26 June, 2010

Chester brews and banjo festival!

A few pics from the Chester Brew and Banjo festival, in no particular order.

Our little Mexican enjoying some rays at Curtis' pad, our overnight stay:

Would you believe, the Chester Park?

Mossy Creek, belting out some sweet Bluegrass:

About 100 people attended, most found a spot in the shade to enjoy the Banjo music:

Sierra Nevada had a nice presence, as the title sponsor:

Cooling off my feet in the Feather River, brew in hand:

The fly and Old Man River:

I lost count, but I'm thinking I topped about 20 tastes, which was just enough. Luckily, Susan managed to get Big Hank back to Curtis' pad in time for me to enjoy a nice nap.


20 June, 2010

Intake Manifold Gasket - Where Did You Go?

Ratty didn't want to fire up this morning. He's been getting better and better the more I ride it, and has been kicking over on the first kick, so I knew something was up. It needed a lot of choke to start, and then was acting pretty strange under part throttle, and didn't want to idle smoothly. After resting my right leg, I noticed something. Part of the intake manifold gasket (between manifold and the cylinder head) was sticking out not looking very gaskety anymore.

Sure enough, it was mangled. It was pretty much ripped in half, and fell apart when I took the manifold off. This gasket was paper thin (came with the engine kit) so I'm not surprised it didn't last. I have some high-temp sheet gasket I bought from NAPA last year for Salty, so I made a pair of new gaskets. One for the bike, one for the parts bin.

Mangled gasket on the left, gasket sheet material on the right:

New gasket cut out:

And installed. And yes, I left it a tick oversize on the OD to give it more meat, since the stock gasket ripped at its thinnest point:

I also used lock-tite on the bolts, as I think they worked loose since first installed, possibly leading to the gasket ripping.


More Front Sprinklers

After putting up the fence last year, I realized two of the sprinklers that water the front lawn are blocked by the fence. So I finally got off my duff and did some re-plumbing and added two more spray nozzles.

Digging my trench:

Everything plumbed and spraying:

Pretty exciting project, I know.


18 June, 2010

Front Brake

I realized I needed a front brake on Ratty. The rear brake alone doesn't quite inspire confidence when needing to stop at 50mph, which didn't think I would be running that fast in this beast. I'll let the pictures and captions do the talking.

Old grungy front brake inner workings:

Backing plate, two shoes, springs, and the rotating shoe spreader thingy:

All cleaned up, pivot points lubed:

Shoes and springs installed:


I had a spare front brake cable that I made work after some fiddling and head scratching. I haven't yet run the bike out on the road, but it does stop the front wheel from turning when applied!


16 June, 2010

Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager


no alc given

When they say "Black" lager, they mean it. This sucker poured out wicked dark black, with a very thick and creamy head. Aroma is fantastic, with thick scents of malts, coffee, and chocolate. If the bottle didn't say Lager, I could have sworn I was eying and smelling a super dark Porter.

The taste is equally dark and full bodied. It has a very thick and syrupy mouth feel that really sticks to the tongue. There is a lot of malt, but it has a real dark roasted taste to it, if that makes sense. Like how a local coffee bean roasting company can smell and you drive by. You can just taste that dark outer edge of the roasting. It isn't overpowering, but it does dominate over the sweetness of the malt.

This is proving quite a unique and exceptionally good Black Lager. Actually, it is proving an exceptionally good beer in general. Possibly one of my favorite dark beers I've had in a while. Well done lads from Oregon!


Shmaltz Brewing Coney Island Sword Swallower Steel Hop Lager


7.2% abv

I was pretty excited when Susan brought home three more 22oz beers for me, thanks to her Mother, my little Mexican beer shopper. And one of the offerings was a Coney Island variety from Shmaltz Brewing.

It poured out quite flat, with essentially zero head. It had a fair amount of bubbles, so it wasn't flat. For a "Lager" is was exceptionally hoppy. It felt like a really good IPA, with a great hoppy nose. There was a bit too much bitterness for my taste, but I could appreciate the flavors.

It wasn't overpowering with hops though, as there is some great smooth malt flavors throughout. Overall, not my favorite Shmaltz offering, but something I wouldn't mind drinking again, especially when I want something different and hoppy.


