Monthly Archives: April 2017

Yay beer! And other things.

Just got back from the store with a new (to me) beer, Shiner Homespun Cream Ale. I have a new favorite beer. Seriously, this is the beer I have been looking for for years, slightly sweet and not over hopped with just the right balance of sweet and bitter. I must send a letter to Shiner and tell them this.

Work on the Mid-Bucket has slowed while waiting on the parts to arrive, some of which are still not made yet. I mostly have been analysing the frame for things to leave off and make it lighter. I have found 2 tubes that are redundant so far for a total weight savings of 5.5 pounds.


On the Mini Sprint-T I’m almost done resizing the wheel halves for width after taking some time off for the Mid-Bucket. Filing the resin wheel halves is much quicker than the stainless steel steering arms on the Mid-Bucket, but because they have to be within a thousandth of an inch precision it’s only quicker in how long I spend actually filing them down compared to fitting the steering arms on the Mid-Bucket.

On the RPG front we are having some difficulty creating my character based on my life. Specifically my HP and natural armor or DR or in the terms of the game we are playing, Body and Hardness. Here’s the rub, the getting hit by cars doing from 25 to 30 MPH and walking away with minor abrasions is how Hard my body is in game terms. Getting hit by a truck at 60 MPH and barely dying is how much Body I have. Un-dying is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish that is covered by the rules but only for creatures in-game. And in-game I’m 129 years old, Mrs. the Poet has been dead at least 40 years, and I’m still living in the same house in Garland. I’m still mostly riding my bikes to get around except when I’m being a Runner when I have a couple of vans and cars. Also I’m an actual walking Urban Legend in-game having been a Runner since the events that created the game world. There are a number of people in law enforcement who don’t believe I actually exist, there are rumors I’m not actually human, that I’m some kind of avenging spirit, and even weirder stuff than that. This is going to be FUN!

On another front, my musical tastes are giving my YTM app apoplexy. So far on my saved music I have Jazz, Swing, Hip-hop, Classic Rock, Acid Rock, Electronica, Ambient, Trance… and whatever they classify Blue Man Group as. Seriously my tastes cut across so many genres My Channel is like listening to a radio that can’t stay on-station. If you can, do a search for Opus’ Fun Junk playlist. And prepare for your mind to get blown. 😀

And now I’m just doing the keyboard equivalent of babbling to hear my own voice, so I’m packing it in now. Happy Easter!

I had money so I bought some stuff

I had some money from my tax return so I bought some mid-Bucket parts for the front end. I went from known dimensions out back and how much the hubs added to the overall width of the front end and bought a front axle that spaces the wheel mounting surface just a tad further out than the rear.

Speaking of money, my first check from the secret shopper gig came this morning. The instructions were to cash the check, buy something up to $50 at the store (NDA on which store), keep $300 for myself and send $1300 to some dude in Houston. Supposedly there are some problems sending large amounts through Money Gram at this location. When I checked the delivery addy it did not exist, so I also checked the return addy on the envelope with the check and it didn’t exist either. The check looks real, at least the paper portion of the check is real, but I have no way to verify if the account is valid or not. The only thing I can do at this point is deposit the check and see if it clears.

Moving on to the other part of my day I repaired a cook stove for some people going camping next week. This was my first opportunity to fire up my flux core wire feed welder and give it a test at max thickness capacity. I had to do some finagling to get the part to stick together, but banging on it with a hammer did not dislodge the bits so I’m calling it done but not pretty.

This gig was good, solid practice for welding the frame and de Dion truss on the Mid-Bucket, and it gives me some hope on doing that project right.

And the guy that sets the alarm clocks to wake up chickens just left for work, so I should go to bed now.

So much done, so little accomplished

I was out of the house almost 7 hours today. I had a 20 minute procedure done in Lewisville and spent just over 6.5 hours getting to and from it. And I had to skip lunch because I was constantly running around to catch a bus or train with never enough time to stop to buy food. So, I had a lot of time to sit and think about things, and when I wasn’t thinking about things I was thinking about my second-favorite subject, the Mid-Bucket.

The big thing weighing on my mind about the bucket is getting rid of its inherent oversteer. There’s just way too much weight on the rear axle for 4 equal-size tires, and not enough tire selection in 15″ rims any more to be able to correct it with bigs and littles without giving up a ton of front grip. While I realize that excessive front grip is the problem, my philosophy is don’t give away what you have too much of in relation, get more of what you don’t have enough of. So, while I’m willing to find larger rear tires to get more rear grip, I’m completely unwilling to get smaller front tires to get less front grip. This is a race car, you always, always, ALWAYS want more, especially more grip. It may be a race car that I’m going to drive to the race and (hopefully) drive home, but it’s still intended to race and win.

Before I get back to the bigs and littles there are ways to keep the tire size “square” (same on all 4 corners) and reduce oversteer without completely killing the front grip. That can be done with restricting wheel travel on the front while getting absurd amounts of travel on rebound on the rear with long travel shocks and bump stops that only allow the same amount of compression as the front suspension, so that as the car rolls over on the outer tires the inside rear tire is still carrying a lot of weight because it still hasn’t extended the spring fully.

