Category Archives: Department of DIY

I managed to think last night

Nothing to panic about, I’m still trying to come up with a way to make that manifold with the materials and processes I have at hand. Now I don’t have access to any 3D printers, much less anything that would allow making compression molds for intake manifold runners. But what I DO have is sheet metal, and hammers and dollies for shaping that sheet metal, and a torch that I can use to heat metal so it can be formed without wrinkles or tears.

So what I thought about was making a sheet metal mold that would mimic the actual part, then making molds from that sheet metal positive, with lots of reinforcement so they don’t collapse under the forces of compression molding. By using sheet metal to make the positive I wouldn’t have any problem with making the positive mold absolutely smooth, that’s a process I mastered decades ago. But yeah, sheet metal positive for the inside and outside molds, I can do this. It would also work for the plenum molds, especially since to swap left to right all I would need would be to turn the plenum over so the throttle arm of the throttle bodies would be closer to the center than the outside on both plenums.

The plenum will have 3 sides and 2 ends for its mold, the bell mouths for the runners will meet to form the 4th wall of the plenums. The inner finish for the plenums is not critical at all except for the entrances to the runners, which will be molded into the runners.

And I need to eat and it’s almost 2200 so I’ll have to find something I can throw into the microwave, then go to bed.

Still thinking (it’s safe, no need to seek shelter)

I’ve been thinking of how I could build this intake manifold with the tools and materials I have access to here at Casa de El Poeta without having to purchase anything beyond the cloth and resin and molding materials like peel ply and mold release. I’m not coming up with much.

Part of the problem is making the molds for the runners that need to be used 8 times to build each manifold, probably more because some of the early parts probably won’t unmold without damage to either the part or the mold. One thing I have been thinking about is using 4 molds per runner and building the runner in 2 parts and then using the tape that will make the runners strong enough to support the plenums, throttle bodies, and the fuel rail and injectors, to also glue the halves together. I don’t have to be concerned about the surface finish of anything because the peel ply will give a textured finish as long as the molds aren’t too bad.

And as I was “rubber ducking” this into the blog post, I came up with a solution for building the outer mold for the runner by using the inner mold as a plug and using the sanding and polishing process on the inside surface of the outer mold to get the clearance between the inside and outside for the material to go. This will also ensure a high degree of compression in the composite. How to rubber duck a problem. If I had the vacuum pump that most composite molding systems use to remove air from the mold and part to use atmospheric pressure to force resin into the part and force excess resin out of the part I would not need the inner part of the mold, but by using an inner and outer mold I can get much higher pressure on the composite to distribute and squeeze out the resin to a much higher degree. Basically I can clamp the two parts of the mold together at much higher pressures than the roughly 15 psi I can get with a “perfect” vacuum. This is part of the “forged carbon” process that uses bits of carbon tow and chopped fiber much like the “chopper gun” method of making fiberglass parts, but with much less resin in the part.

I have been searching the web and the consensus seems to be that just about any resin that resists gas will work because of the limited exposure from the spray of fuel from the injector compared to the 24/7 soaking of fuel tanks. Basically any of the hard-curing gas tank liners will work for this application, but I will have to paint the finished part with a UV-resistant coating to sunscreen the resins and prevent UV degradation. I see this as a minimally problematic solution. Basically I will have to paint the manifold white after curing, instead of leaving the part natural. I won’t have the “cool” factor of a natural CF part finish, but the part will remain strong for a longer period of time, talking decades of use, compared to a couple of years without the sunscreen coating.

I’m still thinking about how to make the plenum, and whether to mold in the injector bungs or glue in aluminum bungs after molding the plenum. Molding has the potential to reduce the weight by a few ounces, but gluing the bungs has a higher degree of precision fit. Not to mention that molding the bungs requires a high degree of precision of the inner mold that I probably won’t get with what I have to work with. And I’m getting hungry and I need to make food to consume so I have to be away from the computer while I cook the food. It’s not so hot that I’m going to cook. It’s only 103°F and human flesh starts cooking at 145°.

I’m getting almost excited

I’m not bouncing up and down, but I’m almost that excited that I’m about to get the parts and materials I need to build the front fenders for the Sprint-T. It has been a long time since I have been able to get something done on the car, and now that I can it’s almost more than I can stand. The only thing I don’t have is the mold to make the clear headlight fairings, but I can’t make that until the front part of the fender is built. So, I’m going to build the fender first, PTEG vacuum-molded headlight fairing later.

