Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tons of Projects!

A couple of years ago, I bought a Karcher pressure washer to hose off my dirt bikes. With very infrequent use (my bikes are often put away dirty), the damn thing broke. I took it apart to find that the cheap-ass plastic pump had cracked. Replacement parts are unavailable and if you could get them, they would cost almost as much as a new unit. DON'T buy Karcher stuff! Here's the barely used junk about to get tossed into the recycle bin:

So I bought an "AR" brand. That stands for Annovi Reverberi, THE manufacturer of most of the actual pumps that are in most brands of pressure washers. For the same specs (1.3 gallons per minute, 1,450 psi), the AR just KICKS ASS! I immediately took it apart and found a high quality die cast pump housing...REAL stuff in an inexpensive product.

And here, I'm painting the fan with a marker to cover up all but 2 shiny stripes for my optical tachometer. I needed to know how fast it runs. (it runs 8500 rpm at the motor, before gear reduction, BTW).

About to fire it up to get the speed measurement. Note handheld optical tachometer:

Here, I'm milling the bottom of the pump so I'll have a flat surface when I flip it over to mount it to the milling table for measurement purposes.

Here, I'm using the milling machine with its digital readouts to reverse engineer this thing. I've gotta hurry up and reverse engineer it and come up with a design. It's Saturday and time to GO RIDE, so I need to put my brand new deal back together to hose off the bike!

So WHY am I measuring my brand new pressure washer pump?? Well, WHAT'S this?? It looks like a Honda GX-25 engine that has been mated to a badass mini-alternator. WTH??

And now the pump is next to that whole assembly. You thinking what I'm thinking?

And here's the solid model design with enough detail that I can reassemble the pressure washer and be able to continue with the design phase:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

OK, back to the blog? Got lots of project stuff to post...

Hey Y'all, long time since I've stepped in here! I used to enjoy the blogging deal until the Facebook thing took over the social media. We lost a lot of great, entertaining blogs when FB showed up.

OK, so my running buddy, Stephanie, mentioned this morning that her daughter's car had a boom box. Well, not to be outdone, it was only right that I inform her that I have a LONG history of building killer stereo systems in cars, LONG before the age of boom boxes.

When I was 13 or 14, I mowed lawns feverishly to earn money to buy high-end audio stuff. I bought huge Cerwin Vega speakers and went on to be the DJ at most of the junior high and high school dances. I was a tiny, scrawny little kid toting around these huge speakers.

When I was 16, my first car was a beautiful and VERY COOL 1967 VW Karmann Ghia... In addition to doing this beautiful paint job and customization, I also built a "box" for some Cerwin Vega 10's:

So, getting back to this morning's discussion. In 1983, my DAD bought me a brand new GMC pickup truck. First I built a small box (trapezoidal cross section to fit really well) that went behind the seat and put some Cerwin Vega 10" woofers in it. It was OK, but NOT the deep bass I was looking for.

So even though the truck was still pretty new and DAD would kill me if he knew what was about to happen, I did it anyway! It was a FINE installation! Keep in mind this was LONG BEFORE the age of boom boxes, there were no store-bought boxes available. This had fantastic DEEP BASS and not obnoxiously "boomy" like all the crap that's out there nowadays! The woofers were the infamous 123-W 12" Cerwin Vega woofers! This thing ROCKED off the planet! Here:

The installation was beautiful!

The sheet metal cabinet was angled so that I could still stuff a dirt bike wheel up into the front corner of the bed and still close the tailgate. Here, the installation is all wrapped up and we're taking a ROAD TRIP to Austin! Bwahaha!

The modifications were difficult to spot if you weren't looking for them. It was probably close to a year later when DAD looked in the bed of the truck, "EVAN! What in the HELL have you done to this truck!!" He was cool with it after he saw what a neat job I had done! :):)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summertime, I'm loving it! Lots of riding!

We've been riding plenty of dirtbikes! Last week I rode at 3 Palms on Wednesday night with 4 friends. It seems the Wednesday night deal is a standing appointment. I took grilling stuff along and we grilled up some burgers as the riding was winding down. Saturday, I took my beloved border collie to the Run The Woodlands 5k. Ran a slow 26-ish minutes, but it's way hot! Then we again went to 3 Palms. What was to be 'an hour or two' turned out to be almost 4 hours. There are a lot of water breaks!

