30 July 2008

Faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death

This is a lighthearted counterpoint to Bustedknuckles' excellent post below.

Daytona Racing Timeline


[...] Barney Oldfield, driving Ford’s “999” (named after a famous New York Central train) was the first American to run over a mile a minute on June 20 at the Indiana Fairgrounds…59.6 seconds. Oldfield hyped… “You have the sensation of being hurtled through space. The machine is throbbing under you with its cylinders beating a drummer’s tattoo, and the air tears past you in a gale. I tell you, gentlemen, no man can drive faster and live.” [...]

A slight contrast with the thought of running out of dry lake bed at 793 per...

28 July 2008

Aluminum Wheels, Giant Brass Balls And A Land Speed Record

Almost eleven years ago, a Hurculean effort of unheard of proportions culminated with a Land Speed Record at the Bonneville Salt Flats .

This "vehicle" broke the sound barrier, without ever leaving the ground, doing 763.035 MPH .
A feat that has yet to be repeated.

I am going to link to the site I got these images from because I want you to go read the incredible story behind this accomplishment, such as the little known fact that it is one of the first success stories where the internet helped to spread the word about an incredible project where it not only helped to find a driver for it but had school children donating money to pay for the fuel to test it, estimated at 250,000 gallons.

That aluminum wheel was designed to withstand 35 G's!
Also developed with a computer.

that is an image from a Cray computer that was used with Aviation programs to help design the ThrustSSC.

The whole, incredible story can be found here, one of my favorite parts was what the criteria was for being considered to drive this monster;

A competitive selection process took place to see who would drive the fastest car ever built. But rather than advertise for people to apply, he simply allowed the message to spread, thereby providing the applicants with their first test — their own initiative.

Thirty people applied. All of them were either drag racers or pilots. At the Center of Human Sciences in Farnborough, Professor Roger Green provided help with the project:

"What we had to do was decide how to whittle this down further. The most obvious thing to do was to give them all a sanity test and take the ones who failed. But one Richard Noble is obviously quite enough already."

Crazy with a death wish, no one knew what an effect a sonic boom would have on a car mere inches off the ground traveling at over 700 miles an hour!

It is a fascinating read and I highly recommend taking a bit of time to read it!

13 July 2008

Cannibal Cruise

Just got back from the 18th Annual Cannibal Cruise held at Truckee Regional Park about three blocks from home. Here's some photos and an observation or two. Click photos to emhugen.

A very nice Z28, but no matter how innocently folks do stuff, sometimes it can't help but make me feel older than dirt:

Mrs. G gets all nostalgic next to a '55 Chevy 2-door sedan. Her first car was one of these:

A '54 Hudson Hornet with Twin H-Power dual one-barrel setup. The things they'd do to get more power out of a flathead 6! Beautiful. Those things won a lot of races against larger displacement cars.

A funny display. The dummy was missing a shoe. A gal put the shoe back on it and said, "This is like takin' care of a drunk." Just then the dummy fell over and the four or five folks standing around just nodded. Heh.

Nice '64 single-carb Triumph 40-incher. My only thought was I wondered how much of what kind of goop did he use to fill in the sidewall cracks on those ancient Dunlop K70 tires. Amazingly, they still make them for vintage applications.

A '54 Marketeer. An idea whose time has come again. This is how I'd fix mine up! Check out the 'apes'. Heh. Probably won't go fast enough for the streamers to beat yer elbows to death. Notice it's still on its original tires.

I can't leave out the Blue Oval boys who populate this joint, so I saved the best for last. Very pretty '51 Ford convertible. Notice the standard Ford feature - the hood's up...

Me'n Mrs. G rode the Royal Enfield down to the show. I had to use extra throttle to get it to move with her on the back. She noticed it and cracked up because I didn't dare say anything...

12 July 2008

Old VS. New, Motorized Bicycles

Chances are, if you are over Forty, you will vaguely remember seeing something like this and snickering;

That one is brand new, for $600.00.

Courtesy of WildFire Motors.

Say hello to the latest upgrade.

Pretty wild design


The first picture I found courtesy of Mother Earth News, after doing some browsing from an article on a little three wheeled truck that gets 72 MPG.

I guess my point here is, I am trying to kick myself in the butt and find a low cost, fairly simple mode of hauling groceries.

