Some musing about technology....apologies for the long post

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 21:23
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What follows may well be the results of too many glasses of fine red wine but nevertheless I reckon it might also be the basis for a discussion on the many advances in technology that is evident in each generation of new 4WD.

There seems to be a tendency for many on this and other forums to baulk at the thought of advances in engine and other vehicle technology. I been wondering if this apparent "electrophobia" is something that is justified on the evidence or simply a by-product of human psychological resistance to change and perhaps an inability of many (and I'm probably included in this group) to get their minds to move on with the quite significant advances that have been achieved in terms of power and torque output, fuel consumption, incredible improvements in injector design, emissions management, resource usage, longer service intervals, NVH improvements....and dare I say it......reliability. I accept that some of these improvements may well be related to improved technology in terms of fuels, oils and lubricants.

Granted there are some things that remain a bit too exposed in modern 4WDs and you can no longer submerge the vehicle to the highest point of the snorkel for fear of drowning the ECU and a few other chips/black boxes (eg 4WD actuators that aren't adequately sealed), but by and large the vast majority of modern engines are reliable and the economy/hp increases with each model. Sure things still break - so long as we have things mechanical they will continue to do so.

Not too many people I know are afraid to get on a modern passenger aircraft - and guess what - while the engines provide the thrust and the final bits of the flying controls are mechanical they certainly wouldn't achieve much without all the electrickery between them and the pilot. Sensor everywhere, gauges everywhere, bells and whistles....all to ensure that the aircraft stays in the air....and this staying in the air thing has improved with advances in technology....which shock horror...includes a fair dose of electronics. I don't think there is a passenger aircraft built today where there remains a physical connection between the cockpit and engine(s)/flying controls.

I agree there is noting better than getting out there and flogging around in something that does the job and doesn't challenge me with the complexity of its design - me being of the old school where twin Strombergs or Hollys on the 179 (with a 149 head) EH Holden ute was so easy to fix (could do an engine change is half a day). I think the most technologically advanced piece of kit on board was the HMV valve radio that took at least a minute (sometimes 10) to warm up before the dulcet tones of John Laws made through the speaker (yep there was only one speaker). I recall that the most challenging thing in setting up my old EH was tuning the carbies.....and this especially became the case when I tried (and failed) to fit a third 97 to the inlet manifold.

What I'm getting at I guess is that technology has not, is not and will not stand still and, while there may be some shortcomings along the way, I'm betting that these will be resolved and "bush fixes" will be developed just as they always have. In terms of the modern diesel it is only a matter of time before we will be carrying our own plug in computer to diagnose problems and this will also suggest what the "fix" might be. Indeed, we are already part of the way there with OBDII compliant vehicles and Scangauge. While Scangauge doesn't tell you the possible fixes it does allow you to scan the ECU for fault codes...and if you have the manual then you "may" be able to get underway again. Indeed, I had two "failure to proceed" situations with a Pug 308 and in both cases I resolved the problem with the "Microsoft solution" - disconnected/reconnected the battery - and the ECU reset and off we go.

Reckon I've rambled on enough but FWIW and IMHO we can't halt progress...and if that means more (and better) engine/vehicle management systems...bring it on...but then again....(lot to be said for equivocation:-))

Flame suit is on......over to the forum but before I go I thought that some may enjoy the following illustration of the human condition of "rationalisation":

The Rural Recession has been explained in simple terms by an old-time farmer:



It all started back in 1966 when we changed from pounds to dollars - that doubled me bloody overdraft.

Then they brought in kilograms instead of pounds - me bloody wool clip dropped by half.

After that, they changed rain to millimetres and we haven't had an inch of rain since.

If that wasn't enough, they brought on Celsius, and it never got over 40 degrees, no wonder me bloody wheat won't grow.

Then they changed acres to hectares, and I ended up with only half the land I had.

By this time I'd had enough and decided to sell out.

I put the property in the agent's hand and then they changed miles to kilometres.

Now I'm too far out of town for anybody to buy the bloody place.

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Reply By: pop2jocem - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:02

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:02
Hi Patrol 22
OK, I'll be the mug and take first bite. Go back a few hundred years well a couple of hundred anyway. Mr and Mrs pioneer (no not the wireless) the early explorer/settler type. Happily travelling along in the horse/bullock wagon when KERBLAM!!! the front wooden wheel falls to pieces (probably an early Nissan design lolol) hundreds of miles .. yes miles not them new fangled killymeters from nowhere.. what does Mr settler do. could call auto club Hmmmmmm no sat phone and guess what no auto club. Cuts down the nearest tree and carves himself one, wheel that is... easy. Now take aforesaid Mr adventurer and put him in a low tech 2H engined non anything Toyota and the old fashioned mechanical fuel pump goes chugger chugger bang and stops. OK now get out the hammer chisel and trusty bow saw and try carving out a new set of plunger and bushings, or a new crown wheel and pinion set. Aint techonology grand????????

