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Old 31st July 2013, 23:20   #16
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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Nah, nothing to do with being sensitive, You just like old stuff.
Nah. I simply like good stuff. If it's new, great, if it's old, so be it. I reckon things have stagnated at present, but that we're on the cusp of some great new design, having been mired with regurgitated tat which is increasingly irrelevant for way too long.

The BMW i3, for example, looks like it is a really good car, it's actually forward-looking rather than the retrospective stuff clogging up showrooms around the world.

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It's underpinning are from the stone age compared to the Jaguar. It's engine is a very 'unbalanced' 2.0 liter 4 pot
Jeroen
You're a bit dismissive of what you've put an enormous amount of energy into, both your own and others', if we're to believe your comments elsewhere on this forum.

It's attractive, individual and charming - and not slow. What more do you need? Are you suggesting I wouldn't be satisfied with it's shortcomings? I'd love one!

Your flickr categories suggest you appreciate good stuff as much as I do.... and that old and Italian is all-consuming
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Old 1st August 2013, 02:05   #17
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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You're a bit dismissive of what you've put an enormous amount of energy into, both your own and others', if we're to believe your comments elsewhere on this forum.
Too true. I've spent an extraordinary amount of time, energy and money on this particular car. But technically speaking Alfa Spiders are not particularly good cars, see my earlier post. I've never understood the Alfisti mind or what makes him or her tick. Alfa's are not particularly well screwed together and certainly in the Netherlands the dealers suck. I've always been amazed by a brand that has a very loyal following, but gets little or no support from the factory, the importer or the local dealer. Once you buy an Alfa you're on your own. And boy, you'd better get ready for some big bills, or dirty hands just about every weekend fixing it yourself.

But they have bags of character and I love driving it. I can honestly say I've not owned a car that make me this happy every time I get into it.

So my point: enjoying a car doesn't necessarily has anything to do with its technical merits or lack there of.

Jeroen
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Old 1st August 2013, 06:44   #18
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Too true. I've spent an extraordinary amount of time, energy and money on this particular car. But technically speaking Alfa Spiders are not particularly good cars, see my earlier post. I've never understood the Alfisti mind or what makes him or her tick. Alfa's are not particularly well screwed together and certainly in the Netherlands the dealers suck. I've always been amazed by a brand that has a very loyal following, but gets little or no support from the factory, the importer or the local dealer. Once you buy an Alfa you're on your own. And boy, you'd better get ready for some big bills, or dirty hands just about every weekend fixing it yourself.

But they have bags of character and I love driving it. I can honestly say I've not owned a car that make me this happy every time I get into it.

So my point: enjoying a car doesn't necessarily has anything to do with its technical merits or lack there of.

Jeroen

Where does this character come from? Why do you love driving it? Why not have a classic Lada or Austin Allegro? They have character too... Just possibly it is the fact that the engine is a peach and sounds lovely (if anywhere near right), that the car is pretty, conceived as only the Italians know how. It makes you smile - which is a surprisingly difficult thing to achieve for a lump of steel and plastic. If it were technically so abysmal, would you really be smiling - why not put a cheaper, more economical, more common engine under the bonnet?

Few users of classic cars expect to rely on dealerships, the manufacturer or the the importer. Those who know about motor cars generally avoid main dealers even with a three year old car, let alone a thirty year old one! Maybe this is just the case in the UK? Instead we have a fantastic network of specialists and owners' clubs who provide a passion and ethic for their cars which the best main dealer would struggle to match even with a brand new car. As for build quality, it is as good as you might expect for a car designed for a warm, dry country considering the price charged when new, given their performance. Especially a country where the mafia took a slice of everything. If you own an old car, no matter how well built when new, they all have to come apart eventually.

The Alfisti mind? Possibly they appreciate the same things as you, spending as you have many times the amount of money than on a car which would deliver something very similar, on paper - if not for the soul. I guess they must genuinely adore their cars, don't you love yours too?

I think you have pointed everyone in the right direction regarding what makes a great car - it is not individual parts, but that the resulting car should be greater than the sum of these parts. It is this little bit of soul, of genius which makes a car rise out of the common herd. But you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

or ?
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Old 1st August 2013, 20:40   #19
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
But they have bags of character and I love driving it. I can honestly say I've not owned a car that make me this happy every time I get into it.

So my point: enjoying a car doesn't necessarily has anything to do with its technical merits or lack there of.
Reason why you love your FrankenBullet I guess! Why does it not figure in the list?