I have been having strange dreams about building a composite intake manifold from a 3d-printed mold and carbon fiber composite materials. It was quite detailed with the printed molds of the inside of the ports of the manifold getting assembled from 3 pieces that were separated to be removed from inside the part after curing, and the bleed ply was used both to get the part off of the mold and to get an “as cast” surface finish to energize the boundary layer of flow inside the manifold. Anywho the printed mold was in 3 pieces with a large center of the port being removed so the outside mold parts could be peeled away from the inside of the port, with tons of mold release applied to the center part to make it eas(ier) to remove. The manifold was a cross-ram configuration with the injectors in the plenums aimed at the opening to the ports opposite the plenum from the injectors, and the runners getting attached to the plenums and the face that bolts to the head by lengths of CF tape and the same resin used for the runners and plenums. The dreams even included the size of the throttle bodies used on the plenums, 78mm so as to flow the same or more than a single plenum manifold with the 105mm throttle body many manufacturers offer. And I looked it up and the actual equivalent throttle body for running 2 in place of a single 105mm is 75mm which is a factory Ford part for a 4.6L 2V pickup truck engine. Which means this is a relatively cheap part compared to the 105mm for a single plenum manifold. The actual number was 74.24mm to be exactly equal but 75 is close enough for government work and hot rodding. Anywho, the 75mm throttle body is $50 each plus tax on the jungle site. Anybody feels like sending one or both would get their name in the blog and my deepest gratitude. The 105mm at Holley was $699 to $715 depending on finish and machining, so two of the 75mm throttle bodies is both better for performance and cost. And nevermind because I just bought them. I got paid for a gig I did a couple of months ago but never got paid for until today. Or at least I was never told about it until today with the deposit and balance with today’s date on it.

And while I was describing the literal dream manifold, I was using spare processor cycles in my brain to come up with a way to support the front of the fender and also mount the headlight fairing/cover, cut a piece of aluminum sheet to the profile of the front fender and weld a strip of aluminum to the edge and drill and tap the strip so that screws could hold the headlight cover between the fender material and the headlight cover. This would mean the headlight cover would need periodic replacement as the screw holes fatigued but the material would be scratched and UV deteriorated by then and would have to be replaced for the headlights to work as intended. The holes in the strip could be Riv-Nutted instead of threaded for a more durable threaded hole with a lighter strip of aluminum. I would need to get these parts done at a shop because I don’t have the equipment to weld aluminum in my garage. I might make them out of light gauge steel that I can weld, or I could use a hammerform to make them out of annealed aluminum without welding. This is a process I have done in the past with the equipment I have at hand. I need to use a lot of hand work to get the edge of the hammerform right, but I have the tools to make it, plus the tools to anneal and beat the aluminum to shape.

And I have rambled on enough for today, time to put this post to bed.

Progress is being made, of a kind

Bits and pieces are coming together to build the lights and fenders for the Sprint-T, in the form of a turn-signal/marker light that can be mounted over or under the headlights on the backing bracket for the buckets that hold and aim the headlights. It’s not much, just a strip of amber LEDs in a weatherproof housing with a 3 wire hookup, ground, high, and low light output to cover all the functions the light has to perform.

How I hook the lights up depends on how the low and high outputs function. If high power overrides low power inputs then I will drive around with the low power and ignition switch on the same inputs, but the other way around, low power overriding the high power input I have DRL and I connect the turn signals to the low power to make them blink at low power and cause the DRL to flash. It all depends on how the light reacts to inputs. And to know that I had to buy a power supply and test leads. My old 12V power supply burned out about a decade ago when I was building high-output bike lights and taillights, and apparently my test leads went with it in the trash. The new power supply is big enough to test all my 12V lights, just not at the same time.

I bought other 12V power supplies/battery chargers between when my previous one burned out and now, but they only function/supply power when there is a 12v SLA battery connected to the outputs unlike the previous versions I bought. And I no longer have any 12V SLA batteries I can plug into the circuit, if I did I wouldn’t need to buy another power supply. Fortunately this power supply is built to support large chains of LED lights, or higher power LED spotlights or landscape lights. It will power one of the headlights, but not all 4 of them at one time. The 5A limit will only handle one headlight. But I just need to test one light at a time.

