Tag Archives: changing weather

The fireworks and gunshots are over

So we decided it was safe to stick our heads above ground and take a look around. People in TX really like shooting guns and fireworks to celebrate things, and there were many bullets flying last night. It was like a war zone between the fireworks and the gunshots.

It’s supposed to get around 20°F tomorrow morning after getting to 70° this afternoon, which does bad things to people’s health. This is partially the result of our location near the boundary of continental and coastal weather areas, which gets us some rather violent weather, and partially because of climate change which makes these boundary areas more severe. But anyway the temperature has been dropping like a rock off a cliff outside, and went from toasty warm to “I had to put a shirt on” in my office in just a few hours. Seriously I was watching the news with just sweatpants and slippers and the thermostat was reading over 70°, and now the thermometer on my clock is showing 65° and my fingers are freezing and working intermittently. And the emergency resistance heater just kicked in, I can tell because it smells like burned hair in here.

I’m still thinking about the Sprint-T, but as raw material prices are way up and my available budget is way down my completion date is now even more indefinite than before, which makes me even more depressed than before. And like I wrote before I’m not sure I’ll be able to get in and out of the car with my limited range of motion in my hips and shoulders, something else to make me depressed. Like I really needed more things to be depressed about. Between my love life and the Sprint-T, well there just hasn’t been much to get happy over. But then again aside from that things are pretty good. I have a safe place to sleep, more than enough food, and the heat and AC both work, as was proved with both today. Things could be much worse.

And things have been much worse, not that long ago. Being hit by the truck and being dead is like a blink of the eye for me, but then again impossibly long ago. It has been nearly a third of my life since the wreck, but some days it feels like yesterday. That’s just how it is.

And now I’m getting maudlin on you guys, so this feels like a good time to put this one to bed.

This is Texas, where we have the heat come on in the morning and the AC in the afternoon

Yep, when I was going to bed last night the heat came on, and just before lunch this afternoon the AC came on, on the 17th of November. And before anyone says anything the heat comes on when it drops below 70°F inside, and the AC comes on above 76°F inside. We have relatively good insulation so to get the inside temperature to swing that much requires about a 40° swing in outdoor temperatures.

In other “news” that isn’t really news, my hips still hurt, my knees still hurt, and I still need a massage because my neck won’t turn very far. I’ll probably get the massage Thursday now that a few bucks have been freed up in the budget because the window replacement has been delayed until December 1st. That puts about $300 back in the budget for stuff that doesn’t go to keeping us fed and a roof over our heads. Usually this part of the budget gets robbed to pay for the other things, so actually having any money in it is rare.

Something I almost forgot to put here is I’ll be participating in another study starting Monday next Wednesday. I don’t know what I’ll be testing but it starts with a fasting blood draw. So maybe something related to cholesterol or blood sugar? IDK I’m just happy to be advancing science in some small way.

On the Sprint-T front, I have found that a hydraulic hand brake system for drift cars will also work as a hand clutch for a hydraulic throwout bearing. And to make it a push or pull release only requires deciding which way I set up the handle. This makes the hand clutch super easy to do because all the design and fabrication have already been done, all I have to do is buy and install. Now the hand clutch only takes care of starting and stopping, I’ll still have to buy a transmission that can be shifted without using the clutch. But there is a faced and plated gearset for the T5 that can do that and doesn’t add any weight, so we’re good, except for money.

Also on the Sprint-T, I’m working on the seat slider that adjusts the seat back and forth for people with longer legs than mine to drive the car. There aren’t many people with shorter legs who are old enough to be legal to drive, because I’m built like Fred Flintstone. Seriously I lost a full ride scholarship because my torso was too long to close the canopy on an F4 Phantom if I was in the RIO seat AKA “Back Seat Driver”. Long, sad story that I won’t relate here.

Anywho, I need to set the sliders far enough apart that the release lever works on both sliders but close enough together that the bracket is wider than the seat but not narrower than the sliders. This is another result of my having non-standard dimensions. I bought the adult-sized seat with the narrowest butt pocket and had to modify the seat to fit my chest and shoulders because of course it didn’t fit anything except my hips, kinda sorta. I will still need more padding to fill the space between my hips and the seat, but not as much as I would have if I bought a seat to fit my chest and shoulders. But back to the project at hand, I need to set up the sliders at the correct width, set the seat on them to see how much extra I have to work with and bend up some strap stock to bolt to the seat and sliders, then drill and bolt everything together. I know the seat will need to get holes for the bracket, the bracket needs holes for the seat and the sliders, and I need to buy a whole bunch of stainless steel bolts so things don’t get crusty.

