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Car allergic to ice cream Options
srirr
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 7:52:43 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 12/29/2009
Posts: 8,507
Neurons: 484,288
I just got this in my mail box.

This is a weird but true story (with a moral) ...

A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:

"This is the second time I have written you, and I don't blame you for not answering me, because I kind of sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. But the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we've eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It's also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem. You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won't start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I'm serious about this question, no matter
how silly it sounds: 'What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?'"

The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway. The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn't start.

The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man's car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: he jotted down all sorts of data, time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc.

In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store.

Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to find the flavor and get checked out.

Now the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn't start when it took less time. Once time became the problem -- not the vanilla ice cream -- the engineer quickly came up with the answer: vapor lock. It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

Moral of the story: Even insane looking problems are sometimes real.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you know any such insane-looking logical problem?
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 8:05:52 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
Neurons: 39,962
Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
Back in the day, I worked for Kodak as a field service engineer. One of the machines I maintained was a "computer-output microfilmer" that displayed data on a high-resolution cathode-ray tube (CRT) which exposed film. One customer had a recurring problem where the horizontal deflection coil (an electromagnet that directed the electron beam across the page) would burn out. After months of fruitless diagnosis we stumbled on one particular input tape which, when run, seemed to be the culprit--it fried the tube. This seemed impossible since the tape just contained data that changed monthly--how could it (software) destroy hardware? But taking that tape out of circulation solved the problem and we later discovered that, in a part of the tape that never got over-written with data, there were some messed up character instructions that effectively requested the beam to write a page as wide as the room, which drove too much current into the coil causing it to burn out. This sort of thing brings to mind Sherlock Holmes's rule about "after you have eliminated the impossible, then what remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
daidev
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 12:06:51 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/11/2010
Posts: 32
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Location: United States
Interesting stories, suitable story plots for Bond and/or Holmes movies. Think
kisholoy mukherjee
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:33:23 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/31/2009
Posts: 3,729
Neurons: 7,777
Location: here and there
Luftmarque wrote:
Back in the day, I worked for Kodak as a field service engineer. One of the machines I maintained was a "computer-output microfilmer" that displayed data on a high-resolution cathode-ray tube (CRT) which exposed film. One customer had a recurring problem where the horizontal deflection coil (an electromagnet that directed the electron beam across the page) would burn out. After months of fruitless diagnosis we stumbled on one particular input tape which, when run, seemed to be the culprit--it fried the tube. This seemed impossible since the tape just contained data that changed monthly--how could it (software) destroy hardware? But taking that tape out of circulation solved the problem and we later discovered that, in a part of the tape that never got over-written with data, there were some messed up character instructions that effectively requested the beam to write a page as wide as the room, which drove too much current into the coil causing it to burn out. This sort of thing brings to mind Sherlock Holmes's rule about "after you have eliminated the impossible, then what remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."


That, though, must have been a fantastic learning experience. Nothing better than to deal with technical glitches like these with your own hands. (as a technical person)
grammargeek
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 1:43:34 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,136
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
srirr wrote:
I just got this in my mail box.

This is a weird but true story (with a moral) ...

A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:

"This is the second time I have written you, and I don't blame you for not answering me, because I kind of sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. But the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we've eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it. It's also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem. You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won't start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine. I want you to know I'm serious about this question, no matter
how silly it sounds: 'What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?'"

The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway. The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn't start.

The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man's car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: he jotted down all sorts of data, time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc.

In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store.

Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to find the flavor and get checked out.

Now the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn't start when it took less time. Once time became the problem -- not the vanilla ice cream -- the engineer quickly came up with the answer: vapor lock. It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

Moral of the story: Even insane looking problems are sometimes real.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Do you know any such insane-looking logical problem?


Out of curiosity, I looked this one up on Snopes and found it. Their legend shows the story to have "unclassifiable
veracity" as noted by the white bullet. You can read the full Snopes report here. They note that variations of the
report have included the information that the shorter time span caused the vapor lock (as above), but also
versions in which the car wouldn't start because of vapor lock caused by the longer time it took to get a
hand-packed flavor of ice cream.

I'm no car mechanic or engineer, so I have no idea which version makes more sense. Does anybody know if vapor
lock is more likely to occur when the time from turning off the engine to trying to start the car again is particularly
short, or if it is just the opposite, or if vapor lock is even a factor in whether or not a car will start?
KenMac
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:01:36 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 2/11/2010
Posts: 5
Neurons: 15
Location: United States
Way back in the day, visiting my grandfather in Ionia, Michinan, he told me he once had a Model T Ford. "Great car," he said, except when he'd go down the Union Street hill to the court house and the post office, he would always find the car would not make it back up the hill, unless he drove up in reverse. He had to back all the way up the long hill. As a kid vitally interested in mechanical stuff, I tried to figure out why that could possibly be. Lower reverse gear than forward? No. What else could it be. "Pop" didn't know. He only found it enbarrassing to be seen backing his car that long way home.

