Tag Archives: cheap bastards

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.

Weather has been here, wish you were beautiful

The title is the punchline to a very old joke from before I was born, and accurately sums up the situation here in The Beautiful Suburbs of Hell. The highs and lows have been swapping places with highs less than the previous day’s lows, and lows higher than previous highs. I went from long pants and long underwear to shorts and t-shirt for my daily walks on consecutive days and back again to long pants and underwear. Yesterday I went for a walk at night in shorts and t-shirt and was a little chilly, today I went in the middle of the day with a sweatshirt over a long-sleeve T and still my hands got cold, much worse than yesterday’s walk at night. Mrs. the Poet has a condition she calls “changing weather crud” that in the past she got once in the fall and again in the spring, this year she has had it the entire month of December with no end in sight.

In other news I spent the majority of my Xmas money buying parts I don’t have the equipment to fabricate to the level of precision required, at a reduced price because someone bought the wrong parts and returned them after trying to install. So I’m getting them at 20% off original price. Maybe more, there was a discount code I tried to use that wouldn’t work that would have taken another 10% off the already discounted price that will probably get refunded when they get real live humans reviewing the order next week. Anywho the parts are steering arms that attach above the axle on the reproduction early Ford spindles I got last year. The main difficulty with making these on my own is the thickness of the stock used, the arms made for bolting to the bottom of the spindle are cut from ¼” mild steel and bent so they bolt through tabs with nuts, the ones for the top look like they’re cut from 1″ plate and are threaded so they don’t need nuts or bent tabs. My cutting tools are pretty much maxed out at 3/16″ thickness plate or 0.125″ wall tubing. Sure they will cut thicker stuff but my ability to make the tool go where I want to go instead of where it wants to go declines sharply when I exceed those limits. And don’t get me started about my hole-drilling abilities with my 3/8″ capacity hand drill. And I picked up a big bottle of Shiner Holiday Cheer beer to toast in the New Year tomorrow for $3 at my local grocery store. Since Mrs. the Poet will probably only drink an ounce or two (30-60 ml) and I’m not a big drinker either so the 32 oz. bottle will be more than enough for our private little party.

Stay warm or cool as the case may call for this NYE, and consider every driver on the road a drunk stoner on 2 days without sleep, because they’re out there and you don’t want to be the one that gets hit. I’m an unkillable badass but it still hurts like a mutha’ to get hit. You most likely are not an unkillable badass. ‘Nuf said.

BTW I have a playlist loaded to You Tube, labeled “Opus’ fun junk”. It’s 71 pieces of all kinds of music with electronica, EDM, trance, Classic Rock, New Wave Jazz, and some stuff that just defies classification other than the origin of cartoon music themes.

Peace out, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet

In pain and having a mild allergy attack, and the Feed

After getting the gas on Francis/es this morning because I got done too late to buy gas last night, I mowed the grass this afternoon. The good news: I rode Francis/es for 1.04 miles today in 92/93 degree weather. Bad news, I still need to make that extended stem so I can sit comfortably and see the road.

More bad news, as I was doing the filtering my feet started to swell a bit until I couldn’t put my shoes back on. I will still be able to put out the garbage and recycling tonight for trash pickup tomorrow, I just won’t be very graceful about it. I think the swelling is due to my lower legs getting peppered with cut grass as I was mowing this afternoon.

Up first is Our Daily Ted, part 1. Morning Links: DUI driver in Palos Verdes rampage gets three years; scofflaw cyclists no worse than drivers I think it might be just me, but when I read “no worse than drivers” the image that comes to my mind is the 30K+ people killed by motor vehicles annually. I don’t think that is exactly what we are to aspire for.

Daily Ted part 2. Guest Post: The Benefits of a Bicycle for Urban Transport A reasoned, sober look at the benefits of city cycling.

And my second favorite bike blog also had a guest post. Guest article: Biking on the cheap There’s getting by and then there is having a bike to be proud of. They are not mutually exclusive, but you would never see me sourcing my tires from a dumpster.

One of the great ironies of history is that protected American bike lanes and intersections were being planned and pilot installed back in the 1970s, before the Dutch influence began, in response to the OPEC oil boycott. America Could Have Been Building Protected Bike Lanes for the Last 40 Years But as is normal with things being done for the first time (integrating bike infra with motor vehicle infra) Sturgeon’s Law raised its ugly head, and instead of throwing out the crap 90% they threw out everything.

And while we are on the subject of US infrastructure, here’s Portland trying to get Dutch style residential streets. City says diverters possible on SE Clinton Street this summer Again had they read the CROW manual this would have already been done.

Speaking of consequences of bad infrastructure, a cyclist gets hit because the stop signs were facing the wrong direction. Troopers: Cyclist hurt after crashing into SUV Notice the completely blind intersection where the cyclist was hit? The cyclist could have come to a complete stop and not being able to see oncoming traffic pulled right in front of the SUV. Not saying that is what happened, just that that’s how it could have happened. That’s why the CROW manual puts the stop/yield signs on the motor vehicle side of the intersection with a bike path, because cars don’t fall down when they stop moving.

And WY starts enforcing a new law for cyclists this month. WHP enforces new “three-foot rule” for bicycle safety and Highway patrol to crack down on new bicycle safety law

A good bit of infrastructure news from NoCal. COMING TO CALTRAIN: MORE SPACE FOR BIKES ON BOARD Solving the “first/last mile” problem.

