Thursday, April 30, 2009

Days off

I took off yesterday in the hopes of working on my van but the parts didn't get here until today. So I slept in a bit and then rode my bike. It hurt. Then I came home and worked in the garage in intervals. I started installing a Yakima rack on the roof of the van. I scored it from my buddy Adam. It's a raingutter mount (1A towers). It will NOT work. It's the easiest rack to install that man has ever made. There's a gap between the gutter and the clip. I tried spacers and it worked but then I couldn't use the damn doors. As a last ditch effort I decided to try customizing the clips. I broke the first one and gave up. I grabbed a chair and sat out in the sun. Heather came home from work and I was OUT.

Still trying to figure out a good system for carrying bikes.
I don't know that I've ever had a vehicle that wasn't made anymore AND had the potential for hard to find parts. That white valve is a roll over valve for the expansion tank. The place I get my parts from in California still has these but not the seals. Since I had to replace both valves, I had to get the seals off the old ones and onto the new ones and then get them into the tanks. The first one went in beautifully. I put a bit of RTV around it for good measure. This one...not so much. The seal was trashed. I started by using a little less than a tube of RTV. That got messy. Then I went shopping. I found grommets for valve covers that are used to hold little filters/breathers. The inner diameter fit the valve pretty darn close but there was a little play between the seal and the tank. I met an old timer at the store and started talking to him. I usually don't enjoy talking to people all that much until I get to know them. For some reason...I like speaking with my elders. Anyway he was telling me about this stuff he sealed a gas tank with once and, low and behold, I found it a few aisles over. So I laid a pretty big bead of it on and I'm gonna let it sit over night and set up really well before I throw it back in the wheel well and attach a vent hose to the valve.

This sides all done.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu

We're keeping a hairy eyeball on this situation. We are about 4 weeks away from going on our honeymoon and that's pretty much the light at the end of the tunnel that's getting me through work each day. Now there's talk of not allowing any travel to that area. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out. I will be one pissed off person if this trip gets cancelled. Maybe I should wait a bit longer before I go Speedo shopping? Maybe we'll be honeymooning at the house of Corbitt in beautiful St. Charles? They don't even have a bidde. But.......they do have a garden hose. I could just close my eyes.

Storm pics

Bodhi loves the snow. It's always fun to watch the dogs try to drop a deuce in 2+ feet of the stuff. He will NOT come in. Here he was soaked and it had been over an hour. Of course....fatso came running in for a snack though.

The look on my face in this picture is because Heather had just dropped the camera and it hit pavement. It appears to be fine though.

This is the tree that bit the dust. There was a split in the tree probably 6 feet up from the trunk and it looks like it was a bit rotted in there so that didn't help out. It took out the fence and laid across the rode. The city workers drug it across the road where it presently sits. I'm glad it did not fall the other way or it might have taken out the Jeep.

Look at that textbook lifting form. All legs baby. This is not the reason for the sore muscles. It was much too long ago. Those shoes DO NOT have functional lights. That is strictly special effects.

I never tire of watching the puppies play. Bodhi is still clumsy and it was advantage Dharma once she learned to lure him into the deeper stuff. I imagine this is what it's like to have young kids. They just don't wanna stop playing. Even if they can't keep their eyes open any longer. They get cranky and that's when little arguments break out where I have to say, "That's IT!!" Until that happens I'm ear to ear.
I haven't been able to fill up the van with a full tank because it just pours out from the drivers side so I decided to see what the problem was on Friday after work. Here you can see a plastic "T" that is busted. This is prt of the evaporative system but when the tank's full enough it allows an escape route on hard right handers.

This is the overly complex gas tank that VW decided would be a good idea to use. It consists of your typical supply line and return line. There are 2 lines that come off each side of the front of the tank and they both run to expansion tanks that are mounted in each wheel well. Then there's that crossover pipe (which is broken). It ties into the evap system as well. The tank itself is saddle shaped and the coolant lines are able to make their way from front to back in that depression in the middle. There's a lot going on. I replaced all of the grommets and the crossover pipe as well as the fuel lines running to the expansion tanks and small sections of supply and return line (those were about to crack). I also replaced the filler neck grommet but left the sending unit o-ring alone as it appeared to be ok. I did manage to break both of the valves at the top of each expansion tank (I thought they were simply caps with a hole in the top for a line to pass through). That will be a $70 mistake (for 2 of those). Pretty happy about that.

