Monthly Archives: December 2018

We survived 2018!

Well in about nine hours as I write this, but barring sudden catastrophe it looks like 2018 will be in the rear view mirror.

Progress was made on many fronts, mostly RPG and Sprint-T related, but Other Things Happened also. On the downside was the DVT scare, but on the upside was Mrs. the Poet getting SS and Medicare. Now at least one of us has access to medical care without needing to raid the fund for keeping the house. If we lived in a state that did not consider being poor a crime we would already have access to medical care, but you have to play the cards you get at the table you got them.

So, anyway, short post. I hope you survive the rest of 2018 and all of 2019 and come out none the worse for wear.


More stuff arrived, yay?

OK I got some more raw stock for the Mini Sprint-T yesterday. Basically I got 0.040″ thick styrene for making brackets and steering arms and the spindle backing plate where it connects to the axle. The amusing part is the minimum order was 4 sheets of which I will use maybe half a sheet if I’m profligate in my layouts, and when they packed it they included an extra 2 sheets to “protect” the actual material I paid for. So I needed less than ½ of a sheet, bought 4 and got 6, for a total of 12 times as much material as I need. The other funny part is unlike the rest of the raw stock I got this was sent in a padded envelope instead of a cardboard box stuffed with crumpled paper.

This sheet material is going to model structures that will be fabricated box structures on the real car like the engine and transmission mounts, or actual parts that are just that heavy because of the stresses involved and the critical nature of the part like steering arms. A major part of model building is “representation” rather than actually reproducing something in miniature. The exhaust system will be a good example of that for the Mini Sprint-T. The 1:1 version will have what is called a “tri-Y” or 4-2-1 exhaust system that improves torque below the torque peak but doesn’t change peak power much. It doesn’t get every last HP at peak though, so drag racers don’t use them much, but road racers, short-track oval racers, and autocross racers spend more time well below the torque peak and the tri-Y manifold is popular in those applications. Well this is a type of manifold that requires a large amount of fabrication for smooth flow, and ditto on the fabrication level for the scale version, and because of the difference in materials is actually easier to build full-scale than in miniature. Well to get around that I’m going to use the fact that the exhaust is going to be wrapped in insulating material to hide the fact that I’m just going to butt-join the rods representing the tubes of the manifold and not build the streamlined joints. The work would have been hidden by the wrap anyway and this saves a lot of work that will never be seen. The real tricky part will be the wrap, I’m still experimenting with stuff for that. My thoughts are whatever I use will require a paint wash to get the color right so it will have to be something that takes paint well. But that is something that comes much later in the build, so I have time to figure that one out. The current leader for that is hypoallergenic bandage tape, but I still need to do the paint test. And like I wrote, the actual wrapping will be in the future.

Line art of what I'm trying to make

Actual photograph of what I'm trying to make, kinda sorta.

But at any rate what I have now will fill in for complicated fabrications that would be a nightmare to produce in scale and not be discernible from cutting it from a single piece of heavy sheet. End of the current chapter. Next will be actually building the frame, which is like 80% of the build for this model. There are a few dimensions I’m not entirely positive about, some of which need to be hashed out during the model build because I can’t import the parts to my CAD program. The other ones are because I have to build to a rulebook that’s a bit vague about certain things like roll cages, and another rulebook that is more than a bit vague about the same things, and doesn’t mention anything about it except that for my car it’s required without any dimensions or tubing sizes. That is a really big help GoodGuys. “All Roadsters must have a roll cage.” That is verbatim everything printed in the rule book about roll cages. So what I’m doing is using the SCCA Solo rule book for roll bars and applying the rules to the rear hoop, and treating the car like it weighs 2500+ pounds, when I’m looking at maybe 1800 if I run iron heads on the SBC engine and something along the lines of a 4l60E transmission and the Ford 9″. Now if I get a quick change I can get the TH350 and take about 45 pounds off the car because I can change the gears to something really tall for the freeway and gas mileage without having to compromise to get the right gearing for racing. Just jack it up to unload the gears, pop the rear cover off, and swap the race spur set for the highway spur set and refill the rear end then go. And the car will be slightly quicker racing because the race gear doesn’t have to be compromised because of 9″ gear availability or having to get good highway mileage. But the other side of that is quick changes are much more expensive than the common 9″, and other junkyard rear axles are even cheaper and “close enough” on the gear ratio. But in the model I will be using the quick change, because I have 4 of them and no 9″ Ford in that scale. I have 2 of the V8 size housings and 2 of the 10″ ring gear size housings, but no 9″ Fords 😐. And you can see how decisions for the 1:1 car affect the 1:25 model.

