Kimini 2.2 - Build Diaries
2006, May - June


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30 June

Looks like my 15-minutes of fame has peaked; web traffic is beginning to decrease after its long build up.

It brings up the question of what the long term plans are for this website. It has become a good resource (I use it to remind myself where I bought parts.) It'll be kept up for the foreseeable future, though at some point the book will become the holder of all the knowledge. The videos and this website will be transferred to DVD and sold along with the book.

Then again I may just start another page for the next project ;) Besides, how can people buy the book if they don't know where to find it? The manuscript is coming along well; the second read-through and edit is nearly done. Still haven't decided what to do about offering a color version since it would be faily expensive. I probably shouldn't worry - just let the market decide by offering both versions.

Bought the movie "The World's Fastest Indian." What a wonderful movie - I'd like to think I understand now regarding the personal drive needed to reach a big goal - I wish I had met Burt. I wonder what became of his his neighbor, the little boy. I'd think growing up next to someone like Burt would certainly affect you for the rest of your life, in a good way.

A new diary starts for July.
28 June

A rocket was fired from Vandenberg Airbase about 200 miles north of here. Watching their website I knew when it was scheduled to lift off so we set the camera up and waited. Pretty cool, though they had to hold the launch for roughly half an hour due to high winds. If they'd have launched on time, the "sky-show" would have been much more spectacular, with the sun hitting the exhaust vapors (even though it was nearly dark down here) and really making it glow. Even so, some of the vapors glowed on their own - neat.

26 June

A couple more things about last weekend.

Last Saturday I replaced the right-rear outer CV boot band - it had been leaking grease for a while. Cut off the old one, pushed back the boot, added some more CV grease, pulled the boot back over and installed the new band. After yesterday's long drive and playing with a new Mini at, um, 122mph... I figured it was a good test to see if the CV band was doing its job - it was. So much for learning lessons in traffic school.

Oh and I caught all sorts of grief about my old BFG R1 tires. People came by saying, "Geez where'd you get those tires?", or, "They don't make those any longer, they're antiques!", and, "Those must be hard as rock", and finally, "The best thing you can do to those is drill holes in them so no one can use them." Perhaps, but at this point they're free so there's no point in throwing them away. I rather learn how the car handles on harder compound tires than soft sticky ones; there'll be time for those later. When the time comes I'll probably replace them with Yokohama A032Rs, 215-50/13 all around, or maybe Hoosier R6s, though I'd not expect them to last long even driving normally.
25 June

Autocross at El Toro, California, until recently a military base, with huge runways now being used for car events. Sadly El Toro, like nearly all car venues in Southern California, is scheduled to be torn up and replaced with housing and shopping... that's just what we need, more shopping...

Once again it was very warm, the low 90s, warmer than the last hot day we had. The car did fine and on the way home I was looking forward to seeing how the WaterWetter and distilled water worked. While it looked better initially, after about 30 minutes the temperature worked it's way back up to 210 F, the same temperature as last time, so it would have run much warmer without it. Whether I solve this or not I don't enjoy driving the car in such hot weather. The car does better than I do - in a little car with no air-conditioning or "real" windows, I get cooked. A lot of it is the heat coming off the coolant tubes heating up the center tunnel; I'll be adding insulating sleeving to fix that. (A side-note: Mini's that were sent to Australia were fitted with real roll-up windows, necessary because of the high heat... just like here, and no I don't plan to change doors.)

There was a dune-buggy there... I wish I took some video of it except I was working the course when it ran. A tube-frame four-seat dune-buggy with rear-mounted Northstar V8. I say rear-mounted because it was at the very rear of the buggy, on "backwards." That huge rear weight bias was bad enough, and then there were the tires. I don't even know what to call them... they looked like truck tires - about 80-series with really huge sidewalls; these two features provided for some really frightening handling. If I were in charge I'd not have let it run. It would get this wild rear oversteer oscillation with the tires deflecting sideways about 6" on the wheels! It was amazing it didn't pop the bead, dig in a wheel and roll.

The course was very sandy. When I'd slow down after my run, the stones held inside the tires by centripetal force would drop off and often scrape along between the wheel and caliper. I've pretty gotten much used to it, so when I heard the noise coming home on the freeway I wasn't too concerned. Getting closer to home though, the little "tick, tick, tick" I'd been hearing wasn't going away like usual, instead it was getting louder. I briefly thought of pushing on to reach home but it kept getting worse - okay - pulled into an empty parking lot to see what was going on. Looking at the front passenger-side wheel was a wake-up call. In the pictures below, taken after I got home, you can see the big scratch, created by none other than the bolt on the bottom of the upright - it had backed out. That's pretty embarrassing, especially since I'd been wondering how to secure it and never gotten around to it. The reason the sides of the bolt head are scored is because I used a wrench to screw it in far enough to get home.

