Monthly Archives: February 2019

Well this sucks, again

I should be on my way back from visiting the Lab Rat Keeper instead of composing a post. But the tubes they need for this study still haven’t arrived from the people doing the study. I’m starting to wonder what they are trying to study in my blood.

On another note I’m almost done reading a book about the Mercedes pushrod engine that won Indy in 1994 when USAC changed the rules to make the pushrod engine more durable. They could have done that by allowing larger V8 engines at the same boost as the DOHC engines, but they didn’t and only the Penske team had the super pushrod engine because they were the only ones to build to the rule change. Now they have what is essentially a spec series that no longer allows innovation but back then they had multiple engine manufacturers and some sold more than one type of engine, and everybody had to build or buy their own chassis and body. So there were lots of different solutions to the problem of winning the 500 mile race on Memorial Day. The name of the book is Beast: The Top Secret Illmor-Penske Race Car That Shocked the World at the 1994 Indy 500. I mean seriously a SBC destroked to 5 liters wasn’t even that hard a build, it could be done with factory parts (and was during the Trans-Am racing heyday with the 302 Z28) and would live all day at the same 700 HP the DOHC engines were making, and there was also the slightly smaller Ford 302 that was sold in the Mustang every day…

I’m reading the book because it was a $0.99 special for Kindle while I was on Prime, and I take inspiration for the T-Bucket build from many sources. Also it is a good book, well-written, and perfect to read a few chapters from before I go to bed. Also I can relate, while not as awesome as building an engine from a blank piece of paper I am building a car from basically scratch here. Problems arise that must be solved, in both scenarios.

Moving back to the Mini Sprint-T build, I’m having parts supplier problems with the stuff I bought from Dirt Modeler. I paid for the order 2019-01-23 and here it is 2019-02-27 and no parts. Now I can build this model without the stuff from Dirt Modeler, but it would look much better with them. Especially the seat , which is basically the same seat I have with a few lightening holes to reduce weight and increase manufacturing costs at full scale. In scale it doesn’t cost any more to put the holes in than leave them out because the whole part is made by photoetching, a process I used to work with when I made computer chips at TI. Basically the part is laid out in CAD, an image is generated and projected on to a sheet of metal covered in a photosensitive acid resistant coating that hardens when exposed to light (or gets soluble when exposed to light, there are many different kinds of resists) and the part that is not the pattern gets washed away (called “developing”) and then they wash the sheet with acids or other corrosives until they have a 2D unfolded version of a seat, or a computer chip, or thousands of other applications that use this process. The site is only showing 5 seats remaining so they removed the seat I bought from stock, but as of today’s mail it still hasn’t made an appearance at Casa de El Poeta.


So many ideas, so little resources to execute them with

Right now I’m staring at my laptop writing a post, but last night I was staring at various bits and pieces of T-Bucket waiting to become part of a whole. And I discovered why I was $75 in the hole last week, so that first.

It turns out when I tried to get out of the free month of Amazon Prime I got after cashing all my gift cards in from Christmas it didn’t go through, and my checking account got dinged for another month. I got it turned off this time but not until Amazon took almost every penny left in my account after Mrs. the Poet twisting my arm to get me to pay for the dinner for the kids pretty much drained my balance down under $20. Bus fare took care of the rest and instead of having $14 in my account when I bought my comic books I had less than $1, “earning” me $70 in overdraft fees. So that dinner ended up costing me $150 for hamburgers and pizza, and my Barbecue sandwich.

The deal with the car is much harder to relate. Not hard to explain, “I ain’t got no money!” pretty much covers the explanation. But emotionally it is much harder, because this build has been starved of resources from the beginning back in the late ’80s when the first iteration was conceived in a Nashville TN quick dining restaurant during a particularly creative bench racing session after the TRSCCA business meeting, right before I got the job in TX. Basically the new job paid for a nice apartment and covered food and utilities and some stuff for the kids, but not enough for the race car, and I had another ADHD thing going with homebuilt aircraft so the bucket went on the back burner again for about a decade. I have a drawing from winter 1997 of a version made with a riveted aluminum monocoque pontoon structure that acted as a frame and also housed the cooling system(s) for the engine and transmission. That version was dropped because of construction difficulties (I didn’t have the tools or space needed to build such a structure then) and because I got fired when word got around I was a witch and some people started messing with my work whenever I went on break, causing misprocessing. Technically I was fired for the misprocessing, but I wasn’t misprocessing it was the people doing things to my equipment when I was on break. That’s long ago and already litigated so that’s enough about that.

