Daily Archives: June 8, 2014

Planning vacation for the summer on a Wreck-Free Sunday

Today is one of the days when I really feel my brain damage. Mrs. the Poet and I were working the itinerary for the trip to NY and TN to visit with friends and family, and deciding which order will cost us the least money (I may have gotten paid last week but that doesn’t mean we have unlimited funds for the trip). I had no problem planning the trip for least travel time and lowest cost, what I was having the problem with was explaining the schedule and cost differences to Mrs. the Poet. The idiot box was going and the distraction was playing Hell with my ability to form sentences and relay information to Mrs. the Poet, to the point that I had to stop and scream in frustration. Part of the problem was even when I managed to get the information out correctly the previous errors in transmission had Mrs. the Poet so confuzzled she didn’t know what I was trying to say. Eventually (after the scream) I was able to get the information across to her about the benefits and deficits of the various schedules with benefits being mostly confined to less time en route and preferred seating.

Yesterday I went to A-Kon for the first time in years, and I have to say I don’t think I’ll be going back again. It wasn’t an A-Kon problem it was an Opus problem. I can’t stay on my feet that long without things getting really painful, and there was a dearth of places to sit down in the really interesting parts of the layout. Add to that the distances between things (it was a very large venue) and I needed a place to sit down and rest after walking to the places that had no place to sit which compounded my distress. I really need either smaller cons or cons with more seating in the dealers’ room. The problem is none of the cons here in DFW can be considered “small”…

The spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono just finished with everyone in Jr. Nation is happy, Brad Keselowski fans less so as Bad Brad mis-timed a move to get some trash off his grill and lost the lead to Dale Jr. and ended up finishing second (with the trash still on his grill). The thing that got me late in the race was the number of cars on the lead lap with less than 50 miles to go. When I was a lad watching the first races held over at Pocono, they had less than 30 cars finish the 400 miles of the race, today with less than 50 miles to go they had 30 cars on the lead lap. That’s orders of magnitude improvement in reliability in the 40 years since I was a kid, or PROGRESS! in the engineering of the cars. About 20 or so years ago NASCAR decided to drop building the cars with parts from production cars and allowed more and more parts that were pure race that had never seen a production car or a street. Now there is nothing on a “stock” car that is anything resembling stock. It makes for a better show, that’s for sure. One thing it doesn’t make for is better street cars.

I’m still frustrated in locating raw stock for my “other” bike. The seat tube is a standard size, but the metals dealers that sell lot sizes I can afford are not carrying the size, and the ones that are carrying the size require a half-ton lot size per size of tubing. I need 1.25″ 0.120″ wall square tubing which is strong enough that I can work with mild steel without worrying about bending or breaking on impacts. I redesigned the swing arm to get a better leverage arm and to move the pickup point for the coilover to a structurally better location on the frame. What I have done on the new swing arm was to extend it so that the pickup point for the pivot is roughly above the bottom bracket at the point where the chainwheel picks up the chain so the pogo is reduced. This was easier to do because of the 1X9 drivetrain I have chosen for this bike. I can get within a mm of the point where the chainwheel picks up that chain, and the stresses from the spring/shock unit are placed close to the seat instead of feeding from the seat to the pickup point through a lot of structure. This resulted in less structure and a lighter frame. Now if someone would just sell me some raw stock for that dadgum seat tube I would be set.

I’m still contemplating building a car, too. There is a Toyota Camry wagon for sale on the way to the bus stop that with only a little bit of work will make a perfect long-distance touring car for 2 people. Switch the stock gas tank for something like a 22 or 32 gallon safety fuel cell and we are talking some serious range between fillups. I mean the stock tank on this model is something like 16 gallons, putting in that 32 gallon tank will double the range. Now to put the big tank in there something has to give and that “something” in this case is the spare tire, and the back seat. Since the design passenger load is just me and Mrs. the Poet the back seat is not a big loss and a little more work where the floor pan and the bottom support structure of the seat went the spare tire will have a new home leaving a flat load floor from the rear hatch to the backs of the front seats for lots of luggage. Since the floor is getting worked on anyway, why not smooth out the structure for better underbody aero? So reduced drag and a touch better gas mileage extends the cruise range even more. This is the mission profile that Mrs. the Poet has emphasized over the one I prefer of handling and speed for short races around traffic cones (SCCA Solo racing). Both are totally valid mission profiles (mine’s better) but Mrs. the Poet’s profile has the slight advantage of being useful for getting around on our vacation (mine’s better).

And now I need to help in the kitchen with Sunday Dinner, making sure the roasted vegetables don’t stick to the pan and burn, so I’m cutting this off now.

PSA, Opus