Curt's Newsletter

August 2006

© 2006
No part of this newsletter may be reprinted elsewhere including internet websites without written permission from the author
George S. Patton, Jr., very happy in his Dog Safety Seat on our vacation

Never Trust A Smiling Dog

George S. Patton, Jr. enjoying his time in his Dog Safety Seat in the incredibly overcrowded ML55 AMG (Darth Mercedes) on our trip to northern New Mexico for End of Trail (article in this issue)

2007 E-Class Driving Debut

New E320 BLUETEC Shares Spotlight with High-Performance E63 AMG

NAPA VALLEY, CA – The 2007 E-Class line is making its on-the-road debut this week.  The highly successful full-size E-Class line of sedans and wagons has been restyled for the 2007 model year, and three new models feature an impressively wide range of innovative engine technologies.

New Look for New Models

With a more aggressive front bumper and lower air dam as well as a restyled front grille and headlights, the 2007 E-Class sports a fresh look, which includes more aerodynamic side mirrors as well as a redesigned rear bumper and tail lights.

Inside, the E-Class reveals a new steering wheel and shift lever, a revised layout for the automatic climate control and four new interior colors.  New standard equipment includes a glass sunroof, six-disc CD changer and harman/kardon Logic 7 ™ 420-watt premium audio system.  In addition, the wagon model now includes a power tailgate.

PRE-SAFE Added to 2007 E-Class

The E-Class line now comes with PRE-SAFE – the breakthrough Mercedes-Benz safety system that made its industry debut several years ago on the larger S-Class line.  The world’s first system that can sense and take protective measures before a crash, PRE-SAFE opens an entirely new era in vehicle safety.

The innovative PRE-SAFE system first tensions the seatbelts if the car senses an impending collision.  (The system uses resettable electric tensioners in addition to the existing pyrotechnic belt tensioners).

What’s more, if the front passenger seat is overly reclined or forward, PRE-SAFE moves it to a more favorable crash position.  If the seat cushion angle of the front passenger seat is too shallow, it is also re-adjusted to help prevent submarining.

Finally, if the vehicle skids (sometimes a precursor to rollover), the system can automatically close the sunroof and side windows.  If a crash is averted, the electric belt tensioners automatically relax and are ready to deploy again.

If necessary, PRE-SAFE reacts to fishtailing (or oversteer) as well as “plowing” (or understeer) by using existing sensors for ESP stability control to measure steering angle, vehicle yaw and lateral acceleration.  Emergency braking can also trigger PRE-SAFE, which monitors sensors for the Brake Assist system as well. The development of PRE-SAFE was based on the findings of Mercedes-Benz accident researchers, who concluded that about two-thirds of all accidents are preceded by driving events that indicate the possibility of an impending crash, such as skidding, emergency braking or a sudden evasive maneuver – all of which can provide valuable seconds of advance warning before impact.

New V8 Power for the E-Class

While the E350 continues to use the latest four-valve-per-cylinder V6 engine that produces 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, the E500 has been replaced by the E550 model, now powered by a new-generation 32-valve 5.5-liter V8 delivering 382 horsepower and 391 lb.-ft. of torque.

First All-AMG-Developed V8 Powers High-Performance Sedan

Marking the debut of the first engine developed entirely by AMG, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG sedan leads a pack of new high-performance models that includes the CLS63 AMG coupe, the CLK63 AMG Cabriolet, the R63 AMG sports tourer and the ML63 AMG sport utility.  All five vehicles are powered by a new 6.3-liter V8 that produces up to 507 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque.

AMG Racing Success Spawns High-Power Production Engine

One of the most powerful naturally aspirated production V8s ever, the new engine boasts a wealth of exciting features derived from AMG’s highly successful racing efforts.  A first for a production engine, the cylinder bores feature a twin-wire-arc-sprayed (TWAS) coating, a new process that results in impressively low friction and running surfaces that are twice as hard as conventional cast-iron cylinders.

Built almost completely from a high-strength silicon-aluminum alloy, the new 6.3-liter features four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, bucket tappets (rather than rocker arms), an 11.3-to 1 compression ratio and a variable intake manifold.  AMG engineers designed the 6.3-liter engine block with an especially rigid bedplate at the main bearings, cast-in steel reinforcements and a sturdy closed-deck layout beside the cylinder head.  The engine shares no parts with Mercedes-Benz V8 engines.

