A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finders Keepers

Nearly ran over a 10 foot pressure treated 4x4 on my way home this morning. Not sure what I'm going to do with it, but what the hell.

Made it home no problem.

The Durango towed very well. It has the same engine as my 3/4 ton Ram did so it definitely has the torque to move the load. Leaving the transmission in Tow/Haul mode and feathering the pedal up hills to avoid down shifting netted me 12.0 mpg.

Considering that the truck & trailer combo weighed about 7500# and my Durango weighs about 4100#, I'm very happy with the towing performance. The trailer brakes and the Takonsha P3 brake controller are awesome. Absolutely no worries about getting the thing whoa'ed up.

I wouldn't do it all the time as the Durango suspension and transmission aren't really rated for that kind of consistent abuse, but for a one off, it performed flawlessly.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We don't need no steenkin clocks...

Went to bed about 2130 last evening. Woke up, looked at the bedside clock and it said, 1255. It just didn't seem like it was only 1am. So I tossed and turned for about 30 minutes to no avail. I then decided to check my email on the blackberry. Viola. 0605. Seems that Grand Prairie lost power for about 35 minutes around 0350 this morning.

Oh well. Coffee's brewing and I'm getting ready to roll.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Yet Another New Toy

Durango's going to know she's towing something tomorrow. It did get almost 18mpg on the way here with an empty trailer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Attic Insulation Completed

Finally. The last of the insulation is laid down. I also cleaned out the attic while I was at it. What a pile of trash. The only really useful stuff I found was a pile of the original flooring from our front foyer, so now I can repair the two water damaged spots if I want without having to replace the entire room.

The final tally was 54 rolls of R30 unfaced glass. (I had two extra out of the 56 I bought.)

Here are some pictures:




So far it's been worth it. We've had a slightly colder than normal fall so far and I still haven't had to turn on the gas heat. We've lit the fireplace a few times but the interior temperature of the house is very stable now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't ever buy weird light bulbs on a $ per pound basis

The slot machine has a few burned out bulbs. I pulled one today to see what it was.

Here is a picture.


There are seven of them that illuminate the buttons and the little commands on the face. I had to order ten. $17.87 shipped was the best price I could find.

These things are more expensive than truffles.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Toy

Picked this up over Thanksgiving. A friend had bought it last year, but it had stopped working and he was going to toss it. I said WHOA!!. I'll take it. I figured it would be something to play with.

I got it home, (It weighs nearly 200#.) and plugged it in. It was throwing a code 12. I did a little digging around in the cabinet and on the internet and found that that means the memory battery on the main board is dying.

I cobbled three AA batteries together with some wire and solder and soldered them across the battery on the board. Plugged the unit back in and viola, it started right up.

I've since replaced the soldered together batteries with a little battery holder so I can change them on the fly. Now I'm just taking my time cleaning it and fixing the few things that are left. I had to replace the fluorescent lights in it and clean a few of the sensors, but in general, for a nearly twenty year old actual quarter slot machine, it's running very well.

For reference, I ran the numbers that are in the machine and it seems to be set for 92.35% payout.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finished Hitch Installation Pictures

The hitch:




The Brake Controller: I mounted it where the ashtray block out plate was. Since you can't get a vehicle with an ashtray anymore.


Hooked up:


The Combo:



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Durango Hitch Install, Phase 3

I tackled the trailer brakes after a nice Dual-sport ride with the DSRL bunch this morning.

Turns out that the grounds for each of the brake units had broken. I reconnected them and the brake controller started reading the units.

I thne took a look inside the actual plug on the trailer. Whoa. It was totally rusted and mud-dawbered up. I can't believe that it still worked as well as it did.

Off to Autozone for a new plug. Rewired the trailer to the new plug and checked it out.

Everything worked. And I found out why the vortex did not open yesterday. There was a short in the plug that was causing the marker lights to flash when the hazard flashers were on. After rewiring the plug, they don't do that any more.

Took the trailer for a drag empty and played with the brakes. This controller lets you set the max voltage very easily so at 5V max, I can tow the trailer empty and not lock the trailer wheels up.

