Monday, December 08, 2008

Home Movies

I have no news about exercising or working on cars or anything like that, so I thought I'd post a couple of videos featuring Clare for the one or two of you out there who still read this blog.

This shape-spitting video was from when she was around six months old. It was apparently a one-time-only performance. I've tried to repeat the hilarity but now Clare makes it clear she's seen that trick before and it's really not as funny in repeats.

About a month later, I grabbed the camera and was lucky to catch Clare showing off her amazing grip strength. I sure wish I knew what was going through her head while she was squeezing the bejebus out of that ball.

I'm in the worst shape physically of my life but I'm enjoying hangin' with my girl.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Stop the presses! I actually threw a leg over my bicycle and went for a ride last night with the club. It was a fairly flat course with the first real hill coming around the ten mile mark, so it was a perfect opportunity to feel the speed of the peloton for a nice reminder of what it means to ride bikes. I sat in as best I could and chatted with some folks. Every little rise and surge sent familiar ripples of fire through my thighs. I made it about eight miles before I was shelled off the back. I joined another recently-new dad and we took the shortcut, talked about how babies suck the fitness out of their parents, and enjoyed a nice spin in the chilly air back to the start.

It was nineteen miles in all, which brings my year's total up to about 55. Normally, I'd be coming in on about 2500 this time of year, so I'm not surprised that my legs were burning a bit.

The first post-partum bike ride is in the books, and I hope it marks the beginning of the slow road back to feeling good in my own skin.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Cha cha cha changes!

I've been off the blog for quite a while now, but with good reason. Clare arrived April 21st at 3:21 in the morning, and oddly enough, I haven't made blogging a priority. That isn't likely to change anytime soon, but I thought I'd do the proud papa thing and at least get her picture posted out here. Wow, what a ride this is!

Friday, January 04, 2008

New Year's Rockin' Eve

Do we know how to party, or what? New Year's Eve rolled in and we had a great time planned. Friends had invited us to their house, but Sue was coming down with a cold and sinus headaches (not to mention muscle stress from her growing baby oven), I was tired from working much of the weekend to fix a failed disk controller, and we were both shot from the week of non-stop holiday merriment that came around Christmas.

We did dinner and a movie. In our house. We opted for "Carrington", a positively awful World War I era flick that Sue put in our Netflix queue about an intellectual gay author and his quasi-lesbian artist girlfriend who spend the entire movie in love triangles, rectangles, and pentagons with other men, women, and people who could easily pass for either one - only sub-titles could have made this movie worse. I lamented about how the actor playing the gay author had previously played a villian in Ronin, a De Niro movie with some of the best car chases ever put to film, and how we could be watching that instead. I passed the time by downing a bottle of Mackeson's XXX milk stout from Galeville Grocery in Liverpool and thumbing through the latest National Geographic magazine (whacky dinosaurs - were the thick spikes on the back used for protection or sexual display?), most of which I'd already read during previous morning trips to the hopper. We got through a little over an hour of the movie, then neither of us could stand it any longer, so we switched the TV over to one of the Law and Order channels and watched an episode we've already seen three or four times - you know, the one with the Afghanni drug lord diplomat whose Indian dealer orders a hit on three dealers who ripped him off and three prep-school girls get killed and a fourth gets put in intensive care. As usual, Sue didn't recognize the episode until we were 15 minutes into it and by then it was too late to change to watch something else. With about 20 minutes to go, she fell asleep and I switched over to the last half of Star Trek 8: First Contact that I'd caught on tape from the Sci-Fi channel earlier in the week. We were in bed and asleep just after 10:00. A New Year's Rockin' Eve indeed!

We spent most of New Year's Day cleaning and reorganizing the two closets in our office (my idea). I did manage to squeeze in time enough to pull off the front wheel on Sue's car to diagnose a clunking ball joint whose seal had broken. In the evening, we watched about 20 more minutes of Carrington, but then gave up for good and I mailed it back yesterday morning.

'Twas surely a raucous time welcoming 2008.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Audi S4 DIY Oil Catch Can

I recently finished a DIY oil catch can install on the S. An oil catch can is designed to collect the oil from the vapors put out from the crankcase. In the old days, that vapor was vented to the atmosphere. In these greener modern times, the gases are recycled into the intake manifold and burned, or put into the air intake in turbo cars when they're on boost. Some of the oil precipitates out and over time can foul the intercoolers and make the engine burn less cleanly.

The design I used is based on one from here which was put into a turbo Volvo. I didn't include the snazzy clear hose for indicating how full the bottle is because I gave up trying to find clear hose with temperature ratings I wanted. I also didn't include a drain valve because it'd be a bear to reach where I mounted the can. Instead, I'll just periodically check it by taking the top off the can and sucking out oil with a small hose if I need to. While I had the Y-pipe out, I sanded it and painted it to clean it up a bit.

