Birdies and Life-Saving Golf Carts

Memorial Day Weekend is the traditional kickoff to Summer, and no outdoor sport benefits more from the change of seasons than golf. I love golf, even when it doesn’t love me back.

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You’re outside in nature, with your buddies, often having a cold beer, getting a little exercise – what’s not to love? I was never what you called a good golfer. My handicap was not a number,but the fact that I basically sucked at golf. That never stopped me from enjoying a good round.

The highlight, or perhaps lowlight, of my golfing career is that I’ve hit two natural birdies.

Once while golfing in Miami Beach, I hooked a fairway shot high into a tree. There was an unusual sounding “THWACK”, the ball flew out at an improbable angle, and landed squarely on the fairway 25 yards away. Something dark fell from high in the tree. I walked to over to see what it was. Under the tree there was an unconscious blackbird with one red eye. He was still breathing, but had kind of a stunned expression on his face. I flagged down a course ranger and turned the care of the bird over to him.

That shot ended up winning me the round.

I’m not sure the bird made it, but if you see a blackbird with an eyepatch on a course in Florida, don’t tell him you know me.

Another time in Los Angeles, I ripped a worm-burner off the tee that skipped across a water hazard like a stone. There were three geese swimming along, minding their own business. The lime green golf ball skipped across the water and hit the center goose right in the butt. It jumped out of the water as if it were ‘goosed’.

I did not expect what would happen next. I took a drop about halfway around the water hazard, and turned around to see three angry geese exit the other side of the pond and begin to chase the nearest golfer, who had no idea what was going on. The poor guy ran across the fairway, clubs flying from his bag, as the three geese chased him on foot, wings a-flapping and squawking loudly. Fortunately for the poor guy, a passing course ranger pulled his golf cart in front of the geese and ended their pursuit.

After I got up off the ground where I had been rolling around laughing, I finished the hole. I guess the moral of the story is, If you are ever on a golf course in L.A. and see a white goose with a lime green golf ball suppository, please don’t tell the Audubon Society, because they might cancel my donation check.

My advice is to try to shoot for birdie the old-fashioned way, and be kind to our feathered friends. But if you ever need a golf cart that might one day save your life from three angry geese, you’re in luck because there are some great buys available through Municibid auction.

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Just remember the immortal words of Chevy Chase and “Be the ball, Danny, be the ball”

…unless that ball is stuck in the butt of an angry goose, which really should go without saying.

I Can’t Drive 55! …or 35.

If you’re a rock n’ roll fan of a certain age, you’ve no doubt had the pleasure of tooling down the interstate at high speed while cranking Sammy Hagar’s 1984 classic hit “I Can’t Drive 55”. There is a rumor that he originally wanted to record the song in metric. Fortunately his producer talked him out of recording “I Can’t Drive 89 Kilometers An Hour”, for the obvious reason most Americans don’t know what the heck a kilometer is.

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Sammy, also known as The Red Rocker, has made a pile of cash from “I Can’t Drive 55”. It’s been in commercials, sporting events, movies (Back to the Future Part II), and video games. Most don’t remember that it was even the theme song for Sesame Street in 1987, until The Muppets went on strike in protest. It is said that the song contributed to Snuffaluffagus getting a stress-induced case of hair loss.

“Go on and write me up for 125. Post my face, wanted dead or alive. Take my license, all that jive. I can’t drive 55, oh no, uh”

The point is, this was a big deal of a song. In 2009, I was living in Marin County, California, in the town of Mill Valley. This is on the opposite side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. I was heading to the local market to pick up groceries when I came to a 4 way stop sign on Miller Drive. There was traffic at all four corners of the intersection. After a few minutes, I pulled to the sign. When I looked over to my right, I saw a Smart Car next in line. If you don’t know what a Smart Car is, it’s basically a street legal, gas-powered golf cart with a roof, back seat, and seat belts.

Something caught my attention about the car. I suddenly realized who the driver was – The Red Rocker himself, Sammy Hagar – with 3 children wedged into the SMART Car with him. I stared at him with a slack-jawed grin. He caught my gaze, and got the joke immediately – he was not going 55 in that car. With a big smile beneath his mirrored wrap-around shades, he shrugged his shoulders at me then passed through the intersection. He was definitely not driving 55, or even 35.I laughed all the way to the market.

“When I drive that slow, you know it’s hard to steer. And I can’t get my car out of second gear.”

Whether you’re ready to drive 55 or 35, you can find all sorts of quality used vehicles in Municibid online auctions. You’ll find a variety of options that will suit your budget. You might find a gently used police cruiser, or a four door sedan, or maybe a pickup truck to haul supplies on your back 40… and yes, you might even find that sweet SMART Car you’re looking for.

 

If The Red Rocker has taught us anything, it’s that no person can drive 55 forever. Sometimes, you need a Ferrari and sometimes you need an Smart Car. Life in the fast lane or slow cruising with the kiddos, Municibid is here with used cars, trucks and all that jive.

“Go on and write me up for 125. Post my face, wanted dead or alive. Take my license, all that jive. I can’t drive 55, oh no, uh.”

