Tag Archives: technical stuff about building cars

I’m worried about my cat

Clint decided to spend the night out last night. He insisted he had to go outside yesterday, then just never showed up when it came time for bed. It has now been over 24 hours since he has eaten here, and he has never been out that long. Needless to say I’m worried for him.

I have been hearing lots of predators in the area, owls, coyotes and I have seen some bobcats while on my walks. Clint might be effective at accidentally clawing my arm but with all the fights he has lost with the local squirrels biting his tail… I’m not sanguine about his condition.

While I’m composing this the pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 is/was on the TV. Junior will be starting alongside repeat pole winner Chase Elliott on the front row for the Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series race (got to get the full name in there 🙂 )

On other things Mrs. the Poet has thrown away more of my stuff in the process of making enough room for my hot rod in the garage. 😢 I can actually see all the way across the garage in several places now. I still haven’t found that book with the equations for getting the spring rates right on the first try that I bought back in the early ’80s when I first started building cars and haven’t seen in years, since before I blew the engine in my last car in 1995. I remember packing it for the move to Casa de El Poeta in 1994 and as far as I remember that was the last I saw of it. I remember it had a black cover and was written by Len Terry or had an ad for the Terry book as an additional resource. It had a black slip cover with white line illustrations and I think red text. I searched the web and…
I found it!!

That’s the exact edition I’m looking for, because I already own it! OK I had the colors on the illustrations and text reversed but otherwise, that’s what my book looks like. In that book are the equations I need to select the right springs and shocks on the first try, and a bunch of other things, too. Since I don’t have the room to work yet, and Mrs. the Poet throwing away my stuff is limited by the volume of the garbage and recycle bins and how often they are emptied. Which means that instead of getting the trauma over with quickly, the suffering is stretched out for weeks.

Speaking of suffering, this post has gone on long enough. My cat is still wandering around outside, and Mrs. the Poet is still plotting throwing away more of my stuff, and I’m still stressin’.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable

I’m a writer so I must write

If it seems like the posts don’t have a lot of content lately you’re right. I’m writing because I have to as a writer. Also to get better as a writer I have to write something as often as I can. So, I’m writing.

I’m still torn about tires and wheels for the hot rod. On the one hand for best performance at Goodguys I need to run a short wide tire that gets the car down lower and drops the CG which improves cornering power, and a taller tire that lets me clear speed bumps for normal driving around, OR I could get one set of wheels and tires that are just tall enough to get me over the speed bumps and still has the good grip for Goodguys. If I go with two sets of tires I’ll run the 255/60R15 BF Goodrich TA Radial as my dedicated street tire and the Maxxis Victra VR-1 245/40R15 as my dedicated race tire. If I go with a single wheel/tire for everything I’m looking at the 245/40R17 in a variety of brands up to 285/40R17 also in a variety of brands, and maybe a 315/35R17 Goodyear to get the grip and barely raise the bottom of the car over speed bumps.

There are three reasons for going to the 17″ diameter wheel, the first being that there are many more brands and sizes of tires available in 17″ diameter wheels than 15″. The second is there is room to stuff some huge disk brakes by T-bucket standards inside a 17″ wheel. For a T-bucket 11″ front brakes are huge, but I can easily fit a 13″ front disk inside the 17″ wheel and there aren’t any bigger brakes I can fit to the early Ford spindle. Unfortunately the rear brakes are limited by the constraints of the knuckle from the minivan to be only 11″ or so. Bigger brakes mean more stopping power from the same pedal pressure and calipers with less fade. That means shorter stops or less time braking and more time on the gas for racing. The third reason is it’s much less expensive to buy 4 wheels and tires than 8, even though that makes both sets of tires last longer. So I may have to give up a tiny bit of cornering grip to get better braking and much lower costs. Running 17″ wheels with 40 profile tires looks strange on a bucket though, so I might go with the 15″ tire combinations in spite of the extra cost, because in reality the 11″ brakes are just barely adequate for the weight of the car, and there is room for 12.2″ discs on the front with special low-profile calipers that are more than barely adequate. The 255/60R15 TA Radial looks “right” on a bucket, while the 245/40R15 Maxxis tire has much more grip and is roughly equal to the grip from the 17″ tires between the reduced center of gravity and the tread width.

Ugh! I hate when stuff like this happens, needing to make a decision without enough data to make the best decision, and not enough money to get the data.

Have a nice weekend! Opus the Unkillable

The meds are working

My antidepressant in particular. My body is starting to get acclimated to not being depressed which is reinforcing. As I get used to not being depressed I feel less depressed, which makes me feel better so I feel less depressed… A virtuous circle rather than the vicious circle. And I’m actually getting other emotions that aren’t depression or anger. Some of them seem unusual to me, like fear, real compassion instead of the intellectual compassion I felt in the past.