The the trouble is this bolt rotates with the upright during steering input so I can' safety-wire it to the a-arm. There's a couple approaches; threadlock, remove the bolt and substitute a stud, though I suspect it'll have the same problem, getting slowly unscrewed by the uprights being turned during cornering.

So all this stuff aside, I'm improving, slowly. Smacked a couple cones but didn't hit the vulnerable rear portion of the front fenders. While we all got a lot of runs, the video (67MB) has just my first, middle, and last run. Sorry about pointing the camera a bit too far to the left...

21 June

Editing of the book manuscript continues; implementing all the corrections and changes from the red-lined hardcopy takes a long time. Increasing page size to 8.5" x 11" shrank the page count down to 197, but it's slowly growing again as stuff keeps getting added. The larger page size allows bigger pictures, always a good thing in my mind. The only pain is changing the page size meant all the pictures moved from where I'd placed them...

If everything goes well I'll be attending the El Toro practice autocross this Sunday; it's an old military base with huge runways. I've never run there before and am hoping they have a good size track; it would be nice to let Kimini stretch her legs a little.

It's funny, when something is practiced over and over I find I continue to improve just thinking about it, in this case driving around cones over and over in my head. The answer is to head into turns faster to start rotation earlier then get on the gas to keep understeer at bay, giving neutral steering or even a touch of oversteer if desired ;)
18 June

Based on my research I decided to go ahead with the WaterWetter and distilled water - against the advice of several people I trust. While I respect them a lot, the weight of evidence is that it works fine for virtually everyone else. That's part of car design and fabrication, talking to as many sources as possible then making up your own mind, some times at odds with people you respect.

Attempting to drain the coolant from the engine, I tried removed the water plug - stuck - so I used the impact wrench. In the back of my mind was the little voice saying, "you're supposed to use a real impact socket." Yeah well, now I know why, nicely split, and the plug never did come off even with the correct socket. Okay, so the coolant was drained through the unused heater hose and the new coolant mix installed. Driving around showed no difference as expected; it's only when it's a really hot day does the problem show up. I still plan to do some aero testing of the radiator exit to see if adding additional exit ducts to the wheelwells works.

The other picture is the replacement push-pull cable for the Accusump valve and the original... guess which is the old one. I'm none too impressed with Accusump's cable, but really happy with the Cable-Craft cables through

In other news I see the movie "Tokyo Drift" is out... better stay off the streets late at night to give kids time to wreck their cars. I've been watching the Japanese anime series "Initial D", which explains a few things, that there really are people who truly believe the fastest way around a turn is sideways. Funny, because the one driver who did that at the FSAE competition got a really bad time. Real life isn't anime and any real racer knows drifting is slow as far as lap time goes. I wonder what that slow driver is blaming his poor lap-time on, the car?
16 June

Volunteered to work the first annual FSAE event at California Speedway in Fontana, where we all got cooked! The weather report for the last couple weeks said we'd see about 90deg, and I thought that was pretty warm. Hah, it was 103 and really windy but still worthwhile, even after drinking six(!) bottles of water. In the morning I wondered if I should drive Kimini to the event, but heavy traffic around Fontana along with the heat quickly dispelled that idea. Even if I had, we parked far away, no one would have see it anyway - this event was about the cars and the teams, not me.

This was the first FSAE event I attended and there sure is a lot of talent out there. I had no idea how far some of the teams traveled; Sweden, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico, they came from far and wide. Some impressions:
    No car overheated but the heat made hot-starts difficult. Quite a few cars stalled and had to be pushed off to the side until the crew could bring out their big starter batteries.

    There were a few obvious hot-shoes who really knew how to drive... or at least had practiced. This made it all the more obvious what teams hadn't practiced. It puzzles me how they can take a year to build a car and not think they need to learn how to drive it. I realize with all the pressure it's easy to mess up... all the more reason to practice.

    A few drivers seemed to have no idea what the skid pad competition was about, traveling around the pad at about 10mph.

    With the heat, crazy low tire pressures, and compounds having more in common with chewing gum than slicks, it was amazing to see tires throwing big rubber chucks on such a tiny skidpad.

    One car weighed about 800lbs; not a big deal until compared to nearly every other cars... weighing 500lbs...

    SolidWorks and MatLab were visibly advertising - clever marketing.

    It was really enjoyable hanging out with enthusiastic young people instead of grumpy old cynical types, like myself...

    I wish I'd finished the car a couple years earlier so I could show it to Carroll Smith. He was a regular at these events and would surely have been at this one since he lived locally - sadly he passed away a couple years ago :(

    I got recognized by my Mini shirt by a Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo team member. He complemented me on this website and I complemented them on their car - thinking outside the box with a solid rear axle, mono-shock and carbon rear wheels no less. They got either first or second in the skid pad competition, lifting the back inside wheel several inches!

