Category Archives: Department of DIY

Spent a lot of time doing research and saving pictures

Well, after my walk and reading e-mails I spent a lot of time reading from this archive where a dude in the UK is swapping a 3.3 into a Neon. Where it works for me is externally the 3.3 and the 3.8 are identical. What makes this particular swap helpful for me is the dude was obsessive about documenting the build with photographs. So I have 4 really good views, one of each side of the engine/transmission assembly, that can be used to help plan the back half of the Mid-Bucket.

This is what they look like coming out of the donor vehicle.From the left side showing the transmission mount.

Back side showing the mount next to the block, hard to see.

right front 3/4 view, front mount at the bottom of the engine, right mount under the alternator.

The right side showing the snake pit of the FEAD.

Left rear 3/4 view showing the rear mount much better.

OK, it looks like the front and rear mounts are going to go on the tube from the center of the rear hoop to the watt’s link behind the engine, and the left and right mounts will be connected to the frame by tubes running from the rear suspension shock mounts and the outside lower corner of the rear roll hoop. I need to figure out one more way to brace those mounts as they look to be weak in the vertical direction on the frame side, engine side looks fine if a bit heavy. The front and rear mounts are fine vertically but will need bracing left to right and back and forth. I seriously don’t want the engine hitting me in the back if I hit something from the front, so the mounts will be very strong to prevent that from happening. The front mount will be very low on the frame and it looks like just making the mounting plates to the frame heavy enough will do that if I brace that mount against the rear hoop as well as the tube running down the center of the frame. I’m half tempted to just make the mounts from plate stock and leave the rubber bits out so I can get a massage while I’m driving. 😈 But I will probably use one of these at each mount (or two kits). I’m extremely tempted to mount the front cushion at 45° to help keep the engine off my back in a wreck.

And I’m out of words after spending too much time researching this.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the fat but Unkillable

Can’t stop thinking

Yes, I’m still thinking about the rear suspension on the Mid-Bucket, mainly how to make it lighter. And simpler if I can. One way I can do both is to eliminate the adjustability and just weld the adaptor plate directly to the truss. I hate to do that, both because of all the time and brain processing cycles that went into the adjustable adaptor, and because throwing a little negative camber for racing is a great way to increase total grip and reduce oversteer a tad. I would probably do that for street, too. But I can do that in the jig while welding the truss, probably holding to a half degree precision if the jig is stout enough. That is a mighty big IF.

Which brings me to the other reason for adjustability, correcting for floppy welding jigs for the de Dion truss. And for weld joints that move from thermal stress during construction. I don’t know about how floppy the welding jig is going to be, I mean it’s not like I’m building this to make production runs. I just want the ability to make crash repairs when and if necessary.

And while I was on my walk I was thinking about upgrading to the Pentastar and the 62TE after I get a bit more bucks up. Again I forgot to save the engine and transmission mount picture and now I can’t find it again so I can’t show you how similar the mounting points are between the two generations of minivan. But without having one of each side by side to compare I can’t say for sure it’s a drop-in swap. It’s pretty damn close.

Moment of levity, Amazon apparently thinks I eat enough fancy Italian Provolone cheese to justify buying it in $1K chunks at a time. I have no idea how they got that idea since I get that kind of cheese in the $5 shaker bottle at the deli counter mixed with parmesan. Not that I don’t know what to do with a good Provolone, I do have a Sicilian grandmother and Mrs. the Poet is adopted Sicilian, and I did spend a couple of years working for pizza places helping make the pies.

I got to use the high-precision scale when we were shopping today and I was sure not to rest against the rail on the back that is part of the machine but not part of the scale. Anywho I came in under 210 even after a big breakfast, so progress is being made on destroying the heart-clogging fat monster. I don’t know that I will ever reach 160 while still alive and also still be able to get around on my own, unlike last time, but dangit I’m trying.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the fat but still Unkillable

With new data I have a new weight estimate

One of the things I do when I’m not running around, or writing, or reading web comics or e-mail, is try to get better information about the weights of the stuff I’m putting in or taking out of the Mid-Bucket. The bad news is my transaxle weighs more than I originally estimated, and the parts of the axle I’m leaving out because the car is mid-engine don’t weigh as much as I originally estimated. What it breaks down to is the weight estimate went up by about 50 pounds to 1550 total. Almost all of that 50 came from the rear axle. Still absurdly light by most standards.

