View Full Version : Labor Day Travel and Gas

Frank Petronio
2-Sep-2005, 09:06
Here in Upstate New York (Rochester) the gas stations are already running out. With my daughter heading off to college in Massachusetts, I convinced her to start this morning and not let her tank go below halfway.

To heck with going on any road trips. It is probably a good idea to stock up on groceries and get your tank topped off before laying low this weekend.

Mark Windom
2-Sep-2005, 09:34
At 3+ dollars per gallon I'll be laying low the rest of the year.

Dan Jolicoeur
2-Sep-2005, 10:11
..............as I understand it stinks coming out of the tailpipe."

The same as the lobster i'll be eating!

Gudmundur Ingolfsson
2-Sep-2005, 10:49
It is funny to hear you nagging about gas prices ! You should rather think of saving some of it
for the rest of the world. Interesting to hear your opinion on the gas prices in Europe that are
approching $ 2 a litre ( times 3,8 to get the gallon price in Europe)

John Kasaian
2-Sep-2005, 11:36
Dan Smith:

The veggie oil thing is interesting, but if you use oil from the local chinese take-out, won't your car want another
tank-full about an hour later? ;-)

I might have that conversion done to our 1978 240D only I'll burn the fry grease from the local "Home of The Texas Quarterpounder" so I can drive myself to my cardiologist for that quad by-pass I've always been wanting.

I understand it smells like a giant french fry coming out of the tailpipe.

Paul Butzi
2-Sep-2005, 11:43
Harvey, the white Rabbit,

Wow, that made me laugh.

Seriously, on a morning where I was struggling and feeling like there was a lot more to be upset about than there was to smile about, that one little tidbit not only brought a smile to my face but made me laugh outright. Damn near choked on my coffee!

Dan Smith, Photographer. Elwood P. Dowd. Ever seen them together?

I thought not.

George Stewart
2-Sep-2005, 13:52
8x10 sheet film with processing costs a lot more than a gallon of fuel, as does Michelob beer and some water. We (in the US) just had it very good for a long time. Even at more than $5/gallon it's cheap.

I wonder if my LF equipment will fit into a Honda Insight?

Christopher Perez
2-Sep-2005, 13:59
The LF gear fits nicely into the boot of the Prius.

John Kasaian
2-Sep-2005, 14:01

It should fit into a circa 1958 English Ford Anglia with the 100E engine (70mpg/highway!)

Donald Qualls
2-Sep-2005, 14:25
Take the column off the baseboard, and I could load my Omega D2 enlarger and its tub of accessories, all my plate camera equipment, and my film developing stuff all into a 1970s Honda 600 coupe, and still have room for two adults and small suitcases. Now if only I had the Honda 600 -- 50 mpg at 70 mph (30+ years ago) and it handled like a sports car -- plus, I could literally lift it out of a snow drift (did it once). Just don't hit anything in it...

QT Luong
2-Sep-2005, 15:16
Interesting to hear your opinion on the gas prices in Europe that are approching $ 2 a litre ( times 3,8 to get the gallon price in Europe

Yes, but Europeans have the option of driving small diesel cars that get more than 60 MPG. In America,
advertising pressures and self-esteem issues leave us with NO choice but to drive a SUV.

Speaking of car choices, Galen Rowell, despite all his environmental stances and his tiny cameras (he thought that a Nikon F4 was too big) drove a Suburban, while Joe Holmes, a well respected LF photographer .
seems very pleased with his Prius (http://www.josephholmes.com/environment.html).

2-Sep-2005, 16:24
QT, do you get your self esteem from driving an SUV? Do you drive an SUV because of advertising pressures? Good news for you - there is a choice for you. It's called - a psychiatrist.

ronald lamarsh
2-Sep-2005, 17:11
Luckily I drive a "company" car/van. They buy the gas, tires et al, all I do is pay them $110/mo and pony up the benefit(figured on my lease cost,fuel etc) at the end of the year in extra taxes, which tend to be paltry when compared to the actual operating cost of a vehicle. end result...........I am more worried about gas availability than price. Out here on the left coast we haven't has any problems yet. Happy shoooting
I can't wait to retire so I can get a deisel and convert it veggie oil too or maybe that 81 corolla station wagon and convert it to pure ethyl alcohol.

Steve Clark
2-Sep-2005, 20:53
Europe has another option that we generally don`t have here, mass transit that works and will actually get you somewhere...

Brian C. Miller
2-Sep-2005, 21:36
We used to have a mass transit system that worked and actually got you somewhere, but, documented in a book, a group of oil companies, tire companies, and auto companies systematically destroyed it. The companies involved were fined $500, and the individuals involved were fined $1. The book was reviewed in the Oregonian, early 1990's.

