Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Car and Driver

Looks like I forgot the all important head-on picture the other day, so here's a couple.

I also scrutinized the PROTOform body I have, and it's much more realistically done. Where this body has flat surfaces that you apply the "grille" decals to, the other body has the grille openings recessed, along with the headlights and turn signals/brake ducts being much more detailed. I'll probably do the Dodge Challenger next, as it's another straight white paint job, and easy to do.

One of the "legal" requirements to race in the Vintage Trans Am series is that you have to run a driver figure. There's a ton of them out there, and people have even put dolls in the car, but I'm going with something simple.

Yes, it needs masking, painting, and trimming, but at least it's not polycarbonate ("Lexan") plastic, so I can paint it like a "regular" model, on the outside, and use "regular" model paint that doesn't smell like a WMD experiment gone wrong.

It's a single-seat figure, like for a formula car, so I'll have to come up with some mounting arrangement to fit this two-seat-wide body. I bought a driver figure/cockpit from the people that made the body, but it's way too big to use. Even if I hacked it down to fit, the driver is out-of-scale by a significant amount. He'd look bigger than Andre The Giant inside the car, so scratch that. I'll have to see what else is out there, but for now, this will be fine once I paint it and glue it in.

I'd use pop-rivets or Dzus fasteners to hold it in, but I can't find any small enough.......

Anywhoo.....Currently 29* and lightly snowing. Looks like a little over an inch on the grass, and the streets and sidewalks are just wet. Expected to be like this through Friday, and then sunny again.

The wife and I are headed out tomorrow to see "Ford v Ferrari" at the local super deluxe cineplex with a wall-to-wall screen, reclining chairs, and food service to your seat, as long as they can deliver it before the movie starts. I lived through this time, and followed auto racing much more closely than I do these days. I was on top of the whole Ford/Ferrari thing at LeMans and other places, so I know the story. From what I've read on auto sites and movie sites, it's a pretty good movie. There haven't been very many Really Good auto racing movies made ("Grand Prix" is Really Good), and I hope this is one of them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Time To Kick The Tires, And Light The Fires....

Which in my case translates to: Let's charge the batteries and head to the track!

The 1/10th scale Vintage Trans Am car is over 95% finished, and now needs a trip to track for inspection, transponder installation, and a few laps.

I still have to build-out the interior insert, or just add a driver figure, but since I'll be running in "Touring Stock" for a while (wonder if I'll have rookie stripes?) it might not be needed.

The lap times on this track for the VTA (Vintage Trans Am) class seem to run around 10~11 seconds per lap, and I have no doubt my first dozen or so laps will be about twice that. I set up a bunch of 6" tall traffic cones in the garage the other day, and "practiced" with my teeny-tiny Kyosho "Mini-Z", which is a little smaller than a 1/24th scale model car.

I have a long way to go to get to be smooth around a circuit.......

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Out Of The Paint Shop

WELL.....since I had some pretty light spots in a few places on the body, I quickly masked off the windows and shot some more white paint on it. Turns out the paint on the body was pretty thin all over, and you could see the consequences of my quick-and-dirty masking job from the outside.


Mask the windows off again, head to the hobby shop for some more paint, and come home and spray the inside again.

And since this paint will drive you out of a building, I opened up the garage doors and side door, put my big exhaust fan in the side door, and painted the body in front of the fan, drawing away the nasty vapors.

It's still not up to my quality standards, but considering it's the first one I've done in 30 years, I'm pronouncing it "Plenty Good Enough", and moving on. I know the next bodies I do up for this chassis will look much better, and it's gonna get banged up on the track, and I wanna take it to the track and drive it!

This thing is really SHINY when you peel off the protective film.

I've got a bunch of questions concerning ride height and a few other things, so that's why I'm anxious to get to the track.

Now I have to carefully trim and apply the decals/stickers. These are the sticky-backed, printed-on-clear-film type, so you have to trim them from the sheet, leaving only a small clear border around them. At least they go on from the outside!

I have numerous photos of the original car in competition, and one of the "tribute" cars on the track, so at least I know where all the little stickers go.

And since I was in a painting kind of mood, I took my prepped set of rims and sprayed them silver, and mounted the tires on them. I still have to glue them to the rims, and I'll do that tomorrow.

You can only buy the current spec series legal rim from one supplier, and they come in either black or white. White makes it look like a toy, and I'm so over the black wheel thing, so you can either find some "vintage" NOS wheels in "Matte Chrome" (looks like brushed aluminum, goes for big $$), or paint your own. A $6 can of paint beats a $60 spend on eBay hands down on this build, so I painted them. Hey, it's not going to Pebble Beach or The Quail, you know?

So I should have this thing finished enough by Monday night to take it to the track Tuesday afternoon (cue the Moodies...) for the Tech Inspection, and to buy a transponder and get it registered. Maybe I'll even have time for a few laps.....

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Off To The Rack With You!

The alignment rack, that is.

