Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
My dad first introduced me to sling shots one day as we were doing yard work and trimming trees. He came across a forked branch and said, "This would make a perfect sling shot." After we finished our work we went in the house and began hunting for supplies. A few rubber bands from the kitchen and then a scrap of denim from beneath my mothers sewing machine. Soon I was in the back yard knocking over soda cans like a pro.
A sling shot however should not be confused with a sling. The weapon David use to defeat Goliath. A sling does not use an elastic band, and is also used to hurl a much larger stone. A sling uses two cords attached to a rock holding pouch. The rock is swung and one of the cords is release to send the rock flying.Several years (?months) later, while shopping at Fedco (does anyone remember that store?) my father sees a commercially manufactured slingshot with a wrist support. He immediately placed the item in the shopping cart. I think the purchase was actually for himself. Having a wrist support and surgical tubing increased the efficiency of a sling shot incredibly. The one we purchased that day was a deluxe folding model. However the plastic grip eventually cracked and I replaced it with a wrist rocket original (the one picture above).
Last week, I was in the hardware store and above the drawers of nuts and bolts was a single replacement band for a wrist rocket type sling shot. I immediately placed it in my shopping cart. As soon as I got home, I found my wrist rocket (I knew exactly where it was) and replaced the broken sling, and went in my back yard to fire off a few shots.
I am very happy that I get to take this part of my fathers childhood and pass it to my child.
Friday, September 24, 2010
The typical failure mode of the 01P transmission is due to overheating of the Automatic Transmission Fluid. The EVC comes equipped with a unique ATF cooler. Rather than being a fluid to air heat exchanger, it is a fluid to fluid unit. The cooler uses the engines cooling fluid and primary radiator to provide cooling to the ATF. Though a fluid to fluid cooler is typically more efficient, this particular unit does not provide enough of a temperature drop to prevent the ATF from over heating. The engine's coolant runs at a consistent 190 degree Ferlinghetti, and the small cooler certainly does not remove enough heat. As the AFT is over heated, it breaks down and oxidizes and loses its properties. An article from Go Westy suggest that transmission failures are hit or miss, based on build quality. This might be a contributing factor, but overheating, in my opinion, is still the primary reason. VW recommends the ATF be changed every 40,000 miles, however Go Westy suggest it to be changed every 15,000.
The first time tranny failed it would show signs of it by getting stuck in a low gear, and fail to upshift until the AFT had a chance to cool down. The situation would go like so: Drive the van for a few hours towards the mountains. Begin to climb a long steep grade and the transmission would downshift into 3rd or 2nd gear. At the top of the grade when one would expect the transmission to upshift, it does not, and it stays in whatever gear you climbed the hill in. Pull the van over and attempt to start off from 1st gear. The EV then does not upshift out of 1st gear. Pull over again, and kill the engine. Wait 5 minutes, start the van and drive off like nothing happened. This scenario would happen more and more often, until one day the transmission makes a loud clunk upshifting and EV comes to a lurching halt. Oil pouring out the bottom of the van and smoke bellowing out from underneath. The Death of a Transmission.
I did not have the time or supplies to change out the ATF at the time, but I did start to look into the problem. Based on two separate write ups, Garreett and Baldy's , I knew that I needed some tranny specific parts to do the ATF change, and that I would not be able to get them before I departed for the long leg of my trip. However in my reading, it mentioned that the fluid level of the transmission was very important. I decided that I had to at least check this.
In order to check the fluid level one must first drop the belly pan. Though having a belly pan makes working on the van harder, it is a great item to protect vital engine parts from road debris and damage. The belly pan however is made of light gauge steel and should not be expected to act as a skid plate. Anyways the oil pan itself is not protected by the belly pan. The pan itself is well designed for serviceability. After removing the four 13mm hex head bolts, and the 10mm safety nut, the pan is still held in place by a release clip and and the pivoting hangers. This makes unassisted one man removal and installation easy. Once the pan is off you can see the engine and the transmission. The transmission fluid pan does not have a drain plug. The 5mm allen wrench bolt you see is actually a fluid overflow drain. The allen bolt is attached to a tube inside the oil pan that drains fluid which is excessive to the proper level. (drain picture not mine) The proper level is also dependant on three key points. One-the vehicle should be parked on a level surface. Two- the engine needs to be running, and Three-the AFT should be at the proper temperature.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
So this picture is not one I took from this trip. However I did take it one winter day many years ago. What whould a post about Yosemite be without a picture of the Valley.
Through the following years, climbing was a sport I followed with varying degrees of passion. In the most recent years, I would describe myself as a retired rock climber, though I will still climb a few times each year. This last labor day weekend was one such time.
