Monthly Archives: August 2011

Banked Track Rollerderby is fixing to get serious!

8-21-11 —

This morning I went to the veloway to start accruing the 100 miles I try to get in every week on the seat of a bicycle. I ran into Dawna Destruction of the Cherry Bombs and had a nice chat. About the time she left several members of the Rhinestone Cowgirls showed up to skate a few laps and we had a nice visit. So, that reminds me to remind you…..Saturday 7:00 PM at the Palmer Events Center we have the Cherry Bombs vs. the Rhinestone Cowgirls. These are currently the two top teams in the league — both undefeated so far this season, the Cherry Bombs undefeated last season as well. The winner of this upcoming bout goes straight to the championship bout, the loser has to play the #3 team — the Putas del Fuego — to go to the championship. Having sponsored the Cherry Bombs for the last few years I have my bias, but really this one is too close to call. If you go and find the bout boring, I will personally reimburse you for your ticket! I have made this offer before — no takers yet! If you can’t make this one, the playoff and championship bouts are in October.

More misinformation from Click & Clack

I don’t listen to their radio show because it annoys me how much they laugh at their own tired jokes. But today I read their column in the Statesman. The first topic they answered well, the second, not too well at all. It concerned someone who drove a ’98 Toyota Corolla on bad roads and experienced steering wheel shimmy at 60-70 mph despite having had the car’s wheels “balanced and aligned.” Click and Clack offered two possible explanations:

1. Tread separation on a front tire.

2. A loose tie rod end or ball joint in the front suspension.

Tread separation would have been caught by a proper wheel balance job. A loose tie rod end or ball joint has the following symptoms: Clunking and knocking at low speeds when turning or going over bumps. If a tie rod end or ball joint is catastrophically loose, a wicked “death wobble” vibration will be triggered when you go over a bump at about 30 mph or less. This vibration is such that you will pull over to the side of the road wishing you had a change of underwear with you.. High speed shimmy is not generally a symptom of a loose tie rod end or ball joint.

The following are common explanations for high speed steering wheel shimmy:

1. A wheel balance operation was not successful due to poor equipment, poorly maintained equipment or operator error — happens all the time. My 3/4 ton crew cab diesel truck has wheels too big to fit our shop’s balancer. NTB flat out cannot balance my truck’s wheels — after they tried several times I got disgusted and tore off all the weights they had put on and it shimmied far less! Recently, Discount Tire was finally successful on about the sixth try. This was with new Michelins and me standing over them telling them how to do it and insisting they use different equipment than what they had tried without success on two sets of new tires. And, that said, Discount Tire is one of the best of the “big box” tire chains.

2. Front tire out of round or rim grossly bent so the wheel/tire assembly is technically balanced but does not roll true.

3. Shimmies when brakes are applied at highway speed because of brake rotors that are not flat and of uniform thickness due to warpage from the repeated heat generated by braking. Probably 50% of vehicles on the highway have this syndrome to a greater or lesser degree.

4. Inner CV (constant velocity) joints on the front wheel drive axles can cause a wicked vibration up the steering wheel any time the gas pedal is applied at high speed and they are under torque. This is, in fact, particularly common with the drive axles used on certain Toyota Corollas and Geo Prisms.

All four of the above are commonplace, but Click and Clack only mentioned #2, (sort of).

If you think they are entertaining, that is a matter of personal taste. If you think their information is to be trusted, I regret to inform you it is not.

What have things come to? Bottled water—rant!

8-12-11 —

Yes I know its hot, and as someone who bicycles 100+ miles/week I know the importance of drinking plenty of water in August in central Texas. But what seems insane to me is Nestle’ or some other mega-food corporation takes municipal water somewhere, possibly performs minimal filtration on it, puts it in a plastic bottle, ships it a few hundred or a few thousand miles and marks it up like 10,000%!! This is madness! Its only water! When I was a kid, bottled water was unheard of, but we were not dying of thirst right and left. We drank out of water fountains and water was free and available at most any public place. If you want your water filtered — not that Austin tap water is at all bad — its child’s play for a handyman to plumb a filter under your kitchen sink, that is if your refrigerator doesn’t already have a filter in it. There all all manner of insulated stainless steel canteens for sale allowing you to drink water that has not absorbed carcinogenic plastics. In our current Texas climate, it won’t take any time at all for these to pay for themselves, to say nothing of the huge environmental benefits. I am not a hard-core tree-hugging, recycling freak, eco-nazi — unlike my stepson Tony πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ — but bottled water strikes me as an abomination! Happy to report that Tony comes to the shop and fills his one gallon canteen from the water cooler/filtration unit in the office. Apparently bottled water does somehow appeal to many “tree-hugging, re-cycling, green” folks, because it occupies considerable shelf space at Whole Foods Market and other such stores.

I’m listening if anyone can explain this to me!