Or in my case, a set of graduated fixtures and holders so I can measure and adjust the camber, caster, and toe of the little R/C car.

The fixtures bolt to the stub axles in place of the wheels, and you place the fixtured car on a flat, level surface, and read the scales.

This poorly lit shot shows the toe-out to be 1*, per spec to start with. Toe-in/out is adjusted turning a little turnbuckle on each side's steering linkage, just like a full-size car.

This shows the left rear to be at -3* (negative) camber, and the spec is -2*. It's also easily adjustable with a turnbuckle.

And the left front shows -1*, also out-of-spec, but also easily adjustable.

So now I have the suspension dialed-in to the recommended settings to start with. Might need a toe adjustment, or perhaps run a different camber setting on the front and/or rear. I've done this before with full-size cars, and the principles are identical, so I understand what the settings do. What I don't understand, yet, is how they relate to a 1/10th scale model, this particular one, and the track I'll be running on. Still have a lot to learn, and I expect to be at the track in a week or two.

The window masks for the body have been cut and trimmed to fit:

And after cleaning the inside of the body again, they've been applied to the window areas inside the body:

Since it's forecast to be in the mid-60's tomorrow, it's going to get painted!

One of the electronics projects I had simmering away is now finished and in-service, my "vintage" Heathkit IM-103 AC Line Voltage Monitor.

I replaced the electrolytic capacitor, upgraded the rectifier to a 1N4007, and replaced two resistors. One of them was a 100 Ohm, 2 Watt resistor that was dissipating 1.8 Watts by design. More accurately, by design error, as running a part at 90% of it's maximum ratings is not a Real Good Thing to do. So I changed it to a 5 Watt rated resistor to keep things cooler inside the case. I also added an in-line "pigtail" fuse inside as a CYA protection. Using my calibrated Fluke meter and a big Variac transformer, I followed the calibration steps in the manual, and it's very accurate (better than 2%!) over the range of the meter. These were "Must Have" accessories for the well-equipped Ham Shack or repair shop in the 1960's, and I've always wanted one. Yes, the line voltage varies during the day. It's nominally 120 VAC, but I've seen it go as low as 117 VAC, and up to 121 VAC, so it's an interesting little doo-dad to hang on the wall.

And this unit has provenance!

It was owned by an Engineer who worked for Lockheed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He was also a Ham, and I bought a few of his estate items from his Granddaughter via Big Internet Auction Site. I don't know if he used this at work, or snuck it through the Calibration Lab, but I was very careful not to disturb the stickers on the case:

The case was off when I calibrated it, and the two potentiometers were the type that can be adjusted from the back, so the stickers got through untouched.

Adds a nice touch to the workshop wall, I think.

Hope y'all have a good weekend. I'll be attempting to bake bread on Sunday. If you see smoke, I didn't do very well.....

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Re-Earning My Stripes....

So what's a Radio Guy to do when propagation is crummy during the current Solar Minimum?

Work on his little model car, that's what. It's too cold to work on my "big" model car in the garage, a.k.k my "1-to-1 Scale" car.

The chassis is now basically complete, with the exception of the Timing and Scoring Transponder, which I have to buy from the track.

I've run it around in the basement a bit (it's FAST!), so now it's on to the body.

Since these little cars run bodies made of clear, vacuum-formed Lexan sheet, you have to paint them. And you paint them on the inside, with special paint. The plastic is only .040" thick, so it's quite flexible, and bends easily under impact, popping back to shape after you've hit something. To keep the paint looking good, and to preserve a high-gloss finish, you paint them on the inside, doing the darkest colors first, which is completely bass-ackwards from what I'm used to doing in both real cars, and other static display models I've built.

Took three hours and half a roll of masking tape before I got it "close enough" to paint. The last time I did this was 30some years ago, and it takes a while to get the skills back.

I went in the downstairs bathroom, turned the ventilator to "High", and sprayed the inside of the body with several light coats of paint, just enough to get uniform coverage in the stripe area.

And Holy Smokes, I'd forgotten how potent that type of paint is! It's very aromatic, and even the small amount I sprayed for the stripe was enough to really stink up the area. I wasn't planning on doing the white main color coat inside, and painting the stripe confirmed it! I'll have to wait until Friday when it's supposed to be 65* so I can finish the paint job out in the garage. The local "Marker's Space" is next door to the RC car track, but I don't think they have a spray booth or fume hood, so I'll have to come up with some way or place to do paint work during the winter months.

I made the mounting holes in the body before I did the masking and painting, and almost got them 100% correct. They're spot-on side-to-side, but I got them slightly off in the fore-to-aft direction, and had to oval them out a bit with my Dremel.

I'm not sure how much this will allow the body to shift fore-and-aft during use, or if it matters. I can block the back side of the hole with some adhesive-backed thin aluminum tape I have, or figure something else out if the body has too much movement. And I'm going to either have to get some different body mounting posts (the thing coming with holes in it coming through the body) or cut these down a LOT more!

