Taking a break, sorta

Today was kind of a recovery day for me after running around yesterday on empty with my second fasting blood draw day in a row. I was not thinking well when I got home as I wasn’t able to get much coherent on the blog edit page. Almost all of yesterday’s post was deleted after I tried to read it, “tried” being the operative word here. The post made absolutely no sense whatsoever, and had tons of typos.

Today I tried to get caught up on web comics and e-mail and everything. There were a few new tweets that I didn’t feel like responding to, and some web comics I hadn’t had a chance to read. I have been watching engine overhaul videos as inspiration for the TGS2 engine build. One thing I have to be extra careful about since I’m going to E85 and jacking the compression sky high is getting the piston ring gap right because combining E85 and high compression will result in high combustion temperatures and would close up the gap and destroy the pistons if the gap was too tight, or burn massive amounts of oil if I get it too big.

And I’m stopping this because I need to go to bed now and I’m having to delete too much for typos and just not making sense any more. I really need to get caught up on my sleep and do something about my back.


Super tired right now

This was day 2 of fasting blood draws for the new trial I’m in with a 25 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor between the draws. That means I went almost 20 hours with nothing but water and a torture device squeezing my arm every 15 minutes. And when I say torture device I mean that because of stress and pain from my back my BP was about 170/100, and the amount of pressure needed to get those readings was very painful. In fact I have a large bruise on my arm from the pressure, but interestingly it’s not where the measuring cuff was placed but right below the edge of the cuff on the inside of my elbow.

Something else interesting is I was looking at a bad cylinder head the other day when I got an image that showed a spark plug with 5 or 6 exposed threads sticking up in the combustion chamber and the tip extending past the surface of the head.

Good cylinder head

This one has the plug tip just slightly below the surface of the head and no exposed threads on the spark plug. I would need to angle mill a small amount from this head to get the combustion chamber CCs right but I should just be able to get a slightly cooler heat range for the plug to make it work on E85. I spent a lot of time thinking about that last night to distract myself from the blood pressure monitor squeezing the life out of my arm.

I was listening to the Peter Gabriel channel on YTM and while some of those videos look ridiculous now some are still avant guard even in 2017. They aged incredibly well even in the face of enormous changes in the state of the art for video.

Well I really need to shower and get to bed, I’m not even making sense to myself right now.

Lab Rat Keeper tomorrow

I get to go out and about with nothing but water until lunchtime tomorrow because I have a visit to the Lab Rat Keeper about the new study. I have been medication-free (including antidepressants) for about 2 weeks. My BP meds I have been out of since the end of July, and I have to be fasting since midnight when they take my blood.

I have been feeling a little better in my back since yesterday’s little walk to get the pain pills. I can actually bend over and tie my shoes without spasms. I think part of that is from staying in bed until 1500 and managing to get in a comfortable position early after going to bed. Also this particular brand of ibuprofen works better for me than the pills we just ran out of. As I have posted earlier this particular pain in the back is highly dependant on how tired that particular muscle is. Better rest means way less pain.

I looked up tomorrow’s payout for the TX Lottery after taxes, then sat down with Mrs. the Poet to discuss exactly what we wanted to do with it. She doesn’t want to move, not surprising, but she does want to travel some. She wants the house fixed but not torn down and replaced. She wants the AC fixed, the floors done, the bathrooms completely redone, the kitchen plumbing fixed… And she wants a new bed. I want a Japanese style bathtub, basically a hot tub without jets, done in tile with a bench inside to soak on. And a place to build things, I want to have for my place to retreat to what is basically a garage with a bedroom and bathroom attached to it within walking distance of a place to eat. And a place on the beach at Waikiki for wintering over, because Hawaii is wonderful if you have enough money, having lived there for three years. Of course I was only 4 when we moved there and 7 when we left, so a lot of what I remember is colored by the perceptions of a child. So we will be spending most of our time here in the Beautiful Suburbs of Hell even after winning the lottery. We are just so exciting as a couple, aren’t we? The big thing for me is I would have the resources to actually make things instead of just thinking about making things. That would be so strange to actually be able to pay for materials and tools and skilled artisans to make things.

