Mrs. the Poet has a really bad back, but it’s something that can be fixed with an operation. But she also doesn’t like hospitals and she really doesn’t like operations. Even just thinking about them causes her distress, the closer the person is to her the worse the distress gets, so you can imagine what it’s like when the person getting the operation is her.
Well now she has a date for/with a spinal fusion. She is getting three vertebrae turned into one, and then as soon as that heals she is getting physical therapy to strengthen the muscles on either side of the fusion to keep it stable. I think I mentioned at some point her main problem is stenosis compressing her spinal nerves because she has scoliosis from repeated insult to her back. And no, not because I was making fun of her, the other kind of insult, repeated minor injury to her back, in this case her back muscles. As she got injured the injured muscles got tight, making them more susceptible to further injury, which made them tighter and led to a vicious circle that wound up with Mrs. the Poet unable to get to the bus stop, even with a cane, because the scoliosis causes the top and bottom of the stenosis to compress the nerves in her spine causing numbness and paralysis.
And now March 3 2020 that’s going to get fixed so that her legs and feet will work normally, again. That means I have to cook and clean the house, and basically act like I do when she’s not here except I have to take care of her as well. Now what I’m told is she will be eating at the table, or at least capable of that, before she gets out of the hospital. And it might only take 3 days for her to get out of the hospital. All we need to do is get stuff I can fix to feed her with, that we can get a bit at a time so we don’t have to spend the money all at once the end of February.
The pre-op synopsis is that Mrs. the Poet should be walking as normally as she ever will be by the end of March because that’s how little surgical insult there is with this operation. Basically there will be no tendons, ligaments or muscles damaged that will be still allowed to move after the surgery fuses the vertebrae (or vertebras if you insist on anglicized plurals) so the recovery time is essentially just the time needed to heal the incision enough to not bleed every time she moves her back. This is entirely unlike when my hip was repaired 18 years ago because there were 3 major muscles that had to be cut to get the hardware in and then back out 18 months later. As I understand it there will only be one small incision that they work/look through and instead of cutting through muscles they will be spreading apart the muscle fibers to get things out, which has a much better end result than cutting through the muscles.
Anyway, when I know more about it, and Mrs. the Poet approves of me posting it, I’ll tell you more. As for me I find it fascinating in a mechanical sense, because we are all just organic machines moving around and breaking down and either self-repairing or getting repaired. Machines that can repair themselves has been either a dream or a nightmare, depending on how you feel about getting replaced by a machine. But since we are all machines already (Calcium is a metal according to the periodic table, between Potassium and Scandium) just using a different mode of using energy than electricity or steam. We aren’t getting replaced so much as making way for the newest models.
I was doing pretty good on the back pain issue until I caught the bus home from yesterday’s game session. There was a hole in the grass that the mower just skimmed over disguising it as a perfectly flat surface, and of course I stepped in the hole. What causes me the most pain is not the uneven surfaces I know about, it’s the sudden drops into places I can’t see. Stairs are usually no problem unless the surface I’m stepping on is not the surface I will be walking on, like a loose stair that is actually sticking up that I expect to take my weight immediately instead of the milliseconds it takes the stair to bottom out. Well hidden holes in grass are the same thing, I expect the solid surface to be in one place and it’s an inch or so lower so my back is not properly set up for the landing, which then really hurts.
On the T-bucket front, someone suggested another engine family that would work, the Subaru EJ. It’s compact, about 28.5″ wide and about 15″ long for the 4 cylinder versions, about 22″ long for the sixes, and has dual overhead cams and 4 valves per cylinder, and later versions have VVT (Variable Valve Timing) and some 4 cylinder models had factory turbos. Now the best combo for the GoodGuys events is the VVT and the turbo, which has good low RPM torque combined with high RPM horsepower. That’s because VVT adjusts intake and exhaust events for best power at each RPM point and the Subaru engine lets the computer adjust intake and exhaust separately for even better low speed power and response. This lets the turbo spin up quicker which improves mid-range and upper RPM breathing and power. Engine weights are reported to be about 200 for the 4 and about 300 for the 6 NA engines with the factory turbo adding about 50 pounds to the 4, and not available on the 6. There is an active aftermarket for both versions but biased towards the 4 cylinder, so light weight and lots of power can be had. The stock NA and Turbo versions do very well in SCCA Solo racing, so GoodGuys in the bucket will be mostly matching gear ratios and transmission ratios so the engine is in the best part of the power curve when power is needed. Most of the engine weight is at crankshaft height which helps keep the CG low which aids handling. The debate is does the low RPM grunt from the 6 offset the higher weight and reduced power because of no turbo? There are kits to install the turbo from the 4 on the 6 that are reputed to retain the low end grunt while exceeding the power available from the 4. And there are kits that purport to give the turbo 4 the same low-end grunt as the 6, without increasing the weight over the factory turbo or reducing ultimate power produced. But in any case the main advantage is the low center of gravity offered by the horizontally opposed cylinders of the Subaru engine.
Between the allergy pills making me sleepy, and backaches keeping me awake all night, it is a wonder I can even function enough to operate my laptop. I really want to lie down for a nap, but I just got up a couple of hours ago. Actually no, I have been awake for hours, I just got out of bed a couple of hours ago. When I woke up I felt like death warmed over, plus I couldn’t see anything except a white haze from allergies. So I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t because, pain. So I “meditated”, in quotes because it was more “tried to fall back asleep but can’t” than actual meditation.
