Category Archives: Department of DIY

My walks are in the upper 25% of walks

I have an app called Map My Walk that I use to track my progress trying to improve the way I walk. When I first started using it I was managing to cover a mile in about 32 minutes average. Now after just a week I’m down to 27 minutes per mile on my 3.74 mile walks. BTW the app tells me this distance is in the top 25% of all walks. Anyways, not only am I walking faster, I am walking smoother. I am forcing myself to not limp with the short leg. Well not to limp noticeably anyway. Anyone listening to the cadence of my walk will hear a limp even though I’m trying not to visibly limp.

Nothing new on the hot rod front. Mrs. the Poet is still of the same mindset that I can build the car in the garage, after enough stuff is cleared away that I can fit the donor vehicle in there.

And I’m going to play an RPG tomorrow, for my socialization.😈

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

A Compromise Has Been Reached

After much discussion with Mrs. the Poet (including several suggestions of where the other could go, both polite or not) we have reached an agreement on the hot rod.

It was agreed that placing an arbitrary veto on any activity was unfair, so we discussed why Mrs. the Poet was unhappy about building a hot rod. The primary objection was local codes’ propensity for hauling off parts cars after an unreasonably short period of time, and also their propensity for removing projects not completed to their satisfaction as when they came and sawed up my bench I made from a large fallen branch after the ice storm a few years back. I had finished the rough cuts and was waiting for the wood to finish drying out to install the lamp fixtures and cup holders when they snuck into the back yard with electric chain saws and sawed it up. The worry was we would get repeated tickets for the donor vehicle and if they allowed enough time to get all the parts needed to construct the hot rod at some point prior to completion they would remove the hot rod as well.

So the compromise we reached was we would clean out the garage so I could build the hot rod inside. That means we have some stuff that needs getting rid of, like the 12 bikes that were “donated” to my custom bike building business (dumped here when kids outgrew them most likely), the entertainment center my daughter didn’t know what to do with after they got the wide-screen TV, and a bunch of other stuff that was left here by the kids when they moved out or left by previous tenants when they moved out. Most of the stuff will be free or damned cheap. I also have an original engine from a BD-5 airplane kit that I bought for $200 that I’m willing to part with for $100, and a VW single-port engine and a stack of dual-port heads that I’ll let go for $5 for as a set. All prices F.O.B. Beautiful Suburb of Hell, AKA my garage door. You want it you gotta come get it with $$ in fist, no checks, no credit cards, and NO returns. No holds will be placed on any items, first come first served. Autographs sold for $1.😀 I don’t really expect too much demand for autographs. If you want the engines or bicycles before the date eventually set for the sale leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.

I’ll post the sale date when determined, probably some time in the Spring.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

OK, Seriously Bummed By This

Mrs. the Poet has placed her foot squarely on my dream of building a hot rod and ground it to flinders. I am not allowed to build my hot rod on the property where we have our house, and I don’t have any budget to build it any place else. So free parts car will have to be abandoned. Plans for the mid T will have to be discarded. Dreams of competing in Goodguys autocrosses are ruined. Hundreds of hours calculating frame member sizes wasted.

And the worst of it the $500 model T body sitting in the living room is now a literal white elephant (with a few spots).
Me in happier days
Dreaming of actually driving this thing.
Some of the spots
Here are some of the spots from the parting lines from the mold.

One thing that won’t change is moving forward on the Mini Sprint-T. I have to make a run to the hardware for another tube of mock-up glue (that I’ll also be able to use to repair Mrs. the Poet’s damaged Hummels she inherited from my mother) but the drills and adjustable collet I got for my Dremel tool have already been put to use cleaning up some parts and doing a little bracket fabricating. The dead toasters we got are being used to make a vacuum-forming machine to crank out modified bucket bodies in scale. (Three heating elements in a toaster, of which 2 can be used to make a heating unit for a vacuum former.) And I still have the 3 scale engines I can use (the SBC for the most-likely version, the LS7 for the “ultimate” version, and the Coyote Ford for the “Ford in Ford” version). The Coyote was dropped from consideration for 1:1 construction after doing a weight comparison to the LS series and actually seeing how far it hung past the sides of the bucket firewall. Not a good look without “blinging” the heck outta the engine to make it look goodbetter. Now don’t get me wrong, the Coyote is a good-looking engine, it just is Really Wide when installed in a T-bucket which makes it kinda dominate the visuals, forcing a cosmetic makeover.