And this feels like a good place to end this post.

Weather related slowdowns at mi Casa

And it’s not the kind of weather you might think. I woke up feeling like I just went 12 rounds with Mike Tyson because of the change in the weather since yesterday, which has included massive changes in the pressure and a frontal passage. This in turn has messed with my sinuses which in turn causes me to experience headaches that range from “mildly uncomfortable” to “somebody please shoot me”. It was so bad I couldn’t even get out of bed until after 1600 because it hurt to open my eyes, not the usual “my eyelids are glued shut” I experience later in the spring, but “the exertion of opening my eyes is more than I can handle” situation. Or in terms that fit the modern vernacular, I didn’t have the spoons to open my eyes. Using the muscles to open my eyelids was just too much pain.

So I can’t open my eyes or get out of bed for a while, what do I do when I’m not sleeping? Same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world build things in my mind. And of course what I build in my mind is also what I build in real life as I have the energy and funds for it, the Sprint-T. I had a bit of a dalliance with an air-cushion vehicle for a while, but that was merely a palate cleanser to keep my mental gears churning at full thinking power. Along those lines, the best shape for an ACV that doesn’t go at high speed over the surface is a circle because it has the highest ratio of enclosed area to support the weight of the vehicle to perimeter where the air can leak out and has to be replaced by the source of air used to create the cushion. Also it has the greatest stability for shifting loads like people getting on or off before settling down for the trip or moving around in the passenger compartment. One thing I also noticed was that when the speed forward exceeded a certain threshold the ram air pressure exceeded the pressure of the cushion needed to stay up the pump or fan could be shut down to save energy and reduce the costs for operation while the air is replaced by air coming in from the front. Obviously the speed of this transition was variable based on the size of the front of the air cushion and the size of the cushion. And I have already spent too much time relating my cogitation about the ACV and not enough about building the Sprint-T, IMHO.

One of the things I have been thinking about was getting the longest torque arm I can stuff in front of the rear axle, because longer arms have less-violent reactions to engine torque in both directions. This is also why I went to brake floaters to decouple brake forces from the torque arm and prevent wheel hop under braking. Well, if the torque arm is too short wheel hop can happen just from the engine resistance of compression which makes slowing down from speed dicey. So, I’m trying to figure out as long a torque arm as possible which is constrained by the front U-joint of the driveshaft and the end of the transmission tailshaft, which are determined by how far the engine is set back from the front axle. And this dimension is the major determinant of how much static load is on the rear axle, which is one of the things that sets the traction limits for the rear tires. See, changing one thing has a carry-on effect that changes dozens if not hundreds of other things. Or as Roseanne Roseannadanna’s father used to say “It’s always something.” And if you got that long-dead comedienne’s catch phrase you are officially old. But, yeah, a too-short torque arm can lift the back tires off the ground just from a too-rapid shutting of the throttle plate changing the torque from positive to negative, which can result in back tires that want to see what’s out in front as the wheels try to drive the engine instead of vice-versa. Now with the brake floaters a touch of brakes when slowing down generates forces that push the axle down against the torque reaction trying to lift the axle up, but I prefer to build a car that doesn’t always require pushing on one pedal or the other to keep the back end in the back. Which brings us back to fitting the longest torque arm that will fit in the car, or using a link between the torque arm and the chassis that doesn’t transfer forces when the driver is not pushing on either the go or stop pedals. The simple way to do this is with a chain instead of a solid link, and the most convenient place to anchor that chain is to the transmission mount crossmember.

Another thing is the mounting point for the forward end of the torque arm can’t be too far forward or back or the slip joint will either bottom out against the transmission or pull out of the transmission as the rear axle winds up or down against the torque arm. This is mainly due to the length of the torque arm as the axle’s fore and aft position is controlled by the swing arms that connect the axle to the springs and also the rest of the chassis.

