Friday, December 30, 2005

Formula One Racing Comes To Alabama

Ah yes, another long weekend.

Today I bought a new toy. No really, an actual toy. What is it? A slot car set. More specifically a Carrera Evolution Pro-X Digital Racing set complete with two Formula One cars.

We played with it most of the afternoon. There was a little bit of crying because the kids didn't want to share with me. I eventally got a turn and dried my tears.

The track is two lanes and supports up to four cars. It allows for lane changing and if you don't have anyone to play with, the 'black box' will drive the other car for you. This is fun, but driving with others is more fun.

After just a few hours of playing I would say Brianna is probably the best driver. The age suggestion on the box is 8+. She is only 5. Perhaps I shouldn't let her play anymore (because she keeps showing us up.)

I prefer to drive the red Ferrari but so far I have mostly been relagated to the McLaren Mercedes. It's not so bad.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It seems I have not been to verbose lately. No news is good news, but all work and no play makes Rick a very dull boy.

Wednesday afternoon the weather was incredible. Sixty-five degrees and I was stuck in the office. When I headed out for lunch today I accidentally left my jacket in my office. Big mistake. It was 40 F. and I was wearing a short sleeve shirt.

Tomorrow I will only be working half a day. After that the kids and I will be headed back to the house for a nice long weekend. I am off Monday as well. Yippe!

With any luck it will warm up a little for the weekend.

Beep beep beep goes the UPS.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The brakes are working fine.

The kids got bikes for Christmas, amoung many other things. Perhaps too many things.

That is all.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Finished up the Dogde Brakes

I finished up the brakes on the Dodge 1500 4x4this morning.

I discovered when I started working on the second wheel that it was assembled incorrectly. At this point I don't think I have had the rear brakes worked on before so that implies to me that it came from the factory wrong. That is hard to image, or is it? Could I be mistaken? Possibly, but I looked at it a couple times trying to figure out why it was the way it was. It didn't match the other side and it definitely didn't match the Haynes manual.

The second brake assembly also happened to be the same wheel that had the warped drum. Could this be the cause possibly, but it seems like it would have warped a lot sooner.

Regardless, it is all back together.

Hint: The locking pins are much easier to refasten if you press the spring down with a socket. The pin will then stick inside the socket giving you an opportunity to turn it. I found that the socket is easier to press on the spring if you have an extension on the socket to grab hold with.

Sister Terry came by this afternoon. I took her for a ride in the Miata, her first. Unfortunately it was raining so the top was up.

Friday, December 23, 2005

No work today!

This morning I decided to tackle the problem of the bouncing brakes on my Dodge pickup. First thing was to pull the drums and take them to be turned.

We all went to see a movie this afternoon. "Chicken Little". The sky is falling.

After the movie I went back to the parts store to pick up the drums. As I suspected, one of the drums was warped. They turned it 3 times and and were unable to get a smooth round surface. I ended up buying replacement drums. I asked for a credit on the drum turning and they reimbursed me for it.

After I got back home I spent about an hour trying to get the right side back together. At that point I stopped for dinner. The rest will wait for tomorrow.

I recall from changing the shoes on the GMC last year that the reassmebly goes easier if you do it in an order other than what the Haynes book recommends. Hopefully I will get this finished up tomorrow.

The last drum brake job was on the GMC on Saturday, September 18, 2004.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What's in a Name

I was reading on the old truck forums and I came across some information on identifying the rear axle for my old truck. Quicker than a duck on a June-bug, I was out in the garage with a wire brush trying to scrub some gunk off the right side of the axle to find the ID code.

A more reliable source than myself, suggested if the axle is original, it is probably a Dana 60. These were apparently pretty standard on the GMCs, though not necessarily on the Chevys. They usually came with Eatons.

I found some numbers and letters. 'RHWW2702'. There were some spaces also but I didn't try to remember exactly where they were. These characters came off the front right side of the axle. It turns out I was probably supposed to be looking at the rear right side. That gunk was not real easy to remove so I will wait til this weekend to take another look at it.