Another way is aero loading the rear more. That one is a little more tricky as rear grip will vary as the square of speed, so the car will still be loose at low speeds but potentially plowing tight as the car goes faster. This is not the way to go. Obviously I’m going to go for as much downforce as I can get, but balanced, and after I get the mechanical grip balanced, not before and definitely not “instead of”.

And I keep falling asleep on the keyboard so Nighty-Night…

I get lots of ideas on my walks

On today’s walk I ruminated in background on 2 problems: enough room for fuel tanks, and getting as much surface as possible for downforce including the windshield. Also I’m not a fan of the pinched cowl of the ’23-’25 model T, it offends my aesthetic and aerodynamic senses (which may be the same thing).

So, what to do? Well obviously blend the cowl into the windshield and the sides of the body, so that the widened firewall and hood sides flow the air smoothly down the sides of the body while the transition from the hood top to the windshield deflects the air up and forces the car down into the road, complementing this downforce generating nose .Downforce generating race nose

This is what I have to work with as shown with SAD (stick aided design). I literally duct-taped a thin stick to the side of the body to establish a smooth curve from the sides to the front axle past the firewall.
See how much gap there is at the firewall? Ugh!

Use your mind's eye to fill that space in and make it smooth.

Much easier to see how the front of the car would look from this angle.

This is how that nose looks on the kind of cars it was designed for.

My idea is in side profile to roll the hood over from the nose to just below the base of the windshield and make a smooth transition to the 30° angled windshield with the hood sides making an equally smooth transition to the side of the body like the stick taped to the side does, only all the way down to the frame, including the tuck-under at the bottom like the rest of the body. I’m still debating whether or not to put the little side fences on the hood to keep the air on it or to roll the top similar to the bottom or the top contour of the firewall.

This will look cool with the Monoposto seating in the center of the car. BTW that body mod will be 36″ wide at the original firewall and taper down to 29″ at the front axle, compared to the 27″ wide firewall it has now.

And it’s getting late again.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the fat but Unkillable

OK nobody will ride with me

I was getting used to the idea that Mrs. the Poet was not going to be riding in the Mid-Bucket, but I just found out that unless I took all of the bracing out of the halo my BFF would never be able to get in, and also that my grandson was not going to ride with me either (his mother remembers my driving her and friends in a 2-seat sports racer from before I quit driving back in the mid-’90s). So I’m going to go Monoposto with this car. That means I’m only putting in the one seat in the center of the car. This will make getting in and out much easier as the escape route will be unobstructed, there will be a place to sit on top of the cage and swing my legs over, and I can put my feet on either side of the seat instead of standing on the cushion.

Going Monoposto will make racing easier by letting me see both front wheels going past the cones, and make driving between events easier by putting the snacks and drinks in easy reach on each side of the seat. There will also be room for a day bag on either side of the seat down by the pedals with a cargo net to keep them from interfering with the pedals. It will also let me move the seat forward because I have the whole width of the firewall to use as a foot box all the way up to the firewall, about 26″ of inside width. Compared to the Sprint-T this is like having the whole state of TX to spread out in after living in RI.

This will also require some changes to the steering column and steering box mounting which then feeds back into changes in the gas tank. The steering box will have to go in the middle of the nose with an access trench through the top of the gas tank instead of down the side when the driver sits on the left. The trench is also needed to give the master cylinders a place to go on the firewall. The alternative to the trench is just restricting the height of the fuel tank to what clears the steering box and column.

And now it’s very late and I need to go to bed. I will think about the Mid-Bucket some more tomorrow when I go get a latte at my local Starbucks with the cards I have been generously donated and earn 150 bonus stars and a free drink.

Billed @€0.02 and a Starbucks card, Opus the Unkillable

My butt hurts, and other things

This Sunday I took a fall when I pushed up from my chair and before I could get my feet under me the chair went rolling backwards, dropping me on my tailbone. Then yesterday I did 3 miles even to max out my check-ins in as little time possible, only it took longer because of poor route planning. My butt didn’t hurt while walking, but it made up for it when I had to wait for the check-ins to become active again. I will know better for tonight.

Pentastar V6 and 62te transmission from a full size Mopar commercial van

I did a bit more Googling and I now know how much that engine and transmission weigh as a group. The Pentastar V6 engine weighs 326, the 62te transmission 220, right on my previous estimate based on the 41te the 6 speed is derived from, so the total is 546, one pound heavier than the SBC 350 without a transmission. Or rear axle, driveshaft or a whole raft of other things that are part and parcel of the 62te in the picture, but not the halfshafts or suspension that are also in that picture. The traditional 350/350 engine/trans combination for a bucket comes in at a combined 670 pounds, throw in the cast iron 9″ Ford center section and differential and you have about 740 for the (almost) equivalent of the picture. Thing is that picture is of the drivetrain of a full sized commercial van with a GVW of 8550 pounds, not some wimpy minivan. The drivetrain in that picture would have no problem with a 1500 pound Mid-Bucket. It is a pity then that I’ll never get to install it in one. The Mid-Bucket weighs about half the cargo rating of the van the powertrain in the picture comes from! I could literally drive the Mid-Bucket inside the box and drive the van away without overloading it. I mean how cool is that? And using that transmission on a vehicle with a GVW of 8550 pounds means they finally fixed the reliability problems of the 41te.

