Category Archives: Department of DIY

Happy Singles Shaming Day! Go hug a shelter animal

For the rest of you this is Valentine’s Day, or Cheap Chocolate Day Eve, but for the singletons out there this is a day where almost every advertisement throws subtle shade at the unpaired. There’s a whole separate deal for married couples and expensive jewelry purchases that Mrs. the Poet likes to poke at me about because we are P’ and can’t afford a ring out of the vending machine next to the bubblegum machine, but that’s a different post in about 4 or 5 days. But if you are lacking an S.O. and live in a no-pets apartment, there are abandoned and lost cats and dogs at the shelter that need someone to show them some affection and who don’t care that other humans don’t like you, or you don’t like other humans. Just so long as you convincingly fake loving them they are happy, and ecstatic if you are not faking it. And it will make you feel better too, because you will connect with another living thing on an emotional level. Give it a try. You’ll be doing the both of you a favor.

And for those of you with partners this is the socially-sanctioned day to tear the walls down with your passions. Now if you will excuse me, Clint is sprawled on my lap demanding belly rubs.


OK change in plans

There was a problem with scheduling at the Lab Rat Keeper so I’m here and not there today. I have a new appointment same day and time next week, and this will be a fasting draw, meaning I get up and take my pill with water and don’t have anything to eat until after noon and nothing to eat after midnight the day before. Now ordinarily this would not be a problem but I eat a snack about 0200 so that I’m not famished as a bear in Spring when I get up. So I will be consciously monitoring my mood so as to not to bite anyone’s head off.

We are having game tomorrow instead of Sunday because there were multiple schedule conflicts on Sunday and everyone can make it on Thursday. And after I post this I’m going to get my toes done because they need it something awful because it has been a few months since the last time. Seriously they are starting to hurt again because the nails are that long. So another shower to make sure I smell nice after lunch and off to the nail spa for shorter toenails.

Still nothing interesting to report

I have a visit to the Lab Rat Keeper the day before Valentine’s day for a quick blood draw and BP check, and maybe a hamberder or something at one of the several fast food joints in the area. The covfefe house is closed, but despite having a large chunk of the building burned away the Mexican chicken place almost across the street from the office is still serving food. I’ve never been there, it might be a good time to try it out.

On the Sprint-T and Mini Sprint-T front, there has been a minor change in the design around the main cage. Basically the upper frame rail is now running in segments inside the hoops instead of over the corner after I did another stress analysis that showed too much bending stress on the hoop with the rails running outside the bends and the diagonal braces welded to the top and sides through bends and/or bent gussets. What I had before was the rails welded to plate brackets on both sides of the hoops in line with the horizontal and vertical legs of the hoop. What I have now is the rail welded to the top of the hoops right at the end of the bend and also where the diagonal welds to the hoop, kinda sorta. Actually the diagonals have the same size bends as the hoops so the bends line up, and using the same bend to make the connection to the vertical leg as a gusset to carry those loads directly into both legs of the hoop without imposing bending loads that have to be carried through the bend in the hoop. That’s because the bend is the weakest part of the hoop, but by using gussets and routing loads away from the bend it can be made to not fail in a wreck.

On the down side dividing the upper rail into segments and welding it to the top hoop next to the bend slightly reduces the d4 effect for torsional rigidity, because this change moves the top rails about 9″ closer together side-to-side. Instead of being 48″ apart they will be 39″ apart across the top of the cage. That’s a 56% reduction in stiffness in that plane, but that plane only contributes 25% of the overall torsional resistance of the frame. Basically this keeps both of the side planes that resist forces up and down of the total twist vector at the same stiffness, and has no effect on the bottom plane at all so even though that one plane is reduced 56% the total stiffness is only reduced by about 13% total in torsion. Noticeable but not critical. Second downside is the reduction in the access hole in the top of the cage by 4.5″ when it was already barely wide enough to get in and out without twisting sideways. So guess what I get to do getting in and out of the car?

In things that have nothing to do with me or the Sprint-T personally, the squirrel apparently made its escape prior to the arrival of the people we paid almost $400 to remove it. Also Mrs. the Poet has fallen and bruised her backside, enough that she makes involuntary noises about every other step, sometimes very loud noises accompanied by rude words. I’m not so bothered by the rude words as I am the volume used and the frequency. If her butt hurts she needs to lie down and let me take care of her instead of running around complaining I’m not doing anything for her.

What’s with this weather?

