Tag Archives: technical stuff about building cars

Slightly sad today

This afternoon I cashed my last gift card from that mobile app I used to play. I checked last month and there were no more gift cards I could buy with my points, meaning I could only collect $1 every 3 weeks entering sweeps once a day instead of the more than $100 I used to get in a year collecting big points and cashing them in for $5 and $10 gift cards. And then I deleted the app from my phone. That means I no longer have an excuse to take my evening walk to collect check-ins.

And next week I’m leaving for the eclipse watching party in TN and spending a week with old friends. With the problems I have been having with my old laptop I’m leaving it at home and just taking my phone for whatever electronic contact I get. And since that phone is also not reliable I’m biting the bullet and getting a newer phone that has all its buttons working. Having a reliable phone when I’m on the go is a must.

I have troubleshot the problems with the laptop and isolated it to a bad battery. Unfortunately there don’t appear to be any available locally so I’ll have to go on the Internet to get one after I get back from eclipse watching. They are not too expensive, just not in local stores. But that means I won’t be able to update the blog until I get back.

On the TGS2 front I have been working on the new frame design and trying to find places to put everything. Moving the engine inside the body tidies things up but it also makes things cramped for things like batteries and gas tanks, mostly because I took 12″ out of the wheelbase when I moved the engine forward. If I put that back in I have tons of room for a gas tank and a battery. Heck 5″ would solve the packaging problems without making the car all that long. It would still be shorter than a Fiat 500 with less weight and more HP from a relatively slow-revving engine. I know a Fiat 500 is a low performance bar to top, especially when I’m looking at Caterhams and Corvettes as benchmarks, but with a stock 3.8l V6 pushrod engine producing 168 HP @4200 RPM I can’t get my hopes too high. But with the ongoing redesign I’m getting the polar moment (resistance to changing direction) even lower than my benchmarks, so given equal grip from the big tires on the flyweight car I should do pretty well at Goodguys autocross. And that is the goal for this car, winning Goodguys autocrosses, while being competitive at SCCA solo racing. And also capable of picking up groceries, and driving thousands of miles to and from the races without destroying the driver in the process.

Now I have to get to bed because I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Grocery shopping done

Well I won’t starve for another week. I managed to buy a week’s worth of food and drink for <$16. Of course part of the reason I could do that is I bought more than a week's worth of some items last week when they were on sale, and because there was like almost $20 in free stuff in my online coupons that I wouldn't normally buy, like Pasta Bow-Ties chips. That one was kind of sneaky, because only one flavor was free and the rest were way over-priced but with the tag for the free variety on the shelf… There was also a meal-replacement shake for free that I wouldn't normally buy, that will be breakfast for 4 days. Basically more than half of my total came off in coupons and free stuff.

Clint and Clyde are getting on each other's nerves and mine, probably because Mrs. the Poet has been gone over a month. Basically they either can’t stand to be in the same room together or they’re all over each other grooming and kissing or the cat equivalent of hugging and kissing. They are doing something similar with me, either leaving the room when I come in or not leaving me alone so I can type.

I’m looking to eliminate as much drag as possible from the TGS2, so I have been looking into integrating the headlights into the fenders. By using headlight frenching buckets to mount headlights into the front of the front fenders I can smooth the flow over the fenders and get the lights out of the wind. Of course this means the fender will have to be stretched in front of the axle so the tire doesn’t hit the back of the light inside the fender either turning or in bump. This will make an already strange T-bucket even stranger looking, but function over form and if I make the function work good enough the form will be fine. Yeah I’m back to the 7″ headlight so there will be a bit of the cartoon eyes thing with the lights being too big for the overall size of the car (and at this point the TGS2 is almost a foot shorter than the Fiat 500 (Panda for you UK readers) so the big headlights are going to look even bigger).

I’m still having problems cutting a straight line on the line, I just have to get my aim better at the start of the cut. So I don’t have the new floor to show you like I wanted to and tomorrow I’ll be out paying storage unit fees and picking up replacement stones for the hone so I can finish installing the spindles to the axle. BTW I looked up the kit I got and those bushings are brass and the current stones are not taking off much material. That is a pretty good indication the stones are worn out.

Almost recovered from yesterday

I don’t know what I did yesterday but it was literally a pain. I used to get pains in my lower back way back when I first started walking after the wreck which is how we discovered the short leg issue. This pain is highly similar to that, but I can’t trace why it came back after so many years. I ditched the lifted shoe over a year ago because it had failed to alleviate the pain when I was walking barefoot part of the time, and part of the time walking with the lift. I think a big part of my problems is the amount of time I sit with my pelvis level and then walk with the tilt.

