Monday, December 27, 2010

Waiting for Guffman

There's not a whole lot to post about, other than Christmas, and waiting for the shipper. Today, I'll touch on both. Though, I did hit most of the Hitchcock references in my last film-related thread, I doubt I'll be able to hit all of Christopher Guest's or Eugene Levy's, but I'll hit my favorites from the troupe (Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, etc) that appears in many of their movies.

Best in Show
Christmas was a hoot. The custom in my house has been that Christmas is all about the kids, and not at all about the adults. This held true again this year with the boys getting lots of cool new clothes, and a couple of larger things. My wife was well adorned with yoga items (and jewelry of course). My haul was exceptionally small this year, but I don't expect anything anymore, and really truly treasure watching the boys respond to things I've selected for them anyway. I wasn't disappointed. Now that I work for a company that offers employees deep discounts, I can get some pretty cool stuff for them. For at least one day, I was "the best". :)

A Mighty Wind
First, I got the hoses that I ordered from Silicone Intakes. Of the 3, I was able to install one, the 45* angled 2.75" runner that fits between the air flow meter and the air tap for the vacuum. This ties off that, but it needs clamps. Of course. Still, the raw air source has been at least defined.

Waiting for Guffman
With the clamps mentioned above, I also discovered that the 90* angled 2.5" part is right, but it will also require clamps, and a few other things. I decided that rather than nickle-and-dime any more on the induction, I mapped out what I needed and made one single buy for all of the remaining pieces. This includes clamps, but now I'm waiting for the postman again.

This is Spinal Tap
I have this whole week out-of-work, so if I had planned better, I could have made better use of this time. I would have loved to have had all of the intake stuff in hand at the beginning of the week. I learn from this to jump in and over-buy early, when you work with a retailer with a great return policy (like Silicone Intakes does). Translation: make your amp's go to 11 :)
Still, I'm taking the boys up to Mt. Hood tomorrow for a day with the aunt's, uncle's and cousins in the snow. On Wednesday, we have the extended family Christmas party-dinner thing. In between the events and the passing showers, I'll be looking at the auxiliary battery stuff. I need to get it a-fixed to the floor (under the rock'n'roll bed), grounded, and the B+ wired to the little fuse block. I'll tie the battery into the Alternator later, but having some juice flowing to the inside lights will be handy.

That's it for today. I'll post about our day on the mountain, my progress on the electrical and my in-bound package next time. If FedEx Ground is as fast as I've experienced before, I may still be able to button-down the induction before NYE. Thanks again for following along, and I'll have more later-

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bracing for the Holidaze

I mentioned over the Summer that I got a new job. I haven't really talked much about the gig, other than to complain about the hours. Looking at the job numbers, and seeing how hard some folks are having it, I'm going to stop complaining about it. I read back through some old posts, and it seems like I gripe about not having time an awful lot. Seeing how I can't really do much about it, I'm not going to do that anymore. I should be grateful to have work doing something I'm pretty good at, and I get paid regularly.

The craziness started for most folks around Thanksgiving. I have a tradition where I take my boys out shopping the Saturday before Christmas. In past years, we've gone to Macy's or Fred Meyer. This year, my brother called and asked if the boys wanted to go shopping with their 3 year old cousin around the city of Portland. It was a blast, and it gave me a great reminder of how wonderful a city Portland is. The energy... the people... we truly live in an amazing place. The boys and I found a few unusual items for "mom", visited with our uncle/brother and cousin/niece. Last, we enjoyed some fresh Thai food for lunch off one of the street-carts. Yummy.

Today, my sister and her daughter arrived from Austin. They will be staying with my folks in close-in SE Portland for a few days before heading over to her mother-in-law's place. Her husband flies in on Xmas-eve. We'll have almost the entire extended family in town this year, but with the usual extended family challenges, I don't think we'll be celebrating as a full group until the middle of next week.

Bracket Progress
With an unexpected change in the weather, we were given a few dry hours today. After cleaning up the house, and wrapping what we got yesterday, I could think about the bus guilt-free. I had spent about 30 minutes in the dark on Friday night figuring out where the inter cooler could fit, and what I would need for pressure hose. That night, I ordered a couple 90* bends and a 45* bend (for the air filter end of the operation). Today, I figured I could start working on the bracket to hold the inter-cooler in place. I know my welding skills aren't that great, and I know that welding up a simple triangular brace would have taken me days. With this in mind, I grabbed a straight 1" steel bar and headed for the rear of the bus, prepped for the worst.

In looking at the scene, I didn't need a simple triangle; this thing needed to have an angled side and one corner was further forward than the other, meaning it couldn't be a closed triangle. I took the bar and bent it most of the way back on itself, and then twisted it so the top was a few inches further forward than the rear. I test fit the idea and noticed that the top corner needed a mount point that required another 90* bend. Luck was with me, though, as the bar had a couple inches of extra material on the top. I made another small bend, and it looked right. I guess I've paid some luck-dues, because I drilled 5/8" holes, and after some twisting and tweaking, they lined up about perfectly.

