Category Archives: Department of DIY

I can’t win

I have spent all day trying to get the new computer to connect with the WiFi, and so far no success. It finds the routers in the area, but just doesn’t connect when I enter the security key. At this point my only option is going back to the store and seeing what their techs can do.

In other news Clint has been sitting next to my chair pretty much all day. The box with the new AC is right in the flow from the fan from the old AC, which will be gone soon as I recover from taking it off the top shelf by myself last month. And TBH I have to make room for the old one to come out and be able to get the new one in which is going to be a battle with all the stuff that just got thrown in the room when my office was thrown out of the bedroom.

It’s about bedtime here, the cat is howling to be let out, and I have to get up early to take the computer back to the store. Also I need to hook it back up to the charger so it will run when I take it to the store


Still thinking about the steering on the Sprint-T

I have been told that thinking is a bad thing for me to do, and bad things come from it. But someone sent me a link to a rack and pinion steering system that was supposed to replace a Vega steering box and I got started thinking, did it really? From the initial blurb it certainly fit in place of a Vega box, but did it function like a Vega box?

Note to Siouxy, this can be used for advanced adult education in math.

First to get apples to apples we needed to get common units to determine functionality. The Vega box is spec’ed in box ratio and turns lock-to-lock, the rack and pinion is spec’ed in turns lock to lock and throw. So we have to figure out the throw of the Vega box, which boils down to the chord of the arc swept by the Pittman arm going from lock to lock. But first we have to “cipher” the angle of that arc, or convert ratio and turns lock to lock into the angle swept by the steering arm.

The Vega box has a ratio of 20:1 or 20 turns of the input shaft equal one turn of the steering output shaft, and 5 turns lock to lock for the input shaft. Reducing the fraction gives us 1:4 or the steering output shaft has turned ¼ of the way around, or 90°.

The formula for the length of a chord when you know the angle it sweeps is 2(sin(½Θ)*r) or in English 2 times the quantity the sine of half the angle times the radius of the circle. In this example we already knew the radius of the circle as the center to center distance of the Pittman arm, is 6.25″, and the angle as 90°, so half the angle is 45° and the sine of 45° I know as 0.707 from our friend Pythagoras and his theorem as 1/√2. So throwing all the numbers and functions together in the right order and rounding to the most significant digit we get a throw of 8.84″ for the Vega box and the Pittman arm that comes in the kit.

So now we have common units with which to compare the rack and pinion to the Vega box it’s supposed to replace. From the web page we know 3.75 turns lock-to-lock and total stroke of 5.25”. Right away we can see that while there aren’t as many turns lock to lock, it doesn’t move the front wheels as far as the Vega box, and comparing the throws and the turns lock to lock as a ratio we find the Vega box is 26% quicker than the rack and pinion in a head to head apples to apples contest, and gets 68% more steering angle at full lock. Now which one wins depends on what your criteria for the system in the car are, but for the Sprint-T application where the idea is to get the wheels changing direction as quickly as possible so the car can go fast on a slalom or get around a single pylon turn as quickly as possible having a greater steering angle at the wheels is better. Corollary to that is getting to that angle faster is also better. Conclusion : I’m not buying the rack and pinion kit, even if it was cheaper instead of about $80 more. I get more steering angle quicker for less money, and adding the steering quickener and the electric power steering assist just builds on that.

Laptop is back up and connected

It’s working but I don’t know for how long it will stay working. I did the usual computer troubleshooting routine, modified because a Chromebook won’t boot without an internet connection and no internet connection was the problem. Anyway I knew that the WiFi was working because multiple devices were connected to it, so I went to wireless mode and got a good clean reboot. Connection diagnostics came back all green so I plugged the Ethernet back in to get in highspeed mode so I could get some actual work done.

There are still bits and pieces falling off, so I really need to get $$ for a new laptop. I’m torn between another Chromebook or one of the cheap Windows laptops, mainly because it is hard to find a Chromebook with actual storage, and because Windows still has a “virus/trojan of the day” problem. But the price difference from the last time I had to buy a laptop is gone. So, I could buy a Windows unit with adequate storage and wipe Windows for Ubuntu, and probably pick up a performance boost when I’m not using the internet. And still be cheaper than a Chromebook with similar storage, because Chromebooks with hard drives sell at a premium compared to the 16GB SSD units. So, this gives me a few weeks to raise cash for a new laptop (because desktops tend to be gaming units that are ridiculously overpowered for surfing the web and writing blog posts and short stories and have price tags that match their power.