Speaking of my body becoming used to not being depressed, my BP has changed. The systolic is still up there, but the diastolic, the measurement of how much my heart relaxes between beats, is the lowest it has been in over a decade. My body is remembering how to relax again. Even when I’m upset and there has been a litany of things to be upset about the last two weeks at Casa de El Poeta, I’m still mostly relaxed now. My heart is working more efficiently, it is having to beat less because every beat moves more blood with a more complete relaxation phase between beats. That is one of the big things happening as my body adapts to not being run by a depressed brain.

On the bike pump front I have been approved for a refund, contingent on my returning the broken pump by 3/31/17. Here’s where the problem is on that: I have to print a return label for the box they shipped it to me, and I don’t have access to a working printer. I have a printer but it doesn’t have any cables to connect it to my laptop. Some time between my youngest getting the printer for herself and putting it in her garage because she never had to print anything with it and giving the printer and a bag full of printer cables to me for my birthday the cables for that printer went bye-bye. So I’ll take any assistance I can get on that one.

On the hot rod front I found the actual weight of the Mopar 3.8L pushrod V6 – 413 pounds compared to the 545 pounds for an iron head SBC or 458 for the LS. The 41TE transaxle splits the difference between the TH350 and the 4T65E at just under 200 pounds by one source or between 150 and 200 from several sources. So for weight comparisons 3.8L/41te Mopar just over 600, 350/350 Chevy 675 plus 120 pounds of rear axle or just shy of 800 total, and the LS3/4L70E combo come to 625 plus that 120 pounds of rear axle for about 750 total. So assuming the 1700 pound dry weight for the Speedway kit is accurate my mid-Bucket will hit the scales right at 1500 dry.

And I’m running on 3.5 hours sleep because someone (coughmrsthepoetcough left the bedroom door open and Clint came in to snuggle about 90 minutes before I had my alarm set. I have been falling asleep all afternoon/evening even while I was trying to write this, which might explain the disjointedness of the composition as I was in a different frame of mind every time I woke up. I fell asleep 3 times typing the paragraph prior to this one.

Night-night, Opus the Unkillable

I am not having good luck with my Amazon purchases

The replacement pump came in this morning, and broke this afternoon. 😬😩 I mean seriously, Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, Interrogative.(WTF?) Today instead of the hose failing at the point it joined the gauge, something inside the pump failed catastrophically. As in I almost fell on my face when it broke, catastrophically. The pump is rated for 100 PSI but it failed at just short of 60 PSI. That makes 2 pumps, and 2 toasters this year. I ordered an OBD2 dongle for my laptop to go with the OBD2 software I installed on it a while back, I’m hoping I don’t fry my laptop with 12v from the OBD2 port or some other such disaster.

On the hot rod front, the seller of the minivan and Mrs. the Poet had a talk. The minivan owner now has 3 minivans with broken transmissions and space for 2, so she and Mrs. the Poet came to an agreement, she would give me one of the minivans that would get towed if she doesn’t do something with it, and I would help Mrs. the Poet throw away my stuff to make room in the garage to work on the hot rod. As much as I hate throwing away my stuff, I agreed to the terms, because, hey free car! And I’m back on track. Not literally but kinda? Yeah, I’m back to building the hot rod on track, that’s back on track to get on the track.

I just got back from taking a break to celebrate some birthdays, because we have a bunch of them in February. The youngest, the oldest, the youngest’s husband in that order were all February babies. I like embarrassing the youngest with the story of her birth, which has me pulling her out of Mrs. the Poet backwards. The technical term for her birth was compound breech, one leg up and one down, butt first (until I pulled the other foot down and made sure the umbilical cord was clear before pulling her out). She was the second one born at home by accident as the oldest was also a surprise arrival at home when he was born. but that was 36 and 39 years ago. Anyway we went to this Greek place my son knows about up in Frisco just north of 121 and just east of the tollway. We split the flaming cheese appetizer 5 ways just to say we had eaten cheese deliberately set on fire, and I had the gyros platter for dinner. Mrs. the Poet had the chicken Greek salad from which she gave the olives to me, because she hates olives, all olives, not just the greek kind. Then we went down the street to the Cheesecake Factory to pick up dessert, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cheesecake ($7.95 and 1530 Calories per slice) that we split.

So it’s been a while making this, so I’ll close this post and hit “publish” now.

