June 20th, 2017

#5681: Old Man's Cutoffs

I have several pairs of jogging shorts. They're made of approximately the same material as sweatpants but without the fleece lining; they're roomy and comfortable.

It's been a few years since I saw any for sale. During the big cleanout in early May I tossed one pair which had had sulfuric acid dripped on it, leading to tiny holes all over, and prior to that I tossed another pair on which the waistband had died the death. The others are in reasonable condition, but for how long?

Anyway, yesterday I wanted to wash clothes, and realized that the pair I was wearing was also dirty and needed washing. I tossed it all into the washer and padded upstairs in my birthday suit.

Not wanting to live the nudist life, I grabbed a clean pair of underwear and wondered what I should do about other clothing. There was a shirt I could wear, but no shorts (other than jeans) so I was about to resign myself to a couple hours in underwear when my eyes fell on the bag of shop rags.

I'd put a pair of sleep pants in that bag some months ago, having torn one leg at the knee; now I pulled it out, armed myself with a pair of scissors, and hacked off the legs. The result wasn't especially pretty (not the least because it's black-and-white checks) but it works as a "last resort" pair of shorts.

I tossed that pair into the dresser when my laundry was done and I put on one of the regular pairs. I'll keep it, even though my wife thinks it's ugly. (She's not wrong. I did promise not to wear them in public.)

* * *

Today's another ridiculously nice day, with the same weather as yesterday, right down to the popcorn showers. Maybe we'll see more rainbows.

My main aim for the day is to get the motorcycle reassembled. With the back wheel on I'll be able to move it. And then?

Well, the dirt bike calls to me. There's a lot of tinkering it needs, and I believe I have all the parts I need to get it back together. The only thing I'm trying to figure out is how to elevate it a bit, so I'm not having to bend over and sit on the floor and-and-and.

You know--'way back in the days when a friend kept his go-kart here and I was the guy who kept it running, I'd roll it up onto a couple of picnic table benches. That worked very nicely; I could sit on the floor and have the thing at a comfortable working height. That won't work for the bike; a narrow platform like that would be precarious. Besides, the road bike weighs about 3x as much as that go-kart did and we no longer have either the picnic table or its benches. The dirt bike is probably 2x as much as the go-kart, but a narrow platform without a wheel chock would be unsteady at best.

This would fit the bill but it's slightly beyond my budget; and where would I put it when I wasn't screwing around with motorcycles?

...so I'll sit on the floor and do what I need to do, and to heck with it.

* * *

Last night I was noodling around on YouTube and found this:

It's a Japanese show called Docchi ga Docchi. It's the story of two kids, aged something like 11 or 12, a boy and a girl, who somehow switch bodies. It looks like it'd be really entertaining if I could understand what's being said, but of course my mastery of Japanese is highly limited and there are no subtitles. (If I'm not completely wrong, the series name would translate to "Which is Which?") As it is, just watching the show without understanding the dialogue, it's still pretty dang entertaining.

I tried to look for information about the series, but it turns out there's a yaoi series called Docchi mo Docchi, and when I search on "Docchi ga Docchi" all I get is hits on the boys' love series instead, which is emphatically not what I'm interested in. (The article is GA, not MO.) Even if I add "-mo -yaoi" to my search terms, nothing for the "GA" series comes up. It's like it doesn't exist, except for that one person's YouTube channel.

I'd like to see it with English subtitles, but no matter where or how I search, the only hits I get are for the buttsex one. And no evidence that this series exists, otherwise.

More evidence that the Internet is primarily a porn delivery system. As if we needed it. Argh etc.

* * *

While running around Sunday, I stopped in at Fry's and had a gander at everything interesting. I bought a Weller soldering iron stand. You know, I have never had a really good stand for my soldering iron; this one cost $28 but I never expect to need to buy another one.

I decided I needed one after my iron slipped while I was fixing my wife's glitter lamp, and melted a gouge into the printer. Oops.

I could have paid about $17 more for a very nice soldering iron station--adjustable from 5-40 watts with a built-in stand--and it was also a Weller iron. I thought about it, but ultimately decided that I don't solder that much and my double-range Radio Shack iron suits my usage pattern a lot better. I tried in vain to find another tip like the one my preferred iron has, but that was a no-go. It's basically a cone with threads at the bottom, very short and precise. With Radio Shack out of business (and long out of the business of hobby electronics) I know I can't get that tip through them, worse luck.

