17 April 2012

DeLorean Shock Tower Bar Installation

I love spending time with my car, whether it is driving it around or just working on it.  And by working on it, I mean doing the simple stuff.  I leave the real work to the folks at DeLorean Motor Company in Garden Grove, or friends like Brendon Vetusky, who actually know how to work on cars.  Last year, Brendon helped me lower the front end, and install the lower control arm brackets.  This time the project is to install a shock tower bar.  I think I can do this one myself, even if it takes me all weekend.

The shock tower bar ties the top of the shock towers together inside the trunk to stiffen the front of the car over the structure/frame.  In a car without this bar, the strength is provided simply by the under body or floor of the trunk.  It just happens that DeLorean Motor Company - Midwest had this kit for sale for a limited time.  I gave Julee Swingle a call and placed an order.  I met Julee (as well as David Swingle and Mike from DMC-Midwest) last year at the DMC Open House, in Humble.  It was great to talk to Julee again and catch up on DeLorean and Hot Wheels happenings, more on that later.

I love getting packages with these labels
A few days later, I get the goods.  Everytime I get boxes with DMC labels on it, it feels like my birthday...oh wait, it was.  The items came a huge box, good thing I did not drive the DeLorean to work that day.  Pretty sure it would not have fit in the trunk, and surely not in the cockpit.

What is in the box?
Along with the shock tower bar, I also ordered a carpet for the trunk floor.  Julee included a surprise for me, the Hot Wheel Boulevard DeLorean.  While on the phone, the conversation turn toward Hot Wheels and my latest projects.  I had mention that I have yet to find my Boulevard DeLorean and Julee said she would give me one.  Thanks, Julee!

Shock tower bar kit, instructions, trunk carpet, Hot Wheels Boulevard DeLorean
Now that I have parts, it is time to install the bar.  I read the instructions, and it seems pretty simple.  Simple enough for me to take on.  It may take me longer, but I should be able to handle this...hopefully.

Yeah, that box would never fit in there.
Obviously, the first thing to do is to clear out the trunk. I keep a few things in the trunk, including a set of workshop manuals, rag and duster, a Hot Wheels DeLorean, and other miscellaneous stuff. In preparation for this project, I also taped the light switch at the bottom of the trunk to keep the light from staying on.

Oh, so that is what is underneath the carpet.
You can see my Hot Wheels DeLorean resting on the fuel filler ledge.  I removed the carpet to locate and removed the two bolts where the shock tower bar will be secured to.
Marking the location of the bolts
I used tape to mark the location of the two bolts.  This will be used to transfer the measurements to the carpet.   The bolts are removed and will be replaced by the posts and longer 17mm bolt.  These bolts also secure the under body tub to the frame.

Tape on carpet marks location of the bolts.
The carpet is placed back in the trunk.  I marked the location of the holes with tape.  This will be transferred to the back for cutting.

Laying out the holes for cutting
I decided to use my original carpet with backing and holding on to the new carpet as a spare.  Plus, it was a good practice piece to work on, you only get one chance to get it right.

Cutting out the hole
I used a rotary tool to cut out the hole.  First, I used a cutting bit to drill holes all around the hole, then punched out the hole.  Kinda like this scene from Underworld:

Kate Beckinsale is HOT!
This step took the longest to do, and not as sexy as Kate Beckinsale did it.  A sanding drum was used to clean up the hole.  Ha, you did not see Kate Beckinsale do that.  Once the backing is cut, I took a blade an made some cuts into the carpet.  This will be for the posts to sit in.

Uprights go through the hole
The carpet goes back into the trunk.  The upright posts go through the hole, peeking out just above the surface for the stock tower bar to sit.  I had to do some trimming of the back board and carpet to get the holes to line up. Good thing I used the beat up original carpet to practice on.

Final touches, tightening the bolts and nuts.
Once I got the everything aligned, the bar gets installed.  This part is tricky and took way longer than it was suppose to.  The trouble is getting the main bolts to 'catch' into the threaded hole in the frame.  After about twenty minutes of 'fishing' for the hole, I finally got it to thread.  Now that the hard part is over, all that needed to be done it to tighten the bolt to 33 foot pounds.

Final step is tighten the shock tower bar.  One side of the bar is reversed threaded, the other normal.  All you have to do is twist it by hand to tighten.  Then snug up the nut so it locks.