Then, I called my buddies Larry and Thomas Saturday evening and informed them that it would be wise to ride in the forest on Sunday. Larry and Thomas:

They had church, so we went super early. I got there at 6am. Is it wrong or illegal to listen to The Rippingtons very loud on the way to ride? Is it not contradictory to listen to jazz before climbing aboard a very rowdy dirt bike? Let's just call it the 'calm before the storm'... :):) Evan:

My riding has been very good! Lots of laps, lots of miles, lots of athletic endurance (yes, it is an endurance sport!). Zero perfectly good motorcycles thrown to the ground! Knocks on wood.

The weekend of June 20-21:

Ran a good 5-6 miles with a new group. Not really new, they're The Woodlands Running Club, just a different little splinter group with a different day and place than the usual Sunday group. Great time and Tessie got to run with another border collie named Jessie. Ironic. Jessie chewed on Tessie so it's apparent that my dog got "owned". It could have gone either way with 2 females.

I rode it The Forest after that and ventured to a new trail that I had never ridden. Oh man, THAT was TOUGH! I think the trail loop is 17-18 miles. Then there are the additional 5 miles of GETTING LOST. Very deep sand, the whole way! Very deep, deep, deep sand! The whole way. Hell of a workout. Don't ride the Northeast Trail unless you have a bike that floats on sand!

That weekend by the numbers:
Number of miles run: 6
Number of miles ridden: 22
Number of miles ridden in VERY DEEP sand: 21.97
Number of perfectly good motorcycles thrown to the ground: 1

Cool new fiberglass bridge, the only one of its kind I've encountered in the forest:

Post ride self portrait:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I had a strange relationship with a small pine tree...

I've kept this pretty quiet until now. I've told a few people about what happened in the forest, but not many. Only now can I start to understand what happened and find a hint of levity.

Trail riding in the forest is a lot like trail running. Yes, running on trails with your feet and legs. Runners find and latch onto "runner's high", a brain state where endorphins are flowing and the runner is relaxed, euphoric, even 'high' and sometimes, 'quite high'. And for me, that runner's high sets in much sooner and is a lot more intense when running on trails. The reason is that you're really focused on picking your line. You totally zone out the surroundings other than the immediate terrain that you're negotiating. And you must pay close attention to your line to prevent twisting your ankle or tripping on a root or rock. It's easy to get lost when you're trail running because you tuned out the surroundings.

The same thing happens on a dirt bike when you're blasting through the woods. It takes a while for this intoxication to set in. You start to sweat, you're exerting energy moving around on the bike (body English) to get it to go where you would like. You're getting a little tired and you start picking up the pace a little. NOW, you're entering the ZONE! You're paying particular attention to the trees, ruts, roots, mud puddles, and sand patches. You're not totally focused on any one element; your brain is processing all of the information about the stuff in front of you and the stuff you just blew past, in your periphery. It's COOL! (this pic is not THE tree, just a pic I swiped off the internet)

So let's get back on topic. I had a strange relationship with ONE small pine tree out of billions. As I approached, it was perfectly in focus. Not an unfocused, slightly blurred tree like all of the others. I saw this tree perfectly. Perfectly focused, perfectly right there on the side of the trail. And I RODE RIGHT INTO IT!! Bwahaha! It nailed the ring finger on my left hand. Beneath my glove, it hurt like hell. After about 5 minutes of riding, I had to stop to peel the glove off. Finger was bleeding and cut pretty well on the outside of the hinge joint (I ain't no anatomy guy!). I'm damn lucky it didn't separate my finger! Lesson learned? Bark Busters!! Don't go into the woods without 'em! I've had these for years but hadn't bothered to bolt them on! Doh! So now the 125 has 'em and I'm going to fabricate a couple more pairs for the 100's.

So I've heard about something related to motorcycle riding that is called Target Fixation. I've always heard about it in a bad light. How could this be? Target fixation must certainly be a good thing, eh?! You know, like super focused, really alert to pulling off what you're trying to do. So after this episode with the pine tree, I googled it. And SURE ENOUGH, it's a BAD thing and something to be avoided! Apparently, if you focus too sharply on something, the brain has a little software glitch that will steer you right into that object. Prior to my relationship with the tree, I would have absolutely called BS on such a ridiculous notion. No way, it'll never happen!

