My package has taken the boat

My steering wheel controller has left Hong Kong on the slow boat from China. It left the manufacturer on July 3, changed trucks twice, and went through customs at the shipper, I’m assuming that’s Chinese export customs, took another truck ride then at 0034 local time July 13 the boat left Hong Kong. Now I won’t know where it’s going until it gets there, but the best bet is Long Beach CA because that’s where most of the cargo from China to the bottom half of the US goes. It’s due the day before my birthday in September. We shall see.

Still on Amazon, but on something else, my Father’s Day present kicked the bucket Saturday, still inside the 30 day replacement warranty. I don’t know what happened, but given the symptoms Saturday and the crazy things it did yesterday, I would say maybe the switch assembly wasn’t as waterproof as advertised. Anywho, it went Tango Uniform Saturday morning before I took my shower, and I got the return processed through Amazon last night, took the shaver in its original packaging to the local Amazon Return Center at the Kohl’s store up the street on the bus that runs sorta by the house this afternoon and it is wending its way back to Bezos’ secret underground defective merchandise testing center by carrier tortise as I type this out. And also as I type this out the replacement is going from the warehouse down the street to the delivery center the next county over, from where it will be sent to me in the morning, I hope.

Now the package that has my Joyce Smile mask is still missing. The tracker had it at the post office here in Garland just before noon local Thursday of last week. Theoretically all they had to do was make sure it got into the right truck on Friday morning and I should have had it no later than Saturday, but here I am 2133 Monday night and I still don’t have the mask I bought last month. I even called the local PO and they said it should have been in today’s mail at the latest. But no mask this afternoon.

In other stuff, as my elder daughter likes to put it, it was “Hotter than Ass!” outside while I was doing the trip to Kohl’s, somewhere north of the triple digits Fahrenheit (as in over 100°, but I don’t know exactly how much over 100°) the cable box shut down for lack of someone pushing the buttons during both weather reports that I was tuned in for. It was hot enough to cause 1st degree burns from the bench I sat on waiting for the bus to take me home from dropping the shaver off at Kohl’s. So yeah, hot.

Tomorrow I go vote in the runoff election for the democratic challenger to John Cornyn, the woman military combat veteran with a chest full of medals, or the dude who has been on the edges of several major scandals in Dallas county for as long as I have lived here, but never actively involved. I’m not saying he’s dirty, but he’s been around a whole lotta dirt.

And on that sleazy note, I’m putting this to bed.

I did some measuring with the mockup radiator

And there is another reason why I can’t put the steering box behind the radiator, too far to reach the drag link. Seriously if I put the radiator as far forward as it will fit on top of the frame then it will have to be right at 31″ behind the front of the nose piece. Plenty of room for the steering box and standard pitman arm, but way too far back for even a double-length arm to reach the drag link from behind the radiator.

Something else I found out while I was mocking up and measuring things is I’m going to have to push the box back a smidge from how I initially imagined the layout because the tierod will hit the drag link arm at full droop. As I initially envisioned it the drag link would be parallel to the tierod at ride height and just below it on the steering arm, but in reality there’s less than an inch of clearance at ride height and the axle has to move more than that at full droop. Basically I only have 3″ total travel to work with because of my choice of tire for the Goodguys events will have the bottom of the car dragging if I don’t limit the amount of bump to less than 2″ at the shock absorber because that much travel is also going to compress the tire a bunch.

Anywho, I need to shower and go to bed now, but I thought I should let you guys know what I found out during initial mockup tests.

Ooopsie! The box won’t fit there

Doing the figures again, and the steering box won’t fit behind the radiator. The problem is how high the drag link has to be and the fact that the pitman arm has to go under the radiator if I put the steering box behind the radiator. The box fits fine, it’s everything else that doesn’t fit. So the box can’t go there.

