When I was younger: Gunyidi Pool

When I was younger my sister used to talk about how all of her gang would go down to Gunyidi Pool for something to do now and then. Gunyidi Pool is east of the Gunyidi railway whistle stop along—but not actually on—the Midlands Road between Watheroo and Coorow (in Western Australia).

In her day, based on what I have gleaned here and there, this was a fresh water pool with a white sandy beach. So it was like a mini-beach in the middle of the bush about six kilometres east of the Gunyidi whistle stop. Also, back then, there was some kind of jumping-off platform built in the middle of the pool.

By all reports Gunyidi Pool was not that big and not that deep.

About seven years ago (June, 2007) on a trip back to my home town with my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, and our son we decided to try and find this Gunyidi Pool from earlier days. Sort of just to prove its existence really, and to see what it looked like now.

From checking into it on the Web I already knew that some 50 years on from when my sister used to go there it now rarely, if ever, has water in it. But even so I thought it would be interesting to see.

Well, back then in 2007, we found Gunyidi Pool; or at least where the pool used to be.

As you make the right hand turn off into Gunyidi Pool you are driving through low typical WA sand plain scrub. Then as you approach where the pool is/was you suddenly, unexpectedly, encounter tall trees. There are large eucalypts that I know as River Gums and there are also some kind of conifers as well, although many of the conifers are looking like they are not doing very well and a number of them have died and fallen over.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 01-Small

[Clicking any picture will open hi-res version from Abalook’s SmugMug]

In the picture above you can see the white ‘beach sand’ in the centre where the pool was. There are two people in that picture as well. Can you spot them?

The following shot shows one of the dead conifers laying on the ground to the right of the car.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 02-Small

On the horizon you can see what the normal bushy scrub in the area looks like. So these large trees here are an anomaly. Whether they are self seeded and grew because of the fresh water or whether someone planted them around the pool 50 or 60 years ago I cannot be sure. Possibly the same person/people who built the diving platform in the middle of the lake.

The next picture gives a better idea of the size of the fallen tree.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 03-Small

The tip of the fallen tree extends to the right of the picture, but someone has used a chain saw to cut through the tree to allow vehicles to get past it. Again, off to the right you can see the normal bush scrub for this area. Scrub little more than double car height.

You can also see dead and dying trees that are up the side of the ‘beach’ and are too far away from whatever subterranean fresh water is still available here.

This last picture is from the east side of the pool and shows a couple things.

Gunyidi Pool yr2007 04-Small

The first thing I noticed here is that the sand starts off as a creamy kind of colour and then turns white the closer you get to where the pool was (to the right hand side of the picture). The conifers on this side of where the pool was are healthier and there are even younger lush green conifers growing in the white sand on this side.

Sadly I don’t have any pictures of it but in the middle of the pool we did find evidence of the platform that my sister told me about. There are rotted stumps of posts and some rotted planks with a piece of corrugated custom orb nailed to them.

I suspect that this pool was fresh water and that it was feed by a spring rather than run off but I can’t find anything on the Web to confirm this.

Well I hope someone finds this interesting. One day, gods willing, I might get back there and see what toll nature has taken over the last seven or so years.

Note that all pictures link to a full resolution 1,600 pixel wide version in SmugMug.


Cats still hear as they sleep almost as if they were awake

Whereas a dog’s sense of smell is almost fully functional while they sleep, a cat’s hearing is working almost at full functionality while they sleep; especially for higher frequency sounds. Cat’s also have the ability, as far we know (without being able to actually ask them), to filter sounds they don’t care about. Sounds like the dishwasher going or people talking.

But if something gets through the filter they are awake in an instant. Once they determine that nothing is amiss they go back to sleep within seconds. Don’t you wish you could do that?

While they are sleeping they rely almost totally on their hearing to keep them alive should something go wrong in the ‘outside’ world, and their ability to go from sleep to instant action.

Here is a shot of Sansa sleeping. Notice the ears turned forward to pick up the slightest unexpected sounds as she sleeps.


Apparently they can also detect movement on their whiskers while asleep but I have touched Sansa’s whiskers when she is sleeping and nothing happened. Maybe her whisker sensing mechanism is faulty.

