Category Archives: Hobbies

09/06/2017: Busy, Busy and Decisions, Decisions

Well, it has been a good little while since my last post, and while I was thinking about the lack of postings, I have been busy with a few different items that will\may impact some life decisions in the near term.

Kelly was on her yearly vacation with her family in Ocean City, MD; so, we decided to meet up during the middle weekend in Fenwick Island, DE. I got a decent room in a hotel that allowed dogs which means Buddy and Circe also enjoyed a weekend away with a lot of new items to smell and pee on. The weekend flew by, but between my weekend visit and her two weeks, I feel we turned the corner on lining up our exit plan from our current work situations.

Since we over analyze everything, working through the plan on getting out of our current work situation will take a few\many items to get aligned before we pull the ejection handle. The initial big item is what area we would like to retire to, and expenses are a big item on this decision. In general, we like the area we currently live in Northern Virginia, and due to the money in the area, it would benefit for a business plan I’ll mention later; however, the property values are relatively high, so the property taxes are a big chunk of money every year ($5000/year). Besides Northern Virginia, we are also interested in the Eastern Shore area that would include the greater Ocean City, MD area and the “lower and slower” Delaware area.

There are a lot of options in the OC MD area, and we particularly like the area just west of the Route 50 bridge. This area would provide easy access to OC MD attractions, but also provide us easy access to part time jobs to generate income, but like NoVA, Maryland has high taxes. The last area is in the southern Delaware area, and there are a few obvious options to include Rehobeth, Bethany, Dewey and Lewes, but there a other options that are West of the main north\south road that area attractive, and in general Delaware has much lower taxes to include to sales tax and no tax on Social Security. The trade off between Maryland and Delaware is that Maryland homes seems to be less expansive than Delaware homes, but the long term tax impacts are mush higher in MD.

Kelly has been really looking into the housing situation in the above mentioned areas, so time will tell what we decide to do. I feel that we area still a few years away before any type of move, but we do like to plan and try to eliminate any surprised in the long run.

Besides housing, the other item we are working through is income. We don’t want to get stuck at home because a lack of money, so we are working through ways to bring in money with stuff we enjoy versus going to “the daily grind” in a cube farm.

First way we are creating income is buy purchasing dividend paying stocks. I have been working on this for a few years, and I have been making good progress over the years. My goal is to cover our taxes and insurance from the dividends which allows us to control our discretionary expenses. I need a few more years to reach my initial dividend goal, but I’m getting there.

The next option, which we just recently tried out, is to build a business on refurbishing furniture, building metal sculptures\furniture and reselling antiques. Kelly rented a 10×10 space at a local antique fair, and in general we did pretty well. We learned a lot of things over the weekend, and I know it gave me confidence that we can do this type of business to create additional income. During the weekend, we did meet a great retired couple who does this type of business for exactly the reasons we are looking into it. They basically said that they create a little extra income, and since they shop for items\antiques while on vacation, they are written off as business trips. After the weekend, I really feel that we will be pursuing this in the coming months\years with hopes that it works out and turns into a real side business.

Well that is a long post for me, so I would expect a change in the type of posts you see on this sight and maybe even a little redesign to align with our new direction.

7/25/2017: Broken Stud Removal

After a nice long weekend at Fenwick Island, DE, I had a little time to start on the head work for the Ricer’s bent valve issue. The first item I wanted to get done was to remove all of the intake and exhaust studs from an old LS head I had sitting around. To remove the studs, I just double nutted the stud, put some heat to stud and a little PB Blaster, and they spun out with little issue.

Once that was done, I took a look at the head I got from eBay and noticed that it had an exhaust stud broken off. Not too happy, but it gave me a chance to try a procedure that I read about but never tried. I cleaned the broken stud the best I could with Acetone and found a nut that had an inside diameter roughly the size of the stud. I broke out the welder, and with the nut out of the way, I built up a little tack weld on the stud. I placed the nut over the tack weld; then, I used the welder to weld the tack to the nut and made sure it was a good weld. With my fingers crossed, I used a wrench and turned the nut welded to the stud, and with success, the broken stud spun out with no effort. I always read that the heat from welding also helps to loosen up the broken stud, and with this experience, I cannot disagree.

7/07/2017: Track Day Roundup

The TrackDaze track day was a fun day, and once again, it was a well run event. The day started off a little on the bad side when a VW Golf driver ended on his roof in turn 3 on his first lap. This incident did not impact the schedule much.

This was the first time I was on the Summit Main circuit in 7 years, so I did have an instructor with me for the first session, and he was great. He got me on “the line”, and I adjusted through out the day. The Main circuit is fast compared to the Shenandoah circuit, and is fun in a different way. It took a few laps to build trust with the car through the fast turns, but all worked out well.

There were a few really nice “fast” cars in my run group, and it was cool to see a GT350 and a C7 Z06 getting track time. There was other cool cars such as Ferrari, GTR, older Z06es, BMW M series and Porsches.

The bad story is that it looks like I bent valves in the Ricer when I went from third to second instead of fourth. It looks to be a common issue in overrev situations, so I will be working on taking the head off in the coming days. I am borrowing a leak down tester to see if I can figure out which cylinder has the issue. I need to figure out what I’ll do such as upgrade springs\retainers and maybe step up the cams. I do have a head with ITR cams, so a little research will let me know if it is worth swapping the GSR cams for the ITR cams.

Updates to follow.

Links to track day videos:
SL500 creating a train due to no point by

Open track

6/25/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. I got photos of the telescope mount that I welded in use. Seeing something that I fixed in use gives me more satisfaction most things from the day job. I need to continue to learn how to weld items, get better at welding and do more of this type of thing.