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Lyrics from “I Can’t Drive 55”, copyright 1984 Sammy Hagar.

No Snuffaluffagus were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

6 Reasons Why Hiring Summer Help is a Bonus for Your Landscaping Business

hire summer help

Seasonal businesses that rely on the whims of the weather need to do whatever they can to be successful in a short period of time. As such, landscaping businesses typically have the summer and a few weeks in the spring and fall to generate most of their revenue for the year.

If your landscaping company isn’t going above and beyond to get as much business as possible in this limited time, you’re missing out. To take your organization to the next level of success, you’ve got to expand your operation and do everything possible to grow your customer base. To do this, you’ll need to aggressively hire more workers this summer.

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Here are 6 reasons why hiring extra summer help can boost your landscaping business for the rest of the year.

1. Keep Up With Increased Demand

On average, a property owner needs to cut their grass during the spring and summer months about once per week. As such, there is an increased demand for lawn care and landscaping services during this time.

Landscaping businesses can take advantage of having a team of temporary seasonal workers to lend a hand during these busy weeks. You’ll need additional employees to cover all your clients’ mowing and groundskeeping demands, such as planting flowers, trimming trees, and keeping a healthy garden.

2. Do More Than the Competition

With a dedicated staff of many, you can do more than your competition. In the summer months, the number of small landscaping businesses and entrepreneurs increases due to the variety of opportunities for work. It’s essential to differentiate yourself and have your team stand above the competitors.

If you have a larger staff of employees, future customers may take your company more seriously when they begin evaluating potential landscaping contractors to do business with. Customers will see your business as a leader in the industry with more expertise and the most capabilities for their home exterior projects.   

Having more people on your team can also help your company get to a location right away, exactly when services are needed, instead of a few days later. This way, you’re able to come back for additional services or give a quote for a large-scale project. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to turn away customers due to staffing issues or not enough coverage.

3. Satisfy Your Regular, Year-Round Customers

Businesses that focus on landscaping must consider their regular customers that are on a year-round maintenance schedule. With an expanded temporary staff on your payroll, you can keep these important customers satisfied without sacrificing new business opportunities.

Additionally, having more staff members allows you to set the schedule far in advance and send the same, consistent teams so there are no hiccups in service. All this helps you stay on track without missing opportunities to put together quotes for new clients.

Your regular customers will appreciate the increased capabilities you can offer them with more talent on your team. Some companies don’t realize the value of their existing customers, so it’s essential to treat these important clients right and meet their needs. Losing regular customers could have a detrimental impact on your ability to be profitable.

4. Expand the Types of Services You Offer

A larger staff of summer employees can help you offer new landscaping services and provide more opportunities for you to compete for bigger projects, such as corporate landscaping accounts. While residential projects are most often the “bread and butter” of many smaller landscaping businesses, winning corporate clients will help you bring in more revenue and firmly establish you as a trusted source in your community.  

If you’ve been hoping to expand your service menu and offer more options to your clients, having a larger team can help you get started. Your seasonal staff can specialize in additional services such as deck and patio care, mulching, storm clean-up, retaining walls, lawn seeding, sodding, irrigation, and draining.

5. Spend More Time on Business Growth

With any company that has a limited number of employees, the business owner is often deep in the trenches working just as hard on providing services as other workers. You can take advantage of your larger staff over the summer by spending more time actually running your business.

Instead of working in the field, put more effort into things like marketing and promotions to help grow your company or work on more effective ways of managing your business accounting. Moreover, you might be doing yourself more of a favor if you stay behind the scenes and address customer relations issues, such as complaints or payment problems, to keep your client base happy and your income flowing.

6. Make Enough Money for the Entire Calendar Year

The biggest reason you should consider bringing on more people for the summer is to help increase your profit potential. Hiring seasonal employees can help improve your bottom line with a much lower cost to you over time than employing other permanent workers. Seasonal workers are often young people who demand lower starting wages as they take time off from school or are working their way up the career ladder.

You can also generate enough cash flow and profit to help float your business for the rest of the year, especially during the fall and winter months. There are many business models that rely on a limited amount of time to earn most of their profit. It’s vital to make the most you can of the busy season so you’re able to generate enough cash to maintain a healthy and successful business.

Some employees may prove to be so valuable that you‘ll want to hire them on a permanent basis. Their summer work may end up being an audition of sorts for a larger role within your organization. Bringing in seasonal workers could allow you to improve your ability to find the best people to work for you.

 

Running a successful seasonal business takes some planning and strategic decisions that will help you make the most of your short busy season. For landscaping companies, it’s essential to hire extra summer staff to make your dreams of success a reality.

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Reading the Market: How to Find the Right Time to Make Big-Ticket Purchases

landscaping-equipment market purchase

Big-ticket items such as cars or lawn equipment are major investments and if you purchase at the wrong time, you might end up paying much more than you expected. Factors such as time of year, hour of the day, upcoming holidays, what season you’re in, and other things can have a huge impact on whether the prices of these items go up or way, way down. If you buy at the wrong time, you could end up overpaying by hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars, depending on what item you’re looking for.

