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sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets

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(no subject) [Jan. 20th, 2018|09:15 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The Spitfire has either a leaking water pump gasket or the water pump itself has failed and is leaking around the shaft seal. It doesn't matter much either way: they're dirt cheap, so a new one is on its way. Until then, it's operating as a full loss coolant system, like old race cars used to: you just time your trips so that you complete them before you run out of water.

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(no subject) [Jan. 20th, 2018|06:56 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
I broke down and bought a new battery pack for my ten year old laptop. It's magical. I can go more than five minutes without having it die in the middle of trying to post. I should have done this two years ago.
And it fits my twelve year old laptop!

What else. I feel a little weird about something at work. I've learned that if something bike-related breaks, that's mechanical in nature, eventually I end up fixing it: I repaired a coworker's damaged derailleur the other day, rebuilt and retrued a rear wheel for another coworker, have scheduled a rebuild of a bent front wheel for some time in early Feb. I mean, people don't just leave things and expect me to fix them. It's just that they keep asking me for opinions, and eventually I just end up implementing.
But at the same time, when something expensive and new of mine fails, I email people and say "hey how do I fix this and are there any good deals on replacements?" one of my coworkers comes in and says "here's [$800 dollar electronic thing that's three generations newer than whatever it is I bought at a swap meet and had to fix] that I'm not using, if you'd like it." I had a computer that tracks my speed, talks to the rear hub of my bike and calculates and records how much power I'm producing, logs my heart rate, blah blah blah, and the interface connector had failed, and now I'm the proud owner of a super fancy new one that does all that AND pairs with my phone to upload stuff so I only have to plug it in once every two weeks rather than after every ride. It should last approximately 10 times as long.

I had intended to go out this afternoon and throw a couple of big irritating Ingress fields over our local area, and the Spitfire was in need of exercise, so I fired it up and headed towards the first portal I needed. I noticed that the car smelled hot, and looked at the (new) water temperature gauge, and it was above where it should be, by a little bit. I looked back at traffic, because in this car you want LOTS of warning before you have to start braking: you don't spend much time looking at the gauges. Then I looked back at the gauge... and it was down below the optimum temperature, well below what it had been a minute before.
I pulled off onto a small suburban road, where I could cruise along with much less chance of a crash, and watched the temp gauge. It was fluctuating back and forth by about 30-40 degrees every ten seconds as I drove, and the engine smelled hot. So, back home. I suspect it's run low on water in the coolant system: it may have a weeping leak that I haven't noticed, so when a big glug of water runs through the head the temperature sensor goes up and when it drains down there's just air in there. But I have to change into work clothes before investigating, since I'm wearing Nice Pants today.

Japanese class has gotten significantly more difficult this semester. I can no longer rely on doing my studying and homework at the last minute the night before.

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(no subject) [Jan. 15th, 2018|08:04 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
The weather was wretched this morning: ice storm, roads covered in glaze with just a little bit of snow on top. I delayed leaving until I was sure all the people who had to get to work on time were at work, and headed out.
About 8km from home my car started making a huge thumping sound, so I slowed down and pulled over on the edge of the multi-lane high-speed highway I was on, and found a finger-sized chunk of steel sticking out of my tire. It was curved kind of like a finger and both ends of the chunk were sticking into the tread. I figured the tire (less than a month old) was a loss, changed the tire in the snowstorm with semi trucks zooming past right behind me, and took the dead one to the tire shop.
Somehow, the big chunk of metal had a tiny wire-nail-sized curl coming off it, that was the only thing that had gone through the belt of the tire, so it took them only a few minutes to patch it.

Today I got home and [personal profile] threemeninaboat asked me to go outside and see if the hose was disconnected from the front spigot. It wasn't, and as a result the hose and the spigot were frozen solid. The spigot handle wouldn't turn. I grabbed a propane torch to try to melt the ice in the hopes it hadn't frozen back into the house (it's a freeze-resistant spigot but that only works if the water in the stem can drain out.) The propane torch was sitting in my unheated workshop. When I got it to light, the flame out of it was maybe the size of a grape. The fuel was too cold to vaporize. I brought it in and stuck it in hot water for a minute, and then, hey, nice big decent flame, melted the ice block out, and I could turn the spigot and, after a stressful few moments, water dribbled out, then shot out at full house pressure.

Disasters averted.

