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5 weird and funny car commercials of the past: Volvo’s sexism, wheels of Enzo Ferrari and the legendary E30 (Video)

Why do we like vintage car commercials so much? Couple of decades ago art of visual effects and videography was not where it is now. Therefore, creators had to use different approach to make their clips interesting and dynamic. While car commercials of today are definitely cool, we like to look back at how some already classic cars used to be advertised. So that is what we are doing here today – we present you 5 interesting car commercials from the past.

This article is part of the series we have going on about old car commercials, you can find the entire list of articles at the very bottom of this one. Meanwhile today we are looking at how BMW E30, Volvo 145, Toyota pickup trucks, Fiat 128 and were advertised.



There is no denying that we love E30. We are following one restoration project and we’ve already covered 7 interesting facts about this car. However, while now it is gaining its classic status, back in a day it was just another car on the market. This is kind of a lengthy, but it is full of good stuff. For starts, there is a nice example of old commercial weirdness – some boats and 80’s graphics.

If you watched entire clip, you really saw everything. Nice convertible, fast M3 and, of course, an off-roading scene on the snow. By the way, if you like E30, here you can read 7 interesting facts about this famous BMW.

There is no denying that today the world is more about equality than ever. Back in a day a little bit of sexism didn’t really bother anyone. This Volvo 145 commercial is a perfect example of how different the world was back in a way.

To be completely honest, we have to admit that this was the lifestyle of choice in those days. And both men and women struggled with those massive estate cars. Comparably tiny Volvo 145 looks so refreshing squeezed in between those American monsters.

Ford F150 is the most popular car in USA. In fact, pickup trucks are immensely popular throughout the country. Of course, American manufacturers are dominating the market, but Toyota is not humble about its presence either. This is how it introduced its new line in 1985.

You can see how competitor trucks are standing on their back axles from… shock, maybe? Regardless, Toyota makes pretty much the finest pickups on the market – they are extremely reliable, unbeatable off-road and full of technology.




“When it comes to cars, you can’t fool the Ferrari” – a funny ad for a humble Fiat 128. Enzo Ferrari is a legendary name in automotive business, who founded the coolest brand in the world. However, according to this commercial, Mr. Ferrari himself used different cars for his own commute.

Enzo Ferrari drove many cars throughout his lifetime and Fiat 128 is actually not that weird. However, we don’t thing Ferrari drew a lot of inspiration from humble Fiats when creating his own masterpieces.

Finally, just look at how dreamy Mazda Miata (MX-5) commercial was. This little sports car is probably the most optimistic vehicle on the road and it seems like people behind this clip grasped its character very well. Just take a look.

Mazda MX-5 is the most popular sports car in the world. We are starting to think – maybe it is time that NODUM buys one…

These were all commercials we had for this time. Are there any vintage car commercials YOU would include into our list?



If you enjoy vintage car commercials, we offer two other parts of this series:

In the first article we showed creative clips about Ford Model T, classic MINI, SAAB 900 Turbo, first generation Volkswagen Golf GTI and Lada Niva

In the second we took a look at how Audi 100, Golf MkII, Volkswagen Passat, Opel Calibra and Fiat Multipla were advertised;

And in the third we watched M5 (E39), Porsche, Ford Mustang, Mercedes-Benz and Lambroghini commercials.

5 mistakes that prevented Allied from winning WW2 sooner

Alternative history is a tricky business. We cannot objectively judge decisions from the past using categories of today. However, now after more than 70 years have passed we can look at WW2 from a different perspective. We can see mistakes opponents made in their efforts to reach the ultimate victory. In this article we are going to briefly look into 5 mistakes that did allow the Allies to reach ultimate victory sooner.

One has to keep in mind that this is not a serious scientific article and it does not pretend to be one. We have information about consequences that people making decisions during the Second World War did not. Therefore, we are breaching the principle of historism, which does not necessarily bring any value to the field. However, it is a fun thing to do, so let’s just jump into it.



Underrating military power of Japan

You all know how it went – Japan attacked Pearl Harbor without declaring war. This later was considered a war crime and the success of the operation was attributed to the surprise factor. But why was it such a surprise? Partly because US completely underestimated what Japanese military was capable of.

Japanese submarine B1-type I-15 (N. Polmar, D. Carpenter, Wikimedia)

Japan was consider severely underdeveloped and people were thought to be somewhat of savages. However, this view had to change quickly as Japan started occupying one island over the other. Japanese submarines proved to be quite advanced and soldiers – devoted and brave. History enthusiast Dougas Stychas says that there is nothing as vast as Japanese advance in the beginning of WW2 – it was the biggest offensive operation in history.

If US evaluated Japan better, maybe it was possible to prevent Pearl Harbor attack? Or maybe the entire war could’ve been prevented if US with allies closed Japan preventing it from expanding its territory and power?

Demanding “unconditional surrender”

So called “unconditional surrender” doctrine came out of Casablanca conference. It was somewhat of a surprise to Winston Churchill and it is not entirely clear if Franklin D. Roosevelt fully understood his demand. But after it was said, it was basically set in stone, meaning that the war had to end with Germany surrendering unconditionally.

Casablanca Conference, where Roosevelt schocked the world with his ‘unconditional surrender’ statement.

This worked on the side of German propaganda. Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister, used this as an opportunity to mobilize Germany, saying that the state is going to be drawn into slavery if it loses the war. This demand really prolonged the WW2 and made negotiations completely impossible.

Late introduction of convoy system

German U-Boats were notoriously attacking American merchant and supply ships sinking one after another. The reason why this hunt was so easy was lack of protection – convoy system was not in place at the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic. Once it was introduced and war ships started protecting ships carrying important supplies, German Navy has a much more difficult job attacking and sinking them.

Convoy system helps protecting important merchant shipt against German U-Boats. (U.S. Navy Naval History Center, Wikimedia)

However, some historians say that convoy system could not have been introduced earlier, because of lack of war ships. Unsuitable convoy is worse than merchant ships sailing alone. On the other hand, if convoy system was introduced, assuming it was possible, a lot of ship losses could have been avoided and supply chain to Europe would have been reliable from the beginning.




Defending Philippines in 1942

Philippines were essentially lost in 1942, but General Douglas MacArthur decided to defend these islands for as long as possible. This caused a major loss for US forces, 76 thousand American and Filipino soldiers being captured. Abandoning the plan to defend Philippines in such a difficult situation could have saved these people and a lot of resources.

American POW carrying their fallen comrades in Philippenes, in 1942. (Wikimedia)

Operation Torch

While we can’t say that the entire operation was a mistake, the beginning of it was marked with some questionable decisions. In 1942 Allies understood the strategic value of Tunisia. Occupying these lands could help secure Egypt and pressurize Germany from the South. British wanted to start the operation from Algeria – as close to Tunisia as possible. Meanwhile US feared that Gibraltar is going to be lost as Spain may enter the war on German side. This would mean isolation of forces in Northern Africa and supply ships could not enter Mediterranean. Compromised was reached and in November 8 of 1942 US forces landed in Casablanca, and British – in Orano and Algiers. Germany took over Tunisia and defended until May 1943. Spain, of course, never entered the war.

Scheme of the Operation Torch. (Wikimedia)

But who knew that Spain is not going to stand side by side with Germany? While operation Torch was successful, it did not ensure quick domination in Northern Africa.

That is all we have for this article. What other mistakes Allies made that you would include in this list?




We invite you to read other articles about alternative history of WW2:

5 ways Hitler could’ve won the Second World War

5 mistakes that prevented Axis from winning the Second World War

Who made the first airplane? The answer is not that easy to tell

It should be relatively easy to recognize first inventions, especially if they were made already during the era of journalism. However, do you really know who made the first functional airplane? The default answer is Wright brothers from U.S. but many people from around the world disagree. Here are some competing versions about the first real airplane inventor.

First of all, we have to say that birthday of an airplane is not when it is completed, but when it takes off for the first time. And so, who was the one to take off with an airplane for the first time? Of course, if you look at the history books, it was Wright brothers.



Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright made an aircraft called Wright Flyer I. It was an elegant machine, which took off for the first time in December 17th, 1903. This is the official birthday of an airplane, although that day brothers could only fly for some seconds and not very far at all. However, this is not the reason why some claim that Gustave Whitehead, German engineer, was the actual inventor of an airplane.

Whitehead’s Condor No.21 (Valerian Gribayedoff, Wikimedia)

The story goes that Gustave Whitehead took off with his Condor airplane sometime in August 1901 – two years before the Wright brothers. Whitehead, whose original name was Weisskopf, wanted to make a flying car, which is essentially what he did in 1900. Condor No.21 had two engines – 20 hp for flying and 10 hp for driving on streets. Wings could be folded away like a traditional hand fan and were not in a way when Condor was driving as a normal car. But it wasn’t a normal car – some sources claim that it actually took off.

In August 1901 Whitehead took his Condor No.21 out on a field and took off in front of several witnesses. He completed several flights, the most successful of which lasted for about a mile (1.6 km). Whitehead managed to reach impressive altitude of 15 metres. Early next year Whitehead took off again with his airplane in front of 17 witnesses. However, today no one believes he was actually the first one to do it. Why? There is no evidence.

Alberto Santos-Dumont flying his 14-bis (Nerika, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

One journalist from Bridgeport Herald saw the first flight and was swearing that Whitehead really took off. However, there are no pictures. While some remember seeing them, you just cannot find any, except some sketch once printed in a newspaper. Furthermore, even Whitehead’s wife did not see the machine flying, although she remembered her husband telling her that he successfully took off with his Condor No.21. But it just doesn’t sound believable. Why no one took pictures of the event? Why he never completed another flying machine? Some experts looked at the pictures of the Condor No.21 (why are there pictures of it standing, but not flying) and determined that wings are not the right shape and construction to lift such machine.




Another candidate to claim position of the airplane inventor was Karl Jatho – yet another German engineer. He supposedly took off in August 18th 1903 – months before the Wright brothers. The first flight only lasted for 18 metre distance at 1 metre altitude, but first flight is the first flight. Furthermore, it is said that Jatho continued to conduct regular flights until November, flying further and further every time. And we know he was actually flying – this is not some potentially made up story like the one of Whitehead’s flight. So why no one considers Jatho the actual inventor of the airplane?

The problem here is that Jatho’s flights were not that impressive. In fact, common opinion is that they were not controlled and biplanes and triplanes that he tested were just gliding. It can be confirmed by Jatho’s own statement – he stopped flying because he could not improve his distance anymore because of weak engines. But even a short distance flight should be considered the first, shouldn’t it? Some experts say that despite the engine running, Jatho’s planes could not be considered examples of a powered flight.

Finally, Brazilians and many European people believe that some credit for invention of the plane should go to Alberto Santos-Dumont, who took off with his 14-Bis in November 1906. It is because this Brazilian inventor took off from the ground without assistance and flew for solid 220 metres in his demonstration in Paris. Wright brothers took off using some tracks and a catapult, wind was necessary for their success as well. However, when Santos-Dumont performed his graceful flight, Wright brothers could stay in the air for more than half an hour.




Regardless of these stories, it is still hard to believe how far we’ve came from those days. Flight is cheap and attainable for virtually everyone. And aviation moved on so quickly – Orville Wright lived to see the first supersonic flight.