15 June, 2010

Jeff Winchell Ford Mustang Boy and Car Article - Never printed

***This is an unpublished article I did on Jeff Winchell and his ESP/SM Mustang, way back in the day. All hell broke loose in Jeff's life before he got the car fully sorted and painted, so we never got good photos and it never got printed. His name came up in a forum, so I thought I would throw this up on the blog.***

-special note: I'm not sure this ever got proofed or edited, so if you see typos, just move on with life.

Kenny, Loud and Proud

The story of Jeff Winchell's Ford Mustang is one of updates, backdates, and engine swaps, with a little help from his friends thrown in for good measure. Luckily for Jeff, his friends happen to be some of the best known autocrossers and Ford engine tuners in the country, like Greg Fordhal, John Ames, Sean Hyland, and Chris Johnson. With this kind of help, Jeff has managed to put together an impressive machine that is beginning to show its strength at national level events.

But back to Jeff for a minute, as his strengths are an important part of the mix too. Relatively new to the autocross scene - having started in 1998 - Jeff puts in the seat time necessary to continue to improve his skills. He ran his first event in his 1998 Mustang Cobra Convertible, and was instantly hooked. Since then, Jeff has been a regular at Northwest Region SCCA events, not to mention all the other Washington state events hosted by clubs like the BSCC and WWSCC.

Jeff soon found himself scratching that all-too-common itch to make his Cobra faster, and was soon running it in ESP, a popular class for hot rod muscle cars. He also participated in several high-speed Solo 1 events, as well as the famous Nevada Open Road Race. Unfortunately, Jeff ran into problems - a hard wall - at his first banked oval Solo 1 event, causing considerable damage to his daily driver.

Luckily for Jeff, his friend Michael Lee offered him a co-drive for the 2001 season in his Neon ACR, giving Jeff some experience in speed maintenance and smoothness. It was Jeff's local success with the ACR in a region filled with talented drivers that gave him the determination to bring his Mustang back to life.

Kenny is Alive

Big bad Kenny - the name for Jeff's ride - is a real Frankenstein machine, but not because it's ugly. In fact, from a short distance away, Kenny looks like a well cared for dark green 1995 Mustang that you would see parked at the local library. "Strictly speaking," according to Jeff "it's a 1995 Mustang with parts from seven different Mustang models, in six different years. I call it a 2001 Fordahl Mustang, because Greg started working on it in 2001."

No matter what he calls it, everyone knows that Kenny is no librarian's ride when he roars to life. You had better cover your ears when the true nature of Kenny is released, as you'll get a 115 decibel shot - at 50 feet - of thundering force! Kenny doesn't like cones, so he tries to scare them away.

Just like Cooking, but Different

Jeff started his transformation of Kenny with some helpful advice from John Ames. Jeff put together a list, built from the experiences and direct advice that John was willing to share. "I mostly tried to replicate the list, but I learned that each situation is different. It's like the difference between having a list of ingredients and knowing how to cook a gourmet meal." Jeff explains.

The base for Kenny was a 1995 Mustang V6 that Jeff bought in Portland, Oregon. "The car was already a no options model." according to Jeff, which meant no air conditioning, no ABS, no rear window defroster, no power windows or door locks, and lighter V6 radiator etc. Further weight was taken out by removing the back seat, trunk interior and radio as in the Cobra R, in accordance with update/backdate rules. "The goal for the car was 3,150 pounds" according to Jeff.

Thanks to his friends Jerold Lowe, Brian Holsten, and Glen Hernandez, the engine, transmission, and wiring were pulled out of his wrecked '98 Cobra Convertible, and Jeff purchased a complete independent rear suspension package from a Texas junk yard, essentially bringing the mechanicals up to current Cobra specs. With all the right pieces to work on, Jeff enlisted the experience of professional tuners and builders to give Kenny some attitude.

Most of the serious engine work had already been completed before Jeff's accident in the Cobra Convertible. Jeff had previously called on Sean Hyland to build an engine to the limit of the street prepared rules for the now-damaged convertible. The entire assembly was carefully balanced and blue-printed, had its cylinders bored 0.030 over, its intake and exhaust manifolds port matched, a lightweight RAM clutch and flywheel assembly installed, and some ASP pulleys mounted. The intake consists of a ported BBK throttle body, ProM Mass Airflow sensor, and a K&N filtercharger, while a set of Magnacor Spark plug wires provide the fire to the plugs.

