Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Vintage Italian String-back Driving Gloves

Bought these gloves in Rome in 2007. String-back full finger driving
gloves are impossible to get in the USA. I bought my original pair at
this same store 5 years earlier and this is a spare pair I. Put aside
until now. My old ones are shot and with the Melee starting Saturday I
decided to break these out. They are one of those rare perfect things
and I'm sure they will bring us good luck.

California Melee Preparations

Tomorrow we leave for the California Melee! Just checked, the start in San Francisco is 435 miles from here, so we will drive the GTV 870 miles just getting to the event and back. Should be a blast. Alfa is running great.. just have to pack.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Alignment bogus-ness and knowing what you are doing.

About a week ago I put new tires, shock and brakes on the truck and had the wheels aligned as well. Driving the truck, I wasn't completely sure it was tracking properly. But we have a good amount of traffic in Southern California, so I wasn't completely sure, I might have been just feeling the crown of the road. At any rate, it was easy to bring the truck back in and have them check the alignment. The report:
  • first they said the alignment was fine... but the wheel bearing were loose, particularly on one side. Well, loose wheels bearings would mess up the alignment, so I asked to see before they sold me new bearings. When we entered the garage, the mechanic was tightening the bearings, so I didn't actually need anything new. 
  • they aligned the wheels again
  • and they gave me the report showing the "change" in Toe:
    • before:  Left 0.32 deg      Right: -0.01 deg
    • after:     Left 0.14 deg       Right: 0.14 deg
Looks good now, right?

No. Look at the difference between the left and right: 0.31 degrees before. And 0.28 degrees after. That 0.03 change isn't significant. Uhm, maybe they just should have turned the steering wheel about 15 degrees? And sure enough, on the drive home I noticed the steering wheel center is off a bit. Sigh. Does anyone pay any attention to what they are actually doing? I mean, all they did is move the steering wheel with this adjustment.

There's no harm done, and I now have tight wheel bearings. And I was probably just feeling the crown in the road as the truck handled about the same on the way home. But I'll be annoyed at the steering being off center for a bit until I forget about it.

Bosch 36618-02 drill review and 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System test

Well, I tested my new Bosch 36618-02. I also compared it with my old Makita 6233D. One of the Makita's batteries died, leaving me with just one. And I didn't want to buy a new battery for my old drill. So I bought a new drill, the Bosch.
Here of pic of the new Bosch next to the Makita.
In short, I like the new Bosch. Compared to the old Makita:
  • The Bosch runs faster (1600RPM vs 1300RPM)
  • The Bosch has more torque
  • The Bosch has a brake, it stops right away when you release the trigger
  • The Bosch has many more torque settings
  • The Bosch appears to have a more steel at the nose of the chuck. That seems more robust
  • The Bosch is lighter
  • My only complaint is that the Bosch's Lithium Ion batteries are only 1.3Ah. But you can get a bigger battery if you want.
To test the drill I used it to polish the old fogged headlamps on my Nissan truck (the motorcycle hauler). Unfortunately I didn't take a "before" pic. I used a 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System. Obviously, my old Makita is, well, OLD. So this really wasn't a fair comparison, but it did let me run the new drill long and hard. A lot of my work in the garage is sanding, grinding, wire wheeling or buffing, so this is pretty representative of what I do. It's not building a deck and pounding 1000 screws, so I'm not sure how that all compares. That said...
The new drill was much better. Frankly, the extra speed was a big factor. The 3M system even says in the directions that you need a 1200 - 1600 RPM drill. Now maybe my old Makita has slowed down, but the Bosch did work much better. So I quickly stopped using the old drill. The project had me run down 5 batteries from full to empty. I only have 2 batteries, so I did have to recharge them. It seemed to take approximately 30 - 40 minutes to recharge the batteries. Unfortunately, I ran down the drill batteries faster than that. Given I had to start and stop and change sanding pads, get a drink, etc., I'm not really sure how long the drill ran on a charge. I'd guess about 15 minutes, maybe 20, of continuous sanding. I would have liked it to run longer, but then I guess that would require the larger batteries that would take longer to charge... so I'm not sure what to think about that. As it was, I only had to take a 10 minute break and the spare battery was ready off the charger and I could swap the batteries and keep going.
Here's an after picture of the headlight.

The headlights really did come out great. So I really recommend the 3M kit. It is a scary process as the first thing you do is sand the whole lens until it is opaque like frosted glass. But it all works out in the end. The only issue I had was the small round lights protrude from the rest of the headlamp and there are some tight corners and recessed spots that are hard to get to with a sanding disk. I ended up gouging the plastic in a couple spots. But it's not visible from 3 feet away. And having the clarity restored is an important factor for having good functional headlamps, and that was my goal. I should note that if you have normal flat headlamps, or headlamps with just a simple curve and no recesses this would be a simple project and be much quicker. I'd estimate that you could do the first headlight in 45 to 60 minutes and then the second in maybe 20 to 30 minutes. The first one taking longer as you figured everything out. Complicated curves like on these took me a while, being especially careful.
So in summary, I like the new drill. And the headlamps came out great.