After I had the tank back in place, I decided it might be a good idear to replace the fule lines in the engine bay. They make me nervous as they sit right above the exhaust manifold and I'm sure it wouldn't take much more than a drip for me to have a Van BQ. VW used a sheath that appears to serve as a heat shield on the fuel lines and it was good times getting the new lines through those but in the end, everything worked out fine. I will feel better about not having to sweat leaky fuel lines after I've been able to check all teh connections and make sure they're all tight. Too bad I won't be driving the van until I can get those expansion tanks fixed and re-installed and then button everything back up to the tank.

no riding

I have not been on a bike in 2 weeks now. There are some things going on that appear to be causing me some stress. I'm not sleeping well at all. One of the worst things is that my muscles ache. My quads feel like I've been doing squats, my back hurts, arms hurt, etc. It's not a pain where something is pulled but it's that pain you get 2 days after a tough workout in the gym. I also have some symptoms going on that I'm just not comfortable with broadcasting to the world but they have me pretty concerned. I'll be going to see a doctor this week and then, hopefylly, can get a referral to see a specialist about some of the other symptoms. I honestly don't think that I could even pedal up the pass right now. I suppose I could ride down and then have Heather shuttle me up to the top again? No biggie...we're supposed to get more snow today anyway. I would post some pictures for you entertainment but they'd just be laying on the couch with 2 dogs. One of which is right at 9 months now and towers above his sister.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I love cars. I would love to have an Audi All Road or an A4 Avant with quattro. Maybe a Subaru Forester XT. However...I chose the wrong career path to drive really sweet cars. To be honest though...I'm not sure one of those would suit all of my needs. My dogs would trash a really nice car. I can't sleep comfortably in a wagon and I sure as hell can't change into my waders in one. These are some of the reasons why I really love the van. I can pick up whole sheets of drywall in it. Sleep in it with my wife and 2 mutts. Haul loads of gear and still have room to walk around. It even handles pretty well with the weight being below the floors and all. The only thing I worry about with it is the motor. 90 horse power aint much at this altitude and they typically leak oil and coolant pretty badly (although mines fine but it is only a matter of time). I see no reason to rebuild a motor that will still have the same power and weaknesses once it's done. Heather was not on board with the van until she had a few days to let things perculate. Now she loves the van but she's not on board about a motor swap. So I'm waiting it out patiently as it's only a matter of time.

So the big question is which motor would serve as a good substitute? There are quite a few options. A Porsche motor would be fun but far too expensive to maintain. A Ford Zetec motor fits very well and the fellas at Bostig Conversions have really done their homework with that 130hp swap. Anything that's inline 4 should fit fine and that leaves loads of options. A TDI would be really neat but it would mean having to regear the trans (although I wonder if you could make due with bigger/taller tires...although the headache associated with finding wheels that fit is incredibly hard). I've seen a 5 cylinder Audi motor installed but it's not interesting me. A 1.8T would get me in a lot of trouble but I'm not really sure I wanna deal with a turbo. I've never seen anyone do a Vetec conversion but I know that motor can handle buttloads of power. There's the 2 liter, 8 valve ABA motor from your Golfs/Jettas but it's only good for 118 hp. I've seen one guy do a 2 liter, 16 valve motor (one of my favorite motors) but......there's the Subaru motors. I could do a 2.2NA motor but why do that when there's the 2.5NA that'll give me about 175ish (depending on year)? Lot's of people go the Subie route and it fits like it was supposed to come that way from the factory. Plus I still get the cool factor of the horizontally opposed 4 cylinder (it's really interesting to me). A VR6 will work but you have to fabricate a new deck lid and lose a lot of space. SVX Subaru motor fits nicely and gives stupid power but you pay for it and they're hard to find. I do know of one of those motors in St. Louis that my friend built that has 1000 horse power and I believe he just sold it for 27 grand.