So here it is loosely stuck on the car.

I'll clean any masking tape residue off the inside of the body tonight, and apply the window masks that came with the body, and wait until Friday when it should be warm enough to paint the body out in the garage. After that, I have to trim the excess plastic from the body, and then put my decals on.

Getting closer and closer to something like this.

And KRFC, one of two local stations, just played the "Peorgie Tirebiter" song.

I suspect the DJ is "Of A Certain Age".....

Gotta love Fort Collins!

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Thank You All For Your Service

Not much more needs to be said.

God Bless our military, and our country.....

Monday, November 4, 2019

Small Wonders.....

And Fall Wonders, too!

I was able to snap a few pix of the trees here before all the leaves got blasted off by the cold and snow, and since Sarge and The Guys over at The Chant have been posting pretty pix, I thought I'd spring these on you.

Our Amur Maple tree in the front yard:

This variety of Maple doesn't get much bigger than ~25', but does extremely well here. It's a "Recommended" tree per The City of Fort Collins, and per the Wikipedia entry, "Produces copious amounts of seeds", which it does. When I was a wee lad growing up in Illinois we had maple trees. And so did the neighbors, of different varieties. The trees cross-pollinated, producing tons of seeds, and I grew several nice trees from seed. I've saved some of this years crop of seeds from this maple, and I'm going to try and get some started. We have precisely *one* place in the yard where a tree like this would be most welcome, so if I can get a seed to sprout, we'll plant it there. I doubt if I'll be around to see it get very big, but it'll be a tiny legacy left by me. A look at Google Maps of the house I grew up in shows a tree growing exactly where I planted one, so it might still be there, 60 years after I planted it.

And a tree that one of our neighbors has:

I'm no tree expert, but it looks an awful lot like the Birch tree we had back in Illinois. Seeing as we're in Colorado, it might be an Aspen, but the city strongly discourages Aspens as they propagate by runners, and can take over a large area very quickly. Reading about them brings to mind the problems I had with bamboo in the yard back in Kalifornia. Spent quite a bit of time, effort, and expense to terminate that stand with extreme prejudice!

Fall was quite pretty this year, and I even managed to get the front yard to come back, complete with about 30 sq ft of new seed that came up and took off like weeds. Half the back yard looks like the Mohave, minus the sand, and I'll have to bang away on that right early in the Spring.

I finished the new coax runs from the antennas to the entrance boxes I made, and got my FT-1000D back together again. Still has some problems, the most glaring being that it won't transmit on 40 Meters. I'm pretty sure the problem is in the Low Pass Filter Assembly, and fortunately that module is quite easy to service.

The Radio Controlled 4x4 truck is waiting for the yard to dry up so TLG and I can go out bashing with it again. I took it partially apart to check on some of the common wear points, and it's holding up quite well.

Since all we're going to do with the truck is bash it around the front and back yards, I don't want to spend money upgrading the little truck. I'm not racing it, but if/when something does break, I'll upgrade it with a better part, but that's it.

For the latent racer in me, I bought this:

It's a "3Racing Sakura Sport XI", four-wheel drive, 1/10th scale electric "Touring Car", and I'm building it to run in a "Spec Series". A "Spec Series" is where every racer is strictly limited on what equipment they can run, and it all has to be from an approved list. The chassis is pretty open, but the motor, speed controller, battery, and wheels/tires must be specific part numbers from specific manufacturers. The purpose of this series is to encourage slower speeds with older hardware, and make it more of a driver's match since the cars are so equal.

Since it's called the "Vintage Trans Am Series", all the bodies on the cars have to be 1960's/1970's pony cars, just like what raced Back In The Day.

I'm building a replica of the #8 Jerry Titus car, a 1970 Pontiac Trans Am:

There two bodies available, on from ProtoFORM:

Here's a nicely finished one:

And one from McAllister Racing:

I have one each of the bodies, and I'll probably go with the McAllister body for track-days, and do a very pretty job on the ProtoFORM body to be a display body.

See, I told you I wasn't going to modify the 4x4 truck!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spooky Song.....

Don't know why, but I've always associated this song with Halloween. Maybe it's because I was in high-school, growing up fast, when all the things in the video were happening around me.

Spooky times, I guess.....

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Birthday Party.....

I don't normally post stuff like this, but this picture came out pretty well. It's from the birthday party for the littlest one, in the center, flanked by our Little Guy, and her other cousin. All these little guys are two years old, and they'll be the same age until TLG's birthday in March.

I present you The Three Amigos, in full regalia for Halloween.

Winter Returns After a Short Break.....

Well, it was really nice here the last week. Temps were in the high 60's, nice and sunny, and quite beautiful.

So last night, this big Arctic High came roaring in from the North, and this morning it's 25* and lightly snowing. There was less on the ground than I expected this morning. Forecast is for 1"~3" accumulation today, with another 3"~5" tonight, then Monday should be a break in the snow until Tuesday/Tuesday night.