The new 6.3 AMG engine revs freely to over 7,000 rpm, yet already produces nearly 90 percent of its peak torque at only 2,000 rpm.

BLUETEC – A Blueprint for the World’s Cleanest Diesels

The E320 CDI is now the E320 BLUETEC, which combines several technologies to minimize exhaust emissions.  BLUETEC is built on a foundation of advanced engine design that includes four valves per cylinder, centrally located piezo-electric injectors, third-generation CDI direct injection, a turbocharger with variable nozzle turbine and exhaust gas recirculation.  Central to the E320 BLUETEC is a new 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel engine producing 208 horsepower and 388 lb.-ft. of torque, which replaces the in-line six found in the previous E320CDI.

Next, the BLUETEC system depends on the use of ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel (less than 15 parts per million) that becomes available throughout the US this fall.  Sulfur is a natural element in most mineral oils that has a corrosive effect on engines as well as increasing particulate emissions.  The availability of very low-sulfur fuel enables the use of reliable particulate filters and efficient nitrogen-oxide after-treatment.

The E320 BLUETEC incorporates four after-treatment units in the exhaust stream – an oxidizing catalytic converter, a particulate filter, an advanced “denox” storage converter, and a SCR catalytic converter.  Called SCR, for selective catalytic reduction, this process creates the most effective method of exhaust gas after-treatment currently available.

AdBlue

A BLUETEC Module for the Future

To meet even more stringent emission requirements the BLUETEC system could be equipped with another module - AdBlue injection.  A water-based urea solution, AdBlue is carried in its own small tank and metered into the exhaust in minute quantities, so small that the tank only needs to be refilled during routine scheduled maintenance.  When AdBlue is injected into pre-cleaned exhaust gas, ammonia (NH3) is released, converting nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen (and water) in the downstream SCR catalytic converter.  Called SCR, for selective catalytic reduction, this process creates the most effective method of exhaust gas after-treatment currently available.

In Europe, AdBlue injection has already proven effective in more than 15,000 Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, and the AdBlue supply network covers some 1,500 locations.

Real-World Benefits to BLUETEC

Not only is BLUETEC the cleanest diesel technology in the world, which can meet the most stringent emissions standards, but it *also helps customers make tangible fuel savings and reduce dependence on oil imports.  With its super-clean exhaust, BLUETEC can also increase the appeal and the sheer availability of diesel passenger vehicles in the U.S. market.

2007/2008 Diesels

You might want to take notes.  There will be a pop quiz.
This fall the 2007 Mercedes-Benz diesels will be released.  The E320 BLUETEC will have generation 1 BLUETEC, as described above.  This will be a 45 State car.  It needs the new “clean diesel” fuel (which should be a moot point when it comes out).

The ML320 CDI and R320 CDI will have the new engine but with current Common-rail Direct Injection technology.  The generation 1 BLUETEC SCR catalyst will not fit due to the 4-matic transfer case.  These will be 45 State trucks.  They will not be harmed by inadvertent use of the old “dirty” diesel.

In early 2007 the GL320 CDI will be introduced with CDI technology.  It, too, will be banned in California and the four states that copy California.  It, too, will burn both fuels.

In late 2007 the 2008 ML, GL, and R350 BLUETECs will be introduced with generation 2 BLUETEC, involving AdBlue.  These will be 50 state legal.  They will require “clean diesel.”

The E320 CDI will get generation 2 BLUETEC with the next chassis redesign in 2008-09.

I could be wrong.  They had no caffeinated drinks at the training class (budget cuts I suppose).

80 MPH is Legal

Well, at least on 500 miles of West Texas interstates.  Limits increased from 75 to 80 mph on the 432-mile stretch of I-10 between Kerrville and El Paso and the western-most 89 miles of I-20, which merges into I-10 en route to El Paso.  This constitutes the highest speed limit in the US, or, as German drivers call it, the slow lane.

Of course the Safety Nazis have been opposing any increase in speed with the usual blather of lies.  However interestingly enough, the Martin Parker Report, (Federal Highway Administration 1997) analyzed 100 sites where speed limits were changed.  Whether limits went up or down travel speeds remained the same.  However, when speed limits were reduced, crashes increased.  When speed limits were raised, crashes went down.  It’s not the speed; it’s the difference between fast drivers and slow drivers that’s dangerous.