    A sign of the times, kids standing near their car, laptop in hand, just like the pros.

    It's disappointing FSAE wasn't around when I was in college... guess this is as close as I'll get.
Last and most important, this event renewed my faith in young people; teams helping each other, everyone friendly, and there are some really sharp kids out there.

14 June

My brother Scott thumbed through the manuscript and said, "Pictures are too small." Huh, okay... I may increase the page size to 8.5" x 11" to cut down on the page count and to allow larger pictures. In other news his Stalker Super-7 kit is due to ship in a couple weeks.
13 June

Received and installed the new garage door torsion springs. When they were purchased there was a choice whether to get the regular 10,000 cycle-life springs for $30 each, or the 30,000 cycle-life springs for $40 - huh, tough decision. It's odd given the choice most (short-sighted) people go for low price over long life. Since I don't want to do this for a long time it was an easy decision. The long life springs will last 20 years longer... seems a good investment of $20!

Installation was fast and painless, and being a cheapskate by nature I didn't pay anyone to do it. Following the on-line directions made it go quickly and safely. Nice, and now Kimini can come out to play again.

Ordered a new Accusump push-pull cable to replace the poor quality unit supplied by Accusump themselves. Bought this one from which is where I bought the shifter cables. Since the shift cables are doing fine passing below the header, that was reason enough to get one of the same type for the Accusump. It's six feet long with a locking T-handle, about $50.

Got a note from Dennis of dpcars fame that Mike Stieff had given him a CAD model of an R1 sportbike engine. I've been looking for this for a long time and was very happy to find it! Never mind why...
11 June

Working on the manuscript, currently at 260 pages. Between the red-lining that's going on and adding chapters to include the latest data, it's moving along well. Not unexpected, the "real" publisher never contacted me so I'm pushing on with the original plan of self-publishing.

Disassembled the garage door springs and pullies. It's not so bad, though the scare tactics apparently work - torsion garage springs are not sold at home improvement stores. Mine should be here this week.

Coming up June 16 is the Formula SAE event at California Speedway in San Bernardino, CA. I volunteered to help out and am looking forward to it; there should be some pretty cool stuff there. I was half way considering driving Kimini up there but with the weather forecast over 90deg I'm not looking forward to sitting in heavy traffic with a marginal cooling system. Of course if the door's not fixed by then it doesn't matter what the weather's like...
10 June

Spent today in Traffic Purgatory; that's right, eight hours in Traffic School to pay for my sin of the unsafe lane change. Attending class was made more interesting with Loud Guy, Angry Lady, Laughing Man, and Drama Chick - a true cross-section of society. I did learn some things which did me some good. The teacher went down a list of fines (here in California) for various infractions, getting caught by a "red light camera", $400, not signaling, $300, driving in the car-pool lane alone, $371, and no proof of insurance, $857. And then he told of the highest fine he'd heard of...

A girl was street-racing her very modified Honda on the freeway; the other driver got away, she got caught. The laws have changed over the years, becoming MUCH more ruthless with this sort of thing. If you're clocked at >100mph, it's instant arrest. She was clocked at, get this, 150mph. So she gets arrested, tossed in jail, license revoked, several points, and the car confiscated. It got auctioned off for $11,000, a pretty good price since he said it had a Lexus engine in it (what engine would that have been?) Anyhow, that hit a little close to home, seeing as how just a couple weeks ago I was casually at 120mph on the freeway. Granted there was no one around and I wasn't racing, but it still would have been really bad to get caught. It was enough to make me think again about some of the street antics I've been doing, not thinking of the legal consequences. I know how I'd feel calling my wife up and telling her I was in jail. Maybe it's not so bad the car's locked in the garage due to the broken garage door spring...

That aside, there were a couple great comments during class, two tied for first place. One was an answer to the question, "What do you think people's average reaction time is?" People guessed one second, two seconds, I guessed 1/2 second, and then someone said, "10 seconds" and was completely serious. That could explain why she was there...

The best quote though was when the teacher asked if people's registration stickers had been stolen (several had.) He offered the solution of slicing the sticker so it would be impossible for thieves to remove it intact from the license plate. Then a lady asked, "Do you slice it before or after sticking it on the license plate?" I think she was the same one who guessed the 10-second reaction time...
6 June

Sitting at the computer after coming home I heard a loud "BANG". Walked around the house, nothing, but in the garage, ah, one of the springs on the sectional garage door had self-destructed; odd it happened just sitting there and not while it was moving. The strange thing was for the past week I've had an odd feeling of not wanting to be under it for some reason.