Now I am right back where I started. I still don't know what type of axle it is or whether it is a posi-track. I suppose it doesn't really matter because as long as it works, it is not getting replaced. Still though, it is fun to try to identify and learn as much about the truck as possible.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Truck Restoration Progress
The frame is looking better. This afternoon I spent some time with the random orbital sander smoothing out last weeks bubbles. The POR-15 thinner arrived yesterday. The POR-15 turned out much smoother this time. I attribute the improvement to 1) the thinner 2) thee high density foam brush that Chad recommended, and 3) keeping less paint on the brush. I also applied some of the finishing knowlege I have learned from woodworking, ie, work away from the edges, not toward this. This minimizes drips and runs. I probably have about two more weekends worth of work to do on the frame before I move on to other parts: rear axle, leaf springs, front A-arms, and three cross members.
Back in the summer I went to the doctor because I had been having some chest pain. In the process of doing some routine tests, it was discovered that my cholestrol level was high.

The doctor said there were two ways to fix this: 1) modify diet and exercise or 2) medication. He recommended the second. I wondered if he was making a statement about will power and resolve.

After six months of zocor, I returned to the doctor. The chol was down from 250 to 180. So good so far.
We did the welding thing last night. Three boys, two girls, and couple of dads gave it a try. I didn't let the dads do any of the real work. I didn't ask, but I think most of the kids are in 6th grade. One was probably in 4th. Everything went smoothly.

No one will mistake the work for that of a professional but they did accomplish what they set out to do. That is what matters. I think they all enjoyed it. One boy even expressed an interest in coming back to work on the truck. With a whole fleet of helpers I bet I could change the timeline for the truck project from 5 years to maybe just under 8.

The temperature is about 40 F. outside right now. As soon as I finish up the laundry, I plan to head outside and get a little sanding done on the frame.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A friend who we will call David, because almost all of my friends are named David, asked me for a favor. A somewhat weird favor. The favor involved me teaching some 10 & 11 year old boys and girls to mig weld.

The kids are doing DI, Destination Imagination. Their project solution requires some welding, and the program apparrently requires the kids to do all the work. This is where I come in. I have a mig welder and it didn't occur to me to say no-way-Jose when David asked me to help out. Oh yeah, I also have the welding expertise or so I hear.

Tuesday evening I went to one of the groups work sessions to talk about welding and safety. I took with me a welding mask, elbow length leather welding gloves, a flash light (to demo the auto-darkening mask), a couple of small pieces of metal welded together, and a piece of welding wire.

The meeting was being held at the school. As I was approaching the class room, an idea occurred to me. I put on the mask, and gloves and opened the door. The kids got a real kick out it. "Luke, I am your father." Did you know that my leather welding gloves are made from goat skin? The kids sure loved that.

Tomorrow evening David is bringing a group of the kids over to the house to learn to weld. This should be fun. Safety first!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!"
When I got to work this morning I realized I had forgotten my badge. The door from the lobby to the office area will only open when you scan your badge or when someone comes out. I am usually an early bird at work, so just a handful of people are usually there when I arrived. I knocked once on the door but no one was nearby to hear me. Next I went back outside and knocked on the window of office of another guy that normally arrives early. Lets call him Joe.

The windows on the building are tinted so I could not tell if Joe was in his office. I headed back to the lobby and had a seat on the leather sofa. After sitting for a couple of minutes I decided I would explore my phone while waiting for some else to arrive.

About ten minutes later, someone did arrive. They scanned their badge and we headed for our offices. Once in my office, I tossed my keys in the drawer, turned on the computer, and remove my jacked. I usually hang my jacket on a cabinet door. I opened the door and I see what appears to be the face of a troll saying "Morning!". Startling! I slammed the door shut. And then I opened it back up and let Joe out of the cabinet. He said "You should have seen the look on your face." I asked, "Did I scream like a little girl?"

This morning when Joe saw me walking across the parking lot he went to my office to hide. What he didn't know was that I didn't have my badge. Joe was in the cabinet almost 15 minutes waiting to surprise me. I hope the wait was worth it.

And he said "No", I didn't scream like a little girl. Tomorrow morning when I get to work, I am going to lock the cabinet door.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I got more email regarding the magical L6278. The link to my story is a few posts down. The latest email was from a guy who just happens to also drive a 1995 Miata.