In West Texas, DOT data recorded 92 fatalities on the affected stretches of I-10 and I-20 from 1999-2001 when speed limits were 70 mph.  After raising limits to 75 mph, the deaths dropped 13 percent to 80, from 2002-2004.

The Texas DOT logged 85th percentile speeds of 79 mph.  Federal Law recommends a speed limit be set at “the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic…”

(For more information see Driving Freedoms, July/August 2006.  The National Motorists Association is online at www.motorists.org)

Misc Ravings

Letter from another salesman:

I always enjoy sifting through your newsletter.  As a Top Benz Sales Rep in the state of Arizona, I sympathize with you on the Saturday work schedule, but more with being completely overlooked on your 25-year anniversary.  I agree that nobody died wishing they had worked more.  It Honor of that thought, I thought it only fitting to send you the attachment.  I have it on my front glass and make copies for people constantly who wish to make a few changes in their lives:

LIFE
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "man, what a Ride!"

Tino Ferrulli
Phoenix Motor Company Mercedes-Benz

Letter from a happy customer

Congratulations on your 25th anniversary at Star Motor Cars.
I recall you telling me last year that you only had one more year to go before you hit the quarter century.  I remember because it's just coming up on a year at the end of this month when we departed for Sindelfingen to pick up our new C230 Sport Sedan and embark on our epic trip through Europe, which you featured in your October 2005 newsletter.

We had, as you know a great time, and I do appreciate all your help in answering the many questions I had leading up to the delivery.
Let me know when Star Motor Cars gets its act together and organize something to celebrate this milestone.

Congratulation Again.

Ian Sharkey

Letter from California

Your newsletters continue to be enjoyable to read and I look forward to receiving them.

Re your trip to Thunderhill—I’ve driven my 1987 Porsche 944 turbo on that track and also found it very challenging.  I’m envious of your opportunity for such a neat experience.

Re the status of “professional” sales people—I continue to wonder how managements are so short sighted that they haven’t realized that the  inexperienced salesperson ends up being an insult to their customers.  I’ve walked out of showrooms of all brands simply because of how I was approached by the sales person and not necessary because of the product.  Believe me, the next MBZ which we purchase we will seriously entertain the possibility of buying from you even though we are in CA.

Good luck and keep up the good work.  I only wish MBZ realized how good you are in your profession and showed you the proper appreciation.

Brent Harnish
Belmont, CA


Brent, sales personnel are like riflemen.  They’re expendable.  The average domestic store has a training class for new salesmen at least once a month.  After three years at the Chevy store I was senior salesman, and the owner was happy to see me go because he was tired of signing those “big” paychecks.  Within 6 months the store had fallen from an average of 300-350 cars a month to 40.  But then 3 of us sold 100-150 cars a month.  I presume the owner figured out the connection as sales recovered eventually.

Letter from a great editor

Good One, man!

Frank Barrett, editor The Star

(Speaking of The Star, the magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club America, apparently the club officers have finally decided to cut the budget to the point that Frank can’t make a product worthy of Mercedes-Benz next year, so he’s leaving.  This is a horrific shame.  NOTE TO MBCA Officers: The ONLY reason 95% of your members join MBCA is for The Star. If it is cheapened and put out by less knowledgeable people, then there will be little or no reason for most of us to renew our memberships.)

Letter: ML320CDI Sport In Scotland
We picked up our new SUV in Perth, Scotland (from Weir). Toured for 21/2 weeks. Drove 1200 miles, mostly on a and b roads. Averaged about 35 mph and 32mpg. Great car! A few glitches with the GPS and the telephone was back ordered. The transmission is a dream and the downhill performance was fine.

Fuel was 1 pound per liter.

It is now in storage near Edinburgh with a good friend keeping the tires and battery ready for our Fall return.

Bob Palmer

End of Trail

Posse 31-32 at End of Trail 2006

End of Trail is the World Championship of Cowboy Action Shooting.  “Ho, hum, a few weirdoes playing cowboy,” you say?  Well, at best you’re only partly right.  The parent organization of Cowboy Action Shooting, the Single Action Shooting Society, is in the 75,000 range for badge numbers.  Every SASS member gets a badge with a unique number.  Judge Roy Bean is #1.  I got #24287 in 1999.  I was on the crest of the wave of the explosion in CAS shooters.