One of the things you have to look at is that different countries have different needs. We had the Chevrolet Apache, produced in the 1950's, and it was like a stretched Suburban. Great way to get a crew into the boonies. The Suburban has fantastic traction, great for getting to difficult places. I suspect that it originally was made as a cross between a van and a station wagon, thus the name, but then it got adopted by industry.

The current Honda Insight gets 66mpg highway.

Donald Qualls
2-Sep-2005, 21:39
Some of us are limited to large vehicles, not by the choices available, but by the funds. I drive a fifteen year old minivan with over 200,000 miles because it's paid for and still starts every time I turn the key (which wasn't the case with the other vehicle, same age and half the miles, I bought about the same time, about 7 years ago). I get 14 mpg around town, and seldom get on the freeway now that I no longer have a 40+ mile (one way) commute; with a little care, I might be able to get six weeks on a 22 gallon tank (but six weeks from now, it might cost $90 to fill up).

Replacing this vehicle with a more efficient one is simply impossible -- there'd be no way to make the payments; it would have to pay me to be driven to cost less than buying gas for this old hog. And I can haul (literally) half a ton of stuff if I pull the seats out and pack carefully. The only solution available to me is to drive as little as possible, and hope this is a short-term situation.

Oh, yeah, mass transit. I used to really hate the Seattle/King County Metro bus system -- until I moved here, and found out that there isn't anything I recognize as public transit. There's a bus route a block from my house, but as nearly as I can determine, they run four or six buses past here per *day*. Heaven help you if you need to go somewhere another time, or need to get from here into the next town (the borders touch, though the centers are some 10+ miles apart).

And I can't run mine on old frier oil...

J.L. Kennedy
2-Sep-2005, 22:43
gps: I think it is fairly obvious that QT made his "self-esteem" and "advertising pressure" comments in jest.

3-Sep-2005, 06:46
QT made a good point: The US does not allow certain cars, such as the VW Lupo, to be imported, and I am not sure exactly why. That's got to change.

Michael Kadillak
3-Sep-2005, 07:25
Purchasing data facilitate executives in the automobile industry to formulate high profitability business models emphasizing bigger is better over more efficient alternatives.

Another thing I have read is that the that the US has mandated much stricter emmission standards that limit diesel sales in certain auto classes. The fear of being able to see black smoke coming out of 10's of millions of vehicles on our roadways is visually unacceptable to the general public. In a similar vein, California has regulated over 13 different formulations of gasoline that has forced prices through the roof. No wonder they always have the highest price fuels. Here is a statistic to ponder -

When the last domestic refinery was built in the US in 1976, we had 291 facilities operating to provide this country with a wide range of refined products from propane and motor oils to gasolines. With consumption increasing since 1976 we now have 149 refineries attempting to sequester our insatiable thirst for these products.

The big auto makers will finally have their ballons busted in this new market. What we need is clean fuel efficient diesel technology and the consumers will force the marketplace to provide it to them one way or another.

Our complete lack of an energy strategy has allowed the US to have the highest natural gas costs in the world. Gasoline is not there yet but is re-establishing personal spending allocations as we speak and will be a huge drag on the economy. Painful as it is, I believe it is a good thing in the long run. We as a nation squander far to many natural resources IMHO.


Brian C. Miller
3-Sep-2005, 09:50
The reason that the small diesel cars are not in the US is because the auto companies don't import them. In fact, the EPA has far laxer restrictions on diesel than gasoline cars. I remember a story about a small two-seater sold in the UK which got about 70mpg with diesel, and the car company had brought half a dozen state-side for test driving. Maybe with gas prices from $3-$4 per gallon, the car companies and the EPA will get some on the fast track for import sales.

Joe VanCleave
3-Sep-2005, 12:42
I bought my VW Jetti TDI back in '98, when gas was $1 per gallon. People thought I was nuts, driving a diesel car.

I guess I feel better about it now, in an odd sort of way. But I'd still rather be paying $.95 per gallon of diesel and have folks say I should've bought a gasser.

As for reliability, its been okay. Actually, my Toyota truck had worse problems than my VW. A leaky battery was the root cause for power steering leaks - common problem on VW's. Get a red-top gel-cel battery, you're good to go.

But the real problem with diesel cars here in the US is that the EPA mandates EGR systems. These recirculate exhaust gasses back into the intake manifold, which may not be a bad idea on a gasser. But for a high particulate exhaust like a diesel, all it does is clog up the intake system. Its very expensive to have your intake manifold disassembled and cleaned, and the EGR intercooler manifold replaced for clogged tubes.

There's a reason diesel cars in Europe aren't required to have EGR systems - its bad for the car, and it doesn't really improve emissions, since the reduced power and fuel economy from the EGR system causes you to stomp on the pedal harder - causing even more pollution.