Anyhow, the door was made by Stanley... who is now out of business so no parts are available - that bites. So I have to spend $800 replacing the entire assembly to "fix" a $30 spring? I don't think so. I'm checking around on-line for springs - it just can't be that hard. In fact one guy has a HUGE discription about just that, how it's not hard to replace springs ourselves instead of paying a rediculous price. One interesting fact is manufacturers design springs to last around 7-years. The motivation to get this fixed is that I can't get Kimini out of the garage, and my wife can't get her car in!
4 June

With the weather about 20 degrees cooler the car was taken out to see what's what. Much to me relief it was well behaved but it leaves a question. Today was only 20 degrees cooler yet the engine ran 30 degrees cooler... I'm considering switching to straight distilled water and WaterWetter to improve cooling.

Pulled into a gas station next to an STi. As soon as the guys saw me they said, "Hey we were just talking about you! We're big fans of your website." Good Lord the car's getting known. If only website hits paid money I'd be rich.

Back home, decided to reinstall the four baffles removed yesterday at the autocross but this time the SuperTrapp didn't play nice. Two bolts absolutely wouldn't come out and there was no way to spray anything on the threads, so they both broke - nice. Partly in their defense I didn't use anti-seize when reinstalling the bolts yesterday; neither I nor anyone else had any so I will carry some from now on. Ordered new bolts from Mcmaster, all with safety wire holes because last weekend one unscrewed itself and nearly dropped out. SuperTrapp supplies six bolts but oddly only three are drilled. Using the "death wheel" the broken screws were cut off flush, drilled with pilot holes, followed by the correct drill for tapping, then a tap run through. I suspect this isn't the last time this is going to happen.

Just for fun used half a roll of electrical tape to add stripes to the front of the car, just for mock-up. I kind of like it but my wife doesn't, saying it looks too busy and "clown-like." Really? Actually I think it's okay, and if anything they need to be much wider. Oh well, something to think about. And lastly some pictures of my best buddy, who took seven years to discover he likes having his tummy rubbed.

3 June

Practice autocross, on the smaller south-east lot of Qualcomm Stadium, and the weather was hot! The car did very well, between the increased camber and stiffer springs I now have no desire for anti-roll bars. I got in about 10 runs, three of them with a passenger (she asked nice.) I'm slowly figuring out the nuances of driving a mid-engine car fast. To everyone who said the car would be impossible to control with the rear weight bias I say, "Bah." It is very controllable and I'm learning more each time out how to exploit the characteristics. Between steering, the brakes and the gas the car can be placed in any attitude desired. I think the reason people say the above is when they drive a mid-engine car, and the back comes out, they either hit the brakes or lift off the gas. Nope, can't do either, you have to delicately keep your foot in it and nothing bad will happen. It's only when people do something unstabilizing does the car return the favor. I have to learn to be less heavy-handed, it takes finesse to drive well, and fast, and it'll take a while to "unlearn" bad habits associated with heavy front-engine cars.

The only issue was driving home, when coolant temperature, which normally stays at 180deg F, stayed up at 210deg; the question is why? It was a very warm day, which, if that's the cause, it means I found the limit of my cooling system :(. On the other hand while at the event, I was nailed by the Noise Police for hitting 93.8dB, 0.8dB over their limit. A good thing I have the SuperTrapp muffler; removing four baffles quieted it down. If I'd had any other exhaust I'd have been unable to fix it and been kicked out. Anyhow, with less baffles I know exhaust back pressure will be greater, but don't know if that could cause coolant temperature to rise (seems unlikely.) Or, my dark fear is I starved the engine of oil without noticing and now it's rapidly wearing itself to death. If that was true I'd expect to hear something... In any case, here's video (59MB) of the first three laps.

Of course like always there were faster cars. Buried somewhere in this website was a concern written years ago, that after the car was done, "I'd be squarely beaten by a kid driving a Civic." Darn close! She was a very good driver, who others said had many years experience. Running the autocross again reminds me just how important experience is - there's just no other way to get it other than putting in the laps. People were kind, offering that it was probably my old tires. Yes, they are indeed 10 years old, but I know most of the time is locked up in the old brain cells.

I finally got around to uploading a dozen fun videos I've been collecting. They're at the bottom of the Video Page
2 June

Heading to the autocross tomorrow for another practice. Hopefully with more time under my belt, more camber and stiffer springs I'll do better... smoother at least. The last event was shakedown testing so this will be more about smooth driving and not so much about worrying! Taking the camcorder but won't bother with external shots this time.

Haven't decided what to do about stripes - it's hardly an important issue of course. My wife found out what I was up to and said it looked better without. I may go buy a few rolls of electrical tape and lay out what I want to see how it looks. Better that than paying someone to either paint them on or (re)install vinyl, only to discover it looks ridiculous.