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Old 1st August 2013, 21:39   #20
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Where does this character come from?
Haven't got a clue. It's certainly not from a flat engine, or as I pointed out any distinguishing specific technical outstanding quality. It is in essence, not a particular good car by any stretch of the imagination. One might even say, technically speaking, Alfa's tend to be pretty crappy. Some corner nicely though. That is until bits start falling off.

Your point seems to be that a flat engine is superior and therefor will give more pleasure. I disagree in principle. Just because something is well put together, even superior technically speaking is of no concern to me. Or in fact to 99.99% of the population save a few anorak types.

These things went out of production, or rather suffer from a very limited production/application, not because of accountants, but because virtually nobody was willing to put up the extra money. It's as plain as simple as that.
There is no use, no added value. The anorak brigade will say, that's because the general public is uneducated and wouldn't recognize a good engine if it bit them. Personally I call such comments arrogant and it shows a total lack of what makes the world spin, for better or for worse.

A good example how outstanding business and PR acumen can make something unique out of something not very special is Porsche. As everybody knows every Porsche is a pig to drive. Especially the earlier ones. Still Porsche PR people convinced punters that the engine should be in the back and it should be a flat engine too. No matter that you couldn't corner the damn thing without killing yourself in the process. So they added tonnes of electronics so that every Tom, Dick, Harry, you and me can drive a Porsche without killing themselves. So they killed the car's specific characteristics, by adding electronics, but they are still positioning the car as a rear wheel, flat engine powered car. And the only reason it survives is that there are punters out there who like that story and are willing to pay for the privilege of driving a badly designed car, put right by electronics.

Porsche has some outstanding engineers, but their PR department is superior and will always have the last say and business wise they run a very tight ship. Making pots of money with essentially mediocre outdated technology that nobody else wants. Now that is clever!

Do feel free about raving about flat engine, or any other dated technology that never made it big time. Personally I love steam engines. I could fill this forum with stories on steam engines. What makes them special, great engineering achievements. Why steam engines are even better then petrol engines in certain aspects. But I would probably bore everybody to death and don't let me be misunderstood: I don't want a car with a steam engine.

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 1st August 2013 at 21:42.
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Old 2nd August 2013, 03:16   #21
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

Jeroen, this idea that one piece of engineering design over another has advantages seems really to be niggling you - you're suggesting arrogance, that Porsche cars are all PR and clever business and terrible things to drive, older Alfas are technically lousy and you haven't a clue what makes them so attractive to drive and so on. You remind me I am at liberty to speak freely (thanks!) and that you could too but choose not to bore everyone (thanks again!).

Yet you spend an awful lot of time and money - more than most people in one of the wealthier European nations could afford - on an extremely fast old Jaguar and very iconic Alfa-Romeo and profess not to know what is technically so good about them that makes you love them, although one of their suspensions is 'stone age', so you must have some idea of the oily bits? Aren't you an engineer too?

Please don't get me wrong - I'm not having a go at you at all, rather I'm intrigued - not that you don't appreciate Porsche's engineering, which is understandable when your first car was a Beetle - but intrigued as to what makes you buy such relatively rarified and expensive cars in the first place, which happen to have what are regarded as two of the loveliest engines ever made in the second half of the last century. Two of the prettiest bodies too, with huge character (that indefinable trait which is usually a result of individual, significant engineering) throughout both cars. Yet you're fairly dismissive, certainly of the Alfa. If you want a simple machine with wind-in-the-hair bodywork, there are plenty of far cheaper alternatives which would give a very similar experience, if you genuinely struggle to be aware of the more subtle aspect of motor cars.

Engineering isn't always just making something work, it can be about making it a pleasure to use also. Although motor engineering can be the crudest and most cynical at times (especially when you compare it with aeronautical or even motorbike engineering), it can also represent some of Man's better qualities too - those of striving to be the best, (which with mass-production means a brilliant design can be offered to market relatively cheaply) not accepting second-best, avoiding cynicism and attempting to be honest.

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Old 2nd August 2013, 11:35   #22
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

I just like my cars, no specific technical reasons why I chose them or why I like them. I am an engineer and I don't believe in the value of technical superiority in the consumer space. It just doesn't work like that. In business to business it can have its merits though.

The Spider I bought after a friend of mine lend me his for the afternoon. I enjoyed driving it, my wife told me to go and get one too. Which I did.

The biggest problem, and most expensive, with the Spider was to find a garage to store it. Initially I rented space at a nearby farm, but eventually I bought a garage place. Now, that was really expensive! I could have bought a long string of classic cars for the same money. So far turns out the best investment I've ever made. Parking space is at a premium here. Every year I will get several callers offering me silly money for my garage! The Spider's value has remained just about the same over all those years.

