Tag Archives: Texas weather

Not dead, just not doing anything worth writing about

Life has been very uninteresting lately, it’s winter and that uncomfortable kind of cold that can’t be dressed properly for. I’m either still cold, or sweating because I have too much on, or both because the temperature can’t figure out what it wants to do. I still have to pay my property taxes now that I found out that at least one of the offices does not accept debit cards and I managed to track down my checkbook that I hardly ever use except to void a check when someone prefers to pay by direct deposit.

So I have my checks for whenever the weather improves to the point I can do the walk between the three offices on State St. in Garland. In good weather it’s a nice walk from 5th to Garland Ave, less than a mile. And there are bus stops on both ends but it is only a short walk from Downtown Garland station to the first tax office, less than a quarter of a mile.

And at some point I really need to stop at a CVS or other store that carries butane to fuel the torch that heats the bender for the plastic rod I’m using for the frame of the Mini Sprint-T. And while I’m on the subject of cars I found a really good intake manifold for a SBC to use should I wind up running a SBC on the 1:1 Sprint-T. This manifold is an evolution of the TPI GM intake from the late ’80s early ’90s, that produced prodigious low-end torque but ran out of breath above 3000 RPM partially because of the state of the art for EFI at the time. Well this version breathes all the way up top, with “top” depending on displacement but generally higher than a factory cast crank will live with. The tech person I was in chat with says for a 383 the “top” is above 6000. The tech manual advises against using E85 but the only thing I can find that might not be compatible with the fuel is possibly the fuel injectors or the rubber injection lines supplied. Those are all easy to replace with alcohol rated devices or materials. The crank and piston kit I’m looking at has a max continuous of 5200 RPM or a short-burst redline of 5500 RPM.

Finding a kit to build a 383 that runs on 87 octane NA is another problem entirely. Most of them are too high a compression ratio for 87, or built for forced induction and cost too much because they are designed for higher HP than a NA engine can make on either 87 octane or E85. Sure that makes for an engine that is unlikely to fail even during racing, but I could buy a kit not made for boost that would be just as reliable and a bunch less expensive if they would use the same parts they use for 93 octane except for the extremely dished pistons in the hyper eutectic material instead of forged used in the boost-capable kits. Locally the difference between 87 and 93 octane is $0.30-0.50/gallon, or about 20-30%, and E85 is about a penny more than 87. Depending on tune it might be cheaper to run on E85 all the time using the 93 octane kit if I wasn’t concerned with availability for long trips. But for that I have the possibility of running a storage tank in the tire trailer to extend the range enough to get between E85 stations on the Interstate when driving between races, and there are plenty of places to refuel locally.

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We have actual cool

The office temperature was 74°F (23.3°C) this morning! It was cooler than that when I went shopping for a solution to the drain plug problem we are having in the kitchen sink and redeemed a coupon for a free Avocado Bacon Burger at the local Whataburger. Then it was about the same as it is right now outside: 66°F.

Mrs. the Poet is not sure she likes the solution I found for her constantly failing drain plugs: what Lowe’s calls a “suction stopper” which is basically a round sheet of rubber that covers the drain, and a stainless mesh filter that fits inside the drain and removes for cleaning. Total cost $7 and the only failure points are eventually the rubber will age into uselessness (almost typo that would also have worked: “uselessmess”) and the mesh can be torn if a fork gets caught in it. Unlike the one we bought last year for $3 at the local grocery that has a built-in failure that is pretty much guaranteed because that’s exactly how all 3 of the last ones we bought failed, there is a barbed insert that fits through a hole in the rubber stopper, and after some use the water pressure in the full sink will overcome the tenacity of the barbed insert and the stopper gets left behind when the rest of the assembly is removed to allow drainage. This is another design defect in that the strainer has to be removed to drain the water so it doesn’t actually strain the debris from going down the drain. The new plug and strainer doesn’t have this failing.