And I had to take a break from the computer because a front literally came through as I was typing and my eyes started hurting so bad I had to quit and close the laptop and lie down on the recliner with Mrs. the Poet while she watched TeeVee. And while I was not writing I had a forced BIOS update take over the laptop. I’m hoping this does something useful to the computer like fix the microphone issue with the headphone jack. And we are continuing to get wave after wave of thunderstorms passing through that alternatively reduce and aggravate my headache, as the ambient pressure goes up and down. Right now the storms are past, but a few minutes ago the storm was raging on top of us and my face felt like cold crap. Seriously bad pain there. But now I’m much better with almost no discomfort, not even approaching the level of “pain” yet.

And this seems like a decent place to stop, there was a lot of information in the post, and a lot of words to convey that meaning..

This was a bad day

Combination of needing to beat bad weather and bad memory turned this into an “Ugh!” day.

OK it started out with looking at the weather forecast and deciding if I wanted to get my phone paid for before it got shut down I needed to do it today. But after buying a bus pass on my phone and activating it so it had to be used today (Thursday 2021-02-25) or lost forever.

For some reason I keep forgetting to bring my mask when I leave the house by myself, which means I can’t ride the bus. I realized this before I got to the bus so I had time to go home and catch the next bus but not before the rain hit. That’s when I rediscovered that the rain hood was designed to work with a brimmed hat like a baseball cap or similar, because the hood would droop until my face was covered while my mask rose until it covered my eyes. I could do something about the mask because I was used to dealing with rising mask syndrome from everyday use. But the hood covering my face at the same time at a faster rate than the mask crept up threw me off. I finally decided to just let my head get wet rather than constantly fidget with the hood and the mask.

Then I got to the phone store and did the thing with the new debit card. I was all tired out when I got there because I walked as fast as I could which actually uses more energy than running but is still slower than running because I can’t run. Seriously if I could have run I would have, but I haven’t been able to run since the wreck. But I did the thing with the new debit card, so “Yay!” for me.

I managed to get to the bus stop by the phone store in time to catch the next bus, which was good because by this time my head was soaked. I managed to get home without problems that I was already dealing with getting any worse. I even managed to get my step tracker and fitness tracker working for the trip from the bus stop to the house.

When I got home things got weird. I had been carrying around my phone in the pocket of the raincoat and when I took my phone out there was something else in the pocket, my old debit card that I lost. I wouldn’t have had to report the missing card if I had checked the pocket of the raincoat, which would have prevented having to “borrow” Mrs. the Poet’s card to pay a couple of online payments that came due before the new card came in.

So, that was my day Thursday. How was your day?

It’s warm out, WTF!?

The high today was 81°F the warmest day since last November. This day last week the high was 18°F and it is only a coincidence that the digits are reversed. I make frequent reference to how volatile Texas weather is this time of year, but this is insane. The sudden change in temperature came with powerful south winds that almost took me off my feet just going to the mailbox. Today was a little breezy but nothing like yesterday or Monday.

Yesterday I mentioned having difficulty in bending the plastic rods to make the main and side hoops for the Mini Sprint-T, but when I mention a problem it triggers a search for a solution to the problem. I can’t jump up and shout “Eureka!” yet, but I’m sneaking up on the solution. There is a single plane available as reference on the bender, and I can make marks on that plane to get the distance between the legs and the right angles right.

And you know what? I have completely run out of things to write about.

What’s with this weather?

Two days ago it was 80°F for the high, this morning it was 24°F for the morning low. The cats can’t figure out what they want to do, one stays out all night and as much time on my lap as he can during the day, the other spends all night inside and most of the day outside. Both of them are crazy by human standards, and at least one by cat standards.

I need to find where the woodcutting saw went other than “in the garage somewhere” so I can finish making the bending jig for the Mini Sprint-T. And I have determined the Mini will have Tri-Y headers on one side and Sprint style Four-into-one headers on the other because it will be an engineering model and both options need to be shown for “reasons”.