Sadly for us humans our sense of smell almost totally shuts down while we sleep and our hearing drops to about 20 percent; even less in deep sleep.


Cluster of Golden Orb spiders: Finally after four years!!

I think I am coming to the conclusion that I am really bad at doing things I want to do.

For four years I have been driving past this sign post just out of Waroona on the right hand side (going towards Bunbury) of the road where there is the large colony of spiders—which I think are Golden Orb spiders. These spiders have been there for the four years I have been going back and forth on that road. During that time they have weathered a couple of severe storms but have rebuilt.

For four years I have been telling myself “one day I am going to actually stop and take some pictures of that” but I have never managed to execute that promise.

Well last week I had to come back from site mid-week to bring my son back (he was heavy with this ‘super’ flu that is going around Perth at the moment) and we actually stopped to photograph this colony of spiders. Technically we overshot it and then we decided to do a U-turn and go back.

Now I will be the first to say there is not much that is artistic about these pictures but, even so, I decided to post them up.

The entire colony is suspended between the road sign and the adjoining fence. Each of the pictures below is only showing a small part of the complete web fabric. I would estimate that there would have been about 50 spiders in the web complex.


The web seems to be constructed between the sign post and the fence in vertical layers. The following picture was taken to try and show these layers. The webs go from the road sign in the foreground to the fence. This would be a distance of about three metres.

Going from left to right, notice how the webs seem to be in vertical layers. So before the post of the road sign there are two clearly defined vertical layers, and you can pick out these layers again coming from the right of the picture.


The following picture is of another part of the colony taken from closer to the fence and looking up. I am trying to give a better idea of how many spiders are sharing this location but it is really tricking to photograph due to the backgrounds.


Finally, following is a close-up of one of the spiders. I understand that the ‘large’ spiders are the females and the much smaller ones—about a quarter down to an eighth of the size—are the males. In the picture below I am assuming that the much smaller spider you can see in the top third slightly off centre to the right is the male.


These pictures were taken with my new K-3, and just to show off a bit, the picture above has been cropped out of the following picture. How amazing is that resolution and detail retention. You can see the hairs on her legs and she has been cropped out of section that is about 1/20th of the frame (as a rough estimate).


I could be wrong about these being golden orb spiders but it is about the closest match I could find on the Internet. If I am wrong then I would like to know what spiders these are so please leave a comment and let me know.

According to Wikipedia the golden orb spider’s venom is not toxic to humans but the bite site is likely to leave a lasting scar. In some people the venom may cause an allergic reaction including muscle cramps.

They look fierce and I certainly don’t fancy be bitten by one.


Ended up buying a 2014 Forester XT: Part 4 (b)

Six months later—Top 5 things I like

Back on the 5th of January I posted part (a) of this series “Six months later—Top 5 things I like” about the 2014 4th generation Forester. In part (a) I covered the CVT transmission and the cabin quietness. If you want to check out part (a) you will find it here.

So here I am, one day short of a perfect month, posting part (b). In this part I am going to cover the the third of Top 5 things I like.

(3) Low centre of gravity—equals great handling

Something that has set every Forester apart from all other SUVs since Subaru brought out their first SUV in 1997 (released in Australia in 1998) is the very low centre of gravity. This low centre of gravity has provided the Forester with enviable sedan-like handling in an SUV format vehicle.

I can clearly remember back then test driving the Toyota RAV4 and then the Subaru Forester. I had basically made up my mind to buy a Rav4. I loved the look of the RAV4. I had even gone to the expense of renting one for a long weekend and driving it around. I thought it was great. I wanted one. Then I test drove the Forester. Somewhere I have pictures of a much younger SCN and her sister in the back of the hired RAV4.

It was like chalk and cheese. For an experienced driver the Forester was amazing on the road. It made the RAV4 back in 1998 feel like a tank. It has almost none of the body role the RAV4 had. It cornered so much better. It flattened out bumpy roads like a sedan. As a bonus the Forester had better ground clearance and the basic model was AWD (All Wheel Drive)! And back then the Forester was, model for model, cheaper than the RAV4.

As much as I had set my mind on a RAV4, it only took one drive of the Forester to change my mind.

