But we are getting inundated by a Mexican hurricane. Willa is drenching southwestern Mexico, but the moisture is getting pumped all the way up into OK and since The Beautiful Suburbs of Hell are perched between Mexico and OK, we are likewise getting drenched by Willa. Not that we needed any more rain, the ground was still nearly saturated from the previous batch of rain and we only had a few days to dry out before Willa came knocking. The front and back yards turned into lakes, the cats never got more than a few feet from the house because of all the water, and it has been generally dreary and wet all day.
This meant I was inside my head most of the day, thinking. And since I’m realistic enough to know I can’t take over the world like a certain genetically engineered cartoon mouse desires, I was thinking about projects to build. One thing I was thinking about was turning one of those Subaru engine and transmission assemblies into an SCCA A-Mod Solo racer. The idea was to connect the output shaft from the transmission directly to the rear differential, and use motorcycle drive chains to run from the drive shafts of the FWD part of the transaxle under the engine cylinders to axles mounted 73″ in front of the rear axle center to meet the minimum wheelbase requirement and get the polar moment as low as possible, with the driver’s seat parked on the tailshaft of the transmission to get the weight back and also reduce the polar moment, giving an all-wheel drive car that would be close to the minimum weight for the class.
Can you imagine what I could create with a shop and a budget? The mind boggles. No, really my mind was boggled by the idea of having a shop with people and equipment to build and a big enough budget to fund the builds I could come up with, budget being my largest obstacle followed by not having the array of skills I would need to do all the builds myself, at least not quickly. I can do many things, but not all at the same time and to be honest not all that great. I can’t weld pretty, when I need to join metals and make it pretty I braze instead of welding. My upholstery skills can cover a seat in foam padding and cloth or leather as long as I don’t have to do
too much any sewing. My composites skills are actually pretty good as long as I’m not working with resins that kick off quickly at room temperature and I am not in a hurry to get the finished product, because I’m slow.
After I shook off the boggle I was thinking about the Sprint-T again, specifically how to get my creaky bones in and more importantly back out of the car. Since I will have to climb through the top of the roll cage I will need something to help me stand back up on the way out. Part of the scheme for making the halo portion of the cage stiff is to run triangulated structure around the inside to prevent the halo from distorting when the frame is twisted, and my idea was to make the bar that crosses across the front part of the top within arm’s reach of the driver’s seat when the driver is seated, which ties in well with the idea that I should be able to park my butt on the top of the cage while standing inside the car. If I keep the inside of the cage low enough to not allow my head or limbs to get outside the cage in case of a flip, the top of the cage will be within easy reach from the driver’s seat, and easy to sit down on while getting out. And the structure that triangulates the opening in the top of the cage will likewise be in easy reach if I run the front lateral bar across the front of the seat, and X brace the part of the opening in front of that while using more structure to brace around the opening that remains. Did I mention I get obsessive about rigid structures? Or I could run a bar from the center of the “grab bar” to the center of the rear hoop and run a diagonal across that opening while running diagonals from the left and right corners of the front hoop to the center of the “grab bar” leaving only the small opening for driver access not triangulated. That would prevent most deflection in the halo structure, and give me lots of places to grab while trying to get in or out of the car. And won’t add as much weight to the halo as the other alternative for bracing it against deflections. Again I came up with a better solution while trying to describe the problem I was trying to solve.
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.
Well, plans were to wrap my workout around getting my toes done down the street, but the weather has other ideas. There has been a line of thundershowers going over since shortly after noon, when I got to sleep about 0600 after putting the previous blog post to bed about 0430. That post took extra long because I would write a little bit, go crawl around in the bucket body for a while, run some numbers on the calculator, crawl around the body again, run some more numbers on the calculator, write a bit, rinse and repeat. I spent about 3 times as much time with a tape measure inside the body as I did sitting at the keyboard. And I still need to get my toes done, the nails are getting a bit on the long side, while it is still raining with occasional lightning and thunder over Casa de El Poeta preventing my walk.
On the TGS2, the mind kept going after the post was put to bed. I considered saddle tanks as well as wrap-around tanks with luggage space on top of the tank. I genuinely think the best option would be putting the Jaz Products 892-032-01 32 gallon bare cell on edge so that it would be 17″ tall, 14″ wide, and 33″ across, behind the seat and using the space beside the seat for carrying things. Unfortunately nobody I have contacted sells them, so I might have to get it directly from Jaz, which makes the price a mystery. But it is possible to interpolate a price by comparing the costs of bare cells that I can get to the costs with cap and fittings for the same size cell, then applying that difference to the 32 gallon cell with cap and fittings. I think I’m looking at $143 plus shipping. Compared to a custom tank that’s cheap. I would still need to fabricate a firewall and fuel filler, but that would be true for any tank inside the bucket body. Jaz even makes a fuel gauge sending unit to fit this configuration.
On the bike-riding front, I’m still not riding. I do the PT that is supposed to make my neck more flexible but all it seems to be doing is keeping me from getting any worse. It doesn’t hurt to hold my head back or turn to the right, it just doesn’t go back or to the right. And I’m still getting the pain and tingling in my neck and shoulder, especially after I do my exercises. It’s almost like they never took Chris Christie off of my neck, except I have a little more range of motion especially tilting my head back. I still notice it there, and the improvement without a useless lump of fat on my neck. Every few days I check the tires on the bikes to see if they need pumping and once in a while I pump them up.
And now I think I’ll have dessert and a big cup of covefefe (CO-vay-Fay-fay). If Trump can make up words, I can make up the pronunciations.
