Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Further Fettling Finally Finalized

Probably not, but I wanted a catchy title.

After shooting myself in the foot with the paint on the spoiler, and guests coming, and rainstorms requiring my wife's car be garaged, it's been several weeks since I worked on the spoiler.

I've been busy finalizing stuff for the Radio Room furniture and antennas system, and generating a BOM for those projects, along with doing boring home-owner stuff, so at least I haven't been a layabout.

A week or two ago I finally said to Hades with it, and decided any remaining paint work can be done to the spoiler while it's bolted on the car. Now that the weather is nice again, and the wife's little car can sit outside, I set the saw horses back up, plopped the spoiler back up on them, and proceeded to cut/fit/fettle the rubber channel I'm using for a gasket. I also had to make three large, and four small, gaskets from the 3/32" neoprene sheet I bought. Since there are holes punched in all the gaskets cut from the sheet, I needed a tool to make nice, neat 6mm holes in the sheet. Harbor Freight provided several sets of "Hollow Hole Punches", and the 1/4" size is plenty close (.2500 vs .2362) to the 6mm studs that hold the spoiler on.
So, yesterday I laid out and cut the three pieces of 1/16" "U" channel neoprene that I need for the two gaskets.

The two "L" shaped black objects are the OEM plastic gaskets for the lower corners of the spoiler.

Here's a better view of one. It doesn't fit very well any longer because....THIRTY-THREE years! The Kalifornia sun did some major damage the the "soft parts" on the car, like the rubber gaskets under the door locks, door handles, and the plastic cladding on the window trim. The door panels took a major hit along their tops, but that's another project that I'm researching.

It's not supposed to fit over the curved edge you see to it's right. One of the U-channel gaskets goes there, the inner one. The part that "sticks up" and looks like it should be an inch or two to the right actually sits on the glass. It also caused glass damage, but I'll relate what I did there later.

This is the replacement part from the repop kit I have, die-cut from some 1/16" sheet of "rubber", probably neoprene.

Uhhhh....yeah, it's just a TAD smaller than OEM!

BUT.....from carefully observing how all these bits are connected, the only actual contact surface between the corner of the spoiler and the hatch is a small patch just about the same size as the reproduction kit provides. So it looks funny, but that little patch, along with the center mount patch, are the only 'load bearing' areas at the lower end.

This is the first center mount gasket I cut. It's just a little two ratty to use, as the outer edges will show between the spoiler and hatch. My cutting-to-an-outline skills and hole punching skills have improved vastly since I made this part the other night, so I'll just cut another one.

And here's the replacement on the right, "Punched and Peeled", which I'll explain is a minute.

Once it's stuck on the center mount of the spoiler I can do some minor trimming.

One thing I found was that if you stick your template down to the sheet stock with some 3M #45 General Purpose spray adhesive, it stays stuck well enough that you can completely trim away the excess material.

Here's the two corner gaskets glued to the sheet stock and trimmed.

Then I take the 1/4" hole punch, line it up on the existing holes, and smack it will my ball peen hammer until the punch cuts through. Then I peel them apart, and I have a duplicate set of gaskets.

BTW....I can see no reason why the reproduction gaskets have that large hole in them. It doesn't line up with anything that would need clearance, so I didn't bother to punch it.

As you can see, it fits fine.

The four little rectangular gaskets I made were for the upper mounting studs where the spoiler secures to the hatch.

And I spent several hours today polishing the rear hatch glass. It had the worst water spots I've ever seen on glass. I first noticed them after I pulled the spoiler and was stunned at all the crud packed under there. I used a well-worn piece of 600 grit and lots of water to knock them down, but today I went at it with a vengeance. I cut a small foam sanding block in half, used some spray adhesive, and stuck a piece of 1500 grit wet-or-dry on it. I used a mixture of Zep window cleaner, a few ounces of denatured alcohol, and a couple of drops of dish soap for a lubricant.

After that I went over it with some super-ultra-mega fine Cerium Oxide glass polish to work out any scratches.

Then to finish up, I scrubbed in a coat of "Back to Black" on the rear window glass weather stripping.

I was able to get 90% of the water spots off the glass, and the few they were really stubborn are going to be under the spoiler where they can't be seen. The outer surface of the glass has never been cleaner, and it sparkles.

