Friday, September 27, 2013

Road Trip: "If You Want It Done Right Tour" ends...

...and it only took me 6-1/2 months.

Ever since I took to the highways of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia to get my own damn engine thanks to a less-than-helpful...acquaintance, I've had that engine tied down in the back of the Tracker.

It's been entertaining. The tail-dragging Tracker was skittish and threatened to bottom out on every bump.

The original plan was to get the engine out the morning after I got back from Atlanta. Medical stuff and too-cold March weather became medical stuff and too-wet April weather, then I went to San Francisco for a week. All the airport walking kicked my ass...and then it was too hot outside.

It was too hot outside yesterday morning, too, when I finally had enough and dragged myself out to finish the job.

The most difficult part: my new, unused engine hoist was still in pieces, still boxed up, and still in the cellar from the morning I bought it in mid-2011. No way I was going to be able to haul the thing myself, but I'm a pretty smart guy--and modest. Used the Tracker and a tow strap to pull it up.

It might have taken a half-hour without all the medical stuff. Took 2 hours to get this far, with frequent rest breaks. As soon as it was on the ground, I quit and sat in front of a fan for a few hours.

It only took 30 minutes to put the crane together and just a few to spot the Tracker into position.

Picked it up and drove the Tracker out from under it. Finally!

I'll need to get that blue beast on a stand and safe from the weather in the next day or so. From there I'll be able to start figuring out just what engine I've got.

I'm just glad that road trip's over.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pic of the Day: Bagged a Deer!

It happened in April of '07, so it might have been out of season.

I was out on a delivery run and one of the shops was throwing this monster away. I nabbed it to put into storage for a few months, thinking that Toys for Tots would be getting one big donation from me that year.

When I got back to the store, I left it on the back of the truck. Went inside and told everyone I'd hit a deer. Broke its leg and neck.

Made it easier to fit into the Tracker, though!

I don't know whether the thing ever made it to a kid once I dropped it off at Goodwill. If not, I don't want to know. I'd rather think that there's a kid somewhere with a big, dopey red-nosed Rudolph to play with.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Pic of the Day: Revell 1:96 Saturn V build, Part 6--Still on the S-IC

Calling this "Part 6," though I haven't been diligent in numbering all the previous Revell Saturn V posts. Sorry. Just go here or click on the "Saturn V" label at the end of the post to see the others.

Still working--very slowly--on the S-IC. I did make some significant progress in recent weeks after almost 2 years of leaving the thing in the box.

I wrote about the big, ugly gaps along the edge of the two wraps forming the O2 and kerosene tanks back in August. Did something about them shortly after that.

First thing was to cut the systems tunnels (the big "pipes" along the sides of the stage). I was going to remove all four of the kit pieces, but realized that the lower halves looked fine. The wrap for the kerosene tank (the lower "half" of the stage) didn't look nearly as bad as the upper one did. I left it alone.

It took some careful work with a straight/chisel X-Acto blade to cut the pins holding the two upper halves. The stage is pretty big and bulky and I didn't want to cut into the wraps, but everything went smoothly.

Once I had the O2 tank wrap exposed, I got to work cutting the overlapping end away. This amounts to a 1/4"-wide strip, as seen above. Then I ran some liquid model cement under the new edge of the wrap and held it with my fingers until it set, working a little at a time. There's still an overlap, but at least it will be covered by the upper half of the systems tunnel when it's glued on.

Here, the upper ends of both systems tunnels have been glued and clamped. No more gap at the midpoint.

There's still a gap under one of the tunnels along the length of the kerosene tank wrap. I'm filling this in with gap-filling "Super Glue" a layer at a time.

I've yet to glue up the second and third stages, but I'll be using the lessons from this one to do them both right the first time.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Pic of the Day: A Room Full of Saturn V F-1 Rocket Engines

It never fails to amaze me how big the Rocketdyne F-1 is, or how complex they are. Here we've got several in various stages of construction:
--a pair of thrust chambers to the right waiting for their plumbing followed by several more that have been plumbed. It looks like the last one in line has a red shipping cover like the last one on the left.