There wasn’t much heat to deal with as there was a heavy cloud cover and spotty showers all day long. I got more moisture from showers than I did sweat. And most of the places I went to had AC turned way too strong so whatever slightly over-warm I experienced was countered by cold AC shortly thereafter.

On the Lab Rat Keeper front I’m in a new study for 3 years. The most I can say under my NDA is they are working on a surgical cure for hypertension (high BP), and I will get an overnight hospital stay after the surgery. Then spend the next 3 years getting poked and prodded and periodically drained of blood. Right now I’m in the washout period where I get rid of all the medication reducing my BP. Then tests to “qualify” my blood pressure, then schedule the surgery, then the procedure, then 36 months of monitoring for effectiveness and side effects.

On other things tomorrow I get to pay my phone bill and buy the replacement stones for the hone, and get a little walking in. And maybe grab a burger from Whataburger. I can still handle a cheeseburger or a pizza without getting hit by a lactose gut bomb gas attack, so I’m going with my favorite Bacon Cheese Jalapeño Whataburger. And fries and a Coke Zero in the combo.

On the TGS2 I’m getting the replacement stones for the hone like I said in the previous paragraph, which means I can get the kingpins installed on the spindles and the spindles on the axle, and another thing off the list for building my car. Then I can get the exact measurement for the tie rod and get started on building it. I’m still deciding on steel tubing or carbon fiber, one is quick and cheap, the other is light and just as strong but expensive even if you build it yourself. Either way I will use the threaded weld bungs to provide an attachment point for the rod ends. With the carbon fiber I would use a EPS core and extend the carbon fiber over the bung right up to the threads. With the steel tube I would just weld it in and metal-finish the joint to make it look like a single hunk of metal that had been whittled to shape like I used to do building bikes. Then I used brass brazing rod as a filler and filed the brass down and painted over it. That’s how I won my class in the car show many years ago. The carbon fiber tie rod would get a UV absorbing clear coat while the steel one would get matt black epoxy or powdercoat.

And since I have stuff to do tomorrow I’m gonna put this one to bed.

My electronics are dying

My phone will only work by plugging in the charger and unplugging it because the on-off switch is busted. My laptop refuses to charge and only works when plugged in. Now I can almost understand the laptop getting creaky, I bought it back in 2013. In laptop years that makes it almost pre-historic. And my 2½ YO phone is equally ancient in an industry that cycles through another generation every 9 months. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

What really pisses me off about the phone is I was getting out of memory messages about my apps, so I spent almost as much as the initial cost of the phone before rebate tripling the capacity, going from 8GB to 24GB with a 16GB card. And I still get out of memory errors with more than 15GB free space in the card. I really don’t get that. Stupid phone, you wanted memory, I bought as much memory as you can hold, and you still say “out of memory” with almost twice the free space as when I bought you. Stupid phone. Who designs a system that puts everything in working memory and refuses to use free storage even for things like saving pictures unless you move each picture there manually one at a time? It is storage, dangit, store things in it. Like updates and texts and pictures, and other things that need storing for later use. But for some reason I don’t have anything to tell the phone to do that and to download updates to the card then run the update from the card. It almost looks like the phone was designed to use up its operating memory and then get replaced every year…

And I can’t seem to be able to cut a straight line lately, making cutting a new floor for the TGS2 scale mockup mostly an exercise in frustration and spoiled materials. I’m back to getting lots of good stiff card stock as junk mail so this isn’t actually costing me money, but it is still frustrating to not be able to get stuff done so I can see progress. And this particular thing is so simple, I literally need to cut one piece of paper to shape and tack-glue it to something else and paint it so everything is the same color, then cut, paint and glue another piece of paper so I can take a picture and post it here so you can see what the finished car is supposed to look like, more or less.

I should mention that I decided to move the engine/transmission forward rather than stretch the body back, so the wheelbase went from the Speedway kit’s 102″ to 90″, helping the balance just a scosh. It is only a percent or two depending on the fuel load and driver weight, but at this point every little bit helps. I think one of the things I’m going to do on Monday is pick up another set of stones for the hone so I can get the kingpins finished before the turn of the next century. The ones that came with the tool seem to have given their all honing the chrome-moly axle boss to fit the kingpins.

And I think it is probably a good time to hit the hay.