And in other news I’m taking a day off from my walks, mostly because my left foot feels like it has been beat on with a big stick and my butt feels sore on the right side b/c I have been walking without the lifted left shoe. It has been years since I did any kind of walking without a lift on my left shoe to make up for the loss of about 17mm in my left leg from the crash, and the bottom of the foot is having to get used to just having a normal thickness sole between it and the concrete when I walk. It’s also really disconcerting when I walk in the house in my slippers and I hear rice crispy sounds with each step, but that’s the reality that has been getting louder the last 15 years. Part of that is just the reality of getting older unrelated to surviving getting hit @ 60 MPH with a truck.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Well, the de Dion suspension just isn’t in the budget

I was looking at the budget for the T-bucket now that I have an engine and transmission along with the rest of the donor vehicle it came in to scrounge from. Basically the budget remains pegged on $0 in spite of everything I have done to raise money for the project. So compromises must be made if this project is to continue. I’m still going to go sell plasma to make up the majority of the budget, to go along with the lab rat gig. Yay, more holes in my arms.

Another compromise is reusing as many parts as possible from the front suspension of the donor vehicle to make the rear suspension of the mid bucket, instead of just the knuckles so that there will be something to connect to the half-shafts that fit the transmission. I’m hoping that I can swap out the stock springs in the struts for ones that work better from my catalogs of various diameters, lengths, and spring rate, springs and get a ride height and roll stiffness that will work. The best candidates so far are $40 each or $80 total (plus shipping), but I’ll have to wait until I get hold of the actual struts before I can know for sure. There are other springs that can cost as much as $100 per spring because they are strange diameter/length/rate combinations, and I’m really hoping I don’t need to go to those.

This will save a bunch of $ and time to build at the cost of compromising the handling for what essentially is intended to be a car that depends on handling for speed in the competition it is being built for. The intended outcome for this car is winning Goodguys autocrosses outright. I won’t have the best dig coming out of corners so I will have to get the best corner speed to make up for the lack of power.

There are days when it looks like I will never get my hot rod built. Today was one of those days.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Wow was I underestimating my walks

Someone mentioned an app on Twitter that did something I needed, tracking walks and estimating calories burned. So I looked it up at the Google Store and found out the price was right (free) and the basic version did in fact do everything I needed from such an app. So I now have “Map My Walk” installed on my phone.

What I learned is my “short walk” is 3.31 miles long instead of my estimated 2.5 miles I’ve been telling everyone, and that I burned 500 calories on my “short walk”. I’m thinking my “long walk” is closer to 5 or 6 miles than the 3.5 or 4 that I thought. This also explains how my shoes keep wearing out so fast, since I go for a walk almost every day. I’m also faster than I thought but still nothing to brag about.

Also while on my walk I contemplated the one remaining issue I have to solve with the rear suspension: keeping the rear wheels from steering the car under power because the toe angle changes. With the 2D Pratt truss the knuckle could have had enough bending torque to change the toe angle uncontrollably, so I had to make it 3D without adding to the weight or making it take up too much space behind or over the transmission. Thinking the problem through I realized the 4-link was going to be taking almost all of the forces that would be changing the toe, so all I really needed to do was give the 2D truss a fighting chance at using the depth of the structural members to resist toe change by using some diagonals connecting to the vertical member of the last bay before the knuckle, in as many planes as I could so the last bay would be 3D but everything else could remain 2D, only slightly increasing the weight of the truss and not changing the vertical stiffness needed to keep the wheel aligned on the other 2 axis. In doing so I would not be using a true Pratt truss in that the diagonal members will be under compression rather than tension, and the end bay would not have an upper horizontal member or terminating vertical member but would be similar to a kingpin truss in 3 planes, with another triangular bay under the truss from the bottom of the knuckle up to the bottom horizontal member in the plane of the main truss keeping the camber angle constant. I wish my CAD skills were good enough to draw this out and output a .gif or .jpg file to put in the blog, because words are only so good in describing this.

Another stab at it, the plate that holds the knuckle to the truss is going to be rectangular or maybe a right triangle with the hypotenuse facing down and forward and the right angle on the top rear side. Diagonal members will run from all 3 corners of the triangle to the first vertical member of the truss, one from the bottom corner to the bottom of the first vertical member from the bottom, one from the top front corner to the bottom of the vertical member on its front side, another from the top front to the top of the vertical member on its front side, and a last one from the top rear corner to the top of the first vertical member, that diagonal in the plane of the truss. That should be more than enough to keep the forces driving the wheel under control so the toe and camber don’t change. And none of the added members will interfere with the drive shafts or the lateral links of the Watts link that keeps the whole shebang located from side to side. That’s because all of the added structure is either behind or above the knuckle and therefore above or behind the driveshafts and lateral links.