What brought this on is Mrs. the Poet got her statement from SSA about what she’s going to make when she starts getting Social Security. It’s not the same as winning the Lottery, but it is a huge jump up from what we make now as a couple. My pension doesn’t start for another 7 years, so until then we get to live on what she’s earned. Unless we win the lottery. Then we start to live like people who don’t have to worry about money.

Now, about the things I’m supposed to be writing about. I’m afraid I don’t have anything about that because of laying in bed for my back, and talking about pensions, Social Security, and Lottery jackpots, with Mrs. the Poet, and getting ready for going to the Lab Rat Keeper tomorrow. I haven’t even had time to check Twitter yet and … Oh My Gawds he fucking did it. Trump just deported almost a million people whose only crime was being brought here without proper papers. Who have been paying taxes, serving in our military, paying an extra fee on top of that just to stay here legally.

Excuse me I have to find something to beat on that won’t cost me anything to destroy, because Trump just got rid of DACA.

Happy Labor Day!

The [deleted] Republicans can [deleted] their [deleted] and [physically impossible] their [deleted] today. This is the day we celebrate the little guy, the guy that does the actual work that makes the 1% rich.

Before I forget to censor myself let’s change the subject. I have been looking at pictures of the cylinder heads for the 3.8l V6 and I noticed I’m going to have a spark plug problem, on two fronts. First problem is the spark plugs protrude into the combustion chamber exposing threads which could cause pre-ignition when I shave the head for higher compression running E85. And speaking of shaving the head the other problem is the tip of the spark plug will get hit by the top of the piston after zero-decking the piston and shaving the head. Throw in the fact that I will need to run a different heat range of spark plug and that means everything about the plug has to change except the thread diameter and how it seals against the head. That means physically taking the head to the parts store and threading plugs in and out to make sure I don’t expose threads while using an extended tip to get the spark plug to get the spark as close as possible to the center of the combustion chamber without hitting the piston. Sounds like fun in a box!

And in spite of what you just read I’m not an engine guy, really. My specialty is suspension design. And being poor, I’m pretty much a master at being poor. But there isn’t much design work to do with beam axles on both ends with 4 bars. The main thing about this suspension design is the springs and shocks, and with the pull rods at the rear I don’t actually have to change anything except the links between the axle and the rocker arms to go from street cruising to full race set ups, meaning I only have to change the front shocks and springs and those links at the rear. And I only have to buy front shocks and springs to change from street to race, and those may not actually be any different except the spring height setting.

That’s part of the beauty of pull rod suspension, the spring rate and damping change how I want it to, and are always perfectly matched to each other once I get the spring and shock matched. All I have to do is change the ratio of the bellcrank arm connected to the load (the link connected to the axle) and the arm connected to the coilover. I have an infinite number of rates from too stiff to too soft by huge margins just by drilling 3 holes in a triangular piece of steel or carbon fiber sheet. And I can change ride height as easily as I can change the toe setting on the front wheels.

And since I want to get this posted while it’s still Labor Day…

Feeling better but not my best

Things have been up and down physically for me this week, but after spending 11 hours in bed (not necessarily sleeping, just in bed) my back is feeling pretty good. Good as in no pain sitting or walking, and just a tiny pain transitioning between sitting and standing. All in all I call that good.

Last night my brain wouldn’t shut down (again) as I kept on thinking about using the engine/trans from the donor car as a SCCA A/Mod Solo race car. It wouldn’t work from a weight standpoint, as the 620 pound engine and transmission only leaves about 80 pounds for the entire rest of the car, but would work great as far as fitting in the allowed minimum wheelbase without anything hanging out too far or having to add between the wheels. There would even be enough room to put a three gallon fuel cell between the engine and the driver without having my feet hang out past the front axle.

