I have Moose Trax on my shirt

Just opened a container of ice cream and within a few spoonsful I managed to drip it on my shirt. What, you think I would let a moose walk on me? Where would I find one? Anyway, the ice cream was very chocolate I mean good.

I’m still refining the design for the Mid-Bucket. Now that I have decided to use the rack out of the minivan I need a place to mount it where it won’t interfere with the suspension but still line up with the steering wheel, and if the mount could do a couple more things like hold the radiator, hold the shocks and springs, and keep the body panels straight… that would be one busy steering rack bracket. Well mission accomplished. The crossmember that holds the steering rack will be integrated into the spring mount and body mounts, for a more rigid structure and better handling. And less weight.

The crossmember sits in front of the front axle leaving enough room for the axle to move up and down with the steering rack suspended above the axle and the drag link going between the axle and the tie rod. A nice compact arrangement, that gets as much of the moving parts of the suspension away from things like gas tanks and body panels and leaves as much room as possible. The radiator mounts to the front of the crossmember and the cooling fans behind the radiator will be protected by the crossmember from the axle. The bellypan will go all the way forward to a splitter, with air going above the splitter ducted to the radiator and what goes below to the rear diffuser to make rear downforce. The splitter will be as wide as the wheel angle at full lock will clear with the side strakes from the splitter blending into the running boards and rear fenders for more downforce over the whole car. This will also clean up the airflow down the sides of the body and give highway gas mileage a tiny boost.

I think I mentioned how finding a 16 X 12 wheel in a 5 X 4.5″ bolt circle was driving me slightly crazy? I’m giving up on maximum grip in favor of sanity. The one (1) wheel I have found in that size and bolt circle is a heavy steel wheel meant for modern-day lead sleds. That leaves me with the 15 X 4 front and 15 X 10 rear option with a rear anti-roll bar for balance between the skinny front and massively wide rears.

And other things are calling me away from the keyboard, so it’s time for Nighty-Knight the dream warrior to take the stage. And if you get that reference you are really weird, and you should give yourself a pat on the back.

Opus the Unkillable

About that post Sunday

What more can I say except that alcohol, diphenhydramine, and exhaustion are a bad mix every time? I took the allergy pill about 3 hours before I started typing, went for a 2.6 mile walk, then had a beer when I got home. Then I sat down to post what profound thoughts had come to me on my walk when the world started tilting and the keys on the keyboard started moving around. I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was piling the beer on top of the mild dehydration I had following the walk. That made me more susceptible to synergy from the allergy pill, the alcohol, and maybe my antidepressant.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about Sunday was thoughts about getting the rest of the car skinned out as cheaply as possible. I can form this material about as easily as I can sheet metal and have it hold that shape after forming. The trick is to heat it before forming then holding it where you want it until it cools. I don’t even have to paint it because it comes in colors that are all the way through the material. I can use heat from a heat gun to weld it to make parts that are bigger than the 22″ wide rolls it comes in. I can use that same heat gun at a lower setting to form the material around a buck to make body panels. In fact that is the intended use as sold for this product, body panels for race cars. Add in the fact that this stuff is about half the weight of aluminum and that all of the body panels on my car are non-structural and I think I have found the perfect material for my hot rod.

There is a downside to this, the material shows scuffs and scratches and is easy to scuff and scratch. That means I will have to replace the plastic panels more frequently than if they were painted metal. But even that downside has an up side. I don’t have to replace the damaged panels with exact duplicates, I can change them to change the styling of the car. Or just the color if that’s what floats my boat. And I can also change the rear aerodynamics at a whim.

That last sentence is also one of the things I have been thinking about to reduce the inherent oversteer of this car. Understeer to neutral is what is desired for highway driving, and planting the rear end with aerodynamics is a good way of getting that. I have also been thinking about a “billboard” rear spoiler to create downforce and pull hot air out of the engine compartment. The way that would work is the rear fenders would sweep up from the running boards to a 45° angle that will be continued in a full-width rear spoiler across the engine compartment with screening keeping debris out of the engine and transmission as the low pressure area behind the spoiler sucks air from in front of the fenders through the engine compartment and out the back. I’m still working on that one so the rear fenders are subject to change.