Right now I'm leaning towards the 2.5. It's nothing that's gonna happen tomorrow. A conversion like that is gonna take some reading up on. I need to have all my ducks in a row before I do that and I've still got some things that are pretty big distractors to take care of.

A first!!!!!!!

Heather just put Bodhi's food bowl down for dinner and he IS NOT eating. At all. I'll be collecting a stool sample and scheduling him to see the vet tomorrow.

I also want you all to know that I came home today for lunch to let him out like I always do and while he was doing his thing I was taking in the beauty of Pikes Peak. After he got done I almost had a heart attack because I thought there was a snake coiled up in the front yard. I should have suspected a stomach bug then.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lot's of snow

We woke up this morning and it's STILL snowing. My HOA came by about midnight and plowed the driveway for us but it looks like they didn't this morning. I was just telling Heather last night that it's a good thing that the Aspens hadn't started producing their leaves yet or their thinner branches would have broken off from the weight of the snow. Well....the Aspens appear to be ok but the big pines are sagging. We had one in the front yard that is over a foot in diameter snap off at the base from being so top heavy. Luckily the wind isn't blowing much right now but if it picks up it could make things interesting. Lightning started up again last night and looks to have hit a tree right outside the bedroom window and split it. I just got all the snow off the deck because I was worried about it falling away from the house. No telling how much we've gotten now. It compacts so hard but you almost can't see the fence in the front yard at all right now. I'll get pics if/when it stops as it's just such a wet snow. Looks like we're just hanging out inside today. I have to keep going out to clear the snow off the satelite dish so we can watch tv.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pearl Izumi shoes

Stefan (the guy behind the CTR) is still debating about some course changes to this years event. I think we will be riding much more of the trail this year. There are some detours that we took last year just because the trail was so rough and involved so much hiking. The attitude this year seems to be that we should ride as much of the trail as we legally can and that's fine with me. I just wanna have time to prepare for it (more mentally than physically). The section of high altitude riding down near the San Juans can be very dangerous if the weather doesn't cooperate but I hear it can give some once in a lifetime views so I'm fine with that.
Regardless of any changes that will happen, I picked up a pair of these shoes for this year. Last year I wore through a pair of carbon sole Specialized shoes in a few days on the trail. I thought they were comfortable but I had not gotten to the worst of the hike a bike sections before the hub called it quits. I've been wearing these to work for a few weeks now and they should be really nice. Now I just need to figure out what clothing I'm gonna wear. I can't do the Ghisallo thing anymore. I'm thinking about wearing a wife beater and some baggies.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Crazy weather

It's been raining, hailing, snowing, and sleeting (off and on) for the last 3 hours now. There's also been some pretty wicked lightning. The sky is almost black. The weather people are instructing everyone to batten down the hatches. We're supposed to get somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 feet in the next day or so. The light at the end of the tunnel is that it's supposed to be glorious towards the middle of next week.
I've been busy at night most of the week re-doing the garage. I had things set up in such a way that it was impossible to pull the van in all the way. So I moved everything over to the far bay and now I have the entire first bay all for a vehicle. Half of the far bay is an organized mess because of the firewood but my HOA doesn't want that outside which is fine as it stays dry in the garage anyhow.

I have plenty of room now to work on the van (even the motor) in the warmth of the garage. My HOA also doesn't allow me to work on vehicles in the driveway which is fine with me too. It keeps things clean on our tiny street. I want you to notice how much room there is behind the van. I still have another 8" that I can pull forward and close the garage door. I'm pleased. There will be more than enough room for me to wiggle the Waterboxer motor out and slide something in it's place like.........oh..........a Subaru motor.....if I felt the need to do so. That's all I have to say about that right now.

Moving the workbench was a royal pain. I had to mount it into the cinderblock wall and that required me to drill into it and anchor. An atomic bomb could go off in the garage and the only thing left standing would be the workbench.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I think I made some headway on the van's cold start issues yesterday. I tested the throttle switch and then adjusted it as well as playing around with the idle screw. After some trial and error I finally was able to get the motor to a point where it would start up and idle right at 950. I left it alone after that cuz I wanted to see how it was this morning. It fired right up and I was able to take my foot off the throttle immediately without it falling on it's face. Now...I'm not sure I agree with the process of how I got here. Idle screws shouldn't change. The throttle switch on this motor appears to be alot like the throttle position sensor on a CIS-E motor (which I hate)and it's possible that that could have been the culprit I guess. I may be able to rule out a vacuum leak now though. I still need to install the new Temp II sensor but I think I'm going to do a pretty thorough test on it first.

