Friday, October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

VW Mirror repair

And finally, this past weekend I was able to knock off a few car related projects. First off, I put new brake pads on the front of the Rover. The rotors are still quite smooth, and there's just a slight lip on the outside edge of the rotor from where the previous pad wore the braking surface, but nothing to worry about, so I just popped in the new pads. Took about an hour, so no big deal. Then I filled the fuel tank and popped in a bottle of the Land Rover fuel system treatment, in preparation for this coming weekend's oil change. This maintenance stuff is a life-long battle!
On to the funner project. The drive side mirror on the Bug. I got this car, with mucho help-o from the Moms - meaning she paid for it - in 1989. When I picked up the car, the drive side mirror was loose and I thought it just needed to be tightened.
Then it just plain fell off!
And revealed this ugly stripped out hole in the chrome vent window frame where it would normally snug right in. Ugly. Well, VW parts are easy to get, sure...but GOOD VW parts are not...there's a load of Brazilian and Mexican reproduction crap out there, and most of it isn't worth diddly. My German vent frame is stripped out, but otherwise what to do?

How about I make a small sheet metal plate and resurface the stripped out hole and give the replacement mirror a new place to hold.
First I made a template out of a small piece of cardboard, in this case a soap box. Then I laid out the template on the scrap metal to be used for the project, here a piece of framing from a home computer, and traced out the shape to be cut.

About 5 minutes with the Dremel tool and I'm in business.

Cleaned up and smoothed off...the plug looks almost identical to the template. gotta pay attention here. The plug is flipped and rotated 180 degrees in this picture, compared to the template. Must be alert moving forward, but we're looking good so far!

I have a few stainless fasteners to help me with the next part of the job, but first I need a big fat hole in the plug for the mirror to marry to, and I'll need to paint it too.

And of course...I'll need to clean up the area on the frame to receive the I've drilled and tapped the three holes and I've hammered the raised edges of the stripped out hole back flush so the plug with fit flat. A little chrome polish is next...

The template got the center hole first, and then I transfered that location to the plug, punched the hole and applied some black textured paint on the plug, two coats both sides.

And finally...With the stainless fasteners I install the plug to the vent frame and then, with an o-ring in place on the mirror, screw the mirror into my plug. Viola!...Mirror! Here from the rear of the car...

And from the front...

And at a distance. First time in 20 years the car has two mirrors...always a good thing in a convertible with blind spots the size of Nevada.
Sure this repair probably falls under the classification of 'rigged', but its structurally sound and it looks pretty clean, and what's best allows me to KEEP the German part that would have otherwise been trashed and replaced with a Brazilian knock-off. The purists out there may frown...heck, my Dad may frown, but I'm just glad it's finished.

Actually, Dad may approve. I remember on his 1964 Porsche 356C, that he had a small hole in the rear seat back, square in the center. Rather than trash the original upholstery there, he instead stitched a small Porsche patch over the hole and called it done. Like my little plate solved the ugly factor, looked reasonable clean and factory, and allowed the original damaged German parts to live on for another 40 years with their secret damage hidden from all but the most trained and knowledgeable.
I also got some fuel stabilizer for the help with an issue of caramelizing fuel in the carb that I'm dealing with...the result, I'm told, of E85 blended fuel. We'll see if that makes a difference. Seems to be good so far, so another good tip there, Pops!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Weekend Bits, bike and non-bike.

Been off the bike for a few weeks now, due to a few small health problems with the area down there normally in close proximity to the seat while riding...if you get my drift. Nothing serious, but just irritating, so doctors orders and all that.... I did finally get to ride to work three times last week, total of about 36 miles all together. Then this last Saturday, I did the short group ride, which added another 35 miles or so to the tally for the week. 70 miles...not too bad I guess. First time on the road bike since August, so that felt good.

Anyway, been using the time off the bike to get a few projects done around the house. My house was built in 1949, and like many older houses, it has a bunch of features and character that you just don't get in newer construction. For example. We have terracotta window sills.

Which of course, have been painted a billion's the worst one in our master bedroom. The plan with these nasty looking things is to strip the window sills chemically and then re caulk the windows, repair any plaster issues, seal the windowsills and then prime and paint the window openings...but this time NOT the window sills!

First off, tape the beasts. Here's that window number one, ready for the citrus stripper. You can see in the left corner there that the plaster is in rough shape, and that under the window is not very well sealed off to the outside at all.

