Tag Archives: hot rod

Getting my feet back under me after getting the rug pulled

I don’t know if any of you caught it Saturday, but Mrs. the Poet pulled the rug out from underneath me on the hot rod. Basically she just took my part of the family budget and said “we need to spend this otherwise”. This strands a ton of money in non-returnable parts because I bought a lot of my parts on close-out and returned to save money. I had a very tight budget before and was pinching every penny until Ol’ Abe screamed for mercy, but now I don’t even have that.

I mean, just look at what's left of this penny!

And yes, that penny is the same diameter as a nickel now.

I’m still processing this on an emotional level. On my intellectual level, yeah, we could use the money for other things but all the things she mentioned I have pulled money out of my trust to pay for several times now and she still hasn’t done them, so why should my budget get wiped for things I want when she gets unlimited raids on my trust fund for the same thing? I mean I have taken money out of my trust on several occasions to pay for things she mentioned in the justification for wiping my budget, so why wipe out my budget now? Especially when I was on the cusp of making as much money on my own as Mrs. the Poet’s retirement brings in.

I don’t mean for this to sound like I’m dumping on Mrs. the Poet, this is my way of processing this. In fact this blog was started as a way of processing my getting hit and the guy apparently not getting punished for trying to kill me. This blog had been running for years before I found out what really happened. And then I had to process why they would withhold the information from me and why I still don’t know the name of the guy who tried to kill me after more than 15 years. I’m mainly just kvetching now.

In summation, I ain’t got no money, Mrs. the Poet is being mean to me (not really), and I write to work things through I can’t process any other way. Oh! and I can’t get money until I replace my ID card.

Opus the Unkillable

I need a pussyhat

Seriously. I want to show my support, I need a warm hat for long walks at night, and I can’t knit. I also don’t have the funds to buy one even if I knew where to get one. Also I strongly disagree with and disapprove of Cheeto Jesus. For a guy who sponsored a bike race he doesn’t seem to care much about actually being able to use bikes.

Also I got a PM on Twitter (@opusthepoet) that I should do a political blog. Sorry but while I care about politics to a degree I care much more about what politicians are doing to things I care about, like clean air and clean water, and my grandson not having to swim to work when he grows up because of sea level rise due to climate change. I really don’t care which political party is in charge as long as the things like that and personal liberties are protected. Unfortunately we seem to have one side that only protects corporate profits ahead of clean air and water and personal liberties.

On yet another front, my new pump doesn’t work. Instead of using a compression fitting for connecting the gauge to the pump they used a pipe thread fitting. Both of those connect and hold air, the difference is you can’t “clock” the pipe fitting to make it tight when facing a particular direction like you can with a compression fitting, and the gauge keeps hitting the pump frame during the pump action and getting loosened up. The solution of course is to get a hose with a female pipe fitting on one end and a male fitting on the other and use that to bridge the gap between the gauge and the pump so they don’t hit. I could ask for my money back, but I got almost the cheapest pump on Amazon so I guess this is as much my fault as theirs. On the bright side I can use this as practice for building brake lines for the hot rod, and the extra hose length will make using the pump easier as I can hold the gauge in my hand as I pump instead of trying to read it on the ground as it bounces back and forth from being on a foot pump.

On the hot rod front I have discovered the hub spacing using the stock drive axles is going to be too wide for the front axle. I have four alternatives: buy a wider front axle so the front and rear widths match up (expensive, requires custom manufacturing), 2) make the de Dion cage so that the rear axle width matches the front and shorten the stock drive axles to fit (tricky but barely within my capabilities), or 3) get the widest front axle width available without spending for the custom work and live with the difference as it will actually reduce the theoretical difficulties I was having getting the front and rear grip to match through the middle of a corner. Getting a wider front axle also reduces a problem I was trying to work around for wheel lock. Not lock as in too much brake but lock as in how far I can turn the wheel from side to side, in this case wider is better as the frame is a fixed width, and the further I push the front wheels out the more I can turn them from side to side, without hitting the rest of the car. 4) Mix of 3 and 2. Buy the widest axle and then narrow the drive axles to fit. Cheaper than 1 with all the work of 2 but the car will look right. Handling would still be interesting to sort out.