Target Fixation DOES exist and it IS a bad thing! I've done it! Only once. And I mean that tree was in focus! Like no other tree ever before. Strange. Really weird! Here's what Wikipedia says, Target Fixation.

And in other news,I got an invitation from a friend, Glenn (a guy I met while riding in the woods), to visit the legendary Houston motocross track that has been laboriously and meticulously resurrected, Rio Bravo MX Park! Wow! Nice work, guys! They've done a fantastic job putting it back together!

After I took a couple of laps, I came in and said, "WOW, it's an old-fashioned motocross track, just like what tracks looked like in the 70's and 80's!" It's different in that it's a fast track with long sweeping turns and pretty graceful jumps. It just means you've gotta ride super fast to get the effect (like the Gran Prix track at 3 Palms). Not really my cup of tea because the speeds are high (the consequences for making a mistake can be high). But the guys at Rio Bravo have done a GREAT JOB! Hats off!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another great weekend is now 'on the books'...

On Saturday, we were all fired up about going to the RTW 5k. It has been 2 weeks since the last one, right? Ahh, but something failed to register. The race is the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. Doh. So when Tessie and I showed up, we were disappointed to be the only ones there. Tess was looking around the starting area, wondering why we were alone. I was going to bag the run, then thought, "we're here, we're gonna RUN IT!" So we did. Tessie came in 1st place dog, and I finally got my 1st place finish.

Sunday brought the Tejas Triathlon. Having signed up for it only 6 days prior, I had ZERO training going into the event. But I DID show up well ahead of time to get set up. You might recall what happened last year when I sped to the event at over 100 mph. Here's the funny topic from last year: Tejas Triathlon 2008

So this year, I was punctual. "Hmm, I wonder if I can just stuff the bike into the convertible?" Wheels in the trunk. Yeah, it's doable:

Horrible mess, big pile of stuff in my transition area (last year)? No way baby, my little piece of real estate was tidy and organized! Yea:

Nice venue, super triathlon weather:

The swim was really no big deal. Hmm, that's a first. I didn't inhale a quart of water right at the beginning of the swim (last year), and it seemed that there were very few people kicking me and very few being kicked by me. What's up with that? Swim was good. I didn't get passed by anyone, but I passed a bunch of people.

The biking was good. I got passed by a BUNCH of folks! My bike is prolly 25 years old and my body much older than that. I have no idea how much the fast riders are benefited by riding the ultra-modern (read very expensive) TRICK bikes. It's probably a mix of modern equipment AND training. Imagine that. It was funny, I was pedaling along thinking, "this is a 19-20 mph ride". I came upon one of those automatic speed displays on the side of the road to make drivers conscious of their speed. There was a car coming past on my left. The sign read "32 mph", then "19 mph". "Ahh YES, I'm doing just fine". Funny.

The run totally SUCKED! That's unusual for me. I just couldn't find my 'land legs' after ditching the bike. It was bad from the start. I was walking at times. I was spent and just couldn't get the job done. Perhaps if I had trained. Mental note to self.

My swim was 12:37 for 600m (6 seconds slower that 2008), the bike was 21.7 mph (19.1 for 2008, YEA), and the run pace was 8:33 (7:32 in 2008, BOO!). Total time was 1:15 Pretty cool being done with this before most people open their eyes!

In all, I saw about 5-6 people I know. I wanted to get a group picture of 4 of us, but people didn't want to be photographed. Whatever. But Cassie was OK with it:

Cassie JAMMED with a 10 minute PR (personal record for you non-runners)! Great job on that! Overall, I'm pleased and had a great weekend! Now I need a work week to recover! Whew.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dirt Biking in the Sam Houston National Forest

After riding in the Sam Houston National Forest in 2007 when I was looking to relocate here, I swore I'd never do that again. Those who keep up (on this blog), know I've been riding motocross here locally, for the past year and a half...

I'm HOOKED on RIDING IN THE FOREST!! It's different, requiring typically a smaller bike than the motocross track and is an acquired pleasure. After riding in the forest 3 or 4 times, I can now understand the attraction. The terrain isn't too technical and there are no big jumps and not much high-speed terrain.

I've contemplated taking beginner riders to the woods, but now don't think so. There is deep sand and tree roots that require bike handling prowess, for sure. But the real problem is that the consequences of even a minor riding mistake can be pretty dire, as there are unwielding pine trees everywhere! There is also a neat camping area 3 miles from where I go dirt biking. The camping offers kayaking and grilling, all the good stuff. The trails are not far from my house. Here: Multi-Use Trails

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So this Facebook thing showed up...