With the Generation 4 CVT automatic 2014 Forester the engineers at Subaru have managed to drop the centre of gravity almost 4” lower than it is is the 2007 Gen3 model, and almost an inch lower than the 2005/Gen2 automatic Forester—which is considered by many to be the best model Forester every produced.

How can they do this?

This incredible engineering feat in a car that is some 3” taller than the Gen2 unit is almost all down to the boxer engine. The boxer engine in not called a ‘flat’ four for nothing. It is flat! Unlike the engines in all other SUVs which are are upright. The engine is by far the heaviest component of any SUV and if the engine has a high centre of gravity then that is going to raise the centre of gravity of the overall car. Has to. So the 4s and 6s and V6s in all the other SUVs are upright with a corresponding much higher centre of gravity.

Also the ‘automatic’ Forester has the CVT. The CVT is smaller and lower sitting than a normal automatic transmission. To a much lesser degree the CVT transmission assists in keeping the centre of gravity low.

No other SUV on the market in Australia under $55,000 can match the relative low centre of gravity of the Forester that makes it a superb open road sedan-like touring car as well as an amazingly capable semi-off road unit.

The downside with the Gen4 Forester is that it has kind of got a little expensive here in Australia. However, for my American readers, the Forester is about half price over there (compared to what we pay here).

In part (c) I plan to cover the last two items in my “Top 5 things I like” about the Gen4 Forester.


Titbit: 2014 Forester wins RACWA’s Best SUV Under $45,000

Subaru008-RACWA-BestOn page 35 of the latest Horizons magazine from RACWA they have awarded the non-turbo 2.5 Forester “Best SUV Under $45,000”.

Note that this is the non-turbo 2.5i Forester.

As my readers will know the turbo 2.0 litre version of this car is a much better unit for folk who like the ‘drive’ feel of their cars. Apart from the 2.0 litre XT turbo version having better performance from the dual-scroll turbo it has: the firmer and flatter ‘sports’ suspension; as well as the high-torque version of the award winning CVT transmission.

Even so, all models of the 2014 Forster have better suspension feel and ride than the Gen 3/2007 series Foresters. So if you test drove a Gen 3 before the Gen 4 came out (early last year) then you really cannot judge how much better the Gen 4 is on the road.

I have done a number of postings at this site about the Gen 4 Forester. There are postings leading up to my final decision to buy one, then following that there are a number of postings after I bought it. And I am likely to do a few more as I confirm the good points and probably, at the end, complain about some of the bad points.

SubaruSearchMySiteIf you want to check the previous postings then probably the best way to find them is to put subaru and gen4 in the site search (as shown at right).


Ended up buying a 2014 Forester XT: Part 4 (a)

Six months later—Top 5 things I like

More or less six months ago I bought the new 2014 Gen 4 Forester XT 2.0 Turbo. We have managed to put 8,500 kilometres on the clock at this stage so we are probably not going to hit 22,000 kilometres which is apparently the annual average ‘mileage’ per car in Australia. The main reason for the low mileage (somehow kilometreage just does not sound right) is that I am still taking my old 2005 XT Subaru back of forth to work—to save some wear and tear on the new car.

At this stage I though I might do a posting about the Top 5 things that I like about the Gen 4 XT Forester. Maybe some time later I will do a posting about the Top 5 things I don’t like.

Because I tend to write too many words this first posting actually only has the Top 2 from my Top 5. I plan to do the other three items in Part 4 (b) in a later posting.

(1) The CVT Transmission

When I was looking into the 2014 Forester there was a lot of negative chatter going on around the forums about CVT transmissions and that Subaru had made a big mistake going for a CVT. And as CVTs (apparently) are not good in high-torque high-power applications there was a strong view on some sites that Subaru had made an even bigger mistake putting a CVT into the turbo model.

Admittedly after six months and only 8,500 kilometres it is still early days, but I am finding the CVT amazing. Better than I ever imagined. It may just be that Subaru have managed to get it right, or it could be that a few days after posting this something horrid is going to happen with the CVT or the complex electronics that make it work so well.

One of the general gripes people seem to have about CVTs is that the virtual gear changes are laggy and soft. I certainly have not found this with my XT. The virtual gear changes (virtual because, really, there are no actual gears) are very quick. Quicker than the changes in my 2005 XT auto. Also the changes do not feel ‘soft’. This could be because the Subaru CVT has no torque converter involved (except at very low roll-speeds, under about 3 kph).