Where I might make up a few pounds is the de Dion truss replacing the heavy axle housing of the front engine car, but since those run only about 38 pounds it won’t be much. If my initial estimate on the truss is right, and I know it’s close, then the most I can save would be about 13 pounds. That is all unsprung weight loss which means better handling for the Mid-Bucket.

Something else I have been trying to solve is how to get the fiberglass bucket body and the engine/transmission installed inside the exoskeleton style frame. There is a lot of triangulation round the back area that blocks access to the engine which if I made removable would open up a hole wider than the body to let it go in after painting. Then drop in the engine and transmission and bolt the bracing back in. And once again I’m wanting to do a Copy/Paste from my brain so you can see what I see in my mind. Basically there will be two sections of bracing to bolt in, one from the rear hoop to the rear shock mounts and across the back, and another one bracing the rear hoop from side to side and top to bottom. I may break down and start sketching this out with pencil and paper again and taking pictures with my cell phone, like I did a few years ago when I first started documenting this process.

Graph paper aided design.

The tricky part is I still don’t have the donor vehicle to copy the engine and transmission mounts from. I do know that the roll hoop bracing is where about half of the mounts will go, the rest will go on the main frame assembly. I have seen pictures of the transmission mounts so that’s how I know how they will go.

And I apparently forgot to save that picture of the mounts and I can’t find it again in Google Images either. Silly me.

Well it is getting late and I still have to clear the garbage out of my e-mail inbox. And I guess I should mention I had to miss playing Shadowrun today because my allergies gave me digestive issues, as in “don’t get too far from a toilet” issues followed by the worse gas pains I have ever had. And when I was at the lab rat keeper’s office this week I asked to hear what my body fat percentage was and promptly swore off eating for the next several months when they told me more than 30%. That works out to just over 70 pounds (32 Kg) of fat I’m carting around, which means I need to lose about 45 pounds (20 Kg) of it to get to a healthy body fat percentage. That will pull me down to about 165 to 170. That won’t happen overnight because losing that much weight that quick without weight training to maintain muscle mass will result in my going back to my eating disorder days when I got to 170 and so weak I couldn’t get out of bed. I know what I need to do and that is to work out at a “fat burning” pace for about 8 hours a day, and do some light weights 3 days a week. I did this when I was training for the Hotter’n’Hell Hundred a few years ago and I can do it again. I got down under 200 for that in about 4 months. I need to build something that I can work at the fat burning pace when I’m working at the computer and watching TV, a recumbent exercise cycle with a desk so I don’t hurt my butt.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the fat but Unkillable

Still thinking about the rear suspension on the Mid-Bucket

Yes I was being dangerous again, thinking and all. Basically I’m thinking about details now, how to arrange the heim joints on the plate so they don’t interfere with other bits and are still adjustable for what needs to be adjusted.

My first thoughts were they needed to be set up in an equilateral triangle with one located center bottom. Then I ran some adjustments in my mental model in that configuration and there too many interactions in that configuration. What it came down to was every adjustment would change another parameter that did not need changing (or maybe it did but not at the same time and maybe not in that direction). So, change to a right triangle with the sides adjacent to the right angle located vertical and horizontal. Changing the camber will change the toe slightly but changing the toe doesn’t affect the camber. The longer the distance between the vertical pair of heims and the toe heim the less a camber change would change the toe. Thinking about it more putting the toe heim on the horizontal centerline of the rear axle with the camber heims equally spaced in relation to that line would give the least toe change with camber adjustments, especially if the camber heims were adjusted in equal and opposite directions. So, maybe not equilateral, but isosceles with the point on the horizontal center of the axle and the short side vertical.