I got a new part for the Sprint-T yesterday

I bought an assembly from the jungle store, that was intended for semi-trucks that holds 2 4 x 6 headlights. It’s a bit wide for the Sprint-T, but I can trim it down to fit better. It was serendipity that I found this as I was just looking for the headlight buckets to fit the lights I already purchased, expecting to have to fabricate the backing plate and the adjusting screws and springs, now all I have to do is assign wire colors to the headlight pins to connect the existing harness to the rest of the car because this is buckets, adjusting screws and springs and backing plate all together in one inexpensive assembly. That and make the structure to mount these assemblies to the fenders. Also I won’t need to make a waterproof structure to protect the wiring because the bracket already is a waterproof structure that I just have to seal against water from the tire inside the fender.

The assemblies have the three-wire headlight harness but the wires aren’t pinned to the included sockets, so I’ll have to decide which color wire goes to which headlight pin. I have black, red and green wires to assign, the black is easy, that’s ground. The red and green are less easy as I want to make this repairable but any klutz with a pair of wire pliers and a soldering iron who knows the automotive color code. And from what I can find there is no universal color code for headlights beyond making the ground wire black the rest of the wires are of any and all colors and some with white or black stripes. So future mechanic trying to repair a broken Sprint-T the low beam positive is red, the high beam is green.

Now as I was saying the big bracket that holds all this mess is a heavy injection molding about 15.5″ wide by 6.5″ tall with all the wiring inside the bracket, while the usual street tires I’m going to be running are a bit more than 10″ wide (255/60R15), meaning there’s going to be some excess width either to the outside or inside of the tire, or split to either side. Actually I was going to trim this mess so that the fender sides just clear the adjusting pivots on either side of the headlights, and the top was just clear of any adjustment screws. That makes it “only” 14.5″ wide by 6.25″ tall. It’s important to make this as small as possible to minimize frontal area of the tire fairings. The other consideration is the bottom of the headlights has to be 24″ from the ground at rest to pass inspection in Texas. If this was an airplane I would make the fenders only as tall and wide as needed to cover the tires because there would be nothing else to take into consideration, but on a car they’re an ideal place to mount the headlights because they’re both the widest and most far forward places on the car. So I have to make the top of the fenders tall enough to make the bottom of the headlights 24″ high, where if I was mounting the headlights anyplace else I would just have to make the fenders so that the tire would just kiss the inside of the top at extreme jounce travel.

The problem is there isn’t anyplace else to mount 4 headlights and still make them far enough apart to pass inspection in Texas. If I mount them in the only other logical place on the front of the car they would be practically a solid light bar on the front of the car 31″ wide across the nose, because that is how wide the nose of the car has to be to clear the tires at full lock and cover the radiator. In the fenders they have enough separation to make 2 distinct lights and also make it possible to determine how far away the car is at night to allow pedestrians to estimate speed and distance before trying to cross the road in front of the car. Headlight mounting width was a problem with the first Baja Bug conversions, because some states didn’t approve of the 2 lights in the nose that were even closer than the early Jeeps. I’m not sure about if Texas was one of those states, but a Google search says it was as it requires headlights “on either side” of the motor vehicle. (TXVC547.302) And after measuring the bracket and doing some quick arithmetic of the wheel travel and diameter I can say the bottom of the headlight will definitely be above 24″ from the ground at static ride height if I make the top of the tire just kiss the inside top of the fender with the headlights mounted as high as possible in the fender and the ride height at rest of 6″, or 3″ at full bump travel. Woo! Still legal at minimum frontal area!

OK I’m getting rid of Mrs. the Poet

For most of the month of July, she’s going to see her mother for the first time since she had her operation. She’s leaving 7/6 and coming back 8/3. So I’ll have to fix ramen and frozen pizza for a month, or some kind of other quick-fix food. I usually lose several pounds when Mrs. the Poet visits her mother. My blood pressure usually goes up a bit while she’s gone as well.