The Jaguar same thing, always wanted one, so I got one when I had the chance when we lived in Kansas City. Looked on Ebay and found myself a nice one, which was my daily drive for three years.

By the way, these cars are neither really rare nor very expensive as cars go. You can pick up a very nice Jaguar XJR for a few thousand quid in the UK. They seem a bit more expensive here in the Netherlands. Euro 6-9000 gets you a very nice one.

There are still plenty of Alfa Spiders around and in the Netherlands they are just about the most affordable rag top classic car you can get. Last count well over 1200 Alfa Spider 105 series are left in the Netherlands. Anything from a Duetto to a Series IV. Mine is a serie III, which many consider the least desirable model. But then again, it wasn't if I did much research before buying and I still like it.

I like fiddling with stuff. Old, new, well or poorly engineered I don't care. Our washing machine breaks down, I'll fix it. The TV breaks down I'll fix it. Problem with one of the cars, I'll fix it.

Anyway, its 0745 here in the Netherlands and I'm out for the day driving my Spider! Hope no bits fall off, just in case I have the boot filled to capacity with spare parts and tools.

Jeroen
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Old 2nd August 2013, 12:05   #23
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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AFAIK Horizontally opposed had a problem of higher oil ring wear than inline. The Subaru/Chevy Forestor was a lovely piece of machine but had lots of reports of this problem.
somehow I have never heard about this problem with the Foresters in India. Numbers may be too low for this problem to occur.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 02:20   #24
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somehow I have never heard about this problem with the Foresters in India. Numbers may be too low for this problem to occur.
I've never heard of this either, there are a lot of Subarus in these hilly rural parts, where many cars don't too long without lots of new parts. They have a reputation of being very tough and long-lived. Which doesn't mean there hasn't been a ring issue at some point, in fact there are very few engines ever made which haven't suffered some form of problem at some point in their life or evolution. On many occasions, it's not a fault as such with an engine but the fact it is being used quite differently from how expected by its engineers.

VW and Audi engines have long had a problem with not bedding in their rings in properly when used in the UK, where they are not driven hard enough to properly seal the very hard piston rings - so there is ongoing excess oil consumption. Many years ago I bought a Golf diesel which had a very rough engine (even for an I4!) - it had lived in the South of England where traffic is often very slow due to heavy congestion. I did what I never do and left the engine oil in longer than usual and took it to the far NW of Scotland and back flat out, fully laden. I changed the oil on its return and has run the following 70,000 miles (last 50,000 with a friend) as a different engine - smooth, faster and quieter. I think the crankshaft bearings had never properly worn in, even though it had done 95,000 miles when I bought it. It is one of the sweetest VW 4 pots I have ever driven.

Jeroen - I'm pleased you buy what you enjoy, it's the only way. Two lovely cars, I should say. And you are right in many ways - what does it matter what the engineering is if it's a drive you cherish. Have you had the chain tensioners done on the Jag? - I hear it is about the only thing which ever goes wrong with them. Awesomely good engines - all English design, too, so your XJ is in many ways the last real English car ever made.
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Old 3rd August 2013, 10:46   #25
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Have you had the chain tensioners done on the Jag? - I hear it is about the only thing which ever goes wrong with them. Awesomely good engines - all English design, too, so your XJ is in many ways the last real English car ever made.
No, mine is from the very last year of production which has metal tensioners installed.

The problem with the tensors (upper and lower) was present in earlier models. Jaguar used an inferior type of plastic and essentially these things just disintegrated which will result in catastrophic failure, i.e. pistons slapping into the valves as the valve chain slips. Quite spectacular so I'm told.

Earlier models also suffered from a very poorly designed cooling water pump and of course the dreaded Nikasil problems. Took them 5-6 years to fix all of these issues permanently so anything from the last production year should be good to go. And on most cars these problems have been fixed by now. Always check though

As I said in my last post, drove my Spider the whole day in the Netherlands. I also own a Mercedes W123. But the Spider wins hands down for driving in this beautiful weather we are currently enjoying in the Netherlands. Here it is:
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Old 4th August 2013, 05:18   #26
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

In a world of ugliness and creating results through brute force, this car is a paragon of old-world virtues. Simple, elegant and with a lovely engine at its heart. As Jeroen says, techincally the car it is nothing so special, but as an example of sensitivity to human desires it is rather lovely.

To return to my opening few words in this thread about our cars' engines and how important they are to the motor car as a whole piece - that which is experienced by the driver, whether he is bothered or not about individual parts - the motor in this Alfa is most certainly not god-fearing, as anyone who has ever heard the exhaust note will know. It is two fingers up at those who frown at exuberance, who don't appreciate sporting exhaust notes. You can imagine how gorgeous their V6 engine sound was...