Contemplating the A/Mod car came from thinking about the packaging of the TGS2 fuel cell and electronics as the 32 gallon cell takes up a big hunk of real estate inside the car. There is lots of space on the outside of the frame rails but inside the body for the battery and electronics, so the balance left to right can be maintained while keeping the polar moment as low as possible. Polar moment is extremely important for an autocross car because much of autocross is change of direction from left to right and vice-versa, and polar moment is the measurement of resistance to change of direction. A lower polar moment is better which is why competitors try to get things as close to the center of the car as possible. Autocross is not just grip but the ability to transition from left to right and vice-versa. Interestingly enough engine power is not a major consideration in the equation as cars do not spend much time at speed or accelerating between turns, which is why lawnmower-engine go karts are frequent contenders for low time of the day.

Can anyone tell I’m really getting frustrated with the lack of progress on the TGS2? Not having $$ for parts and raw stock is not helping things any. Not having a viable method to obtain $$ is also not helping things any, PayPal is telling me that so far this year I made less than $10 in donations from the link at the bottom of the page. If you want stuff to read I need to have stuff to write about, and I’m just about out of things that don’t cost money to do. At this point I’m really close to writing about the dreams I have the night before just to have something to write about, and believe me you don’t want that. 😀 Everybody stay safe out there on this long weekend and avoid the drunk drivers.

Happy Birthday Alex

Yep, 11 years and one day after I was killed my grandson Alex was born, Happy Fifth Birthday!

And on the subject of getting killed in 2001, Mrs. the Poet suggested a different outlook on the subject. She suggested I celebrate my re-birthday rather than my deathday. Same thing, different perspective. Instead of celebrating getting killed, celebrate coming back. Which is mostly what I do anyway.

I have been looking at my pictures of the 3.3l bolted to the 41te transmission and trying to scale from that but I don’t have anything of a known dimension in any picture to scale from. So I have been searching for a dimensioned drawing of the engine or transmission, pretty much without results, or useful results anyway. The dimensions I get are not useful in scaling the pictures because the parts are either not in the picture, or not identifiable in the picture, or not fully visible. I mean it’s great to know the veeblefritz is x inches long when one end is hidden behind another part on the engine. It’s even better when the part name is a Mopar part name that is not in common use even in the hot rod community, so you aren’t even sure of what you’re looking for. It isn’t helping that I lost my notes on the measurements I took from the donor vehicle. I have the total length of the engine/trans assembly from one side of the car to the other written down, but I can’t find the notebook I wrote it.

I put a better marker on the body for the rear axle.
The upper black line is tape showing the rear axle position on the body.

I repositioned the lower tape to show how far the engine projects into the body but I haven’t taken a picture of that yet. Short form there isn’t much room left in the bucket after the engine is put with the rear axle on that upper line.

I’m sorry for cutting this short but I have a headache and need to have a lie-down.

No post tomorrow, guess why?

Something happened 16 years ago at 0119 so I’m not doing a post tomorrow. Yep tomorrow is my Death Day. I’m celebrating all day long, not because I died, but because I’m too stubborn to stay dead. I have a flipping frequent customer card for the ferry to Hades with 3 check marks on it already. It makes me wonder if other people have cards like that and can we see each other’s cards? Anywho, it’s going to be as much of a party as I can stand at Casa de El Poeta tomorrow. I’m out of anti-depressants so I can drink as much as I want (not that I’m a big drinker). Probably no more than 2 beers tops.

I’m not going to kid you that the last 16 years were a walk in the park. Between the loss of income and the ongoing medical costs it has been a struggle even with the lab rat gig. And when Mrs. the Poet retired it got even worse, because she kicked out all the people renting rooms so we lost about $400 a month from the rental and another $300 from going from her paycheck to her pension. That was a serious financial hit. And besides the poverty there were also medical issues not covered by the lab rat gig. Like the fact that the injured leg is shorter than the other leg, like the brain damage, like the depression, like the back pain from the short leg, like… The list is endless but the brain damage keeps me from being able to remember everything at the moment.

So after beating the odds big time I’m taking the day off to do something not related to bicycle safety or anything else related to what put me in this situation. Maybe I’m going to work on the front axle of the TGS2, maybe I’m going to make a pie. I don’t know yet. I’m going to read web comics first, maybe pop a beer.

See y’all in two days.

