I got wheels a while back. Wrapped them up in Falken Azenis RT615Ks.
They got a little help from my Cricut.
I got wheels a while back. Wrapped them up in Falken Azenis RT615Ks.
They got a little help from my Cricut.
I bought a Cricut Maker. I now have magnet numbers. I recreated the font from the car numbers in MF Ghost.
Magnet numbers how-to.
You will need a Cricut Maker (the $400 one), magnet vinyl (available from Michael’s and/or Amazon), software that can output .jpgs or .pngs, and the Cricut app. You can add colored vinyl to laminate with for an extra challenge.
1. Prepare the magnet vinyl by magnetting it to your washing machine, fridge, steel door, or any other flat surface. It comes in rolls and needs to be flat to go through the Cricut nicely. Leave it there for two days. If you are laminating vinyl on, then unroll the vinyl and hang that up to flatten, too.
2. Design your numbers. Use your graphics software or whatever. Output a graphics file that the Cricut app can read (.jpg seems to work better than .png).
3. If you are so inclined and really want hot pink numbers, laminate the colored vinyl to the magnet vinyl. This is not easy and it took me to the third go before I could make it look decent without a million bubbles. Don’t hate yourself.
4. Load up the Cricut app and set your design. I found that using the whole 12×24 sheet of magnet vinyl on the 12×24 grip pad worked better, but then you have to drop the $$ on the big pad.
5. Stick the magnet vinyl to the grip pad. Make sure it is exactly in the lines because the positioning rollers will push it around if you are running the full 12″ width sheet. This will cause cuts within 0.5″ of the edges to not be just so.
6. Set the material to 0.5mm magnet sheet. 0.6mm also works, but tends to cut through and into the grip pad. DAMHIK.
7. Cut your numbers. At 0.5mm it will run the pattern twice. This is normal. I think it does three times for 0.6mm.
8. Put your numbers on your car and look awesome at the track/autocross.
I have been running this material for several track days now, and have left them on by accident (lol) for driving to work (lots of traffic and highway). It stays on well and doesn’t move around. Do make sure your car is very clean before sticking the numbers on as if there is dust, it will get into the paint.
There are probably a hundred different ways to learn Japanese. Then, there is my way. But you saw that coming.
The most important part of a learning experience is determining your goal. Right up front, my goal with this has been to be able to read work PowerPoints. Not very lofty on the surface, but actually pretty complicated. I read and speak German quite well, reading novels, newspapers, and yes, work PowerPoints. With a rehearsal or two, I can actually present in German. Getting to that level in Japanese may not happen, but I am going to try.
With the clear goal of reading in mind, the challenge of learning kanji, the graphemes that make up Chinese and Japanese text, is at the forefront. My exercise is not about learning Japanese so much as learning to read it and that means kanji is more critical than anything else. Kanji is a unique writing system that can be learned without learning any Japanese whatsoever, actually. In fact, pretty much all of my Shanghai-dialect Chinese consists of reading kanji and not having any idea how to say them. I am functionally voiceless in China. I do not want that to happen with Japanese. Research into kanji tools led me to a strange blog named Tofugu, and their kanji learning tool WaniKani.
WaniKani is a spaced repetition tool that uses the radical system for teaching kanji. It is focused on the top 2000 characters and the vocabulary that use them. It does not teach Japanese, rather, it teaches a way to read Japanese and learn to interact with the kanji writing system. So far, I’m on level 19 of 60, and ready to go from Painful to Death. The language of the tool is very cute and humorous, but so far it is working for me.
Kanji is also giving me a new way to express myself, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing some here. 私は漢字は好きです。My imperfect grammar will likely be painful, but whatever. It’s a whole new way to express my self, and that is kind of pretty baller all on its own.
In October, I started a new task – I began learning Japanese. I’d discovered a sister plant to one of my three at work, a plant in Kakogawa, Japan, and decided that if the only thing holding back a lot of communication was language, that was not an excuse. It’s morphed into something I never expected – a new cultural experience that is augmented by two slightly Japan-nutty kids.
I’ll be writing more about the experience over the next few months.
Please check out Tom Nardone’s new project – Trash Fishing. Please go trash fishing.
We do this in the Rouge River behind our house with high boots and laundry baskets, but Tom’s method sounds like a lot more fun. Laundry baskets remain key to the operation, so don’t forget yours.
