Monthly Archives: October 2020

Well, that was quite a race!

It didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted it to, but wow! what a race on the Roval at Charlotte. It was raining at the start, then stopped, then eventually got sunny leading to a track that was tricky to drive every lap. And tricky to drive leads to exciting racing.

I’m not going to lie, my guys didn’t win, and they were in a “points below the cutoff line in a cutoff race” situation. Those were Clint Bowyer, who is retiring at the end of the season, and Kyle Busch the reigning champ. Clint I just wanted to see have a shot at the championship in his last season, because he’s always been a good driver and also a good person from what I can tell. Kyle just didn’t get a fair chance this year because of the rules changes caused by the Stupid Virus. Kyle’s style is to make the car perfect in practice, and there was no practice this season after the Stupid Virus. My problem was they can’t both win, and the only way for both to go to the next round was for the 88 car to blow the engine on the pace lap or similar and Clint and Kyle to finish 1-2 in that order. Did I mention I don’t particularly like the driver of the 88?

In other news, I’m still evolving the mount for the steering box and changing the front bulkhead in the process. I decided the car would be faster if I made the bellypan all the way across the car to the outside edge of the fender, which meant I needed to do something to support the leading edge around the front tires. Since the front tires would get pretty close to going parallel to the front axle, I subtracted the diameter of the street tires from the axle width to come up with 31″ clearance at full lock, which just happens to be the same width as the radiator. Which means the extension of the front frame rail really needs to be on both sides of the car, making the bottom of the front bulkhead way wider than the original design of a point at the bottom intersecting the main frame rails also coming to a point.

The new bulkhead is radically different. Where there was a straight tube across the top from one shock mount to the other with a tube from each shock mount to the center V-point and some internal bracing to prevent flex, the new design has a straight bottom tube that runs across the intersection of the main frame rails to the rail extensions spaced 31″ across outside to outside, and a tube from that intersection to the shock mounts and another horizontal tube across to support the downforce-generating nosepiece from underneath so it doesn’t need to be cut and fitted around the bulkhead, and is way easier to install and remove for maintaining the steering, and has the secondary effect of making as much downforce as the nosepiece can make. This upper tube will be 31″ wide and the vertical from the extension to the upper tube will also act as the mount for the steering box. And then there will be another tube from that intersection to the shock mount, triangulating the mount, and a tube from the intersection of the upper bar and the vertical from the extension to the point where the main frame rails intersect with each other and the front bulkhead to triangulate the steering box mount and the place where the load from the shock mounts feeds into.

I really need to draw this out and show what I’m writing about, because while there are a lot of words, there are not a lot of tubes involved, only 10 total in the front bulkhead, and just 6 more that intersect it. Which sounds super complicated, but not so much when I visualize it. I just wish my hands worked better and I had the tools and the paper to draw it like I see it. But if wishes were horses we would all ride everywhere. And that is a saying that predates bicycles it’s so old.

And I didn’t finish my statement about supporting the front of the bellypan. Well I need to establish the swept curve of the tires moving to lock between straight ahead and the tire parallel to the axle, which is a fancy way to say I need to trace out the curve of the outer corner of the tire tread, all the way until the tire is at right angles to straight ahead, and then copy that curve on a tube roller (which I still have from building bicycles) on a chunk of light 1.5″ tube. That will be the leading edge of the bellypan from behind the tire to the frame.

I will have other tubes on the outside edge to support the bellypan all the way to the edge so I can use it as a step to get in the car, and so that any downforce it generates goes all the way to the suspension like good ground effects. I already know that there will only be a tiny amount of downforce even on the freeway, but I want every ounce I can get.

I was also thinking about the A-Mod car because I had an allergy attack that made me sleepy so I went to bed, but then wouldn’t let me sleep. So I stared at the shadows on the ceiling and planned the Next-To-No-Car-There-Car. Basically just enough frame and body to hold a body to the right of center with outriggers to mount coilovers and the bits to hold the left side of the suspension in place, and a big empty space to be filled with a motorcycle engine that gets moved from side to side to balance the body in the part of the car designed to carry the body. That’s about as far as I can get without drawing tools and paper.

So, that’s what happens when I have too much time to think, and there’s a really good race on the next morning.