Oh and on a test drive this evening I saw Ike Turner (yes that Ike Turner) checking out the car - wonder what he was thinking (probably "WTF?") I know it was him because I know where he lives and have seen him before. I almost feel sorry for him, living in his own self-created hell. He could be living in Hollywood and been Tina's manager, but some very poor choices years ago have him living in plain old ordinary middle class suburbia... If you don't know who Ike is, Google his name - he's got quite a history - knowing just about everyone in music back in the 1950s. Sometimes some really good live music comes from his place.
31 May

I'm writing this now so I don't "lose the moment," being ticked off about my failed attempt at applying the center racing stripe. Yeah that's right, I tried to install it myself because no automotive graphics shops wanted the job. Being all smart and full of myself I thought I'd buy the material on-line and have it installed locally. The problem is because I didn't buy it from a local vendor they wouldn't do the install, claiming they couldn't guarantee proper installation and product life. Of course it's also because they lose the profit margin of not selling the material to me themselves - but didn't mention that... So as I sit here I'm contemplating just how much money I "saved" with the remains of the $100 graphic decal jammed into the trash can.

It wasn't unexplected either. Talking to one shop I asked why they wouldn't do it. They said unless it was made by 3M I was screwed, specifically "if the material doesn't have little cells on the back it's not going to work. If it's smooth you're going to fail." It was smooth, and not made by 3M, but since I was stuck with the stuff there was nothing to lose other than my pride, which is at the bottom of the trash can. The stuff was utterly inflexible and as suspected, getting it to smoothly apply to the round nose of the car was hopeless. Presumably the "good stuff" is more stretchy and flexible... this stuff was like paper... just how do you apply paper to a two-dimensional curved surface without wrinkles - you don't, or rather, "I don't." I suppose someone out there can install it with their eyes closed but I couldn't find them. What really sucks is I had to remove the clear rock film off the front of the car. Nice, now I get to buy more, or eat my pride (oh, wait, that's in the trash) and go to one of the graphics shops and let them do the whole job. I suspect they're going to say I need to leave the car with them for a day... I don't think so. I just have to remind myself this isn't a big deal, in the big picture.
28 May

Kimini's first car show, at Menghini Winery in Julian, California, the longest drive yet at around 140 miles round trip. Packed up the car and headed out, bringing along aerosol Windex because I don't like dirty windows. Part way into the trip I started smelling ammonia... uh oh. The spray can had tipped over and something had depressed the nozzle, spraying Windex all around the passenger floor - Windex really stinks after a while. Stopped at Dudley's Bakery, a local landmark that bakes really great bread... in the middle of nowhere, but people passing through on their way to the mountains and desert have kept them in business for decades. Going up a really twisty section a V8-powered Sunbeam Tiger was behind me, also heading to the show. I didn't want to do anything dumb and kept the speed down to about 35mph, but maintained it through all the turns just to see if he could keep up. The road was so twisty he couldn't make use of his power... that was fun. Another mark for light weight.

The weather was perfect weather for the event and there were lots of interesting cars. Looking at the pictures, the guy in the red jacket and hat is Fred Puhn; you may recognize his name as the author of "How to Make Your Car Handle." I'd talked with him years ago back when Kimini was being designed. I mentioned the car to him but he had so many people bugging him I don't know if he had time. (I was happy to see he no longer wears plaid pants and cowboy boots like he did in his book!) He's talking to Rob Walker, who I hadn't seen since buying GT-5 Datsun 1200 parts from him some 22 years ago.

The picture at bottom-left is of some guys watching the Indy-500 race. It's amazing how we now take for granted watching whatever we want, wherever we are.

I entered Kimini in the Special Interest class, knowing no one would want me in in any other class! Also I wasn't to sure how hard-core these people were; it being my first show I didn't know if they'd call the Show Police if someone entered a car in the wrong class. In a couple shots you can see Dave Norton's Shrike, which he'd also entered in the Special Interest class. Since they were awarding the same prize for First and Second, and there were hardly any cars in our class, it was pretty much guaranteed we'd both win... pretty much. So finally the prizes were awarded.

First place was called and Dave won - couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, especially since he'd designed and built the Shrike 20 years ago; how many home-builts have 100,000 miles on them? Then they announced Second Place... and it wasn't me. You know, until that very moment I would have said winning didn't matter, and if the prizes had been cheesy plastic statues it would have been fine. But the prizes were really cool wine decanters... and all of a sudden it did matter... and I both wanted one and had the ego to think I somehow deserved one. Apparently the thimble-headed gerkins, I mean judges, thought otherwise, giving it to some clearly undeserving dolt. But that's okay, I'm grown-up and mature, understanding it's all for fun, just taking the car up there was enough... To know the judges at least looked at my car, deciding that nine years of sweat and tears to produce a unique car meant nothing... that's fine, and instead some mass-produced, boring, ugly car was better. That's alright, I mean, how could boneheaded judges possibly be expected to notice the engine in the back. But that's okay, I didn't want that dumb decanter anyway. I'm over that now...

