29 September 2007

Wally Parks 1913-2007


Wally Parks, the hot-rodder and entrepreneur who curbed drag racing on city streets by steering drivers onto legal racing strips and founded the National Hot Rod Assn., has died. He was 94.

"Today is a sad day in the world of NHRA and the sport of drag racing," NHRA President Tom Compton said in a statement. "Words simply can't describe the immeasurable impact Wally has had on the sport he created and the millions of people's lives he touched along the way."

If you've ever been to a drag strip, Mr. Parks is the one who legitimized drag racing as a sport instead of an unlawful activity. A true pioneer of motor sports.

26 September 2007

25 September 2007

Multi Functional Dinnerware

Finally, for the do it yourselfer who also has a culinary interest!

Some folks just have too much time on their hands....

16 September 2007

My friend Manuel ...

Owner's Manual to be exact. You don't know how many times I look for an owner's manual in a customer's car and don't find one.

When I ask them where it is, I get a blank stare. Far be it they read the fucking thing when they buy a car. Maybe if they did, they wouldn't bother me for stupid shit all the time, like what the 'check engine' light means or the host of other multi-colored shit that goes on in the instrument panel.

You'd also know where your spare tire is and how to operate the jack. You'd also know how to open your hood, program your sound system, GPS, OnStar, compass, and a whole buncha other assorted shit you need to know about your car. Or you can pay me to hold your hand and walk you through it.

I could use the owner's manual in the car so I can decipher your fuse box (usually they're numbered and then I have to go and hunt for a cheat sheet to figure out which fuse controls what), figure out the grade and type of motor oil, transmission fluid, antifreeze, and a whole host of other fluids your manufacturer recommends. It's also easier for me to find the procedure to reset your 'oil change light' without having to search through my huge Service Bay Manual.

It also helps the tow truck driver if you're broke on the side of the road. Some cars have to be towed a specific way or it will do damage to the drivetrain, electronics, whatever.

Want to tow a trailer? Your manual tells you that too. It tells you how to load your car safely (think that doesn't matter? Put a few hundred pounds in the trunk and try and control the car at any type of speed). It also tells you about the tires (size, speed rating, and tread wear rating) and how much, or little, they can be inflated for safe operation.

Your owner's manual is the most important tool a driver can have in the car with them. Read it (sit in the fucking car when you do and familiarize yourself with what they're talking about) and then leave it in the car. No, the two minutes your salesman spent going over shit with you doesn't count. If you don't have one, go to the dealer and order one. It's a small price to pay for a boatload of useful information.

13 September 2007

Confessions Of A Tool Whore

OK, I admit it.
I am a tool junkie.
I buy tools that I don't even need, somehow rationalizing it to myself.
I have so many fucking tools, I have three roll aways to hold all of them and still have shit laying around.
Thousands and thousands of dollars worth.
The Snap On guy loves me.
I get mailers from Harbor Freight and my fucking eyes glaze over.
I can't even go into a Sears store anymore.
People wonder why I have always driven piece of shit cars, priced a screwdriver from Snap On lately?
Thats why.
The price of good tools has skyrocketed in the past ten years.
The stupid bastards where I work wonder why I get so wound up when they want to borrow something.
Fuck that, go buy your own shit, asshole.

An old, old mechanic joke;
Why do you never use your screw driver for a prybar?
Because the next time you want to use it as a chisel, it's bent.

Thank you, try the veal.

05 September 2007

Iron Butt? I Think Mine Would Be More Like Jelly.

Lurch, over at Main and Central is reporting on the most grueling motorsport event in the world, the semi annual Iron Butt race.
11,000 miles in 11 days racing around the perimeter of the United States looking for 5 checkpoints that you have to find in a two hour window, on motorcycles.

No consideration is given for bad weather (during the running of the Iron Butt, riders can expect to ride through rain, sleet, snow, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and the occasional tornado). Temperature extremes routinely run 125 degrees or more in the desert Southwest in fact, in living up to the name, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Competition", event organizers intentionally route the rally through such places as Death Valley or the Mojave Desert during the hottest part of the day, to extreme cold at the top of mountains like Pike's Peak in Colorado where competitors may have to struggle up a muddy road to reach the peak's 14,110 foot summit.

Go read the rest here

My ass is sore remembering the 100 mile round trip every day between San Jose and Frisco I used to do on a Honda 450, so, no thanks.

I can't believe Gord didn't post this, I know he saw it before I did!

04 September 2007

Ultracapacitors May Have Batteries Beat


Millions of inventions pass quietly through the U.S. patent office each year. Patent No. 7,033,406 did, too, until energy insiders spotted six words in the filing that sounded like a death knell for the internal combustion engine.

An Austin-based startup called EEStor promised "technologies for replacement of electrochemical batteries," meaning a motorist could plug in a car for five minutes and drive 500 miles roundtrip between Dallas and Houston without gasoline.

The technology also could help invigorate the renewable-energy sector by providing efficient, lightning-fast storage for solar power, or, on a small scale, a flash-charge for cell phones and laptops.

Skeptics, though, fear the claims stretch the bounds of existing technology to the point of alchemy.

So? I took alchemy in school. Blacksmithing too. They both still come in handy.

The result is an ultracapacitor, a battery-like device that stores and releases energy quickly.

Batteries rely on chemical reactions to store energy but can take hours to charge and release energy. The simplest capacitors found in computers and radios hold less energy but can charge or discharge instantly. Ultracapacitors take the best of both, stacking capacitors to increase capacity while maintaining the speed of simple capacitors.

Until EEStor produces a final product, Perry said he joins energy professionals and enthusiasts alike in waiting to see if the company can own up to its six-word promise and banish the battery to recycling bins around the world.

"I am skeptical but I'd be very happy to be proved wrong," Perry said.

The problem with capacitors is size. Capacitors are rated in terms of capacitance in units of farads. Most capacitors are very small and measured in microfarads. When I was learning how to fix radios for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, my instructors told me that a one-farad capacitor would be about the size of a football field. That's maybe a little dated, along with the vacuum tubes they taught me about, although those are still being used for design and prototype work because they are highly adjustable. But I digress...

There are capacitors in every piece of electronic gear. Period. I think their earliest use in automotive technology was as the condenser in contact-breaker-point ignition systems, where they were used to prevent counterflow voltage from causing arcing at the points and subsequent rapid point wear. CB ignition has gone the way of the buggy whip.

In motorcycles, electrolytic capacitors are sometimes used as battery eliminators, providing a load for the charging system, in effect fooling the charging system into thinking the system has a battery. I explained this to my buddy Sluggo one time in his garage, and his reply was, "Damn, how ya gonna fool it now? You said it right in front of it!", pointing at his motorcycle.

There's no reason you couldn't do this on cars as well, if your car has a kickstarter.

In this age of electronic miracle progress, nothing seems impossible. I hope they can do it.

Crossposted at the world's other Best Blog.