Category Archives: Department of DIY

Here’s the link to that lean-burn Corvette

Lean burn Corvette testing video.

You can see what it does IRL on real roads. This video was done last week and uploaded Saturday 12/7 so cold weather which is very bad for gas mileage because of increased aero drag and rolling resistance. Now my car is going to have horrible aero especially compared to a 1999 Corvette. If I’m lucky I’ll get about 30 MPG highway because of that, but that is still about as good as I got with my 1987 Hyundai with the non-overdrive 4-speed transmission. My best Dallas-Nashville mileage was about 31-32 back in the early ’90s partially because I was driving at night and missed everybody’s rush hours for all the cities I hit. Again, 1980’s technology and no overdrive with a carburetor but I did have an external oil cooler running as low viscosity oil as was available at the time, I think 10W-30 non-synthetic because synthetics were like 3 to 4 times as much as petroleum-based oils and as always we were Not Rich even then.

So, now that we know what’s possible, let’s see what we can do with what we have.

I have been practicing on raw stock

This is a technique I haven’t used since the last time I was building models for/with my son when he was a child, who will be 42 next birthday. So to say I was out of practice would be a gross understatement. So I decided some practice on some of the raw stock I’m using for the exhaust would be in order. I decided to start on the hardest exhaust end first because if I could a decent job on that the others would be a piece of cake.

Well the pictures didn’t turn out so good because the new phone doesn’t do macro very good, the old phone used to do macro real good, but this one stinks. Also it’s all white plastic so while I can see it, the camera just doesn’t pick it up well at all. But given the limitations of the technology here’s a before pic. Actually the other end of the tube that hasn’t been worked yet, but you get the idea.
that's a thick-wall tube if I'm trying to emulate exhaust tubing
And after, notice the thin edge looks like the whole tube is really thin.can you see how much thinner the tubewall looks now?
On a different background and lighting to make the difference more noticeable.That's really thin now
And before really needs a contrasting color on the edge but the tube wall is still discernible.needs better lighting and a better photographer

So this was the straight-cut tip, the tip I’m going to be emulating in plastic is the turn-out tip, where the tube is bent around a radius and then cut tangent to the inside of the bend right where the bend begins. This is a classic hot rod design motif that forces the exhaust in a different direction without enlarging the width of the exhaust in tight confines. The normal use is to turn the exhaust down in front of the rear axle when a combination of no ground clearance and not enough floorpan clearance when the axle is at full bump prevents routing the pipe over or under the rear axle. Or like I’m doing putting a side exit exhaust where there isn’t a lot of room to the side and you don’t want to hang a sharp edge out on the side of the car.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words then I have posted enough for today. Next step is to fire up the bender and make that turn-out tip.

Waiting on the door installation people

OK I have selected storm doors to replace the ones installed when the house was originally built in 1985, now I’m waiting for the installers to arrive and measure the door to get the right size storm frame. As this is one of the few standard size things on the house, I don’t expect too much hassle getting it installed.

One thing I have to say, it’s easy to get through the door once it’s open, the frame is 3′ x 6′. Looking through the Lowe’s listings this is the largest standard door available. There are taller doors, but they are only available by special order. There are lots of doors that come narrower, but I didn’t see anything wider. So 3 by 6 is as big as you can get without spending buttloads of money. But the installation people have to verify that in person so they get the right thing.

