AMEC economy run

Round 2 aka run # 4, 1-Nov-2009

This was #4 in the Adirondack Motor Enthusiasts Club's series of MPG events in upstate NY, the second one in 2009. I didn't get that many pictures and mostly left the snapping away at vehicles to the others, but perhaps got a few interestingly different shots around the area. The tally from this event and some other peoples' pictures are referenced here.

The earlier economy run was back in August, which I'll have to go back and see if I got any noteworthy pictures from.

Small pictures link to larger copies, and there are various supporting/related links to chase scattered throughout.

If you've ever wished you could actually take some time and *read* the NY Thruway tickets and try to decipher the perennially bad printing but had to pay attention to driving at the time, here's an example. It's New York, and therefore gratuitously expensive. At least they mostly leave you alone if all you want to do is get over to I-88.

I got into the area the previous day, battling some serious headwinds and a bit of rain on the way out for a fairly miserable 56-MPG slog, went to drive part of the run route before dark just to get familiar with the roads, and found some amusing diversions. I could *almost* fit the car under this thing.

I bet it *would* fit all the way under the much larger spraying rigs used in the midwest.

That afternoon's showers didn't dissuade the locals in Schoharie from turning out for Halloween in large numbers, and sporting some very silly costumes. With people frequently crossing the main drag I drifted through town at a very leisurely rate; I wasn't in any hurry so I could enjoy it. I was also vaguely trying to find a caving shop I thought I remembered being near the edge of town, as this area is smack in the middle of pretty serious cave country, but either it had closed down and/or I couldn't find it.

As darkness fell and I worked my way back to Fonda, the rain got quite a bit heavier. Intrepid Halloween celebrants were still out and about here and there, slogging along under big umbrellas.

Having totally failed in my attempt to pull together a dinner run of other event participants, I just went and got some take-out and settled into a cozy off-season-priced room at the Riverside. $56 total for a single, once all the leafpeepers have cleared out. I think I was the only guest there that night.

The rain moved off a little earlier than predicted, and the next day dawned with much more promising weather for the event.

The 1958 Saab three-cylinder, two-stroke engine. Wow. It's actually one of the smoothest-running two-strokes I've ever heard. And comes with its own remotely-controllable grille block. The hood is tilted forward here, showing how the chain just follows right along. The little black half-cup of plastic normally shields the distributor. And that rear-mounted fan rig is hilarious.

Several other vehicles seemed to be part of the "blue painter's tape" club. Compared to some of the cars and mods, the Prius is an aerodynamic brick.

One of the guys' aero mods are just totally over the top, but he did pull 118 MPG on the August run so it would be interesting to see how he'd do today.

The route took us way down to Blenheim, where there's a large historic covered bridge [albeit with a modernized roof] and whose little nearby park served as our midway checkpoint.

Probably an unusual view of the bridge; I climbed up into its rafters next to the big triple-ganged arch beam that supports the main structure and span. Interesting how little wedge pegs are driven in here and there to fill gaps and tighten up joints.

From there I could lean out the side opening and nab a shot back toward where we'd stopped.

But I wanted to get going again before the engine cooled off too much...

Karst cliffs looming over Rt. 30.

A nice long warp-neutral downhill coast and rollout heading east on Route 20, which is quite straight and hops right up over the next faraway rise.

The final stretch on Rt. 5s:   Ut-oh, here comes trouble.

Running bobtail, and coming up fast.

Well, fortunately a climbing lane appeared on a small uphill just at the right moment and as I jigged over into it, he sailed on by. Still got too close for comfort just beforehand, though. I could tell this far in advance that if it had been single-lane all the way, this guy would have become a significant problem.

Everyone safely back at Fairway Oil, clocked in and refilled. The day had remained fairly cloudy but with no rain; almost perfect driving weather except for the bit of chill helping push everyone's MPG down a bit.

Once again, the MPG display in the Prius completely disagreed with a tank refill, no matter how carefully I tried to duplicate filling conditions -- same pump, same position, same first-clickoff plus about six cents' worth to round out the amount. Car said 65.8 MPG [and with my approximately 1% tire circumference factor correction at the time, more like 65], and the fuel pump-in yielded 55.6. This makes one more of many times the same thing has happened, and I have a new theory on why this so consistently screws me [and likely any other second-gen Prius driver in an event that depends mostly on refills for scoring].

The car is generally colder at the start of most events -- even with my little breakfast run up the hill and back that morning, the engine may have been warmed up but the rest of everything underneath probably still had the night's chill in it, including the gas tank and its infamous rubber vapor-suppression bladder. [Note that they've done away with that in the 2010 model Prius...] So now I go fill, and the bladder stretches just so much in the relative cool coupled with the temperature of the fuel going into it, triggering the "refill valve" higher up in the fuel system that's supposed to create the pressure rise and trip the nozzle off. Now, I go do 100+ miles at secondary-highway speed, with the engine running a lot of the time, and blowing a lot of warm air from the block and exhaust system out under the car. Which inevitably warms up the tank and the fuel in it over the long haul, and that's not going to cool down a whole lot even if I do the last mile or so on electric and gravity. Since I use less than 2 gallons, adding that much fuel again [to the remaining 9 gallons] at the end doesn't cool the tank down significantly and now the bladder can stretch a little *more* as fuel is added, likely leading to significantly more fuel going in before the nozzle trip at the same back-pressure. Even in warmer weather, the tank very likely finishes a run like this quite a bit higher than ambient.

So it's not just the bladder, it's the circumstances *surrounding* the bladder and the quantities of fuel involved. But this is just a theory, and what I should do on the next one of these is try to determine the tank's temperature at each fill and maybe even try to already have it warmer and mostly full before the start-of-run fillup too. But I'd probably have to go out and do about an hour of driving to create those conditions.

At lunch we decided that it might be wiser to trust the in-car displays on hybrids and just dock them the 2 or 3 % optimistic they characteristically seem to calculate. I warned the folks about the more like 6% observed in the '10 model Priuses, in case they start showing up at future events!

Here's the route. View at full 1:1 scale for best detail. 107.5 miles according to two running GPS logs. Yup, a bunch of crazy guys out driving in circles on a fall weekend...

Here's the elevation profile. The big ridge along the south side of the river is pretty obvious, and the symmetry of a gentle rise toward Blenheim and then back from it is notable in the middle. Overall elevation range about 1000 feet.

I wouldn't have been able to collect all this if I had traded in my treasured old Quest GPS for a supposedly updated unit, because the newer ones are incredibly dumbed-down and de-featurized.

Other around-the-area shots

A couple more decrepit barns/buildings for the ongoing collection -- one near Johnstown on the way back from finding coffee, and the other somewhere along the first high ridge part of the run route.

As I headed toward home, the hills along the Thruway turned a lovely pink-purple shade just as the sun set. This doesn't begin to do justice to the subtlety of color and the starkness of the full moon rising.

_H* 091103