Also, unlike the auto in my 2005 unit, the CVT in the Gen 4 Forester never seems to ‘hunt’ when kicking down. Every down-shift change is quick and decisive. With the CVT I have never experienced that one or two second pause—common in the 2005 Forester—where the gearbox is working out where to downshift to.

I think the three CVT gearbox modes that Subaru implemented (only available in the Turbo models) are sheer genius. The [I] mode for totally automatic driving. A bit like Green-mode on a DSLR, or as some call it, wife-mode.

Then there is [S] mode, which is the ‘standard Sport’ mode in the manual. But as someone has pointed out on the Subaru Owners forum, this should be called Towing Mode.

In [S] or Sport mode there are six virtual gears and the engine is programmed to rev higher before changing up to the next gear—which is what you need for towing.

I have found that Sport mode is by far the least economical mode, but you would expect this in a mode designed to work best when towing something. Most likely when you are towing something this mode then becomes the most economical on fuel—if you can understand what I am getting at here (because of the higher revs it will then be able to tow in a higher gear).

Finally, my favourite mode is [S#] or Enhanced Sport mode. In this mode you get 8 virtual gears, the turbo starts to spool about 500 rpm earlier, the accelerator is quicker, and the gearbox is smarter. Smarter in that the engine-assist braking works MUCH better than it does in [I] or [S] mode.

Going down Kalamunda hill, which is a reasonably steep decent lasting about two kilometres (but I have not actually measured it) the engine-assist braking works perfectly. At the first good application of the brakes the gearbox goes from 8th to 6th, and with more braking goes to 5th. If you are not happy with the downshift timing or selections then you can always tap the left paddle and do you own downshifts. And as there is no torque converter you get very useful engine braking. Then as soon as you start to level out and you gently apply some accelerator the gearbox automatically trips back into non-engine-braking mode (i.e., back into normal auto mode). Very clever. But this only works well in the Enhance Sport mode.

I should point out that all of the above relates to the turbo model which has the high-torque CVT fitted. The non-turbo model do not have the high-torque CVT.

(2) Cabin quietness

This may seem like a somewhat trivial point, but for anyone coming from a 2005 model Forester you will know what I mean. The 2005 model has huge cabin noise that is a combination of high road noise and really bad wind noise.

There are three types of bitumen metal black top open roads (i.e., highways) in Western Australia: noisy, very noisy, and deafening. It seems most places I have to drive to via a highway has either the very noisy or deafening bitumen metal black top. As you drive along you can easily pick it when you change from very noisy to deafening and back again.

In relative terms, compared to the 2005 Forester, driving on these highways at 110 kph (about 65 mph for my American readers) the 2014 XT Forester is silent. This is so good after driving so many kilometres in my 2005 unit and wondering how much damage I am doing to my ears (seriously, I actually do think about that).

So for me the relative quietness of the cabin in the 2014 Forester is a big point.

Watch for Part 4(b) where I will cover 3, 4, and 5 from my Top 5 thing I like about the new Gen 4 XT Forester.


I (sort of) went along to the 2013 Wandering Fair

Sometime before the weekend—probably about Wednesday evening—I was chatting to a friend on the phone and he told me he was going to tootle along to the Wandering Fair on the weekend. At the time this sounded like something I might like to do and I had nothing else happening on the weekend. Generally I have nothing happening on any given weekend.

When I mentioned my weekend plans to workmates who did not know who or what ‘Wandering’ was or is they suggested it might be hard going to a Wandering Fair. Like, how do you know where it is, if it is Wandering? However it is not that hard. Wandering is a small little country town SSE of Perth. It would be about a one hour drive from Armadale down the Albany Highway; and it is a long time since I have taken a tour down Albany Highway.

At one stage, at least 10 years ago, I was even toying with the idea of buying a five or ten acre block of ‘semi-rural’ land just south of Wandering.

Anyway, for the weekend, the basic plan between my friend and I was that we would somehow meet up at the Wandering Fair, which, at the time, I though would be easy. This was based on the assumption there would be about 50 people at the Wandering Fair.