2. I’m back on the west coast, and I will be flying home tomorrow. While I’m not a big fan of business travel, I do enjoy and use the various walking paths that are available in the area. The bay area does a nice job at provided paths for people to use, not only for pleasure, but commuting. I wish Northern Virginia was better at providing this type of access

3. The real bright spot of traveling to the San Jose area is a restaurant called Sumiya. This place has incredible and authentic Japanese food. I tried their green tea brulee, for desert, and it was fantastic.

4. I’m ready to order my four post lift, and if all goes well, I will order it while I’m at the San Jose airport waiting on my flight Monday morning.

6/07/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. One of my co-workers had a broken telescope mount that he needed welded, so he brought it in to see if I could help out. The piece is cast aluminum, and I have never welded cast aluminum before, so I told him I would give it a shot. I spent a little time watching YouTube videos on welding cast aluminum, and I basically learned that it can be a pain to weld, but cleanliness is key.

Once I got the broken half circle mount secured onto the welding table, I got a new grinding wheel and cleaned the area around the split and grooved out the crack slightly. I then used a new stainless wire brush and acetone to complete the cleaning of the broken piece. I also used a new scratch pad to clean the filler rod.

It took a couple tries to get the heat set correctly on the welder, but I did finally get a good setting to get the cleaning and melting at a happy place. What worked for me is that I did two passes over the crack area. The first pass laid down new filler material on each side of the crack; then, the second pass I could fill in the crack. I did small sections at a time, but I’m happy with the penetration; however, I wouldn’t win a prettiest weld competition.

He will try it out this weekend, but it will work just fine.

11/23/2016 – Things I Learned Today

1. Still trying to figure out certificate based VPNs, so I will need to spend more time on troubleshooting the configs

2. The Grand Tour: I watched the first episode of the Clarkson\May\Hammond show on Amazon, and so far, they still got it. Besides the obvious chemistry between the hosts, the camera work is fantastic. They sure do know how to make the filming of cars a true art form.

11/22/2016 – Things I Learned Today

1. Configuring a Juniper SRX for certificate based VPNs is not too difficult; however, working through why IKE won’t complete is taking a little more time than expected. I got a step closer today, so more work on the config tomorrow. If no luck, I will probably need to reach out to my Juniper contact for an assist.

2. After a little research on “hobbyist” TIG welders, I think I got it narrowed down to the Everlast PowerTIG 250EX. It has gotten a lot of good reviews, and it does come with a water cooled nozzle.

Cumberland Autocross – Harvest Moon

It has been a slow motorsports summer for me; however, I finally got signed up for the September Harvest Moon Autocross at the Cumberland (MD) airport – . I have been attending autocrosses at this location since 2005, and it never disappoints in driving fun and bench racing.

For this event, I will be dragging my ’90 Honda CRX, aka Red Ricer, to the event along with one of my buddies who will also drive the Ricer. Being my first event of the year, I don’t have high expectations, but it will be good to knock off the rust a little and enjoy the weekend with friends. It looks like there will be a Tesla running the event, so that will be interesting to see on course.

The extra good news for this event is that there will be a picnic Saturday evening at a local “farm” in which owner has an incredible private Corvette collection. He is gracious enough to open the farm to the event participants for a cookout and a chance to check out the Corvette collection. He will have an Airbox ’57 Corvette this year, and the Airbox ‘Vette is a Holy Grail of Vettes.

Over the weekend, I’ll get the Ricer ready for the event – alignment check, cleaning and general maintenance, and if all goes well, I should have a video or two from the event that I will post.

Volvo C30 – Wet Floors

We have been getting a lot of rain lately, and I noticed that my wife’s 2010 Volvo C30’s floors were wet. There was no signs of an obvious leak, so I went to Google to see what I could find out, and once again, Google came to the rescue.

It seems that there is a common problem on the Volvos where the Sunroof drain tubes separate behind the A-pillar interior trim, so that is where I focused my attention.

Prior to taking the A-Pillar trim apart, I wanted to get the carpet up, so I could start drying the interior. The front seats and the rear bottom seat came out which gave me access to remove the rear piece of carpet. To my surprise, there was about a 1/2″ of water under the carpet. Once I saw this much water, I decided to pull the front carpets also, and I’m glad I did. The carpet has about an inch of foam padding, and this padding was completely saturated, and I think it will take about a week to dry out the foam.

To expedite the removal of water form the interior, I drill two 1/8″ inch holes in the floor. These holes allowed the water to drain, and they will be very easy to seal once the interior is dry.

Once I got that sorted, I carefully removed the A-pillar trim, and it was obvious that the drain tubes were separated on both sides. The upper tube needed to be lengthened by about an inch to reconnect the upper and lower drain hoses. I cut the upper hose in two about 6″ inches from the end, and went to Lowes to get a piece of hose large enough to fit the Volvo drain hose inside. I found a suitable line, and for $0.45, I had plenty to extend the upper drain lines.

I used about 4″ of the larger hose and slide the two halves of the upper drain line into it, and I did use a little sealant to ensure a water tight connection; then, I slide the upper drain line into the lower drain line. The extended line fit into the lower line by an inch or so. I do not think there is a chance of it separating in the future. The extended drain lines tested good, so I put the trim pieces and seats back into the car.

I thought I would be done, until the carpet drys, but when I started the car, I got a “SRS Urgent” message. Once again, Google came in handy. After reading about the error, my thoughts are that I got the error message due to the seat removal while the battery was still connected which means that the SRS system got a message that the air bags in the seat were disabled. So, the next question is how to reset the error message.

Through Google searches, I found an “advanced” code reader for Volvos which provide the ability to reset SRS codes, so this device is on its way, and I will provide an update once I get a chance to use it.

All in all, fixing the drain tubes was easy, but time consuming due to the seat and carpet removal.