As Dave explained, the Special Interest class is a bit of an odd-ball, how do you judge cars that by their very nature don't fit in anywhere? He also kidded me that I hadn't paid my dues yet, that is, going to a dozen shows and not even placing; he's been there and I'm just starting out. If I'm going to make a habit of going to car shows I should probably make up a display that explains the car; everyone kept thinking it was a kit. In their defense it isn't clear at all what Kimini is, just walking by, people assume it's just a freakish Mini with big flares. Since at car shows all the cars have their front ends towards the crowds, it's not until someone walks behind it might they notice the engine (which a number of people didn't notice.) Later I took off the engine cover but I think the judges had already come by. Plus, with the cover off everyone was saying, "Oh, a race car." What else would they think. So I need something to explain it all.

Did I mention I'm over it?

After leaving the show, I thought it would be nice to check off an item from the list of things I want to do with Kimini. One of them is to take a picture of her in front of the famous Palomar Observatory. Unfortunately the parking lot is positioned exactly behind a couple trees that all but block the view. I asked a park ranger if he had a chainsaw but he didn't see the humor. The observatory is peeking over the trees in the back... oh well, you get the idea.

Coming home on the freeway, traffic opened up and oh, why not, and opened her up. 120mph came up very quickly and was completely uneventful - almost oddly so - other than the engine noise the speed wasn't apparent at all. Everything else I've ever driven at high speed always started changing character, lots of wind noise and buffeting, with one end or the other getting light. Kimini didn't do anything, no buffeting, no lightness at the front or rear, just... stable. Cool. I ran out of room before reaching top speed - some other time.

23 May

First shot is the magnetic numbers for autocross. The good news is they look nice... the so-so news is they don't stick so well. It's not a fault of the magnetic material but the over-zealous use of body filler by the body shop keeping the numbers from having close contact with the door. We'll see if they stick well enough in a week or so at the next autocross event.

Also received the stripes... and no messing around. I didn't want wimpy little skinny stripes, nope, I wanted STRIPES and that's what I got. It'll certainly look aggressive, being nearly as wide as the radiator exhaust. Unlike the clear bra material I'm a little hesitant to apply it myself so I'll see what the pros charge to put it on. I just hope it doesn't look too rediculous, being so wide...

The last picture? Well, the wife's out of town so I barbequed a steak, made a great salad, picked up some Guinness and Ben and Jerry's "Cherry Garcia." Put on a guy movie, "Band of Brothers" and I was all set. The open book in the back is the first draft of the book, printed out for red-lining.

22 May

I'm having trouble focusing on finishing the half dozen tasks I'm working on and today realized it's post-project-depression. Before there was always The Project to focus on, always thinking about what needed to be done the next weekend, but now... now my mind keeps drifting from one thing to the next and as a result I end up accomplishing nothing. The yard's a mess, the book needs tuning, the house vacuuming, there's PC boards to build, you get the idea. What actually happens is I waste away the evening surfing the web and before I know it the evening's gone. Of course there's the looming dreaded home remodel, the one that's sure to be too expensive to even think about... so many things. It's all to easy to think of the next project, how it might be built, what parts to use, will it be designed entirely in CAD first... that's fun, the other stuff just keeps getting ignored... The good news is Cooper is much better today, as I type this he's under the desk, running in his sleep...

About the stripes I realized there'll be an issue at the front, where currently there's the clear rock guard material. I'd assume that stuff should go over the top of the vinyl which means it must be peeled off first... nuts. Then, the vinyl strips are put down, but I'm not sure how the rock guard would be put over it. Not sure what'll happen at the edge of the stripes... oh what big problems!
21 May

Had the second photo shoot with a magazine much more into the import scene than the magazine I worked with yesterday. I was teasing the photographer I hadn't had time to get my hair spiked or to find size 48 pants, and while he knew I was kidding, I notice he never took my picture... huh. When I asked where the hot Asian models were he laughed. He thought I was kidding... I'll reveal the names of the publications when the articles are a sure thing.

One of the photographers said he might be able to hook me up with a real publisher - cool. No guarantees but it could make the book more of a "real" product; depending if they consider it a money-making proposition.

After the photo shoot I stopped by the cemetery... to visit my mother and father-in-law. Mom almost saw the car finished but passed away before she could get a ride. Her husband passed away back in 1997 when it was nothing but a shell and wood mockup, so, I showed it to them. Driving Kimini around a cemetery was interesting, on the way out I passed some people heading in, all prepared to be sad, yet they smiled when they saw the car - neat. In fact it seems to have that effect on people, pointing and mouthing "Hey check that out!"

