Monthly Archives: June 2020

Looking at driving sims for my PS3

Whenever my son upgrades his gaming console I end up getting the old one to play with so I recently acquired a PS3 system to play with. Now about the only games I play any more are racing sims, and they have gotten to the point that it’s almost impossible to control them without a wheel and pedals, because the hand controllers lack the precision to keep the cars in the games on the track. This means off the bat I need to drop roughly $150 out of my car budget into buying something to play with that only tangentially benefits the Sprint-T by keeping my driving skills sharp-ish.

Now if I get the right game I might be able to build a Sim-T and download it to the game, but unless there are some kinds of tutorials out there I’m not familiar with, the “I” is not going to be “me”. I don’t have any training in the programming languages needed to create stuff for the PS3. My coding skills such as they were are stuck back in the last quarter of the 20th Century and basically anything related to video games is out of my league. I might be able to tune the ECM of my engine given the right software, but that doesn’t translate to doing the same for video games. Even if I had the right software to create the objects I lack the knowledge of how to create the object even with the software. So what this boils down to is unless I get incredibly lucky and there is a car with similar weight, power and dynamics the sim won’t do much for training muscle memory except in the most rudimentary ways, but it will be fun anyway. I have been told that I might be able to use my laptop to run a sim, Asetto Corsa that will let me import a modified version of a Caterham 7 that will be close to the power to weight and grip, but I don’t see how that will work given what I spent on this laptop, roughly $250 2 years ago. So the laptop has about 2GB of memory and an unknown video controller because I can’t get into the hardware from my Windows button. Settings is pretty much useless for discovering what hardware I have installed with this computer. So far everything I have tried has come up empty as far as figuring out what graphics processor came with my computer. Even looking up the computer on Google didn’t answer anything concerning the graphics processor.

I’m going to do some more research and if anything useful turns up I’ll let you know


I have been really enjoying one of my Father’s Day presents

Mrs. the Poet bought me a year subscription to Motor Trend On Demand and I have been bingeing on Engine Masters videos, both ones I had seen and wanted to watch again and the ones I couldn’t watch because of the expensive paywall. Well MTOD had a fantastic Father’s Day special that basically had an entire year for a bit less than the price of a single month under their old plan, $11.99/yr. Now the Sprint-T budget won’t allow for lots of fancy engine parts, but it will allow for parts that make the engine fit the car better and also make more power engine live longer. Especially when I can make those parts for next to nothing and also make the model parts for next to nothing and super simple.

One of the things that I’m having problems with is the oil pan on the LS engine. Most of the factory pans hang down way too much. There is also the consideration that most of the factory pans are also rear sump which puts the front hoop crossmember right where the sump of the oil pan goes. Plus ungood. So, I’m either going to have to buy or make an oil pan that avoids the frame crossmember and also doesn’t hang down too far under the engine so the engine can mount as low as possible. There was an episode with an oil pan comparison that had a brilliant idea for making a pan with extra wide kickouts that keep the oil that gets scraped off the crank by the crank scraper or just gets thrown off the crank by centrifugal forces from bouncing off the side of the pan back onto the crank, robbing horsepower. Normally to do that and still have access to the pan bolts on the bottom of the block you have to weld big tubes inside the pan for a socket to reach the bolts or nuts on studs, but this pan they were using had the whole bottom of the pan unbolt to access the pan bolts and bolt the top part to the block, then the bottom part bolts on to the top. Much easier than welding tubes through the pan, much easier than trying to snake bolts through the tubes onto studs that cost more than the bolts used with regular non-kickout pans, and better sealing because of less distortion of the pan rail. On the Mini Sprint-T I just need to make a multi-layer pan with identical layers of 0.040″ with a layer of 0.010″ sandwiched somewhere between to simulate the flanges where the top and bottom bolt together and stick it to the bottom of the engine where the oil pan gets stuck.