After the monocoque bucket I was riding bikes and building recumbent bicycles and trailers and working as a computer help desk operator until I got hit with the truck and lost my job. Then years of recovery and rehab, and eventually my fire to build this project flared back up, and I bought an actual bucket body. I thought I had a much larger budget when I bought the body, by about $50K, but life happened and here we are. I have a tiny budget of about $150/month before I take care of everything I need to take care of like phone and meds and toes and haircuts and massages to keep my neck working and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics. Of the listed needs I can live without the $4 comic book, and toes and haircuts are not every month things although they really need to be. So by neglecting my appearance I can sorta pay for parts every now and then. My next purchase is scheduled to be front brakes that will work with just about any rear axle I can buy, or the front heim joints for the four link between the front axle and the frame. I can afford the heims quicker than the brakes, so I might be showing those off earlier…

I’m not dead yet, I feel happy [/Monty Python]

I have been fighting so many fires, and just got handed another one yesterday. I checked my balance to see if I had enough to buy lunch after I got done at the Lab Rat Keeper on Wednesday and instead of the small positive balance I was expecting after spending $6 at the comic book store going out of business I found a -$75 balance. Seriously, first of all the exactly $75 deficit triggered my BS alarm, independent of the fact I should have $8 and change from counting my purchases after the last time I checked. I’m no dummy I keep track of my balance and expenditures, subtract the latter from the former, and I’m coming up with roughly $83 in unexplained withdrawals. I will have to contact my banking services provider in the morning to find out WTH is going on. The only thing I can think of is I finally connected my checking account and my PayPal account so that I can spend money I made online anywhere, and they pulled $75 from my checking account for some reason, but that still doesn’t explain the rest of it.

But as they say, any day above ground is a good one. I’m going to get ice cream for dessert tonight, my constant barrage of probiotic foods has corrected my digestive issues that were blocking the plumbing last week and we had roasted vegetables again with dinner. I have enough to eat even if sometimes it’s food I would rather avoid so I can’t complain too much about that. I have a warm place to sleep in the winter that isn’t too hot in the summer, so that’s good as well. I’m ahead of a significant portion of the world’s population. I find that both abhorrent and amazing. How did I get so lucky and at the same time so unlucky? Lucky that so many of my needs are covered, unlucky that so many needs are still unmet. Blessed but still fighting for more, because half a cup is still not the full cup.

And just had a discussion with Mrs. the Poet about the difference between a musician covering a piece of music and a massive corporation remaking movies they already own just before the copyrights expire. One is a lack of creativity and a money grab, the other is just how music works. I mean nobody has ever told an opera company staging “La Boehme” to write new operas, or folk singers to stop singing Woody Guthrie, but megacorporations doing the same stuff over and over again is just a lack of either creativity or lack of daring. Lack of creativity can be laid at the education system failing to teach how to think, lack of daring is another thing entirely. Of the year’s output from Disney we get sequels and remakes, generally regarded as pretty much guaranteed profitable, and a few shorts made by Pixar creatives working mostly by themselves for fun. PpHaaaa! The definition of creative is doing what other people aren’t, not doing what you did already years ago. That’s what makes the Sprint-T creative, nobody is making a dedicated T-bucket hot rod for autocross and solo racing. I’m not actually building it right now but I’m trying to build it.

And if you’ll excuse me I need to be even more creative.

If I had the money and a truck with a trailer…

This would be the powertrain for the T-Bucket . Seriously, I would love to have a battery-powered bucket, but the up-front outlay would break me if I made the range work for cross-country trips between races. And it wouldn’t be a very practical car if I only put in enough battery for running Goodguys or SCCA Solo racing to keep the weight down. Most of the issues are due to budget constraints caused by not actually having enough money to call it a “budget”.

I’m going to be honest in that I have wanted to make an EV for a while, particularly for the T-Bucket project. What always stopped me was the low performance or the weight and range issues caused by the battery chemistry available at the time.

And I’m face-planting into the keyboard again, so time to put the post and the writer to bed.

Toes are done, birthday party with kids is also done

OK this was a well-filled day, as we celebrated 3 birthdays and a wedding anniversary. The younger daughter was 38 on the 4th, and the eldest was 41 on the 8th, the son-in-law turned 38 on the 14th, and I have been in wedded bliss with Mrs. the Poet for 41 years tomorrow. And for those of you doing the math, I found out Mrs. the Poet was pregnant when she called me from the hospital to tell me she was going to miss our dinner date because she gave birth to our son. Y B Normal?

In other news, I have a trip to the Whataburger tomorrow to get Mrs. the Poet a Mushroom Swiss Whataburger while I get my usual Bacon Cheese Jalapeño Whataburger and use the coupon deal to make Mrs. the Poet’s burger free. Because she wants a Mushroom Swiss Whataburger and it’s our actual anniversary date. Forty-one years ago tomorrow I told her “This is your last chance to get away” and she didn’t take it and she’s been stuck with me ever since. So I try to be nice to her every now and then.