But now, looking out the back window, it's glaringly evident how absolutely filthy the inside of the glass is! The rear window was tinted at some earlier time, and the tinted film was removed some time after that. They did a horrible job cleaning the old adhesive from the film off the glass, and now there are dozens of splotches of old adhesive very firmly baked onto the inside surface of the glass. And you have to be very careful cleaning the glass because of the defroster grid, which I'd really like to keep functional.

And I finally decided I have to pull the hatch. The rust I can see up there is just way too much of an unknown. The spoiler can sit on the roof of the car on moving blankets while the hatch can go on the saw horses for a few days. I can do the jamb area inside the car first, and then tackle the hatch. I know exactly what to do to repair the jamb area, and even slow, old me can pop that out in a 24 hr period. The hatch will take a few days to clean, derust, treat, prime and paint just the upper leading edge, and then go back on the car.

More to come, and I'd really like to get the hatch finished before winter, even if it means driving the car very little.....

Monday, July 30, 2018

Liberal Loonies In Grand Junction, CO

Grand Junction, Colorado, is "The Big City" and the largest city on Colorado's Western Slope. It's a beautiful place to drive through, and my son and I stayed overnight there on our drive here, and had our first "Freddy Burger" form a local chain called, oddly enough, "Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers". Very good burgers, fries and shakes. No, they're not my beloved In-N-Out Burgers, but they'll do very nicely.

Well, like most Big Cities, Grand Junction has it's "Fair Share" of liberals, loonies, Demoncrats, and others that are at odds with the rest of us, and some of them have enough spare change in their pockets to do things like pay for a "spot" on the electronic billboards that have proliferated in recent years.

So what does a liberal 'advertise' for? Save the children? Save the whales? Save the trees?

Nope, they come up with this:

The full article is here at Colorado Peak Politics, and is an amusing read.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Batten Down The Hatches!

Looks like we're staring down the barrel of a severe storm.

75MPH winds and TWO INCH hail. So far this year, all the big storms have slid by either slightly North or South of us.

This one is bearing down on us.

ANNNND....it passed by with only some "moth ball" sized hail, and ~20 minutes of heavy rain.

There were severe storm warnings popping up all over the area, and at one time there were 4 tornado warnings.

When the NWS declares this to be "A Dangerous Storm" on the emergency warnings they break into radio stations with, I sit up and listen......

Friday, July 27, 2018

RATS! No Hot Water! => Easy Fix! <=

As I was making the first mug of Joe for the day, I noticed the water was taking a looong time to come to a boil in the microwave. I always use water from the hot spigot when I rinse out the glass carafe for my fancy, high falootin' French Press coffee pot. Then I put my measuring cup under the spigot and fill it, and put the water in the microwave.

Right about this time my wife comes downstairs and announces "We Have No Hot Water". This puts me in Fix-It-NOW mode, as an ample supply of running, HOT water is something SWMBO insists on, and after taking a cold shower before starting on this project, I agree rather strongly that hot water is quite nice.

The water heater is down in the basement (aka "The Dungeon"), and it's all the way in the back of a storage closet that was built when they finished off the basement, and made it usable living space. SO.....the first thing I had to do was lift out the storage shelves, which are made of some density of particle board that's heavy. The manual for the water heater was on the top shelf, so after I pulled the shelves, and the "earthquake barrel" full of emergency supplies, I sat down to read the manual.

Right there, in the troubleshooting guide, under "NO Hot Water", the number 1 cause was the "High Temperature Limit Switch Open. Push To Reset and Reconnect Power".

Naaaaa....it couldn't that simple, could it? I turned the breaker off, and then pulled the cover for the top thermostat and element off. I pushed the red "RESET" button, and it clicked. Turned the breaker back on, and after about 15 minutes we had hot water again.

I can replace both elements, and the thermostats, for under $75, which is a whole lot better than the cost of an entire new water heater. I'll watch this, and if it trips again, I'll just replace all of it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Antenna Planning

After looking over all the various antennas that I feel will comfortably fit on our lot atop a 30' tower, I've pretty much narrowed it down to a Mosley TA-53-M. This antenna has a 14 foot boom (the big pipe that the elements mount to) with a longest element of 27 feet that won't over power the lot the house sits on. It weighs 55 lbs fully assembled, and has a wind load of 6.7sqft.