So, tomorrow I have meetings about the church, then grocery shopping, looks like a busy day.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Getting antsy waiting for my foot to get better

Still waking up feeling like someone has been beating on my foot, but the swelling is starting to come down over the ball of the foot so I’m doing better, just not “better” enough yet. I so want to go for a walk right now while the weather is still shorts-and-t-shirt warm. But I’m still not recovered enough to just go for a walk I don’t absolutely have to take. Discretionary walks are still out of the question, no matter how badly I want to take one. The condition I was in after the trip to the lab rat keeper last week confirms that. But there are Big Point captures I can get out there now for my phone game that require walking to get, or a bus ride. And spending $5 to make <$1 is not good economic sense. So I can only collect the Big Bucks when I have to go someplace by bus that I can't avoid having to go to, like going to the LRK or buying a presta adapter at the LBS.

More to the point I want to get out of the house, but I can't just walk someplace because of my foot being messed up. And not being able to leave the house is what is making me feel antsy.

Also making me antsy is I have reached a point where I can't do anything more with my hot rod until I get actual things to work with. I can't decide which brakes to use on the front until I know which brakes I have to use on the back, which requires actually seeing if the e-brake calipers will physically fit the Chrysler knuckles, and by that I mean bolting the brackets to the knuckles and not welding them. And that is just one of the many decisions I still need to make but can't because I lack the parts in my hands. On the e-brakes I'm pretty sure there is enough room for the caliper to fit after I remove some bits that locate the OEM caliper and maybe grind a bit more away from the knuckle, but again that's from looking at pictures on the Internet not having the actual parts to physically compare them. I know which calipers I'm going to use for the e-brake, what I don't know is which end of the car they are going to be mounted on, and whether I'm going to use them for doing burnouts or bootleg turns. Also still waiting to find out about the plasma gig in 2 weeks, that will pay for parts and raw stock. Things might get a bit tight without the plasma gig.

And Mrs. the Poet just took a hard look at the bottom of my foot to see how the recovery is going and it's… going. The swelling is way down but still there, so I have a bit to go yet.

I'm going to try to head out again tomorrow to pick up that presta adapter so I can get back to riding my bike to pick up those big points with my game that I can't reach on foot.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Learning the limitations of my new software

After I posted yesterday I found a tutorial for the OBD2 software I found for my Chromebook, and it turns out it won’t let me reprogram my ECU. What it will do is tell me error codes and what they mean, and clear out the error codes. Still unknown at this point if it will let me bypass stuff that was on the donor vehicle that isn’t on or needed for the hot rod.

Something else I learned was I will need to get a Windows laptop or tablet to run the reflashing programs available for my ECU. And a fairly recent one at that, the other working laptop I used to have was running Win98 and that wouldn’t cut it, the flashing program requires XP or higher. There are lots of used computer shops around here, I should be able to get one fairly cheap. Unfortunately Mrs. the Poet’s Android tablet will not work. There are apps that will remap ECUs from an Android tablet, but not the ECU in the 1996 Chrysler donor vehicle.

On other subjects I’m still counting the days until I can sell my blood plasma. Because I was testing an unapproved medication I have to wait longer than usual to make sure all of the drug is out of my system, roughly the second week in February instead of the last week in January. I think I can cope until then. The last check from the secret shopper gig was straight pay, no bonuses, so things are snug around Casa de El Poeta, but not tight yet.

And on that note I’m signing off. Y’all have yourselves a great Sunday tomorrow.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Well, poop!

My neck was feeling good, my hip would let me get a leg over the top bar of the frame of the new bike, but the tires were low. So I hooked the pump up only to watch the head get blown off the valve repeatedly every time I tried to pump up the tires. So my 12 YO bike pump has gone to the Happy Hunting Grounds and I still have a garage full of flat tires and nothing to ride.😤😱 Presta or Schrader it didn’t matter, that pump head was not staying put on the valve. So it appears my next purchase will be new bicycle pump.

Speaking of purchases one made it home yesterday. There was a pair of steering arms for my spindles in the Garage Sale section of speedway.com. The posted regular price led me to believe they were just the regular mild steel steering arms, and the discounted price was very reasonable for that. But when the parts arrived I discovered that there was an error in my favor. I thought the parts seemed rather shiny to be mild steel, and closer examination revealed them to be stainless steel instead, which have a normal catalog price more than twice what was charged in the Garage Sale.
Shiny, ooohhh!