Something else that the plastic could be used for is making a roof hatch to keep the rain off. Run the windshield to the same height as the roll cage and leave a strip across the top that I can pop-rivet the plastic to. Run the plastic over the cage and use Velcro or similar to hold the back of the roof down against the roll cage. Voila! Sun and rain protection. And it would keep the bird poop out of the interior. 😀

And things are getting late around here and I have things I would like to do on the computer that don’t involve using the keyboard.

Opus the Unkillable

What does it mean?

I just got back from my walk and I have been thinking again. I have been thinking about lots of things, but because of my allergie pills I’m having a har time outtung two sengtences down and having thm make senxe to me I have to write but I don’t have anything to write vout yet plus I’m unsteady in my chair, as in about to fall out of it. So before I faceplant in my keybosrd agian I’m going to bed.

It’s ‘Dega baby!

Just finished watching the Xfinity race from Talladega. There were lots of wrecks but not while I was watching. I kept coming back to the aftermaths instead of the actual wrecks. I don’t like wrecks, I hate seeing good race cars torn up, I’m also not very happy about seeing crappy race cars torn up. I mean sure I am less unhappy about crappy cars getting torn up, but at the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup levels there really are no “crappy” cars, just “less perfect” cars that could run just as fast with a few adjustments. Part of that is rules, part is the teams are just that good.

Watching the Xfinity and Cup Series is part of my inspiration for both the Sprint-T and the Mid-Bucket. Also I watch YouTube videos of Goodguys Autocrosses from recent years and SCCA Solo events that have Modified category cars for when I run slicks. Speaking of slicks, I just can’t find 16 X 12 wheels in my bolt circle at a reasonable price, so that means the 6″ Formula Vee rears on the front on the 4″ wide wheels, and the 12″ wide tires on 10″ wheels on the back.

And now the ARCA cars are about to run (on the tube at least, I don’t know if this is live or tape-delayed) and in about an hour is the IMSA race from COTA outside Austin. So then I start flipping back and forth. And I won’t have the split attention that will let me write and watch 2 races at the same time so I’ll go ahead and end this post.

Dangit, that won’t work!

Remember when I was writing about lightening the power steering rack and pinion out of the minivan to take more weight out of the car? Well it turns out if I do that I won’t have power steering any more. Allow me to present a couple of images I found when trying to find dimensions of the rack.

The power servo is part of the rack instead of on the input shaft like on a PS box.

And this one off an actual 1996 Chrysler minivan.

Not much room to be cutting stuff off on that one!

So, minor change of plans. Since the hydraulic servo is part of the rack and there isn’t enough room to remove anything without destroying the servo, I’ll just be removing whatever still sticks out of the right side of the rack at full right lock (rack all the way to the left, turning the wheels to the right) and then sealing the end of the rack like before. The drag link will go on the left side of the rack so the axle will have less side-to-side motion as it travels. I mean sure I could run the drag link off the right side but that would require a very short drag link, which in turn would require a very short panhard rod to prevent bump steer from the steering. But this would then cause another form of bump steer as the short panhard rod moved the axle side to side on the 4 bar links. There are just so many sources of bump steer that the best you can do is eliminate the worst and minimize the rest of them as best you can. And in this case the biggest can be eliminated by making the panhard rod the same length and angle to the axle as the drag link, with most of the rest minimized by making the panhard rod (and thereby the drag link) as long as possible and as close to level as possible. And yes after considering the clearances involved the drag link is going top of the stack on the steering arm. That way I don’t need to worry about the tie-rod hitting anything like the gas tank or the steering rack.

And that cerveza? Bien. Even without the lime.

Opus the Unkillable

Reduce, reuse, recycle… your food

I’m dead sure the more squeamish among you just had shudders of nausea at the thought of applying any of the 3 “R”s to food, but I have discovered a way of getting healthy salty snacks cheap. There is a method to my madness.

A pickle jar. But those aren't Polish spears.

You might notice that this jar of “Polish dill Spears” looks a little too orange for Polish dills. That’s because I reused the pickle juice to make more “pickles” by draining a can of sliced carrots and dumping the drained slices into the jar.

Look at those tangy, healthy goodies!