Happy Singles Shaming Day! Go hug a shelter animal

For the rest of you this is Valentine’s Day, or Cheap Chocolate Day Eve, but for the singletons out there this is a day where almost every advertisement throws subtle shade at the unpaired. There’s a whole separate deal for married couples and expensive jewelry purchases that Mrs. the Poet likes to poke at me about because we are P’ and can’t afford a ring out of the vending machine next to the bubblegum machine, but that’s a different post in about 4 or 5 days. But if you are lacking an S.O. and live in a no-pets apartment, there are abandoned and lost cats and dogs at the shelter that need someone to show them some affection and who don’t care that other humans don’t like you, or you don’t like other humans. Just so long as you convincingly fake loving them they are happy, and ecstatic if you are not faking it. And it will make you feel better too, because you will connect with another living thing on an emotional level. Give it a try. You’ll be doing the both of you a favor.

And for those of you with partners this is the socially-sanctioned day to tear the walls down with your passions. Now if you will excuse me, Clint is sprawled on my lap demanding belly rubs.

OK change in plans

There was a problem with scheduling at the Lab Rat Keeper so I’m here and not there today. I have a new appointment same day and time next week, and this will be a fasting draw, meaning I get up and take my pill with water and don’t have anything to eat until after noon and nothing to eat after midnight the day before. Now ordinarily this would not be a problem but I eat a snack about 0200 so that I’m not famished as a bear in Spring when I get up. So I will be consciously monitoring my mood so as to not to bite anyone’s head off.

We are having game tomorrow instead of Sunday because there were multiple schedule conflicts on Sunday and everyone can make it on Thursday. And after I post this I’m going to get my toes done because they need it something awful because it has been a few months since the last time. Seriously they are starting to hurt again because the nails are that long. So another shower to make sure I smell nice after lunch and off to the nail spa for shorter toenails.

Still nothing interesting to report

I have a visit to the Lab Rat Keeper the day before Valentine’s day for a quick blood draw and BP check, and maybe a hamberder or something at one of the several fast food joints in the area. The covfefe house is closed, but despite having a large chunk of the building burned away the Mexican chicken place almost across the street from the office is still serving food. I’ve never been there, it might be a good time to try it out.

On the Sprint-T and Mini Sprint-T front, there has been a minor change in the design around the main cage. Basically the upper frame rail is now running in segments inside the hoops instead of over the corner after I did another stress analysis that showed too much bending stress on the hoop with the rails running outside the bends and the diagonal braces welded to the top and sides through bends and/or bent gussets. What I had before was the rails welded to plate brackets on both sides of the hoops in line with the horizontal and vertical legs of the hoop. What I have now is the rail welded to the top of the hoops right at the end of the bend and also where the diagonal welds to the hoop, kinda sorta. Actually the diagonals have the same size bends as the hoops so the bends line up, and using the same bend to make the connection to the vertical leg as a gusset to carry those loads directly into both legs of the hoop without imposing bending loads that have to be carried through the bend in the hoop. That’s because the bend is the weakest part of the hoop, but by using gussets and routing loads away from the bend it can be made to not fail in a wreck.

On the down side dividing the upper rail into segments and welding it to the top hoop next to the bend slightly reduces the d4 effect for torsional rigidity, because this change moves the top rails about 9″ closer together side-to-side. Instead of being 48″ apart they will be 39″ apart across the top of the cage. That’s a 56% reduction in stiffness in that plane, but that plane only contributes 25% of the overall torsional resistance of the frame. Basically this keeps both of the side planes that resist forces up and down of the total twist vector at the same stiffness, and has no effect on the bottom plane at all so even though that one plane is reduced 56% the total stiffness is only reduced by about 13% total in torsion. Noticeable but not critical. Second downside is the reduction in the access hole in the top of the cage by 4.5″ when it was already barely wide enough to get in and out without twisting sideways. So guess what I get to do getting in and out of the car?

In things that have nothing to do with me or the Sprint-T personally, the squirrel apparently made its escape prior to the arrival of the people we paid almost $400 to remove it. Also Mrs. the Poet has fallen and bruised her backside, enough that she makes involuntary noises about every other step, sometimes very loud noises accompanied by rude words. I’m not so bothered by the rude words as I am the volume used and the frequency. If her butt hurts she needs to lie down and let me take care of her instead of running around complaining I’m not doing anything for her.

What’s with this weather?

Two days ago it was 80°F for the high, this morning it was 24°F for the morning low. The cats can’t figure out what they want to do, one stays out all night and as much time on my lap as he can during the day, the other spends all night inside and most of the day outside. Both of them are crazy by human standards, and at least one by cat standards.