This year’s End of Trail, the 25th Anniversary edition, attracted almost 1,000 contestants, a few hundred “conventioneers,” meaning members who wanted to be there for all the fun and festivities but not shoot a 3 day, 12 stage match involving almost 300 rounds fired among your 2 single-action (old west style) revolvers, lever-action rifle, and double barreled shotgun.  A few hundred more workers were there directing traffic and the like.  There were thousands of paying spectators over the weekend despite the fact the event is on a ranch outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Why did all the spectators show up? 

Well, in addition to all of the shooters there were 60 Cowboy Mounted Shooters.  Cowboy Mounted Shooters ride real, live horses, and shoot Colt .45 style revolvers at balloons while going at full speed.  Since this would be rather hairy if they used real .45 bullets, they fire black-powder blanks.  The burning black powder will take out the balloon at about 13 feet or closer if you’re good.  Good rider/horse combinations will take out 10 balloons with 2 revolvers in 20 seconds or so, requiring tight maneuvering and flat-out speed from the horse.

In addition to that was a big arena with a Wild West Show.  Picture a man riding a buffalo (bison) through a ring of fire, that sort of thing.  A stage had singers and other musicians most of the day, and other acts were in the big tent.

SASS Mercantile

Taylor Firearms Lady with a wall of her wares

Would you buy a gun from this lady?

Several hundred vendors were present.  The stalwarts of SASS for some years had space in real wooden buildings that didn’t come cheaply.  The rest had tents.  They sold everything from guns to western knickknacks.  There were “deals,” and some of them tried to make up their extra expenses at being there on their prices.  The ones with deals sold out quickly or diminished their stock heavily if they brought enough.

 

Stagecpach

Stagecoach

Smaller Stage Coach
One of the traveling magicians magically shrunk the stage coach

A Wagon named Chuck

A Wagon named Chuck

In other words, it was a pretty big deal.  There were 40-50 shooters from Australia, and a large contingent from Germany.  Now I’ve been invited to their national championships.  I hate to pass them up, but I won’t even fly to an American match with guns anymore.  It’s just too much hassle.  Gun spinner Joey Dillon had to perform with borrowed guns and clothes because he flew in bad weather and had to change planes.  Anti-gunners have made flying with guns difficult even with a friendly airline such as Southwest and impossible with some.

RV Park

RV park up the hill from the main show

Several hundred contestants, workers, and vendors stayed on the ranch.  Up the hill from the “town” were 10-15 rows of RVs.  We had rented a travel trailer to be delivered at the ranch and picked up after the event.  The rental agency turned out to have the business ethics of Ken Lay and John Dillinger without the panache and style.  It arrived without a generator despite the contract discussing generator usage.  So we went into Albuquerque and rented a 5000-watt generator.  When we got back and got it going, it wouldn’t operate the air conditioning.  The decrepit AC unit would pop the breaker when it tried to start.  So we spent a day without AC and took it back the next day.

The-Trailer-From-Hell guarded by Darth Mercedes

The-Trailer-From-Hell, guarded by Darth Mercedes. Those colored pieces of paper in the window mean we're out of water and need to dump "black water"

As is common in SASS, our next-door neighbor, who I had never seen before, drove me to town in his big ¾ ton pickup truck.  This was necessary, as the monster 9000-watt replacement generator wouldn’t fit in the SUV. The rental company used a forklift to put it in the truck and several of his friends got it out of the truck,.  When we started it I thought a B17 was flying over at 10 ft. altitude.

That’s when we discovered the water heater wasn’t working.  Several RV experts from among our neighbors descended on the unit and discovered that no water came out when the drain plug was pulled, meaning it was completely filled with scale and had been when rented.
The rental agent had disappeared by then, and only an answering machine answered my myriad phone calls.

Cold showers hardened my resolve to make sure everyone in SASS knows about this crook next year, minimizing the number of vehicles he can rent.  We’ll rent an RV from a Houston rental agency and test things out before taking it up.  Lessons learned.

The trailer had no inverter, so we had to start the generator to make coffee.  Since the generator was so noisy we had received a noise complaint at 4 in the afternoon, we were loathe to start it until everyone around us had started their whisper-quiet generators.  Thus mornings were testy for a while.