Finished installation
It took me about two hours to get this thing in there.  Most of the time was taken with measuring and cutting of the holes in the carpet...and a lot of time was eaten up trying to get the bolts to catch.  I think a normal person can do this in about an hour, easily.  But there you go,  I did it...all by myself.

With the work done to the front end a year ago, the difference from the stock set up was huge.  Stiffening the front end can only make things better.  After a test drive through my normal route to work...yes, there is a noticeable difference.  Going over train tracks and bumps along the way, I could feel that the front end is stiffer.

So, my front end has Ed Uding's lower control arm brackets, Toby Peterson's urethane sway bar bushings, and now, Dave and Julee Swingle's shock tower bar.  My car was originally from Texas, so Stephen Wynne (or his crew) did some work on it, and I get it serviced at Don Steger's shop.  I just need to get something from Tony Ierardi's shop, perhaps in June.

Special thanks to Julee, David, and Mike at DMC-Midwest.  I will see you guys in Orlando.

10 April 2012


April showers bring May flowers.  Well, April telemarketers can fuck the right off, and take the May ones with you.  April opens with a string of calls from Denver, continuing their harassment from last month.   I am a little worried about my friends from Oregon...well, no really.  I hope they went out of business, but we all know that they will strike when I least expect it.  But, here is the thing, I do expect them to call all the fucking time. 

Oh, maybe since it is tax season, they got audited by the IRS.  Wait, what am I thinking?  No way would a government agency do anything about telemarketers...yeah, Do Not Call Registry, I am talking to you.

2 April 2012
   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  Denver with number three.  With Astoria lagging on calls, we may have a new contender if they are able to make a run this month.

   503-902-8290  Salem, OR  Interesting, been about four months since I received a call from Salem.  Same prefix, different extension.  That was the only call from Salem.  Oregon sucks big donkey balls.

4 April 2012
   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  If I was a scout for the telemarketer, I would keep an eye on Denver.  These guys could make a big impact on the telemarketer world.

   843-619-7688  SC, USA  Welcome, new caller.  Now, go fuck yourself!

   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  Are you fuckers going to go for the hat trick?

5 April 2012
   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  Call number six.  Please proceed to fuck yourself.

9 April 2012
    303-249-9700  Denver, CO  This is no joke, these guys are for real.  I was thinking that there would be a 'resurrection' of some sort this week from Astoria.  Looks like Denver is here to stay.  Well, many have tried few have succeed.

10 April 2012
   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  I was in Denver a few years ago.  I remember it being a nice city.  Oh, how things change.  It seems it has now been taken over by terrorists.

14 April 2012
   303-249-9700  Denver, CO  Saturday morning at 9:30.  What the fuck?  This will be their ninth call.  Barely half way into the the month and these are on quite the streak.  Here is a look at the last few calls I have received.

Telemarketer of the month
23 April 2012
   310-409-2011  Los Angeles, CA  Wow, it has been over a week since I had recieved a call.  Maybe they are all distracted by the NHL Playoffs.  I think this is the calm before the storm.  They like to make a run for it at the end of the month.  As always, I am prepared to ignore all telemarketing calls.

26 April 2012
   617-390-4562  MA, USA  Massachusetts, specifically the Boston region.  Well, I guess that Game 7 lost to Washington last night brought out the assholes. 

09 April 2012

Adipure Trainer vs. Komodosport LS

There are many reviews out there on both the Adidas Adipure Trainer and the Vibram Komodosport LS.  There are some that compare and contrast the two.  Well, here is another one.  But what makes my review better than others, you ask?  Actually, those reviews are probably better, so I will just keep this short.  I just happen to have both styles and I got time to kill...so do you, so read on.

Keep in mind that is just my opinion and based on my foot.  Your foot an opinion may vary. 

Vibram Komodosport LS
 I got a pair of Vibram's first, so I will start with those.  Vibram is also the first to hit the market with 'toe shoes'.  By the way how does one pronounce 'Vibram'?  I thought it was 'Vye-Bruhm', like vibrate.  But, I have heard 'Vee-Bramm'.

These are surprisingly comfortable.  You would think that the glove like design would annoy your feet and the crotch of your toes.  But, like I have told others, it is like wearing a thong...very comfortable and damn sexy...and no panty lines.