Now that that part is decided how to connect it to the de Dion truss? The reason the equilateral triangle first suggested itself was using the horizontal part of the truss to support two of the joints and a side support off the vertical for the third. And as I think about it I can get zero interaction with the right triangle by leaving one joint fixed, and adjusting the other two for toe or camber, depending on which axis they are on. Which tells me that the horizontal pair mount to the horizontal truss, and the vertical pair the vertical, and the heim that is on both axis is the fixed one.

See how problems can be solved if you just put them in words while thinking in 3 dimensions? I know, not everyone can do that, I have what amounts to a 3D CAD program in my head. What frustrates me is I can’t just copy and paste from my head to my computer like I do when I write stuff on my phone. I mean I can see it perfectly, but I can’t reach in and pull what I see in my head out where everyone else can see it, and I lack the skills to enter what I see into a real CAD program, and the patience to learn how. I know, that last one is on me, my problem. But I can even see how the flanges for the various heims interact to add support to the mount for the hub bearing with minimal added weight. Just connect them around the bolt pattern for the hub bearing and they have enough vertical depth to keep the mount from flexing. I just need to leave enough room for the bolt heads and a socket to drive them into the holes on the flange on the hub bearing. All the major forces go directly into that hub mount, bypassing the de Dion truss which has been reduced to keeping the wheels pointed in the right directions on two axis and the same distance apart all the time.

Speaking of the same distance apart, it looks like this is gonna be a very wide bucket, about 6′ 3″. The front axle is going to be 56.5″ wide compared to the usual 48″. That’s because the hub-to-hub width on the donor vehicle is right at 65″± compared to 56″± for the usual hot rod axles. This solves a lot of problems with the suspension, while introducing others. But mostly it solves problems or makes them tiny. And tiny problems are either easily solved or ignored.

And on that note it’s time to say buh-bye until next time. Opus the Unkillable

I didn’t want to do it this way, but I have a working tire pump now.

Well I had two pumps, one that failed somewhere in the piston and the other one that had a rotting hose from the pump to the chuck. I only have to send one back, so I put all the bad parts in the return box and assembled all the good parts into a working pump. I then used that pump to get my tires back up to the minimum 70 pounds per square inch to prevent pinch flats on potholes.

And after I did that I felt like Superman™ so I tried to mount the tires to the wheels I had just mocked up that afternoon. It was a struggle, but as you can see:
Wheel reduced from a scale 10 inches to a scale 8

I got the front edge even with the bead on the tire, but I need to pump the tire so the back side matches the front.
Back side sticks out a little bit, don't it.

It’s hard to see from that angle, so this is easier.
See all that white? Not supposed to be visible.

So what I do now is talk to my diabetic friends about getting some used needles and syringes to pump up the tires to meet the beads of the rim.

And there’s something good coming on Science Channel, so I have created enough with the words and pictures, Opus the Unkillable

A State of Detent Has Been Reached At Casa de El Poeta

Mrs. the Poet has been complaining about how I’m “not helping” her throw away my stuff when she does it during the part of the day when I’m still asleep. I don’t understand this. I don’t complain that she’s not helping me write when I start composing stuff at 0300 when the Internet is fastest locally and I can get to reference materials most quickly.

So we reached a compromise, in that Mrs. the Poet will not start throwing my stuff away until I get up, and because we both have things to do over the weekend I will start helping her on Monday afternoon after I have had coffee. There is something in the garage that she calls a “box full of rusty metal stuff” that I’m almost afraid to open. Then we don’t go into the garage again until after I get up Friday.

On other things I’m playing some more Shadowrun tomorrow, and there is a late race on Sunday, the Las Vegas race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup. And now that I have a new tube of GOOP™ I can continue to mock up the Mini Sprint-T street version. I haven’t found a model kit that has the Pentastar V6 as an option so kitbashing is right out. But I have that first wheel glued up and ready to test fit to the tire when the glue dries. I’ll probably do that Sunday while I’m watching the race during commercials.