And a sad update on the cyclist hit by a dump truck making a close pass in CO. Cyclist Killed By Dump Truck It must have been a long, painful death to have taken this long. Pity his killer won’t take that long to die as well, but the Constitution forbids that, cruel and unusual punishment.

NYC is still having a gender discrepancy in their bike counts. Why Do So Few Women Bike In NYC? Infrastructure is a big part of the problem, followed closely by jerk drivers trying to force their way into the bike infrastructure.

And this is a big reason also why women don’t ride bicycles in NYC. Driver Who Killed Park Slope Boy Has License Suspended For 6 Months Six months of “don’t get caught driving” for killing a kid playing at a park in a residential area.

Speaking of drivers not getting what they deserve, here’s another link to that texting driver in Jolly Olde getting carted off to the hoosegow. St Albans cyclist death: John Michell jailed for killing Mark Greenwood Less than 2 years for killing someone leaves me with less than schadenfreude, more like schaedenfrumpy?

And WTF?!? Cyclist suffers fractures to face in London Colney attack Punch someone in the head as the cycle by in the street? What are you, a Daily Mail commenter?

Last link is a Canuck grump. Develop regulations for memorials “Don’t leave reminders of how deadly the thing I use to get around really is!”

Sorry this is going up so late but I had to stop and elevate my foot because of the sudden swelling after mowing the lawn.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Poet

I still have the lump on my neck, and the Feed

I had to call and cancel my MRI because we don’t have the co-pay. So I had to put off the MRI to a point late in April when I should have money to cover the co-pays for everything. The co-pays on this policy are out of proportion to income. Seriously, the ER co-pay is like 50% (+/-) of my monthly budget without medical expenses. The co-pays for a visit to the PCP, the MRI, the consult with the surgeon, and the surgery itself combine to about 2 months of my income, about half of which will not apply to my Out Of Pocket (OOP) maximum. This is one of the results of Gov. Goodhair deciding that Texans would not get expanded Medicaid. Rick, I hope you can sleep at night knowing that there are people who will die because of your decision, that’s all I have to say.

After that heavy intro, something light. The bike lanes in NYC are some of the heaviest used in the US. Including this guy. Ain’t he a hipster?

And as always there is one law for the plebes and another law for the elite. De Blasio’s Position On New Car Idling Bill Remains Hazy

Our Daily Ted almost didn’t make the post today. April Fool-free Morning Links: Maintaining Griffith Park for the many; traffic planning problems in Calabasas Those pedestrian crossing flags are about the stupidest thing I have ever seen, not because they aren’t needed, but because someone thought they were.

Simpsons ride many bikes. #ciclavia

What’s worse, losing $341,000 a year in parking meter revenue, or killing a cyclist or pedestrian a year? Comm. Ave. bike lane plan draws ire: ‘Outrageous’ loss of parking

Portland is using every source to embrace Vision Zero. Bike/walk advocates unveil plan for Oregon to zero out road deaths

And even car-crazy Houston can haz bike lanes. Biking through downtown Houston just got easier thanks to new protected green lane

One of the more dangerous places in NYC is getting an overhaul. “Boulevard Of Death” Will Get Protected Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Walkway

Sounds like this woman missed her Pikes Place latte that morning. Seattle Driver Blocking Bicycle Lane to Cyclist: “I Literally Don’t Give a Fuck About Anything You Say” And instead of just moving one car width to the left to get into the parking lane, the bike lane parker drives off without doing whatever it was that made her park in the bike lane in the first place as she leaves in shame.

Well, what do you know? Finnish drivers don’t yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk either. Police step up surveillance of pedestrian crossings And they also don’t yield to cyclists using the crossings when there are MUPs connected to the marked crossings. Yep, they’re drivers alright.

London’s financial elites are switching from sedate golf to more active cycling, but the roads are still a problem. Bankers swap golf for bicycles but still fear London’s roads

And one of the reasons why they are uneasy “sharing” the roads. Stars’ fashion designer deliberately knocked cyclist off bike after he kicked her Audi TT She cuts off a cyclist, cyclist kicks in the side of her car, she chases down the cyclist and commits assault with a deadly weapon, measured and reasonable responses to the situation. /s

Is it really “bike friendly” if it’s only friendly to commuters? The Web Monkey Speaks: A “Bike-Friendly” city? Let’s redefine that

I liked the comment someone made about this stuff on another link: Like a fraternity selling rape whistles. Cyclists Shine at Night Courtesy of New Reflective Spray This is victim-blaming, pure and simple. It enables drivers to drive faster than they can stop in the distance they can see clearly at night.

All you graphic designers who participated in my tattoo contest might want to get involved in this. IT’S BACK … USA PRO CHALLENGE OFFERS FANS CHANCE TO DESIGN OFFICIAL COMMEMORATIVE POSTER FOR 2015 RACE AND WIN VIP RACE PACKAGE Yeppers, a $50K or more design contest with a grand prize worth a few hundred to a couple grand tops, travel not included… Well if you were going anyway, might as well enter the contest.

Moots restores one of their bikes involved in a fatal wreck. Forever Forward: Sally Bell’s bike rides again If it was anybody else’s bike it would have been scrapped.

And I’m outta links again tonight.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the (very poor) Poet (I’m still an unkillable badass though)