Shiny up close, too!

Needless to say I’m moderately happy with the purchase. I’m not outrageously happy because of why the parts were returned in the first place: they don’t quite fit as they came from the warehouse. This appears to be a tolerance issue on the machining of the arms where they bolt to the spindles. You might be able to see recesses machined into the back of the spindle around the hex nuts and under the steering arm. This was done to give a flat place for the steering arm to register against. But as you can probably see on the bottom of the second picture that is not quite the case with these parts, they are sitting against the unmachined back of the spindle because the part that was supposed to fit inside the machined reliefs was left oversized. Therefore I will be forced to hand-fit these steering arms to my spindles in order to save 50% off the retail cost. Oh, the horrors! 😂 I will have to perform fabrication to use these reduced-cost no-return parts! 😈 However shall I manage!

I’ll break it off here because I need to take a walk and get more points. Those gift cards aren’t going to jump into my Amazon account on their own, y’know?

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Poet

A Compromise Has Been Reached

After much discussion with Mrs. the Poet (including several suggestions of where the other could go, both polite or not) we have reached an agreement on the hot rod.

It was agreed that placing an arbitrary veto on any activity was unfair, so we discussed why Mrs. the Poet was unhappy about building a hot rod. The primary objection was local codes’ propensity for hauling off parts cars after an unreasonably short period of time, and also their propensity for removing projects not completed to their satisfaction as when they came and sawed up my bench I made from a large fallen branch after the ice storm a few years back. I had finished the rough cuts and was waiting for the wood to finish drying out to install the lamp fixtures and cup holders when they snuck into the back yard with electric chain saws and sawed it up. The worry was we would get repeated tickets for the donor vehicle and if they allowed enough time to get all the parts needed to construct the hot rod at some point prior to completion they would remove the hot rod as well.

So the compromise we reached was we would clean out the garage so I could build the hot rod inside. That means we have some stuff that needs getting rid of, like the 12 bikes that were “donated” to my custom bike building business (dumped here when kids outgrew them most likely), the entertainment center my daughter didn’t know what to do with after they got the wide-screen TV, and a bunch of other stuff that was left here by the kids when they moved out or left by previous tenants when they moved out. Most of the stuff will be free or damned cheap. I also have an original engine from a BD-5 airplane kit that I bought for $200 that I’m willing to part with for $100, and a VW single-port engine and a stack of dual-port heads that I’ll let go for $5 for as a set. All prices F.O.B. Beautiful Suburb of Hell, AKA my garage door. You want it you gotta come get it with $$ in fist, no checks, no credit cards, and NO returns. No holds will be placed on any items, first come first served. Autographs sold for $1. 😀 I don’t really expect too much demand for autographs. If you want the engines or bicycles before the date eventually set for the sale leave me a comment or send me an e-mail.

I’ll post the sale date when determined, probably some time in the Spring.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

OK, Seriously Bummed By This

Mrs. the Poet has placed her foot squarely on my dream of building a hot rod and ground it to flinders. I am not allowed to build my hot rod on the property where we have our house, and I don’t have any budget to build it any place else. So free parts car will have to be abandoned. Plans for the mid T will have to be discarded. Dreams of competing in Goodguys autocrosses are ruined. Hundreds of hours calculating frame member sizes wasted.

And the worst of it the $500 model T body sitting in the living room is now a literal white elephant (with a few spots).
Me in happier days
Dreaming of actually driving this thing.
Some of the spots
Here are some of the spots from the parting lines from the mold.

One thing that won’t change is moving forward on the Mini Sprint-T. I have to make a run to the hardware for another tube of mock-up glue (that I’ll also be able to use to repair Mrs. the Poet’s damaged Hummels she inherited from my mother) but the drills and adjustable collet I got for my Dremel tool have already been put to use cleaning up some parts and doing a little bracket fabricating. The dead toasters we got are being used to make a vacuum-forming machine to crank out modified bucket bodies in scale. (Three heating elements in a toaster, of which 2 can be used to make a heating unit for a vacuum former.) And I still have the 3 scale engines I can use (the SBC for the most-likely version, the LS7 for the “ultimate” version, and the Coyote Ford for the “Ford in Ford” version). The Coyote was dropped from consideration for 1:1 construction after doing a weight comparison to the LS series and actually seeing how far it hung past the sides of the bucket firewall. Not a good look without “blinging” the heck outta the engine to make it look goodbetter. Now don’t get me wrong, the Coyote is a good-looking engine, it just is Really Wide when installed in a T-bucket which makes it kinda dominate the visuals, forcing a cosmetic makeover.