OK getting down to brass tacks on this steering business

First, an etymology of the phrase “Getting down to Brass Tacks” because I know it and I think it will add to the conversation about the steering. The origin of the phrase relates to custom saddles for horses and cowboys, and literally refers to the size and number of the brass tacks used to secure the final seating surface to the frame of the saddle. This was important because too few or too small of tacks would cause the saddle to fall apart, and because the polished brass tacks were a decorative touch and too many was considered to be low-class, or <i>nouveau-riche</i>. And that should be in italics but I have to switch back and forth between editors so fvque it.

Anyway, this part of the design is very detail-oriented, in that the same parts from different suppliers will require different fitting because while they might be the same internally (spline count and/or shaft diameters) outside they are very different. Like about a quarter-inch different in outside diameter between basically the same U-joints from different manufacturers means some will clear the inside of the bellypan without relief dimples and some will require about an eighth of an inch or so relief dimple to not foul the U-joints when the steering wheel is turned. So I have to do a lot of catalog and website browsing to find the outside diameter of the various U-joints, so I can pick the ones that won’t require extra work on the bellypan.

Actually there is only one place where the outside size of the U-joints is at all important, the place where the steering shaft goes under the radiator, between the frame rails, and above the inside of the bellypan. The current plan is running a 3/4″ shaft under the radiator in the 1 1/2″ gap caused by the radiator having to sit on top if the bottom frame rails, and tucking that shaft up as close to the radiator as possible. I can get bearings that can be mounted so the shaft just barely clears the bottom of the radiator mount, meaning the U-joints have 1.125″ radius clearance without having to dimple the bellypan. Most of the U-joints I’m looking at will clear that with no problem, but there are some that don’t and I have to make sure I don’t get those. So I have to mark the ones that I know will fit and then cross them against other considerations, like how strong they are, and how much flex they have. Price is also a consideration, but there isn’t much leeway there. They pretty much cost what they cost, and there isn’t much difference between suppliers.

Anywho I have also figured out what to do with some of the leftover heavy angle stock: the panhard rod (or track bar, the two are interchangeable) needs a sturdy mount on both ends, and the quarter-inch thick stock will be perfect for that, being practically inflexible for the size needed for that bracket, no deflection at all as short as they are. And because right angles and flat surfaces, it’s practically self-jigging.

And I don’t know if I mentioned it explicitly before but because of the thickness required to prevent flex in the steering arm, the part is thick enough to be threaded for secure connection to the rest of the car. No extra nuts required, but I will use a safety nut on the bolt through the heim joint at the end of the drag link, because that bolt will be hanging down and could fall out of it wasn’t safetied somehow, which could cause a total loss of steering control. I don’t think saying that would be bad is any overstatement. The safety nut in this application would be equal to a double nut safety, as the threaded steering arm would function as the first nut.

And I’m getting a notification from my computer that my OS wants a shutdown to update, I’m starting to glaze over and try to faceplant into my keyboard because trying to think about something on-topic to write about. So this looks like a good time and place to stop writing this and publish and reboot.

This post is going to be heavy on the technical stuff

I hope this works, again, but here goes nothing.

I’m writing this to the beat of Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Two Tribes (Carnage Mix)” on my YTM player while I sort out how to commit acts of authorship, on the very technical subject of how to make threaded holes in the steering arm, so that the various things that need to be attached to the steering arm and vice-versa can be attached via threaded fasteners. To do this I consulted the Oracle Google who directed me to the Wizard Wikipedia

who has knowledge in all things arcane. And that last little bit was either appended to the link text, or placed in a separate paragraph below. Apparently the bugs are not properly exorcised from the editor.

Anywho, the plan is to tap threaded holes in the steering arm to accept the bolts that hold the caliper bracket to the other side of the spindle, and the bolt that goes through the heim joint on the drag link that acts as a tie rod end and put a nut on the bolt to lock the assembly together and prevent accidental disassembly while in use. That means drilling three holes of odd size, with the two holes for the bolts to the spindle being the same size and the hole for the heim joint being much larger. Since the caliper bracket uses 1/2″fine thread bolts I use the appropriate drill to make the final hole after drilling pilot holes because my drill press slips if I take too big a bite from quarter-inch thick stock. I have no idea how I’m going to drill the hole for the heim joint, because the biggest drill I can chuck in the drill press is several sizes smaller than the drill I need to use for a 5/8″ fine thread bolt. And before anyone can make a comment, the drill press was a gift, I was building bicycles at the time, and the press was sized for the materials and thicknesses I was working with at the time it was given to me many years ago. Also I think I wore that sucker plumb out back when I was building bicycles.