Billed @€0.02 Opus the Unkillable

Things are looking good today

Things have been good this weekend around Casa de El Poeta. The lady my wife is helping unpack and downsize had an extra wheelchair seat cushion that I’m now parking my butt on in my office chair, and it’s super comfy. Now I don’t know if there was an extra cushion because she’s no longer using a wheelchair, or if she somehow had more than one cushion. Doesn’t matter, I have a comfy place to park my butt for writing and reading stuff on my computer.

Mrs. the Poet woke up with a sore leg today so we are skipping church. There is about 0.8 mile (1.3 Km) walk from the transit station to the church with no bus service on Sunday so that bus stop in front of the church is of no use to actually get to church on Sunday. Mrs. the Poet feels her leg will not make that walk without either a lot of pain or the leg actually quitting. I’m familiar with a leg that fails to function, the nerve damage I got in the wreck does that to me sometimes even this far out from the wreck. The difference between Mrs. the Poet’s situation and mine is we have opposite legs failing on us, and she has a back injury causing her issues.

On the hot rod front it looks like I will need to install a front anti-roll bar to get as much oversteer out of the car as possible. That’s from running the numbers through the equations in the Herb Adams Chassis Engineering book on weight distribution and cornering weight transfer. I can’t calculate the exact size bar I will need to install from that book, but I can determine that I will need to use one. The other thing I will need to do is lower the rear roll center to tighten the rear grip geometrically. Since I have already determined that I’m going to mount the lateral locating device as low as possible on the rear this is not news to me. The current plan is to make the street setting about 7″ below axle center and move it up as required for autocross racing at Goodguys or SCCA. The limit is when the front end is transferring all the weight from the inside to the outside tire and the inside front tire lifts off the ground. At that point if the car is still oversteering there ain’t nothing that can be done by making adjustments to weight transfer. The only thing to do would be going to bigs and littles on the tires with the bigs holding up the back end because more tire = more grip. Bigs and littles is a traditional combination for T Buckets because the traditional geometry has the rear roll center anywhere from 5 to 7 inches above the axle centerline where I’m building a much lower rear roll center to keep the tires as equal as possible.

On other things I need to get my toes done tomorrow. I said this before but the nerve damage in my left leg keeps me from being able to trim the pinky toe and the next toe over by myself because I run out of hands. Those two toes curl under when I’m doubled up to reach my toes and it takes two hands to pull the toes out and hold the foot down leaving me one hand short to trim the nails. I would prefer to not spend the $$ and trim my own nails but conditions dictate otherwise. While I’m in the area I will pop over to the pharmacy in the same complex and renew my antidepressant prescription, and get a few things we missed yesterday rushing through the store.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta is just ending and Kevin Harvick lost the lead on a speeding penalty, leaving Keselowski free to take the win.

And I need to get ready for the many things I need to do tomorrow.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

I’m whole again!

Not much to write about today except I finally got my ATM card replaced and have access to my money. Not having access to my money meant I had some lean grocery shopping days, these last two weeks especially. This week coming up will be different because I can just go to the ATM and draw some money out like normal people do.

On the hot rod front I got the tech sheet and order form from Jongbloed wheels to order a set of custom 17″ diameter wheels with (possibly) different offsets/backspacing front and rear. The rears on the minivan hubs really should be more backspacing/positive offset, while the front hubs are made for less backspacing/negative offset. At 1500 pounds will it make a difference in bearing life? Probably not. Will I buy from this provider? At $3k for a set of 4 custom width and offset wheels it is a distinct possibility, especially since they are about the lightest 17″ diameter wheels to fit my hubs available. Will they look funny on the mid-Bucket? Maybe And then again maybe not.

Well, it’s late and I really need to finish this up.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Happy SAD

For those not up on the current jive SAD is Singles Awareness Day, AKA National Condom Day, AKA Valentine’s Day and a bunch of other stuff. I chose this particular headline because it is a contradiction when read as the words they appear to be, but not in their literal meaning. I mean “Happy NCD” has meaning but no ironic subtext like “Happy SAD”.

