April 12

Home from Sandy Eggo

I got a 2015 Mazda 3 sedan as a rental from Avis with about 25K on the clock and headed out on the I10 around 11:30 AM on Monday.  The drive was uneventful save for seeing the aftermath of a jack-knifed truck just south of Beaumont California as I was passing through.  A few miles before, I had seen a freeway warning sign saying there was a “truck jackrabbit incident” on the 79 at Beaumont and puzzled over what a “jackrabbit’ incident might be.

Anyway, I think I’ll stop taking the 79 as a short cut toward San Diego because that drive through San Jacinto valley & Hemet always annoy me half to death.  Coming down from hours of 82mph driving into 35mph traffic can be rage inducing when one hasn’t been properly caffeinated.  I may even consider switching to the I8 because the drive is much more scenic than the I10.

I had planned to stay in California until Thursday but we wrapped up meetings a little early on Wednesday so I checked out & started back home around 3:30PM & decided at the last minute to take the I8 east to the 85 through Buckeye & then hook up with the 10 back into Phoenix.  There were far fewer trucks on the 8 & the drive is absolutely beautiful the entire way.  The I8 winds through large rocky mountains down into a desert of drifting white sand before climbing back up to the Northern Sonoran Desert just as you roll into Gila Bend Arizona.  Someday I’ll make this trip in a convertible.

The car was…not my favorite.  It felt cheap and plastic everywhere, the road noise was horrific, and the automagic transmission does not suit my tastes at all.  I really don’t like how an automatic car will immediately lurch forward when I take my foot off the brake.  I’m quite accustomed to keeping my foot on the clutch or shifting to neutral when I stop at a traffic light, but I simply could not get the hang of it in this car.  I also did not like the lack of visibility at the rear quarters which felt quite dangerous to me in close-quarter traffic and those famously narrow California parking spaces.  With these modern designed vehicles it’s of little wonder to me that the backup camera has become nearly ubiquitous, and is in fact a mandatory safety feature in 2017 or 2018 model vehicles.

I got back home around 8:45 Wednesday evening and ended up being awake until nearly 2AM so I could finish up emails & incidents from when I was away.  I feel as if I should post a few photos but have just been too busy with other things to sit down and upload them.

The block walls in the back yard are going to be replaced starting next Monday at 6:30AM and I need to get some work done.

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April 2

It’s never too late for coffee.

I uploaded a video to YouTube of me driving the race car out of the paddock & onto the track.  Sharp-eyed viewers will take note of several mistakes being made right off the bat which culminate in my spinning sideways & leaving the track.  This resulted in a black flag & pit stop for safety inspection.  The HANS clip which came loose was fixed before I rolled back out of the paddock & the rest of the race was completed without incident.  See it here:

There are lots of video clips of the race available on Youtube from other driver perspectives if you just search for 24 Hours of LeMons Inde 2016.  You may even see our car #419 show up in a few of them.  Here’s a few good scenes by Jesse Cortez:

Last weekend Hal & I took the motor out of his 1997 MX5 and started the tear down.  The oil control rings were completely gone on all of the pistons and so we’re fairly sure we’ve located the root cause for the burning oil.  The cams are a bit worn & the HLAs weren’t spinning at all so there’s little divots in the tops of most of them.  Typically if you replace cams you replace the HLAs too, but he really wants to keep this car as close to factory as possible & finding “OEM” cams does not seem likely at this point.  This puts us in a bit of a pickle because if you have to grind the cams & replace the HLAs it will typically result in idle changes because the subtle difference in cam lobe angle, and will necessitate adjusting timing to compensate.  Every after market cam I can find changes the cam angle to some degree but the more severe the change, the more the ECM will have to compensate.  The OEM engine control module cannot be reprogrammed and so if the changes to cam angle & timing deviate too far from the limits of the factory programming, the ECM will have to be replaced with an after market module and a custom engine tune will need to be uploaded.  Some of the after market cams can’t even be used with the factory ECM at all.  Swapping that out & tuning a new one is an entirely different level of tinkering than we’re in the market for.

Monday April 4th I’m driving to San Diego in the morning for business meetings on Tuesday & Wednesday.  I’ll stay just a few miles from the office and come back home either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.  Either way I’m working from home on Friday.  I’ll probably make a post from San Diego to critique the rental car and driving experience through the empty desert between here & L.A.  I’m taking the I40 to L.A. & then driving south to San Diego because the border patrol checkpoints on the I8 always delay and annoy me.  I plan to download an audio-book for the road from Librivox to listen to on the drive.  It’s such a brief trip that I likely won’t have time to see my friends Conquistador Marcos & Eve unless we can get together for dinner on Monday or Tuesday night.  We’ll see.

I guess the most interesting thing I can note in this post is that Hal & I pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3 on the 31st but probably won’t see it for at least three years.  I want a blue one.  :)  On my longest commutes & most circuitous travels around the metro area I drive maybe 100 miles, so for 90% of my driving an electric car with a 200 mile range will be plenty.  I know it’s a bit of a gamble to hand over $1000 now and wait three years for just the option to buy a new car, but I like the idea of an all electric vehicle and I’m very happy that an American company has taken the lead to develop something like this for the general masses.  When that battery plant is fully operational in Nevada, the Tesla will be the most “Made In America” car on the market.  I like the cut of your jib Mr. Musk.

The weather has been so beautiful in Mesa the last few days that we’ve gotten lots of work done around the property.  Pulling weeds and sweeping up, setting up a nice work area on the back patio so we can work on the cars under the shade and just generally enjoy being alive.  I worked my butt off earlier today so I had a nap and woke up just a little while ago.  I think I’ll go make some coffee and tinker with my robotics stuff.  Sure, I’ll probably be up all night now but it’s never too late for coffee.

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