Also I want to build another chassis with an extra rear hoop for a cover over the pickup bed to provide covered storage on the road, someplace to put my luggage than inside the cockpit or in the tire trailer with the gas storage tank. I don’t want my clean clothes and driving suit for racing to reek of E85 or 87 octane. Yes I’m still planning on running two tanks on the car and offloading the cheap transit gas and switching to a separate tank with the “good” gas at the track since I learned that E85 can give a power boost to the midrange and bottom end even if the engine runs fine on 87 octane. If the engine is set up to barely tolerate 87 as long as the gas pedal isn’t pressed too firmly then E85 can give a boost through the entire RPM range. Also I kinda need to figure out how to cover the pickup bed without creating a huge flat surface to catch the air driving down the road. I’m thinking making the roof contiguous from the top of the windshield to the rear of the cover would do it, but that would make getting in through the top of the roll cage tricky to impossible.

Something else I have been contemplating is quickly removable fenders for streamlining and spray control during transit, given how bad huge exposed tires are for both of those. Again the issue is enough coverage of the exposed frame to work as intended without keeping me from getting in and out of the car at gas stops. The plan is still climb through the roof using the diagonals on the sides of the cockpit as a ladder to get to and from the top of the cage, so those diagonals need to be usable as a ladder while also out of the airstream for the highway. I’m thinking lots of hook-and-loop fasteners for the roof and the parts of the body that need to be movable for getting in and out. But that’s for after I get the car running enough to see if I even need to use a body and fenders beyond the fiberglass bucket.

Nothing much to talk about

Mrs. the Poet said I should just put the checks for the taxes in the mail this week and not worry about it. We kinda played some for the Shadowrun game on Sunday, but mostly with the weather doing the yo-yo thing I have been doing my “bear in winter” impression. Seriously this weather is seriously sapping my desire to even get out of bed at whatever time I stop sleeping. I have been huddled under the covers being borderline depressed, as in episode depressed, and not managing to work up a care to even check what has been wrought against the country by People Enabled By Russians. I mean I saw the kid from the Catholic school bothering the Native American Elder after marching against women controlling their own bodies. Because that is a thing that Catholic School Boys do, protest women controlling their own bodies and bother Native elders.

Other than that I have to pretty much force myself to eat anything after breakfast because I’m just not hungry after I get morning coffee, even if “morning” is 1300-1600 or so, like I wrote earlier getting out from under the warm blankets is very hard because warm, and because there is a cold draft blowing under the desk where I do my computer stuff now. Out away from the desk is fine, but under the desk is freezing (well colder than the rest of the room) and I really don’t want to get out from under the blankets to go work on the computer, which I have to do because otherwise I can’t post to this blog. Seriously, I can’t type worth a damn on my phone so if there is going to be a blog post I have to stick my legs under this drafty desk. I keep a blanket to cover my legs when I’m using the computer because otherwise I’m overdressed for the temperature if I’m warm enough under the desk. And with the current weather it’s even worse than normal because the wind forces the cold air through the leaks in the window.

Anyway, to kill time I have been looking some more at the FIRST TPI intake and fuel injection manifold, and it seems to be an intermediate step for the SBC between the LS engines and a carburetted engine, with low RPM torque like a dual plane intake and small 4BBL and high RPM like a single plane intake with a huge Dominator-style 4BBL. Or in other words very much like an LS engine with the plastic manifold but still only coughing up SBC change instead of LS engine co$t$. I think I mentioned this build is more about powerband than peak HP, because there is at least one turn that will see near idle speed in first gear on the majority of Goodguys courses and almost no place to use a high peak power. That is exactly what this manifold is made for.

And making another right-angle turn at full speed in the narrative, the stainless steel raw stock for the Mini Sprint-T suspension came in today in another ridiculously overpackaged container. The shipping container was worth more than the raw stock inside it. Anyway what came today was 1mm OD stainless tubing that will fit the simulated heim joints perfectly from Dirt Modeler and is something else that requires the use of the butane torch I bought at Harbor Freight to join together with intended parts. I still have the pure solder (no flux) left over from making the hot water heater for the camp shower a few years back, there was a minimum required quantity that was about 3 times as much as I needed to make the heater, so I have enough for several thousand simulated heim joints that require only a tiny drop of molten solder to affix them permanently.