Possibly a strange habit, but I like to take cars as received to a track I know to get a baseline. Also a bit of a baseline for me as I’ve spent my track career in FWD VWs.
Saturday was the day for my bone stock ’18 PP BRZ.
Grattan is a challenging a fun track and is Michigan’s little piece of heaven. If you haven’t been there, imagine those videos of the Nordschleife and cut it down to just over two miles. It is truly a wonderful place to drive. I’ve got a lot of laps there, but the last time out there was about eight years ago. That is a lot of ground to make up.
One thing that helped me was that I was assigned to do the classroom for the novices. I actually love doing this. Club day, so we try to make sure no one gets in the (literal) weeds. No, seriously. The bottom of the track is a swamp, complete with turtles. For a first day out, it was actually really helpful to go through the routine with them and put myself in the novice mindset. I ended up basically driving control (this appears to be a motorcycle thing) and doing lead follow laps with all of the assorted novices. This had the side effect of forcing me to pay strict attention to my lines instead of just screwing around. I found myself able to go much deeper into the turns than I expected and what traction I had was useful for pushing turning.
One new challenge at Grattan is a repave of sections of the track with some very weird tar surface. Grattan is challenging enough dry, but this surface and water did not agree. I experienced something new to me – skittering. I have not experienced a car hopping sideways across the track before. That was rather unsettling, because it was a start-stop behaviour instead of a slide. There was not a whole lot of steering into it as that just caused the traction control (even light) to go nuts. I have not perfected the pedal dance yet, so getting rid of all of it was not an option.
I have to address that being new to RWD (except for about 5 years as a kid) cost me a ton of time. It’s like learning to drive all over again. I have a good feel for pushing the car, but not for sliding it yet. The skittering was really off-putting and once I figured it out, it was a matter of keeping two wheels on the old pavement at all times. I needed a lot of laps to get my reference points back (needed as the track drops away in several places) and I am a lot rustier than I had hoped. I’m pretty good everywhere except turn 3 now. 3 makes the Corkscrew seem like a walk in the park. It’s so blind (downhill and off camber left) that it is now officially the track exit, mostly because people freak out and drive off right there. I think it took me several days to get it the first time, so no crisis. I’m slow, it’s ok. I have the jump, the esses, the bowl, the bus stop, and the valley back in my brain now.
So enough about me and the track, now the car, with a brief weather report.
The day was cold (low to mid 50s) and rainy. Then came the hail. And more hail. Then more rain. Not the best conditions, which contributed mightily to my experience.
Holy hell, the stock tyres are hilariously bad. Forget worrying about brake updates, the first things that need to go are these stupid tyres. I have experience quite a bit of wandering on longitudinally grooved pavement here in MI, and after a few skitters, I was able to associate it with the rain grooves in the tyres themselves. They seem to be folding over and breaking traction, then catching it again. Like slideways ABS? NO. Like driving me batshit crazy. I think a fair amount of this was due to the weather conditions – summer tyres right at the thermal limit of performance. I had one session where the track was dry and this was far different than the rest of the day. The control was there, I was able to avoid ABS, no skitters, etc. That was a good session and instead of learning new ways to avoid engaging TC, I was building speed in the corners. My hope had been to practice entering little slides, but that did not happen.
Brakes never really got tested because I was never going that fast. ABS is minimally intrusive – I prefer more feedback! It’s useless as a training aid if you can’t feel it. Again, the weather contributed.
Steering was tight and predictable.
The seat (which is outstanding for everyday driving) was ok, but a proper high seat and harness are going to be necessary. I’m spoiled in that all of my VWs have had harnesses, and some have had seats and cages. Trying to track a car without being attached to it is uncomfortable and less fun. I was seriously sore everywhere at the end of the day. Except my legs, which was nice. My upper body was feeling it from being in motion so much. I ordered a CGLock and then forgot to install it. It would not have helped with the upper body movement, though, and might have made things worse.
The best part of the day was that another BRZ driver was among my novices and he improved greatly throughout the day. The second best was discovering that my old endurance car still lives and is actually the west side track rat for our VW club. I got home and found the title, we are going to plate that sucker. It is a beast – ABA swapped with GTI brakes, and caged with two seats and harnesses. It even has window glass now! It weighs all of 1820#. It is soooooo much fun to drive. Pure point and shoot.
There are no bad days at the track if you can drive home. It wasn’t a great day for me, but it was a great (new) start.
