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Archive for January, 2008

Why John isn’t a mechanic… Volume 1

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

John: Hey Slava, I noticed something wierd the other day in my clutch master cylinder. After you take the rubber cover off, there’s this big plastic cap thing at the top of it.

Slava: Wierd… let’s look at it.

John: *pops hood, removes cap*

Slava: Uh.. the only reason you can see that thing is because you have no clutch fluid. I have no idea how your clutch is working right now.

John: …

John: Oh.

Slava: You should probably add some.

John: Yeah, I think I’ll do that.

project:BDR triumphs over adversity to… register for the season

Monday, January 21st, 2008

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Connection timed out.

Do you agree to the terms of this subscription? (YES FOR THE #@%&ing LAST TIME I @!#$ING AGREE)

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These, and other discouraging messages, would face the WDCR autocross community over the course of two-plus harrowing hours trying to log in to DLBRacing.com for the WDCR SCCA autocross subscription. Because this can be a harrowing experience, we felt that some explanation was in order.

DLB Racing: How a packet becomes a subscription

Most of the internet uses a protocol known as TCP/IP, which transmits data over a series of tubes in the form of small electronic globules called “packets”. You log in to your internet service provider and type “www.dlbracing.com”. It has been suggested on wdcr-solo that these packets are then hand transcribed over a phone line onto paper. If only that were the case.

At the router for DLBRacing, these “packets” are hand-transcribed by the Geico cavemen onto actual caves, using woolly mammoth blood for zeroes, and saber-toothed tiger blood for ones.

Cave paintings

This particular painting represents the many S2000′s in A-Stock. That charming fellow on the chariot represents Greg Obadia.

Each packet is hand-photographed by the cavemen using an 80′s style Polaroid camera.

For zeroes, the pictures are gently blown upon, and for ones, the pictures are flapped back and forth really fast. For BMW owners, the pictures are both gently blown upon AND flapped back and forth really fast.
These pictures are then handed off to a flock of carrier pigeons.

Carrier pigeon

The carrier pigeons drop off the pictures at DLBRacing headquarters. They are translated first from Sanskrit to Bocce, then from Bocce to pig Latin, and from pig Latin to English. Occasionally the translation from pig Latin to English gets skipped, and someone like Oody-way Air-hay ends up registered in SP-Ay. But for the most part, the system is reliable.

You’re probably thinking – “It’s in English now. It should go into the database now. Right?” Not quite. First, the subscriptions are transported via freight train to Springfield, where the Sea Captain from the Simpsons steps in. The Sea Captain (who in his earlier years ran an Integra Type Rrrr in D Stock) uses an Aldis Lamp to send the signals back to DLBRacing.com.

Captain

The Boy Scouts on staff at DLBRacing transmit the signals via semaphore flag to the database administrator, who then enters the data into the system.

Semaphore

And that, folks, is why registration for the season subscriptions takes so long. Here’s hoping that those Boy Scouts get their act together in the future.

When it was all said and done, five project:BDR members had completed the process. We are looking forward to another great season at Fedex!

Why “project” BDR?

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Answers.com defines “project” as “an undertaking requiring concerted effort.”

project:BDR is an undertaking seeking both to have fun and to be competitive. Having fun is easy, but being competitive usually does require concerted effort.  So that’s the high level meaning.

At a different level, project:BDR is comprised of a bunch of smaller projects. One such project is John’s undertaking to make his 1991 MR2 a reliable car.

It was purchased with 176K miles for an excellent price – no issues there. Any seventeen year old car is going to have some stuff that isn’t quite right. That’s part of the fun of owning such a car – stuff goes wrong, you fix it, and you sit back and enjoy your quasi-restored car.  You buy a new caliper (or whatever). You tell yourself: this is the last caliper I’ll ever need. No matter what else happens, I’ve got the caliper issue handled.

Project Make MR2 Stop Leaking Oil has made good progress. Even though large tracts of the engine and many old and famous parts have fallen or may fall into the grip of Oil Leak, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go to the end, we shall defend the engine, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight in the PCV hose (leak #1), we shall fight in the valve cover gasket (leak #2), we shall fight in the oil pan (leak #3), we shall fight in the dipstick (leak #4), we shall fight in the distributor (leak #5) – we shall never surrender.

With the engine well at hand, John moved on to the brakes. The rotors were old and pretty beaten up, and the pads were unknowns. Brake parts are pretty cheap so it seemed like a good opportunity to freshen things up. Well, it turns out the rear right caliper was seized. The brake pads that came off that corner were less than half as thick as the ones at the other three corners, a dead giveaway (that and the exceedingly high temperatures coming off that corner of the car after a simple trip around the block).

Here’s where that “project” thing comes in. A normal person would see this, order a right rear caliper, install it, bleed the brakes and call it a day. But someone who is working on a project sees this as an opportunity to restore something else. When it was finished, John had ordered four remanufactured Toyota calipers, as well as a set of stainless steel brake lines (legal in stock class for 1991 and before cars). John’s rationalization: “Well, I was going to have to bleed the brakes anyway… ”

This is one of many of project:BDR’s subprojects. These include:

  • Kevin’s “My car burns oil like whoa” project
  • Neal’s “Unholy marriage of domestic and foreign technology” project
  • Slava and Mei’s “If we get enough MKI MR2′s together maybe they’ll start breeding” project

So, here’s wishing everyone the best with their projects in 2008. May your stock parts fail in convenient ways that offer opportunities for upgrades. Cheers!