The thin soles and light weight construction allow your foot to move freely (like Ace).  It offers moderate protection on the toes.  You can see how the sole sort of wraps up to protect the toes.  The shoe is designed for running and the wrap of the sole to the toes provides protection and smoother transition as your toes roll and push off, during a run.  You have probably heard the name Vibram before.  They have been makers of shoe soles for various companies for years.  So, they know how to make a good sole.

Komodosport, top and bottom
  • Light weight - I wear a size 8 (40), and the pair weighs only 336 grams.  For some reason, the left weighs 163 grams, right weighs 173 grams.
  • Flexible - From the words of Ned Flanders, "feels like I'm wearing nothing at all."
  • Very comfortable - Can be worn all day.
  • Stylish - Takes a while to get used to the 'goofy' look of the shoe, but it is a great design.
  • Removable foot bed - This is useful for airing out the shoe.
  • Reflective elements on heel - Good for running or other activities at night.
  • Not much protection on the top of the foot - Well, we are not using this to kick things.
  • Can get smelly after a while - Made to be worn without socks, so sweat and other foot odors can accumulate.  Luckily, it is machine washable.
  • May not fit all feet - Like all shoes, you have to try then on and see if they are right for you.  The unique design may prohibit some from being able to wear these.
  • Not waterproof - Not for use in wet conditions
Retail price:  $110

Adidas Adipure Trainer

 I also have a pair of Adidas Adipure Trainers.  Why, you ask?  Because Mike Cammalleri uses them in his training and "I wanna be like Mike".  Keeping with the theme, how do you pronounce Adidas?  Is it 'uh-Dee-dus' or 'Ah-di-Das'?

While these incorporate the separate toe design, they are quite different from the Vibram's.  The Adipure Trainer fits a little tighter, while offering more support.  They are designed for...well, training.  More for the gym and cross training.  The shoe is more suited for lateral movements and quick stops.

Adipure Trainer, top and bottom
  • Light weight - A size 8 weighs only 296 grams. Both shoes weigh the same at 148 grams.
  • Flexible - Not as flexible as the Komodosport due to the sole being about twice the thickness.  Compare to, say a Nike Free, the Adipure Trainer offers more flexibility.
  • Comfortable - I have worn these for hours with no problems.
  • Support - In addition to the thicker sole, the uppers offer more support than the Komodosport, since its purpose is for training (as apposed to running).
  • Stylish - I think I might wear these to a wedding or some sort of formal event...or not.
  • Not much protection on the top of the foot - Like the Komodosport, not designed for kicking things.
  • No reflective elements - Not recommended for night use unless you have other lights or reflective clothing.
  • Can get smelly - No socks means the shoe absorbs everything.  Pretty sure you can throw into washing machine, easy fix.
  • Graphics on foot bed rub off - Notice the inside of heel, the graphics tend to rub off as there are just screen printed on.  Minor issue, but it come off onto your foot and can transfer onto your carpet.
  • May not fit all feet - These have smaller toe boxes for support, yet have a larger heel cup.  I feel a little movement in the heel when moving side to side.
  • Not waterproof -  Looks like it is, but is not
Retail price:  $90

Comparing Vibram and Adidas
Other than support and general fit, there is one major difference that you should look out for.  Notice the curve of the toes in the picture above.  The Vibram has sort of a nice gradual curve.  The Adidas has more of a constant slope.  For my feet, the toes fit better in the Vibram, since my big toe is equal length to (perhaps slightly shorter than) my second toe.  This leaves a little play room when I wear the Adidas.   My little toe also fits better in the Vibram's, as it feels a little tight in the Adidas.  This is not necessarily a bad thing since it is part of the added support that the Vibram's do not have.

Both shoes are designed well for their purpose.  Komodosport for running, Adipure Trainer for working out.  Depending on what you need these for, that should be considered.  Or, you can get both, like me.  I suggest really trying them on at a store before purchasing, more so than regular shoes.

There are benefits to wearing toe shoes, as it helps align your toes to their natural position.  Regular shoes tend to squeeze your toes together, giving you a narrower platform to stand on.  Women (and some men) who wear high heel shoes will notice their toes are wedged together by the small toe box and full weight of the body forced onto the toes.  The lower profile also forces you to walk more naturally and is better for your joints, especially knees and back.  This is what the studies show...and I tend to believe people in lab coats.

Note that this is Adidas' first toe, so far only, toe shoe.  Vibram has a variety of toe shoes in their FiveFingers line, each designed for specific uses.  Both brands offer a variety of colours.