All the NWS says about Tuesday night is "Snow Could Be Heavy At Times".

Hmm....they don't know, either.

And we're in for some cold nights, with tonight forecast at 9*, Monday night at 10*, Tuesday night at 7*, and Wednesday night at 3*.

And I didn't get my wife's snow tires mounted while she was gone, so I'll either be chilling my tail getting them on this week, or paying to have it done.

I got most of the leaves blown out of the gravel and flower beds, but didn't rake and bag them, as that requires the two of us. We'll probably just have The Yard Guys do it when they do their early Winter clean-up, and drag all the lumber our neighbor's cottonwood tree dumped in our back yard. Some of the branches that dropped out of their tree are several inches in diameter, and although the tree looks OK to me, the tree guys who removed the cottonwood in our yard two years ago commented that it had "maybe five years left in it", so I expect we'll see them removing the tree in the next few years.

So keep warm, stay dry, and I'm on my way to a birthday party for one of The Little Guy's cousins.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

A Little of This and That.....

Getting ready for some winter weather here. Currently at 45*F, overcast to (very) partly sunny, and it was raining a while ago. We're expecting rain turning to snow, with a low of around 23*F tonight. Looks like a good night to light off the fireplace and watch a movie.

-OR- Play with my radio stuff now that it's all back together.

I had my Yaesu FT-1000D apart to fix some issues it has, and install my Inrad Roofing Filter. The roofing filter installation went fine, but I wasn't able to fix one problem, and while I did fix another, it seems I've now introduced a new one.


The one problem I fixed was a resetting/rebooting problem when I tuned from 6.5MHz to 7.5MHz. The radio would start cycling like the power switch was being turned on and off, and it was hard to get it out of that mode. I traced the problem to the Low Pass Filter board, so I cleaned and reseated all the connectors, along with loosening and tightening the screws that hold that board, and ground it, to the chassis.

Well, it receives just fine now on 40 Meters, but it won't transmit. It's possible it wouldn't transmit before, and the resetting problem was masking it, so it might be a wash on whether I fixed that problem or not.

The other problem is with a printed circuit board with a whole lotta push-button switches on it. Yaesu calls these assemblies "Switch Units", and they're a multiplexed group of switches that use fewer wires than if every switch had it's own pair of wires. The four switches that don't work share a common circuit path, so it should be easy to find and fix the problem.

That's IF I could get the board out!

This particular board is buried behind the front panel, and to get it out would take me a couple of days to disassemble the radio that far. I could do it if I built a fixture like a rotisserie to hold the chassis, but I'm not sure I want to do that. My days of wrestling 55 pound radios around on the bench are behind me, and even if I built a fixture, I'm not sure I want to dig that far into the radio.

One other thing I've finished up while the weather is cooperating has been to get new coax runs installed between my vertical and wire antennas and the entrance box I hung on the house. That also entailed making up some new jumpers for the box on the inside of the house to the coax switch, and coax switch to the radio and dummy load. I now have nice, matching jumpers that are the correct lengths, and the installation looks a lot neater. And there's no more cables running in the house via the small gap between the door and frame! I'm sure my wife will be happy about that.

As far as the radio goes, I'm pretty much in the same boat that SiG is in regarding his Icom Linear Amplifier. I can probably fix it, but it would take a significant effort to do so, and I'm not sure I want to.......

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Crazy WINDY Here Today.....

Mother Nature's doing a bit of 'pruning.....

The backyard is covered with leaves and small branches, and most of the leaves are off our maple tree in the front and ash tree in the back.

NWS is predicting winds of 20~30MPH with gusts exceeding 55MPH. The high today will be around 50*F, dropping to '30-ish' overnight.

Glad I strapped the back gate together, but now I have to change the securing arrangements because the yard guys are coming tomorrow to mow and mulch whatever leaves and things are in the front and back yards.

Other than that, I got nothin', and I'm just gonna hang out in the basement today working on some projects.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Here's The Latest On The Ham Radio and Cal_Fire "Dispute"

Per my "Friends In High Places", here's the latest.

Click to embiggen, as I had to do some fancy footwork to convert this through several formats to get an image out of it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Uh-Oh...."Controlled Burn" Gets Out-Of-Control

And there's been a mandatory evacuation declared.

This is up in the Red Feather Lakes area, about 30 miles Northwest of here.

The full story is here, at the North Forty News website.

Prayers sent for those living up there.....

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Great "We Don't Need No Stinking Ham Radio" Flap In California

After having first heard of this a week or so ago, I've found out it's nothing like that which it seems.

Per the ARRL Southwestern Division Director:

The video in response to a lengthy lawyer-generated letter, written in reaction to a harshly worded letter from a CAL FIRE property management employee, makes certain statements about the Governor’s position or State policy that I have been unable to corroborate..