Neo-Hephaestean statement of belief

Well I have been looking for some kind of statement of belief from the original worshippers of my patron deity and I have come up dry. So it looks like I have to make one for today’s followers, based on my biases. That’s part of the problem when the original religion was a secret society that passed knowledge as an oral tradition.

First is the only thing required to follow Hephaestus is the desire to make things. All the things from all the materials are sanctified provided they are made with the proper attitude. Even making meals is sanctified if for no other reason than continuing your existence.

Second there are no races/ethnicities better than any other races/ethnicities. If you make things you can follow Hephaestus. All are brothers and sisters at the forge.

Third you must strive to make things that improve the human condition, at least part of the time. Weapons are allowed for defensive purposes and as an art form. Weapons training resembles dance in many ways. Making weapons one must be sure to make them only as deadly as required for the purpose, followers should never make WMD.

Fourth if you have a choice between making something and making something beautiful that serves the same purpose, make it beautiful, but if your choices are ugly but serviceable or nothing at all make something serviceable. Work on your skills until you can make the thing beautiful the next time you need to make it.

Fifth Hephaestus did not require sexual fidelity from his wife, so we should not bind our partners to us so that we deny them the company of others. Love is not a chain to bind us but a thread to guide us back together when we are ready. Love grows best when it doesn’t bind. Also celebrate your partner’s(s’) accomplishments, recognize what they do even when it’s not about you. They are separate individuals with separate needs and desires. Celebrate when you can be together but do not mourn if you are apart.

Sixth plagiarizes another religious statement, Love your brothers and sisters as you would yourself, everything else is just commentary.

Go in peace, and make something wonderful.

Lots of road course racing this weekend

There are two road courses today on the tube and one yesterday. And there was an Indycar race from a short (by Indycar standards) oval. And for those wondering we are way north (about 250 miles) of the hurricane down on the coast so all we have gotten was a few showers and some slightly damp kitties. I’m worried about my Houston friends as H is getting drowned with feet (not inches) of rain. Last report they are expecting 5 feet of rain total. I have some friends living less than ¼ mile from the Brazos river which is way out of its banks last report. I’m especially worried for them and their dogs.

I have been thinking about the Mini Sprint-T and the scale mockup for the TGS2 as they both need a body. What I have been thinking about is making a mold off of the AMT kit body then casting a plug from Bondo to use making a vacuformed body after making the desired body modifications to the plug. The plug would then be split in half to draw the body material over to a form with no undercuts so the body can be removed easily from the mold. The TGS2 mold would have the rear hatch molded separately so it can be hinged to work on the engine and I can test side versus top hinges for access to the rear suspension and engine.

Still thinking about making the little V6 run on E85 only. There is a hypereutectic piston I can use that is flat topped and can be zero-decked for the minimum clearance between the head and the piston, and then the heads will have to be angle-milled to shrink the combustion chamber in the head without taking too much material off the bottom of the head. And I realize that the preceding sentence read like technobabble to about 90% of my readers who were not brought up hard-core gearheads, but every word was a valid technical term or connecting word between. IOW it was all English, just not a common dialect of English. Translation: There is a cast piston made with a low expansion rate high-strength aluminum alloy that is flat across the top and can be fitted flush with the top of the cylinder. Then the heads will have to be milled on an angle with more taken off on the big side of the combustion chamber to get the chamber as small as required with the least amount of material removed. Hypereutectic pistons can support about 375 HP on gas for this engine, and I’m only hunting 225 to 250 HP with cooler-burning E85 so well within estimated stress limits, plus they are inexpensive especially compared to forged pistons. In this case that is especially true because forged pistons would have to be custom made, they aren’t available as regular production items.