This is a conventional 3-element Yagi-Uda design, with three elements on 10, 15, and 20 Meters, and also three elements on the 17 and 12 Meter bands. These last two bands are called the "WARC Bands" after the World Administrative Radio Conference held in 1979 which made them a world-wide Amateur Radio frequency allocation.

The 17 Meter band, which runs from 18.068 to 18.168MHz, is particularly important for me, as it's one of my favorite bands to operate. It's a "Gentleman's Band" where people hang out to make contacts and actually stick around and chat for a while. Propagation is similar to both 20 Meters (14.000~14.435MHz)  with the band being "open" quite often and 15 Meters (21.000~21.450MHz) in that as you approach 30 MHz, atmospheric noise start to decrease, making for a "quiet" band where weak signals can be more readily heard. And by "Gentlemen's Agreement", NO contesting takes place on the 12 and 17 Meter bands, which makes them a nice refuge for non-contesters on contest weekends.

I was considering it's Big Brother, the TA-54-XL which has four elements per band, but the 21' foot boom and 29-1/2 foot longest element and 85 lb assembled weight with an 8.7sqft wind load kind of puts me off........

And the Big Bad Boy Pro-57-M with it's 24 foot boom is definitely too big for the yard. Interestingly, the longest element on this one is also 27-1/2 feet. It weighs in at 92 lbs all-up with an 11sqft wind load.

One other thing to consider in picking one of the three is what's called the "Wind Load" of the antenna. This is basically the square footage the antenna presents to the wind, and the bigger the antenna, the stronger the supporting structure (tower, roof, or building) has to be.

Out here the wind load can be more important than keeping the dead weight down. The 2 Meter antenna I'll be putting at the top, an M2 2M9ssb, has a minuscule wind load of 1.2sqft.

I can't find the windload figures for the Alfa-Spid rotor I'm planning on using, so I'll guess 2sqft.

These are worm-gear driven rotors, and not the "Bell Rotors" of days gone by. These don't need a mechanical/electrical brake to hold the antenna in place so it won't windmill.

The tower I'm planning on buying, a "Universal Towers" model #35-30, is a 30 foot, free-standing tower. One thing I want to do is keep it small enough (height and wind load) and robust enough (good design and fabrication) so that I don't need guy wires/ropes. If you use metallic wire, you have to make sure no individual wire comes close to being a resonant length, otherwise they guy wires will strongly interact with the antenna causing myriad problems. In Ye Dayes Of Olde, you used big honking ceramic insulators to break up the lengths so none of them would resonate and act like an antenna, but these days synthetic materials have replaced good old "Stainless Steel Aircraft Cable" or even older galvanized wire rope.

ANYWAY...this tower is rated for safely supporting 34.5sqft @ sustained 80MPH winds, 25sqft @ 100MPH, and 19sqft at 110MPH.

With the M2 2M9SSB at the top, the mast, and the rotor/cabling I'll have about 12sqft hanging in the breeze on the tower, well within it's capability.

Harley Davidson Closing Plant Due To Declining Sales

From a friend........

Harley Davidson Closing Plant Due to Declining Sales
Apparently the Baby-Boomers all have motorcycles. 
Generation X is only buying a few, and the next generation isn't buying any at all.
A recent study was done to find out why?

Here are the reasons why Millennials don't ride motorcycles:
1.  Pants won't pull up far enough for them to straddle the seat.
2.  Can't get their phone to their ear with a helmet on.
3.  Can't use 2 hands to eat while driving.
4.  They don't get a trophy and a recognition plaque just for buying one.
5.  Don't have enough muscle to hold the bike up when stopped.
6  Might have a bug hit them in the face and then they would need emergency care.
7.  Motorcycles don't have air conditioning.
8.  They can't afford one because they spent 12 years in college trying to get educated.
9.  They are allergic to fresh air.
10. Their pajamas get caught on the exhaust pipes.
11. They might get their hands dirty checking the oil.
12. The handle bars have buttons and levers and cannot be controlled by touch-screen.
13. You have to shift manually and use something called a clutch.
14. It's too hard to take selfies while riding.
15. They don't come with training wheels like their bicycles did.
16. Motorcycles don't have power steering or power brakes.
17. Their nose ring interferes with the face shield.
18. They would have to use leg muscle to back up.
19. When they stop, a light breeze might blow exhaust in their face.
20 It could rain on them and expose them to non-soft water.
21. It might scare their therapy dog, and then the dog would need therapy.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Retirement Communities for Old Rockers and Gearheads?