It does take a little getting used to.  At first it will be very difficult to get all your toes in the appropriate toe boxes.  Once you get the hang of it, you will love them.

Update - 12 September 2013:  I have used the Adipure Trainer at the gym for over a year.  Overall, they are great.   The sole is starting to ware down, I can see it  lasting at least another year.  Good thing I was able to find another pair at the outlet store for about $20.  So what if they are pink.  I will rock the pink toe shoes.

Anyway, I had an issue with them last night.  I attended a Body Combat (you know, like kick boxing) class.  It was an hour of jumping, hip torquing, and lateral movement.  The lateral moves, think sashaying, caused blisters at the base of both my big toes.  I also do this thing where I sashay on the treadmill and noticed that there is a lot of rubbing in the big toe, potentially causing blisters.  On the treadmill, I would stop.  But in class, I just kept going.

Obviously, there is too much room in the big toe area, at least for me.  Any equipment, like shoes, that do not fit snug will potentially cause blisters.  The Adipure Trainer is probably not the best for lateral movements since your big toe is primarily used to push off on.  Running is fine, I have been running on the treadmill with no problems.

04 April 2012

Hold the Camera Still

There is a growing trend in television and movie making.  Excessive camera movements.  This new way of framing a shot has made many shows and films physically unwatchable for me.  Known in some circles as "documentary style", the frame is never still.  It is constantly zooming in and out, panning left and right, tilting up and down, trucking left and right, dollying in and out, and constantly adjusting focus.

Sometimes, this is the result of the camera operator not holding the camera still, or the effect is achieved in the editing stage.  It could be a combination of both crappy techniques of movie making. Seriously, why would you want to shoot or manipulate your footage in a way that is distracting to the view and story you are telling? I find myself looking at the background and seeing how it relates to the frame.  Kinda like watching the horizon against a side rail of a cruise ship during rough waters. 

One of the more annoying moves is the 'swooping' of the camera to follow the action or dialogue.  Imagine a camera strapped to a tennis empire as he follows the ball, that is what it is like.  The Office is a prime example of this technique.  While I am sure that it is a great show, the camera movements are horrendous.  It feels like I am reading a book while riding a bike...on an unpaved road...downhill...in the dark...under water.

My theory is this dates back to The Blair Witch Project.  Though I have not seen it, I have been told the the 'filming' is done by the characters using handheld video cameras.  Oh, there is a term for that now..."found footage".  That was just the beginning.  What really gave this style 'legitimacy' was amateur videos, more specifically YouTube.  The introduction and strength of YouTube, has made the amateur videographer virtual stars overnight while their video go viral.

Slight tangent.  If it was truly 'found footage', there would be no cuts, repositioning, or over the shoulder shots when people are talking.  Go ahead, watch Paranormal Activity.   About a third into the movie, the couple talk to this expert about the activity...essentially an interview, like a talk show.  You will notice a few cuts and repositioning of the camera.  This should not happen in a found footage film, especially one that was suppose to be shot with one camera. 

There is also seems to be a need to zoom in really close when there is action.  You will notice this in fight scenes from recent movies.  What they are trying to do is bring the viewer into the action, part of the fight and struggle.  This works really well in Terminator 2:  Judgement Day.  James Cameron is a genius and knows how to shoot and frame a shot.  Where is does not work is pretty much every fight scene in the past ten years.  You cannot see what is happening, strapping a camera to one of the stuntman's chest is not a good way to film a fight scene.  I want to see the two actors, not what could easily be stuntmen, fight...I want to see faces and know that those two actors are kicking each other's ass.

Heck, why not have shaky subtitles?  Oh, yeah...because it will distract from reading the dialogue.  Therefore, distract from telling the story.

Yes, I have played some first person shooter video games, and I enjoy them.  But, I am controlling the camera.  When I want to walk around the corner and look up and left, I do it.  Ever try watching someone else play a first person shooter?  Pretty hard to watch, eh?  Again, great game...but hard to watch someone else play it. 

Take side scrolling games.  Sometimes more fun to watch someone else play than to play it yourself.  Heck, you can even join in and play two players...because the frame is still and everyone in the room can enjoy the game...like a good movie.  In a first person shooter, the only way to have multi players is to split the screen...unwatchable.

A good director and/or editor can control the viewer's eye with the staging of the talent in the shot, framing of the shot, and cutting of the scenes.  There are times when shaky cam works.  Most of the time, it is just an annoying effect that does not add to the story.