The State of California has not made any determination we can find  "that Ham Radio [is] no longer a benefit."What happened is that CAL FIRE has transferred responsibility for its communications sites to its property management department.  That department has the significant task of evaluating each site, its condition, use and tenants.  If a repeater not known to be associated with the emergency management function of a local jurisdiction is found in a CAL FIRE vault, the default action is to move it out or subject it to commercial rental rates.
Our contact in the California Office of Emergency Services suggests that, if any affected repeater is in any way involved with local emergency or government support activity, they should ask that agency to engage with CAL FIRE concerning the repeater.  If the agency makes the case, there is a good chance that the repeater will be unaffected.

Their advice, with which I agree, is not to elevate this to State Legislators or the Governor's office.

There has been similar activity in Southern California, wherein sites managed by the U.S. Forest Service have required repeater owners to post bonds to cover the dismantling of their sites if they cease operation. Negotiation has resulted in considerable easing of the original requirements and a modification of terms to help mitigate the short-term financial impact on those repeater owners.

So basically, somebody got ticked off, made some angry statements, and it 'went viral'.

Nothing to see here, please move along.....

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bye Bye, Sea Launch!

I'd heard this was "In Work" a couple of months ago. There was a lot of ITAR controlled equipment on the ships, and it had to be removed before USGOV would allow the ships to be permanently relocated.

This has been removed now, and negotiations are underway to finalize the departure of the two ships.

The entire article can be read here.

So Bye Bye, Sea Launch. It was a hell of a run while it lasted.....

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Here Comes Winter!

Expecting the next three nights to be 25*, 15*, and 25*

I was just up at The Kids place to tend to the dogs, and in a 90 minute round-trip (including doggie time) the temperature has dropped 10*, and the winds are kicking up.

Expecting rain around midnight, turning to snow showers, turning to snow, with snow on Thursday, and a high of 33*.

And since the winds are predicted to be 30MPH or so, with gusts to 40MPH, I lashed the fence gates closed on the side leading to the back yard. I guess I'm getting acclimatized to here, as yesterday I drained and stowed the garden hoses and sprinklers, put the cold weather covers on the faucets, brought in the big sun umbrella after knocking the wasps out of it, and in general tried to clear the task list for "Winter Preps".

I think I got all of it, but we'll see.....

My Sweet Little Wife has departed on a three week vacation, and The Kids are gone until Sunday night, so Pebbles and I are on our own.

And I got this "present" on the way back from DIA:

Yep...a BIG rock came off the back of a gravel hauler, and I saw it milliseconds before it hit with a CRACK! like a rifle shot.


I'm tempted to tray and have it repaired, BUT with the rain/snow, and below freezing temps the next two nights, it might get much worse before I can get it in to the glass shop.

I haven't lost a windshield to a rock hit since about 1986, so I suppose I'm overdue.


As of 2230 local time, it's down to 32*, there's a LOT of lightning and thunder, and it's snowing.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

First Frost Warning of the Season

Going down to 30* here tonight, and the first "official" front warning has been published by the NWS.

It got down to 35* last week, and there was a frost 'advisory' released, but looks like we're getting a real frost, with below freezing temps tonight.

And the NWS is predicting snow showers beginning Thursday, along with lows of 15*~20*.....

Other than that, I got nuthin'.....

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Friday Already?.....Again?

Well time sure flies when you're keeping busy!

Got the 3D printed camera mount so I can strap my GoPro to the car, And the taller tires for it so it can bounce off these wacky curbs easier. And that requires changing the pinion gear on the motor to make up for the taller tires. So as of right now, I've got the car partially disassembled to change the pinion gear, do some inspection of the bits, and then put it back together so I can go bombing around the neighborhood again, and TLG can giggle and laugh as he watches me get better at driving it.

And I corrected the error on the timing cover by sanding off the yellow I had applied, and then kept on sanding until the wrinkle paint was completely removed from the lettering.

Took about two hours with numerous small pieces of 220 and 600 grit paper, and a teeny-tiny sanding block I made. Got the first coats of color on it, and it looks the way I wanted from the beginning.

I took a trip up to the "E-Team Hobbyplex" track ans store the other day, and I'm impressed! The owner is another Old Guy like me, and he's been doing R/C cars, trucks, and boats for about as long as I have. He's also an Uber Gearhed, and has quite a collection of AMC muscle cars. He has Javelins, AMX's, a Rebel Machine or two, and the S/C Rambler, which was AMC's version of the Chevrolet Nova SS, a "compact car" stuffed full of V8 power with a manual transmission, limited-slip differential, cold air hood, and a bunch of other "Hot Rod Parts" installed at the factory. Cool little cars!

And the track is impressive. It's set up as a road course right now, but they put some temporary ramps, jumps, and stuff over it, and run indoor off-road events. They even run a "class" for the ARRMA Senton truck like I have, so I'll probably go up there with the Senton and have some fun. He's been in the building for over 15 years now, and has parts out the wazoo, along with cars and trucks from $150 entry level rigs up to the full-blown, very high-end cars that go for $1200 without wheels, tires, motor, speed controller, or radio. You can't even call those kits "rollers" because they don't have wheels included, so they're called "sliders".

