Tag Archives: technical stuff about building cars

More observations from the State Fair of Texas

Well here’s another snippet. I finally got to see a Pentastar V6 in the wild, installed in a Charger base model. I didn’t have my phone with me or I would have shot some pictures, because there were some things about the installation that I wanted to show. One thing in particular was that I could see the carpet of the Automobile Building looking at the firewall and transmission at the back of the block, because the 8 speed automatic transmission is just that small. Too bad it weighs almost as much as the engine it’s bolted to.

To get technical the Pentastar comes in at 326 pounds. The 845RE transmission weighs in at 198 pounds. Still only 524 pounds for 305 HP with a flat torque curve from 1000 to 6200 RPM mated to an eight speed transmission with extremely low parasitic drag, or about 20 pounds less than the base 290 HP 350 SBC crate engine without a transmission.

And my hand is acting up again, so this is the end of this post.


Playing the lottery helps my depression

Buying a lottery ticket buys something I can’t get anyplace else, it buys me hope. When I have that ticket there is the chance, infinitesimal though it may be, that I will get enough money to live comfortably and pass down to my kids some of that comfort. No ticket means zero chance, a ticket means a small but non-zero chance of winning, and that makes all the difference in my outlook on life. I mean look at my life, it’s all a series of wild coincidences one after another and several non-survivable scenarios that were million to one odds or worse. If anyone should win the lottery it should be me. Plus I usually play the Texas Lottery which has far better odds of winning than any of the national games. Still astronomical, but in a lower orbit than the national games.

Mrs. the Poet has already agreed to split the payouts in thirds, one third each and the other third for the household expenses. If anything needs to be spent on the house for personal use, like wiring the garage for 220V for power tools, that comes out of personal budgets. What would this do for the TGS2? Well I think instead of the minivan I would use the flood-damaged Corvette from Houston scenario as the donor vehicle because I still wouldn’t have an unlimited budget. Close enough to unlimited for a bucket, though.

And my hand is still messed up and making typing hard, so this is the end of this post

Still trying to make the car better

Yep, until I can scrape up the $$ for tools and materials I’m iterating the design. Iteration is basically a fancy word for “trial and error”. I make a design in the CAD program and then animate it to see where it doesn’t work, then make changes and test again.

The front end is pretty much designed and all the stuff I have been doing has been pretty much wasting time on the 2.1’s IFS that I’m not going to build because I already have the straight tube axle and most of the bits to bolt it in. I’m just doing the IFS because I’m stalled with zero $$ available for building.

Another place I’m stalled is the back of the car. I need the actual engine and transmission from the donor car sitting over in Dallas to measure against before I can even start to do the back half of the car. Right now I have only the mounting points for the rear suspension known, and not even all of those. Some of the rear suspension mounting points depend on knowing where the upper frame rail is going to be, and that depends on where the transmission mount and the passenger side engine mount are. And I can’t do that until I get the engine hoist (AKA “cherry picker”) to get said engine and transmission out of the donor vehicle. And also getting the donor vehicle over here to strip the usable parts from. I can find pictures of the 3.3/3.8 V6 with the 41TE but there is nothing to scale off of to get the mounting points for the actual mounts. It’s very frustrating.

Everything I try to do is blocked by lack, lack of parts, lack of information, but mostly by lack of money. In fact if I had the money the car would be built already because the other problems only exist because I’m trying to work around a lack of money. This whole thing revolves around my lack of money. The old saying is wrong, money is not the root of all evil, the lack of money is the root of all evil. Well maybe not all evil, they’re still trying to figure out why the LV shooter (I refuse to refer to him by name) shot roughly 600 people, and he was a multi-millionaire. He had no lack of money, and AFAIK all those murders did nothing for his bottom line.

Well I need to cut this one short because tomorrow is bean day and I have a welding job to do.