I have been practicing with the bender for the plastic stock of the frame and exhaust for the Mini Sprint-T, as the exhaust in particular requires lots of work to get right and there is a bend for the muffler/tailpipe in particular that really needs to be done right. To simulate the thin wall exhaust tubing of the 1:1 scale vehicle the end of the exhaust tip needs to be filed to a knife edge from the inside and the inside painted matte black or matte silver. That’s something I’m going to have to research, does E85 leave a carbon deposit when tuned for best power? I already know that the highway mileage tune for 87 octane won’t, as it is about as lean as the engine will run right with, emulating a tune that let a ZO6 Corvette get just over 38 MPG in a real-world highway test. For airplane drivers this is the car equivalent of tuning 150° lean-of-peak on the EGT. And for people not aware this is over 40 MPG steady-state from an engine that displaces 427 in3 (7 liters) and put out ~500 HP at the rear wheels back in the day. But anyway the highway tune will not remove carbon deposits at the end of the exhaust, so if the tune for E85 carbons up the exhaust then I need to emulate that in the model. And I just checked the E85 forum and there are 3 posts that say they don’t get any carbon from running E85, and one that said he still has carbon in his tailpipe from the 87 octane the dealer put in when he first bought it, but nothing more than that in 5000+miles since he bought the car, so I’m going with the matte silver for the inside of the tube.

The fuel map is going to look really strange when I get this tune done, because most of the map will be slightly rich except for the RPM block and throttle setting for steady-state freeway cruise at 60 MPH which will have a “hole” that leans the engine as far as it will go and still run right. On 87 octane this will be leaner than the max NOx point so low CO, CO2 and middling NOx.

And I have been sitting here writing for about 3 hours waiting to hear from these people, and it’s about 1630 CST so I’m going to assume they aren’t going to answer today. And this is a good word count to stop at, because I don’t want to bore anyone today. So, I have to go out again tomorrow to deposit a check, which means going on the bus again. But not as bad as Black Friday in the rain.

No News is just no news

Between YouTube and Twitter and clogging the toilet I have been Way Too Busy to put something on the blog. The Big Thing At The House last week was a big fight about moving my projects in-progress off the dining room table to replace the tablecloth, because unless I do it parts get lost, and I Didn’t Want To Do It. And the odd capitalization is on purpose for vocal intonation a la A. A. Milne.

One of the reasons I haven’t had much to talk about is we are waiting for Mrs. the Poet to decide on when she wants to get an operation to fix her back. She has scoliosis and stenosis, which combine to cause her Great Pain pretty much all the time, and sometimes her legs just Stop Working so she falls down, and yells at me to stand there and not help her get back up, which I don’t understand at all. I mean yelling at me to be there I understand, but yelling at me to leave her alone and not help her up? 🤷‍♀️ That I do not understand at all. Why yell for me to come and not help you? And I have no idea why she is putting the operation off, her insurance has already approved it and all they need is for her to say when.

On other things the money to fix the storm doors and pay the property taxes is on the way, so we can fix the broken doors and also open the doors to allow some fresh air to enter without inviting the neighborhood bugs into the house. This would be good because the house gets stuffy in the Summer and Winter because we have to Keep Things Closed Up to keep cold air either inside or outside as appropriate, and we need to let the joint air out a bit in Spring and Fall. Now we have the option of letting some fresh air in.

I have been trying to get something done with the Mini Sprint-T chassis so I will have something to show where the Bits And Pieces will go on the 1/1 version. That and so I’ll have something to point to and tell people what I want for Christmas, “That, in full scale.” I mean, I already have lots of the parts, some need welding to other parts, but I have most of the front end in the house. I have the axle, both spindles, the steering arms, all the brakes and hubs, the brackets that weld to the axle to mount the 4-link, and associated Bit And Pieces. Basically all I need to call it a Complete Front End are the links for the 4-link, the track bar, springs and shocks, and the steering drag link and tie rod. The steering box is one of those things that is frame or front axle, but I need one of those, too. And I have been trying to replicate those parts in 1/25 scale for the Mini Sprint-T.

Well, that brings you up to date Dear Reader, so it is time to proof and publish the post. I will see you the next time I have Something To Say. Happy Thanksgiving, safe Black Friday.

Still stuck on imagi-building that A-MOD car

I have a mind that must chew on problems to solve, not social problems, physically solvable problems like bicycles or race cars. And the one that’s occupying my mind is the A-MOD car. Like all good engineering problems it has a simple premise: Make the quickest car possible on an autocross course within these constraints; 72″ minimum wheelbase, 42″ minimum tread, 900 pounds minimum weight with driver and full fluids, and 10″ minimum wheel diameter. There are safety rules common to every car in the series, and because having a really stiff suspension is a huge advantage you have to have sprung suspension, not that actual springs are required, there are cars that are riding around on actual hockey pucks between the suspension and the frame, but something that isn’t a solid piece of metal against another non-moving piece of metal.

