27 May 2012

No update¬† last week due to goofing off and going to a BBQ. The first shot is the eclipse as seen from our backyard through my welding mask. Too much trouble to set up the spotting scope, plus I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t damage it with the potential heat.

An assessment of the fish pond shade cover showed that the temporary brace is now the only thing keeping the truss from collapsing due to dry-rot. This pushed up my timeline to implement the design for the first test unit. I wanted to use this style of lightweight steel truss from the start but the city demanded crazy-heavy wood assemblies and having them signed-off by a structural engineer. I figured, well, someday they’ll need replacing and then I’ll “repair” them they way I intended the first time… and that time has come. A simple truss composed of chainlink fence tubing and cable was welded up and preliminary tests show that it’s plenty strong vertically but wants to turn upside-down due to its CG. Brackets on the support poles will have pins that keep them oriented vertically. So with that figured out, the real problem will be getting the old ones down. The whole thing is a bit of a Rubik’s Cube in that everything was assembled before filling the pond, thus making accessing the beams more challenging. I may have to build a temporary bridge that can be placed across the pond and a ladder sat on it. We’ll see.

Both hummingbirds have successfully left the nest. We knew the time was near when one was standing at the edge of the nest. My wife saw the first one take his/her first flight, then when I checked the remaining bird it was clear he was ready to go, too. Right when I told him, “have a good life”, he jumped and zipped up into our apple tree. It’s just amazing to me that they already have the “autopilot” in their brain already fully calibrated so they just “know” how to fly – no flopping to the ground like other birds. If you’ve ever tried flying an RC helicoptor you know just how tough it is to even hover, but not for these little guys. I wish them well, and the last I saw of them, mom was still feeding them.

About the car, ah, yes… I’m starting a vacation early this week and will be working on the car so hopefully there’ll be good progress (hoping that the rotting truss doesn’t let loose in the meantime.) At the same time I’ll try to come up with some way of lowering them while retaining some dignity.

14 May 2012

A couple of observations were made about the wipers: they’re opposite most cars (which are “left-justified”), the arms could be bent to make them lay parallel to the bottom edge of the glass, and windshield squirters are needed. Some more time will be spent on it this weekend which should get it sorted out. The washer/squirters are easy to add; the trick is finding a nice-sized tank along with squirters.

13 May 2012

The latest hummingbird drama is that as suspected, Mom Bird made her nest too small and one of the kids got squeezed out. The danger was that he’d fall, and the irony is that the strong spider web pinning him so he couldn’t eat was removed, he did in fact topple out. Fortunately I happened to be checking on them and caught him before he hit the ground – time for another nest upgrade. As of today things seem okay but the one baby is pretty fussy and just like a child, doesn’t know when to sit still. They’re just barely starting to open their eyes so maybe they’ll see it’s not so wise to play around near the edges of cliffs. For now they’re sitting side by side again so at least he’s got a second chance.

On the other side of the house, Mom Sparrow took over the nest in the rain gutter. Can’t be sure how many babies are there but there were five eggs and it at least looks like her nest is large enough.

On the car, I honestly didn’t plan to have wipers, being willing to risk it and assume that cops would be distracted by other things to notice their absence. However, most builders will need them and I would like the option of driving cross-country, and getting caught by the rain is an eventual certainty (it actually happened in Kimini.) Plus, back before I had second thoughts, a wiper setup was ordered so it was already on-hand. For those reasons it seemed reasonable to see how bad installing them would be.

Turns out that it wasn’t too bad, more like a big puzzle finding the magic location for sweep angle and keeping the blades clear of the edges of the glass. The driver’s-side mount is pictured, a simple bracket to hold the actuator just so. Still haven’t finalized the location of the passenger-side arm because it’s an “also-there” sort of thing since the driver’s wiper is most important. As long as the sweep angle is the same between the two it probably doesn’t have to be powered up now, which is fine with me; there’s other stuff to be working on at this point. One annoyance is that due to the size and angle of the glass, and shape of the cowl, it means that the blade pivots cannot be located such that the blades can lay down out of the way (parallel to the bottom of the glass.) Either they’re going to be way up high as-shown, or at about a 30-deg angle. That’s better but not great; the blades may just be left off and kept in the storage area for when it looks like rain. The wiper motor will be in the forward storage area to keep it out of the dash area and to maintain space for a glovebox of sorts.

6 May 2012

Being on-call today cut into progress somewhat, but drilled the dash panel and surround for riv-nuts. That’s the last of those, but the chassis needs to be gone over and all the 1/8″ pilot holes drilled out for riv-nut rivets. I rather drill them now instead of waiting until after the chassis is painted and drilling through the paint.

Last entry I mentioned possibly anodizing the panels instead of painting them (cheaper, lighter.) Unfortunately, fading due to UV exposure is a real problem and the black-anodized wheel centers on Kimini faded to purple/brown simply from exposure to fluorescent lighting. A possible compromise is clear anodizing which I hadn’t given much thought to, though reflections could be a bother. I don’t know… I change my mind about every week. As far as paint colors go I’ve recently been drawn to a light forest green, or maybe the metallic burnt-orange that’s showing up on new cars. Guess I should make up my mind.

The first picture is the two bird nests, the old one from last year’s in the background. I need to read up and see if hummingbirds return to the same nest each year. The second picture shows the little guys at five days old; I don’t know how they’re going to fit for long – it’s a really small nest.

1 May 2012

May Day, and that means new kids in the yard. Born sometime within the last 24-hrs, they sure are little, about 1/2″ long… I’ll get better pictures this weekend when it’s lighter. One thing I did (that Mom never thanked me for) was to put an inverted metal bucket directly above the nest on top of the patio shade. It’s nice knowing that she doesn’t have to be miserable with the light rain we’ve been having lately.

In other news, I was talking to a buddy about car colors and he suggested something I hadn’t given much thought to, anodizing the aluminum body work. The neon blue and green come to mind. I’ll have to give it some thought; he said they did a race car that way about six years ago and it’s held up great. I asked how he prepared the panels and he said he just did parallel passes with a Scotch-brite pad. He said they didn’t use hard anodize because he worried about it cracking. More investigation is warranted.