Wednesday 5 April 2017

No Sense Of Smell

Forty odd years ago in a job that required a car to use as well as for family reasons, when in the office between cups of tea blokes would talk about cars. Jack, now long gone, something of a motor head, was keen on diesel cars and their cost saving at the time. With my mileage, he had a case.

But they did not have the acceleration and other advantages of the petrol cars, notably the versions with the bigger engines. As my mileage involved a lot of motorway runs I wanted that and the speed to stick out in the fast lane. It cost more, but for me it was worth it.

Another reason, again to do with long journeys was that although diesel gave fewer fills of the tank, some parts of the land were scarce in petrol stations with diesel pumps. Last but not least was the smell. When Jack came into the office there was always a distinctive whiff of diesel, so we all knew when he had been fingering through our papers.

In those innocent days, the environment, climate change and fumes were far from our thoughts. But many still did not like the stink of the crude diesel at the time. With trucks and buses, being behind one for any time could mean a long slow coughing journey.

When scientists said petrol was ruining the planet we believed them, the petrol stink was convincing enough. Quite why the politicians and governments lurched towards diesel is one of those mysteries difficult to fathom. It simply did not make sense.

Inevitably, now, we are told that diesel is bad as well. It was little surprise. Veterans of the age of coal knew that whether the coal or coke was used on open fires, stoves, boilers or what then what came out of the chimney was not nice, especially in a cold day with no wind.

Then there are the uses of petrol-chemicals in quantity that no politician wants to talk about. Let us just say the population is now eating them, drinking them and plastering them all over the body. And they have their own pungent smells as well.

Of course, we could try to go organic. When, I wonder, will the car makers mass produce a wood burning motor car?


  1. When Jack came into the office there was always a distinctive whiff of diesel, so we all knew when he had been fingering through our papers.

    Love it.

  2. I remember when we first moved to what had been a mining town a few decades ago. At first I wondered about a faint sulphurous tang in the air before realising it came from all the coal fires still in use.

  3. Try spending a day tuning diesel engines on a rolling road, then blow your nose. Revolting.... but I still drive a diesel car.

    If you want environmentally friendly, go with hydrogen. Burns to water vapour, and can be created in sunny countries by solar energy.

    There are issues with storing the smallest molecule, though.

  4. That pictured Methane powered Volvo harks back to the mid 20th Century. During the 1930's depression and WWII, US and Canadian farmers jury rigged digesters to power their trucks. Devon farmer Harold Bate 'rediscovered' the technology during the 1971 fuel crisis. Old tech and bulky, but it works. God knows what the emissions are like.