So, putting the box in front of the radiator the problem is getting the steering shaft around the radiator. Now a brainstorm I just had before I sat down to compose this post would be to split my steering quickener in half and put half in front of the radiator and half behind the radiator and extend the shaft between the two to fit around the radiator. Since I have to put in the quickener anyway, I might as well use it to sneak the steering around the radiator. There is a minor problem with one side having to be pretty large to get the reduction right, so there will be that hanging out in the wind, but in the grand scheme of things that is pretty minor. And I can make that better by having most of the reduction behind the radiator behind the fan shroud where it doesn’t block airflow so the part hanging in the breeze can be smaller. In case you didn’t figure it out, my homemade quickener uses two stages of reduction to keep the size of the slow side sprockets down to something reasonable. The company I’m sourcing the parts from has parts I could do a single stage reduction with, but the one sprocket would be about 8.6″ across not counting the chain on it which is a lot to hide behind the radiator fan shroud. And then there is still the other side that has to stick out the side of the car.

But, anywho, putting the steering box in front of the radiator and getting the steering shaft around the radiator with the steering quickener lets me put the radiator lower in the car because I don’t have to put anything under it except the lower radiator mount. I have been measuring the nose to see how far the front has to be in front of the axle to get the radiator underneath the bodywork or if I have to finagle the steering quickener to get everything under the nose. Easy way to figure that out is use the vertical part of the radiator mockup and see how far forward in the nose it will fit and still have room for the frame and lower radiator mount. And since that is a bit of a job that will have to wait until later, after I finish this post.

Speaking of finishing the post, I have something to do in meatspace for the lady we used to rent a room to. So I’ll proof and post this now.

I did stuff yesterday and paid the price today

I went and picked up a copy of GT5 from my local Gamestop. When the steering wheel arrives I’ll be able to do stuff and get my car-driving reflexes back. Also I’ll be able to have some fun with my game system that came with a bunch of games my son like but I don’t. I’m not a fan of first person shooters, and that’s most of the games in the bag. Also not a fan of sidescrolling fighting games like Mortal Combat. But they at least let me get the system up and running and tested to make sure it works.

In other news, my Joyce Smile mask was supposed to be out for delivery last night and never showed up, but the package tracker says it’s still out for delivery so it’s not like they brought it and I wasn’t there to accept it. This annoys me, but on the bright side I found a massage place that I can get to without having to change to another bus. It is slightly more expensive than my regular place, but I can get there in a few minutes from the house so that’s exchanging money for convenience. And the heat index was above 100° while I was out walking around in the sun so I got a bit dehydrated. Not terribly so, but enough to see in my urine which was a bright yellow this morning instead of the normal almost clear in the morning and completely clear the rest of the day.

On the Sprint-T I might have an alternate mounting for the steering box in relation to the radiator. It’s looking like I’ll have room for the box entirely in front of the radiator so from the front it will be axle, tie rod top drag link bottom, steering box, radiator, engine, body. The steering shaft will have to sneak around the radiator a bit, so I think I’ll install a support heim to keep things from flopping around between the steering box U-joint and the steering shaft U-joint or to the home made steering quickener, or the bought steering quickener U-joint.

Another possibility is welding the kit pitman arm and the one I already bought to extend it and basically get double the throw at the same amount of turn input which makes a steering quickener redundant, then mounting the box behind the radiator, so axle, tie rod top drag link bottom, radiator, and steering box, all inside the sides of the nose. This makes things really tidy from the outside, both aerodynamically and visually, and the box could sit in the area behind the electric fan shroud so it doesn’t block the air through the radiator and the extended pitman arm puts the drag link in front of the radiator. This has the advantage of maximum wheel angle, because the internal stops in the box limit the rotation of the shaft holding the pitman arm to just 90° but the extended arm can swing the front wheels much further than that. Basically what would be the next limit would be the tie rod hitting the axle brackets. If I make the extended pitman arm I might not need to use any quickener or maybe a much less aggressive quickener than the 5:1 I was planning on making which changes the 20:1 ratio 5 turn lock-to-lock Vega box only one turn lock to lock. I’ll have to do a calculation to see how much quicker the extended pitman arm makes the steering to see if I need to get a steering quickener or how much if I need to get or make one.