What I had in mind was a pan that went as far below the block as the flywheel does and as far out to the sides as the frame with maybe an inch or so clearance between the inside of the frame and the side of the pan. This would allow for a huge amount of volume for the oil to basically collect away from the crank then flow back to the oil pickup that attaches to the oil pump, with swinging doors to trap a pool of oil around the pickup while other baffles keep the oil away from the crank to prevent it from whipping air into the oil. As was shown in the episode keeping oil away from the crank inside the pan made for more power and more importantly more stable oil pressure while the engine operates. Then the only limitation on how low the engine could sit in the frame would be stuff attached to the engine like the transmission pan on the transmission. A wild thought just occurred to me, is it possible to dry sump a transmission to make it not stick as far down and also run more fluid for cooler running? I’m pretty sure there is, but more research needs to be done.

Anywho, back to the engine pan. One thing I can see that would improve the mega-wide but shallow pan would be rolling beads inside the bottom to divert the return flow inside the pan away from the crank and towards the oil pickup and also stiffen the bottom against vibration. I can also see making the full-scale pan from just two pieces of sheet stock with the ends folding down from the top, and the sides folding up from the bottom, and making the flange where the two bolt together follow that contour. Or not, I’ll have to see when I build the full-scale pan. But for the Mini Sprint-T the sheet for the flange will get glued flat somewhere between the top and the bottom sheets, just to show there are a top and bottom. Measuring the model block I have shows just 0.2″ from the bottom of the block and the bottom of the flywheel cover, or about 5″ deep and about 18″ long, and keeping it rectangular at 34″ wide gives a volume of 53 quarts at the top of the pan. That would allow for lots of oil at very low levels that keep most of the oil away from the crank to prevent the crank from whipping air into the oil. Running the oil only 1″ deep is 11 quarts and the crank would be about 3.5″± away from the oil, which is still a lot of oil. Significantly more than the factory pan and also much further away from the crank.

Edit from 6/29: I measured my drawing of the frame and discovered that at the front of the engine there is only 22″ between the frame rails and there is 18.5″ from the front of the 1.5″ diameter crossmember to the front of the engine with the flywheel/flexplate behind the crossmember. Working that out at 1″ deep gives a little over 7 quarts (actual conversion is 6.66 liters) of oil in the bottom 1″ of the pan. This is more than the LS7 wet sump pan, so I’m counting this as “all good”. Filling to the top of the pan/bottom of the block gives a bit over 9 gallons or roughly 37 US quarts. I’m going to start at 7 quarts plus filter(s) and see how the oil pressure does while driving and add oil as needed. I don’t foresee actually racing at 7 quarts as I think the engine will need more oil to keep the pickup submerged while the engine is running to prevent sucking air into the oil system. Since oil is heavy I plan on running as little as I can without uncovering the pickup.

Well I have rambled on long enough. The tl;dr is I enjoy my Father’s Day gift and it has inspired me greatly.

Imagine making a million dollars a year

One of the things I do is imagine winning the lottery by whatever name you call it/them. Most of the multistate lotteries have annual payouts over a million dollars a year. So. I. Think. About. How. To. Spend. A million dollars every year pretty much forever. And TBH spending close to a million dollars a year every year ain’t easy. You have to buy a new car or two every year after you build the new house the first year and furnish it.

You can’t build a new house every year or even every other year and still enjoy the house after you finish it because a big part of doing that is actually living in it year after year. Well I don’t know about everybody else, but as a Cold War military brat getting moved every year, having the same bedroom all the time etc. is a minor luxury all its own. Some members of my cohort are the exact opposite and have to change houses about every other year. But for me I would upgrade house and furniture the first year and let it ride until something needed replacement. Now that first year would burn through most of the million without even trying as the new house gets built. I have fantasies of enough solar panels to run all the electric and then some to sell back to the grid, plus solar water pre-heat, and a single pitch roof pointed south to hang all those panels on. I’m not big on interior decoration, so I’m leaving that part of the project to Mrs. the Poet. I imagine she’ll get a couple of couches and tables and a recliner or two (we both love kicking back and putting our feet up) and I’m voting for the biggest of big screens and all the channels on the cable and streaming services.