I was out puttering around in the garage today, listening to KARS "Rock 102.9", and I heard an ad for "Columbine Patio Homes", a 55+ planned community. A sweet young woman extolled the virtues of living there, and emphasized how cool it was that all the floor plans were named for "Great American Cars!", like Bonneville, Catalina, Impala, and Regal. A quick check of their website shows they also have a "Bentley" floor plan, and a quick check of reality shows that the only possible versions of a Buick Regal that might qualify as a "Great American Car!" would be the Grand National and the GNX. The place is also located on Torino Drive, and for a "California Connection", Torino Drive is located right off Worthington Drive. Every time I drive past Worthington Drive I keep hearing "Go See Cal...."

Anyway...I guess seeing 55+ planned retirement communities targeted at "my" demographic shouldn't surprise me, but it did.

Kinda reminds me of this old comedy routine by "The Congress of Wonders".

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Weekend Activities

Will probably amount to "not much". We have the little guy every Friday night through Saturday evening, and then The Kids came back on Monday or Tuesday to get him in the pool. He just loves bobbing around in his floaty, and his Mom has been working with him and a mini paddle board to teach him to kick. Still pretty much a frog kick, but he'll get it.

And he took three steps at his cousin's first birthday party and I missed it! He wanted to get from the play table over to his Daddy, and there wasn't anything between them to use as a hand hold. Sure enough I looked away only to hear everybody cheer. He goes up and down the stairs here like a rocket now that he's figured it out. He'll definitely be walking/running this summer, so we've laid in the required supplies for skinned knees and elbows.

And I've been sanding away on the rear spoiler to get all the paint I screwed up taken off. And of course, in sanding the new and old paint, I severely thinned out the original paint in several spots. So this weekend I'll be doing the final flattening and priming of the rear spoiler. It's getting to the point where I really want to get a compressor, dryer, lines, and a detail gun or touch up gun. That means buying paint, thinner/reducer, mixing cups and sticks, strainers, a proper respirator, and probably a whole bunch of other stuff I haven't thought of yet. For the small amount I'd run the compressor, a 10' cord with a 240VAC clothes dryer plug would work fine.

Time to hit craigslist, I guess.......

Monday, July 16, 2018

Dinner With The Kids

In between tour-guiding and tinkering on misc stuff, we found time tonight to take the kids and my wife's visiting friend out for dinner tonight.

We went to Austin's American Grill, a Fort Collins favorite. The service is excellent, the food is very good, and they don't rush you at all. I had the Bison meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes, and it was great. The salad had the best blue cheese dressing I've ever had, and the croutons were made fresh.

Tomorrow we're going to The Swetsville Zoo, a local attraction with "dinosaur" and "monster" sculptures made from scrap metal and various bits of machinery.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Excursion To Viginia Dale

I've always tried to learn some of the local history and geography of wherever it is that I'm currently living. In Dayes Of Olde, I'd get maps and charts of the area to learn where various highways and rivers were located, and then I learned how to refine that skill when I took ground school. Reading maritime charts is very similar, but also has notations of where Underwater Nasty Stuff is located so you don't run aground and/or tear the bottom out of your hull.

I was snake-fascinated when Google Earth came out, and nowadays I use Google Maps quite a bit.

Between Wikipedia, and Google Maps, you can plan some nice little trips to nearby places that are interesting.

Since I'd already pretty much run out of places I found "interesting" in SoCal in the 35 years I lived there, moving here was a welcome change of geography, with lots of new things to see, like Ghost Towns! So with that in mind, I picked a "Beginner's Object" and we drove up to Virginia Dale, the site of (supposedly) the "Last Complete Stage Station For The Overland Trail Stagecoach Line".

