Monthly Archives: April 2020

Today I spent my share of our stimulus on parts for the Sprint-T

Basically I bought a modern-day track nose and a roll of fender material and a T-bucket T-shirt .

I was thinking about the rear fenders and how the rear parts of the front fenders would not work for the rear fenders because they have to be a minimum of 30″ behind the rear of the rear tire in order to minimize wake and skin drag and that was Just Too Long for a Bucket. Buckets are supposed to be fenderless or cycle fenders at most, but I’m just using the Bucket as a leaping-off point.
See? No fenders.
But anyway, the rear fenders will probably share the front design with the fronts, except no headlights or mounts. In fact I think that up to the rear of the tire the front and rear fenders are pretty much the same. behind the rear of the rear tire things are different. I really need a flat surface to mount the tail lights . Having a flat surface on the back of the rear fender does that and makes for a visually cleaner and more modern rear presentation. I was going to go for mounting the lights on the the back of the bed, but really the fenders will work better. Mounting lights to the tailgate just exaggerates the fact the bed has no cargo capacity, I mean above and beyond the visible lack of a floor. But you have to either be close enough to look down and see there’s no floor or get underneath to see there’s no floor, but with lights flush mounted to the tailgate it makes it kind of obvious. Also the slight amount of side area on the back of the rear fenders provides a space to mount some kind of side marker light. Thinking out loud again…

And something that was in this morning’s paper a study I was part of as a test subject showed an extremely strong correlation to a blood marker and having many forms of cancer. In other words it looks like there may now be a simple blood test for cancer. No more biopsies, invasive exploratory surgery, or radiometric body scans needed, go straight from finding a lump to getting a simple blood draw to removing the cancer, or just getting the blood test once a year and then getting scanned to find the cancer.


Trying to help a computerless friend file for UI

And the TX Workforce site has locked up again. I know it is their problem and not mine because I opened the composer and started making this blog post while waiting for the page to respond at Workforce.

Well it took several hours but we finally posted her resume to the site for potential employers to read.

Still thinking about building the Sprint-T

And also its scale replica, but that’s pretty much a given. I think all the time, either building things in my mind or writing stories about things and people not in this world. It’s a good thing I’m not a billionaire, because if I had the money to build some of the things I think about… Well let’s just say the world would be very different. I like to think it would be better, but only from some points of view, for other people it would be Hell, so yeah, good thing I’m not a billionaire.

So, anyway, thinking about things, like how long the legs on the hoops for the cage should be, how to build the fenders, how if I made the front fenders from HDPE I could make them a bit shorter than if I used something like carbon fiber or any of the metals because I wouldn’t need to have any clearance to the top of the tire from the inside of the fender at full bump because HDPE flexes instead of breaking or cutting the tire. I was thinking that the structure needed for the headlights would basically work for the front part of the fender, because the headlights needed a rigid and vibration-free mount so the light only goes where it’s supposed to and I was already putting the light at the top front of the fender for aerodynamics and because it was out of the way, oh and because making one thing do the job of three or four without having to be any heavier is my jam (air guitar sounds). The kit version of a T-Bucket from Speedway uses the front shock mount as a headlight mount, so it’s not like my idea is unprecedented. It’s a little different but not completely out of left field.

And my YT Music app is playing “The Song That Must Be Played At Full Volume” aka “Won’t Be Fooled Again” by The Who. So excuse me while I Rock Out a bit here. (Full Throated Scream) Yeaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!

(8:31 later)Yeah, rear fenders, important bits, still trying to figure out what shape they need to be. There are many problems to be solved here: 1) keeping stuff from getting thrown on my car and other cars when it rains, 2) streamlining the rear tires, 3) fitting into the look of the rest of the car, 4) cooling the rear brakes. Of those parameters only 3) is optional-ish because if I get 2) and 4) right I basically cover 3). One option I’m considering is making the rear fenders a copy of the fronts minus the headlights, because that would be easy since all that requires is making 2 more fenders exactly like the fronts except without lights in the front. I guess I could use a repro ’59 Caddy tail light to finish the back of the fender. The downside of making the basic shape of the rear fenders identical to the front is while it ties the car together there is a bit of visual monotony in having what amounts to boxes over the tires with streamlined front and back bits on both ends of the car. But that’s what the Mini Sprint-T is for, trying out ideas to see what works and what doesn’t.

And my neck is sending scatalogical telegrams right now because I have been sitting at the computer for too long, so this is a good place to end today’s missive.

OK the 411 on the trip, and a primer on how to build a car

Things were bought, (way too much) money was spent. Legs were worn out, and my butt hurts from way too much sitting on deliberately uncomfortable benches. Not joking on that, DART was forced to buy benches that are only comfortable for the short duration so as to discourage homeless people from sleeping on them.

Now for what I bought, I had a coupon for kitchen shears for only $0.39 so I had to get a pair because our current set has gone walkabout. They work OK and did a decent job at cutting the clamshell packaging on the rest of my purchases.

I also had a coupon for a battery charger for $4, but that was a not-so-good purchase. There is a circuit that detects if there is voltage present before sending current to the terminals to prevent overloading the trickle charger, which basically turns it off if you aren’t maintaining a fully charged battery. It works great for the purpose it was built to perform, not at all for the purpose I bought it for which was to test various lights and noise makers for the Sprint-T. I had to buy a 12V power supply because the one I had also went walkabout. I guess this means another trip to buy another battery charger that wasn’t built to keep a charged battery from discharging.

The big, expensive, and hard-to-carry home part of the trip was the cordless reciprocating saw, the HF version of a Sawzall. It’s wonderful, cuts heavy steel stock like butter, and cost me roughly $120 after I bought all the extras needed to make it work, like a battery and a charger for same. Unfortunately that’s just the way things are. I needed a power tool to cut headlight buckets from a car in a junkyard, and that’s how much the cheapest tool that would do the job runs. On a brighter note I now have a tool that will do the rough cuts for the frame stock when I can get to the metal shop again.

On the subject of the Sprint-T, while I was waiting the roughly 1:40 total time between buses because of the headway change, I had the chance to think about getting to the drain plug for oil changes, when there is a belly pan in the way. I thought of various ways to remove the belly pan, and also ways to provide access without removing the pan. What I came up with as a final solution was to cut an access hole and reinforce the hole with a thicker backing piece that also functions as a flange to take the access panel as a flush fit instead of hanging underneath with overlap. Since the belly pan also substitutes for diagonal bracing the bottom of the frame any holes have to get reinforced edges so as not to be a source of failure either from fatigue or catastrophically in a wreck, this just makes the reinforcement also serve as the place the quarter-turn fasteners tie into. And as there has to be reinforcement for the hole anyway, make it do two jobs instead of just sitting there being heavy until the car gets hit.

Now I went through some variations involving hinges and magnets because I wanted something tricky for car shows and just prying against a strong magnet to open the panel instead of using a tool to turn some fasteners seemed appropriately “tricky”. But I weighed (literally) the alternatives and went with the reinforcing flange and quarter-turn fasteners over tricky hinges and magnets, especially as the T. H. and M. still had to have the reinforcing flange anyway.

Also while I was contemplating all this stuff I was thinking about fabrication for the panel that plugs the hole made to get to the drain plug. Now you may be thinking that I could just use the piece of metal I cut out to use to block the hole I just cut, and you would be Very Much Not Right. In order for the hole to not be a stress riser and cause failure in the belly pan the corners have to be radiused. The easiest way to do this is to drill holes at the corners before cutting the access which makes for some rather ugly and odd-shaped gaps when reusing the cut piece as the hatch. The solution is to use the finished hole as a template and then cut the hatch slightly oversize so that it fits flush with the rest of the skin of the belly pan. So, order of operations would be locate hole in belly pan and mark the corners, drill holes at the corners, connect holes with cuts tangent to the outside of the holes, clean up the cuts and drilled holes to have the final outline of the hole, use the hole to mark the stock for the hatch and also the stock for the reinforcement for the hatch, cut the various bits to the appropriate size and clean them up so the hatch fits flush against the edges of the hole, dimple the hatch so the fasteners also fit flush, weld the reinforcement flange to the hole, install the springs to capture the fasteners on the flange, paint, and stand back and admire. One small step among thousands of small steps would be completed.

And that’s the thing about building a car from scratch. When you look at it as a single thing it’s overwhelming, but when you look at it as a bunch of little things none of the little things is that big a deal, a day or two each to complete. Just think “Today I’m doing ‘X’, and that’s all I need to get done today” and after enough one or two-day jobs are completed you actually have a car. That’s how I have been doing it, getting the stuff together, making one thing at a time, and accumulating sub-assemblies until I have a car.

Planning a trip

I’m going to make a trip to Harbor Freight tomorrow to pick up some things. I need a new 12v power supply (battery charger) for electrical testing, and they have a sale on kitchen shears ($0.39). Also I need to get a cordless version of their take on a Sawzall . This will be necessary to cut the headlight buckets out of a car or truck in the junkyard so I’ll have a way to mount my headlights in the front fenders.

Along the way I’ll also pick up lottery tickets and some candy for Mrs. the Poet because she’s getting a little stir-crazy from not being able to leave the house. She’s been stuck here since she was released from the hospital back on 3/8. I need to get some stuff before I can do anything more on the Mini Sprint-T.

Speaking of which, I have maybe solved a problem with the Sprint-T. One of the things I want to do is use a Tri-Y exhaust manifold, which is expensive as Hell for LS architecture engines. The reason I want to use this is the Tri-Y configuration improves low and mid-range torque without restricting flow at higher RPM for peak power. Well what I want to do is use a dual inlet, single outlet muffler on both sides to act as a large-volume collector and massively boost low and high RPM power because that’s what theory says it will do. Another thing this will do is quiet down the engine a bunch without restricting it any. For the model there are muffler bodies without inlets or outlets available that can be customized exactly for this application. Unfortunately I can’t link to these because the web site they’re sold from doesn’t let me link to individual parts and when I try the links just go back to the products page. parts See?

So, after lunch I get to catch a bus, wait a while to catch another bus, ride for a while, shop, and wait again for the bus home, unless I time my shopping trip right, then wait some more to catch the bus home. [Yay!/s]

Many things have happened since last I posted

And one of those things is the store where I buy my Lotto and Powerball tickets is selling masks for $2 each. This is a good thing, since Dallas County has instituted a “can’t leave the house without a mask” policy. They are not enforcing that as a criminal offense yet, because 1) masks are nearly impossible to find or make and 2) police don’t want to get that close to people.

Other things, people are still ignoring the one-way arrows on the floor of the aisles in the grocery store, and wandering around without face coverings because “I don’t feel sick” and they don’t know or more likely don’t care that most people don’t show any symptoms until the second week after they are infected, and that they can spread the virus starting with as few as 2 days post-infection. I realize that with my immune system I probably won’t reach they symptomatic stage of COVID19, and I could be spreading the virus like a modern day Typhoid Mary and not be able to tell.

We had a protest against social distancing down in Austin because “Freedumbs”, complete with assault weapons on display, likewise because “Freedumbs”. I’m unsure if being stupid is a consequence of Conservatism or a prerequisite for it, but it certainly seems to be something that accompanies it.

I feel like I’m surrounded by idiots, but they were there all along. It just took a disaster to let people know they are idiots, and the bad thing was before they were “mostly harmless” idiots, now their idiocy could kill people I love, as well as people I don’t know.

I discovered my seat for the Sprint-T was still a bit snug through the chest, so I took my Orange Hammer to it again to widen it out at the top where it was still too small.

Setting up for a test fit

Checking the fit after beating on the chest restraint with the Orange Hammer

What I was originally looking at was if I needed to raise the shoulder harness passthrough so that I didn’t get spinal compression in a frontal collision or a sudden stop. That was what I was checking with the pictures, to see if I could see the holes for the shoulder harness from the front when I was in the seat. Spoiler Alert: I can’t. And the composition of the pictures was determined by where I could set up the seat to test sit, as the only place I could put the seat and still sit in it was the couch, and the only place where Mrs. the Poet could take a picture from was on the far side of the dining room table. I couldn’t take the picture myself because I needed to be in it, and the camera needed to be at a distance from the seat to reduce parallax. So the image is not as good as it could have been with a dedicated studio and a longer focal length lens than my phone had. The wide angle lens on my phone creates a lot of parallax and the longer focal length lens I bought for my previous phone won’t work for this phone. And so it goes.

I did something today

Well it’s today as I compose this, but it will be yesterday before I can finish it.

There has been some speculation that stores will no longer allow customers without masks here in Dallas County to protect their workers so I went on an expedition to buy some, just in case. To save time I will just cut to the chase And let you know all I found were signs saying all masks and gloves were donated to local first responders (Lowe’s), or local hospitals (Harbor Freight). This presents me with a quandary: I might need to have a mask to shop, but all the places that sell masks were out, and places that sell stuff to make masks are closed as non-essential. The only thing I have is a scarf that wraps several times around my face but doesn’t do that good a job of keeping things in or out.

Another thing I was looking for was some place to get my neck rubbed. The last time I got a massage was 3/4, and life has been a huge pain in the neck since then. But one of the categories of businesses deemed “non-essential” is massage places. And every one I passed going to or from the places I was looking for masks was closed with the lights off. So right now I’m holding my head at an odd angle because I have muscles in my neck that are spasming and won’t let me hold my neck straight, courtesy of my tumor Chris Christy and Arthur Dent that was left after, and also the fact that I’m almost 62 years old. I understand that being old is also a major pain in the neck. Some humor implied there.

One of the Not Good things about the Social Distancing order is in order to buy ready to eat food you have to be in a car. Drive throughs are open but most places you can’t go inside to place an order to go, which is rather annoying to people Not Wearing A Car. Most places have online ordering that requires an app on your phone for every restaurant you want to buy food from, which can quickly result in a phone that basically won’t work because it has no free resources because you have too many apps on it. Which is also a bummer. For both of us, because the restaurant loses a sale, and I’m walking around hangry.

Another annoying thing is DART has made Doing Things By Transit even worse, by changing the headway on all routes. Basically it’s like they are punishing people for not driving, even though people are supposed to be Not Driving during the pandemic. It’s annoying and counter-productive for trying to maintain social distancing. The worst part is they have changed headways and schedules so that you have the maximum amount of delay between routes, twice I just missed the 402 after completing my business at one store and going to another store on the route, with an extra hour to wait between buses. One of the things I had to do was see if our Stimulus Check had been deposited, which I couldn’t because I didn’t have Mrs. the Poet’s ATM card to check her balance. I thought we had left it in my wallet after the grocery run, but I didn’t.

Allergies are bad this year

Not much to say today. Mrs. the Poet’s incision from her back surgery is healing nicely and she may start PT as soon as they start allowing home visits by the Physical Therapists, which are stopped because of the COVID19 pandemic to prevent transferring the virus to people who are medically fragile. As the headline stated my allergies are bad this year, this was the first time my eyelids were so swollen that one split over next to the corner. Other than that and some pains in the reconstructed hip I’m doing good. I’m not sure but I think the pain in the hip has something to do with sleeping 14 hours on Wednesday followed by much walking around Thursday.

picture of the split near my eye

Speaking of running around on Thursday, on the way home the bus took me through the local large shopping area, what was built to replace the promised mall but is only several large retailers in close proximity and sharing parking lots. Anywho except for the places selling food with drive-throughs the place was a ghost town with literal acres of empty parking lots. Local retail has been clobbered by the shelter in place order for Dallas County, and will take years to recover if it ever recovers.

On the Sprint-T I have been designing a fairing for the front tires that also houses the headlights and supports the front edge of the front fenders. It’s simple, a half cylinder to split the air in front of the tire and a tapered rear fairing at the rear edge of the tire, with a flat or slightly curved top, all made from HDPE sheet. I checked TX regulations and purchased some headlights that are legal, LED replacements for the 4656 sealed beam headlight. The have both low and high beam and are above minimum and below maximum lumens so are legal in TX, about $40 shipped with tax for a set of 4.

Now to install them on my car I need to run by a junkyard when they open back up and get a headlight assembly for one side of a quad rectangular headlight car, because I only need one per side. I need to get the plate the buckets mount on, the adjusting screws and springs, the buckets, and the bezels that retain the headlights to the buckets. I just need to mount the backing plate to the vertical piece at the back of the half cylinder and between the side pieces of the fender in a place that clears the tire at full bump and full lock in both left and right. Nothing to it. I just need to make a drawing of the tire at full lock in both directions and on top of that drawing put the headlight at the height it would be in relation to the tire at full bump which is about 1.5″ higher than normal ride height. I know the vertical part of the front fender fairing will be a little forward of where the front of the tire will be at the straight ahead position so that it will clear the tire at full lock. I have been thinking about making this part slightly curved for more clearance at lock, and more rigidity. This is also why I was thinking about curving the top part of the fender, to make it more rigid in use.

Now something else I have been thinking about is making the front fenders quick-release for when I’m racing, because light weight is way more important than reduced drag in the kind of racing I’m building this car for. The courses will never allow anything even close to top speed where drag reduction is more important, all of the sanctioning bodies require top speeds on course be no more than normal street or highway speed and one body requires no more than 30 MPH. So especially for that one sanctioning body, light weight is more important than drag reduction. On the street drag reduction is less important than light weight, on the highway light weight is less important than drag reduction but I need fenders and headlights either way. Now for this kind of racing being able to see my front tires is a slight advantage for placing my car on the quickest line, maybe a half second on a 1 minute course. That is a good enough reason to make the front fenders and headlights removable. But I’m still cogitating about how to do that and not change headlight aim when removing and replacing the fenders. More thought is required and maybe wasting some raw stock on different prototypes to test for rigidity and repeatability when removing and replacing.

Allergies are kicking my backside yesterday

I slept 14 hours yesterday because of tree bukakke as the VP of my church used to put it. Most people call it a pollen bloom, but it’s actually tree sperm sprayed into the atmosphere and landing on us. Anywho, there was some of that, that I was especially allergic to, that gave me aches and pains and just made me miserable. I would wake up and not be able to open my eyes because of how swollen my eyelids were. Yay, me! And just go back to sleep.

Things here in my state are getting pretty bad as far as government services go. The new UI applications are about 630 TIMES usual volume. This is like all the other states and all of Europe decided to run their UI through TX phones and computers. This is the worst it has been since the 1930s as far as people out of work is concerned, they didn’t have unemployment back then but they still counted how many people were working compared to how many were looking. And it wasn’t as bad as what we are dealing with now. Now if people don’t get crazy greedy about getting paid NOW! and we can just let things ride a bit until this blows over everybody can just pick up where we left off and no big thing, especially if the GOP decides to give most of the bailout to people instead of companies. Granted companies are going to need some cashflow to keep the doors open and pay the mortgage, or we could just put everything on pause until after the lockdown is over. Banks aren’t paying for much, so use the bailout money to cover their costs but only just their costs, no profits. Let the stimulus money pay for the things that have to be bought while everybody is out of work and also pay “hazard pay” for the people keeping us alive.

Enough of the ranting about political stuff, I also have been thinking about making things while I couldn’t open my eyes. I mean like how to stuff an LS engine into a sprint or midget chassis, or a shaft drive motorcycle into a live axle frame of some kind, or some kind of independent rear suspension thing for SCCA A-Mod (all of those for A-Mod), and riffed off of those to do mutants that were some of A and a little of B and a whole bunch from out in left field. As I was mostly asleep this was fun, but not recordable or shareable.

And I have basically run out of things to say. I’ll post something again when I have something more to say.

Still not dead, but not much worth writing about

The excitement for the week consisted of playing an online version of “Cards Against Humanity”. And also going grocery shopping. Other than that I have been mostly on the computer and mobile device reading news, comics and Twitter. And still working on the Mini Sprint T, as I have discovered I didn’t document my design notes for the rear frame. I have strong ideas about what I want to do, but I didn’t remember to write them down or put a notes document in my computer.

Now the reason why I need to do this is the upper rail has to go someplace behind the rear hoop to brace it from collapsing backwards if the car flips while at speed, and also so the fuel cell is protected from a rear end collision. To that end I have been also doing detail design for the bracket that connects the upper rail to the front and rear hoops. The main thing about that is the thickness of the plates and the wall thickness of the tubes needs to be equal for the stresses to be equal to welding the rail to the hoops directly, and the gaps between the ends of the bracket and the hoop also has to be filled and an air bleed hole and access for rustproofing placed somewhere near the bottom of the bracket. This also makes for a place for condensation to escape to prevent rust. I have been strongly considering painting the bracket with a weld-through coating like Steel-It to protect against rust inside after the car is finished.

The other thing to consider is running a tube between and roughly parallel to the top and bottom rails to mount and protect the fuel cell in a rear end collision. The way I’m seeing it now, that tube can be the thin wall because it will be in compression in a collision and is a parallel load path to the upper rail that intersects it where the two pieces connect to the rear bulkhead and one of them needs to collapse to direct the forces of a rear end collision under the car to prevent whatever hits the car from behind from going into the driver compartment. In fact there is a whole lot of structure that needs to be lighter than optimal for stiffness to make the vehicle more crashworthy.

Something else interesting that is going on is the woman who used to rent a room from us is having difficulties applying for UI after the used clothing store she worked for went belly-up because of the social distancing lockdown called by the county. We tried doing the 800 number thing, but the menu selection needed to check for an active account is no longer available. They direct callers to the web site which is down because of too many people trying to access the site because of the number of places that did the same thing as what happened to the lady who used to live with us. I am so glad I don’t have to go through that mess as I’m disabled and Mrs. the Poet is on retirement. But the web site remains down even at 2030 as people are overwhelming the site with trying to find out if their applications have been approved. The other interesting thing is technically the woman is retired because she is a few days younger than Mrs. the Poet and eligible for SSI and her ATT pension from when she worked there. So she has enough money to live on, but not enough to maintain her current lifestyle, and probably not enough to live on if she has to change domiciles if the person she’s living with decides to change to a senior apartment instead of the house she currently owns.