I will be the first one to admit that even for being so skinny, I am over weight and WAY out of shape. I am not into pedaling, but I could be if I hooked up a motorized bike and a little trailer like that.

I am extremely fortunate to live, virtually, in walking distance of THREE small shopping malls, complete with a Dollar store, two laundry mats, two banks, a car wash, a McDonalds and a Taco Bell, a DMV and three cocktail lounges.
If they put in a liquor store in one of those malls, I am good to go.
I am not into walking though.
I walked miles and miles and miles when I was younger. Yeah right, uphill both ways.
Seriously, I did and I am getting old and crippled up. I had my lower back fused twenty five years ago and now I am having hip and knee trouble, on top of my back killing me all the time, the fusion wasn't all that successful and I have lived in misery ever since.
Something like that set up, I waste more gas getting in the truck and getting to the street than one of those little critters would use on a round trip to the farthest point out of that circle!
I don't know yet.
I don't have the money to plop down for a motorized bike, yet. I can have the little trailer built for virtually nothing, just some parts scrounging and maybe a 20 dollar stick of tubing.
We'll see,I keep thinking about it, it would be a perfect setup for some one like me who has so many conveniences close by, at five bucks a gallon for gas.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention I am five blocks from the Columbia River, it would be perfect for a part time fisherman.

03 July 2008

Ancient Secrets Revealed At Last!

Moto Tux did a good post on the trials and tribulations of the extraction of broken bolts and the installation of replacement threads. I mentioned that I have a technique to install spark plug Heli-coil thread inserts without removing the cylinder head. Me an' my big mouth, like what's new?

Anyway, he labelled it my 'secret technique' and asked two questions, 1) How do you accomplish such a miracle, O Wizard?, and 2) Why won't it work with Timeserts?

Since this ain't exactly a Knights Templar hand-me-down to the Masons, I'm happy to oblige. I learned it in the course of a two-year program at the taxpayer-and-industry funded L.A. College O' Motersickle Knowledge. Good thing too, as I have successfully evaded learning very much since the bike makers took the cams from down around yer ankles where they belong and stuck 'em up under the gas tank.

Hereinafter followeth the lesson.

But first (there's always a "but first"), since five minutes of prevention is worth an hour of cure, a few things that may keep you from having to do any of this. I'm talkin' about spark plugs here, but the following generally apply to all threaded fasteners.

Check the threads. A spark plug should screw all the way in with your fingers. You cannot strip threads with your fingers (If you can, call me, I got some work in D.C. for you involving unscrewing several examples of a different kind of poorly functioning 'heads').

If you encounter resistance, STOP. Figure it out and fix it. Sometimes there's carbon or a burr on the internal threads or they're starting to strip. Run a greased spark plug tap through it. Gently.

Some spark plugs have plating on the threads or a burr that will cause them to stick. Ease them with a thread file.

Never, ever, start a spark plug into its hole with anything other than your fingers. If access is a problem, use whatever tools you need, just make sure the motive power is your fingers only. I usually use a rubber plug cap. Starting a plug with a 3/4" air wrench is a sure-fire way to find out if this instructional works.

Use a little anti-seize on the plug threads, especially with aluminum heads, and torque them to 11-18lbsft, or for you godless commies, 14.9-24.4 Nm/Kgm, or as those of us with Royal Enfield manuals know, tighten plug very nice sufficiently to prevent gas passage. I think Mrs. G tried that on me once when I was asleep...

OK, here we go. These steps apply only to aluminum cylinder heads. If you have stripped threads in an iron head, yer screwed. I suggest a quarter-stick of dynamite and an 18mm tractor/flathead H-D plug, wedged into the hole with an anvil, screw jack, or some such fastener.

The only prerequisites for this procedure are physical access and an unobstructed straight shot to the plug hole.

First step is to thoroughly internally lubricate the object you wish to ram insert your tool into with alcohol. Ooops...wrong kinda 'screw'. My bad (flips page).

1) Position the piston far enough down the cylinder that the tap won't run into it, with the exhaust valve open and the inlet valve closed. Remember, the sequence is 'exhaust valve closes, inlet valve opens' so run the piston up 'til overlap starts and back it off a little. That should also ensure the exhaust valve is not open far enough for the tap to hit and bend it.