I’m still thinking (Danger Will Robinson!) about the Sprint-T design, this time about the lateral location device for the rear axle. With the various types and sizes of tires I will be using some adjustability in the rear suspension to change the balance of grip front to rear. Looking at the many ways to get this adjustability the simplest way is adjusting the rear roll center height by moving the vertical attachment of the rear lateral location device. Well, I did the bending stress on a 1.125″ fine thread bolt and for the LS and lighter engines this will be just big enough to not fail in long term use. There might be some flex while racing, and it is a definite failure point if I bang a curb with the right rear tire on the street, but the flex will not be noticeable to the driver and I’m not supposed to be banging curbs anyway. Construction will be super easy: After I cut the pivoting piece for the Watt’s link I cut a 1.125″ hole in the center for the pivot bolt then weld a fine thread nut with a grease fitting over the hole and machine out a bit of the arm to clear the bolt in use. I don’t know how much adjustment I will actually need and I could probably rebuild the mount for the pivot arm with only as much bolt as I need left unsupported from flex after I finish testing. Then I could just machine away the rest of the bolt past the support structure and save that little bit of weight.

Speaking of saving weight, I’m having some issues with how to attach the bracket for the Watt’s link to the rear axle housing, mostly because I still haven’t settled on which rear axle to use, the nine-inch Ford with an aluminum center section and a fabricated aluminum housing and axle tubes or the Winters V8 quick change with a magnesium center section and aluminum side bells with aluminum axle tubes. The generic Nine Inch would be a touch cheaper and has more clearance at droop, while the V8 is slightly lighter and has a better selection of final drive ratios. That availability of final drive ratios might be the thing that swings the decision. Anyway, the Nine Inch housing will have to have a mount welded on the back, while the V8 can have the bracket bolted with longer studs on the side bell, making modification a simple matter of unbolting the test bracket and bolting on the permanent bracket, another point in favor of the V8 QC axle.

And this once again points out that designing a car from scratch is a good thing to do for us old people with ADD because there are so many sub-systems that have to be hashed out so progress can still be maintained when interest fades on whatever I’m working on at the moment.

After melting running errands yesterday, blessed coolness today

Yesterday I was depositing checks and picking up my pulls from the comic shop and basically melting in the sun as the temperature again approached the triple digits. I also got my toes done as I was snagging the sheets again when I didn’t wear socks to bed, then walked the 0.9 mile from the nail salon to Casa de El Poeta for a full limit on my Sweatcoin collecting. Speaking of Sweatcoin, I still don’t have enough to cash out any, but I’m getting there, almost $15 right now. I need to get a bunch more to have enough to cash out at $50.

One thing that is hard for me to get used to is the thought of actually having money to spend on days I’m not doing the lab rat thing. My mentality has been when I’m out and not visiting the LRK I don’t have any money unless this is a trip to actually spend money on something specific. And that I wouldn’t have a couple of bucks to spend on a cold drink and a snack if the urge took me. So I stopped at Jack in the Box and got a Cherry Coke Zero Sugar™ and a slice of half-price cheesecake one because I needed it and the other because I could. Well I didn’t need the Cherry Coke Zero Sugar™ specifically, just something cold and wet, but the cheesecake was definitely because I could.

Now today it was much cooler as the first of two cold fronts passed through leaving temperatures in the mid-80s most of the day. It’s only 91° as I get ready to get the lottery with the $15.25 million jackpot. Back from the store. And just for giggles I also bought a ticket for the Powerball $223 million jackpot, which the first year payout will have more than enough money for us to live on the rest of our lives. I suppose we could move to a small town without internet and set them up with Gigabit internet just because we want it and letting everyone else have access just makes sense. Seriously, I have so little experience spending money in large sums that after setting up a retirement account to take care of my financial needs for the rest of my life I have no idea what to do with the rest of the first year payment.

Well if tomorrow’s post doesn’t make much sense, I’m still drunk from celebrating winning.

Weather came through when I wanted to walk

Well you know the saying about best-laid plans of mice and men. About the time I got free to take that walk last night we got more severe weather. Tornado watch severe weather, with high straight-line winds, and much lightning. But when I went shopping today the app seems to be counting outdoor steps just fine. But I’m still not seeing the daily bonus coins after I click on the designated ad.

C’est la vie.

