Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In and out of the dark side of motorcycling...

This was an incident that occurred a month before the Tadiyandamol trip. I had decided on not writing this post but then this blog was an initiative to let the world know of the moments that have made my life more meaningful. So a thought of not hiding anything has made me write it today!

This was the first big accident I have had in an automobile. It was Friday, the 13th of March, 2009, on my way to office. Let me admit I have always been a quick rider on city streets and I enjoy paying attention to the road, traffic, the rules and the clock. I had accelerated my motorcycle to about 50kmph from front after having passed the traffic congestion at Garudacharpalya on the Mahadevpura Main Road. As a brief introduction of the road, it is about 10km long starting from KR Puram all the way upto Hope-farm. It is busy at all times of the day and traffic includes pedestrians and two-wheelers to multi-axle trucks. There are over two-thousand industries around the road. Almost at the other end is the International Tech Park, where I work.

So as I rode my bike next to the median, I saw these two men, one of them about five feet ten inches tall and about an eighty whole kilos waiting for me to pass, to cross the road. And as if there was no escape from inevitability, the big fat man tried to hurry himself across the road and ended up planting himself right in front of the speeding front wheel of my motorcycle four feet from it. It was too quick for me to do anything. I bent left and braked very hard, and hit the man with the crash guard, the mirror and the front brake lever. The handle bar veered right and in a fraction of a second after two somersaults, I was sliding on my left hand on the asphalt across the road at probably the same speed I hit him. There were no vehicles behind me thankfully as I swam across. I continued till my left shoulder hit the footpath when I was launched into air and after a brief flight of 6 feet, dived helmet-first into a 3 feet deep trench built with stone. Soon I found myself stand on both feet with a calm head and multiple parts hurting to death. The calmness ended soon. The police came running shouting “Is he dead, Is he dead”. The nearby public who had by then rushed to help me out, shouted back, “He’s alive and moving”. That made me realize how bad I had just crashed! All the calmness I had in my head had turned into a scare. And in a second I began to guess what could have my bike been through! The people who had lifted me out of the trench by now put me to a side and didn’t let me walk! I began to examine my wounds and slowly got up to walk towards my motorcycle.

My shin was injured deeply and shoulders, left forearms and the left foot were bleeding profusely. This bothered me till I saw my bike. The tank had dent below the logo. The mirror and the front fender were broken, the headlight assembly and the front cowl were scratched to the max. The fork had developed a bend. I felt my gut ache. I went to the man I had just hit. Miraculously he had escaped with minor wounds! His head and hand were minorly hurt and bleeding. We then discovered the man was drunk to the brim and that drove his silly move to come in front of a speeding bike.

Two people came with me to a hospital to get me a first aid which included metres of dressing and a shot of Tetvac. The police stayed with me all the way asking me to file a case against that guy, who was a lorry driver and had allegedly parked his lorry right under a No-Parking sign! I didn’t want to file any cases against anybody for I had my own worries to bother. After a discussion with the local police, I wanted an FIR to help me with the insurance claims for my bike. I was asked to go to the police station for this and the KR Puram traffic-police inspector was indeed a gentleman. He soon issued the FIR with a word of caution. I rode to office later with the muddy clothes on my broken bike. My boss was surprised to see me make it to office and I had to do that not to face my mother back home! This had been the worst crash ever!

In the coming days, I got the bike restored with genuine Honda parts at Mr. Ahmed’s garage in Yesvantpur. The total bill came to eleven grand and the insurance company helped me with 75% of the costs.

The truth is I can’t be lazy on road, I lose concentration. And the ones like me can’t survive for long with law breakers driving amidst us. And these law-breaking demons continue to ruin lives as long as there are a few policemen who, for some loose change are ready to drink dog piss, let them live their way. Yes this is the ruined state of our beloved city.

However, there is something I can do as a true to heart biker.. Quit riding amongst idiots!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Indians and the T-20

It is in a way good the Indian team did not reach the semifinals. The crazy amounts of undeserved money that would've gone as awards to them by their respective state governments is saved! Thankfully!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The anti-roll bar...

