30 Sept 2017

Attached the ductwork and been driving the car… yeah, yeah, I know, “about time”. Driving the car, three things have improved, which more or less should have been expected:

Air turbulence in the passenger compartment has been reduced by about half! Of course, starting out with “category 5 hurricane winds” means there’s still Category 1 winds (half as fast – I looked it up), a very welcome improvement. From previous reading, a lot of wind whips around the sides of the flat windscreen and smacks the driver about the ears – it sure does and it’s the nature of Lotus Seven type cars. I think the ductwork is keeping air from spilling over the top of the windscreen, and that lack of low pressure means it’s not sucking in as much air from the sides.

Air intake temperature is measured at the intercooler outlet and is staying right at ambient temperature. Since I don’t have a second sensor upstream of the intercooler, I can’t say how well the ducting is working. Street traffic being what it is, I can’t keep boost high enough and long enough to try and drive up air inlet temperature. I’d be well over 100mph in seconds… “first-world problems” of having a fast car.

Lastly, when driving west into the setting sun, the new “roof” is nice because it blocks the sun from coming in just abover the windscreen frame and trying to blind me.

With the hottest part of the year behind us, I’ll be doing more street driving. Full disclosure: ever since I blew up the engine, I’ve been very gun-shy about putting the car back on on-track. While everyone’s quick to say that I should, no one’s taken me up on my offer of writing me a $10,000 check, which I’d only cash if the engine blows up. In other words, it’s easy to tell someone else to do something which might cost a lot of money if it goes wrong. It wasn’t just the money though, it was the labor, and perhaps worse, being left not knowing what the “smoking gun” was that caused it to break the first time. All I know for sure was that the oiling system was not at fault because the bearings looked great – but everything else is a big unknown. What I still plan to do is eat my pride and take the car in to be professionally tuned – or at least have them review what I have. One reason I’ve been putting it off – besides not driving the car in general – is that they said they’d “probably” need the car for two days. Given that the tuner is around 100 miles away in terrible Los Angeles traffic, I much rather have it done in one day, but it’s not really up to me. We’ll see.

23 Sept 2017

From a car site: “Kurt’s gone and ruined the looks of Midlana [with the intercooler ductwork].”

Me: “Oh I don’t know. Post up pictures of your from-scratch homebuilt car and we’ll decide which is more attractive.”

Easy to make judgments with no skin in the game.

17 Sept 2017

Two actual, real, car-related posts!

First, the composite bits are back! The painter said it took a lot longer to smooth them out than he expected – huh, and he wondered why I didn’t do the work myself. He took way longer than he said he would, and charged more than I would have liked, and yet it was totally worth it, psychologically at least.

As they sit in the pictures, both are just resting on the car. The front section has to get tucked under the windscreen frame and either riveted or screwed down. The rear does as well in addition to adding foam gasket material between the two pieces and around the intercooler. Also, looking into the inlet, the insides need to be painted flat black. As it is, it’s too easy to see how rough and unfinished the innards are.

In the other car-related news, my brother again attended the Virginia City, NV hill-climb. He sent several updates and while he doesn’t yet know how he did, he said there’s probably about a million dollars – literally – of wrecked or damaged cars. Several went off, several hit the banks or guard railing, and then there was someone who left the line in a McLaren of some sort, in launch control, backwards. I’ll have to wait and see if this isn’t a myth because I’d have expected the engineers to lock-out that from even happening. On the other hand, maybe they never considered anyone doing such a crazy thing.


10 Sept 2017

Still around – and still waiting for my composite parts to be painted(!)

During the morning walk I saw this unusual trailer. When I first saw it I thought that it used a hydraulic motor to drive the winch instead of electric. Looking closer though I couldn’t find any hydraulic lines running from the pump to the winch, so that wasn’t it. Turns out the winch is a traditional electric setup, yet the battery it ran from also operated a gas(!?) engine which drove a hydraulic pump. I followed the lines back down the trailer to a piston at the front, so, okay it’s a tilt trailer, but that’s not the most interesting part. That was the hydraulic motor at the back end of the trailer driving a drum upon which rides the trailer bed itself! I had no idea such a thing existed. Well that’s one way to load your broken race car back onto the trailer!

In other news, we’re been considering solar panels. I’ve ignored the idea up until now for what might seem like a lame reason. In the home improvement store chain “Home Depot” there are these really annoying salespeople pushing leased solar installations. My logic is that if they’re pushing that hard, it must be really good for them, which means one way or another, it’s really bad for me, so I ignore them. Recently a coworker had a system put in, but he purchased his instead of leasing. After talking to him I’m wondering why I didn’t consider this sooner. The short story is that over 25 years, the owner (at least in Southern California) will save approximately $120,000. Yes, really. The reason the salespeople push the zero-cost lease so hard is that they reap everything over and above the installation cost (or around $100,000 per customer over 25 years)… incredible.

Somewhat related, the pond is up and running; here’s a short video of the fish in their new surroundings, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8Sx3o2s4rM

Thoughts have turned toward putting a cover over the filter and pump equipment, and also over the pond itself. How the above relates to this is that – me being me – I’m considering doing the solar installation myself. One issue around here is our “soil” is sandstone, which can be as hard as rock in areas. There is no access for heavy equipment where the panels would go and I don’t relish the thought of digging 24″-diameter 5-ft deep holes(!) for the solar panel mounts (6-12 of them depending upon mounting style). Thinking about the shading over the pond, I started wondering (channeling Jeremy Clarkson, “how hard could it be”) about building one to support the panels and have them do double duty as pond shading. Such a structure would be a fairly big deal though because with 20 40-lb panels, plus wind-loading, it’s not something to toy with (the consequences of having 800 lbs of expensive panels crashing into the pond would be a bad thing). Still, I know a structural engineer and will ask him if I could make trusses from chain link fence railing that would be strong enough to support it – I don’t see why not. The issue with digging holes would be simplified because there is access (for Bobcat-size gear) around the pond, so we’ll see.

Or I write a really big check and it just all magically gets done.