29 Apr 2009

Picked up aluminum tubing for the coolant lines, large OD aluminum tubing for the coolant header tank and swirl pot, and some more steel tubing for the rear suspension. Between that and the fuel tank there’s plenty to work on.

26 Apr 2009

I wanted to start on the center tunnel and shifter, but since everything connects to everything else, that means having the coolant lines in place first. If they’re needed than may as well work on the coolant system first, which means the radiator mounting needs to be finished – so it was. It’s now properly mounted; no more clunky blocks of wood and shims that keep shifting position; having it done helps quite a bit psychologically and cleans up a few loose ends.

Also finished up the steering rack, which will be accurately mocked-up to best determine steering column placement. This time I’ll make sure there’s no foot interference! Speaking of feet, there’s going to be tons of foot room and space for a dead pedal. I may even move the driver’s seat forward some.

Making great headway on the book. The latest addition are the Coolant, Fuel, and Brake System chapters. So far it’s working out fairly well, the book is staying just ahead of the build so that what’s being built tests out the manuscript.

Work on the fuel tank is moving along in parallel – and independently. If I was building just one car I’d model it in cardboard and have it done by now. The catch is, many of you want to build one as well and that means having accurate drawings. That means knowing bend allowances – which I don’t. Instead of spending time on that while I can be working on the car, a local metal fabricator was contacted and they reverse-engineered my overall tank drawing to produce the proper panel drawings. To be sure the drawings are accurate means working off them, so they’re CNC-cutting them – the ultimate test. While it costs money it speeds up the project by at least several weeks.

19 Apr 2009

Unseasonably warm weather – 90+ in the garage – means it’s too uncomfortable to weld. It’s just as well since it took all afternoon to make the four radiator mounting brackets. In the past I always seem to come up with over-engineered mounts so this time a simple arrangement was figured out first. Welding will be tricky though because the nose needs to be in place to accurately place them but obstructs welding. Removing the nose to gain access causes the radiator to move. Eh, something will be worked out.

In other news, the current manuscript is finally in Latex – a big thanks to Justin for all his help. Now I can start adding sections for the two beta-builders.

16 Apr 2009

Someone at work bought a new Nissan, not an SUV, or Z, or Altima, nope – a GTR, and I got a ride. What a well-engineered machine; everything works together so seamlessly. The engine is so smooth it was a surprise when he said he was reving it to 8500, it sure didn’t sound like it (in fact it could use a louder exhaust.) And it sure doesn’t feel like a 3800lb car, it rode harder than Kimini – really. Speaking of quiet, when we pulled out of a driveway and he got on it, there was no spinning tires, no smoke, no loud screaming engine, it just sort of “launched”, probably something only a sportbike owner or F18 pilot can relate to. I was giggling like a school girl all the way back to work.

With a 0-60 time in the very low 3-seconds and a mid-11-second 1/4 mile, I’m glad I’ll have a turbo in Midlana. Of course, with its 4WD the GTR beats nearly everything off the line. We’ll see if I can beat the 1/4 mile time… I think I can since it weighs more than twice as much but only has about 20% more power. The trick – which the GTR knows all too well – is getting that power to the ground…

Oh, and I asked what group of car owners most often want to race him. Lowered Hondas driven by hat-askew kids? No, they give him thumbs-ups. Corvettes and Mustangs? No, they give him thumbs-ups. In his words, “The owners that act most threatened are BMW drivers. They always want to race, but why? What’s the point?”

13 Apr 2009

Working on the book this week, detailing the area around the nose. The incentive is that the radiator, fan, and nose are mocked up on the table using wood shims and clamps. Every time the table is bumped or hammered on, the nose moves out of position. The plan is to get the book far enough ahead so aluminum radiator brackets can be fabricated, bolting them to rubber-isolated mounts, which in turn attach to the front framework. I have a great dislike for stuff sliding out of position, especially expensive parts that can drop on the floor. I’ll have to pick up some aluminum angle for the brackets, or bend them from plate.

Both of the beta-builders have been pretty quiet, a combination of work and life getting in the way, and perhaps me not feeding them drawings fast enough. That’ll get fixed soon enough.

12 Apr 2009

While VW Bugs aren’t my thing I have to admit this is very cool. Granted it has the typical useless hotrod 1″ ground clearance but it’s still pretty wild.

Okay, so I worked in the garage today, alright?! I’ve been getting grief about slacking off, so spent the day disassembling and rebuilding the Miata steering rack, converting it to manual steering. I took a bunch of pictures which will be in the book. Yes, Flyin Miata has the process on their website, but websites come and go and the book will be a stand-alone information source, not leaning on other people’s material. Plus, I kind of feel like pointing to someone else’s website is cheating; making money off a book that leans on other people’s work feels wrong. Another reason for doing it myself – I discovered a couple things to watch out for during the process and something that’ll save you time 😉

The rack is being taking care of now because it has to be done before the car can be driven (yeah I know, a long way off, but all the parts have to be made ready at some point.) The rack was a real mess and it’s nice to work with clean parts. Speaking of messes, the garage is much better now, which puts me in a better frame of mind to get back into it.

8 Apr 2009

A couple people have requested an RSS feed… I’d like to but don’t know how (it’s a time thing). It’s not clear whether the various apps set up an RSS feed to your computer, or set up an RSS source from my website. I’m using DreamWeaver so it’s probably straightforward… I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out.

In other news I found that while PDF figures in Latex look better than PNG; Google Sketchup has a bug in its export function. Looks fine on the screen but what’s produced has some edges left out here and there on tubes… thanks a bunch, Google. I really dislike the timesink of working with defective tools… especially after having paid for the so-called professional version that can output these (defective) formats :(.

6 Apr 2009

Ordered a camcorder mount, another tidbit to serve as incentive. It’s not a total waste since room has to be provided for it somewhere. With Kimini gone there’s no way of knowing what tripod head was ordered back then so a new one was found. The surprise was when it arrived, it was the very same model as used in Kimini – go figure.

In other news, if you have iTunes, search for “Truth in 24”. It’s a professionally-produced one-hr documentary on Audi’s diesel race car. Very well done.

5 Apr 2009

Apparently the springtime malaze isn’t over yet; another weekend passed with no garage activity other than returning the hoist. The good news is that I’m not goofing off; the manuscript is almost completely in Latex (like I said last week…) a time-intensive yet necessary task in order to move forward. While Latex is much more clunky, once pictures and figures are in place, the little bastards stay put unlike with Word, but there I go again. What’s interesting about working on a document in LaTex is how much it’s like like working with raw HTML, which is how I update this site. Maybe the two are distantly-related.

I imagine some readers are thinking, “What’s the point of working on the book without a finished car?” Well if the opposite were true: the car done without the book, that’s no better. With all effort focusing on the car it means important topics, tips, and even what pictures and figures go into the book get forgotten. Creating both book and car in parallel is the best way to keep the book in sync – and accurate. It helps to keep the proper mindset necessary to build the thing. Anyhow, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it… well, okay, the book and the garage mess.

1 Apr 2009

After going into the garage to get something, it’s clear that the poor motivation from last weekend was due to the mess. I can work in a mess – to a point but after the engine disassembly, there’s stuff everywhere. A clean-up is in order before the next work session.