Two days ago it was 80°F for the high, this morning it was 24°F for the morning low. The cats can’t figure out what they want to do, one stays out all night and as much time on my lap as he can during the day, the other spends all night inside and most of the day outside. Both of them are crazy by human standards, and at least one by cat standards.

I need to find where the woodcutting saw went other than “in the garage somewhere” so I can finish making the bending jig for the Mini Sprint-T. And I have determined the Mini will have Tri-Y headers on one side and Sprint style Four-into-one headers on the other because it will be an engineering model and both options need to be shown for “reasons”.

Also I want to build another chassis with an extra rear hoop for a cover over the pickup bed to provide covered storage on the road, someplace to put my luggage than inside the cockpit or in the tire trailer with the gas storage tank. I don’t want my clean clothes and driving suit for racing to reek of E85 or 87 octane. Yes I’m still planning on running two tanks on the car and offloading the cheap transit gas and switching to a separate tank with the “good” gas at the track since I learned that E85 can give a power boost to the midrange and bottom end even if the engine runs fine on 87 octane. If the engine is set up to barely tolerate 87 as long as the gas pedal isn’t pressed too firmly then E85 can give a boost through the entire RPM range. Also I kinda need to figure out how to cover the pickup bed without creating a huge flat surface to catch the air driving down the road. I’m thinking making the roof contiguous from the top of the windshield to the rear of the cover would do it, but that would make getting in through the top of the roll cage tricky to impossible.

Something else I have been contemplating is quickly removable fenders for streamlining and spray control during transit, given how bad huge exposed tires are for both of those. Again the issue is enough coverage of the exposed frame to work as intended without keeping me from getting in and out of the car at gas stops. The plan is still climb through the roof using the diagonals on the sides of the cockpit as a ladder to get to and from the top of the cage, so those diagonals need to be usable as a ladder while also out of the airstream for the highway. I’m thinking lots of hook-and-loop fasteners for the roof and the parts of the body that need to be movable for getting in and out. But that’s for after I get the car running enough to see if I even need to use a body and fenders beyond the fiberglass bucket.

Not doing anything so nothing to write about

I have been mostly sitting and reading manga and technical books on building engines. And most of the manga was yuri, because I like the relationships, and ditto about the mahou shoujo (magical girl). I mean the relationships with boys in most of those manga are ridiculous by Western standards, but knowing as many lesbians as I do I can vouch for the “girl love” manga as being realistic for the most part aside from the magically transforming and fighting monsters. I mean sure they are over the top a lot of the time, but I have seen very similar scenarios take place in front of me, so “over the top non-sexual relationship” seems to be a lesbian trope.

The other books have been about building LS engines for various uses. One of the things about the LS series of engines is how versatile they are, literally with just a manifold and cam swap and recalibrating the ECU to match them you can go from a low-RPM torque monster to a high-RPM horsepower machine. And both can be made with factory parts from a junkyard for less than $1k if you have a good relationship with the junkyard manager. The other thing is the all-aluminum versions weigh in about 425 pounds dressed with everything needed for a T-bucket to run. The Motor Trend web series Engine Masters did a show that explicitly pointed out how cheap it was to make a monster street engine starting with a junkyard 5.3 truck engine and bolting on a turbo kit, then swapping parts to get almost the same power NA, then putting the turbo kit back on to make over 800 HP with a stock (but with new bearings) bottom end. But this book was about using factory parts, no turbo kits. By mixing and matching stock GM parts it’s possible to get loads of low RPM torque from about 2000 RPM that stays flat until about 5000 RPM so you have a steadily climbing power curve from off-idle to almost 6000 RPM which would be frabjous for the mission of the Sprint-T. The big thing for that build is you need to start with the biggest LS you can find outside of a Corvette and go from there because even with all the computerized engine control physics still dictates “there’s no replacement for displacement”. Basically that build recipe uses displacement and acoustic intake tuning to get around cam timing and lift problems for low RPM power and displacement and the cam to get around the upper RPM power restriction caused by the acoustic manifold tuning. Yay, physics still works! The real magic trick was using the ECU to keep everything working together in the middle when nothing was in its RPM range, except displacement, between the upper end of the manifold tuning and the lower end of the cam tuning, partially by using the cam timing control available on some later LS series engines to extend the cam’s operating range, and partially by making sure the fuel and ignition delivery were exactly what was needed to make the most power at that speed. And this has the serendipitous effect of getting the best possible fuel economy away from full throttle.

