Monday, April 07, 2008

My biggest regret

In 1985 I lived in a rental house owned by an 80 year old man and his wife. He was a retired inventor that had worked all his life in the automotive industry. He told me once that he was instrumental in designing speed controlled windshield wipers, and other things that I don't remember now. His wife was a gifted painter, who only discovered her talent when she was 75 years old. My rental house had several of her beautiful original oil paintings in it. I saw the man almost daily because the detached garage with the rental property was also his workshop. I was facisnated with his stories of inventions. I liked nosing around his shop and looking at all his stuff, including a large aluminum "thing" (about the size of a breadbox) One time he showed me a "power fishing reel" that he was working on. If you got tired pulling in the big fish, you could turn on the power assist. He was always thinking of things and he held several patents. At the time I had my MG/BGT car, and I was driving it everyday. I don't remember how much gas cost, but it wasn't a crisis back then. The old man told me that soon we would use up all the fossil fuel and then showed me that the "thing" was an electric engine that he had invented. He explained that it could power a car on batteries that would be charged by a solar cell. It would be a quiet running engine, and that there would be NO fuel, that the sun would be the only thing required. I questioned him about speed and distance and he told me that he thought it would get the same mileage as a traditional car, depending how many batteries you could carry and that the speed would only be about 50 miles per hour, but that is all you would need for an "around town" car. He wanted to put the electric motor in my MG. He said that it was the perfect car for an electric engine, small, with a large area in the rear that could be converted into a battery compartment. The fast back design of the car would accomodate the solar cells on top. I did not know anything about solar and I thought to myself - what if this guy is a lunatic? At that time, my MG was in great condition (not like this last year photo when it is old and being hauled away) I was afraid to take a chance on messing up a perfectly good car. Besides, it was a four cylinder and got good mileage. I really did not believe that we would ever run out of oil. I never thought I would be spending $70. to fill up my now eight cylinder Durango. Over the weekend, I was watching the science channel on television. They showed how easy it was if you had all the parts to take out a gasoline engine and replace it with an electric solar powered engine. Had I only known in 1985 what I know now! Live & learn I guess!


jellyhead said...

That is an AMAZING story Tuff!

Of course you weren't game to have your lovely new car pulled apart - who would have been? But isn't it strange to realise that the man was a real visionary.

Have a wonderful weekend :)

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

That's an amazing story. I wonder just how easy it is to install an electric engine in your car. I'm about ready to cut myself off of this gas guzzeling world.