Tuesday, 31 July 2018

owners who "really look after it"

I bought my current T-Max of this Italian fellow in Melbourne. I have often wondered how little sympathy most motorcycle owners have for their bikes, and how much less they often understand them. (as an aside, Matthew B Crawford has an excellent book on this and its relationship to NPD, consider this a strong recommendation for reading that).

I've documented here already my experience with the variator (and I'd explicitly asked if the variator had been touched). So clearly he's bullshitting me or he's a fool, or both.

The most common bullshit given to a new owner is "I just had it serviced" ... and of course if they're a dipshit they'll believe it. Myself I just assumed it had not been serviced and changed the oil and filter in the engine straight away after I got it.

So, as its belt time I thought I'd do the rear (fully enclosed) chain oil.

My first glance at the dipstick made me think "oh fuck" ... So when I took this muck out I was aghast ... it was the filthiest shit I've ever seen.

So basically I put in the new oil and again shook my head at the level of maintenance this bike has had.

That its still working so well after over 100,000Km on the dial is a testimony to Yamaha.

Some people seem to think that all a vehicle needs is to be washed and spoken with nicely.

For reference the bike has a two stage chain that's fully enclosed and neatly tucked away from view (and harm) in the swingarm.

The first stage runs from the pivot to about half way, then (and you can see the swingarm step out) it has a second run to the final sprocket at the axle.

This means that the rear sprocket can be smaller (to fit in) while still allowing the "normal" gearing up.

The chain is thus protected from all the muck in the environment, is quiet, makes no mess, and only needs the oil changing every 10,000km

Its a peach to change, take off that black cover (two screws, and use the right size screwdriver, and be prepared to use an impact tool to tap it into moving (it might never have been taken off),  you take out the dip-stick (often tight), loosen the drain plug at the back and dump the oil ... takes like 5 minutes and is actually slated in the service manual for doing every 10,000 (I've been known to leave it in there for 30,000 if the oil I'm seeing on the dipstick looks ok).

Simple and cheap, yet still people don't do it ... fucked if I know.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

more-on Electric Vehicles

I noted the other day an interesting propaganda piece in the ABC in their ongoing desire to push their religion, and one of their agendas is pushing Electric Vehicles. The article was written in a "no questions asked" "please just believe me" manner common to the (failed) modern journalistic manner.

This is a link to the article (maybe they'll change it in part later, as they've done in the past).

I'd like to discuss some of the major points.

Warnings played down

The headline and about the 4th paragraph warn that its dangerous to do your own home brew setups. I'm an engineer myself and I agree entirely with that. However its not till near the end of the article where the real points are brought out when they add interview with a professor of engineering who says:
"I don't think this is something that anyone can do and I don't think economically or financially it will stack up just for the average person to go and do.
"It makes more sense if you have some kind of vintage or classic car that you want to retrofit."
Dr Whitehead said it was important anybody interested had an appropriate background as an electrician or an electrical engineer and consulted relevant groups to obtain expertise.
If someone's thinking this might be a cheap way to get an electric vehicle I would say it isn't, unfortunately," he said.

This point should be at the beginning, so as well as brushing over the (hard for most to grasp) main dangers they don't explain what sorts of fire hazard this thing is should it be involved in an accident (probably even minor). The Fire Department would be horrorfied if someone was trapped in the vehicle and would have to face even higher risks in helping them.

But of course, it won't happen to me right?

The Costs and the economy of it

To me being "economic" means to not spend more on doing something one way than by doing it another way.

In Australia a new Nissan Leaf costs AU$33,000 yet this guy has spent $35,000 on munging up an old (unsafe in a crash to start with) shitbox ute into something which has undoubtedly got far less sophistication and far worse aerodynamics than the Leaf ... meaning it will chew more electricity to drive ...  I encourage you (if your interested in an EV) to go look at a Leaf as its a well appointed little car (see wikipedia or other sources).

Any sane person would stop here.

What else is wrong then?