But, yeah, that’s the gist of it. I need to make 3 holes of certain sizes, perfectly perpendicular to the piece, and then thread them (also perfectly perpendicular to the piece), and the holes are on different planes of the piece.

Still thinking about improvements

Yep, mind still churning about the Sprint-T. This time I’m thinking about how to mount the steering box.

There are two orientations the box can take and still turn the front tires in the correct direction as commanded by the steering wheel: the kit orientation was pitman arm pointed forward controlling a steering arm pointed back, or the OE orientation of the pitman arm pointed back controlling steering arms pointed forward. The problem I’m trying to solve is making room for the engine and radiator and also sneaking the steering shaft from the steering wheel to the box around the radiator without hanging out in the breeze.

Aero is not critical but it is important for freeway fuel economy. I mean there is going to be a lot of junk hanging in the breeze simply because T-Bucket, but that’s still not an impediment to decent but not fantastic aero. For examples of decent aero and exposed wheels see https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS809US809&sxsrf=ALeKk02olFWp4zhsrQs1tNKIuVFdAMTU0A:1602022917053&source=univ&tbm=isch&q=images+lakester+racers&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiP3JG3gKHsAhUEKawKHdSNBDoQjJkEegQIChAB&biw=1517&bih=694 “lakester racers” that are required to have exposed wheels. The old belly tank racers are a good example of that.

Anyway, I have been thinking about it and there is a 1½” gap under the radiator because it sits on top of the frame that would be good to sneak the steering shaft through without hanging out in the breeze. The closest to a problem would be clearance for the U-joints to turn that close to the bellypan. And something to block the air from going under the radiator, but that would be a great place to mount the bearing that guides the steering shaft under the radiator. I really need to find out how big are those U-joints that connect to the steering shaft. I may need to make a relief bump in the pan for the U-joints to swing, but if I need one it wouldn’t be very big.

The other problem is properly bracing the top of the box to prevent it from rotating in reaction to the forces from the pitman arm hanging off the bottom of the box. Side to side is easy, just weld the mount to the top of the frame rail. Boom, you’re done! The other is a bit more tricky, because there has to be something to brace against to do the top part of the mount. On the kit the mount welds to the side of the frame rail, so the twisting moment from the force through the pitman arm is close to zero and is resisted easily by the sheer mass of the frame rail and the extremely short arm the force has to act through. It’s basically all sideways against the rail for the kit mount. Now there is another frame rail to run a brace from on the same side of the frame, plus its mirror on the other side of the frame for slightly better angle on the force. Which brings us to the actual point of the post, the reason why I mentioned the OE orientation of the steering box: I’m thinking of attaching the steering box mount to the front bulkhead with the drag link under the steering shaft and ahead of the axle.

If I move the box in front of the axle, then I could brace the top of the box against the front bulkhead at whatever place is convenient to mount the brace. The bottom of the mounting bracket still mounts to the frame extension that also acts as the mount for the panhard rod. As a point of fact, that was the original reason for the frame extension in the first place, someplace to mount the frame end of the panhard rod so the panhard rod could be the same length and parallel to the drag link for no bump steer. And now it looks like I only need to make a slight adjustment to the front of this extension to mount the steering box, because there are braces from the bulkhead in two directions to locate the front and triangulate it in two dimensions, and the vertical one can be used as the actual place to weld the mount.

So these are the pros and cons of moving the steering box in front of the axle:
Pros: simplifies the top mount of the box, lighter, gets the drag link completely away from interfering with any suspension links.
Cons: puts weight in front of the axle, increases to moment resisting changes in direction, susceptible to damage when hitting curbs while parking.

And that last one is only mentioned because it is a slight possibility, not because it’s likely to happen, and a curved skid plate in front of the box will prevent even the slight possibility from coming true. Or it might not even be a possibility because of how high the box has to be mounted for the drag link to be level, especially if I don’t drop the drag link at the steering arm on the spindle. I think mounting the drag link to the top of the pitman arm and the bottom of the steering arm will give enough offset to prevent binding. This will raise the bottom of the box to about 9-9½:” above ground with the street tires. Considering the frame is about 6″ above ground with the street tires that would be a very tall and vertical curb to hit the steering box. It would have to be a really tall and narrow parking bumper that didn’t block either front tire, a freak of parking bumpers.

And I still haven’t gotten this editor down pat, because I have no idea how to insert text to a link and not leave the URL all over the page, so I’m going to quit fighting it and publish the post.