In other news I made a seriously twisty track in GT5 and when I tried to drive it one of the test vehicles was Jeff Gordon’s 2010 Cup car. I can barely keep a street car on that course without a steering wheel controller, there is no way I can finish a lap driving a Cup car. The track is a short and twisty kart track and way too narrow for a Cup car. It was hilarious trying to drive the car with the game controller.

I hope you had a happy and safe 4th

I went grocery shopping and since we can’t go outside with Mrs. the Poet yet, we had a fried chicken picnic in the house. I bought actual real chicken from the Deli at Tom Thumb, some chicken tenders, and some potato salad for the feast which we had after the races were over at Indy. Then I watched the IMSA race from Daytona while I was eating.

I got some really good information on the steering box while I was doing the last post so I will know how big a box I need to make to simulate the steering box in the Mini Sprint-T. Basically it’s a 5″ wide including the mount by 8″ tall by 6″ long box that I need to remove the bits that don’t look like a steering box from. Simple as creating the statue of David from a misshapen block of marble, little Renaissance Art humor there. I’ll have to do that in scale from plastic for the Mini Sprint-T.

I’m going out tomorrow to pick up a copy of Gran Turismo 5 from the local Gamestop for a literal pittance, $3 plus tax. If I get a day pass the bus pass will cost as much as the game. The idea is to hack the game to get access to the Caterham in the game and also give it the same power and weight as the Sprint-T as it already has similar aerodynamics and grip, then figure out how to get something I can use as a practice course for an autocross, probably something from the licensing tests they use in the game to unlock tracks and cars… Also tomorrow I expect to get my Joyce Smile mask and to model it for you.

I’ll be back tomorrow night with a new post, I hope. Stay safe until then.

I went out and paid bills again yesterday

And suffered mightily in the heat and humidity, heat index flopping around between 106° and 101° as a popup T-storm moved through. Mrs. the Poet suspects that I might need to buy shoes because I could barely walk because the soles of my feet hurt so much and it has been a while since I bought shoes. Anywho, my bill went down again as they are no longer charging a “convenience fee” for me to go to their store to pay my bill. My total payment was only $15 this month taxes included. So my bill has gone from $33/month to $15/month since April. Color me happy!😌

Also on the agenda I bought a steering wheel and pedals for my PS3 and laptop, should I find a driving game that will run on this laptop. But it will work for GT5 and GT6 on the PS3, so I should be pretty good. It’s a 180° rotation wheel with a shift lever and two pedals, meaning it’s perfect for simulating the Sprint-T except the steering is a little (by orders of magnitude) quicker than the Sprint-T. The real thing will have either 2.5 turns lock to lock with the store-bought steering quickener, or 1 turn lock to lock with the home-made quickener, which is either 3 binary or 1 binary order of magnitude quicker than the game controller, but the 270° controller was like three times as much as the 180° controller and nobody makes a 2.5 turn controller. I suppose I could install a reduction drive between the controller and another steering wheel (I have 3 from various project cars over the years that I put the OE steering wheels back on before I sold them), but TBH I don’t feel like it and it would be massive overkill for this project. Now I need to go to Gamestop and find either of the two games to buy. I have GT4 for my PS2 which is how I know that I need to get a wheel to use GT5 or GT6 on my PS3.

On the Sprint-T progress has been slowed because I’m either out doing stuff, physically recovering from being out doing stuff, or working on my computer like I’m doing right now. But I have a plan for when time and being able to do stuff coincide. I need to drill the pilot holes in the 2 by 4s so they don’t split when I drive the lag bolts in. I need to screw the sides of the nose to the radiator mockup between the two pieces I’m using to simulate the radiator end tanks on either side. And it looks like I’m going to need to cut a 6″ by 8″ hole for the steering box to hang out 5″ from, or figure out some way of denting the sides to allow the tires to turn at full steering lock. Easier is letting the steering box hang out the side, more trick and smoother appearing is forming a recess for the tires to still turn. Another factor is the side panels can be replaced with HDPE which is easily heat formed for such things as tire clearance. A third consideration is this nose was designed to make downforce and force air through the radiator, and the wider I make it the more of both it will make, and the center panel will allow for a 45″ wide nose if I don’t trim it, which will make it the same width as the body, or I can make it 39″ which will make it as wide as the windshield and have the side panels up underneath the nose to smooth the flow to the body somewhat.