And I knocked out some quickie projects in the basement, including rebuilding the Heathkit IM-103 Line Voltage Monitor I got on eBay.

I've always wanted one of these things because only the Really Cool Guys had them when I was a kid. The guys who had their Amateur Extra class license, and knew everything about radio. Like all items this age with 1960's vintage electrolytic capacitors in them, this one had a bad capacitor. So I ordered a few of them, along with a 5W replacement for the 2W resistor that is dissipating 1.8Watts in normal operation. Running a part at 90% of it's max rating isn't a good idea, so doubling the Wattage rating on the replacement fixes a design flaw in the meter.

And I've been cleaning up stuff out of the basement by dumping it on eBay. It brings in some "hobby money", and gets rid of some of the bubble wrap stored in the basement from when we moved.

Hell yes, I saved it! Only used once, perfectly clean, and why buy more when I have a two year supply!?

Just doing my part to be green, and recycle responsibly, ya know?

And I showed TLG the video I took of UP 4014 last week. When they blew off the steam, and then blew the whistle, he was quite impressed! There's a "Vintage and Antique Toy Show" this Saturday down at the Larimer County Fairgrounds (aka "The Ranch"), so I'm going to head down there and see if I can find him a little toy tractor. Gotta be green and yellow because he gets really excited when he sees a green and yellow tractor, so he should have one.

Hope y'all have a good weekend. Sorry for no pretty pix, but when I start taking pix, it slows me waaay down on some of these projects.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Busy Weekend

Besides going up to Harriman Crossing, Wyoming with my friend Well Seasoned Fool to see UP 4014 on Friday, I've been bouncing around doing a bunch of other things.

I uploaded the video I took to YouTube, but can't figure out how to embed it her!


Just do a YouTube search for "UP 4014 Big Boy At Harriman Crossing", and all five I posted should turn up. (Just fixed the above link. It now takes you to all five videos)...

Hmm...let's see if this works....

On Sunday from 1600 to 1700 MDST I'll be operating the 30 Meter Digital Mode station at the special event for the 100th year of WWV operation.

I also loaned the group putting it on a couple of 35 Amp Astron power supplies with the cables and RigRunner DC distribution panels to help them out a bit.

I'll take my camera and get there extra early for my shift so I can get the idea where things are, and who's who.

And ordered some spare and maintenance parts for the RC car. I'm also going to mount my GoPro to it, and drive it around the neighborhood. Should be a hoot!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Big Vise Built From Scratch

I know Phil will go bonkers over this when he sees it.

The guy made this from scratch in his "shop". And what a shop it is.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Oh, Lordy.....Another New Hobby..... a moment of weakness when I was at the local Hobby Shop, I bought an ARRMA "Senton" 4x4, Ready-to-Run, Radio Controlled model.

Hey, it's for the grandson, don't cha know?

Anywhoo....Back in the mid 1980's, during "Act II" of my life, I was hugely involved in R/C models. Even exercised my American right to run a small business supplying a few items to the local hobby shops. Barely broke even, had Tons 'O Fun, and met some cool people.

Fast Forward about 30 years.....

As I was digging things out down in the basement, I came across my little Kyosho "Mini-Z" R/C car. We used to "race" these on the ship during our transit back to Home Port, and we had a ball. The Company bought the cars (Radio Shack "X-Mods" cars), the track, and a truckload of AA batteries. I wanted my own car, asked if this one would be acceptable, and the "Sanctioning Body" approved.

So I ordered up some new tires, and was playing with it one day when The Little Guy was here, and he just loved it. I bought a couple of "RC Stunt Cars" at Harbor Freight for $7 each, but you can't really drive them; they're only good for doing spins, wheelies, and crashing in to stuff.

Naturally, that just won't do for TLG. I want him to learn how to control one of these, and to do that, you need something controllable.

And since he's a beginner (ya think?), that means learning how to drive one in wide-open spaces, like the cul de sac we live on, along with all eight front yards that line the sides of the street.

And that means 4-wheel drive, and something larger than a 1/12th or 1/10th scale car.

So we got this:

It's a 1/8th scale model (they claim 1/10th scale...HAH!), about 22" long and 12" wide.

The motor in this brute looks like it escaped from my Makita cordless drill:

It's a "550 Motor", indicating a standard "can" size. 540 motors are used in some models, and the 380 motor is about "slot car" sized, so this is a YUUUGE motor compared to what I've used in the past.

It's well laid out, and seems pretty well built.

It has hypoid-drive differentials for the front and rear axles (Just Like Dad's Car!), but NO center differential. Instead, the gearbox powers the driveshaft between the two differentials through a "slipper clutch", which is really there to protect the motor from the shocks that happen after a jump, when the wheels are spinning full power, unloaded, and then slam back into the ground. It's a clever, inexpensive way to protect the driveline. This would be a no-no for pavement racing because the front and rear axles turn at the same speed, but running in grass and dirt there's plenty of wheel slip so that it doesn't matter.