Also a reminder that there are many suicides today by people who think they will never be in a relationship and a lot of these are single-vehicle “accidents” that sometimes involve innocent bystanders like pedestrians or cyclists. So stay alert out there especially between 2300 and 0100 tonight, that is peak time for Singles Awareness Day suicides.

Since I’m temporarily stalled on the 1:1 hot rod I have been doing some minor piddling around with the Mini Sprint-T, specifically the wheels. As delivered the Wide 5 wheels were way too wide for the street tires but too narrow for the race rubber. I have engineered fixes for both those problems but I only have the tools to fix one of them. As delivered the back half of the rim is almost exactly the right width, but the front side is way too wide. Since I still don’t have that lathe I’m going low tech, wet or dry sandpaper and an old mirror to get a flat surface to sand off the outside of the rim to the right width. Just as a reminder the W5 wheels I got from the vendor were for a 10″ wide (bead-to-bead) scale wheel while the street version uses an 8″ wheel and the race version uses a 14″ wheel. Also don’t forget there are 1″ wide bead flanges on each side of the wheel so the overall scale width is not the spec width*scale but the flange width*scale. Basically I need to take 0.08″ off the outside half of the wheel for the street wheel. The scale race wheel will be made with a vacuum forming machine that I’m building from the stack of broken toasters that have 2 settings: off and charcoaled bread, and the centers from the outer halves of the wheels that will be sanded down to glue inside the vacuum formed outers. The only thing I haven’t figured out yet is how to form the flange on the outer street wheel so the tire doesn’t fall off the rim before the glue dries.

I know this is early but I want that travel warning to hit as many people as possible so they don’t get hit later tonight.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

Bye-Bye Money

Today was a fun (not fun) day. After making sure we had money in the bank to cover the checks I went and paid all our property taxes today. Almost $3K flushed down the government sewer. All I can say is all that BS does a wonderful job of making the grass grow. I’m mostly upset because that was a large chunk of change, not for what happened to it. As someone pointed out from before I was born, taxes buy an important thing, they buy civilization. Without taxes we have no government, without government we have no laws, no streets, no water systems, no sewers, no public education, NO CIVILIZATION! So, yeah I like paying taxes, I just don’t like paying so much in taxes.

Naturally I had to do a lot of walking as it was about a mile between all the offices and while there was a bus it only ran once an hour, so it was tons faster to walk. Inhale. After spending close to two hours doing the tax thing (including walking between offices) I grabbed a bus to get the latest issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and since it was after 1500 and the next bus wasn’t until 1551, I grabbed a bite at the burger place on the corner. Inhale. Also between paying taxes and heading home I picked up some high-point check-ins on my game.

On the hot rod front I found there was an LS series engine built for transverse FWD cars, the LS4, and a special automatic transaxle to go with it. It was installed in the GM W-body cars in the early 2ks and made famous as the “You get a car!” car on Oprah. Anywho the LS4 is slightly shorter than the standard LS V8 and puts out just over 300 HP in stock, new form. Thing is that because it’s an LS engine there are tons of GM and aftermarket performance parts to pump up the power until the transmission turns to shrapnel in a few seconds/feet. Using this combination results in a power unit that weighs right at 700 pounds, or slightly lighter than the 350/350 standard for T-Buckets, by about 10 pounds. Most of that is because of the aluminum heads and block of the LS compared to the cast iron block and heads on the SBC 350, because that 4T65E transaxle weighs more than the TurboHydromatic 350 by 94 pounds. But the final car would still be even lighter than the 350/350 Bucket because like with the minivan powered bucket there is no 120 pound rear axle, or driveshaft. So maybe 1600 pounds or a touch less for the LS4/4T65E bucket, basically 100 pounds less than the SBC 350/350 bucket. And I could get the same HP out of the 3.6L DOHC V6 Mopar engine that weighs more than 100 pounds less. Less low-end torque, but that’s why the 62TE transmission has a 4.1 1st gear and the 4T65E transmission has a 2.61 1st.

And It’s time for me to go to bed now. I have a busy day coming tomorrow.

Billed@€0.02, Opus the Unkillable