Well last week’s celebrations were premature

Last week I posted a post-mortem on that week’s game session, but the GM said the celebration of the TPK against the bad guys was a little early. Because he had a family obligation due to the holiday he didn’t roll the damage from the grenade landing in the car, but he did after the celebrations with his family were over, and it turns out only the mook with the grenade launcher was killed outright by the grenade, because I had already shot him once, and the car interior bits absorbed most of the shrapnel from the grenade going off inside the car.

My character didn’t know that of course, but when the car continued to drive away he assumed the driver hadn’t been hurt that bad and shot the driver to make the car stop, and also shot the front-seat passenger to prevent him from taking control over my recently-acquired property, and used my comm-link to contact my other team members about hacking the car and driving it to my place for salvage. There was one mook left, passenger side rear seat, but he wasn’t too lively. But we got him out of the car and tied to a chair for questioning.

The mook was a member of the gang we roughed up a few months ago in game time. Because my character is a local legend for doing entire gang wipeouts and surviving runs that should have been suicide runs because he can’t die, besides being really tough, he was recognized by one of the sex slaves we rescued. She squawked to her keeper, who hadn’t been on site when we did our little bit of “urban renewal” in Arlington. This got back to the rest of the gang and they decided I needed to be dealt with. They didn’t know that the tales about how hard I was to kill were true, mostly. Most of the game session was spent in interrogating the mook and in the rolls for combat to capture the mook.

So now where we are for next session is doing a little more research on the gang, the Featherds, that according to the DM is the “pet gang” of Aztechland for operations in the area. So I potentially have an entire government ticked off at me. Or not, it’s up to the GM.

I was busy this afternoon

I had to take a pretty long trip to pick up some raw stock from the Lowe’s in the next town over. This required a bus trip of about 3 hours round trip, not counting waiting for transfers or missing a schedule that never showed up.

The real fun was carrying the raw stock in my hand from the Lowe’s to the bus stop 0.3 mi away and then the 0.4 mi from the bus stop home. Since I need my right hand to drive the cane that means I had to use my non-dominant hand to carry this.

Eight feet of 2" by 2" by 0.25" thick angle iron about 13 pounds

That’s between 13 and 14 pounds of 2″ by 2″ by 0.25″ thick according to my bathroom scale, that I carried over three quarters of a mile in my left hand. And let me tell you, my left hand did not appreciate the exercise! My arthritis is really complaining about it, and the tendonitis from pinching bicycle fenders into shape back in the Naughties is making its displeasure known as well. I used the proven technique of holding the object to be weighed as I stepped on the scale, noting the weight, and then putting the object down where I’m not supporting it and noting the weight again and subtracting. This avoids the well-known problems with weighing light things like angle iron and cats on a bathroom scale.

A small part of that stock, about 8″ long, will become the steering arm that the drag link will connect to the pitman arm. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of the stock, but I’m sure there will be something that needs bracing from a heavy-ass piece of steel and that for some yet-to-be-determined reason light tubing won’t work. Now let me do some sums and this steering arm will weigh something in the neighborhood of 2 ± pounds. That’s pretty heavy for a steering arm.

Now I need to take some precise measurements and lay out my dimensions before I start cutting stock, I mean I only have enough stock to make 5 plus of this part, so I can only screw up 4 times before I have to buy more stock and make another 4 hour trip to the next town over that I could get to in about 20 minutes if I could still ride my bike. Speaking of which I wore my “All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby” T-shirt, but it was in Latin, so nobody knew I was buying stuff to make a car while wearing a “Cars Suck” T-shirt.😇

This is going to be a partay

I had my toes done this afternoon, and since this is my big party month, I decided to get them done like I was going to a party even if I’m not.

Left foot, you can see the scar from when the shoe was dynamically removed in the wreck
Left foot, you can see the scar from when the shoe was dynamically removed in the wreck
Right foot, just purple toenails and no unusual scars

Right foot, just purple toenails and no unusual scars

And since WordPress has changed the post editor on me I have no idea what I’m doing nor clue as to what this will look like when I hit Publish. I can’t find my editing tools or how to tag the post or basically anything but how to put a picture in, and I don’t think I got that one right. Anywho, I have no clue on how to set this post’s Category or how to add tags to make the new posts consistent with old posts. So this post will go up without categories or tags. I found a widget for categories, but all it does is take me to posts with the selected category, not apply the selected category to the post I’m creating.

I’m very unhappy with this “enhancement”, because if I can’t find my tools and tags I can’t make posts the way I want to make them, which just pisses me off.