Earlier this year, with about 85K on the car, I put in the AWE intercoolers, along with some other upgrades, and discovered one to two tablespoons worth of oil in the driver side IC hoses and in the IC itself. I started looking at catch can installations to keep the new ICs clean, clean up the Y-pipe, and to help the engine burn cleaner internally.

Here's the bay before the OCC install. Note the bolt in the back I used to secure the OCC. I removed the bolt, drilled a hole in the middle of a large hose clamp, then mounted the clamp with the bolt.

The supplies I picked up included an aluminum camping fuel bottle for the can, an updated PCV "spider hose" from the Audi dealer, a couple stainless steel pot scrubbers from a restaurant supply shop, lengths of oil-resistant PCV hose to match the inner diameter of the pressure limiting valve and the hose section to the intake manifold, plus a couple brass hose barbs, an elbow, t-coupler, and a bunch of hose clamps. I certainly could have done this on the cheap with my old spider hose, but I wanted to take my time putting it together and drive the car while I was doing it, plus I figured it'd be good to start with nice clean new hoses and valves.

In the following picture, I've already removed the section of spider hose that goes to the IM and includes the check valve and capped off the output from the distributor piece. The picture also shows the spider hose barb that goes to the N75 capped, but I later decided to uncap that and hook it up normally to the N75 since the old N75 hose was pretty clean. It appears most oil doesn't precipitate out until later along in the spider hose. The N75 is a solenoid that controls parts of the turbos and apparently you can vent the sensor to the atmosphere, but I'm pretty paranoid so I hooked it back up like it's supposed to be.

I drilled two holes in the bottle. One about midway up for the dirty side, and one near the top for the clean side. I inserted the barbs and secured them with JB Weld, then painted the bottle black with some high-temp clearcoat. I stuffed one of the stainless steel scrubbers into the bottle to act as baffle material between the two barbs. Air flows very well through the scrubbers, and hopefully all that surface area will help the oil precipitate out of the gases into the can.

Getting the old spider hose out was a pain. The rest was easy, but tedious. The lower bottle barb needed to be connected to the output of the spider hose distributor piece that would normally go to the pressure limiting valve on the Y-pipe. The bend was too sharp for the rubber PCV hose causing a kink, so I put in a brass elbow midway. Out from the top barb, the hose leads to the pressure limiting valve on the Y-pipe, with a T-connector and hose heading down to the intake manifold hose with the check valve. After I took this picture, I had to cut a little off the topmost hose segment between the bottle and the T, then had to move the rest of the hose underneath the boost gauge line to get it to line up with the barb on the pressure limiting valve.

A little hose shortening and rearranging plus putting the painted Y-pipe back in and attaching the valve came out like these pics showing the finished product.

I don't know if this setup will help as well as the commercial OCCs, but it was a fun project and at least I'm pretty sure it won't hurt anything. I only have a couple hundred miles on it so far, so I anticipate it'll be a while before I see any results.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Hibiscus Red on Black

Just a quick beauty shot after some detailing...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sprockids 2007

We're wrapping up another great year with the Sprockids program that my wife started with two other guys, what, five years ago now? Wow. How time flies. We take forty kids into the woods twice a week on their mountain bikes and we talk about rules of the trail, respecting nature and each other, and techniques for riding well.

We capped off the season this year with a two-night campout at a camp center nearby with some of the most technically difficult riding around. Our kids range from 10 to 15 years old, and it's great to see them, many of whom were afraid or unable to ride over a three-inch stick on the ground, now clearing two-foot high A-frames over massive logs in the middle of a slippery rock garden.

Many of the kids absolutely love the program and thrive in it much more than they do in the organized sports in school. I think about my childhood playing Little League baseball and other team sports. While an outstanding play might give a kid a temporary sense of accomplishment, I found that usually they're an opportunity for failure. A single missed ball or strike out or fumble at the wrong moment can bring the whole team down on you. In the mountain biking program, we foster a team environment in the sense that everyone encourages everyone else, and the bigger kids help spot the younger ones over obstacles. However, it remains a very personal sport. Each obstacle is a personal challenge and an opportunity to get real satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment by overcoming it. And if the obstacle remains insurmountable for the time being, there is a whole team of people saying, "That's okay, you'll get it next time" and truly meaning it because the failure didn't just cost the team a win. Watching the kids' faces light up when they tackle a scary feature on the trail and finally clean it after trying a few times is a huge reward to the adult volunteers. When the parents come to pick up their kids, we get many thanks, and I always get the feeling like they're a little bewildered about exactly what it is that we do on our bikes in the woods that lights their kids up so much. Very few kids go away not wanting to spend more time on their bikes right away.

Ride on!