Hybrids are interesting, but their highway mileage and torque has to improve to warrant replacing my TDI. I'd like to hear what "real world" mileage is on a hybrid, if you fill her up and run her down the highway till she's empty. There's a good chance the TDI will go further.

3-Sep-2005, 13:37
For comparison only:

gas/diesel prices

US: $ 3,- / gallon

Middle Europe: $ 5-7,- / gallon

car prices:

VW Touareg V8 US: MSRP $ 45.000,-

VW Touareg V8 Middle Europe: $ 90.000 - 100.000,- incl. and still $ 70.000,- excl. taxes

That means, that anybody here, who is stu... enough to buy a car like this, subsidizes another one sold in the US.

European car companies are taking us for fools here and people just put up with it ...

Mike Cockerham
3-Sep-2005, 18:48
No refineries in 25 years, no new oil exploration, no nuclear plants, wind energy but you must keep the birds from flying into the turbine. We are sitting on enough oil reserves to last us but the enviromentalist wakos will not allow things to move forward. Everything must stay natuarl and perfect. It is silly to not make use of the resources we have in our own country.
When are we going to stand and say that we need energy and that there are safe and effective ways to get it.

Frank Petronio
3-Sep-2005, 19:28
Europeans pay the same market price for oil that Americans do. But their government extorts more taxes, creating the higher prices. While they do have micro cars capable of 90 mpg, they are hardly practical outside of a dense urban area (which Europe has plenty of and the US has little of.) Driving a "Smart" car across Wyoming would be suicide.

Artificially increasing the cost of energy through taxation is unlikely to spur alternative energy development - instead it just decreases consumption and stagnates the economy with a high unemployment rate, which is Europe's current situation. It takes better engineers - like Toyota's - to bring real alternatives to market. And genuinely high raw energy prices. Our current situation may end up spurring more alternative energy development from private enterprise than all the government bogus programs ever did.

Government should get the heck out of the way other than making sure alternative energy gets a level playing field against big oil.

Ed K.
3-Sep-2005, 19:43
Diesel is not the only answer
Diesel eh? Diesel engines were designed for running at a constant speed for endless hours, not accelerating and decelerating all the time. Using them for cars in cities, and having people use them that can't keep them in perfect running order because they want cheap only is a recipe for smog and ill health. It seems that photographers especially should be concerned about the global smog layer, and so far, today's versions of diesel, whether corn-fed or deep fried are not clean. On a trip to Sequoia National Park, there were all kinds of signs about smog advising people to say inside. The pollution from the valley below that has all the diesel trucks, as well as everything else, had risen all the way up into the highest points of the park - smog in the mountains! I remember how bad it was to sit in traffic years ago during the 70's gas crisis, when all the rich people went out to buy $70,000 MBZ cars so that they could save a couple hundred a year on fuel costs. I'm sure that there could be cleaner diesels, however our local transportation companies studied it and then went to LNG instead because cleaner diesels cost way more than the LNG conversions.

Gasoline cars could be way more efficient. BMW made a 5 series car ( okay, it had some problems ) called the 528 ETA that got 30+ on the highway, in a nice big sedan with leather and power everything. It was fun enough to drive even though the typical 6 cyl. sedan of today would leave it in the dust. The point though, is that it's fuel, ignition and friction control systems were way better than what they make today, because people were worried about fuel economy. The car makers could make more efficient cars, both large and small.

What about hydrogen fuels?There are many who are working on cheaper ways to make hydrogen. Supposedly, there are some ways to do this that are not being researched well enough ( okay, play the conspiracy music if you want, or the economic report if you want ). As photographers - we need some way to keep clean air, get there reliably, and keep costs in line. Of course, since Kodak and other companies are laying off people and closing plants everywhere, maybe just getting a few out of work lab technicials would be cheaper than biodiesel, especially if you fed them beans first!

More than just the pump
Perhaps more frightening than the cost of fuel, or for some, the prospect of both increased polution and increased fuel costs, is the increase in price for everything else we use that is based upon oil, including most of our photo & computer stuff ( plastics, right? ) along with the prices of shipping, which are already getting outrageous.

So who do we write to? How to solve it?
The current gas situation is partly a distribution problem, partly gouging at by the middle man. There are still laws regarding monopoly/oligarchy ( Sherman Act, Clayton Act and others ). Unfortunately, because so many people blindly allowed leadership to let the monopolists win, there is little competition in each area. How many stations can you select from today, compared to 20 years ago? And for them, how many suppliers can they choose from? No competition, so they can do what they like and make whatever excuse they like ( middlemen, suppliers ).

