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January 8, 2015

Where’s the warms?

Got my bike together with a BIG change… I’ve been running mostly stock everything on my bike for 11 years, and aside from several chain replacements even replacing the cassette at one time its been my little work horse for years. It never really complained (except when a chain needed replaced, or if it had gone so far that I had worn out the cassette), and neither did I. I had dreamed about some upgrades, but never really saw the merits of doing so. Riding Connor around on the trailer wore out my rear cassette again, and I was just going to replace that, but my mech’s were sloppy and really should of been replaced as well. After searching around I found it would cost about the same to change over to a more modern drivetrain setup (previously had 3×8 now running 2×10) I thought about 1×11 but I’ve got to keep things a bit realistic since it’s my only bike I need a wider range of gears. After a long day everything is installed and tuned up though!

Now I just need a day over 30°F to get out and test ride this beast! It was costly, but it’s really going to be a new beast, I even managed to change out my rotors! No more 160mm all stainless rotors! Front is 180mm, rear stayed 160 but both are floating now so more braking power and they will stay cooler so hopefully no more rotor scars on the calves 😛 (never needed more out of my brakes before I started carrying around a kid in a trailer). Later this year I would like to get some new wheels, and I broke something in the front fork trying to get it apart to clean it… it was junk to begin with (very stiff) but I was unsuccessful at getting it apart, and now it’s leaking. Then it really will be all new!

November 1, 2013

To American Made, or Not To American Made…

Ok… so, looking for a few fill in products for a very small socket set I purchased years ago. The set was “Kobalt” but it was the early days of Kobalt tools when it was actually J.H. Williams (the founding company, but now low end division of Snap-On tools) the Kobalt tools I’ve got are USA made J.H. Williams tools (Kobalt has since switched tool manufacturers and are now made in China… oddly enough J.H. Williams tools are also made in China now). I’ve got Kobalt tools from every step of this debacle… I’ve got J.H. Williams “Kobalt” tools that were made in America… I’ve got “Kobalt” Snap-On tools also made in the USA… I’ve got “Kobalt” tools that are actually Snap-On Blue-Shift tools, made in Taiwan… and then I quit buying Kobalt tools when they canceled their contract with Snap-On tools.

Now I’m looking to expand my tools set… I could get J.H. Williams tools that match my current tools… but they’re now Made in China. Blue-Shift is only a slight percentage (typically 5% more than J.H. Williams) but they use the Snap-On dies, they don’t look like my “Kobalt” tools, and they’re still made in Taiwan… Snap-On still makes everything I need in America… but they are typically 200-500% more than even the Blue-Shift line, and they wouldn’t match my American made “Kobalt” tools since J.H. Williams has always used different die sets than Snap-On.

It doesn’t really hurt me to purchase the high end Snap-On tools, and I do like supporting American manufacturers… but it would take me much longer to save up the money to get them… and my toolbox would be a bit mixed in styles of drivers… which does not appeal to my OCD side that wants everything to be symmetrical. Honestly I’m just trying ton convince myself to spend 5x what I could spend, just so I can support an American company, and get a lifetime warranty on the tools that I only use periodically and probably wouldn’t stress the low end set to the breaking point ever.

September 6, 2013

The scary age of cars…

I recently read that the DOT is pushing for cars that can communicate with one another… some sort of wireless signal sent from cars that could help prevent collisions… two cars coming at each other could potentially put on the brakes to at least reduce impact speed of a head on collision if the driver were unconscious or something. While this does sound great! There’s some “bugs” that will have to be worked out first… first off even if cars were released 3-5 years from now (a typical design cycle for a new car) that had these capabilities it would be another 10 years from that time before we REALLY saw the impact of said changes.

Second, the thought of wireless ECU communications is a bit frightening… black market parts could be built to “push” people out of the way of jerks on the road… as these systems would undoubtedly have communications that prevented a driver from hitting another car while changing lanes (typically this is done by applying one of the rear brakes to steer the car, cars today have this option but the system uses radar to detect vehicles), when wireless communication is added a person could spoof information like this to push drivers out of their way (tailgating to the extreme). Of course these devices would be illegal… but radar detectors and jammers are illegal in a lot of states… doesn’t stop people from obtaining them.

ECU’s today are a closed loop system, but some researchers have shown that they are extremely vulnerable to the types of attacks that I’ve mentioned. Performance car enthusiasts have known this for years, a cheaper and more flexible alternative to getting your ECU reporgrammed is to get a piggyback system that intercepts the ECU’s commands and changes them based on what kind of performance changes you want to make. There is no security, or validation process so it is very easy to intercept the ECU signals and tell it to do what you want it to do. Once wireless is added these systems will have to be secured. This is where the conundrum comes in for me… Do I want the government regulating and telling people they must have these wireless communication systems in their car? No! But at the same time, without forced compliance their effectiveness would be greatly reduced. So you have to wonder… how long will it be before we’re no longer driving ourselves? Statistically the number of people obtaining their drivers licenses has steadily decreased over the last 20 years… I wonder if there won’t be a day when fewer than 10% of the population actually drives themselves.