Martynas’ E30 – preparation and painting

Martynas is restoring his E30 and sharing his experience with you. This time we are going to show and tell how he prepared and painted his car without professional equipment and a ton of money. While Martynas certainly has his hands growing from the right place, he had no experience in restoring cars. So hopefully this will be somewhat inspirational for you – you can do this too!

This is a second part of article series dedicated to Martynas’ E30. In the first article we looked over the condition of the car, main defects and Martynas’ vision of how it will look like when restoration project is completed. We invite you to read that article first.



In short, this E30 was not in a good shape. However, it is an old car and it could certainly be worse. While some rust was immediately visible, it was only an indication of what can be found underneath some of the body pannels and the layer of paint. So the first step in preparation for a new paintjob was removing fenders to inspect for rust.

E30 had to be partially disasembled to inspect for rust.

And, of course, there was rust. All plastic components that were on the way, such as the grill and the rear lights, were removed and then Martynas could start sanding old paint away. This, of course, revealed even more rust that was not previously visible as well as some pretty deep dents.

Deep dents and spots that rusted out were filled with autobody filler.

Rust was sanded away completely and bigger spots as well as dents were filled with autobody filler. As you can see in the picture, there were many spots that had to be filled and sanded flush with the rest of the body, but eventually, after several days, work was finished.

Car was primed outdoors – if weather is right, you can do that without a problem.

Then it was time to spray the primer. Most people think that this has to be done professionally in a painting booth. And it’s true – results should be better if you take your car to a paint shop. However, Martynas wanted to do it himself and there really is no reason not to try. While it is easy to mess up, you can always sand little drips or dust away. So Martynas sprayed his E30 just on his lawn outside of the garage. All wheels and windows were masked before this operation.

Preparations for a minor modification.

While results were not perfect – several insects and some dust landed on wet primer – proper sanding fixed everything. And then it was time for painting. This, of course, cannot be done outdoors.




Martynas put up a temporary painting booth in a garage using just some plastic sheets. The goal is to let the paint cure uninterrupted by dust, insects or rain. His make-shift painting booth worked just fine. He did buy a good quality spray gun, but didn’t spend a fortune on it. The colour is called “Extra Black” and it seems to live up to its name.

In the painting booth – just a normal garage space.

 

Almost done

One layer of paint and a couple of layers of lacquer were sprayed on the car. Paint layer was pretty much perfect, but there are some drips in the clear coat. It was made thicker for this exact purpose – imperfections will be gone in polishing.

Before plastic parts were put back into place.

This is how the car looked like after it was assembled back together.

Car mostly put back together

And this is what the new exhaust looks like.

E30 now has double a double tip exhaust.

With this exterior restoration is almost done. It does still require some polishing, but the clear coat is still not cured enough for that. However, E30 is already up on its feet – it is mechanically well and safe to drive. By the way, speaking of the feet, this came in the mail –

Brand new wheels.

But more about the wheels and how the car looks with them in the next article. Soon it will be time to start working on the interior of the E30, which is not in a good shape at all.




If you have any questions about the build, you can ask them on our Facebook page or via email nodum2017@gmail.com.

Audi S1 with tracks – a tiny tank is strong enough to destroy an entire beach (Video)

While SUV’s are good at going off-road, sometimes they are also stopped by some natural obstacles, such as deep snow or fine sand. Solution – tracks instead of wheels. Obviously, this transformation doesn’t really have a practical purpose, but some enthusiasts just enjoy looking different and driving in places where it shouldn’t be possible. Just look at this Audi S1 have fun on some beach in Europe.

You can simply buy snow tracks for a pickup truck or SUV. The conversion kit is simple to install and, if done properly, will not damage the car. However, in some cases some minor modifications will be needed. For example, we can see that bumpers of this Audi S1 have been cut to accommodate large tracks. Other than that, the car looks pretty stock, but we cannot say for certain. Have a look.

Obviously, these tracks are meant to be used in snow. We recon, this tracked S1 would probably look better in snow too – a standard Audi with a Quattro all-wheel drive system could drive around this beach without a problem. We definitely don’t know another S1 like this, so we can congratulate the owner for having such a unique little vehicle.




5 weird and funny car commercials of the past: Volvo’s sexism, wheels of Enzo Ferrari and the legendary E30 (Video)
September 14th, 2017

Why do we like vintage car commercials so much? Couple of decades ago art of visual effects and videography was not where it is now. Therefore, creators had to use different approach to make their clips interesting and dynamic. While car commercials of today are definitely cool, we like to look back at how some already classic cars used to be advertised. So that is what we are doing here today – we present you 5 interesting car commercials from the past.

This article is part of the series we have going on about old car commercials, you can find the entire list of articles at the very bottom of this one. Meanwhile today we are looking at how BMW E30, Volvo 145, Toyota pickup trucks, Fiat 128 and were advertised.



There is no denying that we love E30. We are following one restoration project and we’ve already covered 7 interesting facts about this car. However, while now it is gaining its classic status, back in a day it was just another car on the market. This is kind of a lengthy, but it is full of good stuff. For starts, there is a nice example of old commercial weirdness – some boats and 80’s graphics.

If you watched entire clip, you really saw everything. Nice convertible, fast M3 and, of course, an off-roading scene on the snow. By the way, if you like E30, here you can read 7 interesting facts about this famous BMW.

There is no denying that today the world is more about equality than ever. Back in a day a little bit of sexism didn’t really bother anyone. This Volvo 145 commercial is a perfect example of how different the world was back in a way.

To be completely honest, we have to admit that this was the lifestyle of choice in those days. And both men and women struggled with those massive estate cars. Comparably tiny Volvo 145 looks so refreshing squeezed in between those American monsters.

Ford F150 is the most popular car in USA. In fact, pickup trucks are immensely popular throughout the country. Of course, American manufacturers are dominating the market, but Toyota is not humble about its presence either. This is how it introduced its new line in 1985.

You can see how competitor trucks are standing on their back axles from… shock, maybe? Regardless, Toyota makes pretty much the finest pickups on the market – they are extremely reliable, unbeatable off-road and full of technology.




“When it comes to cars, you can’t fool the Ferrari” – a funny ad for a humble Fiat 128. Enzo Ferrari is a legendary name in automotive business, who founded the coolest brand in the world. However, according to this commercial, Mr. Ferrari himself used different cars for his own commute.

Enzo Ferrari drove many cars throughout his lifetime and Fiat 128 is actually not that weird. However, we don’t thing Ferrari drew a lot of inspiration from humble Fiats when creating his own masterpieces.

Finally, just look at how dreamy Mazda Miata (MX-5) commercial was. This little sports car is probably the most optimistic vehicle on the road and it seems like people behind this clip grasped its character very well. Just take a look.

Mazda MX-5 is the most popular sports car in the world. We are starting to think – maybe it is time that NODUM buys one…

These were all commercials we had for this time. Are there any vintage car commercials YOU would include into our list?



If you enjoy vintage car commercials, we offer two other parts of this series:

In the first article we showed creative clips about Ford Model T, classic MINI, SAAB 900 Turbo, first generation Volkswagen Golf GTI and Lada Niva

In the second we took a look at how Audi 100, Golf MkII, Volkswagen Passat, Opel Calibra and Fiat Multipla were advertised;

And in the third we watched M5 (E39), Porsche, Ford Mustang, Mercedes-Benz and Lambroghini commercials.

Martynas’ E30 – preparation and painting
August 28th, 2017

Martynas is restoring his E30 and sharing his experience with you. This time we are going to show and tell how he prepared and painted his car without professional equipment and a ton of money. While Martynas certainly has his hands growing from the right place, he had no experience in restoring cars. So hopefully this will be somewhat inspirational for you – you can do this too!

This is a second part of article series dedicated to Martynas’ E30. In the first article we looked over the condition of the car, main defects and Martynas’ vision of how it will look like when restoration project is completed. We invite you to read that article first.



In short, this E30 was not in a good shape. However, it is an old car and it could certainly be worse. While some rust was immediately visible, it was only an indication of what can be found underneath some of the body pannels and the layer of paint. So the first step in preparation for a new paintjob was removing fenders to inspect for rust.

E30 had to be partially disasembled to inspect for rust.

And, of course, there was rust. All plastic components that were on the way, such as the grill and the rear lights, were removed and then Martynas could start sanding old paint away. This, of course, revealed even more rust that was not previously visible as well as some pretty deep dents.

Deep dents and spots that rusted out were filled with autobody filler.

Rust was sanded away completely and bigger spots as well as dents were filled with autobody filler. As you can see in the picture, there were many spots that had to be filled and sanded flush with the rest of the body, but eventually, after several days, work was finished.

Car was primed outdoors – if weather is right, you can do that without a problem.

Then it was time to spray the primer. Most people think that this has to be done professionally in a painting booth. And it’s true – results should be better if you take your car to a paint shop. However, Martynas wanted to do it himself and there really is no reason not to try. While it is easy to mess up, you can always sand little drips or dust away. So Martynas sprayed his E30 just on his lawn outside of the garage. All wheels and windows were masked before this operation.

Preparations for a minor modification.

While results were not perfect – several insects and some dust landed on wet primer – proper sanding fixed everything. And then it was time for painting. This, of course, cannot be done outdoors.




Martynas put up a temporary painting booth in a garage using just some plastic sheets. The goal is to let the paint cure uninterrupted by dust, insects or rain. His make-shift painting booth worked just fine. He did buy a good quality spray gun, but didn’t spend a fortune on it. The colour is called “Extra Black” and it seems to live up to its name.

In the painting booth – just a normal garage space.

 

Almost done

One layer of paint and a couple of layers of lacquer were sprayed on the car. Paint layer was pretty much perfect, but there are some drips in the clear coat. It was made thicker for this exact purpose – imperfections will be gone in polishing.

Before plastic parts were put back into place.

This is how the car looked like after it was assembled back together.

Car mostly put back together

And this is what the new exhaust looks like.

E30 now has double a double tip exhaust.

With this exterior restoration is almost done. It does still require some polishing, but the clear coat is still not cured enough for that. However, E30 is already up on its feet – it is mechanically well and safe to drive. By the way, speaking of the feet, this came in the mail –

Brand new wheels.

But more about the wheels and how the car looks with them in the next article. Soon it will be time to start working on the interior of the E30, which is not in a good shape at all.




If you have any questions about the build, you can ask them on our Facebook page or via email nodum2017@gmail.com.

Audi S1 with tracks – a tiny tank is strong enough to destroy an entire beach (Video)
August 17th, 2017

While SUV’s are good at going off-road, sometimes they are also stopped by some natural obstacles, such as deep snow or fine sand. Solution – tracks instead of wheels. Obviously, this transformation doesn’t really have a practical purpose, but some enthusiasts just enjoy looking different and driving in places where it shouldn’t be possible. Just look at this Audi S1 have fun on some beach in Europe.

You can simply buy snow tracks for a pickup truck or SUV. The conversion kit is simple to install and, if done properly, will not damage the car. However, in some cases some minor modifications will be needed. For example, we can see that bumpers of this Audi S1 have been cut to accommodate large tracks. Other than that, the car looks pretty stock, but we cannot say for certain. Have a look.

Obviously, these tracks are meant to be used in snow. We recon, this tracked S1 would probably look better in snow too – a standard Audi with a Quattro all-wheel drive system could drive around this beach without a problem. We definitely don’t know another S1 like this, so we can congratulate the owner for having such a unique little vehicle.