The manual has a test where you're basically checking the resistance to the sensor at a given temperature. The sensor that I have in the motor checks out fine at ONE temperature but I have no clue what it's doing at other temps. So I think I'm gonna have one of my classes do a science experiment with me this week. We'll hook up the sensor to an ohm meter and then watch as the temp rises (via a hot plate) and see what the ohms are over a wider period. After graphing the data, I'll swap sensors and we'll do it again and see what the difference is. Man am I a dork'll be a hoot.

AZT 300

I think there were 9 starters this morning for the Arizona Trail Race. I would have loved to do this one but I just couldn't make it happen. Hope you guys have an excellent time. Be safe. If you wanna follow along and see what kind of progress they're making...check out the leaderboard.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The years when I wasn't cycling and was fishing 5 days a week were killer. I do not get out on the water nearly as much as I'd like now. That's one of the reasons why I'm going to focus on the CTR again this year and then run a peak for a fall race. I don't think I'll have to ride as much as last summer for the CTR so I will be chasing trout much more.

The Cutts haven't moved up from the reservoir as much as I thought they would have by now. There was full on hurricane winds up at Spinney Ranch today. I pulled in to find 5 trucks and a guy standing next to a Ford Focus. I parked, walked in the back and proceeded to suit up. I flipped up the table and tied on an egg pattern and a blood midge then threw open the sliding door and gave Mr. Focus a nod.

I didn't see many fish at all. I spied this bow in the river. The water was too deep to cross and there was a dude working upstream. I didn't want him to get a crack at it so I had to cast from the far side. It's so hard to get good pics of fish when you're solo. Some dudes throw em up in the grass but that's rough on the fish (disclaimer....I did that once on a night when I just had to get proof of at least one in Cheesman Canyon). This is the best I could do today. This fish faught for about 7 minutes and it was cooked when I netted it so I had to be delicate. Beautiful colors though.

Unlike this trash fish. This is a sucker. They compete directly with my beloved trout and they get introduced to the bank and eventually.......Mr. Eagle.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm feeling a little under the weather tonight and I simply can't imagine being able to go to work tomorrow. It's supposed to be in the mid to upper 50's. As luck would have it, the Cutthroat's should already be staged in the river and doing there thang. Now the Cutts are sure pretty fish but I'm kind of against targeting fish that are spawning. It's hard enough on them already and some of them can't handle the stress of being caught. However, the bigger browns and bows also move into the river from the reservoir to feed on the smorgasboard of eggs. There are trophy fish that roam the waters and they are all fair game. The activity should be good. Several different egg patterns and some midges should make for a killer day. Normally I suit up in the waders out in the garage but tomorrow I shall change in the luxury of my van while listening to Pink Floyd's The Division Bell and finishing up a fat coffee. If I tire of fishing I shall take a nap on the bed. I may even bring an alcoholic beverage and place it into one of the many cup holders throughout the van.

For those of you that are going to email or call and say that I should ride.....I can't because the parts to fix my shoes haven't arrived yet and I'm deeply depressed about it.

Van repair 101

Here's what's required to change out the rear heater core on an 88 Vanagon. Actually the manual isn't required at all as it's a super easy repair. Every time you order something from the Van-Cafe you get 2 bags of Famous Amos cookies. I will not order from anywhere else.

Here's the old leaky heater core. You can see all the nastiness along the bottom of the core where it's been leaking and filling the van with the scent of maple syrup.

Here is everything all ready to buttoned back up. With the rear heater, Ron Burgundy throws out some serious heat. The rear heater alone could burn your calves. I aint talkin' about baby cows neither.