Anywho, working through those minor strictures I have evolved literally thousands of cars with uncountable variations of “suspension” over the last few weeks. But what I keep coming back to is a single-pivot rear suspension with a solid axle and a single disk brake halting the axle. It’s simple, strong, and fairly lightweight. And relatively easy to adapt to a chain drive. Another thing is it works extremely well with a common trope in cars this size, mounting the engine on the rear suspension. Basically this is done to simplify the drivetrain and shorten the chain on chain drives. It’s really bad for unsprung weight so I’m only doing the designs as due diligence to make sure I’m covering all the bases, and because researching this adds to the knowledge base for other designers, and what I learned to pass on to other designers is the unsprung weight is pretty close to zero if the Center of Mass of the engine is mounted right at the pivot point of the suspension which is physically impossible unless the rear swing arm is mounted in such a way as to create a virtual pivot point in or near the CG of the engine, which kinda negates the purpose of mounting the engine on the swingarm in the first place, simplifying the rear suspension and drivetrain.

Another suspension I have been looking at is the classic 4 link and panhard rod with the forward pivot of the 4 link even with the front drive sprocket of the chain drive and the rear pivot right on the centerline of the rear axle so the chain and the suspension swing through very close to the same arc and making having the same chain tension through the suspension travel simple.

Another thing I have been looking at is mounting the rear part of the chain drive solidly to the rest of the frame and using CV axles to run the power to the wheels as shown in a book I bought, How to Build Motorcycle-Engined Race Cars by Tony Pashley. and in this video by Vasily Builds where he modifies his swingarm buggy into IRS. Way more complex to build but less unsprung weight than almost anything else, but the 4 link is lighter overall, allowing weight to be added where it will do the most good, making the final decision a tossup or a painstaking virtual build of both to see which would be better. I have the time but not the software to do the virtual build, and the 4 link is both cheaper and easier. And since I have more time than money, cheaper is the way to go on this one.

But I would still rather be building the Sprint-T. This is just something to keep my mind occupied so I don’t build a doomsday device and just destroy everything. Speaking of which, I can’t find my yellowcake, I have the lemon and the cinnamon, but not the yellowcake. (Mad scientist in-joke, you don’t have to laugh if you don’t get it, but if you don’t get it and want to get it google “Nigerian yellowcake” for the source of the joke.)

Nothing much to write about since putting my head through the door

Basically my mind won’t stop building A-MOD cars and it’s been keeping me awake at night. How much of that is related to last week’s adventure in DIY home-wrecking and how much is just frustration at not being able to build anything (or even able to type anything as I will explain later)?

I have been thinking about taking the driveline out of one of those AWD quadbikes and stretching it out to the required wheelbase and track for an A-MOD car. Basically that would require making one new drive shaft and 2 new axles to put everything on one side of the car so the driver could sit beside the engine instead of over it, and get everything as close to the center as possible. Quadbikes are literally available all over the place out here because nobody can find parts to fix them so when they break they get thrown away, and because nobody does routine maintenance on them they break with appalling frequency. So they are literally available for towing fees or “How much you wanna pay me to haul that off?” If you get one that has good parts support they are somewhat fixable but those are not the kind that get thrown away, otherwise you try to find a bunch so you fix one and use the rest for parts. So the build process is basically find a quad, cut off the front end and build new pickup points for the front suspension that moves the wheelbase out to 72″ and the track to 42″ and widen the rear to match the front. Then move the controls to the side and down so that the CG is close to centered on the new layout with the driver and because the driver is on the same plane as the rest of the vehicle the vertical CG is lowered a bunch. Swap out race slicks for the all-terrain tires of the quad and semi-instant A-MOD car!

