30 Jun 2011

It’s amazing just how long it takes to really finish panels beyond the basic cutting. Anyway, they’re in, then there was properly mounting the throttle cable termination. This wasn’t possible to do up until now since there wasn’t much to mount it to. For the first time I found myself working the pedals and thought, “this thing’s getting there.” The gas pedal has the proper feel and good travel, so with that done (the Clecos get replaced only after paint) there’s still more panel work. Oh, and there’ll be a dead pedal off to the left as there’s plenty of room to do so – eat your hearts out, Locost builders.

In other news, I’ve had the same beat-up boom-box in the garage ever since starting work on Kimini. Separately, we finally upgraded to a flat-screen TV (and Blu-ray… and AV receiver) about three years ago. Ever since then there’s been an annoying – and intermittent – problem with the picture and audio dropping out. The frustration was trying to figure out which unit was failing, but it would never stay failed long enough to find out which one. Even replacing both HDMI cables didn’t help, but the problem seemed to be something mechanically intermittent within the AV receiver (wriggle things around and it might start working, sometimes.) It’s been a growing annoyance because it’ll happen about 4-8 times during a movie, lasting anywhere from 1-20 seconds, and usually during some key scene, then we have to back up and see what we missed. I finally had enough of it this week and replaced the receiver (the nearest service facility was too far away to bother repairing it.) Anyway, got the new one installed and could finally enjoy a movie all the way… not. Yup, the problem was still there, dang it. After more messing about, it appears that I had bought TWO defective (and brand new) HDMI cables, each one purchased about a year apart. What are the chances of that?!

Anyway, this set the stage for ending up with a (probably) perfectly good receiver (with perhaps its HDMI issue) it’ll work perfectly fine as a receiver only. It could be sold, given away, or, moved to the garage, hah! The old boom-box, with its sucky reception and poor speakers is being replaced with this receiver along with some proper speakers. We’ll see how a simple piece of wire works as an FM antenna or if a real unit is necessary. Even though we’re not far from San Diego, we’re on the far side of some local mountains and it’s a struggle to receive much. We can pick up Los Angeles stations better, but they fade in and out. So, after 16 years, hopefully the garage will be getting some decent music. Amazing how quickly things can get upgraded when the wife’s out of town… 🙂

29 Jun 2011

The last two tunnel panels are in but rough-cut, still needing mounting holes, but the long mental slog is coming to an end. After these panels are sorted, next up are the panels behind the radiator. The nuisance with those panels is that the radiator tubes – full of water – are right in the way. Either the panels can be built around the tubes piecemeal, or just suck it up, roll the car out, drain the coolant (which is just tap water) and do it the right way. Hmmm, why is that such a hard decision…

In other news, building the car means getting in and out of it about a thousand times, often with the seat temporarily in-place. Over time I’ve found that I now get in by stepping on the seat and sliding in, then install the steering wheel. Getting out is the reverse, which means the optional side-triangulation tube is looking more possible (as in: it doesn’t inhibit getting in and out, at least the way I do it.) It has the benefits of: keeping the front upper corner of the windscreen from folding down in a roll-over. It prevents rocks kicked up by the front tires from having a line-of-sight impact with my face…, and it’ll keep the wind from whipping around the sides of the windscreen – a real problem with Seven-type cars – making for a more pleasant ride. It’ll also very likely provide convenient hard-points for side mirrors.

In other news, my brother had another trackday event with his Super Stalker, this one at both Streets of Willow and the big track next door, Willow Springs. He said the notables were a 600-whp Nissan GTR that got beat fair and square by a Spec Miata racer (meaning that the engine was virtually stock.) There was a Porsche GT3 which wasn’t running well, had poor tires, a poor driver, or some combination thereof. He said the other real competition was an old Honda CRX, and it was nearly equivalent performance-wise to his car. He didn’t find out what the guy had under the hood, but the owner claimed >300 whp… normally-aspirated! That’s doable with a K-series for a whole lot of money as it usually entails running it at >10,000 rpm. No kidding.

28 Jun 2011

Yesterday was spend drilling mounting holes for the existing center tunnel, so there wasn’t much point in posting. Today the storage tray was mocked up then fabricated. Wasn’t sure whether to bother beading the base of it but it made a huge difference in stiffness. Also not so sure about the brake lines and reservoirs inside the storage compartment – I can imagine a helmet, jacket, and sweater getting soaked in leaking brake fluid. I suppose if there’s a brake leak there’s bigger things to worry about so I’m not going to worry about it.