Speaking of the steering box, the one I ordered will ship 2020-08-10 or sooner. The ‘Rona has messed up restocking stuff as it gets sold, so I’m waiting on a literal slow boat from China for my steering box. Everything else is Made in USA, but the big part is wending its way to some West Coast port, probably Long Beach or Portland if freight volume from China is anything to go by, or Portland if closest direct truck route to Nebraska is a factor. But I won’t get to see it for another month or so. Also on a (different) slow boat is the steering wheel controller that may be here by my birthday if I’m unlucky, the last delivery date is 9/21. The first one is beginning of August so they haven’t even picked the slow or the quick boat yet…

Happy Birfday Canada!

As an occasional resident of Our Northern Neighbor with fond memories of living there I would like to wish all my Canadian readers (both of you) a Happy Canada Day! The first time I lived in Canada I was Too Young for school, and the second time we left before I could even get registered for school, so I have no idea of how old they are, and I’m Too Lazy To Google today so I leave the age as an Exercise For The Student (tossing a bone to both the teachers reading this blog). I don’t know if there is any overlap between occupation and residence as my subscriber information isn’t that granular. I have some occupations because I know those people (HI Sioux! HI Cindy!) and my subscriber list used to have a location so I knew roughly who lived where.

Anywho, who wants to do a virtual Canada Day with maple syrup over ice cream and back bacon, and fireworks if you can and beer? I’ll do Shiner instead of Molson, because Molson is kinda not available locally right now because COVID19 (I guess?) and Molson is not the stuff Canadians actually drink. I’ll have a cuppa Red Rose tonight before I go to bed, because I can get the Real Thing from my NY in-laws across the border from Canada. They have it in their grocery stores, but I don’t see it down here in TX. Then we’ll get drunk and sing “Oh Canada!” probably off-key and forgetting most of the words, even though you can Google it.

O Canada!
Our home and native land
True patriot love
In all our sons command
(This is about as far as I can get drunk)
With glowing hearts
We see thee rise
The True North, strong and free
From far and wide
O Canada
We stand on guard for thee
God keep our land
Glorious and free
O Canada we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada we stand on guard for thee!

Yay! Maple Syrup and angry beavers! Moose!

More bizzarness l8er

Looking at driving sims for my PS3

Whenever my son upgrades his gaming console I end up getting the old one to play with so I recently acquired a PS3 system to play with. Now about the only games I play any more are racing sims, and they have gotten to the point that it’s almost impossible to control them without a wheel and pedals, because the hand controllers lack the precision to keep the cars in the games on the track. This means off the bat I need to drop roughly $150 out of my car budget into buying something to play with that only tangentially benefits the Sprint-T by keeping my driving skills sharp-ish.

Now if I get the right game I might be able to build a Sim-T and download it to the game, but unless there are some kinds of tutorials out there I’m not familiar with, the “I” is not going to be “me”. I don’t have any training in the programming languages needed to create stuff for the PS3. My coding skills such as they were are stuck back in the last quarter of the 20th Century and basically anything related to video games is out of my league. I might be able to tune the ECM of my engine given the right software, but that doesn’t translate to doing the same for video games. Even if I had the right software to create the objects I lack the knowledge of how to create the object even with the software. So what this boils down to is unless I get incredibly lucky and there is a car with similar weight, power and dynamics the sim won’t do much for training muscle memory except in the most rudimentary ways, but it will be fun anyway. I have been told that I might be able to use my laptop to run a sim, Asetto Corsa that will let me import a modified version of a Caterham 7 that will be close to the power to weight and grip, but I don’t see how that will work given what I spent on this laptop, roughly $250 2 years ago. So the laptop has about 2GB of memory and an unknown video controller because I can’t get into the hardware from my Windows button. Settings is pretty much useless for discovering what hardware I have installed with this computer. So far everything I have tried has come up empty as far as figuring out what graphics processor came with my computer. Even looking up the computer on Google didn’t answer anything concerning the graphics processor.