And now I need to take care of the e-mails I couldn’t read on the phone and do more research on laptops suitable for my needs. This will not be a quick process.

There was more money than I expected in my account

Well we have established that the payment is deposited first/last of the month. And there was more money in my account than I expected. I was expecting about $54 after the overdraft from the charges for the checks but there was $100 even. Did not expect that.

The GM says we are going after the Toxic Shaman that created the local population of KillDeer we just tried to wipe out in tomorrow’s game session. As long as he/she remains alive the carnivorous KillDeer are going to reproduce, and also be created from the local whitetail population. Obviously we can’t allow this to continue, But Toxic Shamans are outside of what we loaded out for, we came for venison for the Bar-b-que later in the month to balance out the feral hogs my character has been hunting for bounty and meat. Now we are going to go up against a major ecological disaster in the making and the person responsible for it. This sounds like it will be a fun session.

Now I need to go to the local C-store and get a lottery ticket. The jackpot is $14.5 million, which means I get about $125K after taxes and Mrs. the Poet will get about a quarter million after taxes with our agreed-on division of the funds. I wanted to give her more, but the 2/3 to her was as much as she would take. And I will have more than enough to live on and buy toys with, so I’m set even if taxes go way up. We will probably leave the winnings pooled for the first year or two to take care of things we both need to take care of, like knocking the house down and rebuilding it with decent plumbing and a solar roof and solar water heater, but after that we will do the 1/3 to me, 2/3 to her.

I’ll check the account balance on Saturday

As I said I’m feeling lazy, and I really don’t have anything specific to buy right now except some comic books that have been put on extended hold until I can come in again. I will be going to the store that has the ATM I’m going to use on Saturday and I have money for bus fare to use until the 15th if I don’t have any in the checking account to use on my GoPass app.

I’m saving up for this to use to steer the Sprint-T. The pitman arm in the kit is longer than the steering arm on the spindle meaning I get slightly more than 90° of steering from lock to lock reducing the steering ratio to 18.8:1 without using a quickener. If I build the quickener I want (5:1) I’m looking at 3.76:1 total ratio from steering wheel to front wheels. This will definitely require power assist and the only add-on assist made right now is electric. I want to put the sensor on the steering wheel side of the quickener and the motor on the output side of the quickener so the load on the motor is reduced. The effect will be the same, but the possibility of overloading the motor is reduced by the same ratio as the quickener.

And now I feel really old because the tech on the electric power steering vendor saw my request for information and called back immediately, and he had no idea that Vegas didn’t have rack and pinion steering, and likewise did not know what a recirculating ball steering box was. Anyway, we discussed the technology and it was his professional opinion that the power assist should be fitted on the steering wheel side of the quickener to prevent lag from the motor not reacting as quickly as I could force it through the quickener especially with the high ratio in my quickener box. The motor would not overheat from trying to work against a very high resistance and was designed to be capable of extended periods of working against stall, so the only question was could my steering quickener hold up to both my muscles and the electric motor working against the stall of trying to turn past the limit locks of the Vega box. Given that the components I’m using to connect the steering wheel to the steering box can withstand 4 times my weight applied to the steering wheel, I think at this point wear is a greater concern than ultimate strength, and I have accounted for that by putting the chain and sprockets in a sealed oil bath.

And since I have things I need to do before midnight tonight, this seems like a good place to quit for today,

Deposited checks for Mrs. the Poet and basically transferred fluids through my body to my skin

It was warm again out on the road today, and Mrs. the Poet did not want to go out in the heat to deposit checks from NY at the credit union, so I went instead, and basically melted in the sun. I also got a massage, then sweated some more. My legs feel great now, we will see how long that lasts.

The evolution of the Sprint-T, by the pound: original kit car with 350/350 engine and transmission and iron and steel 9″ Ford, 1700 pounds with 8 gallons of gas and no driver. First iteration of the space frame with same powertrain 1650 pounds. Second iteration of the frame with SCCA legal roll hoops, back to 1700 pounds. Fourth iteration of the frame with improved bracing for better stiffness, 1725 pounds. Sixth iteration with redundant bits removed, back to 1700. Changing from the 9″ to a quick-change rear with magnesium center and bells and aluminum tubes, 1675. changing from the 350/350 to the Pentastar V6 and OEM 8-speed automatic, 1450, going to the T5 transmission gets to 1375. Changing to the Subaru EJ257 and the T5 and adding a 1 gallon tank for E85 on race day with a storage tank in the tire trailer for holding the low-octane transit gas while the car is racing reduces the race weight to 1285 without driver. Add my 225 in race gear and helmet and we are looking at a 1510 pound combination with 300-325 HP depending on if we get the turbo from the wagon, or from the WRX-STI, and how we tune the cam timing VVT. This is still 5% better power to weight than the most powerful Corvette engine in the lightest Corvette, without a driver or gas in the tank.