And after...stripped cleaned caulked and plaster patched, ready for sealer and a coat of that primer and semi gloss paint I mentioned earlier. Not bad if I do say so myself. That big dark monolith to the left there is my dresser...covered in a yellow drop cloth in the previous pic.

Window number 2...a little easier as most of the paint has chipped off...I'm sure belching lead into the air in the bedroom and bumping off my brain cells in the process.

And the same window...stripped and caulked. Here under the window sill you can see I've had to make a plaster patch as well. Turned out pretty good.

Window number 3...a damn lumpy mess of paint and other goo. This is the north facing window, so it stays damp here, more than I'd like.

The window sill turned out great, though, and with the primer and semi-gloss paint inside the jam, it will be ready for any condensation that still may form here... but I'm hoping that will no longer be an issue.

So more project off the list. I might have all this crap done before I die. HA!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Got around to powering my shed with the solar panel kit I picked up from Harbor Freight. Other than the fact the thing is made in China, the kit seems to be pretty slick. 3 fifteen watt solar panels, a power management center to control power coming in from the panels, and going out to the lights and accessories, and a few other ancillary cables and lights come with the kit. I ditched the brackets that came with the kit, which were geared toward setting up the panels for temporary use, and made my own out of some galvanised angle hardware from Lowe's.
Here are the panels in their new home, on the roof of the shed on the south side. Funny how my rain barrel always peeks into these pictures of mine.

And the brackets I fabbed up. The tabs are fashioned so that they fold back up and tuck under the shingles, where they are screwed into place and then the screw heads are sealed over with black silicone caulk, as an extra precaution. There are 6 brackets...3 on the high side of the panel array, and three on the low.

I actually put the panels in about 2-3 weeks ago, the same weekend that the cat butchered something on my VW. Last week I got one of the last pieces of the puzzle by stopping off at Pep Boys and buying a deep cycle marine battery for the panels to charge, and then I'll have a power source when the sun is down or on cloudy days.
The final part of the equation will be a small inverter that will swap the 12 volt panels/battery over to your typical household current, and then I'll be able to run proper lights and my Dremel tool and stuff like that.
Electrician?! We don't need no stinkin' electrician!

Open Letter to Bandwagon USF football fans...

Listen up, chumps,

Bandwagon-itis. The Bulls 'Faithful' seem to be infected with it. Pitt has been posting phenomenal recruiting classes since DW showed up as coach, and the knock on him until this year it seems, was that he couldn't put it all together. Maybe he did? Maybe, just MAYBE, Pitt really was that much better? Why is that so hard to believe?

As for my Bulls...Leavitt teaches nasty, enthusiastic, and passionate defense. When it works, those kids will knock your teeth in and we all love it(you KNOW you do!) When it fails, or maybe when it comes half a second after the whistle, then the bandwagon starts shedding the pretenders and the "fire Jim Leavitt" starts. Senseless aggression from the bandwagoneers flexing their monitor-muscles.

I just can't say it plain enough. Jim Leavitt is not the issue. "Thugs who play dirty" are not the issue. Canales, not yet anyway, is not the issue. The issue is, the Bulls play BCS football, and there just aren't very many teams in any BCS conference that we should be gimme-stomping like clockwork. I'm upset we lost these two games, sure. But Cinci and Pitt? There's no shame there, other than the shame maybe, of being one of you bandwagoneers and listening to the pollsters who put USF at an unrealistic #2 two years ago, and #9 last year, and then senselessly freaking out when we lose a game or two to a couple damn good (and ranked) football teams.

I've been a fan of USF all my life. Not Just Football...USF! I finished my undergrad there, as did my brother and stepsister (who went on to finish medical school as well!) My parents worked a combined 69 years on faculty. I lived on campus 4 years, played in the basketball pep-band, worked for the SAFE team and held a few club offices in my time on campus. As a kid, my summer camp bus would drop me off at the administration building, back in the days before it was named after John and Grace. 6 years ago I was married on campus at the MLK trellis. I'm telling you that because I'm stressing the investment. I'm committed to USF, and I'm completely certain in my gut, that USF-football, Woolard, and Leavitt are doing what needs to be done to move the program forward.