I spent the weekend Doing Things so now I have something to write about

Saturday was grocery and laundry day, and Sunday was RPG day. Food was bought, and fun was had as we tried to save a slaughterhouse from the scourge of demon cattle, and cyber cockroaches, although I still haven’t wrapped my mind around how two such disparate things struck at the same time. The demon rats I can understand they’re just smaller versions of the demon cattle. But where did the cyber cockroaches come from? The demon rats were probably created at the same time as the demon cattle by drift from one group of animals to another, but the cockroaches had to have been a second attack against the slaughterhouse. We never did discover who was responsible for either attack because someone reported the demon cattle infestation to the Health Department.

I also watched the 9 Hours of Indy, formerly known as the Brickyard 400. It wasn’t supposed to take that long but stoppages for rain and for wrecks that completely blocked the track for several hours to clean up debris and spilled fluids caused it to be that long. I tuned in after the RPG group got finished, and still got to watch the last 40 laps. Congrats to Kasey Kahne on punching his ticket to the Playoffs.

Junk Mail has come through in spades in providing raw stock for the TGS2 scale mockup. ADT sent an actual sheet of plastic with their ad printed on it that will make an excellent floor and fender support. Also the local school district sent an ad on very heavy paper that can also be used for floors and diffusers, probably flexible enough to use for actual fenders as well.

Tomorrow I have to go deposit a check, and get my toes done so I can start walking again. I might be getting a visitor after lunch.

I did stuff now I can write about stuff

OK first and foremost I finally installed the bushings in the spindles. I spent hours pounding on that last bushing, but I finally got it (mostly) in place.
See the brassy looking stuff? That's a bushing

Now the fun part is going to be honing those bushings until the kingpin just barely falls into them when I carefully insert it from the top. Actually it should be falls from the top smoothly through the bottom, but let’s not be looking for miracles here. If it lines up so the kingpin rotates in both bushings at the same time I will be satisfied. I was just thinking maybe I should have made a few quick passes with the hone on the kingpin holes in the spindles but hindsight is better than 20/20. That reminds me, I need to hang on to my 2020 party shades when the time gets here. I finally had to resort to my 8 pound engineering hammer to brute force the bushing in place, where the other 3 finessed in using the 32 oz. ball peen hammer, thereby confirming the adage “If at first it doesn’t fit, get a bigger hammer!”

I think I mentioned a while back I was playing Shadowrun as a repaired and idealized version of my future self (age 129). The main difference is when they fitted my cyberlegs I requested they be proportioned like the Vitruvian Man.The Ideal proportions for the Human Male
So my character is now 6’7″ instead of 5’8″. (My neck got fixed while I was in traction for the hips to heal, too) I have a shotgun/slug gun in my left arm, and I can swap out a 4 round internal magazine for a 16 round external replaceable magazine in less than 5 minutes, and reload with a spare magazine in 2 seconds. The arm gun fires 20mm slugs or flechette rounds in-game. If I was to have such a thing IRL I would use a Military Buckshot load of 00 and 4 Buckshot, because 1) flechette rounds have lousy terminal ballistics and 2) flechettes tear up the barrel, even in a cup wad. Don’t believe me? Search YouTube for Taofledermaus flechette and look what carefully loaded flechette loads did to his gun.It ain’t pretty.

And I have to get up semi-early tomorrow to start honing those bushings, so time to post and shut down for the night.

Too hot to work

I’m dealing with two problems today. One is my sleep schedule is all bolluxed. The other related is it only cools off in here around Midnight. And by “cool off” I mean near 80°F. As I type this it’s 0130 and 84° in my office. I have a fan blowing on me so it’s not too bad as long as I remember to hydrate and drink cool liquids, no coffee. Another thing I can do is take my sleep medicine so that I can get to sleep by 0300 and be up by 1100.

I knew the junk mail would eventually send me another card I could use for the TGS2. It came (what is now) yesterday. I should be able to take a picture of the finished floor by Saturday since I already know how to do the front cutouts, and have a very good idea of how I want to do the rear cutouts. I still don’t know how I want to do the rear fenders, but I do know that if I get them right I will get less drag and more downforce especially compared to running no fenders. I guess I can make temp fenders out of HDPE and do A-B-A testing until I settle on a final design and make that one out of more durable materials.

The bushings are still not installed in the spindles. I spent hours beating on them to try to get them in the spindles, but there is one that doesn’t want to go into the spindle, and all but one will need to be drilled for grease holes where the zerks go in the spindles because the factory grease hole didn’t line up because I installed the bushing wrong or because I’m discovering why these spindles were in the Garage Sale section of the web site. Take your pick. I can tell you that 2 bushings would never line up because they were too short or the hole in the spindle too long, but they would line up if they were installed from the side where there is no room to install them. And that says to me that there was a machining step left out somewhere. Ah well, it is what it is and I have to find a way around that.