October 9, 2012

Rally Resolution

I’ve decided that it could be very easy to get into Rally Racing for me… well not so much decided as took the time to discover 😛 There’s a lot of things that I’d like, that would help be competitive, but aren’t necessary in the long run. Those things may eventually see the light of day, but most likely will be overlooked completely 😛 The other things can be found much cheaper, places like eBay are great for getting “ricer racing” stuff from China for dirt cheap… such as a new steering wheel I found (really is a necessity, since the old one is falling apart, and the airbag needs to be removed anyways) for $35 with an adapter! Other stuff like a welder I’m going to get off of Amazon, and use Bing Rewards points to buy the gift certificates I need! I think I can honestly make this completely feasible price wise with the combination of Bing Rewards purchases, and cutting corners. I just want to get out there to have fun, don’t care so much if I wreck the car 😛 so the cheaper the better right? Other stuff would be good to have in our car at all times anyways, such as the required reflective triangles, I’ll get the wife to get those… some other stuff I’m sure I can get for Christmas or birthday gifts like seat belts… I really wish they could be used longer, I’ll have to look at the rules again, it seems crazy, but from what I remember they’ve got to be replaced every year and the cheap ones like I’ve got are $60 each… so yeah… that’s kinda less than fun.

*They must be replaced two years after date of manufacture… which is almost guaranteed to be every year unless you got kinda lucky. They can be rewebbed every time which would be cheaper, and you could probably guarantee a longer time if you got them rewebbed locally. G-Force has a rewebbing program but it’s $55 + shipping and I only paid $70 for the belts in the first place! Eh… guess it’s better than nothing. Found another place that does it for $35 + shipping, but haven’t had the opportunity to see if that includes the proper FIA/SFI badges.

What’s really gonna be killer though is the HANS device… It would be nice if someone made one at a reasonable price range… but that is somewhat unlikely! They must be replaced every 5 years, and cost at least $600 each… There are a few devices that are reasonably priced for carting that only cost $200 each, which is nice… it’d be great if some competition could get in their and make one using the carting design as a basis to get the certification. I don’t mind $200 every five years… that’s doable 😛 And I’m going for production class, if only production class could be a wee bit less strict (as in allowing SFI 3.3 or the carting braces)

September 18, 2012

Tire Tech Talk

I read an interesting article earlier this week… it compared snow tires, summer tires, and all seasons in the three conditions those tires were made for. The results seemed like they’d be a clear path to victory (at least my pre-concieved notions said so) The snow tires would win in snow, the all seasons would win in wet conditions, and the summer tires would take the dry conditions. Some of that came true… the summer tires barely worked in the snow… but it’s not something you’d want to do, may as well have been slicks. The snow tires dominated in the snow, beating the runner up (the all seasons) by at least 20% in both acceleration and breaking performance. Now here’s where I was terribly surprised… The all seasons didn’t take the wet conditions! Seriously, the summer tires dominated the wet conditions the snow tires kept up with the summer tires… I imagine in a colder climate (they did it in Arizona) those two could have switched positions on that test… but the all seasons were far behind in the water, struggling to perform as they got to highway speed they just floated on the water. Of course the summer tires took the cake on dry pavement, acceleration and cornering were nearly even but above the all seasons… where the summer tires tore up the road was in breaking in dry, far surpassing anything else. I imagine these tests would also get a wider margin with a higher powered vehicle, something that could break the all seasons loose, would still potentially hook up well with the summer tires and the acceleration test might be a different story.

Anyways… this has changed my perspective. I was going to get snow tires, and then all seasons… but I think after reading that I’m definitely going the route of summer and winter tires. When you drive as frequently as I do it’s important to have the right tool for the job. Plus, in the long run it’s actually cheaper on tire and fuel costs to run the proper tire for the job.

September 9, 2012

Welcome my morning post

Well, seeing that Audi R8 in person kinda reawakened my desire to get a rally car together… It just costs so dang much! Honestly it only costs about $2,000 since I’ve already got a little car that would qualify, but that would be with stock wheels and the tires that are currently on their. That’s probably a terrible idea though since the run I want to make is in February, in Missouri and it’s got Michelin HydroEdge tires on their… Don’t get me wrong, I love me my HydroEdge’s but in the snow… they just plain suck! They’re great in the rain, or dry pavement, the traction they get is unparalleled for that little car… but in the gravel, snow, rain, whatever February Missouri weather throws at you. Yeah, I most definitely need to go with some snow tires so it’d be more than $2,000. If I can get these blogs rolling in some extra dough, it shouldn’t be a problem. But that’s gotta happen in less than two months! Even then I wouldn’t be able to get a roll cage in it and get it rally ready until the following season. Dunno… it’s a big hassle, and a lot of money, I may just have to sell the car. Actually the wife and I were talking about giving it away to a local church thing where they fix up older cars and give them to needy families. The Michelin’s still have about half life to them (which with those tires is a good 40k-50k miles) it has brand new struts on all four wheels, and decent breaks… it does leak oil though from both the front and rear main seals… which is a pain, and I’d have to take care of that before getting it into rallying too, can’t have that blow out in the middle of a rally run 😛

April 9, 2012

A rally run

Okay, so I’ve been inspired 😉 I heard about the 100 acre wood rally race in Missouri for the first time this year. I’ve always loved Rally racing, but only recently got into it and started following some teams, and events. When I heard there was a stage rally event in Missouri I was very excited to try and attend next year! Especially near my birthday it’s the perfect excuse for a little adventure… then it occurred to me… We’ve got an old Corolla sitting in the driveway that I was going to use to teach Rose to drive with… Can’t hurt to do a little transformation of it and turn it into a rally machine while I’m at it huh? Well I’ve already started the process. It will undoubtedly take a lot of effort, and some learning along the way, but it does sound like an awesome event to get into. More to come in the future, I’m sure I’ll be going through a process of how to turn a regular street car into a production class rally car… and beyond.