And in other news I’m taking a day off from my walks, mostly because my left foot feels like it has been beat on with a big stick and my butt feels sore on the right side b/c I have been walking without the lifted left shoe. It has been years since I did any kind of walking without a lift on my left shoe to make up for the loss of about 17mm in my left leg from the crash, and the bottom of the foot is having to get used to just having a normal thickness sole between it and the concrete when I walk. It’s also really disconcerting when I walk in the house in my slippers and I hear rice crispy sounds with each step, but that’s the reality that has been getting louder the last 15 years. Part of that is just the reality of getting older unrelated to surviving getting hit @ 60 MPH with a truck.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Well, the de Dion suspension just isn’t in the budget

I was looking at the budget for the T-bucket now that I have an engine and transmission along with the rest of the donor vehicle it came in to scrounge from. Basically the budget remains pegged on $0 in spite of everything I have done to raise money for the project. So compromises must be made if this project is to continue. I’m still going to go sell plasma to make up the majority of the budget, to go along with the lab rat gig. Yay, more holes in my arms.

Another compromise is reusing as many parts as possible from the front suspension of the donor vehicle to make the rear suspension of the mid bucket, instead of just the knuckles so that there will be something to connect to the half-shafts that fit the transmission. I’m hoping that I can swap out the stock springs in the struts for ones that work better from my catalogs of various diameters, lengths, and spring rate, springs and get a ride height and roll stiffness that will work. The best candidates so far are $40 each or $80 total (plus shipping), but I’ll have to wait until I get hold of the actual struts before I can know for sure. There are other springs that can cost as much as $100 per spring because they are strange diameter/length/rate combinations, and I’m really hoping I don’t need to go to those.

This will save a bunch of $ and time to build at the cost of compromising the handling for what essentially is intended to be a car that depends on handling for speed in the competition it is being built for. The intended outcome for this car is winning Goodguys autocrosses outright. I won’t have the best dig coming out of corners so I will have to get the best corner speed to make up for the lack of power.

There are days when it looks like I will never get my hot rod built. Today was one of those days.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Wow was I underestimating my walks

Someone mentioned an app on Twitter that did something I needed, tracking walks and estimating calories burned. So I looked it up at the Google Store and found out the price was right (free) and the basic version did in fact do everything I needed from such an app. So I now have “Map My Walk” installed on my phone.

What I learned is my “short walk” is 3.31 miles long instead of my estimated 2.5 miles I’ve been telling everyone, and that I burned 500 calories on my “short walk”. I’m thinking my “long walk” is closer to 5 or 6 miles than the 3.5 or 4 that I thought. This also explains how my shoes keep wearing out so fast, since I go for a walk almost every day. I’m also faster than I thought but still nothing to brag about.

Also while on my walk I contemplated the one remaining issue I have to solve with the rear suspension: keeping the rear wheels from steering the car under power because the toe angle changes. With the 2D Pratt truss the knuckle could have had enough bending torque to change the toe angle uncontrollably, so I had to make it 3D without adding to the weight or making it take up too much space behind or over the transmission. Thinking the problem through I realized the 4-link was going to be taking almost all of the forces that would be changing the toe, so all I really needed to do was give the 2D truss a fighting chance at using the depth of the structural members to resist toe change by using some diagonals connecting to the vertical member of the last bay before the knuckle, in as many planes as I could so the last bay would be 3D but everything else could remain 2D, only slightly increasing the weight of the truss and not changing the vertical stiffness needed to keep the wheel aligned on the other 2 axis. In doing so I would not be using a true Pratt truss in that the diagonal members will be under compression rather than tension, and the end bay would not have an upper horizontal member or terminating vertical member but would be similar to a kingpin truss in 3 planes, with another triangular bay under the truss from the bottom of the knuckle up to the bottom horizontal member in the plane of the main truss keeping the camber angle constant. I wish my CAD skills were good enough to draw this out and output a .gif or .jpg file to put in the blog, because words are only so good in describing this.