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Not to worry, though. Planning ahead when you’re ready to make an investment purchase can help you score some great deals on pricey products. Here are 5 tips to help you find the best times to buy your next big-ticket item.

1. Think ahead.

Prices for many items go up if they’re seasonal or if there’s an increased demand. If you want to buy lawn equipment, for instance, don’t wait until the lawn-mowing season to do it. The best time to buy new lawn equipment is at the end of summer or in the fall, when the weather gets colder and people are less likely to be out doing yard work. However, used lawn equipment can be found any time of year and can even be common during the spring as people are clearing out last year’s clutter.

The best method, in this case, is to plan what you’re going to buy in advance so you can purchase it when it makes the most sense. If you know you’re going to need a new lawnmower next summer and can afford to wait a while, make a note to check back on prices when the demand is lowest. If you need one as soon as possible, know that you might have a better chance only looking at used items.

2. Know when new products are coming out.

Retailers tend to push out new products in cycles. If you know when the newest items will hit the shelves, you can plan on older overstocked items or retiring models hitting the secondhand market. Different industries have different cycles, but many push out new products around a big event such as an auto show or a shift in season. Automobiles are especially prone to price fluctuations depending on when new models come out.

If you’re looking to buy new, the best time to buy is usually at the end of the model year or during a holiday weekend sale. Events such as Black Friday can come with steep price cuts if you’re willing to wake up early to shop. Check back frequently around the time the model year ends: a retailer might have a discount on a specific item even outside of store-wide sales.

Store closings are another great chance to find bargains on big-ticket items. Check your local paper for any shops that might be closing or search online for closeout sales in your area.

3. Keep a consistent eye on the market.

If you know the type of product you’re looking for will be snatched up quickly, it pays to check the market frequently to see when one comes up for sale. Whether you’re buying new or used, some retailers allow you to set up email alerts when something you’re searching for pops up. If you don’t have access to a service like this, make it a point to check back throughout the day or week so you don’t miss a good deal.

Again, if you need the product quickly, be prepared to pay a little more or settle for a used item rather than waiting for a better deal that might not come any time soon. It’s better to have the equipment you need when you need it rather than to hold out for a perfect price.

4. Know the going rate for what you’re looking for.

Doing some research on different models beforehand will save you time and money in the long run. Know approximately how much you’re willing to pay for an item in advance: it will give you the ability to act quickly when it comes up for sale.

Look at both new and used prices to get a good idea of both ends of the spectrum. What seems like a good price and what’s way too much? Once you have a ballpark figure of what you can expect to reasonably pay, you can easily identify good deals and snap them up quickly.

Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Big-ticket items rarely come cheap unless there’s some sort of defect. It’s okay to ask the seller questions about why a price is unusually low but in general, steer clear of anything that looks suspicious.

5. Browse when others aren’t looking.

Time of day matters. Deals are less likely to be snatched up late at night. Checking the market during off-hours will give you an edge when the item you’re looking for comes up. Many secondhand sellers will post listings during the day when they’re awake and it’s convenient for them, but that’s also when many other people will be browsing. It’s a good idea to check at different hours of the day to determine the best times for what you’re looking for.

Knowing the time zones of the sellers you’re following can also give you an advantage here. This can apply to either new or used retailers: if a website has announced an upcoming sale, knowing where they’re based allows you to check out the deals the moment they start.

While it’s exciting to make a new purchase and you might be tempted to snap up the first deal you see, a little patience goes a long way. Doing some research into pricing and sales before you buy can save you a lot of money and score you a better item.

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Spring Clean: DIY Vehicle Maintenance

diy vehicle maintenance

Much has been said about the money-saving aspect of making or repairing our own items. Most of the time, doing things yourself allows you to save a big chunk on labor costs.

However, the hidden benefits of doing things yourself can be even more rewarding than just being frugal. It’s fun to learn something new.

When it comes to vehicles, you may think that DIY is overly complicated and should be left in the hands of mechanical experts. The truth is that there are certain tasks you can handle — quickly and easily — regardless of your level of experience with DIY.

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The trick is to know when and when not to DIY. Start with a small project if this is your first time. Seek help from people who have some experience fixing or making things on their own. That way, you’ll be able to learn faster.

Here are a few vehicle maintenance tasks you can easily manage on your own.     

1. Oil Changes

One of the most common maintenance tasks is changing oil.

But how often should you change it?

You might have read in some old owner’s manuals that you should change your engine oil every 3,000 miles. However, this advice is outdated.

Thanks to advanced automotive technologies, the majority of today’s cars require a standard oil change somewhere between 7,500 to 10,000 miles.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when changing oil by yourself.

  • Always wait for the engine to cool down before getting started.
  • You will need to use a jack, so make sure you’re comfortable with handling one.
  • Hand-fasten the new oil filter tightly.
  • Fill the engine only with the amount of oil called for — do not try to overfill it.
  • Use the dipstick for double checking that you’ve added enough oil.
  • Turn on the engine for about 30 seconds for circulation and to spot any leaking.