Now one major thing having a million dollars a year income is the ability to have multiple build projects going at the same time and switch off between as enthusiasm for one wanes and to have another ready to go if I get bored or just have a parts delivery issue. Run out of parts for the T-Bucket? just switch off to the tricycle or the A/MOD car or maybe a boat or airplane project. I would never lack for something to do if I wanted to be doing something and not just vegging in the recliner.

And speaking of the Sprint-T, I got another part to use on it yesterday, the T-handle for the shifter. Now I’m not 100% happy with this delivery because there were parts missing and other parts duplicated and it was just a mess, but the parts needed to make it work on the Sprint-T were there so it wasn’t a tragedy.
Here's the handle
Now the reason I bought the handle is I’m thinking about making the shifter work for the mission of the car, and because I want to make this work for what I’m using the car for. Now if you weren’t paying attention that might have read like the same thing twice. What I’m really saying is the stuff I can buy won’t work for what I want to do with the car, and I have to make something that will. Now with a million dollars a year I could do that. Even without a million dollars a year I can do that, it just takes a lot longer to get it done. But it would be at least an order of magnitude easier if I made a million dollars a year. I might even pay someone else to do it. After I get done with the house.

We did Father’s Day early

Because my LEO son-in-law had to work today we did the family gathering Saturday, including a trip to a local sandwich place for those really big subs and sandwiches. I had a Meatball Parmesan while Mrs. the Poet had an Italian Sub that was basically a mountain of various Italian sausages and cheeses in a sub bun, that she ate all she could for lunch and then we had the rest for dinner. Yes, I had half of what was left over from Mrs. the Poet’s lunch and some soup, and we had enough. Did I mention those were huge sandwiches?

My gift from my daughter was a bunch of snack foods from different countries, because I basically eat anything and like most of it. Even as a little boy I enjoyed strange flavors and weird foods. I brought home some bacon-flavored pretzel sticks and some cheese-flavored things that weren’t crunchy or chewy but had a texture kind of in-between, both from Poland. We all finished off the really weird stuff before we started for home.

My son said he was going to give me my present from him today after we finish grocery shopping. I’m hoping for a BBQ Bacon Whataburger, but anything will be appreciated. After all I already bought what I really wanted, a shaver and a shower curtain to make Mrs. the Poet happy, everything else is just figurative gravy on top. The shift handle mentioned in an earlier post was just how I spent my contest winnings.

Speaking of car parts I’m still thinking about that LS powered A/MOD car. The lightest chassis would be the tub and superstructure idea I mentioned a few days ago, but that has the disadvantage of not having the physical space for the lightest suspension. Not that using independent suspension is all that much heavier, but it is at least an order of magnitude more complicated while being a disadvantage at the rear. A solid rear axle has the advantage of using the engine torque to plant the rear tires in reaction to acceleration. The Sprint-T uses a torque arm to do this, but the LS A/MOD car doesn’t have the space behind the driver to run the links to locate a rear axle to do take advantage of this. Well the lack of space is to the left of the driver, because there’s plenty of room for the links to the right of the engine, but the driver hangs further to the left than the engine/transmission does to the right because they are less wide, and weigh more than twice as much as the driver. I guess I could do the same thing I did with the driver going slightly under the engine and let the links run in the space next to the driver’s butt and under his armpit and let the driver overhang a bunch of structure to the left. One thing I’m doing with the LS A/MOD is breaking my rule against putting any structure lower than the wheel rims. The driver’s butt will be lower than the wheel rims, along with large portions of the tub and engine (inside the tub with the driver). Woo look at me being a rebel against my own rules! Seriously, the driver will be about 1″ above the track on the other side of a thin sheet metal tub. I’m thinking about building the seating space as a structural part, then using one of those seat-molding kits to make it semi-comfortable for the driver. For the time spent in the car during a race comfort is a lower priority than it would be for other kinds of race cars where the driver has to maintain concentration for maybe 5 or 6 hours. A/MOD cars spend at most 15 minutes on course for a weekend event, maybe 8 or 9 for a one-day event, not counting time spent waiting in line to start a run. For a one day Goodguys event the driver spends 15 minutes inside the car for the whole event if they have 3 runs or maybe a bit longer if there is a significant drive between the pits and the course.