Looking at the finished product, the top of the inter-cooler is a couple inches lower than I expected, but the entire unit is in the slip-stream, but not below the low-point of the engine. It should be worth noting that the radiator and the front beam are both lower than the inter cooler, as placed. A front bracket still needs to be made, but I would rather have the exhaust in first, so I know what I have to work around.

The hoses should arrive some time this next week. This sets me up to get the induction system sealed up next weekend. My hopes to have test drives before New Years Eve could still become a reality. I still don't have an exhaust, of course. This will limit how far I can test a drive, but any movement out of the driveway would be a successful drive at this point. We'll see....

top: rough-in placement of inter-cooler for hose need assessment
upper-middle: bracket in-place before attaching the cooler
lower-middle: same shot as the one above, but after the inter-cooler was attached
bottom: view from the side showing the road clearance of the inter-cooler. Consider the front bracket will raise it about an inch.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Brief post today. It was pouring rain this weekend, so I wasn't all that ready to work outside. So, I did some finish work on the rear cabinet (in my garage), and got the rear bumper installed when it lightened to a sprinkle. I'll have to remove it again to paint it, eventually, but Id rather have the bumper on the bus for the test drives.

Access Panel
As you can see from these pictures, I cut a small square access panel out of the bottom of the unit. Its about 4" square. When looking at the rear cabinet from the rear hatch (it would be on the left side), this hatch would be reachable through the bottom cubie. Under the hatch, I plan to have the original ignition, so I'll have a remote-starter capability.

OBDII Sensor
Those little metal squares will just hold the panel in place - as in keep it from falling into the spare tire-hole. In the picture that doesn't have my hand in it, you can make out where the OBDII port will poke in. Again, its in the bottom cubie, but on the forward wall. Once the engine is running right and the cabinet is re-installed, the OBDII connector will fit into that black housing. Since most, if not all, of the times I'll need to plug in a laptop I'll be looking at the engine, it seemed reasonable to place access near the engine. Still, we wouldn't want to disrupt the look of the cabinet, so its buried.

Otherwise, I got one of those Saab Blackstone inter-coolers off of eBarf. It looks good, arrived a little dirty, but the cooling surface looks larger than the stock one, and as you can see the input/output ports are both on the same end. I'll take some measurements and some side-by-side pictures with the stock one later on. I hear it may not rain tomorrow night or maybe Thursday. If the rumors hold true, I may get out there and start seeing how it can fit under the engine bay. If I can get a good strong fit, I can plan the air routes and get the silicone pipes on a truck before the Christmas shipping rush really kills package movement. We'll see.

Thanks for following along. Oh, it looks like the snow on Mt. Hood is getting really good. I may need to take another day at Meadows before Christmas... but then I definitely won't be test driving before NewYearsEve. Grr... the snow will have to wait :(

Sunday, December 5, 2010

the Wheels on the Bus

Lately, I've noticed that the once wide-array of tire choices for the bay-window bus are disappearing. When I combine this with the need to handle a lower RPM output engine than the stock one, I am starting to think about larger rims. It all started with that drive up to Mt. Hood Meadows through the snow flurries. I got to thinking about what it would be like to drive up for a day of snowboarding in the bus.

First, I got all romantic-like. Thoughts of taking a break in the bus with a propane heater running, making hot chocolate, etc. Plus, the room for 4 of us to roll up there and popping the top for head-room to stand up. Sounds great. Add in a working stove to make hot beverages or food, and it sounds frickin' great.

Then, I started thinking about how well my tires would grip. I have Saturn 720's from Les Schwab that I bought about 4 years ago. Since then, I haven't put many miles on them, but they are not M+S tires, much less snow tires. I hit the web to see what my tire options were, and that's when I had my discovery: they don't make many tires that fit my need anymore. After reading and re-reading one of my favorite bus-related websites I started looking in earnest for another wheel / tire alternative. My current thinking now, is to upgrade to 16" rims. I know the tire wells and the steering mechanism can only handle so much of an upgrade, though. I'd like to find Mercedes 16" x 6" steelies rather than the seemingly abundant 16" x 7.5" chrome rims. Rims this size would support the standard tire for a Ford Ranger, and these would fit within the tire wells.

I know this is a total non sequitur from all the other work that I need to complete. Still, just thinking about what could be helps to motivate. It also serves as a reminder of all the things left to complete. The stove doesn't work because the under-belly propane tank was never installed (though I have it). The pop-top replacement is still waiting to be installed. Of course, the bus isn't running. Lots to do, but if I can figure out a way to continue to work when the bus is parked outside and its 40* (and windy), I can get it done. Maybe I should rent someone's garage....

More next time, and I'll post pictures of the trip to Mt. Hood Meadows from work this week. UPDATE: added picture from parking lot at Meadows.