Claim that "its well and truly paid for itself"

Quoting directly from the article I see it says:

He spent about $35,000 converting the Hilux to electric but believes the amount he's saved on fuel means the car has "well and truly paid for itself".
"This is now 11 years as electric drive, this ute, and … the kind of savings I've had, just in fuel alone, is more than $40,000," he said.
The car is charged for free at home using off-grid solar, or at free electric charging stations up and down the Queensland coast.

Qick Analysis

Ok, first, lets look at what he spent to "save fuel" and how much money he's saving on that. Assuming that fuel costs $1.50 per Liter (which it does at the time of writing) and assuming your shitbox old Hilux:
  • gets horrible fuel economy like 10L/100km and
  • that you drive 20,000km per year
the costs of doing that driving are $3000 per year using fuel; less if you get better than 10 (as I expect you would). So with his electric home brew mung up he's had to pay more than that and we haven't even counted the cost of electricity yet. For those who will say "but he did this over 11 years" ... what's 11 times $3,000? Would it be $33,000?

Then he says he has a "Off Grid" solar setup (not shown, nor discussed) that charges it for free at home (meaning its not driving around in the day) and claims it charges it in 2 hours. Quote:

"If I charge from a public charge point I can charge it in two hours, if I charge from my own solar I can do it in two hours, if I'm charging from a standard wall outlet it will take me about eight hours."

We don't know how often he uses his solar rig, how far he drives, but he does sponge of the community in "free outlets".

As a side note the substance of that claim "free charging outlets" is referring to this article: in the ABC. Which uses wording like "will be installed" and "would be made free for at least 12 months", so the long term freebie-ness will indeed be questionable.

So are you smelling that carrot for what it is?

Anyway, we don't know anything about his battery system, but lets assume its as perhaps good as the Leaf (or he won't get far in said car, given the newer Leaf with a 24kWh battery gets a range of 135km on a full charge) and say that its 24kWh capacity ... meaning you have to supply it 24,000Watts for an hour, or 12,000Watts for 2 hours or (as he uses 8 hours for wall charging) 3000W for 8 hours

Now because most people don't have the faintest clue about power (even though they pay for it) I'll put that in context.

A typical fan heater like this one, sucks 2400W. Most people soon learn that they cost a lot to run (indeed they should be given away free by the electricity companies to help drive consumption).

So if you would balk even more at running one of these for 8 hours you'd probably balk at charging that shitbox death trap EV for 8 hours.

Unless you're a nutter hippie who wants to have the cachet of saying "I've got an EV, that I made myself , that saves me money" (when it doesn't).

Then if his Off Grid PV system can charge it in 2 it has to be producing 12,000Watts ... FuckMeSideways ... that's a big rig. 

8Kw is expensive if its installed, but if you go to eBay and buy Chinese Pannels (which may or may not be good, that's a whole can of worms there) you'll pay a minimum of $135 for a 250W roof top panel (which is bloody good compared to a few years back, so one wonders what he paid for his rig (or if he's just telling porkie pies or is a dope and didn't do his sums right)).

Four 250W pannels gives (in theory, on cool days) 1000W costing $540, and you'll need 12 more bundles like that to get 12,000Watts, so add another $6,480 to that (and we haven't costed frames to hold them, where to put the fuckers or wiring needed to adapt that and charge controlers (so it doesn't all go up in smoke).

So that's a bit over two years petrol right there ... probably 3 years if you bought a more efficient car.

Its well worth reading the Wikipedia on the Nissan leaf and its energy requirements: here. And keep in mind the figures there are based around a 11c per kWh of electricty. In Australia its commonly 27 or more (unless you use off peak when its 17c (see here, and be careful to read the terms and conditions on that)).

Wikipedia reports that the power usage of the Leaf is 2.19 cents per km, which works out to be about 3 cents Australian,  but when you also factor in the difference in what they pay for power (its less) we would pay about 7.3c per km.

Assuming you get 10L/100km that would be 15c per km ... and of course less if you drove a more fuel economical vehicle which is comparable to a Leaf ... say a Hyundai i30, which uses about 6L/100 (or 40% less) thus you'd use about 9c per km.

