Thursday, February 27, 2014

Porsche Physiognomy

"Physiognomy is the assessment of a person's character or personality from his or her outer appearance, especially the face. The term can also refer to the general appearance of a person, object [such as a Porsche 911, I add], or terrain . . ." Wikipedia. When people are generally understood to be of a certain character because of their appearance, they typically behave in the manner expected of them - toward the person(s) who appraised them in the first place. 

I knew a guy who owned a 997 GT3. He was given a ticket for speeding, and on that ticket the police officer wrote, "It looked as if he was speeding." When parked a GT3 looks as if it is speeding. Duh. The Porsche owner questioned the ticket before a judge, and the judge had no idea what a GT3 was, nor what it looked like. So he accepted the officer's appraisal and the ticket stood. If it looks like a sports car, it probably is a fast car, and people speed in those things. To the cop, speeding was the expected behaviour, therefore the driver must have been speeding. It's that simple, even if the GT3 driver was unaware of the lurking traffic cop's preconceived idea and, though irrelevant, innocent of it. I know, in some states the traffic police are trained in speed estimation and their expertise will stand in court, but in this instance no approximation of speed (?) was indicated for the ticketed driver, so the whole thing was iffy and a bit peculiar.

Prejudices are rampant all over the world, all of the time. Many wars occur because of them, never mind if anyone is guilty of anything - except within the erroneous perception of someone else. So, if you drive a Porsche, you are perceived as being guilty 95% of the time, no matter what you are doing. You are guilty for owning a Porsche, because - no matter that it is a 35 year old junker that cost less than a used Hyundai - it is a
PORSCHE $and you must be a member of the thieving 1%, and that's why there are jokes about the differences between a porcupine and a Porsche. So there.

Very well, if you own a Porsche, you already know the above to be the gospel truth, or you will soon know it. But, it doesn't stop there, with speeding.

You are also understood to be intensely interested in drag racing with tricked-out little rice-grinder cars with sewer pipe exhausts and out-of-proportion 'spoiler' wings on the back, along with other junk. Just ask the driver of one of those cars, who is revving his engine at a stoplight, and he will tell you that it's true, but that you try to hide it because you don't want to be embarrassed when he blows you off the road. Is that part true? And you are rude, vain, aggressive, plus being generally offensive, all without necessarily opening your mouth, at all.  

Not to mention the pick-up trucks, minivans, and big SUVs that tailgate you, blast past you for no fruitful reason on a crowded highway, and similar. You are a target, so why do you drive such a car and subject yourself to all of this nonsense? There must be a good reason, right? Oh, and you can never allow a valet to park your car, lest you have an unending supply of free transmissions available to you.

His Lordship, Bulwer-Lytton

There is only one reason for the abuse you unfairly receive as a Porsche owner and driver; the "Great Unwashed" (to quote Lord Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, in his 1830 novel Paul Clifford) are envious of you to a deep shade of green. Deal with it, and avoid the porcupine thing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Paradigm Shift

If you are reading this post via Facebook, simplify the link to: (or .ca) and you will have easier access to my entire blog.

A poorly shifting model 915 transmission in an old Porsche is, frankly, a Royal pain, and it's tedious and time consuming to rectify the issue - in a way that suits a sporting automobile. Never mind, royals are synthetic potentates, anyway, who just model clothes, wear absurd hats, and they don't matter in this case. So, another perspective is in order.

Okay then, let's look at it this way. A 915 that must, of necessity, be shifted deliberately and very slowly can be understood as an unambiguous safety device. How can you fling your 911 through the countryside at verboten speeds that threaten life and limb, not yours, when the damned thing won't shift swiftly enough to allow you to select the next gear before you need yet another gear already? You get way behind in no time. Therefore, enjoy the scenery and be satisfied that you have not been arrested again.

Yes, my car.