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(no subject) [Jan. 7th, 2018|11:14 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
I removed the top of the dash board in the Spitfire and adhered a new covering to it, because the previous one had finger-width cracks in it, that the previous owner had filled with rubber caulk and then vaguely shaped to match.
Getting the dash pad out was quite difficult. Accessing some of the nuts that hold it in place takes a lot of flexibility and would work a lot better if my hands weren't so big.
Getting it back in place is about to defeat me. I got it in far enough to get the front six nuts onto the studs that descend from it, but I can't get it pushed back far enough into the windshield space. It simply won't go, and I haven't figured out what to do.
Arrrgh.
The process of trying to reinstall it sort of makes me crazy, because I'm working with my hands way up inside the system, and about half the time, when I drop something, it simply vanishes. It's not on the car floor or on any of the recesses I can find under the dash. That's fine when it's a nut or a washer because I have lots of those. It's not fine when it's the socket I'm using to tighten the nuts. I had to disassemble and remove the whole radio console support system because somehow it had gone down inside what felt like a flat metal panel, and even when I'd removed it, the socket managed to get stuck against what, when I finally pulled it out, was indeed a flat plate. The moment I actually got it far enough open that I could see the socket, it fell straight down on the floor so I couldn't see how it had managed to get stuck to, well, a flat metal sheet. No, it's not magnetic. It's just magic.

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The big ride [Jan. 1st, 2018|09:48 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
2018-01-01_09-47-11

The water is the Hilo harbor. The white point over my right shoulder is the peak of Mauna Kea, where I'm aiming.

This got complicated. My original intent was to ride on either 19 or 20 December. My coworkers all flew out on 17 December, and looked at the weather forecast, which was, "tomorrow, beautiful, the next week, TROPICAL TYPHOON STORM FLOODING" so they decided to do the ride on the 18th, before I was on the island.
Plus, two days after I landed in Hawaii, on the 12th or so, I got sick (and have not yet, today, completely gotten over it.) What I had resulted mostly in me being unwilling and unable to eat, so for the four days preceding the target dates for the ride, I'd managed to eat a banana and drink a glass of orange juice each day.

As such, even if I'd been able to ride with them on the 18th, I would probably have done really poorly. They rode up, we met them afterwards, they described (vividly) what it was like, and then the rain came pouring down for three days straight.
I did go on a short ride with them on my birthday, mostly (I think) because they felt so badly about the situation and decided they wanted to. It rained somewhere between mist and downpour the entire way. Every downhill was exciting because there was so much rain and all the greenery coming down from the trees as a result of the heavy winds made the streets slick and scary.

They all went home and we went over to Hilo, where it usually rains all the time, and instead it was beautiful.

I'd wanted to start from Kona because it rarely rains in Kona. (One guy at a bike store said they saw more than 6 hours of rain in a day, less than five times per year. Two days of nonstop rain was nearly unprecedented.) The route from Hilo is slightly shorter, but presumably much wetter.
However, the wind almost always blows from Hilo towards the mountaintop, and having a tailwind up a hill is a big help.

If I'd been a bit more coordinated I would have rented a bike the moment we got to Hilo. As it was, I made a last-minute decision to try the ride on 23 December, because rental places were mostly closed on 24 December, and by last-minute I mean I decided that the evening of 22 December, so I had to pick up the bike in the morning at 9 AM. I could have used those extra two hours of riding time before 9 AM, but oh well.
So, I actually started at more like 9:30 by the time I got the bike, switched the pedals with the ones I'd brought, and ridden down to the waterline from the bike store.

It's 54 km from waterline to the Mauna Kea visitor center, and 2.8 km of climbing. It's another 13 km to the summit of the mountain, with another 1.2 km of climbing. The section above the visitor center was closed because they'd gotten about a meter of snow during the big storm on my birthday, so I was already scaling my goal back to getting to the visitor center, and in doing estimates based on my power output, it looked like I'd be able to ride up and back and still have about thirty minutes before sunset.