Another update for Sweatcoin app, and weather

OK I’m taking a walk tonight to see if this latest update fixes things, but the app is tracking steps again around the house. I think maybe I’ll take the opportunity to buy a lottery ticket, as I keep telling Mrs. the Poet, the odds of winning are almost zero if you buy a ticket, but absolutely zero if you don’t buy a ticket. And we are among the teeming throngs who could live a comfortable life if that chunk of income was shifted down a bit.

We had a dry line move through this morning but it didn’t wake me up, and another forecast for this evening, but not much rain near Casa de El Poeta. It was mostly wind and lightning according to Mrs. the Poet. The cats were not even bothered by this morning’s rain, and I can’t find any evidence of the rain outside.

And just for a few minutes yesterday I was considering centerline seating on the Sprint-T to see around the engine, since raising the driver’s seat enough to see over the engine would also raise my butt high enough to clear the transmission tailhousing. But that was quickly discarded because of the previously discussed raised Center of Gravity issue. Also the issue of running the steering from the center to the steering box on the left side of the chassis with the engine in the way.

But other than that I don’t have anything worthwhile to post today.

Well I have been thinking about the Sprint-T

I have been thinking about cooling for the Sprint-T. I’m going with the assumption that the 22″ wide catalog radiator is going to be roughly equivalent to the OEM radiator, but for insurance against overheating I’m going to stuff as much oil cooler in the nose as will fit. The boxes still need to be moved around a bit but there is room and airflow to stick a cooler sideways so that the air comes in the front and flows out the driver’s side.

Other things I found out include the Pentastar engine is identical across a model year except for the intake manifold and oil pan for packaging under the hood. The only reason the FWD versions are rated at 245 instead of around 300 is the 62TE transmission can’t handle any more than that. If I grab an engine out of a minivan, swap the intake manifold to a RWD manifold and the ECU loaded with the RWD engine map it would make the same power as if I pulled it from the RWD car/truck. That really expands the available engine pool. And I’m still looking at printing up a new manifold with dual throttle bodies to get a lower profile and maybe eke out a few more ponies on the top end so that I can maybe not shift a time or two on course to save that odd thousandth of a second on the track.

And I’m spending the weekend with the cats because Mrs. the Poet is going to commune with Nature away from me. And Winter is making a comeback as we drop more than 40°F between yesterday’s high and tomorrow’s low, even worse if you factor in the “feels like” temperature forecast of 15°F. It’s going to be “fun” getting the cats back in so they don’t freeze.

I guess I am a little crazy

It was 37°F and raining when I went out to buy toilet paper and a lottery ticket. If I’m not willing to buy a lottery ticket, then I don’t deserve to win. Figuratively and literally. I’m not checking my numbers until after I get up, so right now I’m Schrödinger’s rich guy. Until I check the numbers I’m both rich and dead broke. It was interesting walking to the local C-store and literally seeing the same store brands as my local supermarket, and seeing how little traffic there was because of the weather. I was the only person on foot for the entire 1 mile round trip. And now I’m cold and tired and want to sleep…

Weather is here, wish you were beautiful

OK it has been raining all afternoon, both yards are flooded, and the forecast is for near-freezing temperatures by morning. The cats are staring out the windows and hissing and growling, some at the weather, some at each other, and neither one wants to sit in the cat tower with the comfy cat beds. And when they stop hissing, they both try to sit in the same lap, which they don’t fit on. But even ignoring the cats’ problems, the weather is still a concern. The Beautiful Suburbs of Hell are under 3 alerts or warnings for road, river, and flash flooding.

As I’m also stuck waiting out cold and wet weather I still make plans for building the Sprint-T, even though I still know I have no chance to build one. Just because I have no way to build it doesn’t mean I can’t still want to build it, I just can’t build it. But, (big but) I can build it in scale, at a budget I can afford.

And the cats are crying again. Time to console them.

Grocery day again

And I bought a lottery ticket, because that’s my best hope of building the Bucket.

