Friday, June 17, 2005

Ice>Link, Weather, & Rallyes

Dad and I got together yesterday for what was supposed to be the simplest car-work in a long time: replace his rear sway-bar and install my Ice>Link. We got the car in the air, got the lug nuts off, and then proceeded to spend 20 minutes trying to beat the wheels off the car.

Dad has yellow powder-coated wheels to match his car. The powder-coating process added maybe 1 mil of material to the wheels, but it was enough to fuse those things in place. We tried a mallet, that didn't work. I tried pulling really hard; that didn't work. We put WD40 behind the wheels, left them to sit for about 10 minutes, came back, and kicked the crap out of the wheels. That worked.

Everything was cake from that point, except that it was just shy of 90 degrees. So I was a little sweaty. I made Dad put the horribly nasty grease in the new bushings, and we got the bright red sway-bar in place quickly. Rebuilding the suspension was a snap, but we found a major problem: there was a nail sticking out of one of his tires.

In a move that I still don't fully understand, Dad grabbed a set of pliers and yanked it out. Fsssssssssssssssssssssst. Getting it out turned out to be easier than putting it back in, but he got it in there.

Anyway, we realized that the yellow wheels should come off, at least long enough to get that tire patched. Fortunately, Dad had a set of identical silver wheels. Jacked up the front end, removed the lug nuts, and wham: same problem in the front -- the wheels just wouldn't budge. I broke the head off the mallet, tried kicking with all my might, and even (gently) tried prying against the strut with a breaker-bar. Egads.

So, to clear the head, I moved on to my Ice>Link. Dad got the battery disconnected, and I tore the dash panels apart quickly to extract the factory head unit. I was all proud of myself until I realized there was no way to connect the Ice>Link to the stereo. It has to be connected to the CD changer cables, which are routed to the trunk of the car. So that was Waste Of Time # 1.

I started fiddling with how to take the car's interior plastic panels apart, trying desperately not to take the whole car apart: Waste Of Time #2.

Turns out all of the interior panels, from the rear-most boot trim to the front foot-well, must be either removed or partially pulled out to route this stinking cable. I got it done, but I figure I spent about 1.5 hours of wasted time looking through the repair manual (which has wonderful mechanical illustrations, but NOTHING AT ALL on the actual routing of cables), tearing out the dash, and trying to be gentle.

It's all done, and it works very well, but it was a bitch. I'm charging for the next one.

But the weather! By the time I got home last night, it was in the mid-70's. What a change! We've been suffering under stiflingly hot upper 90's all week, and having the opportunity to motor around with the iPod playing and the windows down was just what the doctor ordered.

I just hope it stays nice for the rally. Oh, yeah, the rally...

So I come to find out that I might well have been cheating on the last rally. I've been using my car's on-board computer to get my average speed, and running in the "Stock" class. The SCCA rules are pretty specific about what equipment can be used, but then they get hazy on the area of pre-installed factory equipment. They only want you using the stock odometer in the stock position for Stock class, so I think I'm disqualified for that class, but there's an intermediate class called "Limited", which is restricted solely from using equipment that receives direct input from a distance-measuring device.

So here's my question: Does the OBC receive direct input from a distance-measuring device? It calculates average speed, and speed is the measure of distance over time. However, average speed is distance over time over time. So is it receiving direct input, or indirect input? If it's only taking the speedometer's reading and averaging it, then it's not direct input. If, however, it is constantly monitoring speed directly by wheel-rotation, then averaging it, then I don't even qualify for "Limited". That leaves me to run in the "Equipped" class, which just feels wrong. Of course, looking at the scores from last time, I'm guessing that's where I should be. I'd lose, that's for certain, but I don't want to cheat.

Ugh. I'm going to raise the protest against myself tomorrow, and see what the organizers have to say. I've mentioned my OBC to the coordinators in the past, and they saw no problem with it then.

9 weeks, 5 days.

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