7 facts about BMW E30 that you might not know: M3 pickup? (Video)
August 11th, 2017

E30 is one of the most loved BMW‘s in the world. It is not immediately obvious why, but it is a nice car to look at. It features straight sharp lines and right angles. It is compact, yet athletic in a way. E30 is just full of character, which helped it to gain its international success. Today we present 7 interesting facts about E30 that you might not know.

BMW E30 – is the second generation 3 Series, produced between 1982–1994. In total, more than 2.3 million examples have been made, which means that the E30 is far from being a rare car. This is actually good, because people can modify it to suit their personal taste without remorse of damaging some historically valuable vehicle. In Nodum.org you can follow one of these projects – Martynas‘ E30 Coupe is getting restomoded into something rather interesting. But let’s jump into the 7 interesting facts about the E30.



The first Z Series car

BMW Z Series is a family of convertibles. You probably know the little Z3 and you have definitely seen the pretty Z4. However, the first Z car was actually the small and quirky Z1, based on the E30 325i running gear. It had a plastic body, an interesting shape and bizarre vertically opening sliding doors.

BMW Z1, the first Z Series car, was created using the running gear from E30. (Lothar Spurzem, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0 de)

The first M3

BMW M3 is now an iconic performance car, which we can trace back to the E30. BMW wanted to race, so the E30 homologation had to be passed and, as you know, street cars are needed for it. That is why in 1985 the E30 M3 was born. It was built using a coupe body, but arches were expanded using a boxed design. Some people like it and some people don’t, because it looks like a modification done in someone’s garage. The most powerful E30 M3 had a 175 kW 2.5 litre engine and could reach 100 km/h in around 6 seconds. The last E30 M3 was made sometime in 1992.

Boxed arches – a bit of a controversial feature of E30 M3. (Rudolf Stricker, Wikimedia)

M3 pickup?

M3 is a very practical performance vehicle. But making it into a pickup just doesn’t sound good. However, the only M3 pickup produced by the actual M Division was meant to be used in the facility to deliver parts. It was made in 1986 by converting a normal 3 Series convertible into a performance pickup with a 2 litre engine. Later it got a proper 2.3 litre engine and it was still being regularly used in the M Division campus until 2012. Many enthusiasts created their own E30 pickups as well.

E30 – one of the most important cars in BMW’s history

Many historians and BMW fans agree that the E30 helped BMW transition from building small sporty cars to larger luxury automobiles. E30 was the first 3 Series to be offered as a sedan and as anestate. It was also the first 3 Series to have an all-wheel-drive and diesel engine options. And the first BMW to sell in big numbers in the U. S.




Friendship with E36

E30 was being manufactured up until 1994, but its successor, E36, entered production in 1990. How can it be? Well, at first, E36 was only made as a coupe and until other versions were made available, the E30 was still being manufactured. It was slowly phased out. Touring (estate version of the E30) was the last E30 to leave the factory in 1994.

E36 and E30 were manufactured together for as long as 4 years. (OSX, Wikimedia)

You have to be smart to modify a E30

E30 is actually not an expensive car at all. Many car enthusiasts bought them and started modifications without knowing what they were doing. For example, bricks or a concrete slab in the trunk are known to have been used to improve the handling. Nowadays, it seems that people who pick up a E30 for restomoding projects modify their cars tastefully and such weird fashions don’t exist enymore.

E30 convertibles were featured in Top Gear as well. The popular trio tested three almost identical cars, but two of them were badly modified. And so, the least modified one won the challenges by a huge margin.

Claus Luthe

E30 was designed by the German car designer Claus Luthe. He is regarded as one of the most important people forming modern European car design. In his portfolio we would find not only E30, but also Audi 50, BMW E28, and Volkswagen K70. Have you ever been in an Audi 100 C2? Its interior also has been designed by Luthe. He also supervised the design process of the E31 8 Series.

 

Those are all the facts we compiled for you for today. We invite you to follow our series of articles about this E30 – Martynas’s E30 is taking shape nicely.




Did we miss something? What other important E30 facts have not been mentioned in the article?

What happened to pop-up headlights? Can we expect them to make a comeback?
August 8th, 2017

Pop-up headlights used to be so popular back in 1960’s-1990’s. And everyone liked them. They were presented as a design feature, making cars sleeker when lights are closed and characterful when opened. But sometime at the turn of the century they just disappeared. Why? Can we expect some manufacturer to bring them back?

1936 Cord 810 – the first car with popup headlights. (Sicnag, Wikimedia(CC BY 2.0)

The first car with pop-up headlights was introduced to the market in 1936 – it was Cord 810. A very handsome car, which was standing out with its design from the crowd even when it was new. Now it is a priced possession of some lucky collections, but its pop-up heritage got very popular only in 1960’s and 1970’s. Many sports cars in these decades were shaped like wedges so pop-up headlight sort of fit in.

Porsche 968 headlights were not actually hidden – they would just tilt back to flow into the shape of the bonnet. (Atlant, Wikimedia(CC BY 2.5)

One of the reasons why manufacturers insisted in installing pop-up headlights in their cars, despite the extra effort, was that people loved them. Another reason – US at the time had regulations that prevented any kind of aerodynamic headlight design. It basically meant that headlights had to be square or rounded, neither of which satisfied car designers. So hiding them from plain sight was a good option.




There were many special cars with pop-up headlights: Lotus Elan, first generation Mazda MX-5, Porsche 944, Lamborghini Countach, Toyota MR2, Mitsubishi 3000GT, BMW M1 and many more. There were other types of hidden headlights as well. For example, Porsche 968’s lights would tilt back to accommodate the shape of the bonnet. You would always see the lights, even when they were turned off, but they were slanted backwards to give the car that aerodynamic look. 1967 Ford Thunderbird had garage door style covers over its headlights. So why did hidden lights disappear?

Regulations on the shape of headlights were relaxed and so there was no reason to hide the lights. In fact, manufacturers took the opportunity to make the headlights stand out as a design feature. Pop-up headlights typically have a simple mechanism, but it is not always reliable. It is also some extra weight, cost and effort in the manufacturing process.

Lancia Stratos – one of the biggest heroes of automotive world – was also blinking with popup headlights. (contri, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Also, pedestrian safety became a major concern at some point. Pop-up headlights are sticking out of the smooth shape of the car and so they are imposing a greater risk of injury to pedestrians in case of an accident. And, finally, pop-up headlights are horrible in terms of aerodynamics, which makes cars slower and less fuel-efficient.

Lotus Esprit was one of the last cars to be manufactured with popup headlights. (PeteBergeron, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

These are the reasons why we are not going to see cars with pop-up headlights any time soon. If you want one, you will have to buy an old one. The last cars to be manufactured with pop-up headlights were Lotus Esprit and  Chevrolet Corvette C5, finishing their production life sometime in 2004-2005.




5 mistakes that prevented Allied from winning WW2 sooner
September 7th, 2017

Alternative history is a tricky business. We cannot objectively judge decisions from the past using categories of today. However, now after more than 70 years have passed we can look at WW2 from a different perspective. We can see mistakes opponents made in their efforts to reach the ultimate victory. In this article we are going to briefly look into 5 mistakes that did allow the Allies to reach ultimate victory sooner.

One has to keep in mind that this is not a serious scientific article and it does not pretend to be one. We have information about consequences that people making decisions during the Second World War did not. Therefore, we are breaching the principle of historism, which does not necessarily bring any value to the field. However, it is a fun thing to do, so let’s just jump into it.



Underrating military power of Japan

You all know how it went – Japan attacked Pearl Harbor without declaring war. This later was considered a war crime and the success of the operation was attributed to the surprise factor. But why was it such a surprise? Partly because US completely underestimated what Japanese military was capable of.

Japanese submarine B1-type I-15 (N. Polmar, D. Carpenter, Wikimedia)

Japan was consider severely underdeveloped and people were thought to be somewhat of savages. However, this view had to change quickly as Japan started occupying one island over the other. Japanese submarines proved to be quite advanced and soldiers – devoted and brave. History enthusiast Dougas Stychas says that there is nothing as vast as Japanese advance in the beginning of WW2 – it was the biggest offensive operation in history.

If US evaluated Japan better, maybe it was possible to prevent Pearl Harbor attack? Or maybe the entire war could’ve been prevented if US with allies closed Japan preventing it from expanding its territory and power?

Demanding “unconditional surrender”

So called “unconditional surrender” doctrine came out of Casablanca conference. It was somewhat of a surprise to Winston Churchill and it is not entirely clear if Franklin D. Roosevelt fully understood his demand. But after it was said, it was basically set in stone, meaning that the war had to end with Germany surrendering unconditionally.

Casablanca Conference, where Roosevelt schocked the world with his ‘unconditional surrender’ statement.

This worked on the side of German propaganda. Joseph Goebbels, propaganda minister, used this as an opportunity to mobilize Germany, saying that the state is going to be drawn into slavery if it loses the war. This demand really prolonged the WW2 and made negotiations completely impossible.

Late introduction of convoy system

German U-Boats were notoriously attacking American merchant and supply ships sinking one after another. The reason why this hunt was so easy was lack of protection – convoy system was not in place at the beginning of the Battle of the Atlantic. Once it was introduced and war ships started protecting ships carrying important supplies, German Navy has a much more difficult job attacking and sinking them.

Convoy system helps protecting important merchant shipt against German U-Boats. (U.S. Navy Naval History Center, Wikimedia)

However, some historians say that convoy system could not have been introduced earlier, because of lack of war ships. Unsuitable convoy is worse than merchant ships sailing alone. On the other hand, if convoy system was introduced, assuming it was possible, a lot of ship losses could have been avoided and supply chain to Europe would have been reliable from the beginning.




Defending Philippines in 1942

Philippines were essentially lost in 1942, but General Douglas MacArthur decided to defend these islands for as long as possible. This caused a major loss for US forces, 76 thousand American and Filipino soldiers being captured. Abandoning the plan to defend Philippines in such a difficult situation could have saved these people and a lot of resources.

American POW carrying their fallen comrades in Philippenes, in 1942. (Wikimedia)

Operation Torch

While we can’t say that the entire operation was a mistake, the beginning of it was marked with some questionable decisions. In 1942 Allies understood the strategic value of Tunisia. Occupying these lands could help secure Egypt and pressurize Germany from the South. British wanted to start the operation from Algeria – as close to Tunisia as possible. Meanwhile US feared that Gibraltar is going to be lost as Spain may enter the war on German side. This would mean isolation of forces in Northern Africa and supply ships could not enter Mediterranean. Compromised was reached and in November 8 of 1942 US forces landed in Casablanca, and British – in Orano and Algiers. Germany took over Tunisia and defended until May 1943. Spain, of course, never entered the war.

Scheme of the Operation Torch. (Wikimedia)

But who knew that Spain is not going to stand side by side with Germany? While operation Torch was successful, it did not ensure quick domination in Northern Africa.

That is all we have for this article. What other mistakes Allies made that you would include in this list?




We invite you to read other articles about alternative history of WW2:

5 ways Hitler could’ve won the Second World War

5 mistakes that prevented Axis from winning the Second World War

Who made the first airplane? The answer is not that easy to tell
September 6th, 2017

It should be relatively easy to recognize first inventions, especially if they were made already during the era of journalism. However, do you really know who made the first functional airplane? The default answer is Wright brothers from U.S. but many people from around the world disagree. Here are some competing versions about the first real airplane inventor.