Check that, it’s my second-best chance. My best chance is going to Richard Rawlings with my parts and saying he can keep the car if I can drive it to Goodguys and SCCA Solo events with Gas Monkey on the sides. So I see that as slightly better than the proverbial snowball in Wichita Falls on the finish line of the Hotter ‘n’ Hell Hundred in the full sun. And given the odds on winning the lottery, that shows how much I believe that will work. “Hey I have a choice between winning the lottery and convincing a reality TV star to build my car, which do I think is more likely?” Obviously convincing the reality TV star is going to be easier more likely than winning the lottery, but not by a whole bunch.

On the groceries, I have noticed that corporate tax breaks haven’t shown up in consumer prices any more than they have in paychecks. Groceries are way up in the last few months, especially in the things I can cook and eat. We actually bought a package of fish fillets for the week, after buying a pound of ground beef last week. Milk is back up over $2.50 a gallon for the store brand, near $5/gallon for brand name. The little pizzas we buy have gone from $0.99 each to $1.49 each. Pop Tarts are stupid expensive, with the 8 count boxes almost $3, and the generic stuff is exactly the same price per pastry after you factor in the lower count per box. Sure it looks cheaper, but the store brand has 6 per box compared to the 8 of the name brand. At least potatoes are still cheap, but I noticed that dried beans on sale are more than they were regular price a year ago. I don’t know how I could lower my standard of living any more and still continue to eat.

And while we are on the subject of maintaining a standard of living, I still haven’t been able to find a plasma center that will tell me what I will make before I commit to their center. How can a person comparison price, if the price is a deep dark secret? Turns out the business is pretty much a cartel system with only 4 buyers who collude to keep buying prices as low as possible while charging as much as the market will bear for the collected plasma. That’s in this country, over in the EU donors are restricted to 1/4 the donations extractions allowed in the US and the per-extraction price more than reflects that. And I’m Just Some Dude so I have no say except to not participate.

And another cold front is moving through with more freezing drizzle, yay! I have no place to go so I’m mainly worried for my friends who have to travel for work tomorrow. And the forecast is high 60s when I head to the Lab Rat Keeper on Valentines Day, and near 80 the day after. Yay!Texas weather. 😛

It’s dreary and rainy here

And I have been thinking about the Thunderbolt Grease Slapper 2 again. Specifically I have been re-thinking the rear suspension and what would be the cheapest way to do it. I’m still going with the de Dion suspension, so what I have been looking at is would I save any money by directly attaching the steering knuckles from the donor vehicle to the beam and keeping all the stuff like brakes and bearings on the knuckle and mounting the parking brake on the front axle. And I keep looking at it, over and over again and I keep coming up with the same answer: Slightly cheaper to use the uprights in parts costs, but much more fabrication needed to connect the knuckles to the beam and to attach the parking brakes to the front spindles.

Again the cheapest rear suspension option is to transfer the whole front suspension from the donor car and swap softer springs in, keeping the original shocks, but the geometry on that pretty much sucks. Actually what sucks is using the solid axle in front with the MacPherson struts in the rear between the roll centers and camber curves or lack of them on the front. The two suspensions are just not compatible and making them work together is more time and money than just building a rear suspension that works with the front axle in the first place.

I mentioned dreary weather in the headline, we have another cold front moving through with rain and a solid overcast. That makes it really dark outside along with cold and wet. This is not the usual rainy weather we get in TX where we get a squall line and a deluge that is gone in a couple of hours, this is a dark day that starts and ends dark with a steady rain that hangs around all day. I’m used to rain like this from when I lived in the Pacific NW, but it is unusual for TX. I can literally hear the foundation shifting from the black gumbo soil saturating from the slow rains soaking in instead of running off.

I’m slightly concerned about some of my friends in this weather, as their depressions are made worse by lack of light. They get really down in weather like this. They get really down in winter anyway, and days like this make them all a bit screwy. I think they all have some degree of SAD, but this far south it is not a common diagnosis as the conditions are not extreme enough to get many cases.

I really need to go for a bike ride, but I lack a bicycle I can ride at the moment because of old injuries acting up. What I need now is a medium height long wheelbase tadpole recumbent trike so I can step over the frame and sit down on a supportive seat with back support. And while I’m wanting things I need maybe someone could fix the leaky plumbing and the holes in the bathroom walls?