The other idea that has been prancing through my mind is a variation of the sidewinder build trailing A-arm rear suspension that puts the pivot point of the suspension next to the output shaft of the transmission so that chain tension wouldn’t change much as the rear suspension traveled through its range. Basically the design change was a single structural member from the pivot point of the A-arm to the rear axle bearing support next to the chainline, to prevent flex from the chain pulling the axle forward, and one diagonal that runs from the pivot behind the engine to the far support bearing while another runs from the chainline support to the support on the driver’s side of the axle, with another running in front of the rear axle sprocket to the engine side bearing support on the axle to prevent flex when cornering. The best way I can describe this is it will look like a flattened A with one leg missing and a line up the middle and another leg to the center on the side away from the driver from overhead. Because I plan on running the same size tire on both ends it will have only one spring and shock absorber on that center bearing support, as close to the axle as possible to get what is technically a “zero roll stiffness” suspension so that all the roll stiffness is in the front and the car will corner on the outside front and both rear tires to prevent massive oversteer under power. Having the full length and width support only on the side away from the driver allows the driver to sit further back in the car while still allowing for suspension travel.

Now, about that typing issue mentioned earlier. Basically what it comes down to is stuff from the cuts on my hands got all stiff and I couldn’t hit the keys with my fingers. Long story is some of the cuts opened up and started bleeding so I had to put bigger bandaids on them with more antiseptic, leaving me with two fingers that couldn’t bend, the index and third fingers, and typing became a single-handed operation of hunt and peck. And slowly because sympathetic pain every time I moved the fingers of the other hand because I use both hands to type and I kept trying to use the injured hand. So no new posts until the hand healed enough that I could type. But now I’m better (or as the saying goes “good enough”) I’m doing another post.

Still not dead, and the heat came on for the first time this winter

It got down to 62°F inside Casa de El Poeta today, which is cold enough to make my knuckles hurt and get stiff even under the covers, so since I foresee a possible heat wave before it gets cold again I reset the thermostat to work full range instead of just cooling. Now we have heat, because to be honest 62° is just not warm enough with the clothes we have here en mi casa. My normal attire is shorts and if I feel chilly a T-shirt, but today I have sweatpants and a T-shirt and I’m thinking about adding a sweat shirt. Mrs. the Poet wears considerably more inside the house than I regardless of the temperature unless I really allow the temperature to rise during the summer to save electricity.

The “normal” setting for heat here is 65 during the day and 62 after midnight, so this is about what I’ll go to bed to tonight and Mrs. the Poet will get up to in the morning. This time of year is usually a good one for electricity usage as there are long stretches that are warm enough to not require using the heat, but cool enough to not require running the AC, so we just run the fan at low speed to keep the house at a uniform temperature. This is also the time of year when I switch from cold snacks to hot ones like Cup Soup and ramen noodles because I need that psychological warmth when it’s a bit chilly and there’s not much sun. In fact between sentences I’m eating a Maruchan Instant Lunch with shrimp while composing this post. But at any rate the thermostat was set to AC only and had the be reset to Automatic to bring the heat settings into play.

There is a discussion on Twitter about what we would do if Universal Basic Income passed and everyone got $40K tax free every year on top of what we already make, and my answer was I would have access to raw stock and parts to make better content for you guys reading my blog. I could go full “Mad Scientist” and finish the Sprint-T and either build the A-MOD car or build the AWD T-bucket that has been percolating in the grey matter for the last few years since Ken Block unveiled the Hoonicorn Mustang . Now I won’t have 1400 WHP like the Hoonicorn, in fact I probably won’t even use forced induction and just be concerned with hooking what power I made to the road instead of making as much power as physics and chemistry allow. I probably won’t have a 2-step as rowdy as the one on the Hoonicorn, but I’m sure it will make some noise because that’s the nature of rev limiters on EFI engines. I think I mentioned what I would build for the Sprint-T with a large enough budget, a 6.3l aluminum block fitted with the 3.26″ stroke crank and matching rods out of a 4.8l truck engine to make a 5.56l (339 in3) destroker engine capable of spinning as fast as the valvetrain will allow.