And the weather report says it hit 103°F while I was out and about and waiting for the bus.

[$DEITY] it’s hot

The heat here in the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell has been, well like Hell. As I compose this the local dry bulb temperature is 108°F (42°C), but the air is so dry that the wet bulb is only 110F. The best the poor AC units can do is pull the inside of the house down to 90°F. Other good news, Clint finally made it home, safe and noisy. He has been elsewhere pretty much as long as the Internet was out. He wasn’t eating going by how hard he hit the food dish, but he found water someplace because he’s not exhibiting any signs of heat injury, and also not attacking his water. But he does like to sit in the direct blast from the AC unit so proving he’s no dummy.

One of the things I’m doing to beat the heat has reminded me of another way of removing water from alcohol called cryo distillation. How I was reminded is I bought store brand frozen pops, the kind that comes in the clear plastic tubes you put in the freezer until they freeze solid like the brand name Otter Pops. One of the methods of cryo distilling is to put the mixed liquid in long, thin tubes with a spigot at the bottom to drain off the desired fluid after freezing out most of the water, which is kinda what you get when you freeze the pops vertically. Most of the sugar syrup and flavor ends up at the bottom of the tube, but you get a nice air space at the top to cut open the tube without spilling anything. This was one of the ways they used to make an apple liqueur known as Apple Jack. And yes, that’s where they got the name for the cereal. Legend has it the first apple jack was made when a keg of hard cider was left on the porch during a hard freeze and split the keg, leaving a center of concentrated alcohol and flavor near the bottom of the keg. Apple cider had been heat distilled before to make apple brandy, but that’s a distinctly different beverage than apple jack which retains much more of the original fruit flavor than apple brandy, or so I’m told as I have never sampled either one. But if you wanna make your own now you know how, and PVC pipe and fixtures are not that expensive if you live on a place where extended periods of sub-freezing weather are common. If you don’t, you can dedicate an upright freezer to the cause and go small scale.

I mentioned I had determined a new way to mount the body for the version of the wide frame that did not have rails just for mounting the body, and it’s lighter (by a bit) than using the rails welded to the top of the floor. Basically it takes the filler between the main rails and the body intended to keep water out of the interior and makes it structural by replacing the tube with a shaped sheer web, and drilling the holes for the mounting bolts and welding nuts to the filler piece instead of the second frame rail. This eliminates 3 of the 4 walls of the rail to save weight at no loss in rigidity for the final structure, but it will be kinda floppy until all the edges are at least tack welded together. This cavity would be a prime place to get a dose of Boshield tube protectant to prevent rusting out. And the joint between the frame and the body will get a shot of bed liner spray to seal it from the inside and prevent road spray from collecting in the floor. Actually I’m thinking about masking off the part that goes outside the body before mounting the body and putting the body on while the spray is still wet to seal the bolts from allowing water inside.

And I’m starting to get hungry and dinner won’t cook itself like it does when Mrs. the Poet is here 😇.

It was suggested I should keep the Subie transmission

And the AWD drivetrain that comes with it. And as with anything else with this car, this would solve a few problems while creating a bunch more.

The main problem solved would be getting a transmission on the back of the engine that connects to the rear axle. The first problem this creates is added weight, the Subie transmission is about 50 pounds more than the T5. Second is width, the Subie transmission has the FWD drive spuds hanging off the side behind the bellhousing that extend beyond the width of the bellhousing, which restricts how far the engine can be offset if I stay with the RWD. Or if I decide to use the full capabilities of the transmission I can’t offset at all because of using the FWD portion of the system requires centering the transmission between the front wheels. Basically if I do that everything that can be moved to the right side of the car gets moved to try to get the car balanced left to right.