This picture shows the nasty stains on the carpet and the padding is soaked with coolant. Coolant is almost as nasty to work with as brake fluid is. That crap is there to stay I guess as I'm not in the mood to rip out the carpet at the moment. Although I have pondered Pergo floors.
Test drive proved fun. Every time I drive the van I can't help but have a huge smile on my face.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Some decisions are really difficult to make. Particularly when you have others that depend on you (even when some of them are canines and one of them is an assbag that chewed up one of my carbon road shoes tonight). Being with Heather has really forced me to be less selfish and that's a great thing. It'll be interesting (nerve wracking) to see what time brings. I suppose it's these things that make life more interesting eh?

I may force feed the other shoe to Bodhi. (Kidding of far as you know.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Over-seas vans

This is a Vanagon build (Transporter over there) that I've been following as a few guys named Mika and Heige carry out over in Finland. It's pretty impressive. This is how it started:

Here it is pretty much completed:

Some of the specs are an EJ20T Subaru motor, turbo'd, intercooled, 17 inch rims, discs all around, full cage, 6 Sparco racing seats each equipped with a 6 point harness, coilovers. It was put on a serious diet and now weighs about as much as a track ready Porsche but I'm sure it's way more fun to drive.
We are supposed to get a foot of the white stuff today. Not much to report other than that. I get a box from the brown man that contains Van parts about once each week. My new rear heater core will be here on Tuesday and then I'll get that put in. I got my Bentley factory repair manual yesterday and spent last night reading some of it. Yesterday I also got a new temperature sensor. I think I'm gonna do a science experiment today and put it in a pot of water and hook up some leads to it and then hook the leads to an ohm meter. I'm going to run it through temperature variations from darn near freezing to boiling and watch the resistance it puts out and see how it corresponds to the graph so I know for sure it's good before installing it. Heather's great about helping with the van and I worrid she'd be mad about having to take care of some of these things that have been neglected for so long but she's completely fine with it. She's not afraid to get out there and turn a wrench if I tell her what to do.

I have not been doing all that much riding lately. It's been a bit hard to do with the cold and I'm not really wanting to get on the trainer again. I suppose it's fine. There is really not much I care about doing well in this year. I want to finish the CTR for sure. Then in the fall after all that base mileage, I have one event on my mind that I will run a peak for. This plan fits well as we hope to take the van to lots of cool places this summer. I plan on bringing my road bike with me and just logging long days and seeing cool things. I should have plenty of time after the CTR to recover and then put together a super intense plan to taper for the selected event. I'm kinda throwing all my eggs in basket but I'm fine with that. Hopefully no injuries along the way to Durango will interfere but if they do that's fine too. I absolutely have to get this thing outta the way this year. I can't have it on my mind for another 12 months. Besides, I already have the next big thing planned for the following summer and I'm anxious to start researching for it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I've been busy tonight doing some diagnostics on the van. I'm trying to determine if the air flow sensor is good or not. I'm not sure what the outcome is yet. I find it hard to believe that the thing would run very well at all if it was broken but I suppose it's possible. I'm coming up with some ohm measurements that are leading me to believe that there could be an issue with it. I haven't ruled out the possibility that there may just be a huge vacuum leak that's causing it to be a bit cranky on cold starts. I have identified one area just after the meter where the upper airbox attaches to the intake boot and it is really loose. I don't have any starter fluid to verify that though. I should know tomorrow.

As I was sitting there thinking about things, I noticed a small puddle underneath the sliding portion of the door. It was coolant. There's no coolant hoses anywhere near the sliding door but it was clearly coming from that area underneath the door. So as I'm sitting there scratching my head, I started to laugh a bit. I forgot that there is a rear heater in the van and it's under the back seat. I had it all apart in about 20 minutes and......the heater core is bad. So it's 70 bones to replace that and it makes a huge mess. All the carpet and padding under the rear seat is soaked. Gonna be fun to clean up. The van is definitely needing some TLC before I trust it but the thing is so cool. I am constantly finding little things that I find interesting. For example, there is a valve under the back seat that, when open, allows hot water to enter the core and heat the van when the blower is turned on. In the summer you can flip that valve closed and keep things cooler. I know what you're thinking, I can just close the valve and wait til later. Not so much. There's still some back pressure in the system and it'll leak...just slower.

At least it's snowing here again and we're not looking to go camping anytime soon.