I really need to learn how to use the AutoCAD 360 program I downloaded to the laptop and not just so I can draw pictures of the car to post to the blog. Anyone know of some good tutorials to teach me to use it?

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

More on that T-bucket

I know my old readers from back in the day 8 years ago today (yay!) might be getting a little tired of my building a car here. but I have to write and I can’t write about bicycles for a while. So building a car from scratch and scraps it is for now. Are any of you reading now still reading from back then? Leave a comment please if you are.

I have pondered the plusses and minuses of the three suspension designs I mentioned a couple of days back and made a decision based on what will work best and still not break the budget. Before I tell the winner I have to explain what went into the decision.

The overall design of the original car called for a tube front axle with reproduction early Ford spindles running adapted Mopar disks and GM Metric calipers held up by coilovers and connected to the frame with a parallel 4 bar and a long panhard bar for lateral location much like a sprint car. Since I had already bought much of this setup economics demanded that I make the rear suspension compatible with this. The biggest feature with this suspension is zero camber change in roll compared to the road as long as both tires remain in contact with the road, and a mostly fixed roll center height. This makes for a predictable and controllable front end which is worth way more than extracting that last 0.01 lateral g from the front tires. But to make the front suspension work the rear suspension has to be equally predictable and controllable.

So we start with the minivan strut suspension. Plusses are mainly low cost as all the parts are right there. Most of the minuses were spelled out in that other post, the biggest being lack of tunability , and a secondary one being that ride height would have to be set during the frame building process without knowing the spring rate or how much the back end will weigh. Well in addition to the construction issues there are the geometry issues. The biggest of those is the camber changes pretty much in tandem with the body roll, causing the outside tire to roll over on the outside shoulder and pretty much killing mechanical grip making the back end much less predictable and also drastically reducing overall grip. So as much as it pains my Scots ancestry this cheap solution ends up not the correct solution.

The second possibility was using a heavy wall aluminum tube like the axle tubes on a quick change rear end for a front engine car to make a de Dion rear suspension. This has pretty much the same geometry as the front end making it a much better choice for the midengine Bucket than the salvaged struts from the minivan. It is very easy to make the camber and toe adjustable at the plate that mounts the minivan knuckle to the tube which aids in setting tracking and adjusting the rear to match the front. Another advantage is the coilovers can be located pretty much anywhere on the top of the tube making setting the initial roll stiffness very easy. The major disadvantage is I don’t have the equipment to weld aluminum except in very thin material so the welding would have to be farmed out. That is an additional expense.

That brings us to the third possibility, the steel truss de Dion rear suspension. Again we have a very compatible geometry for the front end, that is also highly adjustable for everything and has a similar weight to the aluminum tube version, but one that I can build using the equipment I have on hand. One slight disadvantage is the mounts for the coilovers have to be over or very close to a vertical member of the truss (I decided on a modified Pratt truss) which means either the truss will have to be iterated somehow (probably with a shear plate that would be removed after the mounting point was determined) or the initial mounting point will have to be SWAGed (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) and then tuned with an anti-roll bar. For simplicity I would prefer to not have anything extra on the car for street use, so SWAG for the initial mounting point on a shear plated truss then do a limited iteration on both sides for the final mounting point, then complete the truss. Or just leave the extra mounts and one bay of the truss shear plated for adjusting the rear roll stiffness at the track. I like this because instead of bringing a rack of anti-roll bars to the track I just move the coilover from side to side on the axle to adjust the balance of the car.

So the Final Solution to this problem is the steel tube Pratt truss with one bay shear plated and several mounts for the coilover along that bay and matching arrays of upper mounts on the frame crossmember on the rear, with the tube axle and early Ford spindles and the coilover mount as close to the spindle as possible without getting tire rub, parallel four bar longitudinal location on both ends with a long panhard rod on the front to eliminate bump steer from the cross steer steering and a Watts link mounted low in the center of the frame running out to the knuckle mounting plate for lateral location. And I literally came to this conclusion while composing this post, because that’s how I think. You just got to watch my mind at work iterating a design specification. I had already decided on the truss but the details got finalized while doing the post.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

I just got a check from Facebook

I’m going to be quite honest about this and say I had forgotten completely about the issue that resulted in my getting the check, to wit Facebook using my name and avatar picture for advertising purposes without requesting permission first. This took place shortly after MySpace started censoring the sh!t out of links in my blog and I left MS for WP and FB.