Went back home and loaded up the Firebird. Strapped it down about a fot further back from where it worked on the 3/4 ton and off we went.

The Durango tows remarkably well. I think it actually handled better than when we had it packed to the gills with crap over Thanksgiving.

I was able to run the brake controller up to 12.8V and Boost #3 and that thing STOPS. And right Now. Kill the boost and it is docile for slow in town driving. Bump up the boost and from 70 mph it just hauls the combo to a stop pronto.

Brakes never even screwed up once.

I'll post some pictures tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Durango Hitch Installation, Phase 2

I have just accomplished the impossible. I think what I've just managed to do may cause a problem with the space/time continuum.

I just wired the Durango from scratch for a seven wire trailer with full proportional electric brake control and ALL OF THE LIGHTS WORKED PROPERLY ON THE FIRST TRY!!!

If the trailer brakes didn't need to be rewired on the trailer itself, and those had worked too, I think a vortex may have opened up right in my carport.

Trailer lights are not supposed to work properly on the first try, ever.

Tomorrow, To rebuild the brakes on the trailer.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Durango Trailer Hitch Install, Phase 1

Started mounting the trailer hitch to the Durango this morning.

I got a "Hidden Hitch" as it doesn't add any cross bars that reduce ground clearance in the rear and it is rated the dame as the standard style hitches.

The hitch with this unit is that you have to drill a couple 1/2" clearance holes through an existing cross member for two big mounting bolts.

No problem, thought I. I have a great bit set with all the sizes I need. Unfortunately, after I got the unit mounted and prepared to drill the holes, I noticed that my great bits were not turned down to fit into a 3/8" drive drill.

I thought for a while and decided that I needed to upgrade my drill. The Dewalt corded unit I have has been going strong since I purchased it in 1994. So, Off to the 'Po to pick up it's slightly bigger brother.

I've pretty much decided that you can take you cordless stuff and shove it. For the limited frequency I need drills and such, keeping a battery charged all the time is wasteful.

Plus, as I was about to find out, when you really need torque, 110V, 60Hz is the only way to go.

So, I got home a slapped one of my 1/2" bits into the new drill, which is physically, not much larger than my old unit, and started boring into the cross member.

Shortly thereafter I found out that a great way to ensure you are fully awake is to twist off a 1/2" drill bit while punching yourself vigorously in the face.

I used a pilot drill for the remaining holes and things went much smoother.

Stepping up to a 1/2" drive drill from a 16 year old 3/8 can be pretty entertaining if you're not ready for the kick.

After I finished that up and tightened down all the bolts, I went out searching for a 2" ball with either a 1" or 1-1/8" shank. Had to look at three stores before I finally found the last one that Autozone had.

Torqued it to 250 ft-lbs with the 1-1/2" socket I purchased in about 1994 the last time I needed to torque a hitch ball.

Hooked to the trailer and took it for a short drag. The Durango tows well. Granted there was nothing on the trailer, but it weighs about 2200# by itself.

Now I need to wire the Durango for lights, and trailer brakes and rewire the trailer to get all of that working again.

Maybe next weekend.

Test drive

Stratus is much improved now. No more silly noises, even on the roads around here. I'm much happier with it now.

Suspension Corrected

I think I've fixed the clunking and banging that was emanating from the right front of the Strat since shortly after I replaced the original struts last summer.

I picked up another right front strut pretty cheap. - $45 shipped.

I was up early this morning so I figured there was no time like the present.

Got the unit off the car and popped it apart. Found out that the top spring perch that mounts to the actuator rod has a flat spot that is supposed to be lined up with a corresponding flat on the rod. I didn't manage to get that totally correct the first time and it pinched. These springs really need three compressors per spring to get them squished properly for this job and I only have two. I need to pick up another set. When I first put it together, it was tight, but it finally shaved off the piece on the plate and settled. This allowed it to be a tad loose. If I had hit the hold down nut with the impact wrench, It probably would have solved the problem, but whatever.

Now I made sure that the flats were aligned and got it back together again. Jumping up and down on it there is no more weird noises, so it seems OK for the moment. We'll see how long it lasts.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lunch in Atlanta.