I'm also very pragmatic in observing that it is not an automatic gimme that we become a top 10 program. You guys act like it's a matter of just getting that one recruit, that one stud, and then we'll start stomping everybody. Here's a revelation, guys...there's a stud recruit (or three! or nine!) every year for just about everybody...not just USF. Post Miami-BC-VT Big East is a moving target. You think Kelly-Edsall-Schiano don't sell their programs to recruits with the promise that their programs, just like USF, have a chance to become the Big East big-dog? USF isn't competing against teams that are staying static, you know. With the exception of Louisville, they are all nearly as good or better than they've ever been. Dropping a game here or there to another Big East program isn't as shocking as you guys play it up to be, unless again, you've been buying into the polls hook-line-and sinker.

Do I think that USF will be a national power? Heck Yeah! Do I think the program is growing up into one that can compete regularly for the title, Big East or National? Heck Yeah! Did I ever believe it would happen in 2007? 2008? This year? Not really. It would be great though. But before any of that happens, there's much more work to be done, better recruits to be landed, more upsets of ranked and better teams, and more exciting and nasty and vicious defense to enjoy...with a handful of personal fouls along the way I'm sure. I'm ready.

There's nothing wrong with the program, people. We're right in line with where we need to be. If we stomped Miami tomorrow half you fools would be humping Leavitt's leg like a Chihuahua on a throw pillow.

One more thing...knock it off with calling the kids 'thugs'. That's just plain rude.

Class of '93, '96

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Mantis Map Bike!

Inspiration for my Yokota map bike. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Campy, hold the Carbon

I'm not alone!!!

This from La Rueda Tropical, with thanks to Black Mountain Cycles blog; an interesting work-up/proof-of-concept for an engraved throwback style Campy Record group, just for lugged steel frame riding, hairy legged retro grouches like me. I love it!

One thing Campy!... don't forget to make it in an Italian bottom bracket standard version!



Picked up a set of 18" Land Rover Hurricane wheels from a fellow Discoweb member, down in Orlando. We met up in Daytona at the Ker's Wing House right there off the interstate and did the deal. 5 Hurricanes, with center caps, one of the original OEM Goodyear tires, and 4 Avon Tech STs, all mounted up and ready to go. Now all I need to do is get off my butt and finish the 2" lift and I'm set.

Need to do the front brakes too.

And replace the front passenger marker light bulb.

And fix my sagging headliner.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

EWR bar swappage...

I've been a little concerned with my E-motion being a medium rather than a large, as the seller indicated in the eBay auction. I'm convinced that the medium size is the case, as I remember when I bought my OWB that the idea of the 24" top tube on the large E-motion bothered me enough that it was a decision making factor in how I wound up with the white OWB rather than a white E-motion. The medium E has a top tube just a hair under 23" (which at the time I thought may be too short!), and 24" seems awfully long for a woods bike even for a guy my size. The OWB has a top tube measurement over 23 so I took Jay up on that bike, and left the E-motion dreams in the past.

Until eBay sent the orange beastie my way, that is. But when I popped open the box and took a peek at the E, the size seemed a little small, but it's a funky frame with funky geometry, so you never can tell with these things until you build them up. Built up, though, the front end seemed low, unless I was running 40mm of headset spacers under the stem. Functional, but Ugly.

So a little bar finagling, coupled with the reinstallation of the rigid fork on the white OWB, and viola! my vintage EWRs are both within a hairs whisker of each other, and still have the bar distance and height, and seat height measurements I'm looking for.

1.5" rise FSA bar from the old Cannondale Rush, and a modern Race Face 31.8 clamp stem in 120 7degree size, 15mm of spacers (and a head tube a bit smaller than the E-motion) gets me to the desired bar height and reach, and does not look like a pieced together ill-fitting cobble job.

And the E, with the 130mm 5 deg System, 2" rise Diabolus bar, and 21mm of spacers. Nicely balanced, I think. A 10 degree stem would still be ideal and would allow me to remove another 8mm headset spacer, but the 5 works, looks good, and I have it, so... done!

Side by side, bar heights and saddle heights, and of course, a bad photo angle that does nothing to actually visually compare the two!

And from the front. Were it not for the leaning white, these two bikes are almost identical in set-up. (except for the fact that all the drive train parts and brakes are totally different!)
Note the dirt on the E. I'm not completely a wimpy old-fart poseur, just 80%.

Nevada-Boy and the EWR virus

Somebody I know has contracted the infection...

'Coon Carnage!

Well, you know I've been having cat issues at the house. I set the trap over night one night last week, and woke up to find that a baby raccoon had wandered into the trap, snacked on the tuna fish, and then after the trap sprung closed, proceeded to dance around in the crate enough to move it under the bumper of the VW, where the car cover could then be reached. You know what happened next...

