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Category: automotive

1up USA Quik-Rack Fat Tire Spacer Kit

While waiting for my Salsa Mukluk 2 to ship I’ve been slowly picking up the various accessories I’ll need for it. This is one of them, the spacer kit to make my bike rack, a 1up USA Quik-Rack support fat tire bikes. Since I don’t yet have a need to carry the bike I haven’t installed it yet, but hopefully that’ll happen soon. I’ve got a few concerns about how well the rack will work for non-fat bikes after fitting the kit, since it might not hold the wheel as securely, but if I have to slightly augment the now-wider rack to accommodate smaller tires that won’t be a huge problem.

This kit cost US$29 shipped and while I likely could have fashioned something similar for a bit cheaper, it would have taken a fair bit of work. Purchasing this kit saved me a bit of time and allowed me to get something ready to go which is known to fit. Now I just need to get the bike…

UPDATE: The kit has been installed, and it works quite well. This photo shows the expanded rack easily holding a Salsa Mukluk 2 (Surly Rolling Darryl / Larry front wheel). The only disappointing part is that the Fat Tire Spacer Kit did not come with a wider anti-rattle band for one of the spacers. Instead the previous band must be reused, and it doesn’t fill the space nicely (photo).

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Corporate Fanboyism

Driving home on I-75 in Detroit yesterday I saw this vehicle (black Saturn VUE, Michigan BWB 0564), driven by a 50-ish man with grey hair, grey beard, gold-rimmed glasses, and a flannel shirt bearing some rather interesting hand-written slogans on the windows. The ones shown here are:

TRY PAYING
BILLS & TAXES
WITH FOREIGN
$
BUY AMERICAN OR GOOD BYE!

and

FOREIGN CAR
DRIVERS NEED
2-B HOMELESS
+
JOBLESS

The rear window had something about cell phones similar to the Shut Up, Hang Up, and Drive bumper stickers.

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2011 North American International Auto Show

After leaving work today at the RenCen I hopped on the the nation’s stupidest public transport system to visit the North American International Auto Show. I was originally planning on going with some new coworkers during the day, but actual work got in the way of that so I decided to go by myself afterward.

The show was as expected, but worth the $12 admission as I got to wander around and look at interesting things, ride in a Chevy Volt on a small indoor test track in the basement, see a microscope that I would really like to have (a Vision Engineering Lynx Dynascope), and the smart fortwo seen above showing off it’s incredible strength by holding up a (52.2 lb) Magna Excitor 2x Dual Suspension not-for-off-road-use Terrain Bike.

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Non-Winning AUTO-intelliKEY Teardown

This is a non-winning AUTO-intelliKEY, a fake key-shaped vehicle remote sent out as a promotion by a local Kia dealer to try and get people into the store. Apparently some of these keys will actually active different locks on some vehicles, and those specific keys win prizes. This photo shows the inside of the unit, with just some metal domes where contacts would otherwise be and no other electronics. Thus this key doesn’t work and is not a winner.

The flier that this was mailed on also includes a scratch-off number and barcode, all of which offer other prizes that must be checked at the dealership. Since I’m not going to be visiting the dealer to check on the state of these numbers then I guess I’m just like the poor souls who failed to claim a $30,000 cash prizes (Lisa C.) and a new vehicle (Lorayne D.).

If you’d like to see some more photos of the AUTO-intelliKEY teardown, take a look here.

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Pontiac Has Terrible Roads

Pontiac is the first town in which I’ve worked where I also have to pay a city income tax. It is also the worst city I’ve had to deal with road-wise. Two days after a moderate winter snowfall there is still an inch of ice on all roads making even the most gradual uphill difficult to drive. Pulling away from a stoplight is almost always a matter of frustration involving 10-15 seconds of figuring out how to acquire traction.

Maybe I should just buy myself some snow tires. It’d make driving (all around) much nicer during winter.

(Another road photo, and a view from near my new desk on Monday.)