But a strange thing happened.  With all of the problems we had, The Redhead was loving it.  George S. Patton, Jr. was with us, having ridden up in a dog safety seat from PetSmart.  He was loving it.  The neighbor had put up a pen for his dog to run around in, and George was invited.  He loved his morning walks, pulling me like a runaway Clydesdale through high brush.  The Redhead loved the scenery and the lack of stress.

Costume Contest Perils

They had several costume contests.  Best Dressed Soiled Dove, where church-going grandmothers and teenagers alike dressed as 19th century prostitutes both realistic and Hollywood started the series Thursday night.  Then came Best Dressed B-Western Friday afternoon.  For B-Western, think of, say Hopalong Cassidy or Roy Rogers with fancy buscadero holsters and gaudy outfits from the 30’s B-westerns.  It was ruined when many of the contestants couldn’t get to the contest because shooting went late that day.  It always does at EOT.  I suppose they’ll learn eventually and reschedule the event.  The Best Shooting Costume Contest was held over 2 days so all three shifts of shooters could enter if they wanted.  The plan was that I was going to be a judge in that and the Best Dressed Costume Contest Saturday night, but my shooting schedule was set up in a way to prevent it.  So, with no pre-event preparation I entered wearing an appropriately dirty black suit outfit appropriate to a Texas Ranger living on the saddle in west Texas.  It was covered in dirt and dust, and I had to continually fight off people trying to dust me off.  Several contestants had costumes made just for the contest.  My impromptu costume finished second to another guy who just wore what he shoots in.  Amazing. 

Costume Contest, Couples winners

Costume Contest, winners of the Couples division. Tom Mix "and one of my many wives" won first place

I was a judge for the main best dressed costume contest, having won it before.  No single costume may win twice.  Yes, that could get expensive if you want a matched pair of belt buckles from two different years.  The “Best Dressed Lady”, as usual, was seriously difficult to judge with one elaborate Victorian gown after another.  Finally we just added up the bribes and awarded accordingly.

They say the judges worked for free.  This isn’t so.  Tex brought me a really good Margarita during the contest and took us to the VIP tent for more afterwards.

Shooting

Black Powder Shotgun

Of course the main reason to go was the shooting.  Contestants shot 12 stages.  A stage involves 5 shots with each pistol, 8-10 with the rifle, and 2-6 with the shotgun.  The targets were pretty good-sized pieces of steel (with a couple of itty-bitty pieces thrown in), and steel knockdowns for the shotguns.  Some of the targets moved.  One was a clay bird hoisted into the air when you knocked down a shotgun target.  A good stage time was sub 20 seconds if you were trying for first overall.  The winner, Lead Dispencer (not misspelled.  His real name is Spencer), did all 12 stages in 215 seconds total.

Tex, SASS #4

Tex, SASS #4

I shot with a posse picked by Tex, SASS #4, one of the founders of SASS. (yes, we’re divided into posses.  What part of “Old West” did you miss?)  None of us were in contention for overall, but 14 out of 24 were shooting Black Powder, and the oldest was 82.  Some of SASS’s best comedians were on the posse, and it was, as a result, more enjoyable than any I’ve been on before.  For those of you to whom the term “black powder” means nothing, that’s what was really used in the old west until the turn of the century or so.  It SMOKES.  On a still morning, fire one shot, and now all you see is a big, white cloud.  It also smells like the fires of hell (sulfur), and the guns need cleaning daily.  Yes, that makes it harder and more work than the smokeless categories.  Why use it?  Duh, didn’t I just tell you?

EOT’s move from California to New Mexico, controversial at the time, was clearly a phenomenal success.  The facilities will improve as time goes by.  More contestants and more spectators will enter.


Unfortunately I had to go back to work after a week of this.  Curses, foiled again.

There is a whole section of this website on Cowboy Action Shooting

Important Things I Learned About Life From My Cats 

(Sent in by Bill Laurie)
* Life is hard and then you nap.  
* Curiosity never killed anything except maybe a few hours.  
* Variety is the spice of life:  One day ignore people, the next day annoy them and play with them when they're busy.  
* When in doubt, cop an attitude.  
* Climb your way to the top - that's why the drapes are there.  
* Never sleep alone when you can sleep on someone's face.  
* Make your mark in the world - or at least spray in each corner.  
* When you go out into the world, always remember, being placed on a pedestal is a right, not a privilege.   
* Always give generously; a bird or rodent left on the bed tells them, "I care."

Curt Rich         August 2006