2. Dirt and Stain Removal

Are you annoyed by those coffee stains on the passenger seat or the windshield clogged with dirt? Before visiting your local car detailing service, why not try using some of the items in your home? You’ll be surprised at what they can do.

When cleaning car upholstery, many people make the mistake of using more water than needed, thinking it will give them more of a desired outcome. This is actually counterproductive. Water increases the level of moisture in the car which causes damage to the fabric, leads to rust on the frame metal, and leaves your interior with a musty odor.

Dryer lint, dish detergent, or baby wipes can effectively save your seat upholstery from being harassed by stubborn marks. Likewise, a mixture of baking soda (¼ cup) and warm water (1 cup) can keep the toughest stains at bay.

How about getting rid of those blotchy, foggy spots on your windshield? Many professionals use a single-edge razorblade.

You may think that razorblades will only scratch the windshield. The truth is that modern windshields consist of two thin layers of glass and a rubber layer embedded in the middle which makes them invulnerable to a razor. The key is to keep the work surface wet by using glass cleaner. Keep the angle small and the blade flat. Avoid broad strokes and the windshield corners.

3. Changing the Air Filter

Air filters play a critical role in keeping dirt, dust, and air particles out of you car’s engine. For every 12,000 miles driven or at least once every year, you need a new air filter. It might sound a bit daunting, but this task will only take a few minutes.

An air filter change is often an “upsell” your mechanic might offer when you take your vehicle in for other maintenance. Generally, the additional cost is significantly higher than what it would be for you to buy and replace your own filter.

The air filter is a black rectangular box with metal clips located under the hood of your car. If you have trouble finding this, check the owner’s manual for more information.

Study how the old air filter fits inside the case to make sure that once you replace it with a new one, it looks exactly the same. Remember to close the metal clips on the side when you’re done.

Aside from replacing the air filter when the time comes, you may also want to clean it on a regular basis. It can get clogged up rather quickly which prevents air from entering the engine, reduces your gas mileage, and ultimately, costs you more money.

4. Battery Maintenance

The secret to a long-lasting and smooth-running vehicle is an efficient battery. This means your battery should receive regular check-ups. Don’t worry, it’s only a simple cleaning every few months to prevent frustrating battery problems.   

Remove the battery terminals. Again, if you’re stuck, follow the guidelines in the owner’s manual. Always remove the negative cable first.

Clean the posts with a wire brush and a generous amount of cleaning solution. We recommend using a professional cleaning product from your local auto parts store to help remove heavy corrosion from the connectors. If you’re not dealing with extensive corrosion, a mixture of baking soda and water would adequately do the job.

When you’re finished, rinse with water, dry the posts with cloths, and replace the battery terminals. Make sure that all cable connections are properly tightened. Otherwise, a weak electrical connection may not enable your car to start.

 

Improper maintenance on your vehicle not only costs you money, but it can also cause huge interruptions in your already busy schedule. In addition, it’s dangerous to drive a poorly-kept vehicle.

These DIY projects are much simpler than you might have expected. Not to mention, you can have lots of fun during the process. Twenty minutes to half an hour is all it takes to care for your beloved car and keep you safe on the road.

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9 All-American Road Trips You Should Take in 2017

american road trip

What’s more fun than a road trip? A road trip across the U.S., that’s what. With countless routes to drive and stunning sights to see, our great nation is the perfect place to let your hair down and get your drive on.

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Luckily, you don’t need a year-round vacation or even a hefty bank account to have an awesome road trip in the U.S. If you want to see the best of America, here are the top 9 routes you should add to your “must see” list.  

1. Beartooth Highway

Route: Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT

You might want to steer clear of Beartooth Highway from October to May, since it’s snowed in around that time. Otherwise, this 68-mile section on U.S. Highway 212 is a great place to drive across northern Wyoming and see stunning sights like tundras, snow-covered mountains, and flower-infested meadows. Also, pull off the road and stop at the Custer National Forest, the Shoshone National Forest, or Yellowstone National Park to find a few relaxing places to stay.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway

Route: Skyline Drive, VA to U.S. Route 441, NC

If you’re a serious road tripper, you can’t miss this one. Stretching 469 miles across 29 counties, the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts more curves than your grandma’s hair after removing her rollers and is studded with lots of former Civil War battle sites. Considering how long Blue Ridge is, you’ll want to allow at least two days to travel (though some people claim they can finish the route in one day).  

3. Cherohala Skyway

Route: Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC

Cherohala was named after two national forests: Cherokee (“Chero”) and Nantahala (“hala”). The skyway snakes 43 miles from Tennessee to North Carolina and ranges from 900 to 5,400 feet above sea level.

Because of its many winding curves, Cherohala isn’t a road you want to drive during winter. But when the weather is good, Cherohala offers gorgeous views of natural landscapes as well as recreational areas where you can sit back, relax, and chill out.