Cheers Pop
with apologies to Ma and Pa Kettle
AnswerID: 362514

Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:13

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:13
Great start Pop and just what I'm on about....ie with each generation of changed technology....bush fixes have been found..so being the eternal optimist I reckon we will see the electrickery overcome by good old bush ingenuity....eventually:-)
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:34

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:34
Hi Patrol

Yeah I guess my post was fueled(no pun intended) by a drop or two too many of what could hardly be called "fine wine" more like Chateau Cardboard. But then the lower half always tastes better than the top if you can just gag the top down. I must admit I too come from the era of EH Holdens and twin Strommys (for the benefit of those born too late they were an ancient method of getting the go juice into the engine, you know before EFI). And I must admit to being worried about the reliability of all that wiring and stuff. Now I start the wifes Dunnydoor and venture to the local shops and sometimes in a fit of bravado even leave the mobile phone at home.
I guess in the unlikely event of the beloved Dunnydoor stopping help is not too far away in suburbia. Travelling the outback of our wide brown land gimme a good old fashioned horse and cart and a star to steer it by.
Geez better put the rest of the cask away.... Hic

Cheers Pop
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Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:56

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:56
Mr Pioneer carving a new wheel would be the equivalent to Mr Adventurer being smart enough to have a spare set of bearings and a spare wheel or two ....

Mr Adventurers " mechanical fuel pump goes chugger chugger bang and stops " would be equivalent to Mr Pioneers horse dropping dead.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:27

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:27
Or he could just tow a spare car behind him and have all bases covered.

Or he could have a vehicle that he might just with a bit of nouse and whatever is at hand get himself out of the poo

Cheers Pop
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Reply By: Member - Axle - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:12

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 22:12
Hi Patrol 22

You have probably expressed a feeling that a lot of people have pondered about, but haven't got it into words!!.

Congratulations!!, I for one can get your drift , Technology has been a life changing episode in everyday living for most of us , fight it and it will be to no avail in the long term!!.

Cheers Axle.
AnswerID: 362519

Reply By: Crackles - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:24

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:24
Unfortunately the bush fix for a flooded ECU is load car on tilt tray($$$$$), order parts ($$$$$) & wait 2 weeks. (one stuffed holiday) :-(
I agree that over time 4 wheel drives have been improved with all this technology but we are approaching a point now where the complexity of the vehicles & reliance on so many tiny parts (that were never in earlier cars) are impacting on reliability. Looking back to the 80's I remember plenty of cars breaking down on trips but we could almost always fix them with what we were carrying with us. With cars now that stop the options for repair are few, why even the dealers often have little idea what the codes mean.
Why the manufacturers think we need all this wizardry is beyond me. My 100 series a while back refused to go into 4WD. Result was end of trip as the electronic actuator had broken. $700 for a 2nd hand one fixed it but really what was wrong with the 4WD lever on the previous model?
If to regain reliability again I need to forego a few MPG, drop a little power & pull a lever instead of push a button then feel free to turn the clock back a few years :-)
"Not too many people I know are afraid to get on a modern passenger aircraft" If Landrover bulit aircraft with their history of electrics would you fly in one? :-))
Cheers Craig................
AnswerID: 362526

Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:16

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 22:16
No one would mate
The bloody things wouldn't get off the ground...lol

Cheers Pop
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Reply By: Willem - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:32

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:32
Yeah well.....I am of the 'old school' too. And whilst I have embraced the new electronic media(computers) technology, I have been hesitant with the electronic engine technology shying away from anything that may look too electronically complicated.

BUT....I have a 1994 diesel plodder with that many electrical relays and circuits which have not given a day's trouble since I bought it 5 years ago. We also have a highly electrified 2003 Nissan Xtrail which has given no trouble at all and which has clocked up 105,000km so far effortlessly.

So electronics seem to be reliable to say the least. It's when you start fiddling with getting more power from the old combustion engine on a regular basis that the stuff hits the fan from time to time and electronics gets the blame for it..

I suppose my next truck will have more electrics as I can't see myself going back to a 47 series Toyota or G60 Nissan however reliable they may have been in the past.


Cheers
AnswerID: 362527

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:26

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:26
mmmmmmmmm ..... HJ47 ... LOL


All that square interior space - making storage/camping fit outs easy,
Simple, bushfix motor ... if it ever needed it and not too serious.
8 suspension bushes,
Easy fixed flat panels,
Buy anywhere cheap round headlight replacement,
Dirt cheap flat windscreen replacement,
$300 for a front bar that didnt snap the front end off .............