First of all, we have to say that birthday of an airplane is not when it is completed, but when it takes off for the first time. And so, who was the one to take off with an airplane for the first time? Of course, if you look at the history books, it was Wright brothers.



Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright made an aircraft called Wright Flyer I. It was an elegant machine, which took off for the first time in December 17th, 1903. This is the official birthday of an airplane, although that day brothers could only fly for some seconds and not very far at all. However, this is not the reason why some claim that Gustave Whitehead, German engineer, was the actual inventor of an airplane.

Whitehead’s Condor No.21 (Valerian Gribayedoff, Wikimedia)

The story goes that Gustave Whitehead took off with his Condor airplane sometime in August 1901 – two years before the Wright brothers. Whitehead, whose original name was Weisskopf, wanted to make a flying car, which is essentially what he did in 1900. Condor No.21 had two engines – 20 hp for flying and 10 hp for driving on streets. Wings could be folded away like a traditional hand fan and were not in a way when Condor was driving as a normal car. But it wasn’t a normal car – some sources claim that it actually took off.

In August 1901 Whitehead took his Condor No.21 out on a field and took off in front of several witnesses. He completed several flights, the most successful of which lasted for about a mile (1.6 km). Whitehead managed to reach impressive altitude of 15 metres. Early next year Whitehead took off again with his airplane in front of 17 witnesses. However, today no one believes he was actually the first one to do it. Why? There is no evidence.

Alberto Santos-Dumont flying his 14-bis (Nerika, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

One journalist from Bridgeport Herald saw the first flight and was swearing that Whitehead really took off. However, there are no pictures. While some remember seeing them, you just cannot find any, except some sketch once printed in a newspaper. Furthermore, even Whitehead’s wife did not see the machine flying, although she remembered her husband telling her that he successfully took off with his Condor No.21. But it just doesn’t sound believable. Why no one took pictures of the event? Why he never completed another flying machine? Some experts looked at the pictures of the Condor No.21 (why are there pictures of it standing, but not flying) and determined that wings are not the right shape and construction to lift such machine.




Another candidate to claim position of the airplane inventor was Karl Jatho – yet another German engineer. He supposedly took off in August 18th 1903 – months before the Wright brothers. The first flight only lasted for 18 metre distance at 1 metre altitude, but first flight is the first flight. Furthermore, it is said that Jatho continued to conduct regular flights until November, flying further and further every time. And we know he was actually flying – this is not some potentially made up story like the one of Whitehead’s flight. So why no one considers Jatho the actual inventor of the airplane?

The problem here is that Jatho’s flights were not that impressive. In fact, common opinion is that they were not controlled and biplanes and triplanes that he tested were just gliding. It can be confirmed by Jatho’s own statement – he stopped flying because he could not improve his distance anymore because of weak engines. But even a short distance flight should be considered the first, shouldn’t it? Some experts say that despite the engine running, Jatho’s planes could not be considered examples of a powered flight.

Finally, Brazilians and many European people believe that some credit for invention of the plane should go to Alberto Santos-Dumont, who took off with his 14-Bis in November 1906. It is because this Brazilian inventor took off from the ground without assistance and flew for solid 220 metres in his demonstration in Paris. Wright brothers took off using some tracks and a catapult, wind was necessary for their success as well. However, when Santos-Dumont performed his graceful flight, Wright brothers could stay in the air for more than half an hour.




Regardless of these stories, it is still hard to believe how far we’ve came from those days. Flight is cheap and attainable for virtually everyone. And aviation moved on so quickly – Orville Wright lived to see the first supersonic flight.

How to talk to your children about nuclear war?
August 17th, 2017

Media is full of messages about a possibility of a nuclear war. We all hope it is not going to happen, but nothing is certain at this point. Instructions are also circling around various media outlets, but one really got our attention.  Sophie Yohani, a psychologist and professor from the University of Alberta, shared some ideas how to talk to your children about the threat of nuclear war.

You may think that’s unnecessary, but children are like sponges – they absorb everything from their surroundings. You would not be scaring them talking about a possibility of a war, because media already does that. Hey hear about pretty much every day and it is parents who have to deal with their anxiety and fear. This is how you should talk about this threat with your children.



First of all, you shouldn’t say that there will be no war, because you don’t know that. However, you should be hopeful and tell your children that it’s not the first time the world got so close to World War 3. In fact, several decades ago humanity managed to avoid breaking out into a conflict and it is likely we will avoid it now.

Secondly, you should involve grandparents, if possible. Grandparents have an image of experience and wisdom in children’s mind. And they really did live through a lot of historically significant events. And so their opinion would help very much to calm down children and tell them that there is nothing new that’s happening now.

Thirdly, adapt your speech to your child. Every child is different and you certainly know yours. You have to know his fears and thoughts and speak accordingly. While younger children may fear coming new semester, when they will have to leave the safety of their home, older ones may have some doubts about the future. You have to speak accordingly. And avoid confusion – children may not be interested in international relations, you have to speak in a way they understand what is happening.

Fourthly, don’t show too much that you’re worried as well. Children hear you having conversations and they may pick up that you’re afraid yourself. That is not good. They have to be able to draw some strength from you.

You also have to watch for signs of anxiety in your children, especially if they have some disorders. It could be some fidgeting, thumb sucking, insomnia and other symptoms. Just be calm – sometimes peacefulness is contagious.

Finally, seek for help when needed. If children are interested, allow them to read books about the Cold War. And, if you see a need for it, don’t hesitate to consult a child psychologist or paediatrician.




You may think that there will be no war – all of us are hopeful and it looks like we may be able to avoid it this time as well. However, for children this threat is real and you have to make sure they understand it and are not afraid to talk with you about it.

5 mistakes that prevented Axis from winning the Second World War
August 15th, 2017

Alternative history is not the most productive hobby to have. It also sort of goes against main principles of historism. We stand on our pile of books and look down on historical decisions, judging them using information that people at that time simply didn‘t have. However, some pieces of alternative history are actually quite interesting. We introduce 5 mistakes Axis made that contributed to its ultimate loss in the war.

It is note the first time we indulge in alternative history – we already listed 5 ways Hitler could’ve won the Second World War. However, this time we will look at the matter a little more serious and will include other Axis states as well. So what were those 5 mistakes that prevented Axis from winning?



Invasion of Greece

Mussolini, a loyal Hitler’s companion, was feeling left out of the war in 1940. He wanted to contribute to the ultimate victory of Axis, so he devised an invasion to Greece. The problem was that he did so without consulting Hitler, being obsessed with an idea of having his on achievement. Mussolini said that Hitler will find out about the occupation of Greece from newspapers.

Mussolini decided to start invasion of Greece without Hitler’s help – this decision eventually cost Germany several weeks and precious resources. (Muzej Revolucije Narodnosti Jugoslavije, Wikimedia)

Italy invaded Greece in October 28, 1940. Italian forces were motivated to move forward, but were soon pushed back. Battles continued, but Italy could try again breaching forward only in March 1941 only to be pushed back again. Situation was not pleasant for anyone and did not help settling situation in Balkans. So Germany had to invade Greece in April and by June the country was occupied completely. This, of course, had impact on Hitler’s plans of invading Soviet Union. It is said that this unplanned operation postponed invasion for about 5 weeks.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

At the beginning of WW2 Japan’s situation was not good. It had several newly occupied territories, but pushing forward to obtain more was very difficult. Japanese ambitions were hindered by lack of resources, economic sanctions, U.S. supporting China and some other factors. It was decided that one blow could eliminate U.S. Navy from the Pacific theatre, which would allow Japan to concur more islands and to strengthen its dominance in the region.

Attack on Pearl Harbor was a mistake in itself,
but a third wave could’ve prolonged the war for 1-2 years. (Wikimedia)

On 7th of December, 1941, such blow was delivered on Pearl Harbor, but, as you know, it wasn’t successful and U.S. Navy quickly regained its power to soon rule world’s oceans again. Japan created a wave that it could not withstand and was thus defeated. Furthermore, because attack on Pearl Harbor was carried out without officially declaring a war and with no warning, it was later considered a war crime.

Even if you don’t think attack on Pearl Harbor was a mistake, there is another mistake that was done during this operation. Three waves were planned, but after the second wave Japanese aircraft carriers, submarines and battleships decided to withdraw from the scene. American anti-aircraft defence was getting stronger – two thirds of Japanese losses happened during the second wave. Also, location of U.S. aircraft carriers was unknown and they could’ve came back unexpectedly.




Third wave was planned to demolish ground targets – dry dock, torpedo warehouse and so on. Now historians agree that if third wave was carried out, war would’ve been longer at least by 1-2 years. 14 out of 16 ships damaged during the attack came back to service.

Failure to involve Turkey and Spain

Turkey was fighting side by side with Germany during WW1 and Hitler aided Francisco Franco during Spanish Civil War. However, neither of these two states got involved in the Second World War. It is difficult to say it was Axis mistake, since they could not control everyone, but the war could have developed much differently, if Spain and Turkey got involved.

Searchlights in Gibraltar in 1942 (Dallison G W (Lieut), Wikimedia)

Spain could’ve helped Germany to deal with Gibraltar – a territory of Great Britain, which controlled the passage between Atlantic and Mediterranean. As it was, Spain remained neutral and didn’t even allow German troops to cross its territory (for example, Sweden did). Meanwhile Turkey could’ve helped establishing dominance in Caucasus, which was rich in resources. But instead Turkey declared war on Germany when WW2 was already almost over.

If these two states got involved, German dominance in southern Europe would’ve been immense and operations in Northern Africa would’ve been easier.

Treating people like slaves in Japan’s occupied territories

When Japan occupied islands in Philippines and Indonesia, locals considered Japanese liberators. They were sick of European rule and thought that Japan is going to be a much better ally. However, Japan blew this image to pieces when it introduced forced labour, regular physical abuse and capital punishment for small crimes. People were treated like slaves and so could not possibly be loyal to Japanese rule.

American POW carrying their fallen comrades in Philippenes, in 1942. (Wikimedia)

And so, as war progressed, some people from Philippines and Indonesia started guerrilla operations against Japanese forces. Others were informing Allied about Japanese positions and plans. If Japan was treating people properly, we could imagine that it would’ve had stronger support, which would result in a strong resistance to coming U.S. forces.

Hitler’s decision to start a war in first place

This one is kind of weird – how one of the biggest mistakes in a war can be starting it? But the truth of the matter is that Germany was expanding its influence without any military action already. It was growing and its influence was getting stronger. History professor Robert Citino thinks that Hitler wanted a war from the very beginning, but did not realise his goals can be achieved without an active conflict. Sometimes a bluff is strong enough.

It is known that Hitler did not always use information provided by his generals if he didn’t like it. Opposing Hitler’s view was never a good option. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L18678, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0 de)

However, Hitler wanted a war as a tool, regardless of what a goal was. Victory without a massive war was not satisfactory for him. If he settled with smart, aggressive diplomacy, who knows where he would stop. Citino thinks that using diplomatic measures alone would’ve helped Hitler achieve everything Wehrmacht did in the first three years. Now we can only imagine what could’ve been, but we will never know for certain.




What other mistakes of the Axis would you include?

Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter plane recovered from the bottom of the lake in Russia (Video)
July 27th, 2017

It‘s been more than 70 years since the Second World War ended. However, traces of the biggest humanity‘s conflict can still be discovered. Just recently a Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter has been retrieved from the Lake Shukozero in Russia and a year ago a couple of Sherman tanks have been recovered from the bottom of the sea almost in the same place.