What keeps you from toppling when you take a curve at over 60 kilometers an hour in your hyperactive hatchback sporting the world’s best independent suspensions ???

The answer is the stabiliser bar aka anti-roll bar aka sway-bar aka anti-sway-bar (courtesy Wikipedia). You would find this when you bend down the front of your car and feel your hand behind the plastic bumpers. This is an inch fat bar in the form of ‘U’ connecting both front or/and both rear wheels.

This of course is not put to keep the wheels from running away.

Imagine what happens to you during a tight right turn in a car. You would be thrown to your left. The same thing happens to all parts of the car. The body, the engine, the chassis and the tyres. Why do modern cars have an independent front suspension? The answer is to have a comfortable ride and not letting everyone in the car know of the bump you just drove the right front wheel of your car on. Now during a turn, the independent suspensions would be free to act independently and that could be particularly dangerous in a curve. When you turn hard, the suspensions on the wheel to the outside of the curve (left ones during a right turn) collapse and the ones to the inside stretch. This stresses the outer wheels heavily making the steering behave more maniacal and can cause the inner ones to leave the ground. And when done harshly, it may result in a car topple!

So what does the bar do?

The antiroll bar is connected in such a way that the base of the ‘U’ is clamped to the body to behave like a pivot and the limbs are connected to the control arms (lower portions of the steering knuckle) on both wheels. The result now during a turn would be, when the outer suspension collapses, it drags one of the limbs of the ‘U’ with it and the other stretching suspension drags the second limb in an opposite direction. It is something like twisting the base of the ‘U’ with a crowbar between the limbs. The antiroll bar is made with tempered spring steel to resist this twist and return back to its normal position and to continuously do so over three million times. The result now is that there is some resistance provided to the suspensions to behave independently during a turn and prevents the car from rolling too much.

How is it made…

The grade is spring steel with the thickness of approximately an inch for a small car. The bars are cut to required lengths and the ends are forged or turned and threaded to fasten to the control arms. This bar with the ends prepared, is now fed into a Radiant Tube type LPG furnace. This is a simple furnace controlled by temperature controllers which regulate the air supply valve and hence the fuel supply to the furnace constantly maintaining 950 degrees Celcius. At the heart of the furnace is a burner where LPG mixes with air and fires up. The rod is heated here for approximately twenty minutes. It then comes out like a glowing orange fluorescent tubelight, onto a module. A module is a set of fixtures that bend the bar to the shape you want powered by a hydraulic power pack. The hydraulic cylinders on all fixtures on the module have pre-programmed working lengths which at the end of the working cycle would have formed the bar in the shape you want resembling a ‘U’. The bar now at about a nine hundred degrees and still glowing is quenched in a seven thousand litre oil sump at room temperature for five minutes. The bar would be brittle when it comes out. It then is passed on the LPG fired conveyorised mesh furnace for ninety minutes, where LPG is burned to continuously heat the bar to 450 degrees throughout the time. It then is allowed to cool to room temperature by when the bar would have accumulated all properties of a spring by aligning the grain structures in the way metallurgists wanted it. The bar is now stored for a while before being led to shot peening in a Hanger Type Shot Peening machine. Shot peening is an operation where metal balls, millions of them, (approximately 0.9mm dia) are shot at very high velocity on the bar continuously for about half an hour. This continuously rams the surface to make it tough and eliminate all surface cracks. This also prevents surface cracks from occurring when the twisting happens on the bar in the car. The absence surface cracks can be seen through a magnaflux gauge. Here the whole bar is magnetized and when you spray oil filled with ferro particles, they settle all over the bar and concentrates on surface cracks. When seen through ultra-violet light, the crack reflects as a fluorescent yellow line. As long as you don’t find one, you can continue to be happy.

The stabiliser bar is now ready to function. The next process on the line is zinc phosphating and powder coating to provide an aesthetic appearance and prevent rust. Two aluminium rings are crimped on the base of the ‘U’ to act as stoppers for fitment on the car. This ready bar is inspected for surface finish and bound in bubble wrap before sending it to the carmakers with a fat bill.