Through one of the original climbing roommates a large block of campgrounds were reserved, the notice to congregate was sent out, and the jingle of climbing gear once again rang in my ears. This year not only did three of the four original roommates show, along with several of our friends from the same time period, but my wife, brother, father, and son was also part of the adventure. In fact this was the first time my infant son visited the Valley.
So how was Yosemite Valley Labor Day weekend 2010? HOT. When we rolled in Friday the high temp was reported to be 97 degree, with the following three days predicted to be in the mid 90's. The crowds were not much of an issue. Once our vehicles were parked in the campsite, the shuttle fulfilled all of our transportation needs. However I did find a traffic backup traveling East into the Valley right before the 41 split. Though the popular trails were at maximum capacity, the climbing spots were only moderated busy. Our crag day at the Church Bowl did not involve any waiting. I guess climbers tend to stay away from the Valley on such popular weekends.
The real climbing was done on Sunday, when my brother and I roped up to climb Commissioner's Buttress. It is a lesser known 5.9 on Manure Pile Buttress. The climb was recently featured in January 2010's issue of Rock and Ice Magazine, as one of the best unknown climbs of Yosemite. Though the name does not spark instant conversation and the one star rating doesn't get tons of press, the climb is a true Valley classic. First ascent by Galen Rowell and Joe Faint 1969, the route has often been described as "old school". What seems like an awkward fashion term, old school in this case harks to the Golden age of climbing where routes were hard and the men who put them up where even harder. CB is truly a vertical rock adventure. If you have got to the point of pumping out 5.9's in the gym, you are in no shape to lead this climb. From finger locks to off widths this climb takes you through cracks, lie backs, stems, and roofs.
The above picture is not my own. I must give credit to "Trad" from the the SuperTopo Forum .
CB starts to the right of the famous Nut Cracker route on the Manuer Pile Buttress. Stay low on the approach till you pass the large buttress, then head towards the rock. The climb starts at an odd long rock that has partially broken off the main buttress, a pine tree is located right in front of the rock. 100 feet up the main crack is a large pine tree. The first two pitches of the climb are the most notable. The rest of the climb is just to top out and is dirty and lose. The climb tops out above the nutcracker platform. Down climb 3rd/4th class to the main gully trail used for decent. The option of bailing to the right after the first two pitches is possible.
A topo of the route can be found the Reid Falcon Valley Free Climb Guide. Unfortunatly i could not find the topo in the Supertopo's Valley Guide.
So the next time you get a chance head out to the Valley and enjoy the good tidings the mountains bring, and don't forget to pulldown!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Though there is always a use for basil. We decided to take this weeks share and make fresh pesto out of it. Ever since moving out of my folks house at the age of 18, spaghetti is a staple diet for 90% of everyone I know. In our house, we still have it at least once a week. To give the noodles a flare, we occasionally mix in pesto instead of red sauce. What is even more exciting is when you make pesto out of fresh basil.
It always impresses me when my wife cooks. Though we cook nearly every night, last nights spaghetti dinner inspired me to post about it. Even a plain pasta dinner can be fixed so that it is not only exotic but delicious. The following is my wife's age old family recipe (ok just off the Internet but I am sure it is an age old family receipt) for pesto:
4c basil, 1/2 c olive oil, 1/3 c pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, 1t salt.
As with me and recipe sthis is just a guideline for approximate ratios of ingredients. This night we ran out of pine nuts so substituted with walnuts. We also deleted the salt cause there is way too much salt in everything we eat already. And just for poops and giggles, some sun dried tomatoes were thrown into the mix. The entire concoction was whipped up in a food processor.
I have been learning to like whole wheat pastas. Failing, but trying. Recently we found a whole wheat pasta that I think is decent. Garofalo by La Pasta Di Grangnano. Their 100% whole wheat organic spaghetti, has excellent texture and a complex flavor. One forgets that it is simply spaghetti that is melting in you mouth.
One final touch that can give your dull pasta a kick is to add some squash to it. I am not talking about some grilled squash to the sauce, but to add it right to the noodles themselves. This was a tip gained from some reality TV show. With a grater shred some squash up into long shreds. Dump this into boiling water the same time as you throw in the raw spaghetti. From then on out simply forget the you have squash in with your noddles and cook accordingly.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Several months ago you might have remembered a post about me trying to sell the families 2002 VW Eurovan Camper. We got as far as finding a buyer, and was about to make the deal. However my entire family fell into a depression when the idea of not having the mini camper was soon to become a reality. So the day before the deal was to happen, I pulled it from the table. Sucks, but my fathers happiness was more important. My dad did take the potential buyer out to lunch to apologize, and they are current still in contact with each other and friends. The potential buyer soon became an owner of a VW Eurovan Camper as well.
