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"Built Dam Strong!"

18 September 2014

Fit Fit minor update: securing some wires securely.

Two of the new additions to my fine toaster (appliance, commuter car) have been very useful. The first is a power port doubler that also has two USB charging ports and the second is a Bluetooth adapter that offers some unique and very useful features. (I'll go into that more later in a separate review.)

With the wires and widgets installed in a functional but honestly sloppy manner, the rattling and slapping of wire against my knee while driving came to be too much, so, I took some time looking for solutions that didn't involve tape, JB Weld or hot glue.

The first fix involved some actual, literal industrial strength Velcro brand hook and loop fatten fastener self-adhesive tape:

I cut a short section and stuck it onto the charging adapter and secured it thusly:

It fits rather well there! This Velcro stuff is really good so far. It has very good grip strength and the adhesive is very sticky. I just wish it had come in black. I'm fairly sure I ordered black, but, the gray isn't offensive in the least. This takes care of the major rattle source.

Next, I looked for a compact wire holding solution that wasn't white or sickly off white like many cable holders seem to come in. I found some clips with double sided sticky tape that seemed to fit the bill. The amazon reviews showed some dissatisfaction with the pre-applied tape, but none with the clips. Since I'm not above improving things, I figured I would try the tape as supplied and see for myself how it holds up to the rigors of automotive use. On to the pics!
This is the annoying wire:
No, it isn't the biggest deal in the world, but it does swing around enough for me to notice while I'm driving. I usually seek to minimize distractions while driving, and this is a really simple fix, so Yay!

These are the clips:
They come 20 to a package:

Installing them is a bit fiddly. The tape is certainly not as good quality as the best 3M stuff, but, it seems to stick if you press and hold them in place for half a minute. Again, we'll see if they hold over time. The biggest part of keeping them stuck on is to put them where they are not under any strain but still guide the wire. This goes for larger wires and even piping things in the engine bay. Work with the material, not against it. Things will last longer that way.

Here is a look at the clips installed:
They are all out of the way and prevent the wire from swinging willy nilly into my knee. Cool.

Then I decided to really test these thing's capacity:

That is the pretty thick 6' long USB charging cable that reaches up to my phone that is on a window mount right next to the pillar. It was a bit of a struggle, but they clip on. I would not want to clip anything thicker than this with these, but, the hold on to the wire very securely without pinching it too much.

Here's how I ran the cable with the clips:
So far, they are all still stuck on, even after the chilly temps we had in the area. I'm surprised that they are keeping the thick USB cable in place, even if I did use enough of them. If they hold up for a while, I'm going to use them to properly secure the cable all the way over to the window mount.

Hurrah for cable neatness! 

13 September 2014

Installing a pre-bent roll cage into Steve's CRX, Part 1.

My friend Steve has a silly CRX. What makes it silly? Well, just look and see for yourself:

You might say it makes a little power. It is fairly fast, too, so much so that he needs a roll bar if he wants to run the car at a legitimate drag strip. So, he bought a pre-bent cage and since he didn't want to use flux core for this, I brought over my welding setup and got to work, and it will be quite a lot of work.

Here we are getting set up:
As always, cleaning is the most important part of any welding prep:
 Getting into that corner to clean was a pain. I used a combination of a wire cup and a knotted wire brush. Be sure that you move any wires or lines out of the way.

I notched the baseplate to get a better fitup in the corner:

 Because the floor is curved in odd ways I used a hammer to bash the floor flatter and also curve the plate to match the profile better.

The weld marks in the middle of the plate are from where I tacked a piece of flat bar on to get a better ground:
 I managed to get some really good welds:
 And some not so pretty but perfectly good welds:

I will be making some filler plates to fit in the divots under the plate to the floor, as there is a variable gap of 1/8" to about 1/2". This is more than good enough to get started, though. 

This is a weld on the other side:
 That will get the same filler plate treatment.

Here we come to the not so fun part of lining up the main hoop:
 I asked for a tape measure and Steve gave me this:
 I thought he was mocking me, as it is maybe 1.5" big. Great measuring tools . . .

He DID have a couple of decent carpenter's squares. I used them to mark 1' and 2' up from the end of the hoops thusly:
 This gives a relatively fixed position on both legs to measure from, which, theoretically, makes things easier.

I am fairly confused on one thing, though. I don't get how these tubes are supposed to fit in the car or why they are coped the way they are:

 Me working, obviously:

 Bird's eye view, including me READING THE DARN INSTRUCTIONS:
 Where we left off for the day:

With darkness approaching, we cleaned up and I headed out. I am due back to his house on Tuesday, though I might be able to make it Monday after work, too.