Bell P-39 Airacobra was mid-engined and therefore required a long shaft to spin its propeller. (US government, Wikimedia)

Bell P-39 Airacobra is a peculiar airplane. It took off for its amiden flight back in 1938 and entered service in 1941. It featured one unusual construction solution – its engine was mounted behind the pilot, which meant that a long shaft was required to spin a traction propeller. However, it was a good fighter plane – it is often said that together with P-63 Kingcobra, the P-39 was one of the most successful fixed-wing aircraft manufactured by Bell. But it did have one issue – its engine was not turbocharged or supercharged.

It is likely that the plane will go to the museum as is – it is just more authentic that way. (Минобороны России)

It meant that it could not operate at high altitude very well and therefore RAF did not want it. Meanwhile soviets took it gladly – 4,746 P-39s Airacobras were sent to Soviet Union to aid its efforts of fighting Nazi Germany. However, this one did not fall into a lake because of some intensive fighting – this accident occurred on a training mission.

As it was said, Fyodor Varavik lost control of his airplane and crashed into Shukozero Lake in northern Russia. Since it was March of 1945, lake was covered with ice so it could’ve been that Varavik performed emergency landing, but at the result is clear – P-39 Airacobra sunk to the depth of 45 metres. Recently this plane has been discovered and Russian Navy personnel assigned to the Northern Fleet organized the recovery operation.

Divers reached the plane, but no human remains were found – only a boot of the pilot was inside of the plane, together with 37 mm ammunition and oxygen tanks. Bell P-39 Airacobra was retrieved and now will find its way in a museum. Very likely, it will not be restored – it will remain authentic with its own story.

Plane was found in a lake in Murmansk region. Not too far away last year Russian Navy recovered a couple of American Sherman tanks. They went down with the SS Thomas Donaldson ship, when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat.  Tanks were also meant to help Soviet Union – in total 4,102 M4 Sherman medium tanks were sent to the Eastern Front. Interestingly, despite spending 71 years in salty water, tanks were in decently good condition. Some say it is because they were packed very good and could resist water damage for some time.

People love stories about tanks and planes sunken to the bottom of the sea and later discovered by some enthusiasts. But the truth is that most of it is just some legends and myths that are completely made up or got distorted through the years of going from one person to another. However, it is very satisfying to see these gracious machines emerge from their watery grave, because some more years and nature will claim what is hers. Soon all of the lost WW2 weapons will simply be rotten away.



The fastest propeller-driven airplane was developed during the Second World War?
August 10th, 2017

Science and technology is constantly moving forward, but that doesn’t mean that some records will just continue to be broken. While planes with piston engines are still being developed, many roles nowadays are being fulfilled by jets. Therefore, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that the fastest propeller-driven airplane was actually born during the Second World War. However, we’re not really sure which one would it be.

You may think that describing such record is simple – whichever one was the fastest is the record holder. But there are some layers to this question that we’d like to explore. But, first things first, the official record holder is Grumman F8F Bearcat – American single-engine carrier-based fighter aircraft.

Rare Bear, heavilly modified Grumman F8F Bearcat, is the fastest piston-engined airplane in the world. (Don Sleeter, Wikimedia)

It took off for its maiden flight in August 1944 and was a mighty impressive aircraft. It was so potent, so quick and so versatile it managed to stay in service up until 1963, but even then it never stopped flying. AT this point enthusiasts wanted to get their hands on one and many did.  Grumman F8F Bearcat became popular between acrobatic flying pilots and air racers. Of course, for these purposes plane had to be heavily modified. That was how the fastest of them all – the Rare Bear – was born.

Rare Bear, extremely modified F8F Bearcat, dominated Reno Air Races for decades. It was just too fast for others to even think of competing with it. Its official record is 850.24 km/h and so it is the fastest airplane with piston engine in the world. Or is it?

Hawker Sea Fury was fast in service already, but people have modified these planes for air racing. (Don Ramey Logan, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 4.0)

Rare Bear holds the official record, but another heavily modified airplane, based on British Hawker Sea Fury. This fighter plane was also born at the end of the Second World War. Seeing that war is pretty much over, RAF lost interest in Hawker Fury, but the Royal Navy still wanted the fighter, so a Sea Fury version was developed. It was amazingly quick for its time, but, when got even quicker after it finished its service and got into hands of acrobatic pilots and air racers. Unofficial record of highest speed of propeller-driven airplane belongs to a heavily modified Hawker Sea Fury – 880 km/h.




So we know which airplane holds the record. But both of the contenders were heavily modified and it is kind of interesting to see, which airplane was the fastest straight from the factory. That would be German Dornier Do 335 Pfeil. It was introduced at very late stages of WW2 and didn’t manage to prove its full potential. However, we do know it was the fastest propeller-driven airplane in the entire war.

Blue Angels, United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, transitioned to the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat in 1946. (USN, Wikimedia)

Dornier Do 335 Pfeil had two engines mounted in the fuselage and each one of them drove a separate propeller – one was pushing the airplane, while the other one was pulling. This peculiar arrangement meant that Do 335 Pfeil could reach speeds of up to 765 km/h and even if one of the engines was turned off or disabled it could still fly at 563 km/h. Only 11 fighter planes were delivered in 1945 until Americans took over the factory, but those Allied pilots who witnessed the Do 335 Pfeil could not believe its speed at level flight.

Dornier Do 335 Pfeil had to engines and two propellers – one was mounted on the tail of the airplane. (Guinnog, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Now the only surviving example is in a museum, so we will never know what speed could it reach in a dive. However, we do know that a British Supermarine Spitfire reached 1,110 km/h speed in a dive in 1952. That’s the closest propeller-driven airplane ever got to the speed of sound. That is an impressive performance, but it is far from the actual fastest plane in the world.

A similar Supermarine Spitfire got close to the speed of sound several times, but only in a dive. (RAF official photographer , Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

That would be Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which in 1976 reached 3,530 km/h. This strategic reconnaissance aircraft is retired from 1988, but is still regarded as one of the best airplane designs ever.



Bugs in the building – is there an antenna in the top floors of the US Embassy in Moscow?
August 7th, 2017

US Diplomatic mission in Russia is facing some issue, since a couple of weeks ago Russia announced it has to reduce its personnel by 755 people. While it is an interesting move as a reaction to the tightening of the sanctions, we are not going to talk about politics. This turn of event made us remember the building of US Embassy in Moscow. Will it be empty now? Do you know why is it called New Office Building?

First things first – US Embassy in Moscow is not going to be empty. Employees of US Diplomatic mission in Russian Federation are scattered around through a number of cities and different facilities. Also, while we’re on the subject, Russians are going to suffer from this the most. American citizens, who will be forced to leave this diplomatic mission, will go home and will receive positions somewhere else in the diplomatic corps. However, most of people who are getting fired since the 1st of September are going to be Russians. Furthermore, because of lack of human resources, some consular services will take longer to fulfil. So it is a nice publicity move, but it will mostly affect Russian people. It did bring our attention to the building though.

Existing Office Building – that is how the old building used to be called. (NVO, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

The main building of the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, called the New Office Building, looks recently built. This is kind of odd, having in mind that US had an embassy in Soviet Union. We looked at why the building had to be changed and found out it was always getting spied. That had to be one of the motifs to move to a modern, more secure type of building.

For example, bugs were discovered in the old office building of Embassy of the United States in Moscow in 1964. It was removed and everything was checked, but the spying eye did not look away from the building.




In 1977 there was a mysterious fire on eighth floor of the building. Some valuable documents were lost. While we can be sure that some of them were lost in fire, some of them were definitely stolen. It is known that some of the fire fighters were KGB agents, who were well-informed about the structure of the building and information kept on that particular floor.

And so a new building was needed. Fire did not damage the old office building too badly, but it was too easy to spy. Constructions were officially started in 1979 and in 1985 they found bugs in the new building. They were installed by construction workers or, more precisely, KGB agents dressed like construction workers. The spread of spying equipment was so vast it actually caused a bit of a diplomatic problem. US did not let Soviet diplomats to move to their new embassy in Washington, until American workers were allowed to finish the construction of the new embassy in Moscow.

New Office Building –
are top floors used to listen to the “Moscor air”? (Pars, Wikimedia)

Of course, before the building could be finished, part of it had to be destroyed, since the possibility of spying devices was so large. The New Office Building was finally opened in 2000. The top floors, built by American construction workers, are now used to deal with classified information, while the lower ones are dedicated to consular work. Still, who knows if it is not being spied at the moment, but some believe it is actually a piece of spying equipment in itself.

The very top floors look different, because there are virtually no windows in them. Igor Korotchenko, editor of a magazine called National Defence (Национальная оборона) once commented that the top floors of the main building of the Embassy of the United States are actually an antenna listening to “Moscow air”. Although US does partake in a healthy dose of spying itself, this theory sounds funny and almost ironic, having in mind why these floors look the way they do.




Top 3 best looking headquarters of car manufacturers – why geko does not bring luck?
August 4th, 2017

Car manufacturers have to protect their image. While everyone knows that the looks of a car are very important, some companies make sure to establish their headquarters in amazingly beautiful buildings. In this article we look at three car manufacturers who are unexpectedly known for the architecture as well as good cars.

Why exterior aesthetics of a building matters for car companies? Well, as we said, it is part of company‘s image. Automakers are trying to put their best foot forward and to not be associated with something ugly or boring. While a bad car model will soon be forgotten, an ugly building is here to stay. These three, however, are anything but ugly.

BMW Headquarters

BMW Headquarters in Munich was built from 1968 till 1972 – it was finished for summer Olympics, since the building is standing very close to the Olympic village. Immediately it became recognized as one of Munich’s architectural greats and up until now people love how it blends into the skyline of the city. In fact, this 101 metre tall skyscraper has a status of a protected historic building.

BMW Towar and a museum – it is all made to look like engine components (Diego Delso, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

BMW tower is actually composed of four big cylinders, made to mimic cylinders of the engine. Interestingly, they are not even touching the ground as they are supported by the central column. Because a four cylinder engine is very important in BMW’s history, the building is made to reflect that. There is a museum building right next to the skyscraper and it is made to represent a cylinder head. Both buildings were designed by the Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer.

McLaren Technology Centre in Woking

McLaren is a famous supercar manufacturer that has a rich history in motorsports. Its headquarters, called McLaren Technology Centre, are located in Woking, Surrey, England and consist of four buildings. Everything is accomplished here: street car production, racing car manufacturing, technology development and so on. It is also home of McLaren Formula 1 team.




The construction of the complex started in 1999 and the first building was completed in 2003. However, the automotive plant was not ready until 2011, which is also when production of MP4-12C, the first model of the reborn brand, started. The complex looks very futuristic and features clean lines and green surroundings. There are four artificial lakes in the area, the biggest one is places side by side with the main building and together they form a circle. The McLaren Technology Centre was designed by architect Norman Foster.

There are four artificial lakes around McLaren Technology Centre. (Mike Dodman, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)

While no one knows for sure how much did it cost to build this complex, the investment was huge. But McLaren says it was necessary – it is much nicer to work in a clean, beautiful and silent place. It is more inspiring and is likely to attract the best engineers and experts.

