Category Archives: Department of DIY

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.

Game was a bust today

Basically I still have a butt-ton of karma to spend and how that should be done is a major group issue. One option discussed is swapping out a few levels in auto mechanics for being able to fix everything in game including spaceships. Right now I have 6 levels in auto mechanics, meaning I can take a few tools into a junkyard and drive out a few hours to a couple of days later, a la Roadkill in our world. The tradeoff would be having a decent chance to fix anything that moves in Shadowrun, but not at the level I have currently in auto mechanics. I generally have little use for my auto mechanics skills except for when we capture a vehicle from the people we are doing runs against, like when I restored the Ford used to attack me a few runs ago, in an extended test of ability. That was fun as I made several rolls against repairing damage from the grenades and neglect to get a like-new car in the game.

In other things in the real world the windows are installed and it is now possible to sit on the couch and see the back yard and also not get cold drafts from the gaps around the windows. Yay? I think I mentioned that the coating between the panes of the old windows went totally opaque a few years ago and that the sealer between the house and the windows also died a few years ago, and now that I dropped way too much money on three windows the worst are fixed. I did this at a very high personal cost as basically every penny from the Sprint-T budget went to the windows. I have made almost zero progress towards completing the build this year. I have worked with the parts I already have to try to get something done, but so far not much is getting done, because $ is an abstraction in this house, a concept that doesn’t really exist. Which is why I’m asking for socks and underwear for Christmas.

I really didn’t mean to unload this on you, but I don’t have anywhere else to dump it and I can’t keep it bottled up anymore. If I don’t let it out I’ll asplode, and that’s messy. So rather than make a mess all over everything, I’ll dump it here. You’re welcome 😝

We discussed the cable-internet-phone bill today

What we discussed was we are paying $257/month for the bundle, and we could live without it. Like I just got an offer for 5G with unlimited data for $25/month, we could buy an antenna/tuner for way less than $257 for both TVs in the house. I mean sure, we would have to buy two of them but still less than $257 and once we pay for the antenna, that’s it, no more ongoing costs.

So I went to the web site for a local electronics chain and bought antennas for both our TVs for $75. with tax and shipping. We currently spend $257/month for the bundle of internet, cable, and land line we get from our local supplier. We’re going to $25/month for internet via cellphone with slightly slower download but significantly higher upload speed. The upload speed we are paying for now is super slow, barely more than dialup. But since I’m not a gamer I can live with slow uploads. The most bandwidth I use uploading is posting to this blog and leaving comments on webcomics.

I want to stop thinking about stuff and start DOING stuff

The biggest problem I have now is I lack funds to buy tools and raw stock, or to buy the parts I can’t make. And this frustrates me no end. On the plus side I have time to think about how to do it better, like I recently did by going from a fabricated steel panhard rod to a straight piece of aluminum that weighs less than half as much by moving the frame out of the way.

“Think before doing” is a good maxim to live by, but I have reached the point of “Do something even if it’s wrong!” Or more accurately, “Do something before you can’t do anything!” as my infirmities multiply and grow worse.

At the rate things are going I won’t even be able to get in and out of the Sprint-T after I finish it because I won’t be able to bend at the hip far enough to get past the roll cage. And then I would have a true Greek Tragedy, all that planning and work but unable to harvest the fruits of my labors.

Moving on from self-pity, I’m still trying to find a transmission that will work for the mission of racing around in first gear and hitting redline at 40 MPH but getting good freeway mileage, but still not weighing anything or having to change gearing between racing and highway, and not coming up with any good answers. So far the best (lightest) solution was the 2.43 1st gear Super T-10 and swapping the gears in the quickchange rear to get stupid tall final drive in 4th from the 40 MPH in first ratio. The next best I have found is the Super Street 5 speed with OD that comes in at 35 pounds heavier but has a 3.33 first and a 0.77 5th. No need to swap spur gears to go from redline @40MPH in 1st to cruising at 2068 in 5th @70MPH.

[squirrel!]Excuse me a moment my music app just played The Song That Must Be Played As Loud As Possible (Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who) and I had to crank my headphones up to 11. Now I have to stuff cotton in my ears to keep the blood from running out.[/squirrel!]

