Thursday, February 25, 2016

First ever NASCAR post

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever posted about NASCAR, or any kind of racing for that matter, in this blog.

I used to love watching racing.  I particularly enjoyed Formula 1 and Indy-car stuff (before CART came along).  NASCAR was a distant third for me, although I always rooted for Richard Petty and Darrel Waltrip when I did watch.  I enjoyed the road courses more than the ovals, and I liked Mario Andretti and Rick Mears.

I know I'm dating myself big-time, but I loved watching Andretti duking it out with Nikki Lauda, Jody Sheckter, Gilles Villneuve, James Hunt, and a bunch of others.  Loved that black JPS Lotus.  In those days it seemed like it was a hunt for innovation to give yourself an edge over everyone else, whether it was aerodynamics. or some engine innovation that gave you more power - whatever it took to get you onto the podium or into the winners circle.

Which leads me to my real point today - what we have in racing is all about sameness.  Bodys, wings, spoilers, height, weight, width, length - everything is the same and there is no innovation.  So what we get is what we saw last weekend at the Daytona 500 - hours of staying in the draft because if you get out of it you lose about 25 positions.  So it's nose to tail lap after lap unless someone cuts a tire or gets too loose in a turn.  Then its a mad scramble to get in and out of the pits and pick up "track position".

I watched the whole race, all the while thinking "it has to get better sometime soon", but it was just a yawner.  I think I prefer the short track NASCAR races where aerodynamics take a back seat to power and skill and, well, RACING.

So give me the old days of racing, not the genericized, uniformed, sameness of today's version

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Who is this guy?

I read an article today from the Daily Signal that a bunch of college students couldn't identify this man:

As a public service to my young readers, I am here to introduce you to the greatest president of this century - Ronald Reagan.  Here are a couple of examples.  They describe the state of things 30, 40, even 50 years ago, yet they sound strangely familiar today.

First, "A Time for Choosing"

Next - dealing with stupid questions: (debate vs. Walter Mondale)

And finally - his farewell address at the end of his Presidency

It will take you about an hour to go through these and get a sense of the man.  I would then encourage you to visit Youtube and watch others - like his speech at the D-Day memorial in Normandy.  Or his challenge to Gorbachev in Berlin to "tear down this wall".

A great man - certainly with flaws - but ten times the president of any of them since.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cruz v. Carson

I don't mean to be cruel, Dr. Carson, but if you didn't realize politics was going to be a nasty business, you shouldn't have gotten in the race.

I'm not condoning what happened, but seriously - if you are whining about Ted Cruz (or one of his people) pulling a dirty trick on you, what are you going to do when Vlad Putin pulls a fast one on you?  Or the mullahs of Iran?  If you want to be President of the United States, you've got to have more emotional fortitude than what you're showing right now.  So no more of this "I'm going to get you, Ted" stuff.  If you're going to stay in the race, put on your big boy pants and get after it.  No more whining!

Hanging on by a thread

So last night everyone was out of the house except me, when I get a call from my wife:  "This car is making funny noises, and the steering wheel is vibrating.  I'm on my way home."  She was only a couple of miles away, but I could hear a very serious clunking over the phone that wasn't there the night before when I drove it.  She said she was going to pull over and call our daughter, who was at an event on the south end of town, and probably 25 minutes away, to come and get her.

Of course, I can't do anything because I don't have a vehicle to get to her, so I'm feeling pretty helpless, wondering how to get her and the car home in one piece.

Shortly after, I heard the garage door go up, and it's my wife pulling into the driveway.  I hustle out as she makes the turn, and I can see the car swaying left and right when she hits the end of the driveway.  I had her park in the driveway and got my flashlight to do a walkaround.  She told me she had driven 10 MPH from the time she hung up with me, ran every stop sign, and put as little stress on the car as possible.

So I started looking things over and everything looked normal until I got to the right front.  I could see the wheel was at a strange angle, and when I looked closer I saw that four of the five lugnuts were gone!  Holy crap, Batman!

Grabbing my floor jack and jack stands, I got the car up and on the stands to take the pressure off that wheel, and turned the last lugnut to get the tire off.  It took about one and a half turns before it came off - literally hanging by that last little bit of that last thread. 

It looked like two of the studs on the wheel hub were broken, and two more were bent and chewed up a bit.  At that point I knew I would be replacing studs on that wheel hub today.  So I went in and called my Dad, as he had an air hammer, which I knew I would need to get the old studs out and to drive the new ones in.  He agreed to come over and help me today.

Well, he showed up today not only with his air hammer, but his air compressor, which has a lot higher capacity than mine!  That was a good thing - I'm not sure if my little compressor would have been able to keep up.

Oh - and to make matters worse, it snowed about an inch by the time he got here today!  That got me to thinking.  If I could get the spare (a full sized spare, thank you God) on there with just a couple of lugnuts to traverse the 20 feet or so into my garage, it would be a whole lot more comfortable working on it. The remaining lugnuts needed to have their threads chased, but looked like they would hold up for those few feet, but neither of us had the right die to do it with so our first order of business was to go pick up a 12x1.5 die.  Threads chased, lugnut borrowed from the other wheel, spare mounted, and car pulled into the garage!  Hooray!

I'm very thankful for YouTube, and for the "Eric the Car Guy" channel in particular which I watch a lot, as I was able to watch lots of good instructional videos on how to deal with these studs, and potentially a hub and bearing job if the holes in the hub were messed up too.  I had to take of the brake caliper assembly and the brake rotor to get access to the hub. The air hammer then whacked those old studs out and pressed those new ones in like nobody's business.  Reattach brake rotor, studs line up with the holes - a good sign!  Reattach brake caliper assembly.  Take brake caliper assembly off because you put a twist in the brake line - doh!  Untwist and re-reattach brake caliper assembly.  Mount spare tire with the new lugnuts you got when you picked up the new wheel studs.  Then off for a test drive.  Everything seems to be normal.  No odd vibrations, no odd noises, no pulling the steering wheel one way or the other.  I think this one is a success!  Whew!

I still shudder to think, however, that we were only a couple of turns away from a real expensive disaster, but I think divine providence can be credited here for not only keeping that last lugnut intact, but giving my wife the presence of mind to drive as calmly and with as little stress on that wheel as possible, in order to get it home.  Very, very grateful for that intervention, Father!

Also grateful to my Dad, who helped me out with time and tools, as well as his credit card.  Thanks Dad!

For those of you wondering why I put the spare on, well, those steel lugnut threads acted like big ol' rasps on the aluminum wheel as it was flopping around, making the holes very oblong, rather than round like they are supposed to be.  So that is the next thing to deal with, but I can take my time and find a good deal on a matching wheel of those holes can't be fixed.

The other big question in our minds was - why all of a sudden did this happen?  She had driven to MSU in the morning for an interview and it seemed fine to her then.  She had driven to meet a friend for coffee last night and thought it was squirrely on the way over, but on the way home - wow, what a problem!  Was it vandals?  Overtorqued lugnuts?  Undertorqued lugnuts?  It's been two or three months since that wheel was last off, when I did a brake job, so you would think that the problem would have shown itself sooner if I didn't tighten those up well enough then.  Curious.