Hmm ... 9c per km VS 7.3c per km ... not exactly "free" is it. When you add in that an i30 can be had for less than the Leaf (like $23,000 vs $33,000) that ten grand must buy you something .. maybe you could invest it in something or even just put it in a term deposit.


He says: 
"The battery pack I've got in there is $23,000, so most of the electric stuff is not that much [money], but batteries are the biggest expense. But that battery pack is going to give me more than 10 years of use"
But hasn't he already done 11 years? Does this mean that its about dead then??

Like so many "believers" reality seems too hard to accept ... and worse they're often putting others at risk with their own delusions of "doing the right thing".

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Exploring the IR thermometer

An IR thermometer (or indeed a thermal imaging camera if you have the funds) is a useful tool for anyone wanting to understand heating, insulation and heat losses around their home. You can learn a lot from them, but you need to understand some of the important facts, like how they work and they are not magic.

There is an illusion that the eBay cheapies aren't worth having, but depending on your needs they are most certainly worth having.

The primary limitation of the cheaper ones (like $10 ~ 20 range) is that they only provide readings of temperatures within a certain range, in the case of the two I own that range is -50C to +380C

Not enough for a blast frunace operator or someone checking temperatures of exhaust systems of diesel tractors (near the manifold), but totally fine for my uses (checking the floor and measuring food temperatures when cooking).

So today I decided to do a comparison using a thin walled plastic cup with hot water in it that would enable me to use a known high quality thermometer to measure its temperature and compare that to my IR thermometer. Interestingly I found them to be within a degree C (over repeated measurements) of the actual thermometer (which is a high grade one intended for laboratory use with the usable range restricted to that of liquid water).

The plastic cup is essentially a source of heat, and heat is actually part of the same spectra of stuff that is light. (see this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrared). It is that "light" that the IR thermometer is reading and measuring.

However while the aluminium foil is a good reflector and conductor of heat, its not a good radiator. This is because of a property called emissivity.
(read this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissivity).

The above video makes it clear why reflective and shinny surfaces are problematic for reading what can be thought of as "light" from the surface. The issue is are you seeing the source or a reflection from a surface.

As it turns out glass blocks thermal IR but the glass (being a good conductor itself) will show its own temperature. You just need to be aware of hot things reflected in it on your side of the glass, like a furnace).

So armed with that information I hope you can feel more confident in how to use an IR thermometer some of the pitfalls, and what to avoid you can go grab one and start gathering useful data.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Solar Floor Heating (again) (part 1)

Well its been a while since I moved in here, and the first winter was almost over when I bought the place. I busied myself with other more pressing issues (like a car space, fixing some plumbing) and after some time needed to go back to Finland (which is chronicled here as well).

So I've managed to stop procrastinating (a bit late) and have started the project to make the house both warmer and less of an energy hog.

As in my previous project I'm installing first "under floor" heating and some insulation under the floor to do what I can to bring up the interior temperature duing the day by transporting in what heat is available outside. This is best done by allowing solar to heat water (in pipes) and move it under the floor. See this post for a series on that project on my old house.

So basically this time I'm going to show a bit more of what I'm doing in installing the pipes, because that was missed last time (because I was fucking busy doing it and forgot to photograph it, this time I'm taking my time a bit more)

This is a typical "raised on stumps" Queenslander, built in the 1920's, so my underf-loors are easy to access (with a bit of head bashing involved. This is a shot of the place from the back yard (from when I inspected it before buying).

The house is on a sloping block, so the back is higher off the ground than the front. So its relatively easy to get in under it and work on the floors, which of course look like this:

This is from under the "house proper" looking back the opposite way to the above shot. Here you can see that there "back filled veranda" has a different arrangement of floor joists to the rest of the house ... which isn't exactly regular anyway.

This makes planning the run of pipes interesting, but not impossible (assuming I wanted to heat that area, which I do because that's my kitchen / dining area). Looking back "up hill" to the street we see the area of the "house proper" (as I call it) with a black water pipe being visble leading to the bathroom on the left (as viewed in this picture).