2) Cram a wad of tiss-yoo paper down through the plug hole so it rests on the piston. Stick yer oil can into the hole and oil the crap out of it (applies to new as well as used tiss-yoo). This is so any chips that escape the next step will be captured.

3) Grease the flutes of the tap. Use a LOT of grease. The chips from the cutting operation will be trapped in the grease.

4) Tap the new oversize threads. Since you should back off a tap every thread-and-a-half or so anyway, use this step to clean the chips off and re-grease the tap.

5) Clean the new threads. Make sure no chips or grease remain.

6) Install the Heli-coil. Make sure the last thread on the insert goes all the way under the lip of the outermost thread in the head or it may pull out later when you least need it. Use a drop of Loctite if you wish.

7) Use needle-nose pliers to break off the installation tang. Grip them tightly and work the tang up and down. If it falls into the engine, you better hope it lands on the tiss-yoo since it's non-magnetic and maybe too heavy to blow out in the next step. Put grease on the flat tip of a magnet anyway and fish for it. Get it out.

8) Remove the tiss-yoo (those medical-type roach clips work good for this) and blow compressed air into the plug hole. This will blow any chips that escaped the safeguards out the exhaust valve and into the drywall in line with the exhaust pipe, where they may be examined at leisure.

9) Install the spark plug and all the other stuff you had to take off to get at it and go riding.

A note to you pros: be sure to charge the customer for 'R&R Cylinder Head' in addition to the insert job. I'm kidding, of course, but it's been done.

I think a word is in order about removing Heli-coils. Why would you want to do that?, you may well ask. Many reasons, but just as an example, you followed all the above steps and are congratulating yourself on the fine job you did and all the time you saved when you notice you just installed a 3/4"-reach insert in a 1/2"-reach hole. If you don't notice this right away, fear not, you will, either when the piston slams into it and makes the big-end bearings go away, or when the piston gets a hole burned through it from pre-ignition caused by 1/4" of red-hot metal in the combustion chamber. Your otherwise lovely shoes will not look so good when you peer into a spark plug hole and see them underneath the vehicle.

You can probably wiggle enough of it loose to grab it with pliers and give it a yank, but you might undo all the good you have just done by yanking the cylinder head threads out with it. Go ahead and try it. I'm kidding about the yanking. It works if you're the least bit cautious and sort of unwind it, and most likely you'll just end up with a six-foot-long insert you can dazzle yer friends with.

If that doesn't work, use a small triangular file to cut a notch down either side of the insert, stick something suitable in the notches and simply unscrew it. This works good on case screw holes as well. Duck soup, he says from the safety of his keyboard.

Now for Timeserts. You can probably do the same thing, but the more solid construction of the Timesert requires the removal of a lot more metal out of the plug hole. There are a lot more chips, and that's the drawback to me.

On the theory that it's always best to start in the cheap seats, the Heli-coil is the first repair attempt to use on stripped spark plug holes. The Timesert is called for when the hole is too wambled-out for the Heli-coil to accomplish a gas-tight seal.

Thus endeth the lesson. I hope it helps. No extra charge for the hyperbole or attempts at humor.

02 July 2008

Proudness ...

After a year and a half with us, Sam will be moving on. She landed herself a job in the local Chrysler dealership (all on her own with no help from us), allowing her to stop working two jobs (at the shop with us in the morning and the grocery store in the afternoon). We're all proud as can be that she learned something more than being a wise ass from us. She's a sharp kid and will go a long way in the business and we wish her all the best. We have her until 1 August so you can believe we're gonna torment the shit out of her until then. Heh ...

01 July 2008

How to diagnose an electrical problem by adjusting the clutch, Part 2

First, of course, you must read Part 1. Or just scroll down a little. Or start by selecting May 2004 in the left sidebar and be dazzled until you get here.

So there I was (well, it is sort of a war story, after all) tootling happily along on my way to the Post Office. I had just crossed the four sets of railroad tracks that bisect our town, call it bumpity-bumpity4, when the bike quit. No warning, no sputtering, no nuthin', just instant flameout. Being a champion multitasker I simultaneously thought 'uh-oh', whipped in the clutch, and veered into a (very) handy gas station/convenience store.