The only weak point according to the guys that have had these for a while is the steering servo, which fails under heavy use.

The orange box on the left is the servo, and the orange box on the right is the electronic speed control.

A direct replacement is $22 at the hobby shop, while the upgraded servo is $35.

HOWEVER....judicious shopping can find even better quality servos (stronger gears, ball bearings, more torque) for around $20. Since they pretty much all use the same connectors, and are the same size, installing a bigger, beefier, better-built servo is a no-brainer for $20.

And even though you can get a lot of Hot Rod parts for these, I'm not planning on buying any. When something breaks, I'll replace it with a better part, if available, but otherwise I'm just gonna leave it stock. I'm not going to compete with it, just have fun with TLG blasting around the front and back yards.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Tear The House Apart Day.....And Now Put It All Back.....

Well, we tore it apart last night in preparation for today.

Having the downstairs carpet cleaned today, along with the tile and grout in the entryway, kitchen, and sun room.

So I'm going to be busy, and might be offline for a while while they're doing the sun room, aka the Radio Room.

We've been here almost two years now, and since we'll be hosting Christmas this year, my Sweet Little Wife wants to get some of this 'heavy lifting' stuff out of the way.

Be back later.....

Well, that was fairly painless. Nice young guy from ChemDry, all by himself, did three rooms of carpet, two stairways, and ALL the tile and grout in about 5 hours.

So now I have a couple of fans set up as exhaust fans, and the windows on the opposite side open, and we have a nice flow of air through the downstairs.

It looks great!

The tile looks amazing, and the two spots where the glaze had chipped came out the same shade as the tile, something we didn't expect. So, I got out the "Tile Repair Kit", and brushed in some of the "glaze" from the kit where the tile was damaged. Hopefully this will seal it well enough that it doesn't discolor again.

The nap of the carpet bounced back nicely, but it'll get flattened out again in the traffic areas. My wife says this isn't Real Good Carpet, but considering the people who put it in were planning on having 4 or 5 college kids living here, they probably figured it'd get trashed, so why spend big bucks on top-of-the-line carpet.

It most likely came from Home Depot, like all the new appliances, vanities, light fixtures, plumbing, etc.

Not much odor, except when he was doing the grout. My highly calibrated sense of smell indicates it was some kind of glycol or alcohol, perhaps butyl cellosolve product. It dissipated quickly, and now with the fans running, the odor is almost gone.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Supra "Timing Cover #3" Refurb OOOOPS! Annnnnd Homemade BREAD!

I saw this coming last night when I started applying the first color coat to the "DOHC" lettering.

The wrinkle finish on the cover came out pretty well:

BUT (always one of them hanging around somewhere...) I noticed the paint wasn't brushing out very nicely, and it struck me that I didn't take the paint off the letters, and the very rough surface was making the painted letters look a bit weird, like the paint had crazed:

So now I'll have to carefully scrape the paint off the letters, leaving them with a flat surface so the gloss paint flows out and looks good. This wasn't a problem with the cam cover lettering as I'd block sanding the paint off the ribs and lettering, giving me a flat surface to brush the paint on to.

Oh, well, live and learn, and DON'T get in a hurry!

And with the weather cooling off (gonna have lows in the low 40's this week), thoughts turn to firing up the oven, and making some bread. There's little that beats the smell of fresh baking bread on a cool day. I used to "help" my Mom bake bread all the time when I was little (I was the "Punch Down" guy!), along with "helping" her make rolls, biscuits, cookies, and many other home-baked goodies. I used to be a pretty good cook, with a few specialty items like chili, spaghetti sauce, and of course burgers and steaks.

So now I'm on the hunt for good bread recipes. I bought some yeast, and it's in the fridge, and we have everything else I need to make "basic bread", but I'm thinking of maybe trying some rye bread, or a 'peasant bread' made with a coarser flour.

So I'm off to the InterWebz to see what I can find for bread recipes.

I'm sure there's thousands of them out there.....

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Supra "Timing Cover #3" Refurbishment

When we last saw our intrepid hero, he was praising his Sweet Little Wife (hmmm...might start an acronym page like the guys at the Chant) for letting him clean parts in the kitchen sink.....

Today's episode takes us deeper into the refurbishment of "Timing Cover #3" on my '85 Supra.

After the cover dried, I started doing the final cleaning of it to get it ready for paint. It's going to be 85* and sunny this weekend, which is perfect weather for wrinkle painting stuff. It was pretty clean after the bath I gave it last night, but still had some crud in a few of the recessed areas, and in places around the edges where my scrub brush didn't reach, so I cleaned all those areas using my Secret Sauce, Spray-Bottle Version (Windex with ammonia-D and about 30% denatured alcohol), and some other solvent for the greasy bits that were hiding.