Getting back to the post, one has simplicity in its favor, and the other has lightness on its side. Neither has anything for cost, the cost of buying an extra spur set for the quickchange and the ongoing costs of buying rear end lube for changing the spurgears easily offsets the higher cost of the 5speed. And as I don’t have funds for either one at the moment it’s mox nix. (Or macht nichts in the original German). Also the torque limits on the Super T-10 are so low that even a stock tune L33 will stress the transmission to its limits, except the 2.43 ratio 1st gear model’s 375 foot-pound torque rating is comfortably inside the L33’s 335 foot-pound rated output.

Everything else is marginal to “ain’t no way”. 2.64 1st is 325 foot-pounds (iffy) and the 2.88’s 300 rating and the 3.42’s 266 rating are both “grenade city” except when you pull the pin on a grenade you have a pretty good idea of when it’s going to blow, about 2.5 to 3.5 seconds after you throw it. The 3.42 ratio might last until you floor it or a few seconds after, but the 2.64 is the real question mark. It might last for a season or 2 or blow up while you’re hundreds of miles from the shop and spares with no way to get there. No, if I go with the T-10 the only way to go is the 2.43 1st gear. But that 35 pound weight savings looks sooooo goooood. It’s the difference between 1490 pounds empty and 1525 which is 2.3% and all I have to do is crawl around under the back of the car a few minutes to half an hour before a race and the same amount of time after. It’s tempting as hell.

Still thinking alert, take cover immediately

J/K there’s no imminent danger. I was thinking of ways to improve the front of the Sprint-T. Also still thinking about the drivetrain with a possible manual transmission.

Starting with the front suspension and related things I decided it might work better if the panhard rod (AKA track bar) was straight. That requires redesigning to the front part of the frame so there is nothing that the panhard rod has to go around to get from the driver’s side of the frame to the passenger side of the front axle. I did this by moving the front diaphragm that carries the loads from the coilovers to the rest of the frame from in front of the axle to behind the axle. This requires moving the steering behind the axle as well as the steering box back to the kit location. This also means the radiator has to be moved back and up to clear the steering shaft from the steering box to the steering wheel. This is how designing a car goes, you can’t just change one thing, it cascades across most of the car. And I forgot to mention the complete redesign of the bumper support structure because the top and bottom frame rails stop at the front axle.

The other thing I was doing was trying to find a lightweight transmission with overdrive, and basically what I found was the Super T-10 couldn’t be made to have an OD without basically redesigning the transmission because the cluster was a solid hunk of steel. Now if it had followed the path of the sister/progeny transmission that used to be called the Nash 4+1 which uses a cluster with replaceable gears, then I could just have a replacement 3rd gearset machined and installed instead of a full replacement cluster. Anywho, the mentioned 4+1 is now the Super Street Five Speed with much higher torque capacity compared with the Super T-10, and extra weight from the structure to resist loads from the increased input.

The 5 speed handles 600 ft-lbs, compared to the 300 to 375 rating for the T-10, and also has a much lower 1st gear (actually several options that are as low or lower than the lowest 1st gear on the T-10). The price for gearing this low and higher torque handling is weight. The 5 speed comes in at 105 pounds compared with 70 for the T-10. Still lighter than any of the self-shifting transmissions with overdrive, by 60-80 pounds, plus it takes up less room inside the car, especially since on the Sprint-T the inside of the floor is also the top of the bellypan and nothing hangs lower than the bellypan, that’s another design paradigm for the Sprint-T.

The top of the bellypan is attached to the bottom of the bottom frame rail, and if there were no bellypan the bottom of the bottom frame rail would be the lowest part of the car except the wheels, because that lets the car be as low as possible without dragging the road if a tire goes flat. Theoretically all 4 tires could go down and the only thing touching the road would be the tires. This requires the road to be pool table flat, but even on normal pavement I can still get both tires on an axle going flat without anything touching anything except tires. I picked this one up from off-road trucks that need to be able to keep going with flat tires.

Anyway, going from a bent panhard rod to a straight one allows a smaller size rod and also allows changing from steel to aluminum, and the combination allows for the drastic reduction in weight of about 2/3, and as half of the panhard rod is unsprung a reduction in unsprung weight as well. This results in a slight increase in grip on bumpy roads and courses as less unsprung weight improves the ability of the tires to follow bumps without leaving the road. This is why I try to reduce unsprung weight every chance I get.

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?