I’ll be browsing TireRack now….
emojis courtesy ft86club.com
My old laser pointer alignment trick was a big hit among my suspension tech friends, so I wanted to try a new tool and see if it ups the game.
Some time ago, I acquired a nice Bosch siting laser. This is used to determine if ground is level. You set it up in one location and measure down from the horizontal line to determine relative height of land, floor, whatever. You can also measure off a vertical line, and with a tape out from the laser pole, you can triangulate location.
The siting laser alignment process requires a siting laser, some Post-It notes, a plumb bob, a pen, a notepad (or use one of those Post-It notes), three measuring tapes (or one and some masking tape and a marker to mark your close measurement positions), and a scientific calculator (or access to one online).
The basic setup remains nearly identical to the old string alignment trick. In this variation, you set up the siting laser to throw a line out. Like the laser pointer trick, you can use your garage door as a target. Park so that your axles are about eight feet out from the door.
The siting laser is set up near the rear of the wheel. I found that it is really important to locate the laser so that the vertical is grazing the wheel surface. Any laser that throws a line will throw it in a way that can bend around a bit, so by using the vertical to locate the instrument, you can move it repeatedly and still be getting the same measurement.
Now, just like a regular string alignment, you set up your tape measures so that their zeros are at the center of the hub or the forward point on the tyre. Your choice. Note the distance to the garage door surface on your notepad. Locate a point about 24″ out and position a horizontal tape that is wider than your car. If you don’t have an endless supply of tape measure, put down a piece of tape that you can mark with your position from the next step. Drop your plumb bob, watching to see when the string crosses the laser beam. Take your first measurement of distance from the axle and the position on the side-to-side tape here and note the values on a notepad. Then head to the garage door and plop a Post-It note where the laser is visible (hard to see in direct sun, but it’s there) and make a mark where the laser beam ends. Label this mark A. Note that the mark here is off because I remembered to take the pic after the alignment was complete, not before. dur.
Now, relocate the laser to the other side and repeat. Same label, too. Measure the distance between the marks on the garage door and the distance from the door marks to your first mark. Now, measure the distance between the marks on the garage door.
Once you have the four measurements, the math is the same basic trig as the string alignment. You need to know the distance between your close mark and the garage door (should be about six feet or 72 inches) and the two measurements from side to side. Subtract the close measurement from the door measurement. If it is negative, you have toe-in, if it is positive, you have toe-out. Take that value and divide it by the distance between the close and door measurements and run an inverse tangent (tan-1) on a calculator. This will give you the degrees of toe in decimal. Once you know that, you can figure out where to go to set it.
Once you are done, repeat the process. Note that you will have to check both sides to get the fnal numbers. Because you labeled your first marks, you will know what is what.
What I didn’t do, mostly because it is nigh impossible without jacking this car, is a camber adjustment. However, the vertical beam of the laser makes camber measurement very easy, and if you have camber plates up top, super easy to adjust. You will need a really fine caliper to do the measurement, though.
To measure camber, set the laser out from the wheel a bit, about an inch or two. Positioning is critical, again, so you can repeat measurements. The whole thing benefits from having a level surface, too. Otherwise you will find that all of your camber is on one side of the vehicle, which is probably entirely false. I recommend switching to metric here, or at least using a caliper for the distance out values.
Check the distance from the outermost point of the wheel/tyre at the front and back of the wheel edge and adjust the laser until they are even. Using the horizontal beam, find the tallest and shortest points on the wheel edge and mark them. Now, measure to the laser line at the top and bottom of the wheel where you marked. Also measure the exact distance between the points you took the first two measurements. If you can access a hard point on the suspension, take a measurement to the laser vertical there, also. Do not use a spring, use a shock shaft/tube, the spindle upper, or something that is also equally spaced on both sides. This will enable you to split the camber as you will now know exactly how far off vertical you are from side to side.
The math is the same, top minus bottom (adjust for off-vertical here), divided by diameter of wheel and inverse tan. Adjust away.
This is a great way to do a one-person laser alignment. It’s a real alignment, and you used a laser. It’s primary value is that you reduce the number of things you need two hands or a second person to do.
Agent 86 is up for sale today and tomorrow!
A kid at the college autocross had this beat-to-crap old gen2 Supra that had these awful Chinese decals all over it. He said he was thinking of removing them, but kind of liked how silly they were. I said no, leave them, because they add character.
I’ve had it for six weeks. I owe you all a lot of words. Holy hell, is it fun!