Yup, the poor little bugger dragged the thing into the crate and proceeded to shred it! I can't say I blame him, as I'm sure the trap is a pretty frightening thing, but still. The little bugger would make a good chainsaw!

So you know what I had to do to him, right? Yup yup. Casserole.

Just kidding. Like the other raccoons I've nabbed during the cat management fiasco, I let him go, and he wandered off into the ferns in the backyard. (Which makes me wonder what else is in those ferns!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marketing and Extreme Sports...The Other White Meat

I've already taken a couple of pot shots at the dorks at Sram who make such goofy, half-witted decisions like shipping derailleurs in cookie tins and crayon boxes, but while on my last trip to the Nantahala National Forest last month...something else popped out at me. This marketing crap may just finally be over the deep edge, artistically speaking of course. (?)

Ever want a whitewater kayak? You know, those stubby little plastic glorified soup-spoons that so many rough and tumble Phish kids seem to crave? No? Me neither.

But I digress.

If you've been under a rock, or maybe you've spent the last ten years saddling your fat-ass on a Harley on Highway 19 out in front of the restaurant at the NOC, rather than even noticing that there's a river on the other side of the building, much less a sport called whitewater paddling, then you may not know about these little day-glow milk cartons that the river rats call 'play boats'. Basically these things are as wide as they are long, which is to say they are not necessarily wide, just damn short. They allow you to, rather than just paddle down the river, instead perform many maneuvers of questionable necessity previously reserved for ballet dancers, like the "pirouette." Or my favorite, "the invert and drown."

Play boats have one thing in common though, monocolor cartoonish logos and related names which have little or nothing to do with boats, or rivers, or even ballet.

The "Mamba", for example.

From Wikipedia: "Mambas, of the genus Dendroaspis, are fast-moving land-dwelling snakes of Africa. The black mamba (D. polylepis) is the longest venomous snake in Africa, with an extremely potent neurotoxic venom that attacks the nervous system, and cardiotoxins which attack the heart; the bite is often fatal to humans without access to proper first aid and subsequent antivenom treatment, because it shuts down the lungs and heart."

Makes perfect sense. Nothing makes me want to tackle the exciting whitewater of our nation's southeastern rivers like a big fat poisonous African land snake. I once called my sixth grade Social Studies teacher, Mr Kodish, a fat Mamba. That was the first time I got sent to the dean's office that year. Mr Kodish had about as much in common with an African snake as that dorky little red plastic boat. Although this one is even an '8.0' version, which I guess correlates to the newest release of Internet Explorer, or maybe its a Richter Scale measurement?


Then there's this little marketing wiz-critter. Meet Piranha.

Wikipedia talk: "A piranha a member of a family of omnivorous freshwater fish which live in South American rivers. In Venezuelan rivers, they are called caribes. They are known for their sharp teeth and a voracious appetite for meat."

At least we're off land here with this one. I guess there's some association with being a carnivorous fish and a rough and tumble sunshine-yellow play boat. Most Piranha boat owners, however, probably don't know that the logo proofs unveiled during the marketing research looked like this:


And then of course, we have one of the more common kayak brands to populate the rivers of the Appalachians, Dagger.

Wikispeak again..."A dagger (probably from Vulgar Latin: 'daca' - a Dacian knife) is a typically double-edged blade used for stabbing or thrusting. They often fulfill the role of a secondary defense weapon in close combat."

Stabbing. Thrusting. A double edged blade. OK, I get the symbolism here, but then I get lost. Secondary weapon? If you're on a boat, intended to carve up and attack the nastiest whitewater, what's the primary weapon then? Your Ipod packed to the gills with Phish tunes and Widespread Panic? Points lost for lack of imagination on the execution of the logo too. Simple is good, yes, but please, the thing looks like a diagram in a dentifrice instruction manual outlining how to properly floss your molars.


Then we go all fictitious with "Liquid Logic"

Liquid Logic?! I don't even know what that could possibly mean! I'm not even sure I can elucidate what that might 'logically' imply!? The water is the liquid yes, but logical water? Isn't one of the over-arching tenants of fluid dynamics that of complete chaos and unpredictability? Who reached for the word "Logic" in the boardroom?

And of course, the NOC has to tag along with the monochrome logo-isms too. We're one slip shy here, of one of those tacky 'OBX' oval stickers seen so prevalently on the other side of North Carolina.

All of which just leaves me 'clammy'. Still, there's a lot of good stuff to take your mind off the incessant marketing that seems to permeate our hobbies and our overall enjoyment of the outdoors. All you have to do is take a peek at the weathered and battered shop-wagon, and see the faded and peeling symbols of a different and once much more popular extreme sport.

Get back on a bike. Really.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cat Bowling!

This is about how I feel about cats right now!

If you feel the cat-stress for whatever reason. Then by all means...go to and give it a try!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Not all relationships are built to last, we all know that. And sometimes our relationships end in very public ways with lots of disturbing the peace and general ruckus. Well, when we were at Tsali a few weekends ago, we found this picture, of a couple on a gambling cruise (I think), that had been torn in half and left on the information kiosk at the trail head. Of course, we had to play with it and stage something ridiculous.

Our campsite neighbors for the last night were two teenage girls and their father, obviously on a weekend visitation, the result of another earlier splitsville...maybe even more ruckus-filled than the shredded picture split. The girls did a lot of whining on Saturday night about the humidity, and the tent mattress, and then whether of not they were going to get to go out to dinner to eat. To top it off, late into the night the man sat in his Subaru, engine running and AC on , listening to the Auburn football game! All the while the girls sat outside the car and complained and did lots of hair flipping. One of them had the word "Cheer" printed across her ass on her shorts. High Society, you know.

Well...we had our fodder for taunting prankster behavior, in the shredded picture of the broken-up couple...and out targets in the whiny teenagers and their self absorbed father, so before we left on Sunday, and while they were on the trail, we sprang into action....

...and staged this little still-life on their picnic table! Complete with "I hate you, you ^*%cheating loser!" type scribbling on the back of the shredded pic. I even wiped down the bottle for prints first!

Can you imagine the squawking that man had to endure on the drive back to (I'd guess) Alabama? Squealing teens in the back yammering about the split and the haggard old man trying to drive, drown out his yelping girls, and listen to the Auburn football highlights on some crap AM radio station? HA!

Actually...typing this out, it seems like a pretty dull prank on our part, but in the 11th hour of an alcohol induced fog of a weekend, it seemed pretty damn funny at the time! High Society, all of us!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cat Carnage

This is what the old VW looked like after my hard days work... Not bad for 38 years, if I do say so myself. Hell, its almost as old as me!

And then, the cats came to visit. They weren't very nice to each other either...

The next morning this little pool of guts was slathered all over the convertible top of the VW. That bright red puddle in the middle is about six inches by 4 inches. There's splatter everywhere on the top of the car. Blood smears were also all over the hood and engine deck lid, 3 of the 4 fenders, the windshield and the rear window.
Here, the blood is shown running down the rear of the convertible top of the VW, and pooling on the weatherstripping under the rear window. There's a serious amount of blood here, I'd estimate about 4-6 ounces in total.
The macabre scene didn't stop at the VW though, there were 3 pools of blood on the floor of the carport, and there were blood splatters all over the passenger side of the Land Rover, including up on the roof above the windshield, on both doors, and on the hood and front fender.

Pretty grisly. There was even blood splattered on the ceiling of the carport and on the front of the deck box and on 4 of the 7 posts in the carport! It was everywhere!!
There are 2 options here as to how this happened. Either 2 cats went to town and beat the hell out of each other and one of them stayed behind after the battle and cleaned his wounds, or a cat captured, disemboweled and ate a very very large rodent. Judging by the sheer volume of the blood, and the fact that it was splattered so much, and across such a great distance, leads me to believe the cat-fight theory more than the big-rat-for-dinner option.
Either way. In the past, I've trapped and removed 24 cats from my neighborhood in the last 3 years or so, and I've been fooled, apparently, into believing that the problem has improved. Looks like I'm wrong and in a big way. So now I'm getting serious.
The trap will get set every night, and all cats, any cats, captured in my carport, go to the pound. No exceptions. After all, I've got a 3 year old, and surely this qualifies as a health issue!!


After spending the last few weekends either entertaining family or working on various projects around the house, Kristen and I decided to just hang out with the Jane and enjoy the time away from the office. We did do a few chores around the house...I restrung the clothesline after taking it down to build the fence, and Kristen and I took turns driving our cars to the car wash to have months of filth washed away.

Then we fired up the grill.

Saturday was BBQ pork chops, and Sunday we cubed a roast and made kabobs. I drank 6 beers and talked to my mother on the phone! WEEEE!

Then the stray cats came around for a visit...