And that's the start of it! Look forward to further installments as we get this thing done.

12 September 2014

Cue the smooth jazz music: it's getting hot in here!

Lately I've been focusing on improving my torch cutting. One of the biggest time sinks in the fabrication we do at work is cleaning up stuff with grinders. Not only does it take time, it is hard work swinging this this around sometimes all day at work:

I love that thing, even if it is a heavy beast. It runs fairly smooth for its size and handles well, but swinging all day is tiring.

So, the smoother you cut, the less grinding you have to do. That's good enough reason to work on getting your torch and yourself dialed in to the task at hand.

Let's look at some examples:

Which do you think will take the least amount of time to grind smooth?

The first picture shows the worst cut I made out if the current batch I'm working on. The second shows the smoothest. The third shows a really decent average. All of them aren't terrible and better than most of the other guys in the shop will manage. When you have this many cuts to grind:

It certainly makes a difference in time. Besides, the cutting is way easier than the grinding, so why not spend a bit more time doing that?

That is how things end up, and getting to that point is less effort if you slow down and cut smoothly. I've had to totally readjust my approach to cutting to get to this point. I really used to jack the oxygen pressure up and blast a long a mile a second, and while that approach is great for really rough work, it sucked for any post processing needed. I started to pay attention to all the old timers. I watched how they work. I used their torch settings. I moved slower but more deliberately. I still have a ways to go, but i think I'm on the correct path. Yay!

From what I'm told, the Marines have a saying: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. There is really no better way to put it than that! It takes some thought about the whole process to see where to make gains, but once you start to look at the whole thing, it makes more sense.

Take your time in the prep work. It nearly always pays off by the end of the job! 

07 September 2014

Dave's 2002 update: The floors are no longer Flintstone approved.

That took a lot longer than expected, but, the floors are finally solid again. Geez.

Here are a couple of final pics from Friday evening just before we quit for the evening:

 Dave actually does work once in a while. heh

This is mostly where we left off with the passenger side:
 Test fitting the new floor pan on Saturday morning:
 It fit really well. It covered nearly all the areas that were rusted and that were cut out. We did have to fill in a bit with some steel patches and there will be some liberal use of seam sealer on the far right side, but at that point, we were happy to have the panel line up and fit overall better than expect, even with the panel itself not matching the transmission tunnel. (I "adjusted" the tunnel with a hammer. heh)

This is where things start to get sketchy! The hole that I cut out was supposedly the only rust on the driver's side frame horn/rail thing. That was what we assumed until I hit the bottom of it with a wire wheel.
  ARG! I ended up cutting out the bottom of the thing  as far forward as I could go. I tried to leave as much of the curved edge as possible so when the welds were ground down it would appear mostly factory.

The driver's side floor pan was oddly intact:
 You can also see more of the rust holes in the frame rail from that view, too.
I only had to chop out that much and a little on the other side of the frame rail, but was frustrated because of the pedal assembly getting in the way of nearly everything. That little piece took much longer than both Dave and I figured because it was so awkward to get into the corners  from above an below.

I had to move the lift arm off the frame rail, and again, more rust is revealed:
 Dave and I made a cardboard template and traced it out on sheet steel, cutting it out with this awesome tool:
 I LOVE the curly cues this thing throws off:
 Then I got busy tacking the sucker in place:
 Flash added for effect:
 Jump forward to Sunday and the passenger side pan is finally welded in:
 It looks and feels GREAT. I did need to add some additional welds  between the frame rail and pan from underneath, but it went pretty smoothly except for the fact that Dave was under the car watching for the inevitable fires welding was causing from the greasy underside.

Jump forward a LOT later on Sunday:
 Despite the issues with how awkward the prep work was, the actual welding of that panel went very well and much more quickly than I expected. There weren't as many fires to contend with, though we did have one pop up in the actual pedal box that was a bit bigger than the normal small flames we'd deal with. (We had a hose near by, for the safety nannies.)

A view from underneath showing the very good penetration of the floor patch pan and the welded in panel on the frame rail:
 One last view after cleaning up most of the welds on the frame rail:
Now all Dave has to do is rust proof the thing so hopefully this will never happen again. Yay!

I am really beat. Saturday was so dang hot and muggy, and while we did have a fan, I couldn't keep it on while I was welding. Some other good stuff happened this weekend that will be revealed in due time. I'm kinda excited, but a lot has to happen first, so I can only do what I can do to make it so.

05 September 2014

This evening's entertainment: Dave's 2002's disappearing floor pan!

This is currently happening:

 Starting the clean up:
Dave is currently moving the fuel lines it if the way. That's kinda important. Heh.