I’m going to do some more research and if anything useful turns up I’ll let you know

I have been really enjoying one of my Father’s Day presents

Mrs. the Poet bought me a year subscription to Motor Trend On Demand and I have been bingeing on Engine Masters videos, both ones I had seen and wanted to watch again and the ones I couldn’t watch because of the expensive paywall. Well MTOD had a fantastic Father’s Day special that basically had an entire year for a bit less than the price of a single month under their old plan, $11.99/yr. Now the Sprint-T budget won’t allow for lots of fancy engine parts, but it will allow for parts that make the engine fit the car better and also make more power engine live longer. Especially when I can make those parts for next to nothing and also make the model parts for next to nothing and super simple.

One of the things that I’m having problems with is the oil pan on the LS engine. Most of the factory pans hang down way too much. There is also the consideration that most of the factory pans are also rear sump which puts the front hoop crossmember right where the sump of the oil pan goes. Plus ungood. So, I’m either going to have to buy or make an oil pan that avoids the frame crossmember and also doesn’t hang down too far under the engine so the engine can mount as low as possible. There was an episode with an oil pan comparison that had a brilliant idea for making a pan with extra wide kickouts that keep the oil that gets scraped off the crank by the crank scraper or just gets thrown off the crank by centrifugal forces from bouncing off the side of the pan back onto the crank, robbing horsepower. Normally to do that and still have access to the pan bolts on the bottom of the block you have to weld big tubes inside the pan for a socket to reach the bolts or nuts on studs, but this pan they were using had the whole bottom of the pan unbolt to access the pan bolts and bolt the top part to the block, then the bottom part bolts on to the top. Much easier than welding tubes through the pan, much easier than trying to snake bolts through the tubes onto studs that cost more than the bolts used with regular non-kickout pans, and better sealing because of less distortion of the pan rail. On the Mini Sprint-T I just need to make a multi-layer pan with identical layers of 0.040″ with a layer of 0.010″ sandwiched somewhere between to simulate the flanges where the top and bottom bolt together and stick it to the bottom of the engine where the oil pan gets stuck.

What I had in mind was a pan that went as far below the block as the flywheel does and as far out to the sides as the frame with maybe an inch or so clearance between the inside of the frame and the side of the pan. This would allow for a huge amount of volume for the oil to basically collect away from the crank then flow back to the oil pickup that attaches to the oil pump, with swinging doors to trap a pool of oil around the pickup while other baffles keep the oil away from the crank to prevent it from whipping air into the oil. As was shown in the episode keeping oil away from the crank inside the pan made for more power and more importantly more stable oil pressure while the engine operates. Then the only limitation on how low the engine could sit in the frame would be stuff attached to the engine like the transmission pan on the transmission. A wild thought just occurred to me, is it possible to dry sump a transmission to make it not stick as far down and also run more fluid for cooler running? I’m pretty sure there is, but more research needs to be done.

Anywho, back to the engine pan. One thing I can see that would improve the mega-wide but shallow pan would be rolling beads inside the bottom to divert the return flow inside the pan away from the crank and towards the oil pickup and also stiffen the bottom against vibration. I can also see making the full-scale pan from just two pieces of sheet stock with the ends folding down from the top, and the sides folding up from the bottom, and making the flange where the two bolt together follow that contour. Or not, I’ll have to see when I build the full-scale pan. But for the Mini Sprint-T the sheet for the flange will get glued flat somewhere between the top and the bottom sheets, just to show there are a top and bottom. Measuring the model block I have shows just 0.2″ from the bottom of the block and the bottom of the flywheel cover, or about 5″ deep and about 18″ long, and keeping it rectangular at 34″ wide gives a volume of 53 quarts at the top of the pan. That would allow for lots of oil at very low levels that keep most of the oil away from the crank to prevent the crank from whipping air into the oil. Running the oil only 1″ deep is 11 quarts and the crank would be about 3.5″± away from the oil, which is still a lot of oil. Significantly more than the factory pan and also much further away from the crank.