And it’s getting late and I should be going to bed soon.

Still thinking, this is not a drillllllllll

As the saying goes, fair warning. I am thinking about the Mini Sprint-T again. I realize this does not carry the same imminent danger to life and limb as its larger counterpart, unless you are the guy with the scalpel-sharp knife cutting plastic to bring the thoughts to fruition. Then fingers might be at renewed risk, but only mine. I did almost lose the end off one about 50 years ago while building a plastic model. But that is a tale for and from a different time.

One of the things I need to think about is stuff connecting the front and rear axle to the frame. In most kits this is usually molded as a single piece that gets glued to the frame and axle(s), but I have to build mine from raw stock and sometimes from hardware from a 3rd party like Ted’s Modeling Marketplace or Dirt Modeler . But mostly it is a matter of putting the axle in place and then figuring out where is a good place on the frame to tie in the locating links. And possibly adding more uprights and diagonals to the frame to prevent flexing IRL because we are trying to “model” something to make IRL. This is just “old school” 3D modeling, with actual physical pieces getting cut and built in actual physical space. And also because I like cutting material and gluing stuff together. So, indirectly thinking about the Mini Sprint-T is actually thinking about the full-size Sprint-T, just thinking in more achievable circumstances. I have the skills to make a presentable engineering model, but it might not be a display quality model. And what I really want is a display quality engineering model. But I will accept an ugly engineering model in lieu of a display quality engineering model if it means I have a representation of the Sprint-T in physical form.

Along those lines I bought new model-building tools as I can’t use the tools I did have because age has hampered my abilities and the new ones will fit my hands better (I hope). At any rate what I have now are jury-rigged from tools made for other things, or just flat out never intended to use for making models but can be forced into the role if you have the physical dexterity, which I don’t anymore. As an example there’s this one cut I need to make that requires rolling your wrist just right while holding the razor blade to get the desired curve, and my wrist no longer moves that way while imparting enough force to make the cut. When the tools get here I’m hoping I can make that cut. That’s the thing I’m dealing with because of my accumulated damages over the last 60 years. It’s not the tools, it’s the fact that I can’t make the tools do the thing any more. And this is why I’m sad/angry, sadgry? What is the word for that emotion. And Amazon was of no help in finding equivalent bits that I can spend my gift cards on…

And I just got a box the size of a shoebox containing a few plastic rods and sheets and lots of paper padding. Which was the first of the many packages I’m getting from the same order. I guess this is to prevent damage to the rods from bending as they can develop a permanent set if held in a flexed position. And now I need to find my butane torch and a can of fuel to use it so I can bend the rods without breaking them. This seems like a good place to stop writing and maybe start doing again.

Opus did not survive Christmas

And who knew ghosts could blog? 🤣 Seriously I think I ate myself to death yesterday, and my eternal punishment is to continue to feel stuffed for all eternity. My daughter got a spiral cut ham as a gift and I might have gone definitely went overboard loading my plate with the ham, on top of the hors d’oeuvres served in the hours before dinner. I never even touched my pound of Reese’s peanut butter cup which was actually two half-pound cups that my son gave me for my wrapped present. All told I made out like a bandit again this Christmas what with the engine hoistshop crane, $100 in gift cards for a famous online shopping destination, cash from the in-laws, and a pound of Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Mrs. the Poet did well with the upright vacuum cleaner, a cooking device that can either be a panini press, or one or two griddles, gift cards, two tea pitchers and more gift cards.

Getting back to the gift cards to the online shopping destination I bought more raw stock for the Mini Sprint-T, because when you are scratch building something you don’t have detailed plans for you will make mistakes about dimensions, especially for things like bends and clearing other components. So I bought enough rod stock for at least 3 frames, to allow for many mistakes. And some sheet for making brackets and linkages, because those things need to be on the car.

In the meantime boxes were opened and contents were unpacked and assembled.

Note the weight limit markings

And I may not be able to unpack some boxes.
This is his box and he loves his box.

And the fur babies were not ignored either.
A filtered recirculating water bowl, the end of the nasty water bowl.