I have been eating these for a few days now after leaving them to marinate for a week. Now instead of having pretzels or tortilla chips when I crave a salty snack I stab a few slices of pickled carrots. Salty cravings satisfied, healthy snack eaten and money saved, all in one operation.

I used a can of carrots from the pantry that had been sitting around “for an emergency” about a year. I think they cost from $0.50 to $0.60, anyway cheap. The pickle spears had likewise been around a while before I finished them off and put the jar pack in the fridge to save the pickle juice. Mrs. the Poet and I had been discussing low calorie options for my salty snacks to alleviate leg cramps. Mrs. the Poet is a good cook but she tends to under-salt the food. I prefer this to over-salting, but it does cause me to sometimes need to eat something very salty to keep from getting cramps. The “recipe” is super simple. The lazy way is to buy a big jar of pickles and save the juice after you finish eating them, then drain and dump a small can of sliced carrots and allow to sit. The slightly more ambitious way is to buy a big jar of pickles and drain them into a separate container that contains the can of drained sliced carrots. I’m doing the lazy way first because that’s the way it worked out. I had the jar of pickles I finished and so on.

But are they any good? Well I think the quality of the pickled carrots is highly dependant on the quality of the pickle juice, and Vlasic is pretty good stuff. The texture of the carrots is basically what came out of the can, so you might want to try different brands of carrots to see which one works better. I think that all in all we can count this experiment a success that should be expanded upon.

Now if you will excuse me there is una cerveza with my name on it. Really the guy at this party knows I will probably be late so he put my name on one of the bottles so I will at least get one beer.

Opus the Unkillable

May the Fourth be with you! Happy Star Wars Day

And a belated happy Beltain as well. There is a bawdy couplet that is both inappropriate and inaccurate for TX to mark Beltain: “Hurrah, hurrah the First of May! Outdoor (fornication) begins today!” There’s a different word that goes inside the parentheses, as even married couples can take part in this activity. And we’ve been doing it outdoors (or could if we wanted to) since the middle of February around here. Twenty-first century TX is much warmer this time of year than England in the Dark Ages. But once it got warmed up outdoor sexual activity was much easier to hide what with it being dark all the time. [ba-dum tssshh]

Also with today being Star Wars Day, that makes tomorrow national Get Drunk on Mexican Beer And Mangle Spanish Day, AKA Cinco de Mayo. I suppose we could add Insult the French Military to that as what is being celebrated was the defeat of the French by the Mexican Army. Thus beginning the poor reputation of the French in the US.

And I have a bunch of things I need to take care of, so I’ll see you later.

Opus the Unkillable

Thinking about ways to save money and weight (but mostly money)

I have been thinking again (dangerous), and I was thinking that if I can get enough throw (movement from side to side) out of the steering rack on the minivan I can save a tiny bit of weight and a lot of money over buying the Vega-replacement power steering box. One thing for certain, the rack out of the minivan will be 100% compatible with the power steering pump from the same vehicle, which then would also be one less thing to buy, and fit to the engine.

I could also use a single gas tank instead of putting one on each side of the steering box which would also save money over buying two smaller tanks. Now mounting the rack would get tricky, but that would mostly be a bracket problem to be solved at installation. There is also the problem that to clear the gas tank the rack would have to be mounted much higher than the axle centerline and that even running the drag link in the top position the bracket on the rack to the drag link would have to hang down quite a bit to line up for no bump steer. Again not a major problem, or even a real problem, just a detail.

And I have been in the habit of throwing my loose change on my desk when I get home from shopping then using the silver for bus fare and the like. But because nobody likes it when you pay for things with pennies they have been accumulating and falling down when I’m typing vigorously (aka beating up my computer) like I did in the previous paragraph. Well it has been getting annoying lately so I stopped and counted them into my backpack for taking to the change machine at the store. All 170 of them are now off my desk and in my backpack for when I take my walk this evening. I left a couple for doing exact change at the store sometimes, but most of them are in the backpack.