Wiesmann factory and showroom in Dülmen

Wiesmann was one of those little, unique car manufacturers that disappeared because of financial problems. It was established in 1988 and released its first car in 1993. The speciality of Wiesmann has always been little, lightweight roadsters with running gear from BMW performance cars. They were fast, high-quality and rather beautiful. Even the Wiesmann logo – a shiny gecko – was quite unique and loved by automotive enthusiasts. For the most part, factory building was a very simple industrial construction, but everything changed in 2008.

Wiesmann, arguably, had the most beautiful building, but it did not bring financial luck to the company. (WinfriedSchneider, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

In 2008 Wiesmann built an addition to serve as a showroom. And, sure enough, it was shaped like a gecko. Many car magazines and TV shows showed this new feature of Wiesmann factory every time they were speaking about brand’s cars. However, not everyone knows that this gecko was made from wood. Sadly, it didn’t bring the company financial luck and Wiesmann was liquidated in May 2014.

Would you like to visit an automotive factory? Or maybe you already have done so? Share your experience with us via nodum2017@gmail.com




Kaunas is getting rid of old Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses – why? And 10 interesting cool facts about trolleybuses in Kaunas
July 14th, 2017

People of Kaunas have a new subject for public debates – the growing prices of public transportation tickets. While paying more for the same service is never a pleasant change, the quality of it is about to increase dramatically. Kaunas is going to get rid of old Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses, which is absolutely necessary. Why? What is the Škoda 14Tr and why it has no place in a modern city? We talked about this with “Kauno Autubusai” – the company taking care of public transport in Kaunas.

Škoda 14Tr is a familiar sight in Kaunas, but in a couple of years these trolleybuses will be gone

Kaunas, the second largest Lithuanian city, can be hardly imagined without its iconic trolleybuses. While there is nothing special or unique about public transportation in this city, trolleybuses specifically have a deep relation with Kaunas image. They have been around since 1965, when the first line was opened. Since then a lot has changed, including trolleybuses, and people grew to love them.

Made in Czechoslovakia – nowadays this sign looks a bit funny.

But it is a love-hate relationship, actually, because the majority of Kaunas trolleybuses are old and dreadful Škoda 14Tr vehicles. They are extremely noisy, very hot in summer and very cold in winter, have high floor and are very uncomfortable for the driver. All of this is about to change – Kaunas streets will be free from “Made in Czechoslovakia” trolleybuses in about two years.

“Kauno Autobusai” is doing a great job maintaining the good condition of these trolleybuses, but they are just too old and troublesome.

While brand new trolleybuses are good news for all regular users of public transport, it also means that ticket prices are increasing from 1st of August. Electronic tickets are going to cost 70 euro cents, instead of the current 58, and the paper ones you buy from the driver – 1 euro. People really disliked the change, but they will get better quality services for the money.




Not only Škoda 14Tr’s are making people laugh with their “Made in Czechoslovakia” signs on windows (despite most of them being made after the Czech Republic and Slovakia split apart), but they also torture passengers with heat, cold and sometimes water. They are technically and morally old and there is no way around it. “Kauno Autobusai” has 98 of them, their average age – 28 years. Together they covered more than 160 million kilometres and were rebuilt several times. While you can fix them up to keep them running safely, it is impossibe to introduce such things as low floor – which allows older people as well as parents with baby buggies and disabled people to get in easier -, more comfortable seating or air conditioning.

The driver’s workplace is really uncomfortable.

Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses had been manufactured since 1981, although first prototypes showed up in 1972-1974. The last trolleybuses of this model left the factory in 2004, although production was significantly reduced in 1998. In total, 3888 14Tr’s were made and delivered to various cities, mostly in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union. Currently, Kiev, Vilnius and Riga have the largest amount of these trolleybuses, but they are slowly moving away.

Technical look around

Not only Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses are pretty dreadful to ride in, they are also extremely unreliable at this point. The problem is that all electric gubbins, including the motor, are placed underneath the floor of the trolleybus (that is why the floor is so high and you have to climb some steps to get in) and is not sealed in any way. Water gets in and damages these parts all the time and workers at “Kauno Autobusai” have to race against time every night to fix trolleybuses and make sure that in the morning a sufficient number of them will be running.

On this pannel you can find turn signals, lights, doors, heater and other controls.

Škoda 14Tr has a 100 kW motor, which is enough to propel it to a speed of 65 km/h. It accelerates quite loudly, though, because gears in the final drive are basically worn out. The trollleybus has three sets of double doors, all opening to the inside. They are not very wide, which is not helping the already troubled ingress for some people. There are 29 seats and 71 people can travel standing, according to vehicle data.

The driver’s cabin is really not that great either. The steering wheel is not adjustable in any way whatsoever, so it is difficult to get comfortable. Controls are laid out randomly, although drivers find everything just out of experience. Seats are uncomfortable and the lack of air conditioning means that “Kauno Autobusai” had to fit simple fans, usually hanging above the driver’s head.

This is basically a key to the bus – a turn of this handle turns on power supply to the trolleybus, allowing it to start working.

However, as unreliable and uncomfortable as Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses may be,  “Kauno Autobusai” ensured us that they are completely safe to use. All of them have to go through thorough technical inspection twice a year and are maintained constantly. Every night workers fix minor defects and major repairs may take several days. “Kauno Autobusai” has a reserve of trolleybuses for such cases.

So where from here?

So now you know that replacing all tired Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses is absolutely necessary. And that is why ticket prices are going to increase. At the moment, it is still not decided which trolleybuses Kaunas will have, but some information is already known. They are going to be about the same capacity, but they will feature low floor, air conditioning and some other comfort equipment. And, of course, they will be much less of a problem in repair shops.

Saulius Alekna, the manager of the Kaunas’ trolleybus park, told us that in around two years Kaunas should have no Škoda 14Tr buses on the streets. All of them will be replaced with brand new units, but the manufacturer of them has not been decided yet. There is a contest under way and it is still not clear who will make the best offer. Alekna said that the company is looking forward to having electric buses as well, but only when the technology is cheaper, meaning that in the foreseeable future Kaunas will still be running trolleybuses. Think decades before they – and normal buses – are replaced with electric units.

But trolleybuses are definitely good enough. The contact network is already in place and these vehicles are very eco-friendly.




10 Interesting facts we learned while visiting “Kauno Autobusai”

  • Kaunas’s trolleybus park consists of 155 trolleybuses, 98 of them are Škoda 14Tr; 42 – Solaris Trollino 12; 15 – articulated Berkhof trolleybuses. 311 drivers are driving them.
  • Together, all these trolleybuses have covered more than 200 million kilometres in their lifetime, but 160 million of them belong to Škoda 14Tr.
  • Every day, Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses cover 14 thousand kilometres in Kaunas.
  • While new trolleybuses have only two pedals, Škoda 14Tr has three. Two of them are brakes: the central pedal engages electric brakes and the left one – pneumatic. Braking with the electric motor is useful when the trolleybus only needs to slow down a bit without coming to a complete stop.
  • While it is obvious that Škoda 14Tr is not a modern vehicle, it still has 2 kilometres of cables. “Kauno Autobusai” found out about it by themselves while repairing these trolleybuses. In modern trolleybuses this number is several times larger.
  • Not only Škoda 14Tr is an unreliable machine, it is also an easy target for pranksters who routinely pull contacts off the wires, immobilizing the trolleybus. It is easy to do so as the ropes holding contact poles are exposed. There is also a switch which can be easily deactivated from the outside, turning the trolleybus completely off. We were kindly asked not to show it to you.
  • In Lithuanian, contact poles are called “trolleybus moustache”.
  • How do trolleybuses know where to go when the lines split? There are two ways of dealing with this situation. In some spots there are switches that can connect to one or another line. There are blue arrow signs allowing the trolleybus drivers to know which one is engaged and they can change it with remote controllers. However, in not-so-modern splits, Škoda 14Tr trolleybuses have to use a different trick – when the trolleybus is coasting, it will always go left and, when it is accelerating, it will always go right. This is why it slows down so much in these splits or accelerates just before them.
  • All trolleybuses in Kaunas, except two, are painted green. “Kauno Autobusai” had an idea of painting all of them red (and they did with these two), to match the red buses. But they changed their mind, because it just didn’t look right and people seem to love trolleybuses being green and buses red. The green colour also fits the green character of the vehicle.
  • The number plates of most trolleybuses in Kaunas start with BEE, but it is just a coincidence. Most of them were registered at the same time, despite their different age. It is because some time ago trolleybuses didn’t need to have number plates at all – it is not like they can leave the city anyway.
That’s a Škoda 9Tr, specifically modified to accomodate parties – you can book it and it will take you wherever you want.

While Škoda 14Tr is by far the oldest trolleybus currently being used to carry passengers in Kaunas, sometimes you can see a much older Škoda 9Tr passing by. But it is not taking regular passengers. It is a party trolleybus, with tables, audio equipment and a light show installed inside. Anyone can book it for their personal holiday – the first hour costs 100 euros and all subsequent hours – 50. The driver will take you wherever you want to go with only one limitation – contact lines have to be available. There is also a dancing pole at the back, which, we were told, becomes the centre of the party.

Who knows, maybe someday Škoda 14Tr will become a party trolleybus too. The company said that they are going to keep at least one when the rest will be scrapped little by little with the introduction of new machines. We are not sad to see them go, but it is good we got to ride in it now so that we can better appreciate this change.




Why men’s and women’s bicycles are different?
July 7th, 2017

Have you ever thought that bicycles for men are a bit silly? If your feet slip off the pedals you’re in a big trouble as you get yourself caught on that weirdly high horizontal crossbar. But bicycles marketed for women do not have this straight horizontal piece. Why? Wouldn’t it be better if all bicycles did not have this potential safety-hazard?

No, that prominent crossbar is there for a reason. It makes the bicycle frame much stiffer and stronger. Because bicycles only touche the ground on two distant spots, there is a lot of bending force in the middle of the bike, which could actually brake it, if materials from which it was built were not so good. In the early days, bicycles often were made from wood, so that cross member was actually a crucial part for structural integrity. But why women’s bikes don’t have them then?

High crossbar helps keeping the frame of the bicycle strong and rigid. (Gajda-13, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the early days of riding bicycles women enjoyed wearing skirts and dresses. Lifting one’s leg over such a high horizontal crossbar was less than desirable – it was inconvenient and also could reveal an ‘inappropriate amount’ of leg. Which, of course, was a huge no-no back in a day. That is why women’s bicycle was invented with a slanted crossbar. It made the entire frame weaker and wobblier, but girls and women were not supposed to ride their bikes as hard as men did – it was not an activity recommended for ladies.

Slanted crossbar in women’s bicycles was invented having in mind skirts and dresses. (imoni, Wikimedia)

Nowadays we have better materials for bike manufacturing and that horizontal crossbar is not necessary anymore for cyclists. Without it, you can easily mount your bicycle and face less risks of injuring your family jewels. However, the tradition of separating male and female bicycles is still very much here, if you look at the ads manufacturers are putting out.

Of course, professional bicycles still have that dangerous horizontal crossbar, because it adds stiffness without adding excess weight.



Martynas’ E30 – preparation and painting
August 28th, 2017

Martynas is restoring his E30 and sharing his experience with you. This time we are going to show and tell how he prepared and painted his car without professional equipment and a ton of money. While Martynas certainly has his hands growing from the right place, he had no experience in restoring cars. So hopefully this will be somewhat inspirational for you – you can do this too!