So full of win, and all I need to do is find the money to get the parts from the friendly junkyard a few miles down the street and figure out how to get those parts to Casa de El Poeta. Without owning a car or pickup truck to transport me and the parts. I’ll figure that out somehow.

Now I need to have a lie-down because my neck feels like people are poking at it with sharp sticks. I’ll probably move my laptop over so I can continue to read.

Game yesterday, my character died again

This time I woke up in a coffin at my viewing. I knew this would happen when the other party member just left my body lying in the dog run for the dog part of the animal and people rescue at the compound.

Explanation of the situation. We heisted the Pink Purse Poodle (official breed name for a poodle the size smaller than teacup with naturally pink hair) and had to have someone take care of the pupper until we could manage the transfer to the Johnson, so I brought it to my place where there is a registered animal rescue in case someone was tracking the ID chip. I put the dog into the fenced dog run so he could use the facility instead of making a puddle in the house, and as he was doing his business I heard lots of barking and growling. As I investigated the noise I saw what appeared to be a calico house cat roughly the size of a large tiger in the dog run. This creature is called a Talis Cat, and is a magically enlarged house cat with an appetite to match the size. Some people keep these as pets in the DFW Sprawl, and this was either one of those running loose, or a stray. I was still loaded up with 3 gel rounds and one lethal slug in my arm gun and managed to get 2 gel rounds on target against the Talis Cat before it got to me, and pretty much took me out in one attack. I had a very bad defense roll and it went through my entire damage pool and 4 ticks into overflow in the single attack, which is DEAD for most characters but not for The Old Man. This time I woke up in a coffin at the viewing because I was out in front of the house and when the party came to get the poodle for the Johnson to deliver for the client they just left my body for the neighbors to find. The Old Man is a beloved neighborhood figure and seeing me in that condition they naturally assumed I was Permanently Dead because there are tales of my surviving things that would kill a normal being but this was obviously not something I could live through. So, I woke up still missing some bits and regenerating them, including my implanted cat eye bioware (because bioware doesn’t need to be recharged to keep working). So I’m partially blind until I finish growing the new eyes (and the rest of my face), and announced to the people paying respects “I’m not dead yet! Don’t you people watch Monty Python? I was pining for the fjords.” Which caused the mourners great consternation except for those who watched the Monty Python marathon my character puts on for Halloween, they laughed.

So, anyway, The Old Man is currently growing back the bits the Talis Cat chewed up to ripped out while the rest of the group delivers the poodle to the Johnson and back to the person we dognapped it from so it could be used as a living spy device. The original plan was for me as head of the dog rescue to deliver the pupper as having gotten the address from the ID chip when we scanned the dog after it showed up looking for food/ got dropped at the delivery entrance/ whatever wild story we could think of. But since I was still not in condition to leave the house, that plan got scotched.

Incidentally Team Ruff beat Team Fluff in the Puppy Bowl, and there was some kind of a football game at the same time, some kind of a Superb Owl thing.

And I have yammered on enough.

Got the gas, got two of three bolts

And also got the drills to put the bolts in the board when I cut it later. Good news is I don’t have to take the torch back to the store, it works fine. I didn’t take a picture because everybody has seen fire and just about everyone has seen the blue flame of a butane torch. More good news, the rod bends smoothly around the bolt when I heat it and holds its shape after I pull it away from the heat.

Bad news, I still haven’t got those rod ends from Dirt Modeller and there was no tracking information on the web site to tell me where they are now. It has only been a week, even though it seems longer because of the politics of the age. And I just face-planted into the keyboard again. another post tomorrow.

Change of plans

I still haven’t made it to buy the butane and bolts. For some reason I just haven’t been able to get myself over there even though I have been able to get out of the house for other things. It’s even within walking distance, or what used to be walking distance until recently. What with the problem I have been having with my hip, and the problems I have been having not falling on my face when I get tired. So I don’t know what the problem is in getting butane and a few bolts. I plan on making a loop to the Lowe’s Wednesday after the Lab Rat Keeper to get the stuff, so no excuses.

