Category Archives: Department of DIY

Got a new book

I bought Advanced Race Car Chassis Technology HP1562 for the Kindle a few weeks ago and I’ve been absorbing it a little at a time. It’s a complex subject, but from what I’ve been able to read so far, if I get it right I don’t need to make the frame all that torsionally rigid. If I’m reading this right there’s no twisting load on the frame if I have the suspension geometry right and tuned the spring rates. If my sums are close there will be about 300 pounds ± on the springs of the front corners, and about 350 ± on each rear. That’s not a good sprung/unsprung ratio, but that’s what I’m stuck with.

The front axle weighs about 65 pounds plus the hubs and brakes, because it’s a honkin’ huge chunk of iron steel with tons of thick brackets welded to it, and the spindles are likewise big chunks of forged steel. The rear axle is right at 100 with the diff and and axles (drive) but without the hubs and brakes, which are almost the same weight for both ends. The rears are a touch lighter than the fronts because the rear disks are 11.75″ and the fronts are 12.19″. All of that is unsprung (bad) weight, axles, drive axles, hubs, brakes, the whole shootin’ match all bad weight. Well none of it is good but unsprung weight is super bad compared to sprung weight. Like excess unsprung weight causes tires to lose contact with the ground over a bumpy road even if the bumps aren’t that big, bad. And a lightweight car makes unsprung weight even worse because sprung weight pushes the unsprung into the road and not having enough sprung weight means the unsprung weight is just kinda floating out in space. It only contacts the ground intermittently because the two weights, sprung and unsprung, are just oscillating independently. I’m getting close to that condition with the front of the Sprint-T. If I understand the theory right the only thing you can do with a car that has sprung:unsprung ratio approaching unity is make the dampers stiffer to prevent oscillation from setting in, assuming there’s nothing to do to make the unsprung weight less. Right now the only option I have is to use “drillium” in the front axle, that is to remove weight by drilling the front axle full of holes. Since this axle was designed for a car almost twice as heavy as the Sprint-T this is actually an option.

As far as the geometries of both ends are concerned, the front end will not have any adjustability beyond caster and toe, the roll center height will be fixed to prevent the front axle moving under load and changing the steering angle. But the rear axle will be located by a Watt’s link with the pivot located by a nut on a threaded bolt that adjusts up and down to change the balance of the car for different conditions, like understeering for highway travel, neutral for road courses, and slightly oversteering for autocross. That can be done by turning the bolt to move the rear roll center up and down.

Oh, here’s the link to the build video for the GenIII Hemi™ giveaway. Lotsa power and torque from a nearly 600 pound engine.

Still thinking, take cover

I’m one of those people that is always thinking about something, like what I will do if I don’t win the GenIII Hemi™ being given away by POWERNATION. Obviously I get what’s cheap from a junkyard unless I win the lottery. At this point GenIII and GenIV LS engines are the cheap alternative for making reliable power from the junkyard.

I have to also go for the possibility I won’t need to install an automatic transmission. The main reason I can’t go with a manual is lack of space in the footbox for a clutch pedal, but if I get a transmission that can be shifted without using a clutch except for starting I can use a hand clutch for starting out, and use the “clutchless” shifting to change gears. I mostly will race in first gear so once I leave the starting line I’m good and never have to use the clutch until I cross the finish. Driving on the highway is different because I will have to get to top gear somehow, and if I have a regular transmission I will have to use both hands to shift and let go of the steering wheel. This is ungood for obvious reasons, but if I can just lift throttle for a bit and slam the shifter into the next gear until I get to cruise speed I’m good. I just need to get a transmission that I can shift without using the clutch. Also manual transmissions are lighter than automatics in almost every case, the T-10 with an aluminum case coming in at just 70 pounds wet compared to the 4l60e at 176. That doesn’t include the flywheel and clutch for the manual, but it also doesn’t include the flex plate and roughly 50 pound torque converter for the automatic. And I can use a lightweight “button” clutch on a flex place instead of the torque convertor to save a few pound over the flywheel/clutch, saving a few pounds of rotating weight. That adds a lot of cost though.

That T-10 can be purchased with an overdrive gear in the 3rd position retaining the 1:1 4th. This results in a strange shift pattern that has the top gear above third, but that can be adapted to with seat time. The jump from 1st to 2nd will have to be figured out, but if I gear 1st to top out at 40 MPH, for street and highway I can skip shift from 1st to OD 3rd or 4th. I was just now looking and if I flop the 3-4 shift lever it will swap the 3rd and 4th gears in the shift pattern. This requires a bit of cutting and welding on the shift arm, but well within my skills as a metal fabricator.