In the process of cleaning it, I noticed a bunch of unsightly 'casting flash' from when it was injection-molded 30-odd years ago. Besides leaving sharp edges that can slice your hands when working on it, it's ugly, and has to go. I got out my trusty X-Acto knife with a new blade, and trimmed/scraped the flash off, then followed that with some 600 grit sandpaper on the edges to smooth them out nicely.

Yes, indeed you do detect some Mission Creep setting in, as usual with all my projects. This one doesn't have much, though.....

So after taking care of all the rough edges, and smoothly blending them in, I noticed that the plastic had retained much of it's gloss (hey, it's clean!), and since that's a Bad Thing when it comes to paint adhesion, I scuffed it up with some 600 grit that was already in the sanding block. Then I dusted it off, wiped it down with some brake cleaner, and set it aside while I did some other things.

Then I noticed (man, I'm really observant these days...) that it wasn't "flat", and had some low spots. Even though the wrinkle paint is quite thick, and easily fills in things like sanding scratches, it ain't that thick, and the low areas would likely show up after the paint cures.

So I block sanded the entire thing.

Is it 100% "flat" now? No, but then it's not going to Pebble Beach, either. Which is actually moot, because they'd take points off for it not being 100% OEM.

That aside, it's plenty flat, almost all the gloss is gone, and I'm just waiting for the weather to heat up to paint it. I'll bust any remaining gloss with a Scotch-Brite pad, wipe it down, and shoot the wrinkle paint on Saturday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God Bless My Sweet Little Wife

For letting me do Guy Things, like clean parts in the kitchen sink:

No, I didn't drag an oily, greasy front cover in from the garage!

I cleaned as much of the road grime and oil deposits off of it as I could out in the garage. Since this is a plastic part, it has to be really clean or the paint won't bond properly to it. Warm water and dish soap are excellent at getting off any remaining oils, and it fits in the kitchen sink nicely.

I'll check it again after it dries overnight, and spot clean any remaining deposits with brake cleaner, which doesn't leave any residue. We'll be getting a few days of nice, warm, sunny weather, so I'll get it wrinkle painted and baked out.

And the wiper arms are finished!

Time to reassemble them, bag them, and put them on the shelf until needed, after the windshield replacement.

And after carefully inspecting the second coat of color under a strong light, I find I have a few 'light spots' where the paint looks "shadowed", so they need another coat.

Just about have the NLE software I'm using to edit the Rist Canyon video figured out after trying a few versions. I did all my "work" using Adobe Premiere Pro, and these are all laid out differently, and function a bit differently than I'm used to. The same thing happened when I switched between Photoshop and GIMP.

I'm too lazy to drag out and set up the audio/video editing PC I have down in the basement, so time to get used to using Linux software again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


This says it better than I can.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

2019 Rist Canyon Mountain Festival

Our DIL was running a bit late from an appointment, so we didn't meet up with them until 1100. They live at the junction of Hwy 287 and Rist Canyon Road, so once we got to their place we were already about half-way there.

And yes, I had a camera with me!

I took my GoPro, as I want to get to learn how to use it and set it up for what I consider to be "Good Video". I'd already set the power button in "One Button" mode, which means it starts recording as soon as you power it on, and set the video to 1080p, 60Hz frame rate. I might cut that back to a 30Hz frame rate to save on storage a bit.

Unfortunately, I used the default Field-Of-View, which is "Wide", and while that's great for panoramic shots, the people look faaaar away in the video, and there's a bit of "Fisheye Lens" distortion at the edges of the frames. I just set it to "Medium", and I'll shoot some video in both settings tomorrow to see how it compares. the video off the camera and on this PC, and installed some FOSS software for video editing, and I'm currently editing the video "for publication" here on the InterWebz.

The weather was gorgeous, partly sunny and around 75*, with nice breezes coming down the canyon. And really dry at 7200', where the RCVFD Fire Station is located.

We had hay rides, got to watch a K9 demonstration with the Larimer County Sheriffs guys, and The Little Guy got to sit in a Life Flight helicopter, go to the petting zoo, and look at FIRE TRUCKS!

We got to meet (and thank) the Firefighters, EMT's, and Paramedics, as well as the Larimer County Sheriff's Deputies. The Colorado State Forestry people were there, and I brought home some hand-outs on the management practices here, which are very different from those in Kalifornia!

Lots of local vendors for food and artsy stuff, and live music. The "Dunk The Firefighter" tank was doing a good business, as were the vendors.

And we brought home these two little guys:

The picture of the little Trash Panda didn't come out very well, and it's not evident he's almost free-standing in a hollowed out aspen log.

The cool thing about the bear cub is if I'm having a Bad Day In The Radio Room, I can flip his sign over:

So we had another great time at a local community event, gave some minor support to a worthy organization directly and via the vendors.

And I'll try and get some video up on Sunday. I really want to learn how to use the camera before the next time I get to see UP 4014, the Big Boy!