What a mongrel, godforsaken vehicle eh ......... pfffffffft


Decent seats / power steering / gal panels /coil front suspension / 6spd box with decent gear ratios and a bigger heavy duty version of the 25yo 242 transfercase from jeep would probably make the old girls a best seller again ... for those that want a 4x4 not an allwheel drive station wagon.
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Reply By: OzTroopy - Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:40

Thursday, Apr 30, 2009 at 23:40
Well ............

I hated filing and setting points, setting plug gaps etc ... but it was cheap, easy and I could - now I NEED a scangauge to tell me which one of eleventybillion components MIGHT be causing the same symptons as a set of crook points used to ... If it can.

I hated pulling off the carby and blowing it out or relacing a crook float etc but it was cheap, easy and I could - now I NEED a scangauge to tell me which one of eleventybillion components MIGHT be causing the same symptoms as 1 or 2 old fuel delivery components used to ... if it can.

The difference between old technology and new technology is being able to see the wear marks on a carby needle ... and looking at a circuit board / component that has no visible faults.

Technologies greatest fail ... prices paid by the consumer .... You get more value buying a ten dollar kids walky talky than you do buying most electronic engine components .... smash open your next faulty item to be replaced and see what you got for your money.

Great stuff when its working fine .... but it wont always do that ... and then it immobilises something that doesnt even require it ...... Still we can always jump on a plane and fly home ... at least they have backup and bypass sytems.
AnswerID: 362528

Reply By: Member - Allan B (QLD) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:05

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:05
Technology in vehicles is fine to add some convenience and polish-up the emission control. However when it comes to a 4WD intended to really go bush rather than totter around Toorak it is surely better that the basic functions that propel the thing are designed to be simple, reliable and able to be "repaired" on the track.

At the very least it should be possible to completely and physically bypass ECU's and the like to be able to get the damn thing back to civilization under its own steam.

As for pushbutton control of 4WD engagement, gimee a break!
There is nothing quite like the positive emotional gratification of yanking the Stumpy Lever into 4L as you feel her going down.

However, I do appreciate the air-conditioner!
Cheers
Allan

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AnswerID: 362546

Reply By: Axel [ the real one ] - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:19

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:19
Technological advances ? A term that is used to describe a condition of manufacture which is in effect better described as "Inbuilt obsolescence".
AnswerID: 362550

Reply By: Dave B ( BHQ NSW) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:20

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:20
Most of the aircraft don't travel along dusty unsealed roads miles, sorry Kilometres, from nowhere. Except the RFDS when they land at an outback property of course.
Airlines also have a mob of techs checking them out after each flight.

Travelling outback in a newish 4X4, you hope all their soldering of the circuit boards and chips can handle the jolting and jarring and dust, and on very few occasions does a tech of some description check out the vehicle after each leg of the trip.

With all the gismoes the bureaucrats tell us we need on the cars now, it is just as well most people live in high density cities because of the availability of tech's to fix these vehicles.

What happens when you hit a roo with your new 4X4 now, the bullbar bends a bit, but the bloody airbags go off and then what do you do? Get out the mobile phone and see if you have a signal and the ring for a flat top to come and get your car.

In most cases, 24 hour assist is just a flat top coming to get you.

Dave
'Wouldn't be dead for quids'

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Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:37

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:37
>" Travelling outback in a newish 4X4, you hope all their soldering of the circuit boards and chips can handle the jolting and jarring and dust, and on very few occasions does a tech of some description check out the vehicle after each leg of the trip. "<

Yep thats my issue with the stuff .... all that hoping ...... and wondering.

Is it OK for this trip ??? ... Should it be replaced in case ??? Will a new sensor last any longer than the old one ??? ... Is it actually THAT sensor causing the problem ??? .......

Mechanical components have an expected life of service and while they do wear out ... At least there are visible indicators of that wear and /or impending failure.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val W (ACT) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:44

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 09:44
Agree. Not sure if the aeroplane analogy really holds up. As well as plenty of backup systems the operating life of most larger planes is much longer than that of an average 4WD. Plus they are checked and serviced by trained/qualified techs at specific places where they can land - unlike a 4wd that can require attention anywhere.

Cheers
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 13:26

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 13:26
When your 4by breaks you can always get and walk. When your plane breaks you can't get out and fly.

They have completely different standards for electronics.

