any other projects undertaken.

This discussion took place a couple of years ago so by now the target has probably increased. Its not a bad life for a small time politician and its time we stop paying for someone else's lifestyle, in return for zero benefits.

The Indian imposed peace of 1987 is viewed with abhorrence by the present regime, lets capitalise on this and get that blasted 13th amendment repealed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Money, money money.

Was stopped late last night at a checkpoint in Colombo. I was returning from a short trip out of Colombo, the policeman on duty seemed to be looking for inebriated new year revelers, at least judging buy the way he was trying to sniff my breath. He asked me my name, where I was from and what I did for a living.

Then he dropped a hint, asking if I had anything to offer them for the new year. I said no, wondering where this was leading. I was bit flummoxed when he then asked me "the bonna support ekak thenda puluwan tha?" meaning, could you give me some money to have a cup of tea. I gave him a hundred rupees and he asked me if I was giving it freely and I replied that I was and he smiled and waved me on.

I have been joking to friends saying that the number of checks for dunk driving seem to be inversely related to the state of the economy. The worse it gets, the more check are conducted, with the implication that the policemen need a few more bribes to tide them over the high cost of living.

The fellows at the checkpoint must have had a poor haul that night to have to descend to begging.

I was chatting to a friend a couple of days before. This guy lectures to O level students at a tutory on a part-time basis. This is a really cheap place that charges students a thousand rupees a month and hold large group classes. The school used to have an roll of 6000 students, it is now down to 4000. I asked him why enrollment was down, he said it was a combination of economics and the security situation.

Some parents, it seems, can no longer afford to spend a thousand rupees a month on education. Although it sounds very little to me, it must represent something quite large to some people, especially since education is highly esteemed in local society and is probably the amongst the last things to be cut from family budgets.

The school also used to have students from the outskirts of Colombo; Negombo, Wattala and surrounding areas who would come to Colombo on Friday or Saturday morning, stay with friends, relatives or in a boarding house for the weekend, attend classes and return on Sunday or Monday. Many of these students were Muslims or Tamils and with the increased number of raids on lodging houses and the need to register temporary visitors it appears to have become too much hassle to come to Colombo anymore.

These two little examples underline the importance of the value of money. The vast majority of people live on a fixed monthly salary or a fixed daily wage. Salaries are generally revised once year or if they are lucky twice a year. If the value of money drops and the basket of goods that a given amount of money can buy shrinks, the result is an increase in poverty. The decline in the value of money is called inflation. The concept seems abstract and unworldly but the impact is real and affects everybody. Failure to manage inflation amount amounts to theft by the government.

Nobody understood this better than the prophet of Bloomsbury. To quote his remarks on the subject:

“Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become ‘profiteers,’ who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.”

Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”

J.M. Keynes, The Economic Consequences of the Peace (p. 235-6)