Years later, at an antique car show, I learned the true story. The Model T gas tank was under the seat. There was no fuel pump; gravity delivered fuel to the carburetor, so on the steep hill, the gas tank was lower than the carburetor and the fuel flow stopped. Reverse was a clever solution. Ford solved the problem with the Model A by putting the gas tank behind the dashboard. No hill was too steep then.
kisholoy mukherjee
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:24:53 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/31/2009
Posts: 3,729
Neurons: 7,777
Location: here and there
grammargeek wrote:


Out of curiosity, I looked this one up on Snopes and found it. Their legend shows the story to have "unclassifiable
veracity" as noted by the white bullet. You can read the full Snopes report here. They note that variations of the
report have included the information that the shorter time span caused the vapor lock (as above), but also
versions in which the car wouldn't start because of vapor lock caused by the longer time it took to get a
hand-packed flavor of ice cream.

I'm no car mechanic or engineer, so I have no idea which version makes more sense. Does anybody know if vapor
lock is more likely to occur when the time from turning off the engine to trying to start the car again is particularly
short, or if it is just the opposite, or if vapor lock is even a factor in whether or not a car will start?


Firstly, thanks for the really interesting post, srirr. It was really fun and also educational!!
And thanks to GG as well, for looking it up and giving another interesting link.
I am no expert in mechanical or automobile engineering, but I don't see how and why a vapor lock would be formed because of taking longer time. It is understandable that if the man took less time to buy the vanila icecream, then the car engine didn't have the time to dissipate the heat and hence the vapors were formed by the liquid fuel vaporising. Then, indeed the car can stall. (However, my explanation has a flaw..it would mean that there is a vapor lock everytime he switches off the car and that the lock takes care of itself after a certain time is over...whether that is possible or not I don't know)
This is what I found in wiki:
"A vapor lock is more likely to develop when the vehicle is in traffic because the under-hood temperature tends to rise. A vapor lock can also develop when the engine is stopped while hot and the vehicle is parked for a short period. The fuel in the line near the engine does not move and can thus heat up sufficiently to form a vapor lock. The problem is more likely in hot weather or high altitude in either case."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vapor_lock
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:26:09 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/2/2009
Posts: 5,408
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Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
I think we should refer it to "Car Talk"
grammargeek
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:33:35 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/21/2009
Posts: 11,136
Neurons: 33,836
Location: Arizona, U.S.
RuthP wrote:
I think we should refer it to "Car Talk"


OK, I'm going to have to guess. Is "Car Talk" a radio show?
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:47:50 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/17/2009
Posts: 3,119
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Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
Yes, "Car Talk" is the best radio show about cars. On NPR weekends. It's informative and funny.
RuthP
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 3:45:36 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

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Posts: 5,408
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Location: Drain, Oregon, United States
Car Talk web site.

For more general information: Wikipedia: Car Talk
TL Hobs
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:45:34 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 4/16/2009
Posts: 1,399
Neurons: 6,101
Location: Kenai, Alaska, United States
Vapor lock occurs when the fuel changes phase to a gas from a liquid at the pump, preventing the pump from supplying liquid gasoline to the carburetor. The engine will spit and sputter and eventually die. It usually occurs in hot weather or when the fuel pump is worn out and producing a weak fuel pressure. The remedy is to allow the engine to cool, replace the fuel pump, or restricted fuel filter. The engine can usually be restarted after it has cooled off a bit, but that doesn't solve the problem permanently.

Ok, now for my mystery problem.

I worked as an air conditioning mechanic in summers while in college, studying mechanical engineering. Most often, when approaching a repair problem I would be greeted by the home owner telling me, "My thermostat doesn't keep me cool." Sometimes, that was the only clue given and I would chuckle under my breath and think to myself, "Of course not." But, I listened to anything they could tell me, because sometimes it was closer to the truth than they, or I, thought.

One day, an old timer called for a repair and said, "The ants are in my air conditioner again!" That was a new one. When I arrived and determined that the system was not producing cool air indoors, he kept at me saying that it was the ants that were causing it and that I should look for ants.

So, I went to the outdoor condensing unit and opened up the control panel. Sure enough, it was full of ants. So many, in fact, that they made a nest inside the electrical contacts that started the compressor. The dead ants were so thick, they insulated the contacts enough to interrupt the electrical current going to the system. They did this every year. The old timer knew what he was talking about.

The solution was to clean out the electrical components of dead ant carcasses and spray the area with an insecticide.
Luftmarque
Posted: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 11:51:46 PM

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Location: Pau, Aquitaine, France
We could expand this topic to include "colorful customer descriptions of problems." My favorite (again from my Kodak field service days) was a call put in about a microfilmer reader/printer that read, "It jiggles and it shakes and it won't make prints." Great rhythm there, a bit of found poetry really.
kisholoy mukherjee
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 5:42:58 AM
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Location: here and there
Interesting experience, Tl Hobs!
srirr
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 6:59:12 AM

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Joined: 12/29/2009
Posts: 8,507
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I would also like to share my personal experience. This I learned when I was troubleshooting some email related issues.
Have you ever faced any problem like while using Yahoo! Mail, you are unable to click on the Compose or Send button. You could use and explore the other websites well, but with the webmail, you face difficulty.