So I arrived in Wandering around 11:15 a.m. on the Saturday after a really nice drive down the Albany Highway. A bit later than the planned 10:00 a.m. but not too late really.

The place was packed!

There were cars parked up and down all the nearby roads. In the end after driving around for about ten minutes—dodging all the people walking in the middle of the road who were totally oblivious to three or four cars trying to make progress down the road—I found a spot to park that was not too far away but still involved a pretty solid 400 meter walk. I went down to what looked like the main entrance and hung around there for about 15 minutes trying to spot my friend in amongst what looked like about 10,000 people. Okay. Not quite 10,000. But at least a 1,000 or so. Anyway a lot more than 50.

I should point out at this stage that my friend is mobile phone averse. By this I mean that he, and none of his family, are mobile phone enabled (i.e., ‘smartphone’ enabled for my American readers). So for those of you that are thinking at about this stage “Why didn’t he just call them on the mobile and meet up”, this was not an option that I had.

So my Plan B at this point was to find his car. This would (a) confirm he was in fact there, and (b) maybe I could leave a note on the car or something. After checking out all the roads I finally found his car backed up onto the verge on an corner near a pathway. As it was now about 12:30 I decided I would park nearby, thinking that by now he might be considering coming back to the car.

I stayed parked nearby for about an hour. But he didn’t show up.

To cut a long story short, at about this time I decided to head for home. But it wasn’t a complete failure. I got to see some nice scenery I have not seen for a long time.


Ended up buying a new 2014 Forester: Part 3

Loving the CVT

Back when I was reading everything I could about the new 2014 Forester one of the consistently negative threads was about the CVT transmission. For some reason there were a lot of posts putting down CVT transmissions and claiming Subaru had made a mistake putting a CVT into the Forester.

Now I have had my new Forester just over a month. I have put over 4,500kilometres on the odometer in that time. I have done five trips down to my work and back, which is a about a 700 kilometre round trip when you include the daily trips from my motel accommodation to work and back.

In these 4,500 kilometres I have tried just about every variation possible using the CVT in the XT Forester that does not involve towing something—but I did get a towbar fitted.

The first thing I should say is that the CVT in the XT Forester is not the same as the CVT in the non-XT models. The CVT in the XT models is the high-torque variation which is not available as standard or as an upgrade option on the non-XT models. Additionally the CVT in the XT models has the ‘enhanced Sports’ mode (or Sports Sharp mode as it is sometimes referred to).

The above is one of the key reasons I paid the extra cash and went for the XT model. Another reason is the much improved tighter suspension in the XT model.

At this stage I am loving the CVT transmission. It is an engineering marvel.

Anyone who buys a 2014 Forester XT and just pulls the transmission down into “D” and forgets about it is missing out on a heap of driving fun. By putting the transmission into “D” and ignoring all the other options possible you are just driving around in full CVT mode, or what Subaru call “I” mode.

Please, if you own an XT model, don’t do this. Following I will try to outline some reasons why. When reading the following remember that, unlike a typical automatic transmission, the CVT in the Forester does not have a torque converter. At speeds above about 3 kph the automatic clutch remains disengaged and the engine is through to the wheels.

Gear Selection Indicator: In enhanced Sport mode the centre console shows you the virtual gear that the CVT control computer has selected. So as you start to go up an incline, or if you depress the accelerator for more power, you see the gears drop below 8th down to 7th or 6th, or even 5th.

I like seeing what gear the car has selected. I like to know what the gearbox is doing. None of the other gearbox modes shows you at all time what the gearbox is doing.

Engine Breaking: With the CVT set in enhanced Sport mode you get intelligent engine assisted breaking when you apply the breaks harder. So if you are coming up to a corner and break a little aggressively the engine management system and the CVT control computer will recognise this and the CVT will downshift to assist you breaking. This is very effective. It works very well.

I have found this also works when you are descending a hill. If you start to break harder the CVT will downshift more quickly—although, as I point out later, I am often the one doing the downshifting before the CVT control computer decides to.

Significantly More ‘Power’: In enhanced Sport mode the Forester has significantly better performance. This is not only because the CVT control computer picks lower gears more quickly when they are needed, but also the engine management system ensures faster engine response when required.