Hyland built equal length long-tube headers for the car, which connect to a custom Y-pipe with a 3.5-inch diameter straight exhaust built by Fordahl Motorsports. Fuel injection tuning was done by Chris Johnson, who Jeff describes as the best at computer chip tuning of fuel injected Mustang engines. All this adds up to a whopping 307 ft/lbs of torque at the rear wheels, with 80% of that available from 2,000 to 6,000rpm. Pulling power is not something that Kenny lacks, that's for sure.

Harnessing all the ground pounding power is a set of massive 315/35-17 Hoosier autocross radials, mounted on 17x11-inch Fikse FM/5 wheels. These sticky DOT radials have a short life on the abrasive concrete surfaces Kenny has raced on this year, but provide the performance necessary to chase down fellow ESP competitors like Tom Berry and Steve Eguina. Jeff fits Kenny with a set of 245/45-17 Falken Azenis on the stock Cobra 17x8-inch wheels when the weather turns wet.

Moton remote reservoir shock absorbers are used at all four corners, which feature external adjustments for both compression and rebound. Considering that Jeff runs at literally dozens of events each year, these Moton dampers allow him to adjust the car's behavior for maximum performance, no matter the surface condition or weather. High-rate Eibach coil springs are secured by coil-over perches from Ground Control, giving a stiff, but well controlled ride. Global West Camber/Caster plates are used to help dial in the proper alignment, depending on the course layout.

Jeff has experimented a bit with anti-roll bars, but continues to use the Steeda 35mm diameter front bar, which helps to keep the somewhat nose heavy Mustang flat during hard cornering. Jeff removed the rear anti-roll bar after witnessing the car picking up the inside rear tire under hard cornering loads, a change that helped immediately.

Griggs lower control arm bushings are used, which help to provide a stiffer, more controlled feel from the drive end of the car. Steeda lower control arm bushings for the front improve turn-in and feel as well, thanks to their harder urethane construction and offset design. A robust 6-point roll cage, built by Cascade Autosports, provides a much-needed increase of chassis rigidity, and keeps the front and rear suspension working as designed. Inside, a lightweight - ten pounds - race seat holds Jeff in place, while a grippy OMP steering wheel keeps his hands happy during fast transitions.

Racking Up the Results

It doesn't matter how much equipment you throw at a machine, the easiest way to get fast times at an autocross event is to have a good driver, and that's what Jeff has been working on the most this year. Jeff is heavily involved with the Northwest Region SCCA, which has included chairing several events as well as putting on several practice day events.

It's at these practice events where Jeff has continued to hone his skills, and learn his car's setup. His biggest accomplishment this year was a 4th place trophy position in Street Modified at the Atwater National Tour. Jeff's fast time on Sunday - 25th out of 278 on pax - was a real boost to his confidence. Another exciting event for Jeff was his performance in the Bonus challenge at the El Toro ProSolo, where he made it to the finals, no doubt thanks in part to the support from his fellow Northwest Region competitors.

Jeff has also appreciated the input of his co-drivers this year, including Glen "Hurricane" Hernadez. Glen's considerable talents have allowed Kenny to bring back a few more trophies at national level events, including a 2nd at the El Toro ProSolo in ESP, 3rd at the Atwater ProSolo in ESP, and a 2nd at the Atwater National Tour in ESP. That 2nd place at the Atwater NT was an exceptional drive, considering that placed Glen 4th on overall PAX, out of 278 drivers.

Jeff plans on making the trip out to nationals this year, using it as an opportunity to fight for the National Championship and get some more development time under his belt. ESP competitors better watch out, because Jeff is also out to prove one other thing in Kansas, that Kenny is not dead!

06 June, 2010

16.9 mile ride

I took Ratty for his first real ride today. Last week was just a quick blast around the immediate neighborhood, but today I put on 16.9 miles of mixed city and valley roads. I ran to OSH Hardware store, blasted downtown, got a thumbs-up from a Chico Cop, and then went out east of town and rode back home around the outside of the valley. I also stopped at a large undeveloped bit of property near our house to snap a few pics, since the light was decent.