Last night I found one of the ball-joints on the left rear upright was loose. It's a stock Honda taper-pin ball-joint; nothing wrong with the part itself but the pin was loose in the tapered hole in the upright. It can't loosen on its own because it's safety-wired. It means the hole either elongated or more likely the taper was slightly incorrect. Back when I made the uprights I measured the Honda taper-pin angle and bored matching tapered holes using the lathe - or so I thought. Apparently I didn't get it quite right and it's "settling in." Oddly the other three don't have any problem. It's not really a big deal, worst case I drill out the tapered part of the upright, make new ones and weld them in. The lower ball-joints on the rear suspension has more force on them than any other suspension pivot so I'll keep an eye on them.

Something was really bothering Cooper today. Normally he lives for walks, a magic word that makes him spring to life. But today he didn't want to move, when he stood up he was shaking, like something really hurt. That was the fear of having his back operation four years ago, that it would doom him to increasing pain as he ages. I let him rest another hour and asked again if he wanted to go, then he was fine. I've never had to put a dog to sleep and it hurts to even think about it, made harder when I realize he's pretty much my best friend. I guess the best we can do, with pets or otherwise, is treat each meeting like it could be the last, because we never know when it could be. Which reminds me I need to talk to my parents more...

Add a Camaro SS to the hit list, that was tearing through traffic but caught by the next light... "Ooo, someone with attitude." Lined up alongside, light went green, he takes off, and, well, he's not sure what he was beat by ;) Maybe I should get some small stickers for under the driver's window, you know, like WWII fighter planes had for how many planes they'd shot down.

And finally, I'm considering adding twin vinyl stripes, black or dark gray.
20 May

Crystal Cove again. Went up with Darrell, his Pantera, and Dave and his Shrike. More interesting hardware, though there wasn't much time to check out each car, I was there to meet the magazine photographer. The shoot went well and hopefully there will be a feature article soon. Lots of cool cars, but notice the second to last one, of the cop. Ever since that bonehead crashed his Enzo further up the coast there's been a crackdown on antics at these events. A shame too because one of the nicest sounds to hear are the cars as they leave. The Lamborghinis have the most awesome sound... but not with these guys around, making sure 500hp cars are using about 1/10 that. And check out the last picture at a gas station on the way home; the car with not one but two flat tires. That's because his girlfriend (behind him in the driver's seat) turned in too early to the station and drove over the curb bending both rims. I can only imagine the conversation that sparked...

19 May

Well it finally happened, my first ticket. The good news is it wasn't for speeding or reckless driving, but an "unsafe lane change." I thought better of trying to explain to the officer, that if he was driving, he'd find these maneuvers quick, easy, and safe to do all day long. That's the problem with driving this car, it tends to recalibrate your senses about what's possible to do... in the blink of an eye. Oh well, now I get to give up a Saturday for a fun driving instruction... I was very aware he could have made life very unpleasant, depending how many questions he started asking about my "1961 Mini." Thankfully not too many people have ever seen one, so seeing the engine in the back doesn't mean much... good.

In other news the book is progressing quite well. Currently at 237 pages and nearly done, the first draft was turned over to my buddy Chris who nicely offered to be proof-reader. I'm enough of a writer to know I leave a wake of misplaced commas, misspelled words, and poor word choice and really appreciate having a second set of eyes look it over. He offered to do this because I've decided to use one of the Print On Demand (POD) services. That's a fancy description of a shop that has big copying machines and book binders, and don't have book designers or editors to make it all pretty. Deciding to go this route does have a couple downsides, that all pictures except the cover will be black-and-white. That's because printing costs increase by a factor of around SIX(!) going to color. Another downside is overall printing expense is higher, but I can't justify spending a lot of money up front for a book I have no idea how many will sell. In their defense, they only print as many copies as people order so there will never be 10,000 copies sitting in my garage because I was too ambitious. They also handle all sales, credit cards, shipping and returns. That alone is a nice touch as it frees up my time and gives buyers a sense they're dealing with a real shop and not one guy in his garage.

On and I received magnetic numbers for the car, for autocross. I though it worthwhile to give the car a nice clean set instead of cheesy taped-on paper numbers.
16 May

Dennis of dpcars asked if I might make it up to Thunderhill in a couple months. Huh... I'll give that serious thought, as scary as it is. I have yet to take any really high speed corners, and this is where the dreaded oversteer could bite me big time (if it's going to happen). At lower autocross speeds, having some oversteer is handy to help rotation for tight turns. On a real track however that same trait could be downright dangerous. On my old Datsun 1200 I recall disconnecting the rear anti-roll bar to keep high speed oversteer at bay. Oh well, plenty of time to think about it, and to buy/borrow/build a trailer - I know that excuse is getting lame. Before taking it on a real track it would be nice to try an intermediate course such as Streets of Willow, but then I'm back to the trailer issue...