One other thing that’s needed is a small cover over the throttle pivot shaft. Don’t want something someday dialing up 400 hp unexpectedly by wedging itself behind the throttle…

While the tray’s not yet drilled, all the hard work’s done. Next are the last two tunnel panels next to the occupants’ feet, then it’s on to the paneling behind the radiator which will be a lot easier to fab since they’re easy to get to.

24 Jun 2011

So, where have I been and what have I been up to? Still here, just been distracted by several new hobbies and, things. Here’s what’s been going on:

1. The second hummingbird nest – and babies – came to a sad end. Unfortunately the mother picked a bad place for the nest, up at the top of our fishpond shading. A crow apparently saw the nest from above, came down and tried to grab the babies through the shade cloth, but got both in his mouth. He wasn’t able to fly off because the shade cloth was anchored, so he dropped both. Their poor little tiny bodies were found on the ground, 10 feet below the nest; I buried them side by side in a grave – nature is harsh 🙁

2. Days later, Midi got all excited to go outside, which usually means    there’s something running around in the yard. This time it was a baby
possum, and – good thing for him – he hid under a raised planter pot.
After fishing him out I briefly thought of trying to domesticate him
as a slightly unusual pet (imagining what it would be like to walk
around with him on my shoulder – I’m weird that way). I thought better
of it and tried to let him go, but of course he was doing the “playing
possum” thing, doing a fine impersonation of being dead – they
don’t even breath. Anyway, this picture was taken as he was waking
up, sort of grinning/growling/drooling at me. He was so small though
that he wasn’t fooling anyone. (It’s almost eerie how human-like their
hands are). I hope he has a good life and doesn’t get eaten or run-over
anytime soon.

3. My old aviation snips finally worn out so I went to pick up new ones at Home Depot. Boy, things have changed in the last 16-years. They have a much wider selection of cutters, including these offset versions (on the right) that weren’t available before. Man, I wish I had these back when making Kimini; they’re MUCH better for cutting panels. The offset design completely avoids the panel distortion caused by the non-offset version (at left.) This tip’s definitely going in the book.

4. And then there’s the solar oven. Yes, that’s right, I’ve always wanted to build one and when I get interested in something new, I obsess over it until I’ve learned the design, then I have to build one. Of course I couldn’t just build a “normal” one, as they all have various short-comings. This one’s got a stainless inner cooker box, double-pane glass, a heck of a lot of insulation, and a real oven door. Spent the last couple weeks on that, and today was the big day to try it out, my wife prepared a pot of beans for its inauguration. It worked awesome; the highest temperature (in the bottom of the box) was 266 deg F – not bad. It was very neat to lift the lid and see the beans simmering and boiling, all for free. Pretty cool.

Then there’s the vague pull toward building an ice-maker which uses no electricity, no moving parts, and makes 10-20 lbs of ice every day, and makes double that in the summer. On the other hand, so it gets built… then what? Not much point, though it does spawn bigger ideas of home air-conditioning using no electricity, but I digress. I love building stuff, so maybe that’ll happen sometime in the future.

So, yeah, the car… Well, I’ve been thinking through over the last few weeks why nothing’s been happening – besides the above distractions.
It’s because I built a car before! I figured out that the reason why the paneling was such a mental drag is that, having already done a set of panels for Kimini, the exciting newness of learning a skill is gone… now it’s just… work. It’s the same with other projects I’ve done. First time I built a chain link fence it was very interesting. The second fence I had to make was… work. First time I painted the house it was really interesting; the next time I’ll hire painters, it’s not fun any more.

Anyway, now that that’s understood and having come to terms with it (and coincidentally, finished up the backpacking equipment buying and oven designing), it’s time to get back to the car. I have next week off so you’ll start seeing updates again.

5 Jun 2011

Another week and two more panels. The trick with the footwell panels was to retain access to the suspension bolt on the lower A-arm. These panels go on one side of the suspension bracket and a cover goes on the other side due to it being in the radiator outlet stream. This is so the bolt can be accessed after it’s all buttoned up, and also so hot or cold air doesn’t sneak in through the A-arm pass-through port. After drilling them for screws or rivets (haven’t decided which) there’s two more panels needed to finish up the center tunnel, then after that there’s the storage tray bottom to do. Easy compared to the curved stuff!