Looking at the costs of bellhousings and other support equipment to install a T-10 to an LS compared to the price for a 4l60, that’s a ton of $ to save 50 or so pounds, but I’ll have to keep it in mind as an option. Basically the flywheel, clutch and bellhousing to bolt a T-10 to an LS are more than a performance remanufactured 4l60e, and that’s not including the cost of the T-10.

But if I get the money to do it that is the way I would go. I would get that 4.2″ bore LS block and a 3.26″ stroke crankshaft from a 4.8 liter truck engine, and a set of LS7 heads and the stuff to make it run, and have a 361 cubic inch engine that keeps breathing past 7000 RPM, fit it with the T10 and the OD 3rd cog and the swapped 3-4 shifting arm, and then have a 1700 pound car on the starting line with an easy 500 HP, that cruises at a low RPM to get good gas mileage and range. Obviously that is going to require I win the Powerball or Lotto, and I may have burned most of my luck out just surviving the wreck, but I have to think winning is a possibility, or why continue with the build?

Been a while, but stuff has happened

First things first, we tried to play Shadowrun on Sunday but health issues came up for a couple of our players. One is recovering from C-19 and got tired really quick, and the other ran out of brain meds because insurance and was not managing to think straight, so we quit early because tired and not thinking straight makes the game not fun for everybody. We did get my character sheet fixed before then and basically I’m a street samurai with a minor in rigging, level 6 pilot ground car. That makes me level 6 guns, blades, and ground vehicles which if I understand the rules is as high as I can go in all of those.

Other things, I’m still plugging away at that engine giveaway. The build video has been released and the engine pulls to 7000 RPM and makes over 500 HP and also good low-end torque, so aside from weighing close to 600 pounds would be really good for the Sprint-T. Also POWERNATION has announced the winner of the 5 liter Ford giveaway and it wasn’t me >sigh<.

Now I was doing some research and the biggest bore available with an aluminum LS block is 4.2", which combines with the OEM cranks of 3.26", 3.622", and 4", results in displacements of 361, 401, and 443 cubic inches respectively, and they would all weigh about 415-420 pounds depending on the FEAD I pick. Now that 4.2" bore block runs about $6k bare but fully machined, so unless I win the lottery this one is an exercise in possibilities, not realities. I could walk to the local C-store (just barely) and get a ticket today for tonight's drawing, making this something that could happen IRL for me. But it's dark now so I have to wait for sunrise to leave so the C-store will be open. The good thing is we are post a cold front passing through so it's not ghastly hot today. Today's Powerball is $388 million for a $2 ticket and the Lotto is $15.25 million for a $1 ticket. I just have to wait until sunrise…

Wanting to make a change but stymied by sunk costs

I’m looking at the front suspension for the Sprint-T and I’m thinking I really need to go with an independent suspension for more grip on bumpy tracks, but I’m dealing with over a thousand dollars in sunk costs, just in brakes that couldn’t be put on a different front end.

I think I could do better with Pinto/MII spindles and aluminum a-arms, but the only thing I could transfer would be the rotors and maybe the calipers. Everything else would have to be a new purchase. If Wilwood makes a kit that uses the same size rotors and the same calipers for the Pinto/MII spindles then the brackets, hubs, and everything else is sunk cost. And that’s just brakes, there is also the spindles, axle, axle brackets, and frame brackets that have to be discarded or replaced. If I was independently wealthy that would be a different story, but I’m on a very small pension and Social Security, so every penny counts and comes dearly. I basically don’t have disposable income these days, everything comes at a cost of something else I can’t get.

Actually the 2″ drop version of the Pinto/MII spindle would work better than the standard because it centers the spindle better in the wheel for more angle and more travel without hitting the A-arms, not that there was any danger of there being enough travel to cause the arms to hit the wheels. Angle, maybe, but travel never. That’s one place where the solid axle shines in comparison to the independent suspension, there’s a huge amount of clearance for angle. That and camber control through body roll, solid axles don’t change camber, like ever. There is some communication from one side to the other as pavement imperfections are encountered, but aside from that the camber doesn’t change. The axle holds the camber constant, which is why building the right angles in in the first place is so important.