This is a second part of article series dedicated to Martynas’ E30. In the first article we looked over the condition of the car, main defects and Martynas’ vision of how it will look like when restoration project is completed. We invite you to read that article first.



In short, this E30 was not in a good shape. However, it is an old car and it could certainly be worse. While some rust was immediately visible, it was only an indication of what can be found underneath some of the body pannels and the layer of paint. So the first step in preparation for a new paintjob was removing fenders to inspect for rust.

E30 had to be partially disasembled to inspect for rust.

And, of course, there was rust. All plastic components that were on the way, such as the grill and the rear lights, were removed and then Martynas could start sanding old paint away. This, of course, revealed even more rust that was not previously visible as well as some pretty deep dents.

Deep dents and spots that rusted out were filled with autobody filler.

Rust was sanded away completely and bigger spots as well as dents were filled with autobody filler. As you can see in the picture, there were many spots that had to be filled and sanded flush with the rest of the body, but eventually, after several days, work was finished.

Car was primed outdoors – if weather is right, you can do that without a problem.

Then it was time to spray the primer. Most people think that this has to be done professionally in a painting booth. And it’s true – results should be better if you take your car to a paint shop. However, Martynas wanted to do it himself and there really is no reason not to try. While it is easy to mess up, you can always sand little drips or dust away. So Martynas sprayed his E30 just on his lawn outside of the garage. All wheels and windows were masked before this operation.

Preparations for a minor modification.

While results were not perfect – several insects and some dust landed on wet primer – proper sanding fixed everything. And then it was time for painting. This, of course, cannot be done outdoors.




Martynas put up a temporary painting booth in a garage using just some plastic sheets. The goal is to let the paint cure uninterrupted by dust, insects or rain. His make-shift painting booth worked just fine. He did buy a good quality spray gun, but didn’t spend a fortune on it. The colour is called “Extra Black” and it seems to live up to its name.

In the painting booth – just a normal garage space.

 

Almost done

One layer of paint and a couple of layers of lacquer were sprayed on the car. Paint layer was pretty much perfect, but there are some drips in the clear coat. It was made thicker for this exact purpose – imperfections will be gone in polishing.

Before plastic parts were put back into place.

This is how the car looked like after it was assembled back together.

Car mostly put back together

And this is what the new exhaust looks like.

E30 now has double a double tip exhaust.

With this exterior restoration is almost done. It does still require some polishing, but the clear coat is still not cured enough for that. However, E30 is already up on its feet – it is mechanically well and safe to drive. By the way, speaking of the feet, this came in the mail –

Brand new wheels.

But more about the wheels and how the car looks with them in the next article. Soon it will be time to start working on the interior of the E30, which is not in a good shape at all.




If you have any questions about the build, you can ask them on our Facebook page or via email nodum2017@gmail.com.

Martynas’ E30. Interesting restoration project – current state and vision
August 7th, 2017

BMW 3-series E30 is kind of a weird car. While it is not rare or particularly beautiful, many car enthusiasts are craving to get their hand on one. Martynas is one of them and currently, while you are reading this article, he is working on making something that will turn out to be his dream car. And we will follow him on every step of the process.

While E30 is not a rare exotic car, enthusiasts like Martynas like it for how it looks. Its design – straight lines and sharp corners – stand out from the traffic flow in a modern city. Also, it is quite a small car, which seems to be perfectly proportioned. And because it is not rare or historically valuable, you can have fun while restomoding it to perfection. Martynas’ E30 will get its uniqueness, which it is lacking now, in the process of restoration.



What is it? It is a 1990 E30 coupe with a 1.8 litre 113 AG (83 kW) engine. During its decades of service, this car was never babied and it reflects in current state of the vehicle.

An old E30 ready to be reborn for a new life.

Current state of Martynas’ E30

We have to say, while it is old and crusty, Martynas’ E30 is definitely not too far gone. The biggest mechanical faults came from neglect – this car has been left standing outside for some time. However, it does start and drive for a little, although some of its suspension components are in urgent need of replacement. That is not really a concern as Martynas would’ve redone entire suspension anyway, since he wishes the car sits lower and handles a little bit sportier.

It is E30 from 1990.

Engine is producing some unpleasant noises. It is probably a faulty compensator, but a major overhaul is needed. Again – nothing too dramatic. Martynas is considering a new engine – something with more power and nicer singing voice. We will see if he fixes this engine and keeps it or replaces it with something more special immediately.

Engine – 1.8 l four cylinder, producing 113 AG (83 kW). Currently it is making some unpleasant noises.

The appearance of the car is a totally different story. Paint is in a pretty bad state, showing a lot of rust on the bottom portion of the body. In fact, the bottom of the car had to be patched up, because some places were completely eaten away by rust. Rust will be healed and the entire car will be repainted in the same colour – black.

Seat is just completely worn out from the decades of use.

Meanwhile interior is quite ugly at this point. Driver’s seat is torn to pieces and steering wheel is worn away too. It is a beautiful rim too, from M Division, so it has to be restored and reinstalled.

Steering wheel will soon get some new leather.

All in all, this car could be quickly up and running after decent fix-up. However, Martynas’ vision is a bit different.




Vision

While Martynas, like many other BMW fans out there, likes the lines of the body of the original E30 there is definitely some room for improvement. And, as mentioned earlier, because this car is not original, you get to do whatever you want without the sense of guilt, which comes from ruining a historic artefact. So what Martynas will do?

Nature wants to reclaim the metal – E30 is suffering from rust damage.

His E30 will wear original BBS rims, will sit closer to the road and will sport a fresh and shiny black paintjob. Wider wheels and lower stance will completely transform the looks of the car – coupe will look athletic and will leave no doubts that it belongs to a car guy. But appearance is just part of the story.

A lot of work will go into this project to refresh all the little details.

Martynas wants his BMW to be sporty. One of the ways to get more power it to install a new engine, but it is quite a complicated task and there are other options too. Because work on this E30 has already started, Nodum.org will be happy to report, which route Martynas went. What we do know is that exhaust system will be altered significantly, to let E30 breathe easier and sing nicer.

One last “before” picture.

And that’s about it as far as we know. It will unravel as it moves along and we will be happy to report on the progress. You may say that there are hundreds of E30’s with BBS rims, lowered stance and loud engine note, but we think Martynas’ one is going to be just that little bit special. And it is always interesting to see restomoding projects.




If you have any questions about the project that you would like us to answer in the upcoming article, comment on our Facebook page.

Homemade wooden earrings – plans were changed, but the result is good enough
June 30th, 2017

If you’re starting out woodworking or doing pretty much any kind of craft, you are probably going to end up making jewelry or some other accessories. We don’t know why, but it seems to be an inevitable path that every handy person goes through. Today we are going to tell you about an experiment and we will let you decide if it was successful. It all started from an earring kit and an idea to make foxes.

Earrings look completely different, drawing is ugly and finish is far from perfect.

As you may know, I gladly cross boundaries to do woodworking at home, in a small apartment. As quiet as my woodturning practices are, they are quite annoying to clean up. So, for a change, I decided to try something new – to make a pair of simple wooden earrings. Which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds.

You may think that making simple jewelry from wood is not that hard – you just need to cut q shape out, sand and glue it on some earring you bought from a crafts’ store. That’s what I did, basically, but it was far from easy. I bought some pairs of cheap simple earring kits from Perlina.lt. And decided I was going to make foxes – a cartoon-fox-faced shape was requested by the girl who was going to wear the earrings if they happened to be successful.

This is homemade plywood – it has five plies and is reasonably strong, although as thin as a playing card.

Now. Wood is not the ideal material for this kind of thing. It reacts to moisture contents in its surroundings by shrinking and expanding. That means that the glue would eventually let go or the wooden part would curl up and look ugly. Plywood is much more stable in this regard and, in my opinion, is the ideal choice. But store-bought plywood is kind of thick for earrings so I decided to make my own.

And these are the earrings I purchased for this experiment.

I used my Stanley No.120 blockplane (the one you see in the header of the website) to try and make some very thin black alder shavings. I then glued them by alternating the grain direction into three little squares – one was a spare one in case I messed something up. This was all an experiment – I am sure many people have done it before, but I thought of it by myself. In this way, I got five-ply plywood that’s very thin and strong enough for the earrings.

Hobby knife did not work that well to cut out the foxes from my plywood – scissors worked much better.

I found a cartoon fox face that I liked and tried cutting it out from my plywood using a hobby knife. Didn’t work that well, so I switched to scissors, which worked much better. Then I sanded the edges smooth and shaped the foxes. It already looked like my experiment was a success – the homemade plywood worked very well.

Then I used a two-part epoxy to glue the earrings to the foxes and I let it dry for a very long time. At this point, I could’ve spray-lacquered  the earring and call it done, but the faces looked kind of dull. Black alder is not really a beautiful wood and it looked empty. So I decided to give faces to the foxes.

Epoxy was used to join wooden and metal parts – later, I covered the round metal part and the entire back with an additional layer of black alder.

I drew them with a black marker. I have no artistic talent – if I did, painting the faces would be a better option. But I decided to go for a “doodle on the notebook” style and it worked well enough for what it was. But the spray lacquer (probably a solvent in it) reacted to the marker and washed it off. It was ruined. I tried sanding it off, but in the process the earring part fell off and the plywood became too thin, while ugly marks were still visible.

Just to save the situation, I decided to add two more layers – one to the front, and one to the back over the flat part of the earring. In this way, the plywood will be the right thickness and earrings will be stronger. After this was dry I reshaped them and noticed that now, after the second round on the sandpaper, foxes are way different from one another.  I tried making them similar, but still, you can tell they are not made professionally. Then I drew faces with a simple black ballpoint pen – foxes became cats. Good enough, I think, although they are totally different.

Unique, but not very pretty – the next ones are going to look much better.

After several coats of spray lacquer the earrings were done. They don’t look that good but I learned a lot in the process. And they are being worn, which is quite a recognition. Now I think I have new ideas about how to use my homemade plywood, but more about that next time.



A family of car enthusiasts shrunk a soviet GAZ-67 – the attention to detail is just shocking
June 30th, 2017

We, car people, are a weird bunch. We don’t care about the practicality, reliability or the cost of our project – the enthusiasm for the automotive world has no rationality. And every once in a while this liberated mentality of a petrolhead produces something we cannot stop ourselves from calling a gem.  A father-and-son team in Lithuania has just completed their first home-made car – a tiny cute GAZ-67 replica.

Big and little GAZ-67’s – both belong to the Gasnauskas family.

The Gasnauskas family in Kaunas, the second largest Lithuanian city, has a rich collection of historic cars. They say it contains around 30 cars, some of them still waiting for restoration. Valdemaras and his sons love restoring old vehicles – the process of turning a rust bucket into a shiny automotive perfection is entirely fascinating. However, when I asked them what is the most valuable car in their collection they did not take long to answer – it is “Svajonė” and their own little GAZ-67 replica.

The work started in 2011 – at first, blueprints were analysed and reduced by 33 %. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

And for good reasons – both of these vehicles are completely unique, without any equivalents in the world. “Svajonė” (“Dream”) is a homemade car from the 1960’s, which is beautiful in its own way, but deserves its own article in the future. And the GAZ-67 replica is the child of the talented hands of Valdemaras and his son, Dainius.