Those who bought the huge Hummers and 4WD Schoolbuses had enough money for it not to upset their style much, however they didn't help all of this either. I don't feel sorry for them. I do feel sorry for the moms and families that bought the tow package extra huge V8 suburbans, they've got to be feeling a lot of pain at the pump.

So photogs - how about instead of gas prices keeping you home instead of shooting, just take a little longer trip afield, and combine 4 trips into one sometimes? And without hugging trees too much here, some of us do like a clear day once in a while. Meanwhile, anyone got time for a letter to their representative?

mark blackman
4-Sep-2005, 01:39
one small point: UK mpg is not the same as USA mpg, 1 US gallon = 3.785 litres, 1 UK gallon = 4.545 (the difference is due to the variance in a pint).

Hence any UK mpg values should be multiplied by 0.83 to convert to US values.

John Cook
4-Sep-2005, 06:39
Let me gently make one obvious point which seems to have escaped the entire human race.

Conservation is not about the size of your vehicle nor about the type of fuel you consume.

Conservation is about the amount of fuel you consume. Period.

Someone who drives 2,500 miles per year in a Suburban is no more wasteful than one who unnecessarily drives 50,000 miles in a hybrid.

A recent Toyota TV commercial aimed at younger buyers seems to advocate frequent fuel-efficient coast-to-coast vacation trips in their economical little model. How foolish.

Before you vote to ban vehicles which will hold a family with four children in safety, perhaps you might consider rationing gasoline.

No ecological difference between burning your five gallons per week in a minivan than in a Prius.

Next time you feel the urge to torch somebodyís Hummer, look at the odometer first...

4-Sep-2005, 08:10
Frank P Europeans pay the same market price for oil that Americans do. But their government extorts more taxes, creating the higher prices.

Frank, Americans pay a lot of tax on gasoline. It is in the form of diplomatic gifts to nations sitting on top of the oil or very near it, used to protect our interest in the oil, and of course taxes which support war in terms of $ and human welfare.

Matt Powell
4-Sep-2005, 20:19
I don't know a lot of people who buy $40k Ford Excursions or Hummers so they can drive Granny to church once a month.

I've got to have a truck for work (a Prius just won't carry a palette of tile or sheets of drywall, though I've been silently coveting one), wish I could afford the Chevy hybrid - a V8 with more power than my current Ford V6 and better gas mileage.

Ed K.
5-Sep-2005, 03:34
Apologies to those who have working trucks, be they Hummer or Suburban - work trucks at least work for more than one person. And of course, who would not want their family to be safe, with a large family. No intention to offend them.

I live in the Los Angeles Area, which might have most of the cars per capita / square mile in the United States. Many people here live in the suburbs about 100 miles one-way from Los Angeles, then drive their urban ( or Suburban ) destroyer to work, with just one person in it. Also, many people here got huge vehicles for nothing but show or intimidation, something like the ďgross broadside weightĒ of an old ship of the line. Itís a free country still, and they can do what they like; itís their choice how to spend their money and decide what is important. I can also understand why many people bought new remakes of classic muscle cars, or just some of the new high powered machines for the thrill - who knows if this is the last chance to enjoy them; sort of like the last chance to enjoy Kodak film before itís all gone.

I use a truck for work now too - because the one I got gets 4 mph average better than the Acura sedan I traded it for (Acura RL = 17mpg on premium, on the highway), and it fits all my work gear. To conserve gas, I try to consolidate trips more. I moved my office to 1 mile from home so that I can walk if and when I want - it beats a 200 mile per day drive that some people have to do. And as much as possible, I use the Internet to communicate with clients, which of course makes calculating the gasoline impact of it more difficult overall ( power costs? ). Iím not positive, however I think that using UPS, USPS, FedEx or some other method of shipping is better fuel wise, because their routes are optimized for efficiency in order to stay competitive - so I do have things delivered quite a bit too. As Cook points out, driving less is a big part of it. And the Prius is pretty expensive. Seems like the little Civic does a lot better than 12mpg. Unfortunately, itís starting to look like those of us in the US will have to get better mileage or drive less miles in the future, as the demand overseas is swelling. Think of it, these are the good olí days!

If this thread is any indicator, perhaps the Internet does save gas - anyone responding to this isnít out doing field photography - or are they?? Wi-fi from Yosemite?

Again, sorry for the Hummer / Suburban reference. Itís a left over from driving a small sedan and getting run off the road by a huge vehicle with one person sitting in it, throttles wide open, horn blaring, and turning left in front of me on a green lightÖin my neck of the woods, such people exist. The rest of you nice people know who you are, and know that you drive courteously. With the summer heat, Iíd rather pay a buck more for gas than get into a broadside battle with any of you heavy first-rate ships:)