I have recovered enough for coffee and breakfast partially because I don’t want to insult Mrs. the Poet’s cooking, but lunch was beyond my abilities and I’m not banking too much on eating dinner, either

The presents to and from Mrs. the Poet are here

Stuff we ordered for each other has arrived, she got me a shop crane/engine hoist, and I took her Amazon shopping for a replacement for her vacuum cleaner that doesn’t suck. The engine hoist is her statement that I’m still allowed to build the Sprint-T, I just have to strip the donor vehicle in a different location than our house. The vacuum cleaner is my statement that I’m tired of listening to her berating the broken vacuum cleaner for being broken and not sucking up the dirt as she uselessly pushes it back and forth across the floor every week.

Her vacuum cleaner.

My engine hoist

You can see there is a large difference in volume and weight, but not much in price, her vacuum cleaner was only like $30 cheaper than the engine hoistshop crane.

This is the direct result of not having to pay the full, undiscounted facility bill for the DVT that wasn’t back in September. Since I wasn’t counting on being able to get a discount on that bill I got the full amount out of the trust and what we are buying presents with is some of the savings from my negotiations. I know I have mentioned that repeatedly in the past, but as I have a new publicist software I don’t know how many people reading this have never seen this blog before. Actually I should rephrase that to how many reading this are not Sioux Geonz or Ted Rogers, because they are about my only steady readers, but I do get a lot of repeats who are not steady readers, so I really have no idea who has seen the other posts about the trip to the ER and the bills it caused, or any of the rest of it.

So, anyway, we finally got a little something that will make our lives easier/happier so this is a good Xmas for us, and all the cats and people here at Casa de El Poeta wish the same or better for you and yours. The squirrels not so much, but what can you expect from squirrels?

I got stuff and some people won stuff and we ate good stuff at the RPG group holiday party

And that basically covers the event. Our DM also makes jewelry and chain mail on the side so everybody got a D20 in a chain mail basket on a chain as a pendant. I handed out scratch cards from the Texas Lottery and one guy won $40, so that worked out well. I’ll take a picture of my D20 and post it next time.

We had a gourmet mac and cheese for lunch, and leftover desserts from another party that included key lime merengue pie and baby pecan pies masquerading as cookies. Then we sat down around the game table and didn’t talk about games of any kind, including the one we were playing.

Happy Solstice and whatever holiday you celebrate

Welcome to the longest night of the year. For some of us this is a time of quiet contemplation, for others it is a time for raucous partying to make sure the sun returns, for the rest of us it’s Friday night.

For me, I will crack a bottle of beer and contemplate because I didn’t get invited to the parties as I’m old and maybe they thought I wouldn’t or couldn’t enjoy the action. There is a grain of truth to that as I have been dealing with pain in both hips lately and can’t dance like I used to. Or do “other things” like I used to. But I still enjoy the music and doing less physical kinds of dancing, so I’m ever-so-slightly annoyed at not getting any invites this year. For Mrs. the Poet this will be Friday night like every other as she’s not Pagan, she just lives with one and I make no attempt to convert her. And TBH if I hadn’t experienced what I did while I was dead I would probably be Atheist by now. I know there is something, but knowing and having the vocabulary and syntax to explain it are two different things. So I will pick out the most contemplative beer from what’s left of my Shiner Family Pack and contemplate.

As my old raincoat fell apart this summer when I took it out of the closet to wear it I bought myself a present with the money I get for my allowance. I bought this from a company called Alert Shirt and it’s basically a waterproof shell to wear over my other clothes so I can wear it all year and just adjust what’s under it to accommodate to the temperature. As such I bought it a size larger than I wear to allow for heavy coats under it. Yesterday I wore it over a light shirt and jeans in a strong wind and temperatures in the mid to low 50s F (13-10°C) and was comfortably warm especially after I pulled the hood over my hat to trap some warm air around my head.
The camera doesn't do it justice as to how bright the color is.

And no my arms don’t bend that way, but the coat does over my arms, so there you have it. I picked this coat because here in TX the need for a heavy coat doesn’t come up very often, even less often than the need for rain protection, but when a heavy coat is needed there is frequently precipitation of some kind to accompany the need for insulation. I have heavy coats of varying degrees of water-resistance and I used to have to select based on water-resistance over insulation because of precipitation. Now I don’t have to I can select a coat suitable for the temperature and use this “waterproof windbreaker” to take care of precipitation if there is any. It also lowers the temperature range of the other coat by about 10°F(3°C). I would have been uncomfortable in the “feels like” of 40°F yesterday without the coat but was mostly good with the coat, IOW if the wind hadn’t been blowing I had enough clothes for the temperature, and the coat did its job at keeping the wind off me. So between this coat and my other coats I should be good out walking this winter.