There are many reasons for troublesome shifting, and as I mention in the post below, changing certain plastic bushings in the shift linkage is corrective step one (I have done this job this winter, and have no faith whatever that it will help anything), along with a new clutch cable (done already, too), followed by tiresome adjustment of these and other bits, ad nauseam. Considering that so many mechanisms are infinitely adjustable on a Porsche, it takes an infinite number of attempts to get them all working acceptably. This infuriating process is called a 'hobby' and we are meant to enjoy it.

An alternative is to throw cubic money at an 'expert' to perform these tasks, an expert on old Porsches, but then it is a challenge to find such a person, especially in a decidedly rural area. Who certifies the expertness of such an individual, anyway? Aside from unreliable 'testimonials' and hearsay, what do you have as a credential to look at? Self-taught 'experts' have been big trouble in my immediate experience. So, we DIY types find ourselves with a hobby. Might as well mess it up myself, rather than pay someone to do that. At least I'll know what went where and why, and this could shorten the time and effort needed to repair the repair. I can get creative with my 'upgrades', same as anyone else, so I might as well take credit when things go well, plus it's easier to forget my mistakes when they don't.

This is the bottom of the gear shifting device.
I'm obligated to do a lot of forgetting. 

To face the task of replacing a failed part, you essentially unscrew the old one and screw on a pinch-hitter, new or used. That may not always be easy, but it doesn't take a large dose of creativity to solve the problem. By the way, here is the difference between a new and a used part: 10%. Ask any auto dismantler; most cars getting 'parted-out' are worth vastly more money in pieces, rather than whole. 

But, it is the odd things requiring dedicated brainstorming that offer the real challenge when nursing an old car. Why is that hole there? Why isn't there a hole here? What was the rationale for installing this widget upside down, and backwards? Did these cars originally come with a siren? Oh look, a 5 kilogram radio-telephone transceiver, not hooked up to anything. Was this a cop car once upon a time?

Soon it will be Valentine's Day. I almost said 'St. Valentine's Day' but with the world wracked by heinous sectarian violence I'd rather leave off the religious origin and just get cozy with secularism. My moral theories don't fit any convenient template anyway, so who am I to offer myself as a martyr on the basis of (non-existent) membership in a reviled (by some) denomination of any sort? Somehow I don't feel any safer having said that. I beg your pardon, my thinking tends to go all over the place. 

My contention is that I don't get to spend enough time beneath my Porsche, deftly removing sirens and such, while no one else is aware that I ever come out from under there. So now I'm thinking, "What do I need to do to satisfy my amorous inclinations on February 14?" It ought to be something quite good that might involve emerging from beneath the car, if not actually getting up off the creeper (I'm old). That last phrase is a joke by the way. I'm starting to lose it, so I'd better get back to transmission shifting issues and leave delicate ephemera to others. I'll keep thinking about this, though.

The curious thing about my shifting issue is that the transmission gets harder to shift as the car gets hotter. By harder to shift, I mean that it gets physically more difficult to push the shifting lever out of one gear, and then into another. I'm not talking about gears crunching because of bad synchronizers, I simply mean that it is impossible to move that lever without difficulty. If the clutch is not disengaging for some reason - after the car gets hot, meaning at least an hour's driving - then the gears should crunch, but they don't. So, what changes with heat, causing this issue? Everybody scratches their head over this, possibly including you. 

Although the engine and transmission mounts are just three years old (bad ones can cause shifting issues), to me they look odd for a couple of reasons. There is a generous gap between the rubber of the transmission mount and its top mating surface, which is part of the car's 'frame'. As well, both the engine and transmission mounts are slightly more compressed toward the front, suggesting that the whole engine and transmission unit tilts downward in the direction of the nose of the car. I have to check to see if the shifting rod that protrudes from the front of the transmission is centered in the hole through which it pokes into the body's tunnel. If it's not, then those mounts are dysfunctional, virtually new, or not. The transmission is filled with first-rate, widely recommended gear oil.

As I nearly said, thinking outside of the box can be invigorating, and it certainly is necessary.