So anywho, I have a check for $15 that I will now spend on useless things like groceries and comic books. Probably more groceries than comic books.

Also while I am doing a post, I bought a keyless chuck for my Dremel tool through Amazon using the gift cards I get from the mobile game, and a set of tiny drills to use in the chuck from Lowe’s using the card that I can’t use everywhere but I can use in a few places they pay me with at another one of my side gigs. This means I can finish building the scale SBC for the Mini Sprint-T. And yes I’m still building the Mini Sprint-T even though the full-scale car will now be mid-engine with a Mopar V6. One slightly ironic thing is the Sprint-T had to have an automatic transmission because there was no room for 3 pedals between the transmission tunnel and the side of the car, while the mid-engine car will have a flat floor and acres of room for pedals but no manual transmission available, just a full manual controller on the slush box.

While on the subject I have mostly finished redesigning the frame for the switch from front to mid engine. One thing I changed was the location of the forward hoop of the roll cage, which was also a crossmember of the frame, that had a diagonal running from the top of the rear hoop to the bottom of the front hoop. On the front engine version this ran through the passenger compartment, but on the mid-engine version I’m moving the bottom rail out from under the body and the bottom of the hoop likewise meaning I don’t have to figure out how to get the painted body back on the frame with parts of the frame under and over the body and one big part running through the body, because that “one big part” will now be outside the body. It will be a close fit but it will clear. The other thing changed was the location of the front coilover mount both on the axle and the frame. The new axle mount will be as close to the end of the axle as possible without the back of the spindle making contact with the unit at the ends of the turning travel, on top of the axle tube. The new frame mount will be high above the axle so that the front wheel doesn’t hit the diagonal from the frame mount to the bottom of the front hoop of the roll cage at full compression and full turning travel. This is a very unlikely place for the wheel to be but it is possible so the frame has to clear the tire. This has the secondary effect of increasing d which increases the torsional rigidity of the frame, meaning better handling.

And that’s about it today, go ride a bike. I’m still stretching to be able to ride mine again.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Update on the T-bucket project.

The person with the minivan that had offered me a practically free engine and transmission from a running vehicle has rescinded that offer but offered a free recently rebuilt engine and transmission from another Chrysler minivan with a bad computer. The engine runs and the transmission goes forward and reverse but the glitchy controller keeps it locked in 2nd gear (failsafe mode) going forward so they have parked the car in the back of the house for several years. Since I’m going to have to use a different controller anyway the fact that the factory one has gone Tango Uniform is of no importance. And “free” beats the hell outta “real cheap”.

The engine and transmission controllers will both come from the people who make the Mega Squirt engine computer for engine swaps but I’m going with the Simplesquirt engine controller and the Megashift transmission controller, mainly because there is a version of the Megashift made specifically for my transmission, and because the Simplesquirt is several hundred dollars less expensive than the next cheapest controller. And the Megashift was likewise much less expensive than the only other controller I found so far and has much more capability. Did I mention that I like cheap, that I am cheap?

One of the things I like about the Simplesquirt is it has the capability of having two fuel/spark maps for different fuels or uses, like one for regular gas on the street and interstates and another on e85 for autocrossing, user selectable at startup.

Also I had to close out one of my accounts on the job that will end on 12/31 so I had to miss a Shadowrun game today…😦 And there will be one more check after 12/31 from this job and then it’s over, no more money. It never was much money but some is always better than none.

I have to get up early tomorrow for morning service…

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Long time no blog.

I know I haven’t written anything in a while. There are reasons for that. First of all there has been a slow-motion train wreck going on in my Twitter feed because of the fuzzy Jack-o’-Lantern pretending to run for President. Second I got a bit behind in my e-mail and even doing more than 300 a day I’m still looking at nearly 1000 unread messages. Do you know how long it takes to get through 300 new emails in one day? And to compound that I have to stop and leave the house for a couple of hours every day so that I can maximize my returns on my phone game that pays me money, because it’s a lot more work now than it used to be. I’m still making the same amount of money every week, but I have to get out every day and max my checkins to do it.