OK I have been sitting here sweating like pigs don’t (that’s why they roll in the mud) and I need to take my sleeping pills and go to bed.

Quick note before I go work on the car in the living room

And yes there is a car in the living room but that’s not what I’m going to work on. I’m going to install the bushings in the spindles and hone them to fit the kingpins. But first I have a needy cat on my lap who wants belly rubs so brief break.

OK belly rub needs satisfied, back to the blog post.

The concept is simple, the kit ships with bronze bushings that press into the spindles and have to be fitted to the kingpins, similar to how the axle bosses had to be fitted so the kingpins would go in and out of the axle. The difference here is the kingpins are locked into the axle with the grub screw while the bushings have to be honed for working clearance, the size difference is only a few thousandths of an inch (0.03-0.06 mm). There just needs to be enough room for a layer of heavy grease in the bushings where the axle bosses didn’t need any room at all.

Enough words time for work.

My sleep got messed up and I faceplanted into the keyboard 3 times trying to write this headline

Usually I sleep pretty soundly, but something was making noises like someone trying to break into the house shortly after sunrise this morning and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I spent most of the day running around taking care of banking, buying cat food, and paying the phone bill. With temperatures in the mid-90s and “feels like” temps in the low 100s I was dehydrated again, and between dehydration and exhaustion I have been bouncing my face off the keyboard. I’m going to take a nap and come back to finish the post.

OK it’s 4 hours later and I’m feeling better, not great but better.

As you might imagine I got no work done on any projects what with all the time spent running around. That’s OK I can’t do everything. I did find some information about lightweight OE replacement spindles that I could use for an IFS. There’s the MII/Pinto spindle that comes in at 17.8 pounds per pair or 8.9 each, and there is a forged aluminum ’60s GM F-body spindle that weighs “half of stock”. And there is also the late ’60s VW balljoint spindle that is also slightly lighter than the MII/Pinto spindle, but is tricky to find outside of eBay and even trickier to find big brake kits for. The biggest brakes I have found for this spindle top out at 11″ diameter. Another lightweight candidate is the Wilwood MII modular replacement spindle at 9 pounds each but massively strong and the steering arms can be replaced for more lock/quicker steering/bump steer correction.

And now I’m hot and sleepy again, so let’s end this and park my butt in front of some AC and get more sleep.

More random thoughts

I’m having another can’t shut the brain down to sleep night, so I’m just going to post stream-of-consciousness again.

After moving the axle around a few times I’m contemplating making another out of foam and fiberglass with aluminum bushings to support the spindles. Seriously, between the 2 X 0.250 wall tube and the solid forged steel spindles and the 0.75″ plate steering arms my arms are strained trying to pick the stupid thing up. That’s a lot of unsprung weight on a very light car, but most of the weight is spindles and steering arms and can’t be reduced.

Making the entire rear of the body detachable will make engine and transmission service a snap. I just need to continue one side of the cut for the rear axle all the way to the top of the body. And attach the diffuser to the back of the body along with the part of the belly pan that goes under the engine. Easy peasy. Nothing to it (how the heck am I gonna do it?).

Lotsa fun having arguments on twitter about bicycle infrastructure with people who discount my experience because I never drove on That Street. Like there is something unique about That Street that negates all engineering solutions ever, since the beginning of time.

The AI on some Twitter Bots is very impressive, putting up thousands of replies an hour that read like they were written by an actual human. We are coming very close to AI that can pass the Turing Test, at least in exchanges of 140 characters or less. That is slightly scary. And with that thought comes the thought that corporations could be controlled by an AI and become Real People, not just a legal fiction of “people”. And they could demand to Not Be Owned i.e. not be a slave. Now that is scary.

It has been a difficult search but I have found performance parts for the 3.8 l V6 in the donor vehicle, not that I’m going to be needing them for a while.

I’m still thinking about making the frame a composite monocoque to make it lighter and stiffer, and put tons of Kevlar under and around my butt to keep said derriere intact in a wreck. Sacrifice the rest of the car to save my ass with a survival capsule. There is the slight matter of having basically no crumple zone between my feet and a frontal impact that I will have to do something about, probably take out insurance against getting my feet crushed.

Trying not to faceplant, but still can’t shut the brain down. WTF is that, anyway? Body trying to shut down but the brain won’t let it.