 Of course the bathroom has had some water damage over the years:

it looks visually worse than it really is, and some of the bad stuff has been cut away and replaced, or supported. This is the beauty of hardwood houses, you can see exactly what's what and repair is simple and mostly inexpensive (compared to a concrete slab house).

This is a sample of how I run the pipes:

with them "held" against the floor at first just by a cable tie and a staple like this:

Its fast to install, ample to support the small weight and only for install purposes because soon I'm going to be fitting in polystyrene so that it fits under the pipes (thus sandwiching it to the floor) between the joists. This will then be "capped off" with standard sarking (usually used on walls and rooves). This will air seal the pipes and their insulation (but allow humidity to transpire out) giving better transfer into the floor, and reduce losses in the evening and when windy.

Last time I didn't  bother running the pipes "through" the joists, but instead looped them around by going "under", however this time because its so much colder in the evenings and windier here I'm doing it this way.

Similarly to last time I divide the floor into two halves, and each half has its own pair of circuits of water flow. This gives two pipes between joists (which my earlier experiment revealed to be sufficient) and results in shorter runs for the small pumps to push the water through.

As you can see (if you look carefully) I run the flow of each circuit in the opposite direction, so that as each direction starts warmer and sheds its heat the other does the same in the opposite direction ensuring more even temperature.

The pipes from each circuit are gathered together and run towards the junction box where water from the floor meets the water from the solar collectors.

Here you can see that some are going through the joists (which are actually looping back as part of another circuit) and some over the joists (going straight to the junction box).

This is where the project rests at the moment ... I'll continue adding posts as progress occurs find-able under the tags of "solar" and "home improvement". That gives me a record of what I'm doing for me too. After all blog comes from log and this log is also for my own reference too ...

Friday, 13 July 2018

T-Max using my new sheave holding tool (and fitting a new belt)

This is essentially part 3 of a series

  1. identification of a problem
  2. replaced the major part

So this is sort of finishing off ...
When I did the work on my T-Max back a couple of weeks ago I didn't have a sheave holder to hold the sheave (pulley) but instead got it off with an 18v electric rattle gun. Now as I mentioned in that post I didn't know what the amount of torque that the rattle gun would be (although the maker says it's good for 215Nm (and the manual says 160).

So this post is about double checking that and providing a few observations missing from my previous post as well as some significant changes to my measured RPM.

New Sheave Tool

Normally I'd have "munged up" my own but after moving out of my old house I just don't have the workshop setup to do that right now so I decided to buy one. Having seen some ones on YouTube bend I was cautious, but I got this one off an eBay seller in Greece (not China) called f1sport (link to his profile) and while it worked out a bit for me (in Australia) I think the price is totally commensurate with the quality as its about US$83.

Here are some pictures I took of mine, its simply an amazingly high quality bit of steel

Basically all the bolts were in an included bag, and you need to assemble them ... given you're clearly mechanical buying anything like this the lack of instructions are more of a pat on the back of your intelligence than an omission.

The steel is impressively thick

Todays work

So with the variator held by the sheave tool tried using the torque wrench (set to 160Nm) to see if it tightened any, it didn't (setting off the small "click" in the head). So I loosened the nut, and then tightened it with the torque wrench and then tried to undo it with the rattle gun. Unlike last time, this time it did undo, it moved very slightly at first (if you weren't looking you'd be forgiven for thinking it wasn't moving, it took a few seconds of "rattling" before it was starting to move at a pace where I knew it'd spin off fast soon.

Basically I'm now confident on how much torque to put onto the nut with the basic electric rattle gun and have it pretty close to right (and lets face it the torque wrench isn't calibrated anyway, so there's bound to be error), which is what I did 2 weeks ago (and it seems I was on the money anyway).

So now I know.

The other purpose of todays exersize was to pull the belt off and put my new one on. I didn't do that last time because the surfaces of the new sheaves looked a bit rough (not polished) and so I was wanting to let the old belt "polish that in" for me before putting on my new belt.

