Monthly Archives: August 2017

No post tomorrow, guess why?

Something happened 16 years ago at 0119 so I’m not doing a post tomorrow. Yep tomorrow is my Death Day. I’m celebrating all day long, not because I died, but because I’m too stubborn to stay dead. I have a flipping frequent customer card for the ferry to Hades with 3 check marks on it already. It makes me wonder if other people have cards like that and can we see each other’s cards? Anywho, it’s going to be as much of a party as I can stand at Casa de El Poeta tomorrow. I’m out of anti-depressants so I can drink as much as I want (not that I’m a big drinker). Probably no more than 2 beers tops.

I’m not going to kid you that the last 16 years were a walk in the park. Between the loss of income and the ongoing medical costs it has been a struggle even with the lab rat gig. And when Mrs. the Poet retired it got even worse, because she kicked out all the people renting rooms so we lost about $400 a month from the rental and another $300 from going from her paycheck to her pension. That was a serious financial hit. And besides the poverty there were also medical issues not covered by the lab rat gig. Like the fact that the injured leg is shorter than the other leg, like the brain damage, like the depression, like the back pain from the short leg, like… The list is endless but the brain damage keeps me from being able to remember everything at the moment.

So after beating the odds big time I’m taking the day off to do something not related to bicycle safety or anything else related to what put me in this situation. Maybe I’m going to work on the front axle of the TGS2, maybe I’m going to make a pie. I don’t know yet. I’m going to read web comics first, maybe pop a beer.

See y’all in two days.

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Neo-Hephaestean statement of belief

Well I have been looking for some kind of statement of belief from the original worshippers of my patron deity and I have come up dry. So it looks like I have to make one for today’s followers, based on my biases. That’s part of the problem when the original religion was a secret society that passed knowledge as an oral tradition.

First is the only thing required to follow Hephaestus is the desire to make things. All the things from all the materials are sanctified provided they are made with the proper attitude. Even making meals is sanctified if for no other reason than continuing your existence.

Second there are no races/ethnicities better than any other races/ethnicities. If you make things you can follow Hephaestus. All are brothers and sisters at the forge.

Third you must strive to make things that improve the human condition, at least part of the time. Weapons are allowed for defensive purposes and as an art form. Weapons training resembles dance in many ways. Making weapons one must be sure to make them only as deadly as required for the purpose, followers should never make WMD.

Fourth if you have a choice between making something and making something beautiful that serves the same purpose, make it beautiful, but if your choices are ugly but serviceable or nothing at all make something serviceable. Work on your skills until you can make the thing beautiful the next time you need to make it.

Fifth Hephaestus did not require sexual fidelity from his wife, so we should not bind our partners to us so that we deny them the company of others. Love is not a chain to bind us but a thread to guide us back together when we are ready. Love grows best when it doesn’t bind. Also celebrate your partner’s(s’) accomplishments, recognize what they do even when it’s not about you. They are separate individuals with separate needs and desires. Celebrate when you can be together but do not mourn if you are apart.

Sixth plagiarizes another religious statement, Love your brothers and sisters as you would yourself, everything else is just commentary.

Go in peace, and make something wonderful.

Lots of road course racing this weekend

There are two road courses today on the tube and one yesterday. And there was an Indycar race from a short (by Indycar standards) oval. And for those wondering we are way north (about 250 miles) of the hurricane down on the coast so all we have gotten was a few showers and some slightly damp kitties. I’m worried about my Houston friends as H is getting drowned with feet (not inches) of rain. Last report they are expecting 5 feet of rain total. I have some friends living less than ¼ mile from the Brazos river which is way out of its banks last report. I’m especially worried for them and their dogs.

I have been thinking about the Mini Sprint-T and the scale mockup for the TGS2 as they both need a body. What I have been thinking about is making a mold off of the AMT kit body then casting a plug from Bondo to use making a vacuformed body after making the desired body modifications to the plug. The plug would then be split in half to draw the body material over to a form with no undercuts so the body can be removed easily from the mold. The TGS2 mold would have the rear hatch molded separately so it can be hinged to work on the engine and I can test side versus top hinges for access to the rear suspension and engine.