Update: after the last paragraph I went to buy a TX Lotto ticket, and on the way home I had a problem standing up while walking and almost made it home. I got all the way to the front door before falling down, through the storm door. I got about a dozen or so cuts deep enough to bleed, 3 deep enough to need bandaging after I cleaned myself up. Interestingly, all the bandages are on my left hand, even though my head is what took out the window in the storm door and bounced off the actual front door. It was the same thing as the last time I fell down, I got tired and let my center of gravity got too far out in front of my feet. This is a result of my brain damage from the wreck, and is similar to what happens to Parkinson’s patients. I don’t have Parkinson’s, just garden variety brain damage that has similar symptoms to one aspect of Parkinson’s. So quell your worries, I’m no worse off than I was a few days ago, as soon as I get all the glass out of my skin. And I have another reason to hate the guy driving the truck that killed me, because this is directly related to that event. If he wasn’t already dead from driving his personal vehicle into a tree or something while DUI, I would kick him in the nuts until he was dead. The really bad thing is he died before I had the chance to sue him for damages and medical bills, letting his heirs keep everything I should have gotten. C’est la vie.

October is somewhat early for this

But what the heck.

I’m doing a wish list of what I need to finish the Sprint-T, with markers for get it running (R), Nice to have (N), and ultimate race car (U). Now some items will cross over and get 2 or more tags (U, N, R) or (U, R) or (N, R) or (U, N) so if you want to mix and match as long as the item has at least one tag in common with other gifts it won’t be a wasted purchase. And I will also update this list with items given or purchased. So I will post a link to this post when the list gets updated.

I’m going to start the list with the tings I already have and where they fall on the list.
Body with no doors or floor (U, N, R)
Windshield posts (U, N, R)
Front axle (U, N, R)
Spindles (U, N, R)
Steering arms (U, N, R)
Steering wheel (U, N, R)
Wilwood 12.2″ disk brakes and calipers and brackets to fit spindles (U, N)
Brackets and heims for the axle (U, N, R)
Swing arms for the rear axle (U, N, R)

Now the stuff I don’t have is much longer.
Category engine:
Junkyard 5.3l LS architecture engine (R)

3.26″ stroke LS crank and matching rods from a 4.8l LS (U, N) with an aluminum block 4.0″ or larger bore (U) or a iron block from a 6.0l LS truck engine (N) a set of 862 casting number LS heads (U, N, R) and an aftermarket “Truck intake” that matches the ports on the heads (U, N, R) and this cam (U, N)

Microsquirt ECU and LS harness (U, N, R)

Category transmission:
Junkyard 4L80E transmission (U, N, R)

Junkyard 6L80E transmission (R) This one is heavier and has more loss in 1st and 2nd gears compared to the 4 speed, but gives better gas mileage highway.

Category rear end:
Junkyard 8.8″ ford axle and disk brakes in 5 X 4.5″ bolt circle (R) Found in 1983 and later Ford trucks and Ford Rangers and some Mustangs and SUVs until replaced by independent suspension. They still use the 8.8 as a center section for the independent suspension, but it won’t work for my car.

Winters or Speedway Engineering quick change with magnesium center section and aluminum tubes set up for GN or Superspeedway hubs with 1° negative camber (spindle up) and 60″ hub width (U, N)

Aluminum 5 X 4.75″ bolt circle hubs to fit the axle above (U, N) If you’re wondering the front hubs can be either Ford pattern (5 X 4.5″) or Chevy (5 X 4.75″) and the aluminum GN or Superspeedway hubs are available in 5 X 5″ or 5 X 4.75″, so they need to be the 4.75″ circle so I don’t have to buy as many kinds of wheels.

2 X 11.75″ X 0.81″ vented brake disks to fit the calipers (U, N)

Speedway emergency brake calipers Part # 91031046-L and -R and brackets BSB Manufacturing 7070 Steel Bearing Brake Floater Part # 91045534 (U, N)

That’s the current list as of 10/19/19. Watch this date to see if I update the list because I know there is stuff I left off the list of things I have, and I need much more stuff but don’t know what to get yet based on what I have and have room for in the car.