The last sentence of the previous paragraph pretty much sums up my biggest frustration with this build, almost everything is $pecial order or cu$tom made, especially in the engine. Some of that is because there were no performance applications for this engine aside from the 1991 Shelby Can Am series which only made 150 engines putting out about 225 HP. The other reason is the last one left the production line in 2011, 6 years ago. Compare this to the ubiquitous SBC that was in production as a factory-installed engine from 1955-2001 and is still in production as a replacement engine for emission controlled vehicles of that era, and as a crate engine for new cars that are not required to meet emissions controls like the Sprint-T. There were literally tens of millions of SBC made in dozens of different sizes from 265 to 455 cubic inches when you include the hybrids made from mixing different blocks and cranks. One of those hybrids actually made production status as the Z28 302 in3, which was a hybrid of the 283 crank in a 327/350 block. One of the most popular hybrids is the 400 crank in a 350 block bored 4.030″ to produce 383 in3. How popular is it? There are now twice as many 400 cranks as there were 400 SBC engines made, the aftermarket is producing brand new cranks with the 3.750″ stroke of the 400 crank with the smaller main journals of the 350 block. It’s even easier to get parts for the LS/LT engine families than it is the 3.3/3.8l Mopar V6.

And that’s enough kvetching about the free engine I was given, at least stock replacement parts are cheap and easy to find because of the millions of them on the road. And some of those factory parts are suitable for use in a high-performance engine with a little preparation, like balancing or grinding off flash and light polishing to remove stress risers.

And I have to go now because my friends on the Gulf are finally starting to check in and I don’t want to miss any. Also my back is starting to hurt again. I did pretty well for several hours today but the pains are back.

Back from watching the eclipse

I was just outside Lebanon TN where we got 2:30 (+/-) of totality. It was really neat to watch the shadows dance from the light cast by the corona. And I could see Sirius and Venus during the eclipse. At least I assume that “star” in line with the sun was Sirius, might have been something else.

Also I got some kind of stomach bug on the bus trip to Nashvegas and got to make several trips to the toilet working up to the eclipse, or maybe something I’m allergic to messed me up. Anyway I had diarrhea (sp?) most of the time I was in TN. Fun times.

I had lots of time to think about the TGS2 while I was not stuck on the toilet. One of the things I was thinking about was that the transmission would probably stick out the left side of the body where it tucked under to meet the frame because it is closer to 40″ wide there and the frame is 34″ wide. I could do two things to “fix” that. Easiest would be just go ahead and cut the bottom of the body for clearance and live with the tranny sticking out the side of the body in front of the rear suspension. The other thing I could do is raise the body to clear the transmission and any part of the engine that might stick out. Then make a cover to hide all the bits not hidden inside the body. I have also been thinking about moving the bucket back forward and making an extended pickup bed to cover the engine and bits, and the fuel cell. That’s easier to make fit around the bits but looks funny. But does it look more strange than the cockpit in front of the body or less?

I also had time to look up tuning for running strictly on e85 ignoring the possibility of using premium unleaded gasoline. One thing I would need to do is raise the compression ratio to about 14:1 to take advantage of the high research octane number, and remove any sharp edges on the top of the piston or combustion chamber in the head and polish the combustion chamber to prevent pre-ignition. Doing this will get me part-throttle fuel economy similar to the stock engine on gas with about 40% more power at full throttle. That means highway mileage similar to the minivan I took the engine from and better in-town mileage (because the TGS2 is about 1300 +/- pounds compared to 3900 +/- for the minivan). So I’m looking at 25 +/- MPG highway and well over 16 around town. And a 32 gallon fuel cell to go with that for long stretches between e85 stations out west, over 800 miles if needed

I did some sketches of what the front fenders would look like with the headlights faired into them… Can I just say ugly with a capital UGH!? I’m debating if the reduced drag is worth the damage to the esthetics. Since the top speed is going to be limited by the gearing in the transmission anyway, and I wouldn’t be able to see the difference in fuel mileage fairing in the headlights is strictly a matter of appearances. Now if I could track down some headlight buckets for mounting the 5 3/4” headlights I had originally planned on using since they are OK here in TX when used as single (per side) headlights as long as I use the motorcycle versions. They have under the maximum high beam light output but well above the minimum, so everything is copacetic on that front. I will be able to see where I’m driving at night without blinding oncoming drivers. And the smaller headlights also look better when faired into the fenders.

And right now I need to have a lie down because my back is still having painful spasms and I’m sweating like pigs can’t because of it.