Still thinking about making the little V6 run on E85 only. There is a hypereutectic piston I can use that is flat topped and can be zero-decked for the minimum clearance between the head and the piston, and then the heads will have to be angle-milled to shrink the combustion chamber in the head without taking too much material off the bottom of the head. And I realize that the preceding sentence read like technobabble to about 90% of my readers who were not brought up hard-core gearheads, but every word was a valid technical term or connecting word between. IOW it was all English, just not a common dialect of English. Translation: There is a cast piston made with a low expansion rate high-strength aluminum alloy that is flat across the top and can be fitted flush with the top of the cylinder. Then the heads will have to be milled on an angle with more taken off on the big side of the combustion chamber to get the chamber as small as required with the least amount of material removed. Hypereutectic pistons can support about 375 HP on gas for this engine, and I’m only hunting 225 to 250 HP with cooler-burning E85 so well within estimated stress limits, plus they are inexpensive especially compared to forged pistons. In this case that is especially true because forged pistons would have to be custom made, they aren’t available as regular production items.

The last sentence of the previous paragraph pretty much sums up my biggest frustration with this build, almost everything is $pecial order or cu$tom made, especially in the engine. Some of that is because there were no performance applications for this engine aside from the 1991 Shelby Can Am series which only made 150 engines putting out about 225 HP. The other reason is the last one left the production line in 2011, 6 years ago. Compare this to the ubiquitous SBC that was in production as a factory-installed engine from 1955-2001 and is still in production as a replacement engine for emission controlled vehicles of that era, and as a crate engine for new cars that are not required to meet emissions controls like the Sprint-T. There were literally tens of millions of SBC made in dozens of different sizes from 265 to 455 cubic inches when you include the hybrids made from mixing different blocks and cranks. One of those hybrids actually made production status as the Z28 302 in3, which was a hybrid of the 283 crank in a 327/350 block. One of the most popular hybrids is the 400 crank in a 350 block bored 4.030″ to produce 383 in3. How popular is it? There are now twice as many 400 cranks as there were 400 SBC engines made, the aftermarket is producing brand new cranks with the 3.750″ stroke of the 400 crank with the smaller main journals of the 350 block. It’s even easier to get parts for the LS/LT engine families than it is the 3.3/3.8l Mopar V6.

And that’s enough kvetching about the free engine I was given, at least stock replacement parts are cheap and easy to find because of the millions of them on the road. And some of those factory parts are suitable for use in a high-performance engine with a little preparation, like balancing or grinding off flash and light polishing to remove stress risers.

And I have to go now because my friends on the Gulf are finally starting to check in and I don’t want to miss any. Also my back is starting to hurt again. I did pretty well for several hours today but the pains are back.

Back from watching the eclipse

I was just outside Lebanon TN where we got 2:30 (+/-) of totality. It was really neat to watch the shadows dance from the light cast by the corona. And I could see Sirius and Venus during the eclipse. At least I assume that “star” in line with the sun was Sirius, might have been something else.

Also I got some kind of stomach bug on the bus trip to Nashvegas and got to make several trips to the toilet working up to the eclipse, or maybe something I’m allergic to messed me up. Anyway I had diarrhea (sp?) most of the time I was in TN. Fun times.

I had lots of time to think about the TGS2 while I was not stuck on the toilet. One of the things I was thinking about was that the transmission would probably stick out the left side of the body where it tucked under to meet the frame because it is closer to 40″ wide there and the frame is 34″ wide. I could do two things to “fix” that. Easiest would be just go ahead and cut the bottom of the body for clearance and live with the tranny sticking out the side of the body in front of the rear suspension. The other thing I could do is raise the body to clear the transmission and any part of the engine that might stick out. Then make a cover to hide all the bits not hidden inside the body. I have also been thinking about moving the bucket back forward and making an extended pickup bed to cover the engine and bits, and the fuel cell. That’s easier to make fit around the bits but looks funny. But does it look more strange than the cockpit in front of the body or less?

