(Editor's Note: The good doctor informed me this month's column was composed while suffering from the delirium of a persistent high fever. Signs of such befuddlement are incoherent thought, rambling sentence structure, and horrific grammar. In other words, same as any other column. I just wanted to gloat that in his confusion, he's renegotiated his contract so I now pay him entirely with two-for-one dinner coupons at Applebee's. Enjoy!)
Suspend disbelief, if you will, and imagine I'd done something useful with my life. Maybe I could have invented something that would have benefited all of mankind. I did have one idea, chewable aspirin, to make the medicine more enjoyable for little children to take. Not to sound bitter, but the drug companies not only beat me to that idea, they also improved on the concept by adding appealing flavors. I suppose chalk-flavored chewable aspirin wouldn't have been well-received anyway, but I'd like to think I tried.
Moving on, what if I told you about a system to improve power and fuel efficiency on my Jeep's engine? Actually, it would work on nearly any internal-combustion engine. Not only that, the tree-huggers would love me because it would've reduced pollution too. The secret is to cool down the combustion process under certain conditions to make it more usable. With a slower, more complete burn, more ignition advance and leaner mixtures could also be used. Once again, I was a day late and a dollar short, as the big manufacturers beat me to the punch.
I can say, however, that I'd have used a much spiffier name for this system. Let me explain. A small amount of inert gas added to the fuel/air mixture will slow combustion and keep temperatures down. Had I been in charge of such things, this would have been called something impressive like the Cylinder Cooling System. Young, impressionable men, with no understanding of engine thermodynamics but a firm belief that if a little is good then plenty more is better, would compete to go overboard with it. No point hiding it, either, as I'd also offer the option of a dashboard-mounting kit for the gas canister. Those that couldn't afford either option could at least buy the performance-enhancing decals. Alas, my dreams of financial freedom were not to be, as most vehicles since the mid-'70s have had this system installed at the factory. Instead of using a separate supply of inert gas, the engineers realized the exhaust system already had no usable amounts of oxygen and tapped into that. The only problem is the idiots had to call it the exhaust-gas-recirculation system.
This is a good point if anybody would like to step outside for a little break. I need to grab a shovel and broom to collect my thoughts for a moment. Despite appearances, I do have a point ready to go-if I can only remember what I did with it. Understand I've been bedridden with a high fever for several days now, so I need to type between bouts of delirium and dinosaur attacks.
The problem with exhaust-gasrecirculation is the name never explainswhy you'd want it in the first place. Poke around under the hood, and once you identify a component, a good name might help explains its importance. Ignition advance? Hmm . . . ignition is good, advance probably means more, so that must be even better, right? Exhaust-gas recirculation? Sounds reminiscent of the time you found out how your Jeep buddy earned the "Methane Marauder" nickname and always has to travel last on the trail. Better rip that system out, huh? (We're back to talking about engines.) And so it goes, in a misguided attempt to improve upon the factory systems.
Here's the scary part. I'm probably only about one of three people who actually cares how systems like these work. I can't count how many times friends have deduced I must automatically know why their Jeeps are running so poorly. Only after lots of questioning do I find just how much equipment is disconnected. As far as troubleshooting ability, I've learned the hard way it's best to keep some things to yourself. (Editor's Note: Good point, just like how I never let on that I'm a big fan of the Bee Gees.) Still, I feel obliged to help, so I end up hunched over a balky engine, trying to bring it back to life. At least I have a good excuse to avoid these situations now, explaining I can't come over until after dinner because, for some reason, I have all these coupons to use up.-Dr. Vern
Did you knowThe most common Jeep rear axle is the Dana 44? It can be found in everything from Wagoneers to TJs, and the internals have barely changed since 1948.