Helmet and gloves cooling off after a ride:

Oh, and the muffler seems to work! Fairly quiet, less "pop pop pop" on overrev, and no red hot shards of steel wool firing out the back.


05 June, 2010

Chico Brewfest

After 18 beers, I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Once I eat some grub, and sober up, I'll post a list of the beers I enjoyed.


04 June, 2010

Ratty gets some high tech LED lights

Instead of farting about with a voltage regulator and a lighting coil, I came across a different idea for providing a taillight and headlight for Ratty. This idea also meshed with my want to not run wires all over hell and back. So, the idea of a simple 9-volt battery powered LED setup came about.

I have no idea why I started thinking of this option, but a quick google search led me (pun intended) to a source for LED lights intended for model railroad setups. Modeltrainsoftware.com offers dozens of options in the world of small LED lights. All sorts of colors, sizes, some that blink, and even the little snap-on adapters for 9v batteries. I was sold. I immediately ordered some 5mm cool white LED lights, which got me a free switched 9v adapter snap on thingy. Everything arrived the following day, thanks to their quick service and being located in Colorado.

My bounty of LED goodness from Modeltrainsoftware.com:

Individual 5mm LED lights. Red wire to +, black wire to -.

Snap-on 9v adapter that was included for free with ordering ten LED lights:

I also picked up a few more 9v battery adapters from Radioshack, and a spare on/off toggle switch. My ultimate goal is to have a setup housed in the headlight bucket, complete with battery, wiring, and the LED lights poking into the headlight reflector lens. That part proved very easy, as I just grouped about seven LED lights together, wired them to the adapter with the toggle switch inline, made a simple bracket for the battery to attach to.

I attached the LED lights to a fat washer with a bit of epoxy, then epoxied the washer into the back of the headlight housing:

Your favorite Canadian hippy screwing on the last mounting bolt:

It actually works!

I never intend to ride Ratty at night, and legally, I don't even need a headlight since the bike is pre 1979. But I figured a little bit of brightness out front when I ride will be good.

Then, I turned my attention to the taillight. I already had a simple trailer taillight mounted, so I needed to figure out how to make the LEDs work inside that small enclosure. It turned out to just be a matter of grouping the LEDs together, wrapping a bit of tape around their "stems" and giving them a quick dab of epoxy to keep them from flopping about. They fit right inside the housing.

I ran two wires down the bike through the stock wire routing locations, and attached them to the 9v battery adapter which is wired into the brake switch. No need for an on/off switch, as the brake switch does that.

Success! Quite a bright taillight.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this little project.


Hissing Owls

Apparently the Mamma Barn Owl shown a few posts below, has puppies. They are living in the spare batch plant out in the yard. We've heard them "hiss" at us as we walk by, but we never knew quite where they were, or how many there were. In fact, we didn't realize they were pups.

So we crawled up the 20-foot ladder and took a peak inside. After nearly crapping ourselves to the sound of these guys hissing at us, I had the courage to stand in front of them holding the digi cam for 10 seconds.

Two of them just sit there and put out an even low hiss. The center one swings his body back and forth and emits a much louder hiss. Kinda creepy!

Video proof! Turn up the sound for full effect.

Who knew baby owls could be so scary?


03 June, 2010

Muffler Repack

After Ratty's first "long" ride (20 minutes) I noticed the muffler was rattling around a little, and it got louder. So I uncliped the end cap and pulled out the guts. This is what I found:

The packing was hard and crumbled:

I decided to go ghetto, and used some superfine steel wool pads I had:

I wrapped the perforated core and then bound it all with some rusty mechanics wire:

It somehow managed to slide down into case with no wiggle room. I have no idea how loud or quiet it is, as I didn't care to fire over the beast at 8pm in the garage.

I have no idea how long this will last. It could very well blow apart the first time I run down the road, and I've heard excellent stories about the steel wool shooting out the back of a muffler glowing red hot. Luckily, I won't be taking Ratty on any off-road adventures.


Hello Mr. Owl

This Owl has been hanging out in the craneway for a couple days. He seems pretty content to just sleep it off, as the noise from the crane and forklifts going in and out of the building don't phase him.

I thought he was asleep, so I crept up to within about 10 feet from him and took a pic. Then I circled around to grab another and realized he swiveled his head around to watch me. I guess he wasn't asleep!

the end.