Geez....The Overland Trail Stage Line! We read about that, and the Pony Express, back in grade school American History! Wow...real "Wild West" stuff! Let's go see it!

At the time the Wikipedia article was written/edited, the property was up for sale:

The buildings and road are now marked as Private, with plenty of KEEP OUT signs posted, so we stayed well away from the buildings out of respect for property rights.

The turnout on Highway 287 is quite wide there, and could easily accommodate several big rigs, so I parked at one edge while the girls looked around a bit.

I wish this picture could capture the majesty of looking down this valley while the lightning flashed down from the storm clouds in the distance, but it can't. It was 85* in Fort Collins when we left, and we hit some good rain on the 287 North. By the time we got there, the outside air temp was down to 63*, a breeze was blowing in from the Northwest, it had just rained, and all you could smell were pine trees and wildflowers.

So besides lacking in visuals, the picture lacks the "being there" factor.

Looking a bit further North.

And a look back South, from whence we came.

We looked around for this plaque, but couldn't find it. Turns out it's "A few hundred yards North" per the Wikipedia article, and we didn't walk that far North.

So Virginia Dale as a "Ghost Town" was kind of a bust, but at least the building is still there.

I found this website about ghost towns by state, and it has clickable maps of the counties in Colorado, along with a few pictures. Mostly you just find foundations, fireplaces, and the occasional run down looking building. Not quite what Hollyweird portrays them as, but then what is?

I've read there's a couple of old mining places near Laporte, and I think an abandoned saw mill, so I'm going to scout those out on the old Interwebz, and plan a better trip.

And I finally had a good chance to get a solid look at Goat Hill from the East side.

This is part of the Dakota Hogback that runs from just North of Cheyenne, all the way South to Northern New Mexico. The Cache La Poudre River runs along the base under the cliffs, and the the trout farm and Watson Lake, where we spent a pleasant Father's Day are also at the base of the cliffs.

What makes this a "Eureka" moment for me, is that the cliffs of this formation are what we saw every morning when we left the little apartment in Bellvue to go house hunting.

I took this picture the first couple of weeks we lived here, mostly to comment on the radio antennas.

Yup....those are the cliffs in the above picture, but seen from the West side of the Hogback. I had no idea there was a valley with a trout farm, lake, and river living down at the base....

So even though the Virginia Dale visit was kind of a bust, we saw some beautiful scenery, got to witness a big thunderstorm come roaring in out of the hills, and had a nice drive.

And I got to connect some dots regarding local geology and geography. I get a big kick out of actually seeing some of the things I've been reading about.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Hot Weather and Visitors

One of my wife's BFFs is coming out to visit, and since it's been so uncharacteristically HOT here lately, the wife decided we needed some air conditioning.

I was originally going to buy a pair of 10,000 BTU portable units. These are the kind that you vent outside through a flexible duct that attaches to a window adapter.

I saw the display at HD the other day when I was buying some (more...) 5/8" garden hoses. I had the model number and SKU on my clipboard, so I told the nice young guy who was ringing me up to add two of the A/C units, and then he helped me grab two (at 70lbs each, "grab" becomes relative), load them on the cart, and even put them in the Jeep for me.

Got them home, unloaded them, dragged one into the living room and unpacked it only to realize I hadn't checked the boxes we put on the cart, and I'd brought home two 8,000 BTU units.


While I went ahead and finished up installing it, she called the store, who said no problem getting it squared away if I brought back the receipts.

She went out this morning and got the 12,000 BTU unit for the living room. The 8,000 BTU unit made quite a difference, but I told her we really needed the 12,000 BTU one for the living room.

SO.......back to HD this morning to unravel the CF I caused. They took back the unopened one, credited me the price difference between what I'd been charged for vs what I took home, and then they went and got me a 10,200 BTU unit for the same price, as both of the ones I wanted originally had been sold.

So I've been fabricating adapter panels and installing portable A/C units all damn day. The Kids brought the little one over so they could hang out at the pool, and my weight-lifter stepson literally did all the Heavy Lifting getting the two A/C units up the stairs. He could probably taken one in each hand if he could have gotten a good grip on them!

So here's the Three Amigos sitting in the garage.

And the Big Bruiser in the living room.