Anywho this excursion is costing me over $400, which will get replaced in my account soon. But this also means I’ll be all by myself without even any cats to keep me company for the entire month. I’ll live, “but I von’t enjoy it.” In case you don’t know where that quote comes from, it’s Chekov from TOS, when they found the thing that made people age rapidly, everybody but Chekov and they took tons of samples for analysis. But getting back to nobody to cuddle this is the first time since 2015 Mrs. the Poet has gone away without any kitties to snuggle and take care of. She didn’t go 2020 or last year because of operations and the pandemic. 2019 she went twice because our niece got married. She had to get pushed around the airport in a wheelchair because her back was so bad, but she got where she was going. This year I got her non-stop tickets because 2019 one of her flights she had to spend the night sitting in a wheelchair because her connecting flight was canceled for weather. This way if a flight gets canceled she can just stay home and not spend the night at DFW or LaGuardia.

Well the month of July is going to be a lonely one for me so if you wanna stop by and bring me dinner it would be much appreciated. It’s either a lot of beans and rice (because each batch makes like 8 servings), frozen burritos, pizza, and ramen, or people sharing food because I only know how to cook beans and rice, and reheat frozen food.

Things have been literal crap

Mrs. the Poet has had some kind of stomach distress the last several days that worsened last night to a literal case of full pants. Because of her mobility issues from the stenosis and surgery to correct same I was needed to wash her butt and backs of her legs last night. So good part, I got to get hands-on with a naked woman for an extended length of time; bad part that woman was covered in her own wastes until I washed them away.

Another bad thing was I was late(r) to bed and kept getting awakened by noises of the day. I got awakened by someone calling my cell to buy my timeshare, that I haven’t had since before I got hit with the truck, about 1100, then I was awake to help Mrs. the Poet with her shower and medical issues. Then there was something else that woke me up about 1430 that I never identified. Anyway this ended up with me not getting out of bed until after 1700. Mrs. the Poet is entirely unenthused about preparing the meal for tonight, because even the thought of food is bad for her stomach. So I have been contemplating the contents of the freezer and pantry for my big meal of the day.

OK I had frozen burritos for Big Meal (can’t call it “dinner” even though it’s that time because first meal is always “breakfast” no matter what you eat and when) and pork and beans as the side. After midnight I’m gonna have one of those breakfast burritos I got but never saw again for lunch, and then I’ll have the sandwich Mrs. the Poet made when she fixed her lunch sometime about 0600 because I have to timeshift again so I will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when we go out for dinner Friday night for Father’s Day Dinner (observed because my son-in-law had to work Sunday).

Another annoying thing: we didn’t get any candy because they had a huge price jump this week, and I’ve been craving chocolate like mad the last couple of days. I don’t have many pleasures anymore, and every time I have to give up or lose another one it just irks me even more. I gave up candy, I don’t get long cuddles with naked women, I gave away all but one of my bikes after I couldn’t get my leg over the saddle to ride because of injuring the other hip. All the things I used to find meaning in my life are going away and I’m getting angry about it, or as angry as I can get as depressed as I am.

And as if I didn’t need another reminder of why I stopped covering bike wrecks in this blog, there was a report of a cyclist killed in a hit-and-run next town over in Richardson in a hit-from-behind wreck in my dead-tree newspaper.

Sorry for not posting

Because I don’t have anything to write about. Mostly what I have been doing is looking for an overdrive transmission that doesn’t weigh anything and has a torque capacity to handle large displacement LS engines and can be picked up for next to nothing at a junkyard. The difficulty is light weight and high torque capacity are pretty much mutually exclusive, or are hideously expensive. There is a T5 variant that weighs 80 pounds and has 550 ft-pounds capacity, but runs north from $4k when you can find it, which is slightly more often than “never”.

There’s a kit that makes a T5 handle 600 ft-pounds, but you have to have the T5 first, which I don’t. The good thing is the replacement gears in the kit are only a pound or so heavier than the stock gears so your finished transmission is 76 to 78 pounds plus a quart of ATF.