I sat there for a second wonderin' WTF and letting it all sink in. Then I noticed that the key was still turned on but there were no dash lights. Normally, all the little lights in the speedo are lit up like a Christmas tree until the engine starts.

Total lack of system power. I turned the key a coupla times, and since I'm a professional motorcycle mechanic, flipped all the switches and pushed all the buttons. Nuttin', honey. I pushed the thing out behind the station, lit the one cigarette I had in my pocket, and started looking for the problem, which, since I had no tools with me, consisted of pulling all the fuses out of the fuse block and holding them up to the light, and looking for any wires that might have fallen off. All OK visually.

This was not exactly the first time in my life & career that a motorcycle, even a brand new one, had broken down under me, so I knew what to do. I went into the food mart and bought a pack of Camels and a bottle of water and headed for the pay phone.

An observation: Being all legal with a new driver's license saved my ass. Up until a coupla weeks ago, I wouldn'ta bothered sticking my wallet in my pocket just to go a mile to the P.O. I had money on me as a result. Whew!

Called AAA. Even with gravel trucks going by to the right of me and a freight train going by to the left of me, I managed to discern that my $130-a-year 100-mile-towing membership wouldn't tow a motorcycle. Thank you very much, California State Automobile Association, you pricks. Next time my bike breaks, it's going to magically morph into a '92 Dakota. Once the tow truck driver gets there, I'll at least get the chance to try and talk him into it. I used to know them all, but they're all new guys now. They used to be pretty good about giving locals a break and maybe that still holds. Live and learn. Honesty isn't always the best policy when dealing with bureaucracies.

I had to get the bike home somehow. I've pushed motorcycles before, but there was no way I was going to push it from here. A mile, yes, 200 or so vertical feet at my age, well, maybe if I had to but I didn't have to yet, so hell no. It was just about the time Mrs. G would be getting home from work, so I called her. Not home yet.

While waiting, I smoked Camels and drank water and thought a little. I suspected an open circuit as opposed to a short because even though there was plenty of smoke in the air that day (last Tuesday), none of it was coming from under the seat. A very few possible places - the battery I knew to be OK unless it had instantaneously self-destructed and somehow taken out the power from the charging system. Not likely. Main circuit breaker, not too likely either. Ignition switch? More likely, but not much. Associated wiring, connectors, etc? Most likely. The thought occurred to me that I somehow caused the problem myself during the clutch adjustment process, but I couldn't see how. Gotta get 'er home and find out.

Finally got ahold of Mrs. G. Our pickups both have caps on 'em, so I directed her to go two doors down, see if my pal Jeff was home, ask him to pick up my ramp and tiedowns and please go bail numbnuts' ass out with his open bed Mitsubishi. Luck held and fifteen minutes later me'n the bike were home safe and sound.

Of course Jeff, a rider himself, had to yank my chain a little. When he pulled up to me at the gas station, this exchange:

J: "I thought you wuz a motorcycle mechanic."

G: "I can fix 'em just fine. If I could keep 'em from breakin' in the first place, I'd be so rich ya think I'd be livin' on our block?"

J (shit eatin' grin): "No shit!"

Total time elapsed from breakdown to home, a little over an hour. Total cost, $6.90. $5.35 for smokes (goddam, them things have gotten expensive!), a 20¢ bottle of water for $1.05, and 50¢ for a phone call. No real harm done.

I have two final thoughts on this phase of the adventure. First, the Buell Motor Co. should thank its lucky stars that this happened to me instead of a customer in their target demographic, an inseam-challenged beginner woman rider with no knowledge of motorcycles other than she thinks they're fun. It would have been considerably more expensive and inconvenient for someone like that than it was for me.

Second, I thank my lucky stars that it happened to me instead of to Mrs. G.! Say 'no shit!'.

I'm tired of typing now, but I will give you a hint: this turned out to be a warranteeable manufacturing defect, aka a 'factory fuck-up' that was installed on the assembly line by perhaps as many as three people with their heads solidly up their asses and involved the absolutely smallest, least expensive part on the whole motorcycle. It was going to happen. Period. I hope this was the only bike it happened to and it very well may be.

Your armchair diagnoses (that's where I figured it out) and wild ass guesses are most welcome in 'comments'. A prize to him/her that comes up with the correct answer.

Stay tuned.