Well, let me tell you this is an issue which is not so common, but not so rare, too. I have faced it. I could open Yahoo! mail page, read my mails, delete my mails. I could see the Compose button, but when clicked, nothing happened. I tried alll sort of troubleshooting--deleting cache, deleting temporary internet files, refreshing Windows, restarting computer--nothing helped. And, there was no other problem, neither with any other website nor with offline utilities and files. just with Yahoo! Mail

Then I got the remedy. Shut down the computer. Switch off and plug off all the power supply. Unplug all the cables. Wait for about 30 seconds, then re-plug all the cables. This is called power cylcing. Once done, problem solved. But how?

At first, there does not seem any connection between the problem and the solution. But there is. Actually, sometimes the static charge accumulates in the computer. This may result in ambiguous functioning of any software. Power cycling (for about 30 seconds) releases the static charges and resolves the problem.

The same you can experience with mobile phones. Sometimes you arre not able to read sms or disconnect an ongoing call or unable to use any feature. just remove the battery and re-insert after 30 sec.
grammargeek
Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010 12:15:37 PM
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Location: Arizona, U.S.
TL Hobs wrote:
Vapor lock occurs when the fuel changes phase to a gas from a liquid at the pump, preventing the pump from supplying liquid gasoline to the carburetor. The engine will spit and sputter and eventually die. It usually occurs in hot weather or when the fuel pump is worn out and producing a weak fuel pressure. The remedy is to allow the engine to replace the fuel pump, or restricted fuel filter. The engine can usually be restarted after it has cooled off a bit, but that doesn't solve the problem permanently.


It sounds like that would explain a problem I had with my last car. The car was about 10 years old when I got it from my parents who took pity on my soul after a rather major financial upset occurred, and I could no longer afford the payments on my Honda.

As for hot weather, out here that is a given for most of the year. Whenever the car wouldn't start, I always thought it was the battery. And indeed, I did have known problems with the battery, but now I'm thinking that at least some of the "car won't start" problems were probably actually due to vapor lock. Quite a few times when I had trouble starting the car, it was just after checking my mail. My neighborhood has cluster mailboxes at the end of the block, and I would often swing by my mailbox after I being out and about before pulling into my own driveway. Keeping all of my keys (including the mailbox key) on one keychain meant I had to stop the car, get out for less than 30 seconds to grab my mail, and then get back in and re-start the car--or try, anyway.
srirr
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 12:15:16 AM

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GG, do you still own that car? If yes, you can try to verify.
grammargeek
Posted: Friday, May 14, 2010 1:04:35 AM
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srirr wrote:
GG, do you still own that car? If yes, you can try to verify.


No, I don't have that car anymore.
kenaugust7
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 2:55:26 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 5/17/2010
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The story was great and interesting, never heard of any such things ever in my life. I think one day will come when all non living things will be allergic to something. Just imagine that the chair is not letting you sit until you switch on the fan.
Luftmarque
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 2:59:54 AM

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kenaugust7 wrote:
The story was great and interesting, never heard of any such things ever in my life. I think one day will come when all non living things will be allergic to something. Just imagine that the chair is not letting you sit until you switch on the fan.

Sure, I'm looking forward to the day when each of my shoes has its own IP address.
srirr
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 3:10:27 AM

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Joined: 12/29/2009
Posts: 8,507
Neurons: 484,288
Luftmarque wrote:
kenaugust7 wrote:
The story was great and interesting, never heard of any such things ever in my life. I think one day will come when all non living things will be allergic to something. Just imagine that the chair is not letting you sit until you switch on the fan.

Sure, I'm looking forward to the day when each of my shoes has its own IP address.


Luftmarque, can you please move a bit back? You are hacking into my wireless trousers.
grammargeek
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 12:49:52 PM
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Location: Arizona, U.S.
I'm looking forward to a day when we don't have potential spammers making awkward posts for the sake of reaching the point where the "spam" button disappears.

What's up with the "movie reviews" signature, kenaugust7 from India? Also, is "Ken" a common name in India?
kisholoy mukherjee
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 3:42:10 PM
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Joined: 10/31/2009
Posts: 3,729
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Location: here and there
grammargeek wrote:
I'm looking forward to a day when we don't have potential spammers making awkward posts for the sake of reaching the point where the "spam" button disappears.

What's up with the "movie reviews" signature, kenaugust7 from India? Also, is "Ken" a common name in India?


If you go by names, then Isaac and Kruger are also not Indian names!!
Ken can be the name of an Indian Christian.
By the way, what did you find so awkward about his post/s? Spammers rarely post about anything other than what they have come to advertise. If it were movie reviews in his case, he wouldn't be speaking about poets and allergic inanimate objects, would he??
I think it is just own blog or something, like some others share through the 'WWW' or 'BlOG' links in tfd. Though I wonder why it is still not hyperlinked.
grammargeek
Posted: Monday, May 17, 2010 5:24:39 PM
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It just struck me that way, KM. If I'm way off base, Ken can certainly come back and set me straight. At that point, I'll be pleasantly surprised and happy to apologize.

Thanks for the info about the name, though. Good to know.
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