I would have titled this post "first drive impressions" but that would not have been accurate since I have driven the camper many many miles already. In fact I lived in it for three months once. Regardless, how a vehicle drives is one of the most important attributes of a review.
Stepping into the Eurovan one immediately gets the feeling they are entering a work van. The built in step, "A" pillar grab bar, upright captain's chair. The swinging motion into the drivers seat is a very big rig like, quite different than the typical ingress to a passenger car. The location of the driver relative to the vehicle is also unique. Though the driver is not perched directly above the front left tire, one is placed just behind. In fact the hump of the wheel well acts as a dead pedal of sorts. This however follows the VW bus lineage, where due to the rear engine configuration placed the driver right in the very front of the van. In fact drivers of older VW buses found them selves seated in front of the front wheels.
The controls are laid out in a very simple utilitarian fashion. The dash board follows the contours of the windshield without extra protrusions for ergo, or that fighter jet cockpit feel. Many of the knobs, buttons, and instrumentation are standard VW parts shared with Jettas and Passats of the same era. There is nothing wrong with this at all. Why make different defrost buttons for each car when one will do. Though basic, if seen from a old school VW buser's eye, the dashboard and instrumentation has a very modern feel. One of the first things to catch my attention is the aftermarket Sony Explode CD stereo, and the blank button pop outs. I hate blank pop outs. It makes you feel like you are missing out on some great factory gizmo. The stereo is basic with no aux in, ipod connection, or MP3 format disk capability, after all this is 2002. The stereo does have good sound, and higher than average output (52 watts x4). The flip down face of the Explode unit however is less than desirable.
Adjusting the mirrors, you might or might not notice that the two rear view mirrors are different sizes and shapes. The driver side is rectangular and wide, the passenger's is taller. It took me a little bit to realize they were different and even longer to understand why. My guess for the asymmetric mirrors are because the blind spot on the driver side is larger. This is due to the fact that sitting on the left side of the vehicle allows for a greater field of view to the right. This blind spot is made worse when the EV is a camper. When the basic EV is configured to be a camper, the rear driver side window is not cutout and thus lacking windows to look through. Once properly situated the three rear views mirrors provide a great rear field of view, giving the driver the feeling that they are commanding a much smaller vehicle than the EV actually is. With the headrest of the rear bench seat removed there are no blind spots even with the entire rear passenger side of the van paneled out.
Starting the EV with the silly key fob is more difficult than it should be. The body of the fob does not provide a good grip to deliver the twisting motion needed. When you finally get the key turned, the engine winds to life with a very "German" wirl. The gear selector and the e-brake are located on the floor to the right. The gear selector requires the driver to hold the brake pedal down and the depress a release button to shift out of drive; this is pretty normal. What is not normal is the need to push the release button to go from R to N and from N to drive. What is even worse is shifting from D to 3. The fact that you must push the button is not bad, it is that you DO NOT need to push the button to go from 3 to 2. Downshifting from D to 3 should be done carefully. It is very easy to overshoot 3 and go to 2, while downshifting. This could cause to engine and transmission to rev at extremely unsafe RPMs.
Starting in 2001 VW EV's were equipped with a 2.8 liter, 201 horse power, 24 valve V6- the VR6. The VR6 is interseting in the fact that the two rows of cylinders are offset by only 15 degrees instead of the typical 45 degree offset. This gives this particular V6 engine a very narrow block like an in-line type motor, easily suited for many front wheel drive applications. The 24 valve VR6 is the most powerful engine every installed in a VW van from the factory, and you can tell. Stomping on the gas from a stop the EV accelerates at a rate one would not expect from a VW van. Even though the van weighs approximately 5000lbs, the low gearing optimizes the 201 hp. The low gearing is noticed as the 4 speed automatic transmission allows the van to humm along at 65mph while spinning the engine at 3000 RPM's.
The car feel of the EV is apparent even when you drive. It maneuvers easily and is narrow enough that you feel comfortable with it's dimensions. The power steering is heavy for a passenger car, but not so much that it a hindrance. The front suspension has plenty of caster built in that you never get the wandering feeling many large vans have. The major complaint of the drive is that the ride is woefully soft. Not only is the suspension soft, but the chassis lacks rigidity. A soft ride is expected since this is a camper van and not a sports car, but the EVC drives like a cooked noodle. Soft shocks and small sway bar gives the van a very sailboat like roll in corners. The large hole cut in the roof for the pop top does not help the overall rigidity, as the van groans and creeks over driveway cutouts. The car like feel of the van is lost when subjected to winding roads or off pavement conditions.