And there is a race today in Talladega that I don’t want to miss, so I’ll see y’all later.

Thinking about what I need to make an autocross-specific engine

I have been watching Richard Holdener videos on YouTube, for data on making the “best” engine for my Sprint-T. The TPI intake from the late 1980s had extremely long intake runners that made huge torque at low RPM, way more than what a “normal” engine of this size could produce.

TPI MEGA TEST-WHAT WORKS BEST? As you can see, Richard ran a “too big” cam for the stock TPI, and basically lost nothing at low RPM while the big cam prevented the engine from falling on its face as the RPM went past peak torque.

TURBO TPI-BOOSTED TUNE PORT Boost just made things more awesome

TPI TECH PLUS BOOST-FASTER THAN FORD? More boost makes more better.

Taking the results and projecting to the LS, what I need is a super long runner manifold with as large intake ports as will bolt up to the heads, and as much displacement as I can get controlled by a 300° duration cam with big lift, about 0.600″. Basically what I’m looking for would be something like this intake with spacers to extend the runners or maybe 3d printed plenums with extended runners built in, plus a super rowdy cam and let the intake runners “fix” the low RPM problems caused by the too-large cam while the cam “fixes” the lack of power at high RPM problems caused by the intake manifold to make an engine that makes power everywhere on the RPM range. That is what I would do if I had an unlimited budget.

But because my budget is very much limited, I’m going to have to take what I can get and like it…

Foot problems are keeping me off the computer

Can’t take too long this time. In a nutshell I have been spending too much time sitting down, which makes my feet swell, which then makes my feet hurt, and so far the only relief I have found is lying down and elevating my feet.

And while I’m lying down, I think. It’s almost a reflex by now, the feet come up and the brain goes into gear. Since I’m lying down during the day I have light to read by and I bring a Speedway catalog with me. This at least keeps my mind from wandering off on tangents instead of solving problems that need solving for the least amount of money possible.

Something else I should mention is I won a $25 gift certificate to that had a limited lifespan, and I wanted a shift handle so I got the one in the link. The gift certificate covered all but $0.38 after the handle, shipping, and sales tax. So I have the style shift handle I always wanted for $0.38 out of my pocket.

And I just faceplanted in the keyboard again, so I’m calling an end to this post and time for bed. I guess I shoulda said I haven’t been sleeping well to go with the foot problems.

Still thinking about… things

Not to sound ominous or anything, just that I have been letting my ADD do its thing and letting my mind wander around a bit.

One thing I have been thinking about is I used a wrong number in the sitting beside the engine SCCA A/Mod car. The engine extends 9″ to the left of center on the left, not the 8″ I used to figure my offset, so y=x-16 rather than 15, and the 7″ comes from the fact that I have room left over in my 14″ wide racing seat. And before anyone else can say anything yes I have a narrow butt. Anywho, I was also thinking that I could use 3 pedals if I sit next to the engine because I basically have as much room as I want to the left, and 14″ is plenty of room for a 3 pedal footbox. With the linked pedal set the brakes and clutch pedal could be mounted in the 7″ to the left leaving lots of room for the linkage to the gas pedal to the right.

Odd as it might seem the car that has the driver to the left of the engine has more room for the pedals than the Sprint-T because of the body limitations being 34″ wide at the floor in the middle of the car and the firewall only being 26″ wide. This limits the engine offset to 13-(engine width to the right) inches, or about 3″ for the LS engines, leaving just 16-9 or just 7 inches of space for heels with no room for the right foot to lean to the right. Sure feet will fit there but there isn’t much room to shift from side to side to keep your legs from cramping on long trips like the trips to the races planned for the Sprint-T. It will work, I have tested it by sitting with my foot in one spot while working on the computer for a few hours, but it is uncomfortable as all get-out. The seating position is really better for autocross racing or SCCA Solo racing than it is for long highway trips. For racing the seating position holds the driver in position directly on the controls, but for long trips that is a liability because the driver can’t move without moving the gas or brake pedals, which means that long trips will require frequent stops for driver comfort.