I'll be at Crystal Cove again this Saturday, then meet up with some magazine people afterwards, then meet up with some more magazine people on Sunday :)

The kids are leaving home! I've been checking on our rabbit children and wanted to get pictures before they left the nest. Turns out two have already left so here's pictures of the two still there. Pretty amazing how fast they've grown over the last 11 days. Mom Rabbit has filled in the nest, apparently telling the kids they're now on their own. Pretty cute kids, not quite wild yet either as they sat quietly in our hands while we took pictures (without the flash to not blind them for life...)

14 May

Worked all day on the book, officially passing 205 pages and I'm guessing around 90% done. Much like the car, when it's worked on a little at a time it eventually does get done, and it's getting there.

In unrelated news I was recently looking through a list of all the 0-60 and 1/4mile times for production cars. It was very surprising to see Kimini is faster then an original 1967 427 Ford Cobra. The difference is those old cars were running on relatively hard compound tires; put them on some modern tires and they'd go much faster. Still, it's very surprising to see my little car can even approach what once was considered the fast car of the 60s.
13 May

Cleaning up the car after a drive, with the garage door open, a lowered Civic drove by, then stopped, "Uh oh" I thought as the two guys got out and walked over. In these situations I just never know what's up, are they great guys, just stopping because they saw a car they liked? Or were they checking out the car and garage for "later." They seemed sincere, looking the car over because they said they'd heard about it on the street. That's fine, though I felt a bit like a animal cornered in his cave, they were in my garage and now knew where to find the car. Oh well, if you can't trust anyone the world's a pretty sad place, so I'll assume they're simply car nuts like me.

Here's a fun Mother's Day greeting. If you have a brother you'll relate, if you don't here's what you're missing out on: Mother's Day Greeting.
9 May

Stopped by AAA to have their Notary sign off on a insurance form (I'll get to that in a second.) While there I gave give them one more chance to insure Kimini. Walked the guy out to the car, he took pictures, and explained he'd send them to their underwriter. At this point I told him the story of what happened last time, how AAA denied coverage because of certain conclusions they'd reached without even asking. You know, "Since we deal with cars all day, it stands to reason we know more about cars, and your car, then you do." Uh huh. Since I had nothing to lose I kind of dumped on him, wondering aloud how they could insure a 600hp Cobra, but deny me coverage, or how they could insure a "classic car" that has virtually no stock components in it, much like my car. I knew the decision wasn't up to him but it felt good to dump the frustration on someone. So he's explaining how they do things, how normally they fill out the forms, take payment, then send in the paperwork. Asked why, he gave just the most amazing act I'd seen in a long time, saying, "You know, some people apparently just want to shop around for the lowest price - I just don't understand why they do that." It was done with the most sincere tone of voice I almost believe that indeed, he didn't get it...

So the reason I'd gone in the first place was to notarize a form from another insurance company. I'm looking into changing coverage because the current 2500 mile limit isn't going to be enough. Both AAA and Grundy, the latest place in consideration, offer 5000 mile coverage, but Grundy does so for about half what AAA wants. I can almost still hear his voice, "I just don't understand why people shop around..."
5 May

We're parents! Cooper found a rabbit nest in the yard, in fact when I found him he was smelling the four babies, probably thinking, "Cool - squeeky toys!" I took them out of the nest, planning to give them to Animal Rescue before Cooper killed them. Called them up and found I should put them back and wait until morning. They said the mother rabbit moves her nest every couple days so predators don't find them. If the mother hasn't returned by morning the volunteer will stop by and take them. As much as I'd like to have a pet rabbit these little fellows are just too young, they don't even have their eyes open and are probably only a couple days old.
3 May

Took Kimini out for gas and a quick loop and once again was challanged. I was sitting in the left turn lane at a light when a VW Golf came up along side. No eye contact, no reving engine, but I could tell, "here we go again." We both turned left, he on the outside, and as always I waited until he made his move. Okay... it was a deserted road and, well, you know. After dishing out a helping of Smack-Down, I let off and let him pass. No "job well done", no node of the head, no wave or "thumbs up"; he just stared straight ahead. Of course being a mature middle-aged guy I wasn't thinking, "well, you are the one who started it!" As he passed I saw it was a VW R32, the somewhat rare $30,000 3.2l 240hp 4WD model. When will these kids learn the entire advantage of 4WD is in the first 10 feet of a drag race, after that it's just dead weight. I'd like to think I helped with his education... and to be respectful of tiny modified cars, with big engines in the back ;)
2 May

A couple car-related things. Here's a really cool site of a guy building a Bonneville Lakester in his garage much the same way I built Kimini. A good build diary and lots of pictures of his continuing construction.

In other news, my brother, not content to just build a airplane, has taken the plunge. Yup, he just ordered a kitcar, specifically the Super Stalker, with a supercharged 3.8l V6 no less. I already know how this is going to go, as some point he's going to say, "Let's see, I made this car in 1/10 the time, for 2/3 the cost, and it's faster than yours." And I'll say, "Well technically you didn't make the car, that's reserved for those select few of us who don't know any better..."