Now the reason I was thinking about this is the starter for a Subie mounts to the bellhousing, not to the engine. This makes making a bellhousing to use a different transmission a problem as the starter is designed to mate to a machined surface of a casting or forging. This is outside my abilities as a fabricator, because making a casting requires making an oversize pattern first to make the mold, and everything has to be just slightly bigger than the actual part because of shrinkage when the metal cools from liquid to solid, and I lack the skills to do that. Make the pattern, that is, to the required degree of precision. I know where to find the shrinkage rate and how to calculate how much larger to make the pattern, that’s just brain work, but converting those measurements to wooden patterns, that’s woodworking, something I have only been so-so at. I did OK at birdhouses and whirligigs in middle school shop class, but anything more complex just turned to garbage. On the other hand I can pull a mold off the original bellhousing and use that to hydroform an adapter housing except for the stupid starter mount. Hydroforming is easy-peasy compared to doing a casting. I take the OE bellhousing and cut it off at the right depth for the input shaft to mate to the pilot bushing in the crank then weld or glue a plate or board to make it solid across the back, and then bolt the housing to a piece of flat plywood about 5 inches taller and wider than the housing and add more plywood to make a box with an open top and the housing as the bottom. The bottom board and housing is sprayed with a mold release agent called form oil. Then a single layer of hardware cloth gets formed loosely around the housing so that it surrounds but doesn’t touch the housing and sits evenly against the bottom board. After that a thin mix of cement and sand is poured in until the mold is filled completely and allowed to set. Now if I was doing a mass production run I would then carve the concrete mold out by the thickness of my production mold material, and use that to form the production mold which would then get stiffeners welded to it so it would hold shape while turning out countless production parts. But for this project I would just make one or two out of the concrete mold and toss the concrete mold.

But because the starter has to mount to a machined surface precisely aligned to the engine I can’t make my own housing that way. So at this point it looks like modifying the OE bellhousing is my best bet.

And I got wrapped up in answering e-mails instead of finishing this post before midnight, so I’m wrapping it here and going to bed.

Another wild idea about the Sprint-T

I was looking at the shifter location on the T5 transmission and I was thinking I would have to use the furthest aft shifter mount and extend the handle back and to the left by about a foot to be able to reach top gear at the far top right of the shift pattern. Then I started thinking that mounting the engine further back would help, but that I would need to cut the body for clearance. Then I let my imagination go wild and tried to imagine the entire engine mounted behind the original firewall and sticking out the side of the cowl on the right, moving everything 28″ to the rear from the ahead-of-the-firewall position. This position would allow installing the shifter in the middle mounting point as far as fore-and-aft positioning, and only slightly longer than the Camaro/Mustang short shifter to reach 5th gear because of the radical engine offset.

Now the body modification needed to get that much rear mounting are pretty severe what with the right side cylinder head sticking out about 2″ from the passenger side door. I know I had posted a much further extension in a previous post but my calculations used an erroneous premise that doubled the offset for right side measurements and subtracted double the offset for left side. That was a mistake. The correct way is to add on the right side and subtract on the left side only once. But be that as it may, the body will basically be cut away from the left side of the firewall to the base of the windshield and level across the base to the right side and about 20″ behind the original firewall to clear the cylinder and exhaust pipe. The parts of the intake system that stick up higher than 20″ are basically the intercooler and ducting that guides the outside air into it, so following the upper flange of the body at 22″ will clear all the intake runners. As far as the internal sheetmetal is concerned there would be a shelf above the bellhousing that would give footroom for the driver while leaving room for the intake plumbing. The offset leaves over 8″ of foot room on the left of the engine behind the cowl pinch and almost 5″ ahead of the pinch. That leaves room to get to the master cylinders for fluid checks and fills, which also applies to the car with all of the engine ahead of the firewall.

On that, seriously the engine offset with the Subaru leaves a ton of room between the engine and the body for access to the master cylinders no matter which place I put the engine. With the huge space behind the engine because of the intake plumbing combined with the offset there is an acre of empty real estate between the firewall and the left side of the engine block and head for master cylinders. This is great, I love it when packaging problems solve themselves.

All said and done, I think I would go with the option of mounting the entire engine in front of the as-molded firewall on the body and work with the long shifter handle rather than cut up the body and fabricate a ton of interior sheetmetal, because the engine is so light it doesn’t put much weight on the nose of the car and also because the large offset leaves room for the master cylinders. Now all I need to do is win the lottery so I have the $$ to buy an engine and transmission to install.