I got sucked into the facebook deal with invitations. Whoopee! I don't get it. I don't know what to do with fb. I don't care that you're going to Starbucks or that you are working late. Maybe you're someone I knew in junior high school or high school. Maybe that's cool to touch base and say howdy. But if we didn't hang out as friends back then, what's the attraction now?

And fb has wiped out blogging that occurred before fb was prevalent. There were some kick ass blogs that I used to keep up, those bloggers have just kinda disappeared. And this blog has also been neglected.

But it's not all bad. I have met some cool people in the local running community! But I just don't know what to do with fb.

And twitter. What the hell is that? So now I'm supposed to get a little phone with a full freaking keyboard and write real-time about my Starbucks frappa-latte WHILE I'm driving down the road. Oh good grief. Not just no! I'll never twitter, tweet, or text...just forget it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

How in the world have 2 months slipped by....

I hope my faithful blog reader(s) have been wondering where I've been. Sorry! A lot has happened in the past couple of months! Here's a sampling of what will soon be discussed here:

Teaming arrangements that don't happen
BMW Trunk Latch Handle Project
The Rippingtons concert
Dirt Biking in the Sam Houston National Forest
"Fix It BEFORE It Breaks" Project
Very short hair
Broken tooth
Plantar Fasciitis
Featured runner in "Deer Tracks"
Yard cleaned up then big tree fell down
Borrowed a kayak
The Honda lawnmower that just keeps running
YMCA Trail Run in Conroe
Riding at Rio Bravo

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

C'mon Summertime!

I suffered a traumatic experience last week! My neighbor took his family on spring break vacation and asked me to feed his chickens. No sweat, I've done it on previous occasions. It seems the chicken population has grown since the last time I fed 'em.

On Tuesday, I leisurely walked across the street. Relaxed and enjoying the day, I fed the chickens. Then all of a sudden, a large rooster starts coming after me. WTF?! That son of a bitch attacked me! Clawed the hell out of my legs and pecked deep gouges with its beak. So I kicked the hell out of this thing to cease the attack! He came back at me 3 more times. Geez! I had no idea that I was going into battle when I went to feed 'em and that I would come back bleeding. I opened up the gouges and repeatedly poured rubbing alcohol into the wounds. I followed it up with plenty of neosporin. I really didn't want infections from this filthy bird. My legs oozed watery bloody stuff for the rest of the day. OF ALL the injuries I can sustain, it's a freaking rooster that takes me down??

The next day, I wore thick coveralls, leather gloves, and carried a broom handle. All went well, almost. As I'm walking away, I kept looking back. I was over 50 feet away and I turned around to see this guy hauling ass after me. This was after I fed the f**king INGRATE!! He caught a broom handle. He came back for more, 3 more times. I ended up breaking the broom handle on his ass! He HAD to be sore after the broom handle escapades.

After my neighbor returned home he said, "oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the violent rooster, he's a real backstabber". No sh*t, you don't say! I'm gonna fire up the grill.

Because I've had a little Plantar Fasciitis deal, I decided to ride my bike, instead of run this past weekend. Other than Mountain Biking and Triathlons, I haven't ridden in any organized bike rides/races in probably 12 years. Once I caught the running bug, I wasn't interested. I decided to ride in the Tour de Houston. They offered distances of 20, 40, and 70 miles. I picked the 40 miler, that seemed perfect for having not been on the bike.

The cycling society is DIFFERENT than the running crowd! The athletes' physiques are surely different. There is a bunch of cycling etiquette, apparently. You only pass on the left, and must announce that you're passing on the left. One lady started bitching me out because I didn't announce it. Maybe if her slow ass was on the right side of the lane (where it belongs), there would be no problem. The second part of the "rule" is that if you're a slower rider, move to the right side of the lane! DUH! And there were 3 big crashes, where the crashed riders couldn't negotiate diagonal grooves in the pavement! Pay attention, y'all!