The 8,000 BTU unit went in the guest room, and has enough capacity to bring the room down to 70something.

The 10,200 BTU unit went into our bed room, and appears to be large enough to cool it adequately.

And the 12,000 BTU unit seems to cool the living room acceptably well.

One thing about A/C is that even though it can start blowing cold air immediately, everything else in the room is hot, and it takes a while to get this "Latent Heat" out of the furniture, carpets, walls, etc.

The two rooms upstairs are now 20* cooler than they were, which will definitely make sleeping much nicer.

So down to DIA tomorrow to pick up our guest for a week. There's some abandoned towns around here that we're thinking of heading out to see, and the wife has a nice little itinerary planned for the two of them.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Friday Night In The Garage

it's 2000 and my wife is attempting to get the little to go to sleep. His Mom and Dad start work at Oh-Dark-Thirty, so 2000~2030 is the family bed time.

And he's teething again, which means Captain Crankypants is manning the bridge tonight.

And the Old Man aint happy......no movie? Geesh. Next thing you know you'll be accusing somebody of stealing the strawberries......

So I'll be out in the garage rectifying a problem of my own making. When I sanded/primed/sanded/primed and then painted the rear edge of the spoiler assembly, I waited three days (80*~90* weather) for the paint to cure. Then I flipped it over on the saw horses, making sure to use an old towel so I wouldn't scratch the new paint, and proceeded to work on the bottom of the rear edge, which had some dingleberries in the paint because....Garage Paintjob! That took me a week or so to clear up by carefully wetsanding the crud out of the paint. Fortunately, I'd put a fair amount of paint on it, so I had plenty of paint to work with. After I was satisfied with that, I began installing the bottom half of the spoiler, which involves screwing in the thirty-four screws that hold the two pieces together.

As I was installing the screws, I had to move the spoiler around a bit so I could get good purchase on the screw head, and I noticed the towel was moving with the spoiler as I maneuvered it around. Hmmmmm...shouldn't do that. I lifted up the spoiler clear of the saw horse, and the towel came with it. Shit.......it really shouldn't do that.

Yup....even after three days of high 80* weather, the paint wasn't fully cured, and the weight of the spoiler pushed it down against the towel just enough to make the semi-solid paint flow around the towel fibers, and the towel was stuck to the new paint.

RATS! I HATE it when that happens.....

So, I peeled the towel off the paint as gently as I could, and surveyed the damage.

Yup.....the paint's pretty bad in a band about 2" wide and 14" long. SO....I grabbed my flexible sponge, a piece of 600 grit, and my bottle of Windex, and started sanding. I wasn't trying to get it all off last night, just wanted to see how easy it came off, and it'll be one of those sit-there-for-two-hours-listening-to-the-radio while I carefully sand it out with a round sanding block that fits the contours better than a flat sanding block.

And then I'll have to spray it again to blend it all in.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Neighborhood Independence Day Activities

The kids and grandson are over today for some 'pool time', along with DIL's sister and  our little one's cousin. Since we have to pay $350/yr to the pool people, whether we use the pool or not, we're making sure we use all the Family Passes we have!

While strolling back from the pool, we saw this sign.

Sounded pretty good, and since it's very close, we headed on over.

We watched kids on bikes.....

And Dads on bikes go by.......

Followed by Old Glory in all her splendor.

Long may it fly!

We met a bunch of neighbors, one of who was the original organizer of this yearly parade. She started doing it FORTY-FIVE years ago, when she and her husband bought the house new, and they still live there. There's still a bunch of original owners in this area. Out of the eight houses on our cul-de-sac, three are original owners, or the "Senior Elders" of our neighborhood, and from talking to other neighbors, that ratio is a bit low. On some of the streets here, 80% of the houses are owner occupied by the original owners. The rest of the houses here are split between newer owners and rentals.

And the little ones are having a great time.

It's 1800 here, and we can smell the BBQ's all across the neighborhood. Pizza has been delivered, and from the looks of NOAA weather radar, we should probably batten down the hatches.


NWS Severe Storm and Flash Flood Alert.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Happy Independence Day!

Like the title says, Happy Independence Day.

NOT Happy "4th of July". 

We celebrate the event, not the day it occurred on.....

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...