This is especially useful for me. I live in the hills to the east of Perth and the new Forester is never found struggling as it climbs effortlessly up the hills. It pulls up the hills with ease and with plenty in reserve.

Having more performance also makes overtaking so much safer. The longer you take to overtake slow moving traffic then them more likely you are to get a stone or other road rubbish thrown at your windscreen (by the vehicle you are trying to overtake), or something fall of the vehicle and hit yours (especially when overtaking trucks), and the more likely it is that oncoming traffic will become an issue.

‘Temporary’ Manual Changes: The engine breaking in the XT Forester is great. Because there is no torque converter (there is an automatic clutch at very low speeds) it works very well. I find that I am using it all the time. I use the left hand column paddle to ‘tap’ the gearbox down as I approach round-a-bouts, town speed limits, corners, or go down hills, etc.

Double-tapping causes the CVT to drop two gears.

If the car is not in forced manual mode (“M”) then, as soon as the engine management system realises that the breaking is over and engine breaking is no longer required, then it slips the CVT back into ‘automatic’ mode and starts changing up again—all by itself. This works exactly how you would want it to. It is very well done and almost perfectly calibrated.

Gear Change Speed: The speed at which the CVT in the XT Forester changes gears is amazing. I realise that the gears are virtual and the all that happens is the CVT computer control simply changes the gap on the variable “V” pullies in the transmission, but even so gear changes happen very quickly—practically instantaneously.

If you double-tap the downshift paddle the double-downshift happens in less than a second. Probably in about half a second. You go from 7th to 5th in the blink of an eye and you feel the engine breaking effect immediately.

Very impressive.

Admittedly I have never driven an Audi and I understand the downshift speed in the DSG (dual clutch or ‘direct shift’) automatics in Audi and Volkswagen cars (where fitted) is just as impressive.

Economy: Now here is the most amazing thing I have found out about enhanced Sport mode. For the driving I do, going back and forth to my work about 200 kilometres away on highways and freeways with a small amount of country town driving plus some serious and long hills driving when I get back home, the economy in “I” mode is the same as it is in enhanced Sport (“S#”) mode!! It hovers around 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres.

For those in Australia that still prefer mpg (miles per gallon) then that is 32.5 mpg. Or for my American readers that would be around 27 mpg (because you only have 3.78 litres in your gallons and we have 4.536 litres in our gallons).

So for me there is no fuel economy penalty for driving in enhanced Sport mode.

A point I will make here is that normal Sports mode (“S”) uses more petrol than enhanced Sport mode and I have worked out why. For whatever reason the engine revs higher in “S” mode in almost all cases. At 100 kph on the open road the engine does 1,800 rpm in “I” and it does the same in enhanced Sport (“S#”) mode, but in “S” or normal Sport mode it does 2,000 rpm.


Wood Type and typography: Hamilton Wood Type Museum

About two weekends ago I accidently came across a show on television about wood type and, mainly, the Hamilton wood type museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, USA.


I think I might have mentioned this before way back in my postings somewhere but I am sort of into type, fonts, and typography. Back in the early 90s I went to a half-day training event held by Adobe themselves in Sydney. I was in Sydney attending a Microsoft three day TechEd event at Darling Harbour and went the day earlier in order to go to the Adobe event. Out of the something like 1,500 people who were at TechEd that year there were only 22 of us at the Adobe session. I don’t think there were many other people wanting to pay (I think it was around $395) to go and learn about fonts.

The point being that font usage and page layout is something that interested me then and still does today.

But even with this interest in typography and the couple of books I have on the subject I had never before come across wood type—and I am not sure if that should be written woodtype (which Microsoft’s spell checker does not like), or as the two words “wood type”. I am going to go with “wood type”.

I have to say that I found this one hour show on wood type and the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Two Rivers riveting. While the craft of cutting the wood type is now almost lost and gone there were still two or three (now very old) type cutters featured in the show. As old as they were they were still able to cut amazingly perfect letter type.

Seriously, can you image the precision needed to cut the letters from wood for the following letterpress print below?