In closing, Happy Solstice to you and yours however you celebrate it and I’ll see you after Christmas as I have social and family obligations that will prevent my writing until after the holiday.

The bad dream is finally over

I finally paid the ER bill for the DVT that wasn’t. I went through what could only be described as a Kafkaesque fever dream of declined cards with more than enough in the account and 6 attempts to pay before finally getting the bill paid.

First I had to get the money out of the fund we had set aside for taxes and emergencies, after we got the bill I mentioned. I got the full amount out in case I had to pay the billed amount. Then I called the billing office yesterday and negotiated a lower bill, that was still too high IMHO but as I had the $$ I really didn’t feel like pursuing the matter further. Then things got really fun. First I paid the bill for the facility, which went through without a hitch. Then I tried to pay the bill for the radiologist, only to get declined in spite of having several thousand dollars more that the payment in the account (I got the money for taxes at the same time I did the money for the ER bill). Apparently I exceeded my withdrawal limit for the day, embarrassing but sh!t happens.

So I called back again the next day to complete the process, only to get declined again for the same reason, in spite of the fact that I hadn’t made any new withdrawals that day. I called my bank and demanded (in a calm voice) to know WTF was going on. And it seems “what was going on” is previous day withdrawals are not posted until 0001, and count against current day withdrawals when determining if the current withdrawal is below the limit. This is going to be tons of fun come time to pay the taxes…

So, I got a temporary increase in my limit to complete my transaction, and the total bill came to $2628.67 instead of the $3300+ billed. And because I still have short hair that’s too short to grab and pull I still have most of the hair I had at the beginning of the process.

It might happen

I have been watching Facebook and catching really cheap SBC engines and corresponding transmissions. Cheap as in $350 for a running engine and $500 for a rebuilt transmission. Or a mostly-built complete powertrain for <$1000. I might even be able to compete equally at Goodguys with it against the pro builds, if I get the suspension sorted properly. Even with an iron block and iron heads, and what they call an “RV” cam which is what most rebuilds get because they’re cheaper than a stock replacement cam when the cam is worn out, the power to weight ratio will still be sufficient to fry the tires if I put too much pressure on the right pedal. At this point I know I will need to dial the suspension a bit on the “tight” side (understeering), because I can get sideways (“loose”) with pressure on the “loud” pedal. This is called “power oversteer”.

Also the extra weight will help with the ratio between the spring/unsprung weight I brought up in an earlier post talking about the weight of the front axle assembly compared to the total weight of the mid-engine version of the car. Basically I need to get the weight distribution as close as possible to 50/50 because of how heavy both axles and associated elements are. There is only so much I can do for the rear axle, basically go as light as I can with brakes and brackets, but there are limits because I need to get a rear axle from a full-size car or pickup truck, and the parts have to fit and work with that. Even a relatively puny V8 build will destroy all the lightweight rear axles I can get in local junkyards, just look at what happens to Gen3 Camaros with the factory 7″ ring gear axle that started its production life under the 2.3L 4 cylinder Vega from the ’70s. Even with the OE 305 engine good grip and a heavy foot would cause broken differentials, ring gears, and pinions, what have you it probably broke on the V8 Gen3 Camaro. And for those thinking that won’t be a problem with the Sprint-T as light as it is, the load is independent of the weight of the car to a large extent, being mostly determined by power applied and grip. And grip is more dependent on tire choice than applied weight, and is highly dependent on where on the grip curve the particular tire is for the applied load. Which brings us back to tires being the most important choice in the design process…

So, there might be a budget to build the Sprint-T with an SBC and automatic transmission after all.

Quick non-sequitur post

Because I have music streaming while I work and I’m on the Electro Swing channel this gem came up in the queue, which reminded me of one of my first Mondregreens that I remember.

I heard this (Andrews Sisters cover) and tried to make it into something in English because I was a kid and English is my first language, so “Bei Mir Bist Du Shoen” became “My Dear Mister Shane” in my head. The TV show “Shane” had just ended its run that year, so that probably contributed to my confusion.

And FYI my hand is still not fully functional, not even design tolerances, just two fingers and kinda-sorta my thumb. If I keep it hot, it doesn’t hurt, but the only way I have to keep it hot is soaking in hot water and then putting on one of my winter bike gloves made for riding in sub-zero F (-18°C) over it as soon as I get out of the water. Typing in those gloves is impossible, of course.