The first 40 km were a fairly consistent 5-6% climb, which isn't too bad. I set a couple local records going up that, according to a website that allows people to compare ride performance over routes. Several hundred other people had ridden that, including a pro racer (who rode all the way to the top of the mountain.) But at about 40km I started to slow down because man that's a lot of climbing. I did eat two bananas. Hawaii has these things called apple bananas, another cultivar, and one neat thing about them is you can basically sit on them and smash them and they still taste fine. Cavendishes get all weird and translucent and taste weird and stuff. Apple bananas just aren't as structured after that kind of abuse, but they still taste fine.
At about the 40km point, my route departs from the nice wide road, and starts to seriously climb. There are a couple of km at about 8%, and then a couple at 10-11%, which is getting to the point where I wouldn't be able to jog up it.
All these huge pickups were driving past me on the way up, and people were yelling encouragement at me. That was different. I'm not used to having people in cars having any sort of positive feelings at all, or at least not positive enough to verbalize, but people were hollering "you're badass! you're a real ironman!" as they drove past.
That's about where I met [personal profile] threemeninaboat, driving back down. She told me that there was a rumor they were going to open the road up to the very top and everyone in the state had driven their big monster truck up there, in some cases sleeping overnight, for the chance to drive in snow for the first time ever. Hence the proliferation of huge pickup trucks driving past me and nobody coming back down. There were so many trucks up there she couldn't wait up there as a support vehicle because there wasn't room, so she drove back down to where I met her.
,
On up the hill. There was a km at 14%, then one that was slightly less steep, and then one that's called The Steepest Mile on the ride-tracking website, which is 21% for the whole run. It's the last bit. There are staircases that aren't that steep. I did manage to ride up it, but by that point I was just about done.
I got to the visitor's center about twenty minutes after they had indeed opened the road to the top, but it was a solid mass of pickups driving slowly up, and while I was only ten minutes behind my predicted speed, that meant I only had twenty minutes of time to do anything before having to head back to beat the sunset. Even if I'd started at sunrise, I would have been stuck with the same situation.

Six hours, more or less, from Hilo up to the visitor's center.
55 minutes back down to Hilo.
It was an unfamiliar bike, and shorter wheelbase than I like, so I didn't let it get too fast on the upper descent: I saw 75 km/h a few times, but no higher than that, and that was PLENTY FAST.

At least that night I was somewhat hungry, and had about 3/4 of a dinner.

About 120km round trip, and aside from a sunburn on my left side, I emerged mostly unscathed. I wasn't even all that tired: we walked about 25km the next day, and that was okay.

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(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2018|09:28 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Some U of H Hilo artwork.
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A succulent garden in Kona
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Plumeria in aforementioned succulent garden
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Christmas Day in Kona. This guy had hooked an automatic bubble machine to his pickup truck above the bed so he left a trail of bubbles everywhere he went.
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A big sea turtle in a park just north of Kona
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(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2018|09:18 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Kona/Hilo/Volcanoes