The letter blocks have to be all exactly the same height so that when the pages run over the inked letters in the letterpress block they all apply perfectly to the paper sheet. And look at that top font used in “7 Dancer Exodus Heading for Alaska”. It has a relief cutting around the edge of every letter!

The TV show was a bit sad in parts and actually brought tears to my eyes when they talked about the millions of wood type letters that have been dumped or burnt since metal letterpress took over and then, more recently, since computer-based page layout and printing took over from that.

According to Wikipedia the Hamilton Wood Type museum was established in 2000 and they have ‘saved’ and estimated 1.5 million pieces of wood type and continue to seek wood type from around America.

The Hamilton museum is a working museum and interested groups can make arrangements to use the equipment and wood type to product wood type ‘art’.


There are not too many places in the world I would bother to take the trouble to go and see but along with Seattle (where much of the TV series Twin Peaks was filmed) I have now added the Hamilton Wood Type museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

All pictures link to the Hamilton Wood Type museum Web page.


Ended up buying a new 2014 Forester XT: Part 2

My findings on the fuel economy

I have had my new 2.0 litre 2014 Forester XT almost two whole weeks now. I have filled up with fuel three times. On average I am getting 8.73 litres to the 100 kilometres. For my American readers, for whom there are about 3.5 litres in a gallon, this works out to 24 mpg. For any Australian readers who would like to see the answer in gallons then this works out to around 31 mpg (because we have 4.5 litres in our gallons).

With a 60 litre fuel tank 8.73 litres to the 100 kilometres gives me a range of about 630 kilometres (394 miles) on a full tank of fuel—allowing for 5 litres to be left in the tank.

I should point out that I live in the outer suburbs of Perth and I work in the country. Hence I do zero stop-start city driving. In fact, I don’t do any city driving at all. Also, with the car this new I am not doing any ‘sports’ driving. I am taking it pretty easy.

My previous 2.5 litre turbo 2005/MY06 Forester got a very consistent 10 litres to the 100 kilometres which gave me a touring range of around 550 kilometres (344 miles) on a full tank.

I am getting more and more used to the CVT transmission. It does take a little while.

The idea of just getting the engine to a certain speed and then the car gradually gets faster and faster without the engine speed (i.e., rpm) changing is a bit different. This feels a trifle odd at first. So, for example,  you just put the engine at 2,000 rpm and then because of the CVT the car gets smoothly and quickly faster and faster as the CVT slides up. Then you have to drop the rpm or you will be speeding.

Smooth and fast. Surprisingly fast. Even for someone used to a 2.5 litre turbo in a slightly lighter model.

On the open road at 100 kph (which is about 60 mph) the on-board computer will report that the car is getting fuel economy in the zone of 7.6 to 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres, which is pretty amazing for a medium size AWD SUV. This is with the transmission in “I” mode, which is the full CVT mode and, according to the manual, the most fuel efficient mode.

Flick the transmission mode to “S” (Sports) mode and the on-board computer will quickly drop to 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres. This happens because in  Sports mode (S) the engine and CVT tuning changes. While the Forester will do 100 kph at 1,750 rpm in “I” mode, this changes to 2,000 rpm at 100 kph in “S” mode. Obviously this increase in rpm for the same speed has an immediate impact on the fuel economy.

The Forester manual recommends selecting “S” mode when towing.

Interestingly the rpms drop back to 1,750 at 100 kph if you select enhanced Sport mode (i.e., S# mode). However in enhanced Sport mode the transmission is very quick to select lower ratios and holds lower ratios longer. Even the slightest touch on the gas peddle will cause the transmission to drop both overdrive ratios (7th and 8th) and fall back to 6th (there are 8 gears in S# mode). A tiny bit more pressure and the transmission goes to 5th.

So you quickly get the idea and realise why using S# mode is not going to be a good idea if you are going for good fuel economy. But if you are after the feel of a much quick and more responsive car then S# mode achieves this.

Getting the transmission to select 8th gear when driving in S# (enhanced Sport mode) is  a challenge. Even on a 80 kph flat country road with minimal throttle—just enough to maintain the 80 kph—the transmission does not get past 7th (1st overdrive ratio). This is because in enhanced Sport mode (S#) the engine management system is programmed to maintain engine revs in case quick acceleration is desired.

All very interesting.