Billed @$0.02, Opus the Unkillable

Bye-Bye Money

Today was a fun (not fun) day. After making sure we had money in the bank to cover the checks I went and paid all our property taxes today. Almost $3K flushed down the government sewer. All I can say is all that BS does a wonderful job of making the grass grow. I’m mostly upset because that was a large chunk of change, not for what happened to it. As someone pointed out from before I was born, taxes buy an important thing, they buy civilization. Without taxes we have no government, without government we have no laws, no streets, no water systems, no sewers, no public education, NO CIVILIZATION! So, yeah I like paying taxes, I just don’t like paying so much in taxes.

Naturally I had to do a lot of walking as it was about a mile between all the offices and while there was a bus it only ran once an hour, so it was tons faster to walk. Inhale. After spending close to two hours doing the tax thing (including walking between offices) I grabbed a bus to get the latest issue of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and since it was after 1500 and the next bus wasn’t until 1551, I grabbed a bite at the burger place on the corner. Inhale. Also between paying taxes and heading home I picked up some high-point check-ins on my game.

On the hot rod front I found there was an LS series engine built for transverse FWD cars, the LS4, and a special automatic transaxle to go with it. It was installed in the GM W-body cars in the early 2ks and made famous as the “You get a car!” car on Oprah. Anywho the LS4 is slightly shorter than the standard LS V8 and puts out just over 300 HP in stock, new form. Thing is that because it’s an LS engine there are tons of GM and aftermarket performance parts to pump up the power until the transmission turns to shrapnel in a few seconds/feet. Using this combination results in a power unit that weighs right at 700 pounds, or slightly lighter than the 350/350 standard for T-Buckets, by about 10 pounds. Most of that is because of the aluminum heads and block of the LS compared to the cast iron block and heads on the SBC 350, because that 4T65E transaxle weighs more than the TurboHydromatic 350 by 94 pounds. But the final car would still be even lighter than the 350/350 Bucket because like with the minivan powered bucket there is no 120 pound rear axle, or driveshaft. So maybe 1600 pounds or a touch less for the LS4/4T65E bucket, basically 100 pounds less than the SBC 350/350 bucket. And I could get the same HP out of the 3.6L DOHC V6 Mopar engine that weighs more than 100 pounds less. Less low-end torque, but that’s why the 62TE transmission has a 4.1 1st gear and the 4T65E transmission has a 2.61 1st.

And It’s time for me to go to bed now. I have a busy day coming tomorrow.

Billed@€0.02, 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

Happy Imbolc! and something to do with large rodents

I don’t know if this was on-purpose or serendipity, but the made-up US celebration falls square on the Pagan holiday. We Pagans of many stripes can celebrate our minor fertility festival on the same day as the muggles lose their minds on a groundhog seeing his shadow or not, and most people can’t tell the difference.

Incidentally this fertility festival mirrors the harvest festivals in the Fall. We have the trios of Lammas/Lughnassad, Mabon AKA My Birthday, and Samhain in the fall and Imbolc, Ostara, and Beltain in the spring. Here in TX you plan your crops in Imbolc, plant your crops near Ostara, and cheer for your crops on Beltain.

So, what are you planning to plant this year? Literally I still don’t have a garden here so I don’t plant food crops, and I don’t plant flowers either because I get allergies. As for the other I plan on doing the plasma gig, playing the cell phone game for every cent I can pull out of it, and keep trying to get writing work. I really wish I could still write poetry as there has been a large upsurge in demand this year. But Rhyme and Meter were both knocked out of my head in the wreck, and if the driver was still alive another one of the things I would have sued over losing. I’m still a fairly competent technical writer, I think, but it has been years since I picked up one of those gigs. So a small income stream is infinitely better than no income stream, but a big income stream beats the crap out of a small income stream.

So, my planting this year will be things that can grow my revenue stream(s). I will be starting the selling plasma gig, continuing the cell phone game gig and the gig I can’t talk about because NDA, and keep looking for writing and modeling gigs in the hope that I can still do those things.