Not dead, just not doing anything worth writing about

Life has been very uninteresting lately, it’s winter and that uncomfortable kind of cold that can’t be dressed properly for. I’m either still cold, or sweating because I have too much on, or both because the temperature can’t figure out what it wants to do. I still have to pay my property taxes now that I found out that at least one of the offices does not accept debit cards and I managed to track down my checkbook that I hardly ever use except to void a check when someone prefers to pay by direct deposit.

So I have my checks for whenever the weather improves to the point I can do the walk between the three offices on State St. in Garland. In good weather it’s a nice walk from 5th to Garland Ave, less than a mile. And there are bus stops on both ends but it is only a short walk from Downtown Garland station to the first tax office, less than a quarter of a mile.

And at some point I really need to stop at a CVS or other store that carries butane to fuel the torch that heats the bender for the plastic rod I’m using for the frame of the Mini Sprint-T. And while I’m on the subject of cars I found a really good intake manifold for a SBC to use should I wind up running a SBC on the 1:1 Sprint-T. This manifold is an evolution of the TPI GM intake from the late ’80s early ’90s, that produced prodigious low-end torque but ran out of breath above 3000 RPM partially because of the state of the art for EFI at the time. Well this version breathes all the way up top, with “top” depending on displacement but generally higher than a factory cast crank will live with. The tech person I was in chat with says for a 383 the “top” is above 6000. The tech manual advises against using E85 but the only thing I can find that might not be compatible with the fuel is possibly the fuel injectors or the rubber injection lines supplied. Those are all easy to replace with alcohol rated devices or materials. The crank and piston kit I’m looking at has a max continuous of 5200 RPM or a short-burst redline of 5500 RPM.

Finding a kit to build a 383 that runs on 87 octane NA is another problem entirely. Most of them are too high a compression ratio for 87, or built for forced induction and cost too much because they are designed for higher HP than a NA engine can make on either 87 octane or E85. Sure that makes for an engine that is unlikely to fail even during racing, but I could buy a kit not made for boost that would be just as reliable and a bunch less expensive if they would use the same parts they use for 93 octane except for the extremely dished pistons in the hyper eutectic material instead of forged used in the boost-capable kits. Locally the difference between 87 and 93 octane is $0.30-0.50/gallon, or about 20-30%, and E85 is about a penny more than 87. Depending on tune it might be cheaper to run on E85 all the time using the 93 octane kit if I wasn’t concerned with availability for long trips. But for that I have the possibility of running a storage tank in the tire trailer to extend the range enough to get between E85 stations on the Interstate when driving between races, and there are plenty of places to refuel locally.

Weather is here, wish you were beautiful

It has turned cold and rainy today, after yesterday’s trek for nothing. I had originally planned on going downtown and depositing checks and Getting Stuff Done, but Bush41’s funeral caused all the offices to be closed, and apparently also the ATMs to not work, because it said I had money but then said I couldn’t have any. I got as much cash as they could give me at the register because I had to go buy stuff in the store where the ATM is located. Unfortunately I couldn’t get anywhere near the cash I needed to get because of the limits on how much cash they can give back. ☹️

And the Trump Tariffs are negatively affecting the Sprint-T build. Local steel prices are through the roof, and online prices that can deliver are only a tiny bit better. And I mean tiny, about 1% less. I thought the tariff was only 25% on steel, but it looks like more so maybe this was the one he slapped the 30% tariff on. And adding 30% to the cost of the raw stock does bad things to the build budget. I really try hard to keep politics out of the blog posts, but there are times when that’s just not feasible, like now. Tariffman has just totally screwed up two things I do/did, building bicycles and hot rods (and tumbrels, but those are just bicycle trailers with a handrail). So it’s not just the big car companies getting screwed, us individual hobbyists are feeling the pinch as well.