Enough car talk, I need to get ready for my walk.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the fat but Unkillable

Clean sheet of paper

How would I be doing the Mid-Bucket if I wasn’t trying to save sunk costs on parts already bought? What if I had a clean sheet of paper to go with the free engine and transmission? Those are the two most powerful words in engineering, What If…?

Well I would be doing pretty much the same thing I’m doing now behind the body, a de Dion truss and fabricated uprights with Metric e-brake calipers from that kit I linked to a while back. The main difference would be all the links would be straight aluminum tubes swedged to thread 5/8” heim joints, and the coilover would bolt to the upright, instead of to the top bar of the 4-link.
This is a sunk cost that I had to protect in the current design.

The middle would also be very similar to what I have on paper now, I see no need to make any changes just because I have that the way I want it. I really don’t need to change anything to make it work with any changes I make up front. Seriously it will work as it is with anything I put up front.

If it wasn’t for the weight I would use this spindle and brake kit . I’m thinking I might just buy another front bearing set for the donor vehicle and fabricate a light front upright for a lightweight IFS and maybe take a few pounds of unsprung weight. I would lose a bit of the camber control the tube axle would bring but counter with adjustability and limiting travel to keep everything lined up and pointed in the right direction. Also by using the driven hub I could go AWD in the future should that particular bug bite me. Right now I don’t see it as AWD would add about 200 pounds to the Mid-Bucket for only marginal gains in dry weather. That’s going from 1575 to about 1800. Now if that free engine and transmission came from an AWD Pacifica instead of a ’96 Town and Country… with the 305 HP tune from the Ram 1500… which might get me slightly ahead of what I have now. So, not worth the cost and time to install.

Anyway getting back to the RWD Mid-Bucket, I might be able to get down to 1550 pounds with the cast iron block 3.8 V6 by ditching the tube axle and redesigning the front clip for IFS. But that would be pushing the limits very hard, risking breakage on potholes and such. More realistically for a street car I could get down to 1560 from 1575 by changing from the tube front axle to an IFS and starting from a clean sheet of paper using the lightest components I could reasonably get. Subtract another 85 pounds from that for swapping in the Pentastar V6 so 1475 would be the lightest Mid-Bucket that could survive on the street.

And I’m ready to take my walk now, Opus the fat but still Unkillable

I have been busy even without Internet

Even without Internet access I have been busy on the Mid-Bucket and the Mini Sprint-T. For the Mini Sprint-T I have been modifying the resin castings into the right width wheels with the file and the digital calipers to keep track how wide the front and back halves of the wheel were. That takes a couple of hours for each wheel. For the Mid-Bucket I have been sketching to get the things I see in my mind on paper where you can see them, but not yet because they look like crap and are only partly done. I got the basic ideas down but as I was working I realized I had forgotten something very important, I neglected to include a mounting point for the front 4-bar on the frame. That’s kinda important as that’s what keeps the front axle in front, and not someplace in the middle of the car. And also controls axle wind-up under braking.

How I discovered that was I was thinking about what size links to put in my build list, and couldn’t remember how far the axle was from the 4 bar mounts. Then I tried to remember where the mounts were by remembering where the structure went when the penny dropped and I realized I had left some very important bits off the frame. And also left off the bits that triangulated the mounts for both the front and rear 4 bars. Not a great tragedy, but there would be some flex in the mounts without the bracing, enough maybe to feel under hard braking while racing. I did figure out where to mount the frame ends of the 4 bars, on the roll cage front and rear hoops. And I did figure out how to brace them so they won’t move around. It made the frame about 10 pounds heavier, but really there was nothing else I could have done except leave the mounts all floppy. Also the braces make getting in and out of the car much easier, like having a ladder permanently mounted on the side of the car.

The other thing that sketching out the frame did was confirm the engine mounts will in fact come naturally close to frame members, especially the front and rear mounts on the center rear frame member, but the left and right mounts are going to be right on and real close to the rear diagonal frame members, respectively. That means all the engine mounts are going to be on the bottom plane of the frame, but with the braces the rear of the frame is going to resemble a Birdcage Maserati.

All those tubes but no rollover protection...

Look at all those weld joints!

Now obviously I’m not going to go with such a complicated design, especially since it isn’t any lighter or stiffer than what I’m doing.

And since I need to get up early-ish tomorrow I’m putting this one to bed, and then me right after.

Time for another change in direction for the blog

Yep, Ima do it again. Going back to bike wrecks. This time is different, this time I will write about all those poor drivers and car passengers killed by cyclists. All the carnage, the dismembered bodies and destroyed lives, the flaming hulks of destroyed cars and trucks. I expect to post a new wreck maybe every decade or so.

Happy April Fools day.