30 June 2019

I don’t get excited too often, but we have not one, but two, Midlana builder announcements:

Builder “Freakynami”, in Australia, recently completed his frame and it’s now sitting on its wheels. He’s preparing to do his own torsional testing, required by the government to prove its torsional rigidity. He will be posting his results on the Midlana builder’s forum soon. I never measured it myself (though it was calculated in CAD) so his results will be very enlightening.

Meanwhile, builder “Matt” is creating his own aluminum body—I’m extremely impressed. This is the sort of innovation that I was hoping to see, builders taking the plans and running with them and creating their own truly unique cars, and they most certainly are! Well done, gentlemen!

22 June 2019

I periodically search the Web to see where Midlana is mentioned and ran across a reference on an Australian sports car site. The introduction noted:

If you’re not up to welding your own tube-framed Midlana or Locost/Lotus 7, your mates Down Under have the solution with the Spartan.

It would have been nice if they’d provided a link to Midlana, but didn’t even give a link to the car they were writing about! Anyway, comparing that car to Midlana isn’t exactly an even comparison given that:

Just 300 will be built so it’s best not to dawdle. The car is priced at $150,000 (Aus) and can be shipped worldwide.

That’s $104K US dollars, then add shipping from Australia, plus more if you want a sequential gearbox, and paint, and not being street legal. I guess I should be flattered by the comparison!

16 June 2019

My brother’s using the hoist to install his new engine, so it’s not available right now to help with rebuilding my lathe. The consequence is that I keep checking Craigslist “just in case” there’s some terrific deal out there  so that rebuilding the lathe can be avoided. This is due to seeing posts from people saying that rebuilding this lathe isn’t entirely straightforward. The concern is breaking something that’s long been unavailable, effectively reducing it to scrap.

That’s part of the rational for looking around before tearing it apart, in case something irresistible shows up that allows upgrading for little or even no money.

Unfortunately,  a surprising number of CL ads show some annoying human personality traits; one is an almost criminal level of laziness, showing a single blurry picture of a dirty lathe, no brand name, no description, model number, age, or if anything comes with it. Contacting the seller only results in terse responses to what’s being asked. Really? They don’t seem to understand that you have to make it as easy as possible for people to give you money, but when you have to pull teeth, it kind of ruins the chances of that.

Another is pricing; an 8-yr old dented mid-range model Grizzly lathe showed up at $4000–a brand new one lists at $4500. I can’t tell if the owner is trying to snag ignorant buyers (even though price checking is a smart-phone click away), or if they really do think that time and wear have no effect on its worth. I sent the seller an email, saying that something that old is typically worth about half of new, which is what I offered if it doesn’t sell. The reply was that if it doesn’t get at least $3250, he’ll keep it. Yes he will.

I think the right thing to do is to go ahead and rebuild my lathe. That way, if it’s kept, it’ll be good enough for my needs, and if it’s sold, it’ll sell more easily. Or end up a scrap.

In Midlana news, the additional throttle return spring and graphite cable lubrication helped the sticking idle by about half. I really don’t want to pull out the old cable (still) so may try a stronger return spring.

In related news, the Nevada hillclimb is still on, aided by a recent development. On the same weekend as the event, nearly all hotel rooms had been sold out due to a wedding. Suddenly, all the rooms became available again, which is great for us–and probably the couple deciding to not get married…

6 June 2019

Finally got round to swapping out all the fluorescent lighting for LED. It’s definitely brighter and draws about half the power. There’s that, and no more loud humming or being grumpy about starting up in a cold garage; I don’t think anyone’s going to miss them.

There was some actual Midlana work, specifically, adding a second throttle return spring. There were a couple threaded holes already present on the intake manifold, so they were borrowed to mount a new bracket to. Haven’t driven it yet to see if it works, but it leaves open the option of adding stronger or longer springs later on.

Last picture, I may not have mentioned my growing interest in wooden gear clocks, but as shown, that’s yet another distraction. I already found out the hard way that our laser printer apparently distorts the “1:1” paper patterns that I’ve been gluing to the plywood, which became apparent after utilizing the mill’s DRO ability to place holes on a radius – they don’t quite match up with the pattern. That’s taken a bit of steam out of the project, with the concern being that the gears may not mesh smoothly. Anyway, there’s a lot more bits to cut out, so time will tell… so to speak.

1 June 2019

First, the excuses:

We got so much rain this year (spread over months) that there’s tons of weeds to pull, gophers and snails to kill, plants to trim, and getting the koi pond system ready for summer. Knock down any of the first four and they come right back due to the continued moisture. Then there’s building a garden shed to help with “yard organization”, in quotes because I admit to some nefarious scheming: getting more stuff out of the garage. Of course, what goes in there has to be balanced against the expected high heat in summer, and the possibility that it’s broken into. The garden shed is 3/4 done, but stalled due to getting soaked by a constant drizzle, hence me typing this up, but it frees up time to figure out the throttle spring.

Ah yes, the sticking throttle cable. Reading about such cables on bicycle sites, it seems that good cables shouldn’t be lubricated because it tends to accelerate wear due to attracting dirt. The alternative, and a good idea in general, is a second throttle return spring. The trick is making it work with the existing helical spring, either by adding a second one if there’s room, or adding a more traditional spring off an existing or new hard point.

I know I have a bad habit of talking about car stuff and then not doing it (like, oh, the engine cover, air filter housing, and the open area behind the muffler, and throttle spring, but I digress.) In that tradition, I’ve been thinking for a while now about doing a YouTube video series on Midlana. The episodes would cover various aspects of the design and serve as an overview/introduction for people thinking of building one. It has moved beyond just the thinking stage, having acquired a good lens for the camera, a mic, and decent lighting.

What’s spurred this on in-part are the videos made by This Old Tony. They’re very well done, well choreographed, well lit, with a good dose of humor, and they’re very informative; that’s the high bar I aspire to. What’s also helps is that you almost never see his face… this appeals to me!

Least you think I’m finally getting back to Midlana, another project is rebuilding my lathe. I bought a used Grizzly DF-1237G in the late 1990’s (it was apparently manufactured in the early 1990’s). From day one it’s leaked oil like a sieve, and while annoying, it still managed to help build Kimini and Midlana. While the draw is strong to buy a new lathe, I can’t in good conscience justify the expense when this one works fine, other than the leaks. I found a machinist’s forum where a few others have this same model (and all complaining about oil leaks). Grizzly still has some spare parts but  were out of oil seals (no doubt due to the systemic leaks). Like bearings, oil seals are a universal part, so now on-hand are new oil seals, as many bearings as I could get, stickers, and new belts. Oh, and I want to paint it; some people like the Grizzly green, but I prefer “machine gray.” I’m probably not going to strip it down completely (want to stay clear of the threading gearbox) so hopefully painting it doesn’t become a fiasco.