This gave me the opportunity to have a look more carefully at the secondary sheave (which I didn't do last time) and see the extent of damage that may be there (as less was visible the way it was). While I didn't like what I saw, it wasn't as bad as the primary suffered.

Unlike the primary, the secondary suffered its impacts much closer to the center with just a few hits further out in the sheave ... this is consistent (in my view) with the "hard bit of shit" getting in there at highway speeds (where the wrap of the belt would be tight to the center at the rear and out on the perimeter on the front sheave.

Indeed a closer look makes it clear that some parts of the interior have not seen the belt yet as the dings are still rough and not filled with rubber dust.

The red arrow points to dings which seem to be sitting on the highest gear point of the belt, the green seems to have not seen the belt and I think the blue is the boundary.

I decided to put the new belt in and when I measured the older belt I was surprised to find it was significantly under spec. I'm sure that when I put the new sheave on that the old belt was 31mm, however when I measured it today it was 27, or at about 3mm below tolerance!

So I don't know if I did measure it properly or didn't ... vexing.

With the new belt installed (and knowing it was thicker) I took it out again for a ride and observed the rpm speeds with this new belt (and of course the installed 2 weeks back 19g standard weights). What I got makes me wonder if I indeed failed to measure the belt (or look properly at the vernier).

So now at 100km/h my tacho is showing (about, its not digital) 5,250rpm (more than 5200, less than 5300) which is actually much better, and closer to what my stock 2002 model was doing (which was 4830 and I had a digital tach fitted to that)

It goes like this now:
speed revs ratio

60 4000 66.67
70 4300 61.43
80 4500 56.25
90 4870 54.11
100 5250 52.50
110 5500 50.00
120 5870 48.92

With the "ratio" being how many revs per km/h, showing that the bike is now giving lower and lower revs per speed as gearing increases.

This data also shows that I clearly can't have measured that belt properly because

  1. its unlikely that it could have stripped off 3mm of belt in 2 weeks without there being a mess in there
  2. I further dropped the revs as I got it it was 5,800 @ 100km/h, after the weights it went to 5,600 and today with the new belt to 5,250


This is the data for my old 2002 model (previously discussed)

speed revs ratio

60 3740 62.33
70 4080 58.29
80 4250 53.13
90 4520 50.22
100 4830 48.30
110 5340 48.55
120 5800 48.33

which now looks pretty close, although the older sheave seems to be fully engaged much sooner than the new one. I did a video today (forgot to do one on a fortnight ago) and interestingly my observation was that the weights overcome the spring to fully engage the front sheave at about this rpm.

As it happens I have a theory on why its later to engage. The answer can be found by looking a bit further around the fixed side of the secondary sheave at the spring

which is BLUE !

I'm pretty certain that Yamaha don't colour code their springs which means it (like the malossi weights) are after market.

Looking around on eBay  I see that there is indeed a company making blue springs, but its not Malossi as their springs seem to be Red (+30%), White (+13%), Yellow (+7%) and Green (-39%).
The company selling Blue is unclear about it because their kit also comes with some other adjusters to allow you to increase the spring tension  more.

This then is consistent with modders without a clue because putting light weights in with heavy springs will restrict the engine to a narrower rev range (never getting top gears) and be super revvy (when the engine was designed to be super torquey).

I guess that the next things on the agenda are:

  • keep an eye on the belt wear and see of those marks are causing it to wear faster (and the heavier spring won't be helping)
  • I still have no idea what caused the damage, so perhaps its pull apart the secondary sheave and have a good look. I'd have done that today but I didn't have a 27mm socket which would fit

Given that its got relatively high mileage and an unknown service history its probably a good idea just to pull that secondary apart and give it all a lube up...

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Nut Bags

In Australia we call people who are crazy "nuts" ... thus those who are "as crazy as a bag of nuts" are often called Nut Bags.

The ancient Christians once used symbols on caves to mark their meeting places or declare themselves (usually a fish symbol), and here in Australia I've observed that Nut Bags are identifying themselves discretely with their own iconography:

Nut Bags may also associate with other merchandising