4. Going-to-the-Sun Road

Route: Across the width of Glacier National Park, MT

Since it only runs through one national park, Going-to-the-Sun doesn’t have much variety in terms of scenery. But it does have more twists and turns than a whodunit novel and is usually open by late June or early July. This 50-mile road is often covered in snow that takes 10 weeks to plow, so make sure to check the weather before you go.

5. Pig Trail Scenic Byway

Route: Arkansas 23 (southern boundary of the Ozark National Forest) to Arkansas 16 (Brashears, Madison County)

No one really knows why this 130-mile pass is called “Pig Trail.” Some say it’s named after the University of Arkansas football team, which has a wild boar on its logo. Others suggest that the trail curves like a pig’s tail (in which case it should’ve probably been named “Pig’s Tail”).

At any rate, if you like driving through dense foliage, Victorian towns, and camping sites, Pig Trail will set you on the right track, pun intended.

6. San Juan Mountain Skyway

Route: Starts from Durango, CO, and follows U.S. Highway 160, State Highway 145, State Highway 62, and U.S. Highway 550 before looping back to Durango

You can’t get more American than this road, literally. Designated as an “All-American Road” by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 1996, the San Juan Mountain Skyway covers an incredible 236 miles inside Colorado. The road is dotted with picturesque towns, alpine mountains, and other breathtaking sights, making the 6-hour ride worth it.  

7. Tail of the Dragon/Deals Gap

Route: Eleven miles along U.S. Route 129, on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee

Eleven miles might not sound like much, especially compared to the other trips on this list. But there’s a good reason — or rather, reasons — Tail of the Dragon was featured in movies like In Dreams, The Fugitive, Thunder Road, and Two-Lane Blacktop.

You see, like a soap opera, the Dragon has a jaw-dropping 318 twists and turns. Many of them curve so sharply that drivers all over the country use this 11-mile road to test their cornering skills. There’s even a “Tree of Shame” where those who’ve failed to conquer the Dragon leave parts of their motorcycle. If you want to see the tree or enjoy the scenery provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, book your visit on an off-peak date.

8. Three Sisters/Twisted Sisters

Route: From Medina, TX, go west on Ranch Road (RR) 337 and stop at Leakey. From there, get on RR336 and RR335, tp loop back to Leakey

“Three Sisters” is the nickname for Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337. While they’re not as hard to drive on as Tail of the Dragon, the Three Sisters aren’t for newbie drivers, either.

Covering 100 miles, the Three Sisters take you through winding roads along Texas’ hills, valleys, and ranches. On a map, the route looks like a lasso thrown westward, so if you get confused about where to go next, just remember the lasso!

9. Tunnel of Trees Road

Route: Harbor Springs to Cross Village (along the northern coast of Michigan)

Along M-119, from Harbor Springs onwards, lies the 16-mile Tunnel of Trees. Lined with foliage that changes color according to the seasons, the Tunnel of Trees is especially gorgeous in the spring and fall. Since it borders Lake Michigan, the route also offers spectacular freshwater views.

Aside from beautiful scenery, the Tunnel of Trees is also a treat for history lovers. If you drop by the Scenic Heritage Route, you can have a glimpse of what it was like to live as an Ottawan Indian, logger, trader, and trapper. You can also visit other attractions like the Pond Hill Farm, the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, and more.  

 

No need to stress over your next vacation. Just keep these routes in mind and you’ll have a road trip planned that will be a ride of fun, no matter which you choose. Enjoy your drive!

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5 Sci-Fi Vehicles We Wish Were Real

sci-fi vehicles

Remember the last time you saw a cool, futuristic machine and wished you could own one…  but then reality hit and you realized that such powerful technology was only an imaginary product of a scriptwriter?

The downside of watching sci-fi movies is that we ultimately have to wake up from the amazing world of fiction. That said, this doesn’t stop any of us from dreaming about experiencing such epic technological gadgets, be it a time machine, a hoverboard, or Iron Man’s suit of armor.

Vehicles play a big part in the Municibid community and this week, we’ve gathered a list of the coolest sci-fi vehicles that, sadly, have only been portrayed in fictional works.  

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1. The DeLorean from Back to the Future

 

Time travel – the idea alone makes us feel adventurous! Who wouldn’t love to have the power to go back and forth in time to make sense of history and the future?

If you don’t know the story, the DeLorean turns into a time machine when it hits 88 miles per hour. It took nearly 30 years for the eccentric and ingenious Dr. Brown to fulfill his grand vision. Building the machine cost him his entire family fortune. The stainless steel construction of the vehicle allowed the “flux capacitor” to operate at an optimum level, ensuring a smooth passage through the time and space continuum for its passengers.

The DeLorean DMC-12 was a real car model – the brainchild of John Z. DeLorean, an automotive engineer who founded his own business, DeLorean Motor Company, in 1974 after his time as a former executive at General Motors.   

If you want to see this awesome vehicle in real life, it’s on display permanently at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.

2. Iron Man’s Armor

 

Iron Man’s red and gold iconic armor is one of the most recognizable superhero costumes. Similar to the idea of a jetpack which emerged from science fiction in the 1960s (and has become a real thing, though a rather expensive recreational activity), Iron Man’s armor takes things to the next level.