Anyway, IFS would be a bit better in bumpy conditions, especially with really wide tires, but because I made that decision years ago and purchased accordingly I’m stuck with a solid front suspension. In this kind of competition the tires are a much bigger variable than solid or independent suspension. And it so happens I have some really sticky rubber picked out, and the slicks for SCCA competition are specifically designed for solid axles.

And this has no bearing to the rest of the post, but I have the non-ap browser version of Youtube Music running on the laptop and it’s really nice to not have to deal with ads in the middle of pieces like the phone version. And I still have access to my mixes and lists like the phone ap. The main difference is the browser version on my computer doesn’t use up my phone battery and I can leave it running in a tab while I edit a post in another tab or window. The phone ap is a little more portable because it uses cellular data that my laptop doesn’t have so I can listen on the bus or while riding in the car. Horses for courses, sometimes one device is better, sometimes it’s a different device.

Thinking can be good

I had to stop and sit for a while because I didn’t want to make a mess going to the bathroom, so I was thinking. I realize thinking is generally not a good activity for me to engage in particularly after the Pinky and the Brain incident that we shall never speak of until the statute of limitations expires, but sometimes I solve an actual problem.

The problem is the condensation line from the AC gets stopped up and when the line is full it shuts off the AC leaving us sweating and immobile because hot in the house. The solution is to install pipe that is big enough to hold a lot of water and orient it so that as it fills it creates enough pressure to maybe force the blockage out. At least if there is a big pipe it will hold a fair amount of water and whatever process clears it up has the time to clear it up before the backup gets to the shutoff switch. As configured now the condensation line is a dinky thing connected to the condensation pan inside the AC that runs to the drain outside, and it is tiny. What I’m thinking about is putting like a 4″ sewer line segment to catch the extra water and hold it until it makes enough pressure to blow out the blockage, or it seeps by the blockage but keeps the AC running.

Now why this is a problem with the new AC but wasn’t with the old AC is because of how the filter went into the new system compared to the old system. The old system had the filter going into the side of the system and a big empty space under it and the overflow condensation would end up on the floor making a mess on the rug in front of the AC but still letting the AC continue to run. The new AC has the filter under everything in the system except the condensation collector and if there is overflow it gets in the filter, ruining it. So it is vital to not ruin the filter and keep it dry because filters for the new system last for 90 days and are expensive to replace.

Trying to Out-Crazy the GOP

They’re still trying to pass that voter suppression bill here in TX, so I thought I would help toss a couple of extra-large monkey wrenches in the works. Specifically, things that are fatal to mythical humanoid monsters but are harmless to “normal” humans.

I would suggest amendments to require these harmless to humans tests be applied at every election to prevent vampires and werewolves from voting. My research on the subject is limited because of the divergent mythos of the various creatures that walk among us, but from what I have been able to determine blessing colloidal silver by a priest every 24 hours makes it both a vampire and werewolf detector. It will cause burning on both vamps and weres, not as in “burst into flame”, more like char and blister the skin touched by the fluid. Obviously it would do nothing to humans, because both holy water and colloidal silver can be applied in massive amounts to almost no effect. I have sent this to both my state rep and state Senator, emphasizing that I don’t believe this, but if the GOP is going to go after mythical creatures and keep them from voting then why can’t we?

In other news I’m still entering the drawing for that 311 Ford with the Holley HiRam intake and EFI as many times as they will let me in my quest to have something to stick in front of the firewall of the Sprint-T, or something that I can swap for something to stick in front of the firewall and inside the transmission tunnel. But I don’t have to make up my mind until I actually win the engine. BTW my entry page is showing I’m missing 10 friends from my allowed 10 friends.

The heat is still here in my office but I avoid it by taking frequent breaks under the fan in the living room. I basically leave whenever I start feeling moist around the edges, which is basically almost sweating, but not quite. It tells me I need to shed some heat, but not enough to get all sweaty. The thing that annoys me the most is my melted candy because it’s hard to eat like that and gets everywhere.

And just to reiterate I want my TX readers to call or write their reps and senators about checking for vampires and werewolves at the polls, to emphasize how the GOP is chasing mythical creatures. Also because technically under TX laws vamps and weres are not allowed to vote.

