Shogun Conversion RAM 3500 the bees’ knees for Vic and Dave…Camless concept gets an outing in Bejing…Sydney auction ‘a steal’ for bank bonuses
Things are really buzzing for Canberra-based beekeepers Victor Croker and David Leemhuis, owners of Australian Honeybee since they bought a RAM 3500 Tradesman from Shogun Conversions a couple of years back. The common image of beekeeping is a fairly genteel occupation with grandma, dressed in a funny hat, servicing a few hives at the bottom of the garden. All of which is far from the truth for professional producers such as Vic and Dave who travel up to 850km to harvest premium Australian native honey from hives situated on some of Australia’s largest cattle and cropping stations. The harvested honey is then returned to Canberra for processing and packaged for sale.
According to Vic, this is a rugged out in the bush activity requiring a strong and powerful vehicle to cross rough terrain far from the nearest road to transport hives to where the bees are, and to return with a heavy payload of honey. “In 2014 we bought a RAM 3500 Tradesman from Shogun Conversions with a specially built tray to carry bee hives and lots of added bells and whistles. To this we added a purpose-built, six-wheel trailer fitted with a crane that enables us to load and transport a very large payload.”
Apparently, the RAM’s heavy duty Aisin transmission, four wheel drive and steep descent control capabilities, especially with a heavily loaded trailer, capabilities have proven so successful in meeting Australian Honeybees’ challenging rough terrain needs that Vic and Dave have put in a repeat order. This time, the new RAM will be fitted with a special gooseneck trailer hitch in order to tow a new purpose-built 7.6m deck trailer, which will increase the total GCM (gross combined mass) to 13.6 ton with a payload of 3.5 ton leaving a whopping 10-ton trailer allowance. Talk about the you know what!
Chinese carmaker Qoros is the latest company give an outing to the camless engine concept it has been developed in conjunction with FreeValve AB, an off shoot of upmarket carmaker Koenigsegg. Rather than using a traditional camshaft to control an engine’s valves, the QamFree motor uses electro-hydraulic pneumatic actuators to provide the sort of precise control over each valve that results in power improvement and fuel economy of between 12-17% when compared to a modern, direct injection engine with variable cams.
In most engines the camshaft’s rotating lobes push rockers that open the valves and allow valve springs to shut them. Unfortunately, this process involves a stage where the valves are partially open or shut, meaning that the system isn’t always operating at ideal efficiency.
Rather than continuing to use this technology, which Koenigsegg likens to playing a piano with a both hands tied to the opposite ends of a broomstick, the QamFree engine is said to allow far greater control over the engine’s intake and exhaust valves. Qoros also says the QamFree engine allows the company to eke more power from a more compact package, which should mean punchy performance from engines that meet the ever-tightening Euro and Beijing emissions standards.
Meanwhile, Ford continues to back its EcoBoost engine to produce relatively the same improvements in performance and economy to the extent that it has now produced a diesel version of the petrol unit in use with the likes of the Fiesta and Mustang. Ford has attempted to cut down on friction with a 10mm offset crank designed to reduce piston side-load and minimise rubbing against the walls of the cylinder block. An optimised valve train and single piece camshaft module also come into the picture.
A new mirror image porting design in the inlet manifold aims at creating uniform fuel/air mixtures in all four cylinders. The system uses clockwise airflow to feed cylinders one and two, before reversing it for cylinders three and four. According to the company’s combustion expert Werner Willems, this helps turn fuel into energy more effectively than any diesel engine Ford has ever produced.
Working with the new inlet manifold design are new fuel injectors, capable of delivering six 0.8 mg injections of diesel per combustion event. The fuel is injected through eight conical holes just 120 microns in diameter. Thanks in part to their piezoelectric design, Ford says the injectors cut down on unwanted noise, minimize energy wastage from the fuel pump, allow for more refined auto start-stop systems and real-time recalibration for ideal fuel efficiency.
After collecting feedback from people behind the wheel of its 2.2ltr TDCi Transit, Ford’s engineers claim to have liberated 20% more torque from the new engine at low revs. This means there’s about 340Nm on tap from just 1250 rpm, which should make for effortless creeping in traffic, or punchy high gear overtaking on the highway. Key to this improvement is a redesigned turbocharger, which uses an Inconel turbine wheel capable of spinning at 240,000 rpm for sharp pickup. The turbo turbine has also been milled from solid, reducing tolerances to three microns from improved durability, less noise and smoother response.
But what about rattly idle and vibration when sitting in traffic? According to Ford’s engineers, the new EcoBlue engine uses a noise-optimised cylinder head, stiff ladder frame and the oil pan to isolate vibrations from the cabin. There are also tight seals throughout the engine to ensure no noise can sneak out and ruin the refinement. The company claims that the motor is apparently so smooth that although it is designed for use in commercial vehicles, it still meets the ‘stringent’ noise, vibration and harshness standards for Ford’s passenger cars. Source: Ford
After a hard and stressful year of forging documents and cheating old age pensioners out of their superannuation, it’s almost that time of the year again when the banks start rewarding you and your cohorts with massive bonuses. And what better way to spend in advance than on a prestige or exotic car? Just by chance, Manheim, is holding an evening auction of 80 bits of such precious metal on Thursday May 12 including what is believed to be the first sales by public auction in Australia of a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. If you’ve had a good year at the bank, then the $700,000-plus price tag should still leave lots over for Aspen. Or what about a 2015 BMW F80 M3 with only 50km on the clock, for the little lady, or perhaps a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG 4 door sedan, or an Audi R8 4.2 FSI V8 2D Cabriolet (a bit downstairs, so OK as a standby vehicle that never leaves the six car basement garage). Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar will be well represented at the auction and you can enjoy a certain irony in that many of the vehicles are ‘repros’ being sold on behalf of financiers, who no doubt backed some former wealthy old pensioners! The auction will commence at 6.00pm at 144 Moorebank Avenue, Moorebank. All vehicles are listed on the Manheim website together with online-catalogues and bidders can take advantage of an internet simulcast of the auction.