Back to the recurring story about the hot rod, it seems there are good things about having insomnia. “Buh, wha’?”[whiplash] Yeah, it turns out being in bed in a dark room just… thinking, is a great way to solve problems. One of the problems I needed to solve was adjustability for different uses. For normal street and highway use a touch of understeer is good and makes the car more stable. In the past Detroit carmakers mistook “touch” for “kill it multiple times with a sledgehammer” leading to sedans that plowed like a farm implement under hard cornering. For autocross driving a touch of oversteer makes the car faster through the twisties, just enough to change direction quickly. A good way to adjust over/understeer is moving the rear roll center up and down. So I designed a cheap and simple way to adjust the rear roll center height quickly the other night while waiting for brain shutdown and sleep involving a chunk of 1″ allthread and a matching nut that acts as the pivot for the center arm of the Watt’s link. As I crank the allthread the nut moves up and down, but even if the allthread can’t turn except when I crank on it the roll center won’t change enough to affect handling as the nut turns while the arm pivots because the nut only moves a fraction of a turn which translates to a fraction of a thread spacing. To change the roll center height enough to change from under to oversteer and back requires moving inches, not a tiny fraction of an inch (< 1mm). Not that the allthread not moving is a high probability but I like to make sure I cover all the bases (as in "what is the worst that can happen with this design?"). "The worst" in this case was the allthread bending under the load and failing leading to a laterally unrestrained rear axle, but the way to deal with that is to size the allthread so that other things fail first, things that don't normally fail except in a wreck. I figure that 1" is enough safety factor to prevent that from happening, especially since the fixed-mount kit through Speedway uses a ½" bolt in single shear for the center pivot. There will be roller bearings in the top and bottom brackets for the allthread to turn in and a 3/8” square carved into the top of the allthread for a ratchet to drive the nut up and down.

But now we are entering the minutiae of car design (aka “brass tacks”). I don’t usually get into things this nit-picky until much later in the design but I was just laying there staring at the ceiling in the semi-dark of a suburban night unable to sleep and nothing else to do but think and this is what I thunk.

Y’all have a good night, Opus the Unkillable

Still stuck in the house

I’m still stuck in the house with a bum foot, and still stuck on moving forward with the hot rod. I tried to get up early and get the presta adapter but walking was like sticking nails in my foot. Significantly smaller nails today than yesterday but going from 20 penny to 10 when you prefer none is a difference without a significance. Or to phrase it differently, slightly less pain is still more pain than I would like.

Moving forward on the hot rod requires either having the parts from the donor car which isn’t here yet, or scale drawings of the parts I need to figure out which rear caliper I’m going to end up using. I mean I know which caliper I’m going to be using for my parking brake but I’m still unsure of which end of the car they are going to be mounted on. If I can’t fit them to the Chrysler knuckle I’ll use this bracket kit to mount them to the front spindles, or if I can put them on the back like they are supposed to go I can use any of a number of big brake kits on the front axle.

Well I’m out of things to discuss and out of time to post them anyway.

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

It’s strange what will pop into your head sometimes

I was reading my web comics today when totally out of nowhere came the thought of reducing my NOx output on my hot rod without affecting my fuel economy, complete with graphs of NOx output over a range of fuel/air ratios and spark advances and NOx outputs compared to other pollutants (HC, CO, and CO2).

Basically NOx is the odd man out when it comes to reducing pollution. It is almost possible to get rid of everything except NOx with the same fuel economy tune and nothing else because what prevents making all the other pollutants is the ideal environment for creating NOx. What you need to prevent unburned HC and CO and to get best fuel economy is a high temperature combustion with excess O2. And guess what you need to make that nasty NOx that causes acid rain and smog? You guessed it, high temperatures and excess O2. And NOx is not just a progenitor for other forms of pollution but harmful in and of itself. That shit can burn the lungs, and irritate people who are already predisposed to breathing problems. I was exposed to high levels of NOx during industrial processes while I was in the electronics industry, I mean levels that were far beyond what you would see even on the worst days outside, and let me tell you that shit is NASTY!

So, what I can do is go ahead and tune for best fuel economy for part-throttle operation, best power for WOT situations, do an interpolation between the two with bias to fuel economy at lower power settings with a knee transition to WOT and a lot of transient enrichment to cover going between the two settings in a hurry. That covers the tuning. I would also need a reducing catalyst on the exhaust to take care of the NOx from the high temp modes the engine would operate in most of the time at cruise. Now the real fun part is getting a pair of those in the proper size for the engine. That will take more than a Google search, I’m afraid. Too big a catalyst would turn my CO2 back into CO and other pollutants, too small and it creates a restriction in the exhaust without cleaning up the NOx.

TBH I’m tempted to just tune for best economy and best power and just ignore the small amount of NOx I generate at best economy, because it’s just the one car, and I’m not required to meet any emission tests, but if I did that what kind of example would I be? After all transportation is the biggest contributor to the high NOx in the DFW airshed, but it doesn’t come from one vehicle, it’s the cumulative effect of millions of vehicles in the area. Even though my car would be exempt from pollution controls because it is a replica 1923 vehicle (kinda sorta) and I can almost eliminate my HC and CO emissions without a catalyst, I’m still going to install one to take care of my NOx.

So, how was your day?

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Unkillable