Trying to shift sleep schedules is hard

I have managed to keep it up for almost 2 weeks now, but I’m running out of the OTC drugs I use to maintain my diurnal schedule. One is Ibuprofen to keep the nagging discomforts of being old (and all those injuries I survived) from keeping me awake, the other is diphenhydramine that allows me to shut down instead of letting my mind wander where it will (and my mind has the metaphorical legs to lap the world several times).

The bad news is we forgot to get more diphenhydramine last trip to the store and now we are down to the last one, and we are also running low on the ibuprofen. I have to make another attempt at banking tomorrow, so I can extend that to a stop at the drug store to get more of my homemade sleeping aids. I didn’t post about my previous attempt to go to the bank Friday, but it breaks down to I went to the bus stop and waited for enough time that 2 buses should have passed but none showed up. By that time my injuries said I had spent too much time standing and I needed to have a lie down or at the minimum a sit down. The bad part is I activated my PM pass just before the first bus should have showed up and now I’m out the $1.50 for a disabled PM pass. That won’t break me, but I am annoyed at wasting the money.

So the plan is tomorrow I go to the bank and deposit the checks I was supposed to deposit Friday, get a massage, buy the OTC meds I use to get to sleep, maybe grab a burger for lunch, and go home. I can do that because there is a CVS, two fast food places and two places to get a massage all on the same corner, so I can do this on two bus rides out and back. There used to be a comic book shop on the same corner, but it was closed and now sits vacant over a rent raise. Real smart move for the landlord unless there is some kind of tax benefit from having the store vacant.

And I’m also making another attempt at Free Senior Day that also falls on Thrifty Thursday at the State Fair, I still have lots of fair food Mrs. the Poet wants me to try and tell her about.

But for the nonce I’m going to go deposit checks and do the other things tomorrow. I will probably spin a tale of derring do about my exploits tomorrow night.

When it’s day but your body says it’s time to sleep

Basically I’m time-shifted about 12 hours now, I fall asleep at noon and wake up about 1830-1900 just in time for dinner for breakfast. Then I do stuff for a while so that I’m spending at least a little quality time with my wife before she goes to bed and I go to work, even when I don’t have any actual “work” pending. Last night I did some work on the cats’ water dish/fountain so that the water in the pool area was also filtered. As configured from the factory the water is picked up from the back pool and forced through the filter to the top of the tower where it trickles back down the front of the tower and immediately goes into the back pool. This leaves all the dirty water untouched in the front pool which is where the cats have to drink from, only they won’t because it’s a little nasty and never gets cleaned.

So, what I’m doing is redirecting the water from the filter out into the front pool in order to set up a current that takes the water in the front pool into the filter so it all gets cleaned. Or at least mostly cleaned. I doubt I can configure the fountain to clean all the water but I’m hopeful that this will get it clean enough that the cats will stop drinking out of the dishwater and toilet, both of which disturb the person who bought the expensive cat fountain because he (not me) spent a hefty sum to buy the fountain only to have the cats turn up their noses at it after a few days of operation. The modification will have the negative side effect of making a splashy noise as the water spills out into the front pool from a height (if you can call less than 6″ a “height”) instead of clinging to the front of the filter tower and going right back into the rear pool and filters.

And since I have to wait several hours for this water-based adhesive to dry before I run water over it, and because today is Seniors Free day (and not Seniors in HS) and I have passed as a senior citizen for almost21 years now, I’m going to go to the fair and have some badunhealthy fried food and see stuff, and then come back and see how the cat fountain works. I’m hoping just getting the water away from the intake for the filter gets enough of the front pool cleaned out and I don’t have to build the extension that dumps the water at the far end of the front pool and sets up a current to get all of the front pool through the filter, but I’m prepared to do the full thing and build the extension that gets the clean water all the way to the front of the fountain.

See you after the Fair!