I need to find where the woodcutting saw went other than “in the garage somewhere” so I can finish making the bending jig for the Mini Sprint-T. And I have determined the Mini will have Tri-Y headers on one side and Sprint style Four-into-one headers on the other because it will be an engineering model and both options need to be shown for “reasons”.

Also I want to build another chassis with an extra rear hoop for a cover over the pickup bed to provide covered storage on the road, someplace to put my luggage than inside the cockpit or in the tire trailer with the gas storage tank. I don’t want my clean clothes and driving suit for racing to reek of E85 or 87 octane. Yes I’m still planning on running two tanks on the car and offloading the cheap transit gas and switching to a separate tank with the “good” gas at the track since I learned that E85 can give a power boost to the midrange and bottom end even if the engine runs fine on 87 octane. If the engine is set up to barely tolerate 87 as long as the gas pedal isn’t pressed too firmly then E85 can give a boost through the entire RPM range. Also I kinda need to figure out how to cover the pickup bed without creating a huge flat surface to catch the air driving down the road. I’m thinking making the roof contiguous from the top of the windshield to the rear of the cover would do it, but that would make getting in through the top of the roll cage tricky to impossible.

Something else I have been contemplating is quickly removable fenders for streamlining and spray control during transit, given how bad huge exposed tires are for both of those. Again the issue is enough coverage of the exposed frame to work as intended without keeping me from getting in and out of the car at gas stops. The plan is still climb through the roof using the diagonals on the sides of the cockpit as a ladder to get to and from the top of the cage, so those diagonals need to be usable as a ladder while also out of the airstream for the highway. I’m thinking lots of hook-and-loop fasteners for the roof and the parts of the body that need to be movable for getting in and out. But that’s for after I get the car running enough to see if I even need to use a body and fenders beyond the fiberglass bucket.

Not doing anything so nothing to write about

I have been mostly sitting and reading manga and technical books on building engines. And most of the manga was yuri, because I like the relationships, and ditto about the mahou shoujo (magical girl). I mean the relationships with boys in most of those manga are ridiculous by Western standards, but knowing as many lesbians as I do I can vouch for the “girl love” manga as being realistic for the most part aside from the magically transforming and fighting monsters. I mean sure they are over the top a lot of the time, but I have seen very similar scenarios take place in front of me, so “over the top non-sexual relationship” seems to be a lesbian trope.

The other books have been about building LS engines for various uses. One of the things about the LS series of engines is how versatile they are, literally with just a manifold and cam swap and recalibrating the ECU to match them you can go from a low-RPM torque monster to a high-RPM horsepower machine. And both can be made with factory parts from a junkyard for less than $1k if you have a good relationship with the junkyard manager. The other thing is the all-aluminum versions weigh in about 425 pounds dressed with everything needed for a T-bucket to run. The Motor Trend web series Engine Masters did a show that explicitly pointed out how cheap it was to make a monster street engine starting with a junkyard 5.3 truck engine and bolting on a turbo kit, then swapping parts to get almost the same power NA, then putting the turbo kit back on to make over 800 HP with a stock (but with new bearings) bottom end. But this book was about using factory parts, no turbo kits. By mixing and matching stock GM parts it’s possible to get loads of low RPM torque from about 2000 RPM that stays flat until about 5000 RPM so you have a steadily climbing power curve from off-idle to almost 6000 RPM which would be frabjous for the mission of the Sprint-T. The big thing for that build is you need to start with the biggest LS you can find outside of a Corvette and go from there because even with all the computerized engine control physics still dictates “there’s no replacement for displacement”. Basically that build recipe uses displacement and acoustic intake tuning to get around cam timing and lift problems for low RPM power and displacement and the cam to get around the upper RPM power restriction caused by the acoustic manifold tuning. Yay, physics still works! The real magic trick was using the ECU to keep everything working together in the middle when nothing was in its RPM range, except displacement, between the upper end of the manifold tuning and the lower end of the cam tuning, partially by using the cam timing control available on some later LS series engines to extend the cam’s operating range, and partially by making sure the fuel and ignition delivery were exactly what was needed to make the most power at that speed. And this has the serendipitous effect of getting the best possible fuel economy away from full throttle.

So full of win, and all I need to do is find the money to get the parts from the friendly junkyard a few miles down the street and figure out how to get those parts to Casa de El Poeta. Without owning a car or pickup truck to transport me and the parts. I’ll figure that out somehow.

Now I need to have a lie-down because my neck feels like people are poking at it with sharp sticks. I’ll probably move my laptop over so I can continue to read.