Granted, Tony Stark created different Iron Man suits for specific purposes and various conditions. However, they all share the same basic gadgets and are made of extremely strong materials.

Stark’s creation is not simply a flying machine, but rather a powered exoskeleton – an extension of his own bones and muscles – which allows for a robust combination of limb movements and strength enhancement. It not only provides a self-contained environment to protect his body but it also boosts his physical power.

In the movies, Stark’s powered exoskeleton is of great interest to the military to use in war zones and other dangerous situations.

We may not be far off from seeing something like the Iron Man suit in real life. Though still in development and being yet unable to fly, the suit of the future will be an impressive achievement.

3. Teleportation Transporters from Star Trek

 

The teleportation transporter in the film Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) is absolutely mind-boggling. This fictional machine can take people and objects from one location to another within seconds by converting them into an energy pattern and “beaming” them to a destination where they are re-materialized.

With the teleportation transporter, you can get to wherever you wish to go – no more traveling hassles like dreadful morning commutes or tedious airport security checks. It would be the ultimate vehicle to create a true dream vacation: you could have a Turkish breakfast in Istanbul, sushi for lunch in Tokyo, and pizza made in Rome for dinner.

4. The Batmobile from the Batman Movies

 

Every Batman fan adores the Batmobile and we’ve got to agree: this iconic, jaw-droppingly cool and sensational vehicle deserves a spot on our list. From comic books to its film adaptations, the Batmobile never fails to impress (and intimidate!).

The design of Batman’s personal state-of-the-art, self-powered automobile has evolved over the years with a great number of different illustration styles. A Batmobile can deviate from practical and conservative to sleek and outlandish. However, they all aim to enforce a sense of seriousness and ultimate power while beautifully complementing Batman’s intellect and indomitable will.    

Here’s a bit of fun trivia: the original 1966 Batmobile was built from a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura concept car. The 1989 Batman film used the frame of a Chevy Impala, while in The Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan used the frame from a P-38 Lightning plane.

Yet before the Batmobile was introduced on screens and became popular amongst viewers, the very first licensed Batmobile was built in 1963 by Forrest Robinson, a Batman fan. Although the car was used for promotions, it was lost and forgotten and didn’t resurface again until 2008. It was then restored for an auction and sold for $137,000 in 2014.

5. The Gigahorse from Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road has some of the most bada** sci-fi vehicles. Once you see them, they stay in your mind. Fit for a king of the desert, the Gigahorse is truly one-of-a-kind.

Built on a custom frame, the body of the Gigahorse was made by splitting, widening, lengthening, and stacking two 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Villes together. This allowed the vehicle to house two V16 engines equipped with real superchargers and fake turbos. The front and rear wheels used tractor tires. Since the entire Gigahorse was custom-made, the crew had to create their own wheel rims. It took 2 months for the team to make this beastly machine operational and their effort was totally worth it.           

Check out this video for a little glimpse into all the vehicles from the Mad Max film.

 

 

There is no doubt that technology has changed our lives. Though many imaginary, only-available-in-movies cars and gadgets seem somewhat out of reach, it’s through the fantastic worlds of sci-fi and imagination that we find the inspiration to explore further and to innovate.

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Make the Most of Your Fuel Tank: Stretch Your Time Between Fill-Ups

fuel efficiency

Fuel is expensive and keeping up with the price is like riding a roller coaster. Do you remember the first time the price of gas hit $4 per gallon? Though things have been calmer (and more affordable) in recent years, according to GasBuddy, the average gas price is expected to spike to $2.49 per gallon in 2017. That’s 36 cents higher than last year’s average.

None of us want fuel costs to skyrocket. What’s more, many of us are becoming more conscious of the impact our driving has on the environment.

Replacing your vehicle with an electric or hybrid model might simply be impractical for you and your family, if not extremely difficult. However, there are other ways to make the most of your gas mileage and minimize your driving emissions. Read on to find out how you can optimize every single drop of fuel in your tank.  

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1. Maintain your vehicle regularly.

We all understand the impact proper maintenance has on the performance of a vehicle, but did you know that a poorly maintained car can burn up to 20% more fuel?

Make sure your vehicle gets regular check-ups so it is rolling smoothly. Don’t skip or delay oil changes. Underinflated or overinflated car tires are not only fuel inefficient but also dangerous. The same goes for bad wheel alignment and dirty air filters. These are small fixes but they make a significant difference.

2. Invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

If you want to replace your current vehicle, consider a high MPG car, even if it is used. You may be able to save a significant amount of money.

Do your research carefully. Consumer Reports has put together a fantastic list of the best and worst cars based on fuel economy. This will help you get a better picture of which vehicle you should aim for based on the typical amount of driving you do.

3. Pick the best time to buy gas.

You may have heard a rumor suggesting it’s better to fill up in early mornings or late evenings when the weather is cooler. Indeed, there is a science behind this seemingly nonsense story.