--the first on the left is getting something welded (pretty neat that the guy's head is mostly clear, but his welding mask is blurred as if he was shot in the act of flipping it). From the looks of some of the other engines, I think he's welding those rectangular tabs onto the "hat bands." These have threaded studs on them for later attachment of insulation blankets to protect the engines from each others' exhaust plumes during launch and flight.

--the last on the left looks like it's being shipped out; it's on a cart and has a shipping cover, but I wonder where the interface panel on top is?

If you zoom in on the closer ones, you can see the tubing that forms the bell-shaped thrust chamber. There are 178 of the larger ("primary") tubes forming the top end and 356 smaller ("secondary") tubes forming the lower end, all brazed together and reinforced by "hat bands". Each primary is brazed to a pair of secondaries. Kerosene fuel is directed to the "down" primaries and their associated secondaries and flows all the way to the bottom, collecting heat as it goes. The hot fuel is redirected upward through the "up" tubes and into the engine injectors to be burned. This "regenerative cooling" keeps the thrust chamber from melting.

There's an extensive tech writeup on the thrust chambers' construction here, at Heroic Relics.

Each one of these monsters burned my car's weight in kerosene and liquid oxygen every SECOND. Just one engine put out some 1.5 million pounds of thrust--more than 1-1/2 times the total thrust of all five of the dinky J-2 engines on the Saturn V's second stage.

Some trivia:
Weight 18,500 pounds dry
Height 19 feet
Diameter 12.3 feet
98 production engines
82 development engines
7 serialized mockups
1 shop-floor engineering model
65 engines flown on 13 Saturn V missions
Most of the R&D engines were destroyed in testing
37 engines remain as museum displays or whatever; MSFC disassembled at least one F-1 in 2011 to study for possible restart of F-1 builds (or derivative engines) for the new Space Launch System.


As a tie-in for the Revell 1:96 Saturn V project, the kit's engines have some sketchy outside detail, but nothing inside the bells. Granted, you're not really expected to pick the model up to look in the engines, since it's supposed to be displayed standing vertically. The engines aren't correct, anyway, since they're covered in insulation blankets before the rocket's rolled out to the launch pad (good picture of the blanket here, at Up-Ship's Unwanted Blog. RealSpace Models sells a set of properly blanketed F-1's for about $30.

I'm not planning on doing any superdetailing on my Saturn at the moment. I'll be content with cleaning up the existing engines and using different shades of silver to make them look...well, better than this:

Lazy astronaut dude wouldn't stand up. Had to discipline him.

Labor Day repost: I Made the 1% Rich

Labor Day is a good time for a repost from October of 2011, in the midst of the Occupy! days.

According to that pizza-making idiot who wants to be president next year, it's my fault I'm not an entitled elitist rich raging asshole like him.

But actually, it's because of minimum-wage workers like me that he's an entitled elitist rich raging asshole. He didn't get there on his own, no matter what he wants you to believe.

No. His millions came because of waitresses and kitchen staff in his Godfather's restaurants, people who worked for whatever the company could get away with paying. His money came from regular people like me busting their asses for 40 hours a week, or maybe working more than one job.

I knew people like that in my last job, as a delivery driver for one of the national auto parts chains. I hired on in early 2007, working full time and getting a little more than $7 an hour. Because it was February, once my 90 day probation was done, I still couldn't get into the health plan, since enrollment only happened in January.

But their plan was utter crap; the one I could afford wouldn't cover much of anything. The one I needed was too expensive. I did without.

No raises for ANYbody. Most of the other drivers and counter staff who'd been there as long or longer than me hadn't gotten a raise in years. Every time someone brought it up with management, they'd get runaround, or told to talk to the district manager, who would just give more runaround and excuses.

But the store managers got their bonuses. The DM got his bonus. His boss got his bonus, and so on. Us non-management types got a share in the "store bonus," which was based on overall sales for that store. If your sales are down, you don't get the extra few bucks.