Told’ja I was working

Well I finally did it and remembered to take pictures. Unfortunately the lens on my phone tends to distort perspectives a bit because of the short focal length. That is inherent to phone cameras without expensive add-on lens systems, and as previously stated we be p’, too impoverished to buy a vowel.

Anyway, stick aided design is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: I use sticks added to another object to help visualize what the end product will look like. It’s like a externalization of my mind’s eye so that I can show others what I see, a pre-computer CAD rendering for those of us stuck with an OS that doesn’t designate a button for screenshots and a CAD that doesn’t play well with others. These sticks were left from another project from many years ago, to build a paper mache submarine on a bicycle trailer for a parade in a church. Long story short we built the trailer first and discovered we couldn’t make the first turn in the procession up the aisle to the altar so we went to plan B and built something on Blue that I could still ride the bike.

Blue as a Yellow Submarine

The sticks were supposed to support chickenwire that was supposed to support the actual paper mache that was supposed to be the submarine. So I have a few leftover sticks that I use for stick aided design.

So I taped some sticks to the bucket shell so I could show you what the nose of the TGS2 will sorta look like. There are two sticks taped to the beltline and another showing roughly where the lower frame rail will go.

How the nose tapers from the body

The side view requires some imagination. Use your imagination to remove the dashboard from above the stick and imagine smooth curves of fiberglass from the stick down and remove the coffee table from what you see. The swoop up at the back of the bucket will remain. There will be a flat or single-curve sheet from the nose to the top of the rear of the bucket generating downforce and reducing drag, with a cockpit surround to guide the airflow over and around the driver and into the engine.

rear 3/4 view

And here you can see just how little of the dash actually intrudes into the mold space for the TGS2.

See that gap? It's huge

This is the same area from a different perspective.

From the front the gap doesn't look that big

From directly above the minuteness of the dashboard incursion on the TGS2 mold is even more apparent.

See there is going to be just a tiny bump to remove from the mold

So I hope this helps you visualize the planes and curves of the front of the TGS2.

Going for a walk tonight

It’s supposed to rain in a bit and then get cooler, so I thought I would go for a walk after the rain. And after I get back I’m going to do that stick aided design thing with the bucket shell. I was looking at the pictures after I did the post and decided that I don’t need to fix the “divot” from the dashboard because it won’t even be part of the mold. I just have to continue the top molding from the cockpit past where the dash interrupts it and make the flat top like the cockpit. Not that big a deal especially with the contour existing on either side. Of course that’s easy to write while I’m listening to “Seven Nation Army” on my music app. I mean most people could tackle just about anything while listening to that, it’s very uplifting and empowering.

Right now the rains have come as forecast, as Mrs. the Poet says “in buckets”, and Clyde came in, grabbed a bite, and immediately went back out into the rain. That’s Mrs. the Poet’s cat and as she says there’s something “not right” about him. I’m thinking the thing is he’s a bit more feral than Clint and doesn’t like the indoors even when things are yucky outside. And Clint just spent the last 20 minutes keeping me from typing by sprawling across my lap and demanding I pet him, that’s how “not-feral” he is, laying on his back with all four paws in the air begging for a belly rub.

Getting back to the car, I’m having a minor issue with the spindle not fitting the axle boss, being just a touch too short between the ears. I mean seriously there is like 0.02″ interference with the thrust bearings in place. Now I know why those spindles were in the Garage Sale section of the Speedway site. Again this is not insurmountable, I have an angle grinder and if I take the excess material off the thrust bearing side I don’t even need to be too careful about keeping the surface flat. I mean yes as close to flat as I can keep it, but I don’t need to make it super flat and true like I would the other side, the thrust bearing can cover a lot of imperfections, and the mill file can remove the worst of them. The top only gets paper-thin shims between the axle boss and the spindle, so it has to be flat and true to keep from messing up the shims and binding the steering.

I’m going to go for my walk in a few minutes, then go do the stick aided design and take lots of pictures while I’m doing it, then make another blog post with the pictures.