Like other liquids, gasoline expands when it warms. When the weather is hot, fuel’s volume will increase and the density of the fuel concentration (which measures the heaviness of an object or substance) will decrease. Gas pumps measure the volume of gasoline being pumped into a tank, not the density, ultimately meaning you’re paying more for less gas when the weather is at its warmest.

So, it makes sense to choose the coolest times of day to fill up, right? Unfortunately, that’s still not quite the entire picture. In reality, fuel is usually stored underground, where there is a slight temperature variation. As a result, colder temperatures won’t make a major difference to your wallet. A few cents of difference is frankly not enough to justify changing your schedule and altering your routine.

That said, there is a day of the week worth the wait – Wednesday. Service stations often raise fuel prices on the weekends. Statistically, Wednesdays are the best days for the cheapest gas prices.

4. Watch out at gas pumps.

After the pump shuts off, many people tend to take the hose out immediately. A lot of gasoline is wasted because of this simple misdeed. Keep the hose in the tank a little longer. Remember, you paid for it – make sure you get the last drops of fuel into your tank. Afterward, properly seal your gas cap.    

Avoid overfilling your tank. Have some faith in the auto shutoff. We cannot stress this enough – adding more gas into a full tank is a disaster.

The excessive gas will flow into your charcoal canister or carbon filter, which is only responsible for evaporation. The consequences include poor performance, a potentially damaged engine, and expensive costs to replace the affected areas. In addition, a broken carbon filter and extra gas spilled on the ground are nothing but detrimental to the environment and people’s health.

5. Always think one step ahead.

Rush hour is not good for your gas mileage. Scheduling your trips in advance, if possible, will not only allow you to avoid bad traffic but also shorten your commute time.

Optimize your rounds. Instead of making multiple trips and going back and forth, try combining them all into one. Taking several short trips requires the car engine to cold-start every time, which is a big waste of gas. Not to mention, it is also unproductive.

6. Avoid overloading your vehicle.

Think twice about what you definitely need for your journey. Try not to stuff your vehicle with unnecessary objects. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your fuel efficiency by around 2%, especially during acceleration. Ditch everything that might become an excessive drag for your vehicle – it simply wastes fuel.

7. Drive steadily when possible.

An essential part of achieving fuel efficiency is to drive at a constant moderate speed. This is not only more relaxing for you and your passengers, but it is also safer and better for your vehicle. Accelerating too quickly and driving aggressively cause strain to your car, limiting fuel economy. The same thing applies to slowly crawling up to speed.

If you’re driving through the city, this can be tough. Stop-and-go traffic (whether it’s rush hour or not) just isn’t good for fuel efficiency or the life of your vehicle.

A good rule of thumb is to get to 50 MPH within 15-20 seconds. Once you get up to this speed, keep a consistent pace. If you struggle to maintain a steady speed, use cruise control. However, do not use cruise control when driving through especially hilly or mountainous areas. You will waste a lot of gas downshifting to lower gears in order to match the speed you have set.

 

Though it can be challenging, there are still some things you can do to improve your fuel efficiency. Start implementing these tips into your driving routine and you’ll soon be adding a few extra pennies into your own pocket.

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Compacts: Small Enough to Get the Job Done

compact equipment

Let’s give a shout-out to two brothers, Louis and Cyril Keller. If those names mean nothing to you, how about this one: Bobcat. That’s right, the Kellers were single-handedly responsible for reversing the bigger-is-better mantra of the heavy equipment industry by inventing, developing and popularizing a small loader that we all know today as a skid steer. The machine started a downsizing revolution that continues to sweep the heavy equipment industry.

It has been 60 years since Eddie Velo, a Minnesota turkey grower, approached the blacksmithing Keller brothers with the request that they build a mobile loader compact enough to scoop up manure on the second floor of his barn. Six weeks later, the brothers delivered a machine they called a “Keller Self-Propelled Loader.” The rest is history: Melroe Manufacturing Co. began to build a modified version of the new machine and aptly renamed it. A couple of years ago, the one millionth “Bobcat” rolled off the assembly line.

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Today, the switch to compact machinery continues to gain momentum. Besides the original skid steers—which indeed are steered by skidding the tires instead of changing their direction—the lineup includes track loaders (skid steers on tracks), and compact versions of wheel loaders, wheel and track excavators, telehandlers, and utility vehicles. The technology in the machines has bled over into the ag market where compact tractors can do things your grandfather only dreamed about doing with his little Ford 4N.

So why are the smaller machines so darned popular? Because they essentially are more economical to operate and more versatile than their full-sized counterparts. Yet that understates the difference. Compacts have, in effect, ushered in revolutionary thinking about how to approach a job and most-efficiently complete it.

 

Read more at ConstructionEquipmentGuide.com about why the revolution is expected to roll on.

 

Truck Financing 101: How to Do It (Even If You Have Bad Credit)

truck financing

You’ve been eyeing that truck for a while now. It’s big, beautiful, and everything you’ve ever wanted in a vehicle — until you saw the price tag, that is.