All the while, the DM was screaming that payroll had to be cut, no new hires, no overtime for anyone. This meant that everyone but the store managers got cut back to 30 hours or less and the stores were running on skeleton crews. Customers would complain--both walk-in and commercial--because there weren't enough people to handle the workload. There were only 4 people in my store in the morning: two drivers, one at the Commercial desk (selling parts to local repair shops), and the store manager running the front, alone, until the afternoon guy came in. This freed the manager to go do paperwork, make the bank deposit, and grab lunch. The Commercial side closed down at 5 pm, the store manager left, and the evening guy came in, leaving two people to run the store to close.

And so both walk-in and commercial customers would go to the competition, because the store managers couldn't do anything about it--can't hire anyone, can't bring extra people in to help--and so the DM would scream about getting sales up.

We two drivers did an awful lot to help--checking in stock, putting it on the shelves, helping customers, re-stocking, putting up displays, answering phones, cleaning, anything and everything. I knew the system well enough to do parts lookups and run a register, run the test equipment (batteries, starters, alternators, ignition modules) and brake lathe, maintained the delivery trucks, maintained store equipment (I rigged up a drain for one of the air conditioners when its pipes got clogged up, re-stocked half the hard parts when the part numbers changed or new stuff came in), and other stuff that a "delivery driver" didn't need to do. This is assuming I wasn't out on a run, where I interacted with the customers, listened to their complaints about how long it was taking to get their parts, told them about the company's cutbacks, and asked them to call Corporate and give them an earful.

Basically--and this isn't an exaggeration--I did everything. Most of us in that one store could handle someone else's job and chip in, because we HAD to. Most of us were making about the same, without raises, with our hours cut, and we heard the same bullshit from Corporate--"More sales! Less payroll!"

We got a new DM in January 2010, the third one since I got hired. This asshole went on vacation in February, but not before showing everyone a sales brochure for his $50,000 boat. Nice.

He started shuffling people around. I got moved to the hub store, which warehoused more parts than the others. I was back on a 40-hour week, which was good, and all I had to do was make 8 circuits a day from the hub to two other stores and back. During one stop, I learned that the Company had posted record profits for 2009, $300 million. The Company guys simply gushed about it on the employee indoctrination information website. We were expected to gush, as well, because we're all one big happy family!

Record profits--but at the cost of cutting payroll hours, running stores with minimal staff, running off customers who weren't getting good service, freezing any raises...basically fucking us over for their big profits.

It was people like me who made that $300 million for the Company, people like me who made those sales and helped those customers, people like me who busted our asses so the Company assholes could enjoy their bonuses and record profits while we decided whether to pay the electric bill, the phone bill, or insurance this pay period.

Car broke down? to juggle the bills around. Maybe one of the shops'll cut me a deal. At least I get a discount on parts.

Lights got cut off? They want HOW MUCH to turn them back on? Well shit, there goes that paycheck. Guess we're hitting Dollar General for mac & cheese, ramen noodles, and tuna sandwiches for the next two weeks.

But did you SEE the District Manager's new $50,000 boat?! It's got wells for keeping bait, it's got a cooler under this seat, a stereo...everything an entitled asshole could want! Maybe if we're productive enough, he'll let us buy some of the fish he caught on vacation while we were keeping his stores alive for him and earning him his next bonus!

Since the Aorta Fairy visited me last year, things have actually gotten worse for my former coworkers. No raises, payroll cut ever further, and the Company's entitled elites making ever more money.

No, we don't owe the fuckers any thanks for allowing us to work for them and bask in their light. They owe us for making them rich. They owe us better wages, better working conditions, some fucking respect for all the work we do to keep their companies going. Without us, their companies die and the money stops flowing. Without us, their customers go somewhere else.

They owe us the courtesy of keeping American jobs in this country, instead of sending them to places where people will work for much less than we will.

Fuck you, Herman Cain.