Pete
Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:15

Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:15
I chose the aircraft analogy as after more than 30 years in the aero engineering game I thought I might be on pretty safe turf. Why? Well there hasn't be much change to the gas turbine engine in purely mechanical terms since the 707 really with the main exception being the development of the bypass fan in later aircraft. The really significant change is the huge progress made in engine and flight control management systems - and by far this has be achieved through smart electronics. I would also venture to say that aircraft safety and reliability has improved enormously over that time to the point where maintenance downtimes have been significantly reduced and routine maintenance not only made a lot easier but less frequent. Sure things still break but most of the major problems with modern aircraft can be attributed to operator/maintainer error and not mechanical/electrical/electronic failure. It might surprise some people that while checks are made before/between/after flights these are visual and technician only disturb stuff when broken/think it's broken/or as the maintenance schedule calls for it. Much like a motor vehicle really. Reckon if the operator operates according to the book, the maintainer maintains according to the book ...the machine, whatever it might be, will be on its best behaviour for most of the time. Flog things or feed crap information into a computer and they will fail.
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Reply By: Member - Brad S (SA) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 11:57

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 11:57
Patrol22

Yep...know where you're coming from.

I still do battle with people who think Windows 3.1 is the ducks nuts!

It's called crystalline intelligence...usually occurs as you get older. This is in contrast to fluid intelligence...you can work it out...I hope.

This phenomena is helped along in no small way by certain motor manufacturers which build up a loyal following by selling ancient technology, rarely innovating themslves, copying others' technology only when they see the market might be moving away from them. I wont mention names on account I will offend. People will swear by their reliabilty not realsing they have paid a small fortune for somewhat overengineered underperforming technology...ah but it is reliable.

I had better stop my diatribe before I put my foot in it.
AnswerID: 362579

Follow Up By: OzTroopy - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 12:34

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 12:34
HEY ... I liked windows 3.11 ... pmsl

I faxed ... I emailed .... and all using a mobile phone connection(old reliable analogue of course)

Whats really changed ??? ... apart from the costs of upgrading enforced by govt actions.

I suspect you're looking at technology from behind a keyboard .... not knee deep in mud halfway between Broken Hill and Milparinka.

Technology is great ... in its place. Two way radios that fit in your pocket instead of your car boot, search beacons, even that annoying GPS has some great advantages ..... but

Take Crackles comment as an example ... $750 for a second hand techno item to fix a transfercase ... when it could have been operated by a $25 collection of lever and connectors.

The "primitive" jeep 242 transfercase has been been providing 4l, 2h-4h on the fly, full time / part time drive for over 25yrs ... all for the cost of a $200 chain and a beer or two - should it wear out .... at expected mileage times.

Technology is not technology, when it puts operational constraints on mechanical equipment and cant be owner monitored for wear or impending breakdown .... its junk.
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Follow Up By: Axel [ the real one ] - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 12:48

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 12:48
"overengineered underperforming technology" at least its reliable ,, the key being RELIABLE ,, no point having the wiz bang new beaut mega whatever if the bloody thing dosnt work..
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Reply By: Member - Mark E (VIC) - Friday, May 01, 2009 at 23:44

Friday, May 01, 2009 at 23:44
Having just taken a new(ish) VDJ76 GXL for a bit of a test drive, I must admit to lusting after this new motor. Boy, it had heaps of torque, power and it sounded fantastic... :-)

I do read a few threads on the LCOOL forums and there have been reports of problems with the fuel injectors on a few of these motors... the cost of which to replace is $2300 each! .. 8-0 Compare that to newies for the 1HZ .....what about $80 - 120 or so each?

I reckon all this new technology is fantastic if you can afford to buy the vehicle new, keep it for it's warranty period, then offload it with another new one...under warranty. I'm just not convicnced that all this wonderful technological wizardry will really last the distance.... I may be proven wrong, who knows?

Wonder if the new Toyota V8 diesel will fit in the 105?!?!?!?........would be a sweet combination......still no warranty though :-(

Cheers,

Mark
AnswerID: 362718

Follow Up By: Patrol22 - Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:44

Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:44
"I reckon all this new technology is fantastic if you can afford to buy the vehicle new, keep it for it's warranty period, then offload it with another new one...under warranty. I'm just not convicnced that all this wonderful technological wizardry will really last the distance.... I may be proven wrong, who knows? "

Agree entirely Mark. From my perspective if the manufacturers want to keep selling vehicles they have to make this stuff reliable...as reliable as has happened in other areas of engineering. Gee even the new big dozers, loaders, hallpak type trucks have a fair share of electronics in them and they are pretty reliable.
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Reply By: Patrol22 - Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:47

Saturday, May 02, 2009 at 09:47
Geat discussion so far folks and too the point as well. Might even give me enough ammunition to put a substantial article together for those really informative (NOT!) 4WD magazines out there. Of course I would always acknowledge the wisdom of those on this forum :-)
AnswerID: 362754

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