I also had time to look up tuning for running strictly on e85 ignoring the possibility of using premium unleaded gasoline. One thing I would need to do is raise the compression ratio to about 14:1 to take advantage of the high research octane number, and remove any sharp edges on the top of the piston or combustion chamber in the head and polish the combustion chamber to prevent pre-ignition. Doing this will get me part-throttle fuel economy similar to the stock engine on gas with about 40% more power at full throttle. That means highway mileage similar to the minivan I took the engine from and better in-town mileage (because the TGS2 is about 1300 +/- pounds compared to 3900 +/- for the minivan). So I’m looking at 25 +/- MPG highway and well over 16 around town. And a 32 gallon fuel cell to go with that for long stretches between e85 stations out west, over 800 miles if needed

I did some sketches of what the front fenders would look like with the headlights faired into them… Can I just say ugly with a capital UGH!? I’m debating if the reduced drag is worth the damage to the esthetics. Since the top speed is going to be limited by the gearing in the transmission anyway, and I wouldn’t be able to see the difference in fuel mileage fairing in the headlights is strictly a matter of appearances. Now if I could track down some headlight buckets for mounting the 5 3/4” headlights I had originally planned on using since they are OK here in TX when used as single (per side) headlights as long as I use the motorcycle versions. They have under the maximum high beam light output but well above the minimum, so everything is copacetic on that front. I will be able to see where I’m driving at night without blinding oncoming drivers. And the smaller headlights also look better when faired into the fenders.

And right now I need to have a lie down because my back is still having painful spasms and I’m sweating like pigs can’t because of it.

Last post for a while

OK quick post before I have to pack and go. The laptop can’t travel, the phone hasn’t been set up to blog, and I don’t know what my service will be like for my phone anyway. The house sitter will be here in the morning to feed the cats. And I will get to see Mrs. the Poet again after 6 weeks Wednesday. Back is giving me fits but as long as I sit up straight I’m OK.

Posting again Thursday after next.

Someone used a motor vehicle as a murder weapon in VA

I have seen the video and I’m in shock. Something fell from between the weapon vehicle and the one it crashed into, something that looked like cloth over flesh but I couldn’t get a good look at it to make sure. I’m getting most of my coverage from Twitter as I missed the TV news shows. I’m going to have to quit now because typing is causing my back to spasm like I’m dying. I’m going to publish this and lie down

Slightly sad today

This afternoon I cashed my last gift card from that mobile app I used to play. I checked last month and there were no more gift cards I could buy with my points, meaning I could only collect $1 every 3 weeks entering sweeps once a day instead of the more than $100 I used to get in a year collecting big points and cashing them in for $5 and $10 gift cards. And then I deleted the app from my phone. That means I no longer have an excuse to take my evening walk to collect check-ins.

And next week I’m leaving for the eclipse watching party in TN and spending a week with old friends. With the problems I have been having with my old laptop I’m leaving it at home and just taking my phone for whatever electronic contact I get. And since that phone is also not reliable I’m biting the bullet and getting a newer phone that has all its buttons working. Having a reliable phone when I’m on the go is a must.

I have troubleshot the problems with the laptop and isolated it to a bad battery. Unfortunately there don’t appear to be any available locally so I’ll have to go on the Internet to get one after I get back from eclipse watching. They are not too expensive, just not in local stores. But that means I won’t be able to update the blog until I get back.

On the TGS2 front I have been working on the new frame design and trying to find places to put everything. Moving the engine inside the body tidies things up but it also makes things cramped for things like batteries and gas tanks, mostly because I took 12″ out of the wheelbase when I moved the engine forward. If I put that back in I have tons of room for a gas tank and a battery. Heck 5″ would solve the packaging problems without making the car all that long. It would still be shorter than a Fiat 500 with less weight and more HP from a relatively slow-revving engine. I know a Fiat 500 is a low performance bar to top, especially when I’m looking at Caterhams and Corvettes as benchmarks, but with a stock 3.8l V6 pushrod engine producing 168 HP @4200 RPM I can’t get my hopes too high. But with the ongoing redesign I’m getting the polar moment (resistance to changing direction) even lower than my benchmarks, so given equal grip from the big tires on the flyweight car I should do pretty well at Goodguys autocross. And that is the goal for this car, winning Goodguys autocrosses, while being competitive at SCCA solo racing. And also capable of picking up groceries, and driving thousands of miles to and from the races without destroying the driver in the process.