I’m still uncomfortable, but at least I know why now

Turns out the room I spend most of my time in is hotter than the rest of the house because it doesn’t get the same amount of AC, and that same thing means there is no airflow over my body to take away excess heat. Basically I’m sitting on top of a giant heat source and no airflow to remove the heat. Also, all my chocolate has been melting because the temperature has been regularly exceeding the lower melting point of chocolate.

The temperature in the office has been rising to just under 80°F with the digital thermometer just flipping back and forth between 79 and 80 for a few seconds in the heat of the day. This is just about the melting point of milk chocolate. This is a temperature that is the top of my comfort level, not where I actually start sweating, but right where I get damp. Without a fan to make a breeze I’m not a happy camper.

I’m kinda fixating on this because it is interfering with thinking…

Edit to add that as I was composing that sentence I got really ill and had to go take a laydown under the ceiling fan not in the office and not really eat very much for dinner and went to bed early and missed Stephen Colbert. So yeah got hot, don’t know why it affected me so much but it did, and I had to cut the post short.

What I was thinking about last night

I have this “problem” with thinking, especially when I’m trying to sleep. This is especially true when I have a niggling design/fabrication issue that won’t let me go until I solve it.

The issue that kept waking me up last night was there will be zero clearance for the oil and transmission pans when the belly pan is installed on the Sprint-T. That also means there will be zero clearance for the drain plugs with the belly pan is installed.

Since the Sprint-T is going to be raced frequently this is a serious problem because racing requires frequent fluid changes to maintain the performance of the drive train, especially since it will be driven to and from the races. Now transmission fluid is not as critical as engine oil, but it will still need to be changed during the racing season and at the beginning of the season. Cars that are not raced then driven on the streets or highways can usually go their entire lives without a transmission fluid change, but even street only engines need oil changes regularly because oil doesn’t last forever and oil filters don’t catch all the contaminants that get into engine oil. And race engines usually get fresh oil every race meet, sometimes during the race meet if there is a lot of dust and dirt in the air, even if the engine is using an air filter on every engine orifice exposed to atmosphere.

Now there are two problems to be solved here, the first is since transmissions don’t normally get fluid changes they don’t have drain plugs, and the second is having drain plugs that are flush with the bottom of the pan but still drain completely dry with a tolerance for cling to the sides and bottom. The solution is to install the drain on an edge with the hole being flush to the inside bottom surface of the pan, and to contour that surface to direct the draining fluid to the hole. This is obviously easier on a pan that is being fabricated from scratch, but since the vast majority of transmission pans are stamped out of thin sheet metal it can be accomplished with a little hammer and dolly work, or a ball peen hammer and a soft 2 by 4.

The first thing to do is decide where the drain is going to be, and then “massage” the bottom of the pan with the hammer and whatever you choose to back it up to make that the lowest place in the pan so the fluids accumulate there. Then drill your drain hole flush with the bottom through the side of the pan. That’s the easy part, the hard part is making a plug that doesn’t hang below the bottom of the pan.

The next step is to pick a bolt that will fit the hole you drilled, ideally that will fit snugly in said hole because it will be used to locate the part that holds it to the pan. This is going to be a nut that is compatible with being welded to the pan. You will thread the nut over the bolt you chose as the plug, then stick the bolt through the hole in the side of the pan and rest it against the bottom of the pan with the nut flat against the side of the pan, and tack weld the nut in place so you can let go of the bolt. Finish weld the nut and make sure you can thread the bolt in and out of the pan. Then comes the part that lets the pan sit flat against the bellypan of the car. Using a cutoff wheel against the bottom of the oil or transmission pan slice off the part of the bolt and nut that stick out past the bottom surface of the pan. Just for insurance you might want to run an extra bead of weld on the part of the nut that was cut where it joins the pan if there is no weld showing, to prevent seepage. Then grind the weld flush with the bottom of the pan.

Now the design of the pan for the engine oil is going to be a little tricky, since it is two pieces that bolt together on the engine and the drain will have to somehow not interfere with the function of the bottom flange that holds the bottom of the pan after the pan is bolted to the bottom of the engine, since the bolts that hold the pan to the engine are inside the oil pan when it is installed. Somehow I have to get the bottom of the nut flush and the bolt resting against the inside of the pan, with the bottom being bolted to a flange around the bottom. Or I can move that flange to the top, the part that bolts against the engine, and do the drill the hole in the side routine like it was a regular oil pan that bolted up from the outside of the engine. The bottom will have to be built like a regular oil pan instead of just a flat plate that bolts to the bottom of the pan. Still easier than welding tubes for access to the bolts that hold the pan to the block on a pan with huge kick-outs to give the engine oil room to be flung from the crankshaft. There was an episode of Engine Masters that used a pan that had the mounting bolts on the inside and that pan actually made more horsepower than a deep sump pan without kick-outs but was way deeper than the pan with the kick-outs. I would link to it but unless you have a subscription to Motor Trend On-Demand you won’t be able to see it.