I WAS paying attention to the route signs, YET still ended up on the 70-mile course! I think the race organizers forgot to post ONE critical sign because I wasn't the only one wondering how we ended up on the 70 mile route. I din't want to ride 70 miles because I had lots of stuff to do on Sunday. So I broke off from the ride and "did my own thing" to get back to Downtown. I prolly ended up with 34-35 miles. A mountain bike would be much better suited for assaulting the urban terrain! Subsidence on the sidewalks in Houston? This was about 1 foot tall, the road bike had to go around it! Here:

On my interesting and now-solo journey to return to Downtown, I saw all sorts of cool stuff. I always envisioned "Reliant Stadium" being more impressive than what I saw:

Neat structure Downtown:

And finally, a DELICIOUS Rudy's breakfast taco with egg, cheese, brisket and salsa:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

OK, I'm back! Been away from the blog for a month...

Sheesh, I have no idea how a month has slipped by and I've not kept my loyal reader(s) abreast of all that happens around here!

Austin Half-Marathon:(Feb 15th)

I'm disappointed with the Austin Half-Marathon and likely won't return.

1) What's up with charging $97 for a half-marathon?
2) No race-day packet pickup and they wanted to charge me $7 to park the car to go inside the runner's expo to pick up my packet? You're trying to sell me a bunch of stuff at the expo and you want to charge me 7 bucks to park?? Austin, you're FULL OF YOURSELF! And your traffic sucks badly!
3) Inside the expo it took 45 minutes to pick up my packet, what's up with that?
4) They RAN OUT of tee shirts?! Ninety-seven dollars to run your crummy race and you ran out of shirts? This is 2nd grade math, y'all. Your event filled up well before race day. Each registration has a shirt size listed. Tabulate those numbers and you will know how many shirts to order. Geez.
5) The course bites. Not only is it hilly, NOT fast, but poorly laid out. Route the ENTIRE marathon runner flow through a single-lane alley after mile 3?

Before the race, Sonya, Evan, Dennis, & Rick:

I went into the race with Plantar Fasciitis (foot owwie), but still managed a 1:46 time:

HEB did a great job of providing all sortsa GREAT food after the event! HEB is king:

A cool chic who took our group picture, Bianca:

Evan, Chris, unknown, & Kristen:

Rick and Evan enjoying some delicious breakfast:

Park To Park 5 Mile Race, Houston Museum of Natural Science, & Mountain Biking (Feb 21st)

Great little race in downtown Houston! It runs from Discovery Green Park to Herman Park. I ran a decent 37:00 race.
Evan, June, Stephen:

Pam (ran an INCREDIBLE 33:55!), Stephen, Geri, & Evan:

AFTER the Park-To-Park race, I was riding my bike back to downtown to return to my car, when I rode right past the Museum of Natural Science. People who know me know how I'm totally drawn to neat mechanical stuff. Go inside, nah. But WAIT, I'm right here, right now! I locked my bike and went inside to check out all of the neat Energy Exhibit stuff:

AFTER the museum, I decided to go Mountain Biking in Memorial Park. The last few times I've gone, I always ask people "where is the technical stuff" (challenging terrain). This time, a guy told me where the REAL stuff is! It's called "The Triangle"...He told me to ride down the sidewalk to the Arboretum, then RIGHT THERE at the corner of the driveway, there's an almost-hidden trail that "drops in". He told me that as soon as I dropped in, I'd see a tunnel that goes under Memorial Drive. "The Triangle" is the area bordered by 610, I-10, and Memorial Drive. A little known secret! Shh! He wasn't lying:

The Triangle IS thoroughly technical! Be careful, it's ROWDY! The picture does NOT do the terrain justice. Here:

The Houstex Machine and Tool Show, GRB convention center (Feb 25th)

Those who know me know my absolute delight in all things mechanical, especially machine tools! My great friends over at CeeSan Machine and Fabrication not only invited me to ride along with them, they had an admission ticket for me and fed me plenty of cold beers during the show! I just LOVE my friends!
Evan, Curt, Festus:

I'm always so pleased to check out cool tooling:

Hanging out with Danny O from MLC Cad:

The Prickly Pear 10 Mile Trail Race, San Antonio (March 7th)

I had the pleasure of running in the Prickly Pear 10 mile race! Great event! Those who run might be aware of the "runners high" that you experience when the endorphins are flowing (or whatever it is that makes you feel so euphoric). Trail running amplifies the runners' high by about a factor of 10! Prolly because you're so very focused on ONLY the rugged, rocky trail right in front of you! Good stuff! Patti, Dennis, Sonya, & Evan:

I'm pleased with my 1:33!