What I’m fighting against is the power to weight to cost champ is the LS-LT GM family of engines from the junkyard have more torque than the cheap transmissions can handle. The cheap champ OD transmission is the T5 at $500 and up for rebuildable cores locally, but only has a 300 ft-pound capacity and the 4.8 LS has 300-330 ft-pound output depending on tune which is the lowest of the engine families. If I wasn’t trying to build as light as possible because the classes I’m competing in have essentially no minimum weight, or a minimum weight so low that I will never get that low with the car I’m trying to build, I could go with the heavier transmissions. But I’m building light and cheap because F=m*a and reducing “m” increases “a” proportionally, and I’m a genetic tightwad. Or maybe a cultural tightwad because I don’t see any signs of it in my kids. But I’m building to a 900 pound with driver minimum weight for the class with a published minimum weight, or about 700 pounds empty, and the other classes have no minimum weight but do require equipment that kinda raise the weight the car has to be built to, like horn, headlights and fenders. And a pickup bed in one class. So we are looking at about 1500 pounds empty± in race trim (3 gallon gas tank).

And this is about where I’m putting this to bed, I’m running out of things to say.

I’ve been reading a lot of superhero fiction lately

And I keep thinking as I read about the lower-powered heroes, “I’ve done that (or that happened to me a couple of times)”. I even made a page on the site about it, my history is that of a low-power super. I have survived things that would have killed most people, several times. Since everyone knows supers are just fantasy wish-fulfilment I kept telling myself I had extraordinary luck, not superpowers. The first two times I walked away from getting hit by trucks I tried to come up with a plausible story (hit me with both feet in the air, the frame was eaten away by rust) that just made it look like I was just very lucky, not a super.

Even in the face of undeniable evidence of superpowers (2001-08-31) I maintained for years I was “lucky”. And the recovery was in the super level as well, I used to joke that I was an IRL Wolverine because of how fast I healed from injuries.

So, anyway, I’m reading the ninth book in the Wearing the Cape series Joyeux Guard and the POV of the story bounces all over the place but in the part I’m reading now the narrator is a human (Base) Journo writing a story about the new Super team that’s the same name as the title of the book. I’m just a tick over halfway through the book but I felt compelled to write for some reason as the journo gets caught in a terror attack on a refugee camp in Khazakstan and uses a taser with a setting called “dinosaur” to distract a high-level super from attacking the good guys in Joyeux Guard while helping protect refugee kids. Basically her taser is just powerful enough to distract Super Baddie from continuing his attack on the MC of the series (even though she’s barely even in some of the books like Bite Me).

And now I’ve had less than 4 hours of sleep in the last 36, and I’m on fumes, literally. I’m going to turn off my music player, put this post to bed, and then put myself in bed.

I’m turning into a grouch

Basically I have things that hurt all the time, even when I take painkillers. I mean seriously I wake up with a pain in the neck, butt, and my feet are touchy and sore. I’m a grouchy old man, because I’m in constant low-grade pain that never quits, and I can’t do the things I want to do if they cost money because I don’t have any disposable income.

Anywho, getting back to the painkillers, I have two (ibuprofen and gabapentin) I take before bed to let me sleep, and another (celebrex) I take when I wake up because I hurt during the day. And I still hurt at night and all day long, just not as much. I just “don’t hurt” enough that I can function most of the time. And I hate it. I hate just being “functional” instead of enjoying life. And I hate just existing instead of doing things I like because “disposable income” is more a concept than a reality in my life because I was killed 20 years ago and never recovered from it.

I’m still thinking about the Sprint-T project because I have to, I have been thinking about it every day for the last decade, and off and on since I saw the movie in 1968, The Lively Set, on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies. That’s a long time to be thinking about a project. For years it was a back-burner because I wanted to fly, then because I had a family, then because we became desperately poor because I couldn’t get a job after the wreck.

Basically before the wreck I relied on using my brain to get work, then I had TBI from the wreck and all the stuff I used to do better than anyone else I could barely do at all. I lost all ability to compose search strings that took me to the answer in a database in a single step, which we now call having good “Google-fu”. Basically I had google-fu before google was a thing, and after the drunk with the truck I didn’t have anything. I also used to be able to write and perform poetry to a high level, and now I write… this. I do good “stream of consciousness” writing because I still have that, but planning out a post/article is basically gone. I still can clean up a bad translation like nobody’s business, because I have the train wreck sitting in front of me to work with, and mostly it’s just bad grammar, or confusing word order that means something different than what the client wanted to say because machines don’t do emotional context.

And that’s enough “pitiful me” kvetching. Go find something useful to do that makes beautiful things.