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Driving Skill and CR2032 Batteries in Short Supply

Admittedly this is a poor photo, but I didn’t want to get too close to the people working to remove this vehicle from the curb on which it was stuck. Apparently a driver with a handicapped license plate drove over the curb of the Walgreens at 21 Mile and Hayes, solidly lodging their car on a parking divider with the front (drive) wheels hanging in the air. Some people were working on removing it by jacking the rear of the vehicle up in the air to try and make the front wheels contact the ground.

I’d come across this scene while stopping in search of CR2032 batteries, as the local Target and Meijer are both sold out. I can only surmise that there is either a supply issue or there is some hot new consumer device which requires them.

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Big, Heavy Rock

In the grass at the end of the driveway leading to my condo is a rock. It sits on the dirt and grass along side the pavement as a negative deterrence designed to keep people from cutting the corner and driving on the lawn. Whenever this rock isn’t moved back people will cut the corner, driving on the grass and killing it.

Some time between noon and 5pm today someone didn’t pay enough attention to where they were putting their car, cut the corner, and dragged the rock to the next driveway before pushing it out of the road. Due to the intensity of the scratches on the road surface I suspect it was stuck under the car, likely somewhere along the rear end as people tend to cut the corner sharply and hit the grass with their rear right side tire.

Hopefully next time they’ll pay more attention to where they are putting their car when leaving the driveway. I’ll put it back in place later this evening when I take out the trash.

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Evaporated Filament

Today I replaced the headlights in my 2006 Honda Civic EX. As one had burned out I figured it was best to replace them both to ensure matching color. I hadn’t had to replace a headlight bulb yet in this car, and it turns out that to do so one must turn the front wheel and pull back some of the plastic flashing inside the wheel well. This required removing five plastic trim clips, but was otherwise quite easy. It was easier than the headlight assembly removal that I’ve had to do on both Danielle’s car and my old Pontiac Grand Am, with the biggest downside being dirty hands and having to turn the front wheels between sides.

The burnt out 9006 bulb that prompted this work can be seen above. At the bottom of the image the glass bulb housing is clouded with evaporated filament. This part of the bulb is at the top when installed, so when the bulb burnt out the gaseous metal from the gap in the filament condensed on this part of the glass, clouding it in a manner not unlike how mirrored sunglasses are made.

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New Tires!

I’ve been noticing some odd vibration from the rear of my car lately, and on Wednesday it was noted that my rear tire was starting to look a bit low. Today was a good day to take my car into the shop, and it was found that my rear driver’s side tire was super-worn on the inside edge, with intermittent vibration wear, and had a nail in it. With 54,134 on the set of tires they’d also lived their life, so I didn’t mind getting new ones.

My car rides much better now, doesn’t have an odd vibration from 69MPH – 74MPH, and it should be much nicer to go into winter with fresh tread to drive on. I do think I need to rotate my tires a bit more this time around, though.

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Working Car!

This broken bolt is the reason for Sunday’s car failure. When it broke the serpentine belt tensioner came free, likely becoming lodged somewhere, and causing the car to cease working. Because the bolt broke off flush with the engine block and was in a particularly hard to reach place, the engine had to be lowered 2″, the bolt drilled, and then the bolt removed with an easy out / screw extractor.

As a result there was $187.54 in labor to fix the problem, with the bolt, new serpentine belt, and other misc parts only being $78.01. With the $100 for towing, this failure cost just under $400, which I guess isn’t too bad. It’s a bit frustrating that this comes only two weeks after paying my car off (early), but timing on this is really very random.

The guy at the shop (Shelby Tire) said they spent a while trying to figure out the cause of the broken bolt, but the AC compressor, power steering pump, and all other devices connected to the serpentine belt seemed fine, including the tensioner. The only cause he could figure was that the bolt was weak (or failing) and the AC kicked on just as the power steering kicked in, and the extra load on the belt snapped things. As I was turning a corner out of a parking lot having just turned the AC on when the problem happened, this makes sense. Hopefully it won’t happen again.

(This is also the first RAW photo that I’ve processed in the newly released / installed Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. One of its new features is markedly improved sharpening, and I must agree that it’s much better. After all, just check out those knurls on the screw head.)

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