Alfa twin cam engine note:

It also looked pretty - as if that matters, some may say - here drawn by Bob Freeman, as printed in SuperCar Classics magazine.




And in the flesh:



Although the engine is described as 'venerable' even by Alfa people, it was studied and copied to greater and lesser extents by Toyota, Lotus, Mazda and others. Generally recognised by many as one of the better efforts at turning exploding petrol into rotary motion.

It's a shame the thread became derailed a little with the horizontally-opposed debate, perhaps I should put my own thoughts forward a little more quietly. In the middle of it all I missed one of Sutripta's replies, which I will post below.

Just to let those of you know how a flat four can sound, here is a CitroŽn GS being tested in New Zealand, I think. (Obviously the place to go where people don't mind too much if you race your car round the block without most of the front end panels on!)



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Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
We were talking of balance. Anything different in the VW engine on that count?

The H4 has simultaneous power strokes on opposite banks?
Eager to know the definitive answer.
What do you think?

Regards
Sutripta
I was making the point that when the two banks of pistons are moving together and apart, rather than up and down, there is inherently more balance and less vibration than where pistons move in one or more planes which do not cancel each other (hence the counterbalance weights in an attempt to smooth things, which boxers do not need).

I'm quite not sure why this is such a sticking point. What do I think? You should go for an extended fast drive in a good car with a good boxer engine when you're really tired, then you may recognise the difference!!
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Old 4th August 2013, 11:40   #27
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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perhaps I should put my own thoughts forward a little more quietly.
If you're technical, you should remember Newton, check out his third law:

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction!

Jeroen

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Old 4th August 2013, 20:38   #28
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Default re: Horizontally-opposed engines: Reflections

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It's a shame the thread became derailed a little with the horizontally-opposed debate, perhaps I should put my own thoughts forward a little more quietly. In the middle of it all I missed one of Sutripta's replies, which I will post below.
Hi,
For starters, doesn't the thread title say its essentially about the boxer?

Anyway, you do say a lot (and I really mean a lot) of things, some of which leave me puzzled.

Lets take one of your contentions: Engines have to be balanced also on the power they produce. (This too can be debated, but make this post loose focus.) And in this respect the flat four (or two) is superior because the force of the explosions (power strokes) is balanced in a flat but not in a I or V.

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Contrast that with two pistons complete with exploding mixture atop them, conrods, gudgeon pins and crank throws which are in perfect reciprocating harmony, moving together then apart in a beautiful balance of mass and inertia.
....
You can try to alleviate the vibrations caused by reciprocating mass but the force of the exploding mixture pushing the piston down alters according to the power being developed and so can only be 'balanced' for a given force, or a certain amount of right foot. With opposed pistons, this is yet another case of vibration which is absent through better design.
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The point being, this is a changing couple according to load and revs so can not be compensated for like the known and constant (according to speed) reciprocating mass of the piston etc. can be. I've no idea if this is the case but would suppose that the design would take an average figure and calculate the balance accordingly.
Now, from what little I know, for forces to cancel each other, they have to be equal, opposite, have the same point of application, and implicitly, occur at the same time. (Not being 'at the same point' leads to the moment. Disregard.)

The 'occur at the same time' means that in a boxer (for simplicity H2 or H4) we need simultaneous powerstrokes on opposite banks. So previously I asked

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The H4 has simultaneous power strokes on opposite banks?
I'm still puzzled. Enlightenment would be great.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 4th August 2013, 22:24   #29
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Hi,
Enlightenment would be great.
Too true, part of the Naval Engineering College curriculum I did many years ago, doing balancing design calculations was mandatory. Gave me a headache, but I still aced it. Never did a flat or boxer engine though. Not much call for in marine application. So look forward to Flatout technical insights.

Jeroen
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Old 5th August 2013, 06:44   #30
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My title should have perhaps been more carefully worded, I had intended for it to be a discussion of forum members' enthusiasms for their different engines, with my own likng for the boxer engine included in posts. Not some rather anal attack on one particular type of engine by a couple of lone forum members.

I appreciate the intrinsic balance of a horizontally opposed layout, that's all. And yes, I am enthusiastic about refinement. Sorry! They have been largely discontinued because the profit margins are lower and garage mechanics struggle with much which deviates from the norm.

J and S, are you really suggesting you struggle to understand that this type of engine is better balanced than inline engines? If you think I am about to copy and paste a load of mathematical equations and university theses on this then think again! Go out there and find out for yourselves, if you have to plough through the mathematics then I am surprised - is the concept so difficult to understand?
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