Edit from 6/29: I measured my drawing of the frame and discovered that at the front of the engine there is only 22″ between the frame rails and there is 18.5″ from the front of the 1.5″ diameter crossmember to the front of the engine with the flywheel/flexplate behind the crossmember. Working that out at 1″ deep gives a little over 7 quarts (actual conversion is 6.66 liters) of oil in the bottom 1″ of the pan. This is more than the LS7 wet sump pan, so I’m counting this as “all good”. Filling to the top of the pan/bottom of the block gives a bit over 9 gallons or roughly 37 US quarts. I’m going to start at 7 quarts plus filter(s) and see how the oil pressure does while driving and add oil as needed. I don’t foresee actually racing at 7 quarts as I think the engine will need more oil to keep the pickup submerged while the engine is running to prevent sucking air into the oil system. Since oil is heavy I plan on running as little as I can without uncovering the pickup.

Well I have rambled on long enough. The tl;dr is I enjoy my Father’s Day gift and it has inspired me greatly.

Imagine making a million dollars a year

One of the things I do is imagine winning the lottery by whatever name you call it/them. Most of the multistate lotteries have annual payouts over a million dollars a year. So. I. Think. About. How. To. Spend. A million dollars every year pretty much forever. And TBH spending close to a million dollars a year every year ain’t easy. You have to buy a new car or two every year after you build the new house the first year and furnish it.

You can’t build a new house every year or even every other year and still enjoy the house after you finish it because a big part of doing that is actually living in it year after year. Well I don’t know about everybody else, but as a Cold War military brat getting moved every year, having the same bedroom all the time etc. is a minor luxury all its own. Some members of my cohort are the exact opposite and have to change houses about every other year. But for me I would upgrade house and furniture the first year and let it ride until something needed replacement. Now that first year would burn through most of the million without even trying as the new house gets built. I have fantasies of enough solar panels to run all the electric and then some to sell back to the grid, plus solar water pre-heat, and a single pitch roof pointed south to hang all those panels on. I’m not big on interior decoration, so I’m leaving that part of the project to Mrs. the Poet. I imagine she’ll get a couple of couches and tables and a recliner or two (we both love kicking back and putting our feet up) and I’m voting for the biggest of big screens and all the channels on the cable and streaming services.

Now one major thing having a million dollars a year income is the ability to have multiple build projects going at the same time and switch off between as enthusiasm for one wanes and to have another ready to go if I get bored or just have a parts delivery issue. Run out of parts for the T-Bucket? just switch off to the tricycle or the A/MOD car or maybe a boat or airplane project. I would never lack for something to do if I wanted to be doing something and not just vegging in the recliner.

And speaking of the Sprint-T, I got another part to use on it yesterday, the T-handle for the shifter. Now I’m not 100% happy with this delivery because there were parts missing and other parts duplicated and it was just a mess, but the parts needed to make it work on the Sprint-T were there so it wasn’t a tragedy.
Here's the handle
Now the reason I bought the handle is I’m thinking about making the shifter work for the mission of the car, and because I want to make this work for what I’m using the car for. Now if you weren’t paying attention that might have read like the same thing twice. What I’m really saying is the stuff I can buy won’t work for what I want to do with the car, and I have to make something that will. Now with a million dollars a year I could do that. Even without a million dollars a year I can do that, it just takes a lot longer to get it done. But it would be at least an order of magnitude easier if I made a million dollars a year. I might even pay someone else to do it. After I get done with the house.