So anyway, that’s the kind of stuff that sometimes keeps me awake at night, or haunts my dreams (yes I have dreams of making car parts, and no I don’t know what that means if anything). Happy Fourth of July to those who celebrate it.

Weather is here, wish you were beautiful

And yes, that is both the punch line to a joke that is older than I am and a description of the current weather. Seriously the back yard is a swamp again, but at least it’s not hot. You can drink the air through a straw, but it’s a cool damp. The condensation drain from the AC looks like an open faucet it’s pulling so much moisture from the air inside the house, and the indoor weather station says our humidity is roughly 60%. It’s still pouring rain but not like the usual summer deluge we get in TX.

I went to do the banking and get a massage yesterday, but it wasn’t easy. But then again when is anything easy lately? Anywho I got to the bank no problem after summoning a Lyft. Oh jeeze I just read that and it totally sounds like some arcane spell from D&D or Shadowrun. Back to the subject, I got to the bank and deposited a check for Mrs. the Poet, and checked to make sure the payment I sent to the brain doctor went through, and also checked my checking balance. The tricky part on that is did the transfers to my other accounts go through before or after I pulled the balance? If it was after then I have less than $100 in my account for the rest of the month. If it was before then I’m fat, dumb and happy, balance-wise. I had enough to go get a massage either way, so I summoned another Lyft (woo-wee-hoo /spooky music) and went to my usual massage place that has the good techs that get all my sore places better, but they’re closed until Monday so their techs can enjoy the holiday according to the person who answered the phone when I called standing outside the locked door to the establishment. Then I walked across Beltline to another establishment that was rated the same as my usual place only to find that they were booked solid until an hour before their 2200 closing time. I did a quick search and found one about 2 miles closer to home and on the way home, but it wasn’t rated as good as my usual and there was some question about what kind of massages they gave. But with my everything hurting and needing rubbed I decided to take a chance on the place and techs working there.

Well it wasn’t the best massage I ever got but it was far from the worst. The biggest problem was I requested a 90 minute massage to get all my achy places rubbed, and instead I got the same places that usually get rubbed and don’t need much rubbing getting rubbed over and over again until they were really overdone. Like almost injured over rubbed. But given the situation I can’t complain too much, I just didn’t give much tip, and I probably won’t go back there. But my massage budget for the month is gone and I still have aches and pains.

As the tags noted I’m daywalking again because of the interaction between the meds and how I sleep has shifted me to waking in the pre-dawn darkness instead of the middle of the afternoon. Actually I’m waking up about the time I used to go to bed before, and going to bed about when I used to have lunch before. So, literally daywalking again. And for those confused, daywalking is a vampire term for vampires who can survive exposure to the sun. I’m not a vampire, but when I was doing the cleaning up ad copy gig I went to bed about 0500 and woke up whenever, usually when I had to pee. So I was on the vampire sleep schedule even though I wasn’t one, actually. Some people call it the graveyard schedule because the work shift most of the people on it are working is called a graveyard shift. But with the sparkle-pires and other vampire related literature including the movie Blade, which is where I first heard the term daywalker, vampire schedule has had a literal life outside of fantasy literature. It’s just a different way to describe those of us working in the dark. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be awake during the day and sleeping at night, but I intend to take advantage of the situation as long as I can.

And I think I’m out of things to say, so time to put this post to bed.

What happens when Disney copyrights your deity?

Just heard Disney was trying to copyright Loki, in spite of several thousand active and devout worshippers of the ancient Norse deity. Link to the news video

Ignoring the prior art issue of Loki being an article of worship for several thousand to at least a couple of hundred years, where do they get off on copyrighting Loki’s name and variations of it? This would be like me making a superhero movie about a guy named Jesus and then requiring the Catholic church to remove all likenesses and references to the name from all their properties. It would get thrown out before I could get it filed. So why hasn’t this likewise been thrown out?

And this is about as far as my outrage can hold out.