Something else I have been thinking about is building myself a trike I can get in and out of so I can start riding again. The easiest thing to make would be a tadpole trike, or reverse trike as some call them, 2 wheels in front, and a regular bicycle rear triangle in the back for the rear wheel. One thing I have been thinking about for this vehicle is how to make the pedal reach adjustable for different riders without having to alter the chain to fit each rider, because I know that I’m not going to be the only person to ride this trike. Something like this will invite other people of limited mobility to want to ride, for the same reason I want to build it, wanting to ride still or again but can’t get on or off a regular bike any more. So what I came up with is having a regular bike driveline mounted to a boom that has a pivot concentric to the rear cluster so that the pedals can be moved fore and aft in an arc while the tension on the chain to the rear wheels stays the same. All the fiddly bits are in a small space that is easy to get to on the front of the trike, and it can be removed for extensive maintenance or repair. The chain to the rear wheel can be fully enclosed to only need annual or biannual maintenance and also not transfer grease to the rider’s legs if inadvertently touched.

And I have been thinking about all this stuff in a vain attempt to not think about other stuff like BLM and COVID-19. I can’t for the life of me figure out why any of this is controversial. Police shouldn’t predate on unarmed black men, and when there is a virus that is spread by breathing covering your mouth and nose to keep virus-laden particles from getting out or in. You prevent yourself from getting sick, but more importantly if you are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic you don’t get other people sick. So stay home when you can, and wear a mask when you can’t stay home. The life you save may be mine!

I’m awake during the day but still thinking

Ordinarily “Still thinking” would have the caveat “Take cover” but not so much today as what I’m thinking about is another A/MOD SCCA car. Basically what I’m thinking about is an LS style engine and a Powerglide transmission smack in the middle of a 72″ wheelbase and offset enough to the right to balance a driver to the left so the total polar moment is as low as possible for good transient handling. The chassis would be a semi-monocoque tub with a tube roll structure and subframes to tie everything together and if I did my sums right I’m looking at a 1000 pound as-raced weight, or about 100 pounds over the minimum. Combine this with the power and torque from the LS architecture V8 and forward progress would basically be limited by available traction, which would be limited by tire compound choice and footprint which would be limited by tire and wheel size, which would be limited by what’s available and unsprung weight considerations. So, basically a beastly quick car that was more limited by human reactions than the laws of physics.

The aluminum block LS engines all weigh within a few pounds of 415 minus the engine driven accessories. When those are stripped to the configuration for running in this car, which is basically water pump and alternator, I need to add those in and we’re looking at 450 for the engine. I have been watching enough videos to know that what I need for this car is a mild cam, a long runner intake manifold, and either tri-y or long tube 4 into 1 headers to get enough low end power that also doesn’t fall off as the RPM rises to redline, which are all included in the 450 pound engine weight. So add in the 76 pounds of Powerglide and you have 526 pounds of powertrain to moment out for left-right balance with the roughly 200 pound driver. Basic math tells us the driver has to be about 2½ times as far to the left as the engine is to the right, add in the widths of the engine and the driver’s legs which have to go to the left of the engine and a little algebra gets us the driver has to go 27.5″ to the left of the engine which is slightly to the left of the left side of the car. Going back and letting the top part of the engine hang a little over the driver’s legs and we get 24″ left offset if the engine sits with the bellhousing on the centerline. Again this places the driver outside of the car. Going to the minimum width of the driver the driver centerline has to be at least 7″ left of the engine minimum width which is 8″ to the left side of the engine so driver is -15 moment arm or -3000 moment to the engine. Solving for x gives us 3000/526 which is 5.7″ right going to the level of precision limit of the driver’s seat mount. The driver sits 9.3″ to the left of center, 15″ left of engine centerline. But doing the moments we get a moment of -1860 for the driver and a moment of 2998 for the engine and transmission which means the driver is not far enough to the left and the engine is too far to the right. But if the driver is 14.991″ to the left of center then the moments are equal which means I set the equation up wrong.