Also on the “leave the house” list was grocery shopping, twice. Once was our regular day and again yesterday as one of my side gigs paid off $100 for several months’ of “a few seconds a day” work. The kicker on this one is I have to get paid in the form of a gift card that can only be used in a few places, otherwise it becomes taxable income that I would lose a major chunk of in the form of SS taxes. So there is only one store that sells food on the approved list…

And today I spent some time away from the house playing someone else’s character in a Shadowrun game. This time I was playing a 5’2″ 90 lb. Chinese girl decker and the character sheet said she was abrasive and cold with a chip on her shoulder. We were on a Zombie hunt, and also had to kill a vampire and rescue a werewolf from the corporate lab that created the zombies in an effort to have slaves that did not need to be paid because they were legally dead. Unfortunately zombies are unable to follow even simple directions so the project was in the process of getting shut down when the zombies and the vampire they were using to create them escaped into the lab. They managed to get the doors to the outside locked, but only had until sundown to clean things up before the vampire could let himself and the zombies out. Our Street Samurai took out most of the zombies, my decker took out a few, and the technomancer managed to get into the weapons side of the security system and take out the vampire and the rest of the zombies. We rescued the scientist/werewolf we were also supposed to rescue. My character disdained the males in the party to make a pass on the lady werewolf…

It was a good thing I have a Shadowrun dice roller on my phone because I would have needed a bucket to bring the d6 I would have had to have to make some of my attack and saving rolls. My dice app goes to 99 d6.

Last week we went on a 5 day camping trip in Southeastern TX, near Flatonia. This was memorable for two reasons: Mrs. the Poet went camping with me, and we both tripped and fell down a lot in the dark. I dislocated the other collarbone and bruised my other hip from the previous fall off the bicycle, and Mrs. the Poet skinned her knees and hands again. We also had about 9 times as much meat at meals as we are used to eating as “p'” people (too impoverished to buy a vowel). One of the big problems we both had was getting off the ground after getting out of “bed”. Another bed-related problem was Mrs. the Poet did not believe me when I told her to pack lots of blankets for sleeping and just packed the one that did not even cover us completely that we use to keep our feet warm in the winter. We still had a great time anyway.

Off on another tangent, my full-scale T-bucket project just took a major change in direction. I had the engine and transmission from a running Chrysler minivan practically dumped in my lap for barely over scrap value. Plusses: we are talking really cheap engine and transmission for less than the core charge for a transmission on the previous version, this will take almost 200 pounds off the total weight of the car, moving engine behind passenger compartment leaves a flat floor with plenty of foot room, computer controlled transmission simplifies setting up mechanical portions of the controls; just a floor lever with 4 detents and two paddle switches on the steering wheel. Minuses: Engine makes 160 HP in stock form, both the engine and transmission are on the far side of 200K miles, both are computer controlled and need aftermarket computers to make them work in the T-bucket, most of the car needs to be redesigned to make a FWD engine and transaxle work driving the rear wheels behind the passenger compartment, FWD brakes don’t have e-brakes so e-brakes need to be adapted to one end or the other, almost all of the car weight will be on back wheels making sorting braking and handling dicey.

The prospect of going mid-engine on my T-bucket has really got me inspired again, ditto the prospect of getting the project moving towards completion some time before I die. The Mini Sprint-T project has all the parts I can’t make on my own and will continue as it was before with the SBC and the LS7 engines.

And that kinda gets you somewhat caught up on activities at Casa de El Poeta.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the unkillable badass Poet.

On World Mental Health Day

I recently started to get treatment for my depression and PTSD after suffering more than 40 years with it. As many posting to Twitter have mentioned about their depression, mine was initially dismissed as teenaged angst, then as “just they way you are” and “being serious for a change”. There was also the problem that more than 40 years ago when this mess started 1) there was no such diagnosis as PTSD 2) even if there was nobody would believe you could get it by changing schools several times at the wrong point in your life. I think that started some time in the ’90s when the DOD noticed that adults who had been military dependents as children had suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism rates almost identical to combat veterans from Vietnam. I never went through any suicide attempts and couldn’t afford drugs or booze, I think that was the only reason I didn’t join that statistic. There was also the mistaken belief that young people couldn’t get depressed, mainly because at the time nobody knew that depression can happen to people not actually in serious conditions because it is a disease, a disease that manifests as an emotional state, not just “being real sad” all the time. To give an idea about how much I changed from before to after depression I got a “Motormouth Award” at scout camp for being lively and talkative and joking all the time. That was the Real Me (Not Depressed), in the 7th grade. By my senior year in HS, less than 5 years later, I had already had one major and countless minor bouts of depression.

So, several things here: 1) Mental Illness is a category of real illnesses, like heart disease or kidney failure. 2) Anyone can get Mental Illness at any age. Seriously, it’s like childhood cancers or Type 1 diabetes. 3) Having Mental Illness does not mean you have a weak mind or are morally deficient or any other negative stereotype, it means your brain is not functioning within design tolerances. Nothing more, nothing less.

Please share this with your friends.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet.