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Saturday, June 16, 2007


Cheap bar risers

Finally, it's a low buck tech entry. I've decided I wanted the handlebars on my Suzuki GS500F to be a bit higher. I could have done a bar swap - I did that on the CX500. But they're a fair amount of hassle, and the typical junkyard bars are chrome plated, which would look weird on a sportbike. At least not without a bunch of chrome accessories. I'd been thinking about getting bar risers, but those are expensive. Finally one of the guys at ValuCycle had a suggestion when I told him I was looking for bar risers.

It's pretty simple. Get a second set of the tops of the bar mounts. Flip the ones you have upside-down, and put the new bar mounts on top of them with extra-long bolts. I found a replacement set of bar mount caps at GSTwins.com from a guy parting out a wrecked bike in the Classifieds section, and picked up some M8 x 50 bolts from the local hardware store. The result is that my bars are now an inch or so higher for a total of around $20. Much cheaper than a set of $100 Gen-Mar bar risers. They don't pull back the bars like Gen-Mars, but at my height I need more rise and don't really need the bars brought back anyway. Which would also mean they're more appropriate in my case than the aftermarket risers. The bars feel just about perfect - I'll have to see how much of an improvement this makes on my commute.



Father's Day Car Classic: Vintage funny car!

First Baptist Church of Conyers put on a car show today for Father's Day. Turns out a lot of members owned some impressive cars, or knew people who did. I took close to a hundred pictures there, and I'll be posting them over the next several weeks. I'll start this off with some pictures of one of the more astonishing cars there, a restored '70s era funny car complete with lace paint and supercharged big block.


Saturday, June 09, 2007


Gain nearly 10 miles per gallon with just one simple change!

When I first got my GS500F, it got around 50 to 55 mpg. When I filled it up recently, it was getting over 60. So, wondering what's changed?

The passage of time. That's it. I haven't really changed my driving style or made any modifications at all to the bike between those measurements. I've been wondering a bit why my bike might be getting better mileage now too. Here's some possible explanations:
  1. School's out, so the traffic is not quite as thick.
  2. The gasoline blend may have changed, as they use different additives in summer and winter for emissions control.
  3. It's hotter, and this may improve gas mileage, particularly on an air cooled engine like in the GS500F.
  4. The bike only had 1,400 miles on it when I got it, so it may be a bit better broken in.

But I haven't made any mods to the bike at all. Suppose I had installed something a scam artist was selling claiming it improved mileage - let's call this imaginary rip-off the Whirlwind Wallet Waster. And suppose the device did absolutely nothing. If I'd put that on sometime in the spring, I might have attributed this huge mileage gain to it, and put some glowing testimony all over the Internet about how the Wirlwind improved my mileage, and how effective this thing is. But that testimony would be completely wrong - the bike has picked up nearly 10 mpg on its own without me actually doing anything.

If there's a moral to this, it's that gas mileage measurements are not easily repeatable. If you are trying to measure mileage changes from a modification, you need to rule out all other possible factors that may have caused the mileage change, as you can get very large changes in mileage - larger than the ones companies selling bogus mileage gadgets advertise, sometimes - without changing anything about your engine. If you're telling me something gave your car a huge improvement in mileage, it's up to you to prove the mod actually was responsible for the change, and that you've made an effort to prove this was not some other fluke changing the mileage that has nothing to do with the mod. Or worse, if you're getting more miles per tank but haven't checked how many miles per gallon you're putting in, can you prove to anyone that this isn't just an optimistic reading of your gas gauge?

With gas mileage able to bounce around like that on its own, it takes careful work to make sure a change actually improves mileage and it isn't some other factor at work.

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For sale, as-is, where-is

I've been driving past a rather strange sight on my way to work every day. Finally on Friday I decided to bring my digital camera, pull over on the side of the road, and snap a picture of it. It's a mid '80s Ford EXP, a two seater coupe based on the Escort. Seeing one of those is rare enough. But what really got my attention is the parking job.

Clearly its owner has much more expertise at dealing with getting small Fords out of ditches than I do. I've seen this one moved back to the house a couple of times, so it's not stuck. But it would be if that drainage ditch were any wider!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Just plain weird issue with the Dart's turbo

One thing that had held up work on the Dart was that the turbo, advertised as having a divided T4 flange, wouldn't fit the undivided T4 flange I had. So we thought the divided flange must be a little different when it came to bolt pattern.

Wayne tried to attach the GT40 to the new divided flange we'd been setting up today, only to find that this flange didn't fit either. Finally, after a call to ATP, we found out the truth. And sometimes truth doesn't make sense. Although Garrett's own description of the GT4082 says it has a T4 flange, its turbine flange is really a little different from the standard T4. And what's even stranger, the GT4082 is the only GT40 to have this slightly different flange. The rest of them are standard T4 flanges!

So we're hogging the bolt holes on the turbo out to make it fit the flange that Garrett's own spec sheet says it fits. You'd have thought Garrett would have known better. For a company with their reputation, that's pretty bad.


Friday, June 01, 2007


A for profit sanctioning body? I don't like this.

I found on Drag Racing Online that the NHRA has been bought out by an investment group. This bothers me a lot more than the recent news about Chrysler being bought out by an investment group - after all, auto makers are in the business to make money, and my gut feeling about the Chrysler buyout is that their new owners want to make money by making cars and not by parting Chrysler out like a totaled Mustang. But an investment group buying a sanctioning body seems just a bit weird.

A sanctioning body is often something by car guys for car guys. Many of these start as car clubs to give their members a place to race and show off, and to draw up rules to keep their events safe. Sometimes money may also come into the equation - NASCAR sort of got started when promoters realized they could fill a horse track with spectators to cheer for their favorite bootleggers - but normally it's about racing.

This seems like a bad idea on several levels. First, there's not much profit in things like Friday night grudge racing - the money is in the pro races. Will this new NHRA pass by the enthusiasts who show up with whatever beat up old G-body they could drag in, in favor of the John Forces of the world?

Second, buying the NHRA includes their dragstrips and the land under them. Are the HD Partners right now looking at Atlanta Dragway and envisioning rows of of cookie cutter vinyl sided, detached and subdivided, mass production homes?

There used to be a drag strip right in my home town of Covington, long ago enough that I don't remember it. Maybe my Dart does. The pavement is still there, but where there used to be fans watching Hemis pound the pavement, now lines of trailers watch commuters head home after a long day's work. I'd hate to see Atlanta Dragway suffer the same fate. Maybe I ought to get a couple pictures of my Dart - or better yet, actual old race cars - staged where the drag strip in Covington used to be, lining up with their drivers staring at an unseen Christmas tree. Too many dragstrips and other race tracks have disappeared, often without even the asphault left behind to mark where they once were. Often they've been victims of everything from rich developer investors to annoying neighbors who move in next to a race track and then decide they don't like to hear the roar of the engines after all. Should have thought before you moved.

And they wonder why too many kids have taken their nitrous-fed wars to the street.


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