Going back to first principles (526*x)+(200*y) = 0 and also y = x-15 because the driver must be 15″ left of the engine, minimum. So substitution gives us (526*x)+(200*(x-15))=0 gives x=500/121 and y=15-(500/121) making x=4.13″ and y=10.87″, and dividing out gives the exact 2.63 ratio in moment arms. Which means I got the formula right this time. My butt would be just to the left of the bellhousing of the Powerglide, and my legs would be under the left cylinder bank with the exhaust manifold radiating heat over them. Bad for a street car, but for this it would be warm but tolerable. Combining my shoulder width with the offset the narrowest the car could be is 2*(10.87+11.25)=44.24 which means my right arm would be on the right side of the car… And the car would be 44¼” plus the width of the tires wide and 72″ plus the diameter of the tires long, aka tee-niney, aka a V8 powered gokart.

I accomplished something IRL today

OK it wasn’t much but I got the lengths of two by four cut to length for the radiator mockup. Holes still need to be drilled for the bolts to hold them all together. I then took a shower and passed in and out of consciousness for a few hours. Yay me/sarcasm/

I cut the 2 19″ verticals, the 2 31″ horizontals, and the 2 117/8” fillers between the horizontals that get attached to the verticals. The filler pieces make the part that goes next to the skin on the nose as wide as if I made the wide side of the two by four face the skin so as to get the skin to lay smoothly. The screws that hold the skin to the mockup radiator will go between the vertical and the filler and won’t require a pilot hole, like it would if I somehow managed to get the verticals turned flat side to the outside.

And it’s not much but I’m going to reset my sleep schedule so that I’m diurnal again so I can actually be in the bed with Mrs. the Poet when I sleep. Yesterday I was in bed by 0930 and finally got everything shut down and asleep by about 1030, but was awakened frequently by day noises especially the phone, which then required time to settle the mind and go back to sleep, so that by the time I got up at 1900 I’d had maybe 6 or so hours of sleep total. So, I’m going to stay up all day and go to bed after the race in Martinsville ends.

It was a productive weekend

Which on the face of it is kinda out of phase with how we have set up our society which is 100% consistent with my life. Most people are getting up when I’m going to bed and are getting off work as I’m getting up, and get stuff done during the week while I get stuff done offline on the weekends.

I finally got to the Lowe’s to get the blades for my cordless reciprocating saw that I’m not allowed to call a Sawzall™ because it’s not made by the people who own the Sawzall™ trademark. I got a package of 5 for an unreasonable amount of money, plus some heavy-duty wood screws for $0.32 each that I had to get because they were the only ones long enough to penetrate the second two by four after going through the first. But I still need to drill a pilot hole through the first one.

Tonight I will use the saw blades to cut the wood to make the jig to do the thing to the car. I will try to be quiet as I do it, but I have to do it when I’m awake. I can’t do it while I’m sleeping, obviously.

And we finally got done with the run wiping out a drug running gang in Arlington in Shadowrun, saved 5 people from the gang’s sex slave dungeons including 4 women kidnapped from Mexico, and destroyed their base of operations as well as took about 100K nuyen wholesale value of illegal drugs off the market in that area. I found a fully functional AK 97 in their arsenal along with tons of 39 round magazines to fit. I picked that because I lack light select-fire weapons in my arsenal, having been dependent on either shotguns or grenade launchers with much lower rates of fire of much more deadly projectiles, which while it is more effective against individuals or small groups limits my effectiveness against large groups.

The destruction of the base was really fun as the crater from the explosion was almost exactly equal to the remaining debris from the office building they had taken over as a base, leading to a nearly level empty space left behind. Not real safe to walk on, but throw some dirt and sod over it and it will be fine. And serve as kind of a testimony to the gang, “When all is said and done, you added nothing to the community”. The other houses we blew up were simple wood-frame buildings that left relatively little rubble as they didn’t require enough explosive to leave a crater to flatten them. Their rubble was widely scattered by the small amount of explosive required to knock them down, leaving only a concrete pad foundation and the remains of the roof. I only assisted in this part of the run, as my character’s experience planing explosives was nearly a century in the past. But watching those buildings disappear from the landscape was a joy, even if it was mostly a shared imaginary feat.

And I need to go cut that wood for the jig now.