VW did the the EV van right by matching the powerful motor with equally powerful brakes. The 12" disk brakes have never felt inadequate. Fuel efficiency is good for a vehicle of its size. 20mpg can easily be obtained when road tripping, and 16 mpg is returned if you do alot of hotrodding. Not going into camper features, two other functions are good and worth mentioning. The front windows have both one touch up and down features for both driver and passenger side windows. Most of today's cars still don't have the dual one touches on both windows. The rear defrost is also unique. At the base where the windshield wipers sit there are some extra passes of the defrost element. This is to prevent snow and ice build up below the wiper, and to help prevent it from freezing to the rear windshield.
The first time I had interest in VW campers was in the early 80's when my dad and I went to a VW showroom. Many years later my father bought one, and once I am taking possession of to use for a road trip. I have a few days between driving it to my house and departing for a trip. Those few days were busily spent prepping the camper for my adventure with it.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The first step was to wipe down the line. Being outside, even lines which appear clean will cause a mark on white clothes. Next I hung and affixed a clothes pin to each article of clothing. After several hours, I took the clothes down and threw them into the dryer for a quick fluff. This softened the clothes and removed the unwanted starchiness of line dried clothes.
We often go to great length to save a buck. Coupon clipping, DIY project instead of hiring out. But line drying clothes is a easy way to save some money, and our earth, while have great smelling clothes.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Friday, May 28, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
The sole in question today is from a pair of The North Face approach/bowling/hipster shoes (not mine, I would never wear faux bowling hipster shoes). The heel area began to peel away from the foam shortly after they were new. Though not terminal, it was annoying for the owner.
The secret to shoe repair is choosing the correct type of adhesive. After all the only thing that is really keeping your sole in place is the glue! Ok, some boot soles are glued, stitched, and sewn in place. I have attempted to repair this sole one epoxy night, however epoxy is not the right type of glue. It is too stiff and does not flex with the rubber and foam. Without the ability to conform is breaks its bond between the two surfaces. Instead Barge Cement should be used when making sole repairs.
First thing to do is to remove as much of the old glue as possible. Next wash the two surfaces that you are planning to glue. Apply the glue to both sides, allow to dry and "tack" up, 10-15 minutes depending on air temperature. My garage was close to freezing and required about 25 minutes before the glue would tack up. Press the two surfaces firmly against each other, wiping off any excess glue which might ozzzes out.
Here is the trickiest part. Since the two halves do not want to stay together on their own, you need to apply pressure till the cement is fully cured. Holding the soles of these shoes together for 12 hours was not an options. With this type of thing, I usually use clamps or weights. However in this application neither of those options would have worked out. The curves surface needed varying degrees of force applied at different angles. The solution: TAPE. I used electrical tape and "tape the hell out of" the sole. Seemed to work out pretty good. I left the shoes in this state for two days before removing the tape and returning them to their owner. I do not think that this was nessary, just happened that way.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Sometimes not knowing is easier than knowing. And now that I know I feel obligated to do something about it.
At the very least I will make a contribution http://www.takepart.com/thecove
I under stand now Bob Barker!
Friday, April 9, 2010
What I suspect had happened was the prolong running of the compressor overheated a component, most likely one of the valves. So I decided to investigate. At first pass it appears that the unloader valve was leaking. This is a mechanical valve located in the electrical switch area. The valve is a pneumatic/mechanical valve that triggers the electrical switch to turn on, when it senses low pressure. Though leaking, this valve what not the culprit.
Pressurized air is supply to the storage tank through a feed line. This feed line enters a check valve prior to the storage tank. Though it looks like air from the compressor enters the check valve, from the thick brass line, then goes out through the smaller line; the check valve is actually a three way valve with air entering the storage tank at the base of the valve. The thin brass line goes to the unloader valve mentioned earlier.
By removing the cap on the end of the check valve the inside working can be removed. Check valves are relatively simple; consisting of a spring and rubber cap, or seal. The picture of the check valve spring is not the same type as the one I took apart. It is simply there to show the basic make up of such a valve. The overheating of the check valve, over heated the spring. Like taking a torch to your cars suspension coil springs to lower your ride. The heating of the spring weakened it to the point that it no longer sealed the pressurized air from the tank. The air would leak back through the check valve and would enter both the compressor and the unloader valve. That is why at initial inspection it appeared that the unloader valve was leaking.
The proper repair for this job would have been to order a new spring and possible a new sealing cap. However I simply pulled the existing spring apart and stretched it out. This increase in spring tension was enough to return the check valve to full functionality. Though this type of cold working of the spring metal is not recommended, this is a low risk part. If it fails again, I might consider a new spring.
As my friend's grandpa once put it, "Good enough for the girls we go with!"