Hawaii has automotive economics I don't understand. I suspect they don't have a profitable scrap market because there aren't any metal refineries within 5000 km. There are dead cars all over the place, off the side of the road, that have clearly been there for a long time. Fresh ones still have doors and seats. I even saw one that still had two wheels, although the other two had already been removed. But eventually there's nothing left but the frame and maybe a few parts of the drivetrain.
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On the University of Hawaii campus, they had one whole section full of cars that had been official UofH vehicles and were abandoned to the elements, slowly being overgrown.
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Oh, yeah, VOLCANOES. The caldera in Kilauea was active. Unfortunately it was too dark to get a good picture, but I could see flares and lava shooting up into the air, which I've not seen before.
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We also drove down from the north side to where the lava is actually flowing into the ocean, but couldn't get all that close, even after riding (some really awful) rental bikes and riding in on roads closed to motorized vehicles.
Again, terrible pictures because this was right at sunset.
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On the way out to the active flows, there were a number of houses that had been overwhelmed by previous flows, and the owners had gone back out and (illegally) rebuilt houses in the same location, but sans power, plumbing or sewage.
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Hilo graffito
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and falling down house
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This was taken from somewhat near the ocean, of the top of Mauna Kea: this is the ride I'd planned.
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(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2018|08:54 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Almost done with Maui: for a while they grew sugar cane over the majority of most of the islands, and hauled it it with oxen in carts, but in the 1880's they put in trains, with a weird sort of setup where they had fixed railbeds in most places but would put down sectional track much like model railroads to stretch into areas where they needed it temporarily. Eventually in the 1950's they moved to trucks (and then in the 1980's the corn lobby managed to purchase the sugar market for themselves and the sugar cane industry collapsed.)
Anyway, these were the cutest little industrial steam engines.
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More sunsets for [personal profile] elusis
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The smaller grocery stores had local fruit. This pomelo makes even my giant hands look small.
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Blowhole on the coast of Maui
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The road around Maui is exciting. Sometimes it's right beside the ocean. Sometimes it's about a hundred meters nearly sheer drop above the ocean. All 80 km or so of it is one lane wide, and the turns are so tight you can't see traffic coming towards you, and there's a lot of traffic coming towards you.
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Another sunset for [personal profile] elusis!
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I don't remember whether I took this picture in a Hilo Hattie's or an ABC Stores.
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This picture was in a kava dispensary and weird fruit collection in a market in Kona on the big island. Those plantains are the diameter of grapefruit.
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The Target had these palm trees that grew partly bright red but mostly green growing out front.
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There's a local version of Home Depot, and this graffito was scrawled across a very large chunk of one wall of it.
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It RAINED in Kona. To be fair, it was only raining moderately, nonstop, for three days, whereas in places we'd just left the city was flooding and cars were submerged in lower areas. Well, when it's raining, you go to art galleries. This was in a little gallery in the mountains above Kona.
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Here's a wharf in Whittington Park on the southern part of the island, near Volcanoes National Park.
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And a Christmas-themed, late model Citroen 2CV in the Volcanoes National Park visitor's center.
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Random picture of the road foliage in the Puna district, between Volcanoes and Hilo.
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Oh look it's another sunset!
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(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2018|08:38 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
More Hawaii: in downtown Honolulu there used to be a maritime heritage museum, mostly because someone had given them a big old four-masted iron hulled ship and they built a museum around it, and then through a bunch of bad business decisions on the part of Bishop Museum, who actually ran the whole works, they raised some money to refurb the ship, decided they couldn't, blew all the money on other projects, and now the ship is in increasingly dire condition and impounded for back rent by the Harbor Authority, along with another ship for which I have as of yet found absolutely zero documentation other than that it was a sailing ship.
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A sunset for [personal profile] elusis
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There's a little town called Lahaina on Maui, that has some really amazing artwork.
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They apparently get really amazing money for their artwork, too.
This is the place where we showed up at our cute vintage hotel only to find it totally closed, and finally half an hour of phone calls later a security guy showed up, let us in, and we found that our room had falling-apart electric outlets, a hole in the ceiling of the bathroom, an apparently non-functional room heater, and barely lukewarm water in the shower, so after some phone calls we were reassigned to a really swank hotel room in a cookie cutter resort, where the alarm system went off at 3 am for no obvious reason, leaving lots of people for whom English was not their first language running up and down stairs as the elevators had been shut down because of the alarm, while the staff tried to figure out why the alarm was going off.
But they had a pretty quilt in the lobby.
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This guy had taken over the beach nearby.
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I'm not sure who had taken over this yard, but whoever it was, was winning.
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Rust always wins in Hawaii.
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Their trees can get just enormous.
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I took this mostly because some day I'd like to try making a palm leaf based hat.
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It's true about Hawaii being enthusiastic about Spam.
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I found this lovely old Klein in front of a pawn shop in an industrial area.
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Immediately around the corner from that was a welding shop with an awesome signboard.
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(no subject) [Jan. 1st, 2018|08:21 pm]
sprockets, sockets, grommets & gaskets
Part one: Honolulu.
We landed and had some time, plus rain was predicted, so we tried to drive over to the Pacific Naval Aviation Museum. It turns out that big guys with big guns prevent you doing that, so then we got on the bus, which the big guys with guns let in, and got to look at a mess of old aircraft, including a couple of Japanese aircraft that are the only ones left in the world.
These aren't those.
This was dragged out of a swamp in PNG in the 1990's.
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This one was named Tuesday's Child, because the owner apparently spent about twenty years saying that it would be flying by next Tuesday, this time for sure.
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There was a nice Buddhist temple in downtown Honolulu, within walking distance.
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The University of Hawaii has an Oriental Studies program that's pretty comprehensive. They had a traditional Japanese garden that was notable because it contained trees planted by most of the Japanese royal family plus a couple of Japanese prime ministers.
There was a Thai meditation structure.
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It was pretty good for meditation.
A couple of other neat buildings like this.
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There are a LOT of arboreta in Hawaii. And that SHOULD be a word even if chrome says it isn't.
There was one in which ten of the trees were named and protected by state law, but among the unprotected trees was an equal mixture of interesting fruit trees (an actual buddha's hand tree, with fruit! pomelo trees!) and really toxic nasty trees. Here's a strychnine tree.
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A big old fat ginger plant growing next to where we had dinner.
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Waikiki Beach graffiti: "Hot Coals Only" turned into "Hot Locals Only"
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There are wild chickens everywhere. You mostly see roosters.
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But there are hens, with chicks, and this group looked for traffic before crossing the street.
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And, often trailing the chickens and looking wistful, mongeese.
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I am unused to mountains that are quite this steep, because the mountains around here are composed mostly of rock that has slid down the sides, rather than being primarily erosively formed.
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There was a place called The Valley Of Temples. I'm guessing someone built a really snazzy Japanese temple and someone else, feeling challenged, built a church, and as of yet nobody else has felt up to rivaling them... but, really, nothing rivals the Japanese temple. It was beautiful.
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Woodcraft detail
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They had a particularly ferocious koi pond.
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