So, anyway, I have time to do the post because I walked over 2 miles yesterday and I’m getting pain on the scars from the surgery to put my hip together and then take the hardware out so I wouldn’t get strip searched every time I had to go through a security checkpoint and they didn’t believe the scars (only happened once, but once is one too many times). You would think that more than 15 years since the last operation would be enough to keep the scars from hurting, but you would be wrong, because when I woke up this morning I could barely move my leg for about an hour or so. I don’t know exactly how long because both phones were on the chargers and out of my reach and I can’t read the LCD digital clock from the bed. It felt like forever, but realistically it was less than an hour. Then I just didn’t want to get out from under the quilt because cozy, and things didn’t hurt as long as I stayed on the hot side of things. Staying too warm was pretty instrumental to alleviating a number of recent pains in my leg, hip and shoulder. Which is another roundabout way of saying I’m getting old but not in the good way. Which is another way of saying immortality without eternal youth is a curse, or that I wish I had access and the money to purchase the enhancements my character in Shadowrun has, replacing the damaged legs with ones that can be repaired or replaced, ditto the arm and bypassing the brain damage with cerebral enhancements, fixing my vision with “cateyes” that can see in almost no light without having to get recharged once a day… fixing everything that hurts or doesn’t work right. Then I can be immortal minus the pains of old age. Unlike my current situation of immortal with accelerated aging because healthcare in the US sucks unless you’re obscenely rich.

And that seems like a good place to stop for today.

We have actual cool

The office temperature was 74°F (23.3°C) this morning! It was cooler than that when I went shopping for a solution to the drain plug problem we are having in the kitchen sink and redeemed a coupon for a free Avocado Bacon Burger at the local Whataburger. Then it was about the same as it is right now outside: 66°F.

Mrs. the Poet is not sure she likes the solution I found for her constantly failing drain plugs: what Lowe’s calls a “suction stopper” which is basically a round sheet of rubber that covers the drain, and a stainless mesh filter that fits inside the drain and removes for cleaning. Total cost $7 and the only failure points are eventually the rubber will age into uselessness (almost typo that would also have worked: “uselessmess”) and the mesh can be torn if a fork gets caught in it. Unlike the one we bought last year for $3 at the local grocery that has a built-in failure that is pretty much guaranteed because that’s exactly how all 3 of the last ones we bought failed, there is a barbed insert that fits through a hole in the rubber stopper, and after some use the water pressure in the full sink will overcome the tenacity of the barbed insert and the stopper gets left behind when the rest of the assembly is removed to allow drainage. This is another design defect in that the strainer has to be removed to drain the water so it doesn’t actually strain the debris from going down the drain. The new plug and strainer doesn’t have this failing.

I’m still thinking (Danger Will Robinson!) about the Sprint-T design, this time about the lateral location device for the rear axle. With the various types and sizes of tires I will be using some adjustability in the rear suspension to change the balance of grip front to rear. Looking at the many ways to get this adjustability the simplest way is adjusting the rear roll center height by moving the vertical attachment of the rear lateral location device. Well, I did the bending stress on a 1.125″ fine thread bolt and for the LS and lighter engines this will be just big enough to not fail in long term use. There might be some flex while racing, and it is a definite failure point if I bang a curb with the right rear tire on the street, but the flex will not be noticeable to the driver and I’m not supposed to be banging curbs anyway. Construction will be super easy: After I cut the pivoting piece for the Watt’s link I cut a 1.125″ hole in the center for the pivot bolt then weld a fine thread nut with a grease fitting over the hole and machine out a bit of the arm to clear the bolt in use. I don’t know how much adjustment I will actually need and I could probably rebuild the mount for the pivot arm with only as much bolt as I need left unsupported from flex after I finish testing. Then I could just machine away the rest of the bolt past the support structure and save that little bit of weight.

Speaking of saving weight, I’m having some issues with how to attach the bracket for the Watt’s link to the rear axle housing, mostly because I still haven’t settled on which rear axle to use, the nine-inch Ford with an aluminum center section and a fabricated aluminum housing and axle tubes or the Winters V8 quick change with a magnesium center section and aluminum side bells with aluminum axle tubes. The generic Nine Inch would be a touch cheaper and has more clearance at droop, while the V8 is slightly lighter and has a better selection of final drive ratios. That availability of final drive ratios might be the thing that swings the decision. Anyway, the Nine Inch housing will have to have a mount welded on the back, while the V8 can have the bracket bolted with longer studs on the side bell, making modification a simple matter of unbolting the test bracket and bolting on the permanent bracket, another point in favor of the V8 QC axle.

And this once again points out that designing a car from scratch is a good thing to do for us old people with ADD because there are so many sub-systems that have to be hashed out so progress can still be maintained when interest fades on whatever I’m working on at the moment.