Back off the penny tangent, mounting the rack high will let me make the car more survivable in a head-on wreck. I can run the steering shaft on the left side of the car but the steering wheel in the center and put a big bend in the shaft with a u-joint so that in a wreck the steering shaft goes off to the left instead of straight back into the driver (me). This is a good thing because AFAIK I’m not immune to death by impalement. Also I can get the steering wheel at the height I want it instead of where the input shaft from the rack points more or less. One thing for sure I know from moving the donor vehicle from one place to another while camping there will be enough assist for the steering quickener. 😈

There will be some modifications required to make the rack work with a drag link most of which involve cutting bits off the rack that don’t connect to anything, thus making the rack even lighter.😈 It will require placing the rack in a hard left turn and then cutting the housing and rack off then welding the end back on the housing to use as a mount, only shorter. There will be careful measurements involved before assaulting the rack and housing with an angle grinder and cutoff wheels, but cutoff wheels and maniacal laughter will be involved, along with smoke and sparks and bits of flaming metal. That might make a good YouTube video… The idea is to cut everything off the right side of the rack and housing to the right of the teeth of the rack, aka useless dead weight. That’s because on the donor vehicle the steering wheel is on the left and there’s extra added to the right to make it reach all the way across. And because my car will be center steer I don’t need all that extra junk.

And it is about time for me to take my walk and convert my pennies to something easily spendable.

I went to the lab rat keeper and now I have a headache

I think the headache is because Mrs. the Poet has really bad allergies this year and couldn’t breathe last night. She was making these awful noises like she was dying and I couldn’t sleep until about 0600 and then the alarm went off at 0715. I mean it is really hard to sleep when your wife sounds like she’s dying next to you even when you know it’s just allergies making her head stopped up.

Remember when I wrote how nice it was to have the actual parts in hand to mock up an assembly? Well this time I remembered to take pictures (actually only one).
See how the upper bar of the 4-bar will fit between the drag link (left) and the tie-rod (right)?

I have the bracket centered on the spindle approximating the caster angle of the axle and you can see how the tie-rod is just above where the upper bar goes? That’s because at that point the upper bar moves less than 1mm between full droop and full bump so it doesn’t have to clear by much to clear all the time, and the tie-rod likewise doesn’t move much during its travel left to right, and is closest to the bar at straight ahead. So the closest the two will come is at full bump and straight ahead. And there are enough shims in the kit to keep the tie-rod high enough to never touch that upper bar.

And the drag link? It will ride roughly parallel to the axle right behind the axle centerline never getting anywhere near anything except the pitman arm and the passenger side steering arm that it is attached to. And if I really want to get crazy I can put everything up top and nothing will ever run into anything except maybe some cones. As little as the front end of this car will weigh I don’t think there will be enough flex for anyone to notice.

And that lack of sleep has caught up with me as I’m having problems with seeing what I typed on the screen (and I probably need new glasses).

So Knighty-night.

It’s hard to tell sometimes where inspiration will strike

This is an extreme example of bigs and littles, but I think I’m going to steal the name anyway.
Thunderbolt Grease Slapper, note the difference in size between the front and rear tires.

There are some major differences, first and foremost being that my car is real and not a pen-and-ink animation from the 1960s. Another major difference is the OG TGS was front-engine and mine is mid-engine. Then there was the matter of kind of racing. Tom’s day he raced the TGS in everything from drag races to rallies to balloon races (yes really, with oars no less). You can do that when your car only exists as a series of drawings and xerox copies. Mine is a bit more specialized for a single competition as an autocrosser/Solo Racer (same racing just different tire rules). I mean besides actually existing IRL, I’ll have to change wheels, tires, shocks, and springs and maybe an anti-roll bar to go from one competition to the other. This is actually much less involved than it sounds because I’m designing for making the change as easy as possible.

But the official name of the Mid-Bucket as put on the entry forms is Thunderbolt Grease Slapper 2. Or maybe 2000? Nope just 2, not even going to get fancy with II.

All of this is because I spent hours trying to find 16 X 12 rear wheels for the 5 X 4½ bolt circle on my car. I decided to look at pictures of cars to relax a bit while still staying on-point, and Tom Slick came up somehow. The images brought back pleasant memories from childhood, which I’m now going to destroy with new memories from adulthood… 😈

I have to go take my walk now and think some more.

Opus the Unkillable