I’m still tracking down why that one 383 build with the FIRST TPI manifold had such a steep drop-off of the torque curve. The data I have so far indicates the cam might be to blame because the guy that sells the manifold says the manifold does exactly what I saw in the video, but it can still make power at high RPM with even more displacement normally aspirated, and the heads were aftermarket aluminum so they should not be the source of the problem, either. That leaves only the cam in the Otto cycle (suck, squeeze, bang, blow) power equation unaccounted for. As I said in an earlier post the power output is fine, but the lack of power above 5000 RPM isn’t. So, more research on the cam specs is in order, and if it is a lift or a duration issue, or a combination of the two. Because head design does figure into it, how the intake port flows at low lift compared to high lift can dictate the cam specs. A combination that has relatively lower flow at low lift but greater flow at high lift (compared to another port design) requires spending less time at low lift and more time at high lift, so getting a cam with really high lift to get through the “bad” part of the flow as quickly as possible would be better than a longer duration cam with lift that wasn’t as high, Or given this manifold uses acoustic tuning for ram effect, maybe leaving the intake valve open longer would allow more ram effect and more air in the engine. Engines, like life in general, are a series of compromises.

I still don’t know what engine I will use on the Sprint-T, but I don’t seem to be able to let this problem go. I might end up with a Pentastar still, or a Subaru, or whatever I find that I can afford and get to the house. But right now I want to solve this mystery.

And I also need to get my fuzzy butt in a bed right now, so time to put the post to bed, unintentional pun.

This has been bothering me

And keeping me awake at night.

Remember that dyno test video I linked to last week? The one that had 490 Ft-lbs of torque but only 405 HP? I keep going back to the graph that could be seen near the end and wondering why the power graph just went flat above 5000 RPM. A flat power graph usually indicates maximum airflow has been reached and no matter how high you twist the engine T*RPM/5252 just isn’t going to get any better because torque is falling as fast or faster than RPM is rising. You just can’t burn any more fuel because you can’t get any more air in the engine. And what has been keeping me awake has been where is the restriction? The possible sources are the manifold, the heads, and the camshaft profile not allowing the other two to work above a certain RPM. If it’s the cam or the heads then that means just a different choice of parts during the expensive part of the build, but if it’s the manifold I might be able to crutch around the problem with gearing.

Because that torque number is freaking ridiculous. This is a normally aspirated build that had higher torque numbers than some supercharged or turbo builds, meaning the ram effect was taking the engine to >100% Volumetric Efficiency (VE) at torque peak. And looking at the torque graph in the video the peak torque was on the second torque peak, there was another peak at much lower RPM that was almost as high. For a NA engine that would be a torque number more natural for a much larger engine, the engine was taking in way more than its displacement without the use of mechanical assistance. Now all I need to do is figure out how to keep that up well past torque peak or I’m going to be stuck with a power band that is only about 1000 RPM wide, the space between peak torque and peak power. I’m still talking about installing a crazy cam profile, probably stupid high lift, to keep the airflow up well past the torque peak, and adjusting the gearing to put the power higher in the vehicle speed range, which would be fantastic for fuel economy. I mean the gears in the transmission are set in the factory, so the only thing I can change would be the final drive ratio to a higher (lower numerical) ratio. And because I don’t have room for a clutch pedal with a SBC that means if I set the final drive to hit redline in first at 40-60 MPH the cruise RPM would be ~4.6:1 lower than that. Which would mean very low cruise RPM and pretty good fuel economy.

Now I need to get ready for game.

Back to the bike stuff temporarily

I was reading some of the online newspapers like Gothamist and BikePortland, and the same old anger that made me quit writing about wrecks a few years back came bubbling up, mostly about people in cars making life dangerous for cyclists just to save a few seconds or a few steps. Gothamist was talking about towing cars from bus lanes (but not from bike lanes), and BikePortland was talking about right hooks in general and an injury wreck that appeared to be a right hook in specifics. Basically it was all about cars in bicycle infrastructure and not getting penalized for it. I don’t want to go down that road again, because the eventual destination is not good for me, but I do want to make a statement: If you see a car parked in a bike lane you should put down road flares to direct bike travel around the car and car travel around the car, and the tow truck, and bikes that will have to move into the general travel lane to get around the car. And if the flares happen to get too close to the car and maybe cause a tire to blow up or the gas tank to catch fire, well that’s just one of those things that “happens”, you know? Kinda how cars hitting cyclists “just happens”. Because putting down flares to direct traffic around an illegally parked car is all for safety, not to “accidentally” give the entitled driver an extra-judicial “traffic ticket” and fine. And if a bunch of illegally-parked cars catch on fire or blow up the left rear tire, they shouldn’t have been parked illegally, right?

Because traffic enforcement should never have to be a DIY project.