Now, price wouldn’t be a problem if you were Bill Gates or if you had a spanking clean credit history. But if you have a spotty track record as a borrower or you don’t have much cash under your belt, you’re going to have to work a little harder to get a truck loan. To get the biggest amount of money for the least amount of trouble, here’s what you can do.

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1. Take a good look at your finances.

Most people shop for a truck before they shop for truck financing. We suggest you do it the other way around for the simple reason that truck prices are unlimited but your budget isn’t.

If you shop around without knowing how much you can afford first, you might be tempted to take the most expensive option right off the bat, thinking that price equals quality. But if you set a price range and you stick to that range no matter what, it’s easier to narrow down your options to the trucks that serve your needs and are easier on your bank account.

So what does “easy on your bank account” mean? To calculate the highest amount you can realistically afford to pay per month, you need to know:

  • Your monthly income before taxes. How much do you earn every month before taxes are deducted?
  • Your trade-in value. If you have a vehicle that you can swap for the truck at a dealership, how much will the dealer pay for it?

Assuming you haven’t taken out a loan yet, you can take the two values above, plug them into the appropriate fields in this car affordability calculator, set the other fields to zero, and presto! You’ll have a rough estimate of the price range within your reach if you’re able to pay in cash.

If you’re going to pay for your truck entirely via credit, we’ll get to that in a bit.

2. Get your business paperwork together.

If you’re buying a truck for personal use, you can skip this section. Otherwise, if the truck is for commercial or business use, you’ll have to submit proof of business paperwork. The “proof” depends on what type of business you have. For example:

  • If you have an old sole proprietorship/partnership (that is, your business has been running for at least a year), you can submit your IRS Schedule C as a sole proprietorship with at least one year of income or an IRS Schedule K-1 as a partnership.
  • If you run an LLC or corporation, you simply have to print out a record of your business from your state’s Secretary of State website. The lender can also double-check by looking up your record online.

Aside from proof of business, you might have to submit other documents to show that you have the ability and authority to pay off your loan. For example, if you’re an owner-operator, the lender might ask for a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Number, and a Motor Carrier (MC) Number. Even if the lender doesn’t specifically ask for these, you never know when they might come in handy in the future.

3. Choose the truck you want to finance.

Lenders won’t just finance any truck. They’ll also look at whether it’s new or used, whether it’s a dump truck or a semi, and whether the truck is worth the loan they’ll be handing out. You can try to remember all of this or you can put yourself in the lender’s shoes: If you were them, would you finance the truck you have in mind?

Of course, money shouldn’t be your only consideration. You should also look at the size of the truck, how much mileage it has (if it’s used), how fuel-efficient it is (since gas is a regular expense for any vehicle), and other features that’ll affect how you use it. For a better idea on what you’ll be shopping for, check out our post on the different types of trucks.      

4. Work out your down payment.

It’s hard to pin down an exact answer to “How much will my down payment be?” However, there are a few factors guaranteed to bump up your initial expenses.  

  • You’re a new business. New business owners don’t have consistent cash flows yet, so they’re considered credit risks.
  • You’re an owner-operator. Owner-operators usually own just one truck. If that one truck goes down, so does the owner-operator’s ability to pay off their loans.
  • You’re buying from a private party. Since private party transactions aren’t as structured and secure as dealer transactions, lenders find them harder to verify and therefore, riskier.
  • You’re buying an old truck. The older the vehicle, the more likely it is to break down and incur additional, unnecessary costs.
  • You have low cash reserves. Pretty self-explanatory.

Luckily, these factors can offset each other. For example, if you have a low credit score but your business has been going strong for at least 2 years, your down payment will be lower than that of a person who has poor credit and has been in business for less than a year. If you want an exact figure, read this guide on how big your down payment should be.  

5. Work out your monthly payments.

At this point, you already know:

  • The price — or price range — of the truck you want to buy.
  • The trade-in value of your existing vehicle (if applicable).
  • The amount you can afford to pay every month.
  • How much of a down payment you can afford.

Given these figures, how much will you pay every month?

The answer is… it depends. If you already have an interest rate and principal amount on hand, you can plug them into this truck financing calculator — along with the details above — and have a rough estimate of your monthly payments. In the event that the monthly payments are higher than what you can afford to pay, look for another loan with different terms.    

6. Find a good financing company.

The good news is that there are plenty of places where you can get a truck loan. For example, you can work with local banks, national banks, credit unions, online lenders, and dealers.

In general, the bigger the company, the stricter their lending requirements. If you have bad credit, you might find it difficult to borrow from places like banks and credit unions. But if your credit history is good, those places are pretty reliable sources for truck financing.

On the flip side, online lenders and dealers are more willing to take you on even if you have bad credit. However, these lenders also charge higher interest rates and have other hidden fees bundled into their loans to compensate for the added risk they take. In the end, you have to decide whether you should improve your credit score first to borrow from more prestigious institutions or take on a loan from seedier sources now and pay a higher price later.

 

Truck financing doesn’t have to be a headache. If you’re willing to shop around and don’t mind doing a little number crunching, your dream truck will be within reach.

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