I actually have three irons. First is the one I always use, 15 or 30W, with that short tip. Second is a grounded 15W iron, for static-sensitive soldering, which I never do; and the 15W element means it takes forever to heat up, anyway. Third is one I've misplaced, which I believe is a 40W iron, but I never use it because it gets too hot and strips traces off PC boards. (That one would have come in handy when I was repairing the battery charger.)

And I have a desoldering iron. I never liked using copper braid for desoldering so I bought that one when I was in school.

...and I don't even do that much electronics work.

Recall that I was talking about making a temperature-controlled iron? The 40W iron is the one I'd use for that, because it would heat to the desired temperature fast. (If I can find it. Well, it's here somewhere.)

What I won't use is soldering guns, because here's how they work:

1) Pull trigger.
2) Wait.
3) Wait.
4) Wait. Don't fall asleep and don't release that trigger!
5) Wait.
6) Test solder on tip.
7) Wait.
8) Test solder on tip.
9) Solder joint.
10) Put gun down to reposition circuit board for next joint.
11) Repeat.

I can't stand 'em. They take too long to heat up and cool down too quickly; and every time you release that trigger it takes an eternity for the tip to heat up again. I've never seen a soldering gun that did not work this way. And besides, you're holding this big heavy thing--there's a massive transformer in there to step the current up (and voltage down) from the wall socket to heat that element--it's clumsy. An iron, you hold it like a pencil; a gun, you hold it like, well, a gun.

And when the soldering iron isn't enough? I bust out the propane torch. When I was fixing the battery charger, the soldering iron couldn't heat up the terminal clamps, so I just soldered those connections with the propane torch. Easy-peasy. WTF, I have three of those, for crying out loud.

I mean, dang.

#5682: Alternator? Really??

So, I'm sitting at the dining room table trying to sort through some papers when Mrs. Fungus gets home, and her car was making a GAWD-AWFUL racket.

I went out there and popped the hood; it was coming from the engine, so I went inside, put on shoes and opened the garage door, then grabbed my 24" breaker bar to use as a stethoscope, to find out what it was that was making the noise.

There had been that whole thing with her AC, and visions of spending $400 and two bad days struggling with replacing the compressor danced in my head...until I touched the breaker bar to the alternator. Now, when one of the accessories fails, generally you need to have a listen to each one to figure out which one it is. But I could feel the rattling coming from that alternator, which was pretty much all I needed to know.

I advised her of my preliminary diagnosis and proceeded to remove the alternator. When I got it out, the play in the pulley was bleeding obvious, which firmed up my diagnosis. (I'd had some worries that it might be the water pump.) We hit O'Reilly's; the woman there put it on the test fixture and said the pulley was really wobbling. She sold us a replacement alternator and serpentine belt (I wanted to replace the serpentine belt since the belt that had been in that car was of unknown age) and we stopped at KFC for dinner. Came home, ate dinner, spent about half an hour on reassembly...and she's whisper quiet again.

I'm not kidding: that alternator was shot. Still making plenty of juice, electrically perfect, but the bearings and the pulley made such an incredible racket....

That pulley is weird: it's got a one-way clutch in it. I thought it had come loose--unscrewed itself--but immobilizing the armature and turning the pulley didn't change anything, and then turning the pulley the other way was impossible with the armature immobilized. But there was a crapton of play in the old one, and there's none in the new one.

So, new belt, new alternator, two and a half hours--that would have run $400 easy at a shop, and we got away with half that much with me doing it. And that includes the fried chicken!

* * *

I'm not terribly surprised by this, though. When I cleaned the car out on Friday, I started the engine to move it a bit and I heard something making noise up front. It wasn't much of a noise, and I didn't think much of it considering how minor it was. It got a lot worse in the past four days! And the car has over 115,000 miles on it, so you've got to expect things to need servicing.

So, I put the alternator in, and it's a lifetime warranty part, so if it does this again, it's two hours and a trip to the parts store. No problem.