I just had to evict Clint from the desk because he’s pushing things off so he has a comfortable place to sleep, and now the floor is covered in pennies that had been placed in neat stacks on the desk to keep track of how many pennies I had. This is because there is a $10 minimum for pennies at the local change counting machine so I have to keep track of how much I have to put in the machine. But don’t fret about him, he finds a place.
This is what Clint does when I stop trying to work, he goes and pouts.
And the thermometer in my office reads 83°F, so I’m heading to the room with working AC.
Between Mother’s Day, tracking down missing mail, checking what I can get to replace my mailbox and post, and just dealing with life, the last few days have just been PACKED!
The good news is I have figured out how to fix my back, both short and long-term. The problem is right leg is longer than left by a significant amount since the wreck, and the required pelvic tilt is more than my back muscles can accommodate. The back muscles on the long side have to stay contracted all the time, and eventually they reach exhaustion.Which is my situation at the moment. but the hypothetical treatment is to lie face down, and the therapist pulls my long leg until I have a level pelvis. After the spasms subside the therapist gently strokes the muscles until circulation has been restored, and the pain is gone for a while.
Long term, the problem is the back muscles have to stay contracted as hard as they can because they are too long on the side that has the longer leg, so why not make them permanently shorter? An operation would shorten the back muscles on the right (long) side so that when my feet are side-by-side both sets of muscles are the same tension instead of one contracted and the other extended. Or the top of the pelvis could be re-contoured to the same effect. I would still sway from side to side when I walk, but not so much, and it wouldn’t hurt any more.
Speaking of hurting, I have reached my limit after walking about 3 miles according to the Sweatcoin app. Clint has left long scratches in my leg from falling from my lap, and my back has me fighting tears of pain. It’s time this flightless waterfowl packed it in and hit the hay.
Very short post tonight because I seriously overdid it at the fair today as in too much walking and standing around, and my back is making me pay for it. Having a lie down to let my back relax for a bit will probably fix it, at least somewhat. I did manage to get some pictures of the Pentastar V6 in the wild, as it were, but forgot to put something in the picture to scale from so they are pretty useless for my needs. Curse my drain bamage for making me forget.
Well after all the emotions of yesterday I just vegged out today. The most effort I put out today was watching the Xfinity series on the toob this evening. It was a good race. Twitter has been occupying most of my time with #DotardDon acting the usual fool. There just isn’t much I can do right now as I’m still waiting on the donor car to be delivered and for the engine hoist of my dreams to magically appear in my garage to remove the engine and transmission from the donor vehicle.
I’m ready to do something, but there’s nothing I can do until I get some pieces of paper with pictures of dead guys on them. I know what I need to do to the engine, I’ll know what I need to build the frame once I get the engine out of the donor vehicle to measure where the mounts go, I know how I’ll get the transmission to shift once it’s in the car, I even know where the fuel tank and battery go. I’m ready and raring to go, but I have no place to go. I can’t even rev my engine because the engine is sitting across town in a rusty minivan. Actually it is sitting two towns over in a 21 YO rusty minivan, waiting for me to come get it. I really need to go there and start the engine and let it run a while to make sure it doesn’t seize up from lack of use.
I also need to write, but lack something to write about other than Twitter and the comics I have been reading. Just to go and do nothing requires buying a $5 bus pass to get there. Problem is I don’t even have the $5 right now to go do nothing (or go to the library or something). We are in that time of the month when there was more month than money. Most of the little side gigs I used to have to scare up a few bucks have dried up, and the ones I still have are not making up the difference no matter how hard I work them. The mobile game I played is gone. The other gigs are paying out pretty much the same. I can’t find regular work with all the abuse my body has been through and because when I get assessed for disability my injuries are considered separately I don’t get any money because I can still “work”. I can’t do any of the jobs they suggest because what they suggest for one problem is exactly what I can’t do anymore because of another problem, then they do the exact opposite of suggesting a job I could do with that one thing wrong that I can’t do because of the first thing.
Basically I have two handicaps compared to what I was. First is my mind is not as nimble as it used to be. I still come up with solutions to problems, but what used to be nearly instantaneous is now a prolonged process. Second is because of the scar tissue around the various things they had to put back together in my left leg there is a lot of things I physically can’t do, like getting down on the ground and getting back up quickly. Getting up from the ground is a major deal requiring room and time. But if you read this blog much you already knew that. I’m physically and mentally slow compared to what I was before the wreck. And I never was much good before the wreck except for mental work. Physically I have always been a slug.
Enough complaining, I need to get to bed and let my aches and pains take a break.
Our last window unit seems to be dying and not cooling and I’m suffering in an 86°F(30°C) office. I’m pretty much covered in sweat and somewhat smelly or maybe more than just somewhat smelly. I am seriously lacking energy from all the heat, but there is an up side to this: my back is not hurting much while the muscle is nice and warm. I was able to get to sleep without using pain relievers last night. I made the mistake of also not taking the diphenhydramine I use to shut the brain down so I can sleep, so I basically didn’t get to sleep for anything more than a catnap and woke up again around noon. I’m bobbing and weaving in my chair so I think I will be able to get to sleep early.
And I think I will take that trip to bed shortly.
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.