Another stab at it, the plate that holds the knuckle to the truss is going to be rectangular or maybe a right triangle with the hypotenuse facing down and forward and the right angle on the top rear side. Diagonal members will run from all 3 corners of the triangle to the first vertical member of the truss, one from the bottom corner to the bottom of the first vertical member from the bottom, one from the top front corner to the bottom of the vertical member on its front side, another from the top front to the top of the vertical member on its front side, and a last one from the top rear corner to the top of the first vertical member, that diagonal in the plane of the truss. That should be more than enough to keep the forces driving the wheel under control so the toe and camber don’t change. And none of the added members will interfere with the drive shafts or the lateral links of the Watts link that keeps the whole shebang located from side to side. That’s because all of the added structure is either behind or above the knuckle and therefore above or behind the driveshafts and lateral links.

I really need to learn how to use the AutoCAD 360 program I downloaded to the laptop and not just so I can draw pictures of the car to post to the blog. Anyone know of some good tutorials to teach me to use it?

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable Badass

Need input from my readers on my T-bucket

I’m at a dilemma here on the rear suspension design, so I’m asking for your help. I have narrowed down the rear suspension to 3 candidates, 2 of which are interchangeable as the major difference is method of construction, and the third would require cutting most of the back end off the car to go from either of the other two to it or from it to either of the other two.

Anyway here are the choices:

1) Reuse almost everything under the front of the minivan including the subframe. That means the struts, springs, hubs, knuckles, axles and CV joints, A-arms, and the tie rod ends. Advantages are reduced fabrication as almost everything is reused except the upper strut mount to the frame of the minivan. Major disadvantage is no way to adjust ride height except to cut the spring to make it shorter, no way to change the spring rate except to cut the spring to make it stiffer, no way to reduce roll stiffness to improve rear grip, very little way to predict the ride height, and poor camber control with body roll. Also ugly with a capital UGH! The front suspension bits of a Chrysler Town and Country are strong, but they will never win the “Rear Suspension” category of a beauty contest.

2) De Dion beam with fabricated brackets to fit the knuckles attached to a 3″ dia 0.25″ wall aluminum tube, probably a 7075 alloy. This has the main advantage of keeping the wheels pointed in mostly the right direction in all 3 axis all the time unlike option 1. It’s also much better looking than option 1, but that is faint praise from a bad comparison. Another advantage is roll stiffness can be reduced by mounting the coilovers closer to the center of the car. The major disadvantage is I can cut the pieces for the bracketry but not weld them as none of my equipment will work on the thicknesses of aluminum needed for this job and the budget does not run into buying welding equipment that will only be used for one major assembly. Secondary disadvantage is coilover shocks and springs will need to be purchased to keep the frame from dragging the ground, but that is offset with the ability to choose shock and spring rates better suited to the reduced overall weight (compared to the donor vehicle), and the ability to adjust the ride height. This will reuse the knuckle and hub along with the parts attached like brakes etc. but probably not the tie rods. Lateral location will be by a Watt’s Link mounted under the differential and connected to the hubs or the bracketry the hubs are bolted to. Fore and aft location by a parallel 4-link connecting the frame and the end bracket on the de Dion tube.

3) Bird cage style de Dion beam from thin wall small diameter steel tubing in a 3D Warren or Pratt truss that sweeps back from the knuckles to clear the transaxle while leaving room for the axle shafts to come through without hitting the structure when the suspension travels vertically. Advantages include looking cool, something I could fabricate on my own, looking cool, slightly lighter and slightly stronger than the single 3″ aluminum tube, looking cool, all the advantages of the 3″ tube version, and finally looking cool. Disadvantages are much harder to fabricate since it’s basically a space frame for the rear axle and leaves less room for the trunk and gas tank behind the engine and transaxle.

Options 2 and 3 are interchangeable, just unbolt the tube or space frame and bolt in the space frame or tube to replace, so I could make both and see which works better. Probably not going to happen because I don’t have the budget for iterative development.

Right now I’m trying to decide which of the three options I’m going with. #1 is cheapest but has the most negative compromises, #2 and #3 have similar costs but #2 is much quicker to build because there is less actual cutting and welding. So help me make up my mind