Now I have to get to bed because I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

I survived the trip to pay bills

Well it wasn’t easy but I managed. Most of the bills are caught up, and I managed to get fed and stayed hydrated and even managed to get a naughty treat. There was a new flavor of milkshake available at the Whataburger so I got the smallest one as a treat/dessert. And then farted all night long.😨 Did I mention I discovered I have been lactose intolerant for the last few years? It is not a big deal, I just get really gassy and it has to come out somewhere, right? Interesting story about how I found out, we ran out of milk for my coffee so I had to use non-dairy creamers for a few days, and I noticed I wasn’t gassy, then when we had milk again I was gassy again. And by ran out of milk I mean everything, there wasn’t any plain milk, yogurt, cheese, whipped cream, anything dairy in the house. That was the first time in years we have been without anything dairy.

Right now I’m recovering from yesterday, trying to make my back stay out of spasm, which is easier said than done. The strangest things will trigger a spasm, like a big yawn or turning wrong or bending over to pick something up off the floor, or passing gas. Don’t ask why passing gas causes a spasm, I haven’t the foggiest notion of why that happens. The other stuff I can at least figure out why I get a spasm, usually because I tense up muscles when I do them, and the back muscles don’t like to be tensed up. I have to say I have sympathy for other people with bad backs, because I can get so painful I can barely move, and that’s with my pain tolerance, the guy who pulled his own teeth and walked around on a broken tibia until it healed two months later. So when I say something hurts a lot take my word for it I really hurt.

I was mentioning I was being kept awake because my mind won’t shut down and keeps coming up with crazy ideas that it won’t let go of. Well last night was a doozy: Transplanting the FWD minivan drivetrain as a FWD drivetrain on the bucket. You think I’m having weight distribution issues with the drivetrain in a mid-engine configuration you don’t even want to know what happens when you hang all that mess 10″ in front of the front axle! It doesn’t just add weight to the front wheels it actually reduces weight on the back wheels because of leverage effects. The minivan gets away with this because it has almost 2 tons distributed over the 4 wheels before driver and payload are added. So it ends up with a controllable understeer that’s mostly from the effects of driving through the wheels that steer the car. But this crazy contraption would spend most of its time getting towed out of ditches it had slid into nose-first. So, sorry sleep-fighting mind, this one is never going to even get sketched.

One that I wish I had the time and money to build was the A-Mod Solo racer with the V-twin engine. The quick-and-dirty calculations on that one are scary quick with even balance and extremely low moment of inertia. The weight distribution would be exactly 25% on each wheel. I would actually have to add ballast to make minimum weight. And it would cost less than $10K to build with a little watching Ebay auctions for a good price on the engine. But it ain’t gonna happen while I’m “p’ ” which means “too poor to buy a vowel”.

And now I have to get to bed.

Nothing is going to plan this week

I’m still having sleep issues knocking my cycle out of whack with the business world. I was exhausted last night but I still couldn’t get the mind to shut down and let me sleep, and then it took forever to wake up and function after I did get to sleep. It is almost like I have trained myself that lying down is time to start thinking and then I can’t wake up until I get as much sleep as I need.

So I’m gonna try an experiment and go to bed early tonight, before midnight even.

Which is why I’m doing a curtailed version of the post tonight, so I can get to bed and get all thar thinking out of the way and get up early enough to get things done. ‘Derchi!

It looks like I’m on an every-other day schedule

Well after yesterday I was in recovery mode today. I had to get caught up on my sleep. I’m also still dealing with the pains from the right side back muscles going into spasm when I bend over. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, because to be honest this has been an ongoing issue since 2002 when I started walking with the short leg after the wreck. I think there are some body-weight exercises that I can do to strengthen the muscles but I don’t know how well that will work when just moving the wrong way can cause painful spasms, but I’ll figure it out.

All I did today was mess around on the phone, read some web comics, eat a little, pet take care of the cats, and try not to sit for too long at a stretch so I don’t make my back worse. That part was the hard part because getting in and out of my chair are triggers for the back spasms. But again I will figure it out or tough it out. At this point I don’t know if having a high pain tolerance is a good thing or a bad thing. I know that my knees would be in better shape if I felt pain more quickly as I wouldn’t have injured my cruciate ligaments as much or as often if I could feel then going as they went, not to mention the collateral damage from walking around in that condition. But I don’t know if toughing it out will make my back worse or better in the long run. I’ll have to Google it but most people I talk to (or tweet with) are in the camp that pain means stop, especially since I can pull my own teeth w/o Novocaine.

Well I knocked this one out after dinner and I need to get up early tomorrow, so this is going to be a short one.