Sunday afternoon I had to make a trip Wal-Mart to pick up some party supplies. The cold snap had finally broken and the temperature was above freezing for a change so down came the top. It was plenty warm while sitting still.
Return of Dirty Santa
Last night we had a wild and crazy Christmas party for the folks Ginger works with. The dirty Santa game was especially enjoyable. I got a brown candle shaped like a maple leaf with a cinnamon scent. I scent it home with one of our guests.

Can You Hum a Few Bars?
That reminds me of something I said today. Troy, David, and I were driving back from lunch when I spotted a big SUV. I said, "That guy must not know the words, because he is driving a Hummer." Ha! That is when I was asked to get out of the car.

72 GMC Update
Regarding the truck frame: The first coat of paint had quite a few bubbles in it so the texture is not as smooth as I would have liked. Por, Por, me. I guess I will have to sand out the rough spots. I was planning on putting two coats of paint on but now I am thinking 3 to 4. I ordered some PRO-15 solvent to thin the paint with. I hope this will give me a smoother finish. Stay tuned.

I tried a few methods of applying the POR-15.

1) A foam roller. This was a bad idea. It introduced many bubbles to the surface. I think it was also putting on too much paint.
2) Brush with nylon bristles - I don't recall why I didn't like this approach.
3) Brush with natural brisles - This looked good but my brush kept losing bristles so I discontinued using it. I didn't want to have to deal with picking out the loose bristles from the wet paint.
4) Foam brush - This worked well in the corners though again I was applying too much paint at times.

When looking at the non-smooth finish on the frame yesterday afternoon, I had a bit of deja vu. Back when I was finishing the cherry bed I made for Brianna, I had a similar bubble/texture problem. Again I was using a foam brush but I think the problem was more viscosity and applying too much. It didn't occur to me at the time to thin the poly. The solution I had back then was to apply the polyurethane with a lint free cloth instead of a brush. I may give lint free cloth a try again, but first I will thin the POR-15.

The lint free clothes I used last time where the Scott's Rag in a Box. A great thing about this approach is no brush clean up. Just toss them in the trash. I admit this is only a minor convenience. The only drawback I can think of is that each coat is very thin so you may have to apply several coats more than you intended to get the protection you desire.

For the record, it looks like one quart of POR-15 will cover the frame with just a little bit left over. I plan to paint the frame, the rear axle, the drive shaft, and the bottom of the cab with POR-15. If I stick with a steel bed floor I will paint the bottom of it as well though I am leaning towards a wood bed floor.

Also for the record, I wore a respirator while using the POR-15. If you use this stuff, follow the direction and protect your lungs.

Other notes: I used the Marine clean product to degrease the frame, the Metal Ready to prep the surface and I had the temperature in the garage between 70 - 75 degrees F.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Miata when Zoom-zoom-zoom today.

Our Christmas tree is now up.

And I aced my test. I only needed a 57% percent to get an A in the class.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Procrastination
I have a final tomorrow night. Perhaps I should study. Yeah, that's a good idea. I wonder what is on TV right now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Useless Facts About Obession

I have been playing with the new Googles analytic tool. It is merely a toy to me, but it provides some interesting information. The thing I like the best is just know where my traffic is coming from.

In the last few days I have had a pretty disperse geographic checking in: Huntsville(AL), Austin, St. Louis, Chicago, San Francisco, Roseville(CA), Tuscon, Muscle Shoals(AL), Rock Hill(SC), Aiken(SC) and Kelowna, Canada.

I recognize six of those locations. The rest of you are a mystery to me.

The most interesting thing I have found so far is that about 5% of my hits are coming via miataville.ods.org. I set that up as a bit of a joke one day and linked it back here. I guess one of the seach engines crawled the link and started sending me some traffic.

What else is interesting? Seven percent of my traffic is using dialup. Sixty-one percent is using Flash version 7.0. Everyone has Java enabled. Only 2% percent of you are using 24 bit color. One guy has his screen resolution set to 800x600. One vistor is using Firefox, one is using Netscape. Everyone is running either Windows Xp or 2000. And finally my traffic level seems to spike on weekends.

Now go and take some vitamin C. Hopefully we will all feel better in the morning.
I had my blood pressure checked today. 157/102. Yeah, that is high.