At first, the body had to be fabricated. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

There have been several GAZ-67 off-roaders in the Gasnauskas’ collection. They are the soviet analogue of the WW2 era Willys JEEP. GAZ-67 was a 4X4 manufactured from 1943 to 1953. The Gasnauskas have frequently taken their restored SUV’s to meeting of off-roaders where they covered kilometres of mud and water – they certainly don’t baby their old cars. One time, Dainius’ daughter, who was then seven, mentioned that she would like to have her own GAZ and the light bulb was on – Valdemaras and Dainius decided to make a tiny GAZ-67 replica for the children of the family to enjoy. And for themselves to enjoy the creative building process.

Dimensions are smaller by exactly 33 % – everything was measured and calculated to perfectly match the original vehicle. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

They started making the little car back in 2011 by analysing plans they found on the internet. Dainius used to look at the plan and then he would make his own sketches on paper, just to visualize the car a little better. And then the work started.

The body of the baby GAZ-67 is made from actual steel. Valdemaras and Dainius cut everything out from sheets of steel and then bent it to the right shape. Proportions were key – the car had to be 33 % smaller than the original. Thankfully, the Gasnauskas have restored GAZ-67 vehicles before, so they knew its structure pretty well.

The frame, a part that no one actually sees, was also made to resemble the original, but with some modifications in order to fit a different engine. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

Then they made the frame. This is a part that no one will ever see – it hides under the body of the car. However, the team still made it perfectly as it should be. They made no mistake –even though this car was meant for children, the two enthusiasts spent a lot of time making sure everything was to scale. The frame had to be slightly modified so as to accommodate a different engine.

The rear axle and the engine were taken from an ATV. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

The original GAZ-67 was a 4X4, powered by a large 3.3 litre four cylinder engine. For this replica, they could not find such a tiny engine, so instead a 150 cc Loncin unit was used. It is powerful enough and fits the car pretty well. Both the engine and the rear axle have been taken from an ATV – the baby GAZ-67 is rear-wheel-drive.

A piece of the suspension – this was not an easy part to make, but it was definitely not the most difficult one. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)



They started making the suspension components, but soon life took over and the work stopped. In fact, the frame and partially finished body were standing in the corner of their garage for more than 5 years, until the Gasnauskas finally decided to finish it this year. The work started again, with the fabrication of components that they could not get from other vehicles. Again – the attention to detail was phenomenal.

The gas tank had to be fabricated and tested – the car is fully operational, so it must be reliable. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

The suspension was also made to represent the original one. All measurements match up perfectly, as well as the suspension geometry. A surprising fact is that even the headlights, wheels and tires are exactly 33 % smaller than the original – a lucky find.

When all the parts were completed, everything was primed and painted. This was done in-house and still looks perfect. After assembly, the car was completed. And boy, it does look like a marvellous piece of craftsmanship.

All the parts were primed and painted – this was done in-house, without a dedicated paintshop, but it still looks very nice. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

No detail has been overlooked when building this car. Small compartments dotted around the body could be fake – no one would complain about the lack of authenticity . But they are real – with tiny little hinges and tiny little locking mechanisms. It all works beautifully and you can really tell that the car was built by people who love this craft.

Body panels drying – everything was made from steel. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

How does it drive? I was lucky enough to get a ride in this vehicle and can assure you that it is pretty swift. Valdemaras and Dainius did use gear reduction in thecar’s transmission to give it a little more torque, but it is still light on its feet. It doesn’t cope very well with corners, because it has a live axle with no differential, but it works well enough and it is never scary. Unless you’re cautious about the lack of doors and roof.

Even the exhaust system had to be custom made and fitted so that the pipe would exit in the same spot as in the big GAZ-67. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

I am 183 cm tall and I fitted perfectly in the little GAZ-67, with even room to spare. It was comfortable for what it is, because the seat is mounted slightly further away than in the original off-roader. It is done this way so that adults could drive the little car too. I could feel some vibration from the engine in the footwell, which came as no surprise, since the engine is rigidly mounted to the frame, but it is barely noticeable on the go. The baby GAZ-67 has a four speed manual gearbox which came with the engine.

The dompleted GAZ-67 replica in the garage – it looks nice and it drives very well. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

When asked if they would like to make a completely unique full-size car, the men did not seem interested – they said it is not something they are planning to do. Instead, they will focus on restoring old cars that they already own. Even at the moment they are preparing something new, but we will have to wait for quite some time to see it. But when we do – you will be able to read about it on Nodum.org.

Even the headlights, wheels and tires are to scale – those were a lucky find. (Dainiaus dirbtuvės)

Another project is to teach Valdemaras’ granddaughters to drive the little GAZ-67. This is quite a task in itself, because the car can be dangerous – it is quite fast. But, when they learn it, we can be certain that the young generation will be caught in the life-long passion of the Gasnauskas men.

The engine is a 150 cc Loncin unit, spinning rear wheels only.
It is really incredible to see all the little handles, toolboxes, levers and pedals made to scale – a labour of love and an amazing attention to detail.
The seat is mounted a bit further, but, other than that, even the interior looks like a perfect copy of the original.

More pictures on this and other builds of the Gasnauskas on “Dainiaus dirbtuvės” Facebook page.



Hunting amber in the Baltic Sea – almost a spiritual experience we cannot forget (Video)
June 8th, 2017

If you ever come to the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, you will notice that a big part of our souvenirs are made from amber. Lithuanians will always suggest that you bring amber home and will be keen to mention at least a couple of amber-related places that you must visit if you really want to experience what Lithuania is all about. Why? Because amber is a big part of our identity. But to really appreciate and understand amber, you have to hunt it yourself. And here is how.

Before going to the beach we are scanned the horizon to look for birds and black spots in the sea.

Most of the souvenirs you see in Lithuanian streets, especially in the western side of the country, are not made from Lithuanian amber. The simple truth is that there are no amber mines in the country, meaning that larger amounts – needed to satisfy the jewelry, souvenir and medical industries – have to be imported from Kaliningrad, Russia. However, Lithuanians still say that amber is the Lithuanian gold. We just get it in a different way.

While Russians in Kaliningrad are mining it, Lithuanians get their amber by hunting it in the Baltic Sea. An intriguing hobby which requires a ton of enthusiasm and skills. Not many tourists know that going amber hunting yourself is not only possible, but extremely addictive.

 

How NODUM came to amber hunting?

Amber is believed to have some medical properties. Lithuanians, for hundreds of years, used amber to make amulets to protect them from evil spirits. The rest of the world, unfamiliar with the Baltic gold, is still starting to discover amber. In Brazil, for example, amber necklaces are becoming more and more popular. Lithu Âmbar, a Brazilian company, is selling amber jewelry to people with great success and outstandingly positive customer support.

We were also looking at the sand – Igoris found many little amber pieces even before going into the water.

Brazilians believe that amber jewelry helps fighting some skin conditions, helps babies to go through teething, and much more. Therefore, since Lithu Âmbar is selling amber from Lithuania, it only made sense that the owners of the business, Mara and Marcelo, would come to Lithuania to see how we deal with amber, what we make of it and how it is taken from the sea. They are making a documentary about it, which will appear sometime soon on the Lithu Âmbar YouTube channel.

That’s where we came in. We helped our Brazilian friends to cope with the language barrier and to gather some needed contacts.  It was an opportunity for us to stay in the seaside for several days and to learn something really cool and interesting.

Coming back to the story, one of the things Mara and Marcelo wanted to try out was amber catching. So we met with Igoris, an experienced amber catcher and exceptionally good guide.

 

Theory before practice

Igoris Osnač is an experienced amber hunter and a guide. He took us to Karklė, where he started by giving us a brief introduction about amber. We found out that amber burns and that it floats in salty water, but that the Baltic Sea is not salty enough, so there amber stays at the bottom. Thus, the best time to hunt amber is after a storm happens. We also found out that there are hundreds of different colours of amber. Igoris said that black amber is often left behind, because other people do not recognize it.

I didn’t find any amber in the sand – I am not experienced enough.

Igoris explained that you can distinguish real amber from fake by rubbing it between your hands. When it gets warm, it starts producing a distinctive smell, resembling pine trees. We also watched a short video showing several people harvesting amber from the rough Baltic Sea waters.  One person in the video happily said that he collected around 3 kilograms of amber that day and it wasn’t the end yet. That amount is worthed several thousands of euros, by the way.

Not going to lie, at this point it seemed as if amber hunters do it for the money. The ability to earn in just a couple of hours more than many people do in a month is really appealing. However, this attitude quickly changed when the time came for us to go hunt some amber.

 

Going amber hunting for the first time

Igoris provided us with appropriate waterproof clothing. They were really warm – despite it being quite windy, I did not feel cold at all. We grabbed some special homemade nets and went to the beach.

Immediately, I noticed how Igoris eyes changed. They started scanning the area, smiling at every positive sign he saw. He noticed birds and some dark spots in the sea under them. These spots were a mixture of sea weed and small driftwood pieces. Birds are attracted to them because they can find shrimps and some other fauna in there. We were attracted because that is where we will get our amber from.

This is how amber catching looks like

Amber weighs about the same as the sea weed and driftwood, so it oftentimes gets tangled in them. That is why we set out eyes on a small dark spot in the sea and, while walking there, were looking at the sand, trying to find some pieces freshly washed out by the waves. Igoris was exceptionally good at it – obviously. He was pointing at the pieces and we picked them up. I couldn’t understand how he finds them so easily when I cannot – small amber pieces are almost undistinguishable in between pebbles that have almost the same colour. “Amber is shiny”, explained Igoris and we moved along.

Then the time had come for us to go to the sea. We were about knee-deep in the water and listened to Igoris instructions. The technique is rather simple – you wait for a wave to come, poke the net in and pull it out before that wave retreats. You repeat this process until your net is just about full of weeds and little pebbles, then you drag it to the beach and dump its contents on the sand. Quick search through that little pile of sea weed, rocks and an occasional shrimp (I threw the one I found back in the sea) and you’re ready to go back in. I lost the track of time, but, I guess, in around 45 minutes I found only several small amber pieces, really nothing spectacular. But I finally understood what amber hunting is all about.

 

What is amber hunting really?

Igoris had such a vivid passion for amber hunting you had to be completely dissociated from this world not to notice it. As soon as we came down to the beach his eyes were on fire and he looked much happier. In many ways, he reminded me a child in a candy store with a 5 euro bill – there was no possibility for him to go home loaded with his treasure, but he was so happy.

Going through sea weed looking for tiny amber pieces may not look like an exciting freetime activity, but there is something extremely addictive about it.

Time flied so quickly. At first, I felt like a gambler, but I soon stopped caring about not actually catching much amber. I enjoyed the process and immediately started thinking that I will definitely do that again sometime in the future.

I don’t know why, but all the build-up before the real amber hunting trip is so attractive. You have to check the weather information, wait for the perfect storm. Then, when the time comes you have to meticulously choose a place where you will stand and work with your net. And then you hunt amber, which may or may not come with a reward.

And this is what I got from the trip – the amulet is a gift from Igoris.

“I can’t stop thinking about fishing amber. I really want to come back”, says Mara and I’m on the same page. This amber fever that was burning Igoris from inside is actually contagious and if you ever get a chance to try it, don’t miss the opportunity!

Check out these links:

Lithu Âmbar – Website, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

Igoris Osnač, amber catcher, Website.



About Nodum

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