Taking a break, sorta

Today was kind of a recovery day for me after running around yesterday on empty with my second fasting blood draw day in a row. I was not thinking well when I got home as I wasn’t able to get much coherent on the blog edit page. Almost all of yesterday’s post was deleted after I tried to read it, “tried” being the operative word here. The post made absolutely no sense whatsoever, and had tons of typos.

Today I tried to get caught up on web comics and e-mail and everything. There were a few new tweets that I didn’t feel like responding to, and some web comics I hadn’t had a chance to read. I have been watching engine overhaul videos as inspiration for the TGS2 engine build. One thing I have to be extra careful about since I’m going to E85 and jacking the compression sky high is getting the piston ring gap right because combining E85 and high compression will result in high combustion temperatures and would close up the gap and destroy the pistons if the gap was too tight, or burn massive amounts of oil if I get it too big.

And I’m stopping this because I need to go to bed now and I’m having to delete too much for typos and just not making sense any more. I really need to get caught up on my sleep and do something about my back.

Super tired right now

This was day 2 of fasting blood draws for the new trial I’m in with a 25 hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor between the draws. That means I went almost 20 hours with nothing but water and a torture device squeezing my arm every 15 minutes. And when I say torture device I mean that because of stress and pain from my back my BP was about 170/100, and the amount of pressure needed to get those readings was very painful. In fact I have a large bruise on my arm from the pressure, but interestingly it’s not where the measuring cuff was placed but right below the edge of the cuff on the inside of my elbow.

Something else interesting is I was looking at a bad cylinder head the other day when I got an image that showed a spark plug with 5 or 6 exposed threads sticking up in the combustion chamber and the tip extending past the surface of the head.

Good cylinder head

This one has the plug tip just slightly below the surface of the head and no exposed threads on the spark plug. I would need to angle mill a small amount from this head to get the combustion chamber CCs right but I should just be able to get a slightly cooler heat range for the plug to make it work on E85. I spent a lot of time thinking about that last night to distract myself from the blood pressure monitor squeezing the life out of my arm.

I was listening to the Peter Gabriel channel on YTM and while some of those videos look ridiculous now some are still avant guard even in 2017. They aged incredibly well even in the face of enormous changes in the state of the art for video.

Well I really need to shower and get to bed, I’m not even making sense to myself right now.

Happy Labor Day!

The [deleted] Republicans can [deleted] their [deleted] and [physically impossible] their [deleted] today. This is the day we celebrate the little guy, the guy that does the actual work that makes the 1% rich.

Before I forget to censor myself let’s change the subject. I have been looking at pictures of the cylinder heads for the 3.8l V6 and I noticed I’m going to have a spark plug problem, on two fronts. First problem is the spark plugs protrude into the combustion chamber exposing threads which could cause pre-ignition when I shave the head for higher compression running E85. And speaking of shaving the head the other problem is the tip of the spark plug will get hit by the top of the piston after zero-decking the piston and shaving the head. Throw in the fact that I will need to run a different heat range of spark plug and that means everything about the plug has to change except the thread diameter and how it seals against the head. That means physically taking the head to the parts store and threading plugs in and out to make sure I don’t expose threads while using an extended tip to get the spark plug to get the spark as close as possible to the center of the combustion chamber without hitting the piston. Sounds like fun in a box!

And in spite of what you just read I’m not an engine guy, really. My specialty is suspension design. And being poor, I’m pretty much a master at being poor. But there isn’t much design work to do with beam axles on both ends with 4 bars. The main thing about this suspension design is the springs and shocks, and with the pull rods at the rear I don’t actually have to change anything except the links between the axle and the rocker arms to go from street cruising to full race set ups, meaning I only have to change the front shocks and springs and those links at the rear. And I only have to buy front shocks and springs to change from street to race, and those may not actually be any different except the spring height setting.

That’s part of the beauty of pull rod suspension, the spring rate and damping change how I want it to, and are always perfectly matched to each other once I get the spring and shock matched. All I have to do is change the ratio of the bellcrank arm connected to the load (the link connected to the axle) and the arm connected to the coilover. I have an infinite number of rates from too stiff to too soft by huge margins just by drilling 3 holes in a triangular piece of steel or carbon fiber sheet. And I can change ride height as easily as I can change the toe setting on the front wheels.

And since I want to get this posted while it’s still Labor Day…

Feeling better but not my best

Things have been up and down physically for me this week, but after spending 11 hours in bed (not necessarily sleeping, just in bed) my back is feeling pretty good. Good as in no pain sitting or walking, and just a tiny pain transitioning between sitting and standing. All in all I call that good.

Last night my brain wouldn’t shut down (again) as I kept on thinking about using the engine/trans from the donor car as a SCCA A/Mod Solo race car. It wouldn’t work from a weight standpoint, as the 620 pound engine and transmission only leaves about 80 pounds for the entire rest of the car, but would work great as far as fitting in the allowed minimum wheelbase without anything hanging out too far or having to add between the wheels. There would even be enough room to put a three gallon fuel cell between the engine and the driver without having my feet hang out past the front axle.

Contemplating the A/Mod car came from thinking about the packaging of the TGS2 fuel cell and electronics as the 32 gallon cell takes up a big hunk of real estate inside the car. There is lots of space on the outside of the frame rails but inside the body for the battery and electronics, so the balance left to right can be maintained while keeping the polar moment as low as possible. Polar moment is extremely important for an autocross car because much of autocross is change of direction from left to right and vice-versa, and polar moment is the measurement of resistance to change of direction. A lower polar moment is better which is why competitors try to get things as close to the center of the car as possible. Autocross is not just grip but the ability to transition from left to right and vice-versa. Interestingly enough engine power is not a major consideration in the equation as cars do not spend much time at speed or accelerating between turns, which is why lawnmower-engine go karts are frequent contenders for low time of the day.

Can anyone tell I’m really getting frustrated with the lack of progress on the TGS2? Not having $$ for parts and raw stock is not helping things any. Not having a viable method to obtain $$ is also not helping things any, PayPal is telling me that so far this year I made less than $10 in donations from the link at the bottom of the page. If you want stuff to read I need to have stuff to write about, and I’m just about out of things that don’t cost money to do. At this point I’m really close to writing about the dreams I have the night before just to have something to write about, and believe me you don’t want that. 😀 Everybody stay safe out there on this long weekend and avoid the drunk drivers.

Happy Birthday Alex

Yep, 11 years and one day after I was killed my grandson Alex was born, Happy Fifth Birthday!

And on the subject of getting killed in 2001, Mrs. the Poet suggested a different outlook on the subject. She suggested I celebrate my re-birthday rather than my deathday. Same thing, different perspective. Instead of celebrating getting killed, celebrate coming back. Which is mostly what I do anyway.

I have been looking at my pictures of the 3.3l bolted to the 41te transmission and trying to scale from that but I don’t have anything of a known dimension in any picture to scale from. So I have been searching for a dimensioned drawing of the engine or transmission, pretty much without results, or useful results anyway. The dimensions I get are not useful in scaling the pictures because the parts are either not in the picture, or not identifiable in the picture, or not fully visible. I mean it’s great to know the veeblefritz is x inches long when one end is hidden behind another part on the engine. It’s even better when the part name is a Mopar part name that is not in common use even in the hot rod community, so you aren’t even sure of what you’re looking for. It isn’t helping that I lost my notes on the measurements I took from the donor vehicle. I have the total length of the engine/trans assembly from one side of the car to the other written down, but I can’t find the notebook I wrote it.

I put a better marker on the body for the rear axle.
The upper black line is tape showing the rear axle position on the body.

I repositioned the lower tape to show how far the engine projects into the body but I haven’t taken a picture of that yet. Short form there isn’t much room left in the bucket after the engine is put with the rear axle on that upper line.

I’m sorry for cutting this short but I have a headache and need to have a lie-down.