The headline refers to the difficulty I had in learning to pilot the new bike. The bed does not have a lot of clearance so lean angles for cornering are not high and the steering does not have a lot of travel, especially to the left so catching the bike with steering is not easy. Then there was the whole “bending too far over to stay on the seat” business that had to be adjusted out. That required reversing the stem to reduce the reach in the horizontal plane, then raising it to the minimum insertion point to get the handlebars up where my knees didn’t hit them. Then I could ride the bike a little, but still not very well. The combination made for evil low-speed handling until I could get ahead of the curve, literally. The builders and I are working to get rid of the steering lock issue and to retrofit it to the other Clydes already on the road (both of them). It appears that the other Clyde on the road is not having these issues because it has a fairly powerful throttle-demand front hub motor assist to go with the pedal power applied to the rear wheel. This gets it out of the low-speed regime in a big hurry, maybe fast enough that the owner never noticed how bad the low-speed handling really was.
One reason the new bike is important is transitioning the campgrounds at the Council of Magickal Arts from golf carts to cargo bikes as the golf carts age out. They were used and not a lot of life left in them when the campgrounds were first built back around the turn of the century but we are coming up on the middle of the second decade of the century and those used carts are spending as much time getting repaired as they are running people and cargo around the festival site. Also the carts are not as aligned with the core values of the organization Council of Magickal Arts as using bicycles to move things around. Eventually they plan on moving to something else for moving stuff and the infirm around, my vision is cargo bikes and pedicabs with a large number of people using powering the units as their community service to help keep the festivals running smoothly.
But moving on from the new bike, today is the opening race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. As I type this the Daytona 500 is under a rain delay (again), so they are showing last year’s race on the station that is supposed to be carrying today’s race. The racing was good until the rains came, but now they are under a tornado warning and everybody is under the stands where it is somewhat safe until the weather blows over. And now they are saying there is about 10 minutes until coverage resumes. And it resumed watching the track driers out drying the track for about 20 minutes then went back to last year’s race replay. It looks like another 90 minutes until they get the track dry.
So, while I wait for the track to dry I’m going to muse about the modified BMX bike I’m working on for someone to ride during the festival this Spring. The idea is a crank forward bike that the rider can reach the ground to dab when things get yucky (technical term) while still having the crank far enough away from the seat that the rider gets full leg extension. I have a batch of square tubing to use to make the seat tube, and I’m going back to the metal supplier to get the right size to make the seat post. I’m even going to give my “secret” jig settings for building this bike from the modified BMX frame. The wheelbase is 42″, the bottom bracket is 19″ from the front axle and 3″ (center, 1 15/16” edge) above the axle, and a 45° seat tube angle. I’m preserving the head tube angle of the donor BMX bike to match the fork on the hardtail version, but the full suspension version will have a slack 70° headtube to go with the suspension fork I have. The real work will be the swingarm mounting points and shock mount points. Then I have to work the seat tube around those mounting points. For that bike about the only parts that will survive from the donor bike will be the down tube and the head tube.
OK they are saying that it will still be at least 60 minutes before the race resumes, so I’m going to stop trying to live blog the race and post the blog.
I actually had to get a ride to church this morning. After riding in the rain last night coming home from the RPG group my rain gear was soaked through especially my shoes which are still damp after standing in front of the heater having hot air blown over them for 2 hours, and wearing them for 4 more hours today. I don’t mind being wet as long as I’m not cold, and I don’t mind being cold, as long as I’m not wet. but if I had gone out on my bike today I would have been cold and wet, which I don’t like at all. I don’t know what it is but the combination of being both cold and wet just really makes me miserable.
Another thing I have to worry about when it rains is the reduced visibility when it rains. I have a blinky tail light that was glued to the back of the bucket pannier brackets, but the wet weather caused the glue to fail and the light was just barely dangling off the bracket by a thread of the glue when I got home from the RPG game, but I have already been working on a brighter light that will bolt to that bucket pannier bracket. I’ll tell you what it is after I have had a few miles of testing to make sure it works as intended, but I can say it’s a variation on the Honkin’ Huge Tailighttm riff, taking a light that was made for motor vehicle use and applying 12V battery power to it and mounting it on the back of a bicycle, but this one will be just for Blue instead of trying to make something that everyone could use like the original Honkin’ Huge Taillighttm.
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just a bad choice in clothes. Well I have discovered that the rain gear I bought won’t work for the 7 mile round trip to church twice in one day. I’m sure the riders in the Pacific NW of this country or in the UK have a much better solution that I have been able to buy here in TX where most people just don’t ride in the rain. What I have been using has been the Performance vented vinyl rain jacket which works for one round trip to church, and the vinyl coated fabric rain pants that were discontinued a few years back that work by are too tight through the thighs when I had the right waist size, some waterproof Rocky branded Goretex oversocks that I have had so long I’m no longer sure where I bought them, and a pair of water-resistant gloves that are likewise only good for one round trip to church. Some of this stuff works and always has, like the oversocks. Some of it works when I got it but no longer works now, like the gloves. And some of the stuff was a bad choice of clothing for anything except emergency use, like the vinyl rain jacket. Of this equipment everything except the gloves was bought mail-order, the gloves were not initially intended as rain gear on my part but pressed into that service based on claims of water resistance.
Aside from the clothing issues riding in the rain is not too bad, I kind of like it. There’s a kind of joy in splashing through puddles and riding in the mud when the fenders do their jobs and keep the water and mud away from me, it makes me feel like a kid again only without the “issues” of acting like a kid as an adult. Like nearly everything else about riding a bike, it’s a stress reliever.