Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FJ Cruiser: Rear Differential Skid...

Late yesterday afternoon, Federal Express delivered a heavy box to us, containing the Boztec rear differential skid I'd ordered.  This thing is a single piece of quarter inch thick steel, cut, formed, and welded to form a protective cover for the rear differential housing (which is a relatively fragile casting). At right is what the parts looked like after I laid them out as I started installing it.

The big part is the skid itself, seen from the top.  It's a beautifully fabricated piece of metal.  The two “wings” sticking out left and right mate up with the bottom of the rear axle housing.  The 3/4" thick bracket visible at the bottom is the bottom half of the bracket connecting around the differential housing where the drive shaft enters (the front side); the odd-shaped bracket (top center) is the top half of that bracket.  The U-bolts go around the rear axle housing, and hold the axle housing wings in place.

At left you can see what it looks like after installation, as seen from below the rear of the FJ.  It's like a steel hand wrapped around the differential housing.  I think I'd have to try really, really hard to hurt the differential now that this thing is in place!

Installing it was very straightforward.  I just held it roughly in place with my left hand while loosely installing and putting the nuts on the U-bolts with my right hand.  Then I rotated the skid until the bracket clanked into place, and loosely installed the hex-head bolts onto the top half of its bracket.  Then I did a little pounding (rubber mallet and a hardwood dowel) to get the U-bolts rotated so that the top brackets were level.  There's a hard brake line running just behind those brackets once they're installed; those were a little too close to the brackets for my liking, so I bent them slightly to move them away.  The trickiest part of the entire installation was figuring out how to get my socket wrench and Allen wrench into a position where I could put enough torque on all the nuts and bolts.  The entire process was just under an hour, front-to-back.  I wish the other skids had been so easy!

European Drums of Doom...

Bureaucracy run amok, coming here soon, I'm sure:
A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to "grow, reproduce or trade" any vegetable seeds that have not been "tested, approved and accepted" by a new EU bureaucracy named the "EU Plant Variety Agency."

It's called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.

Don't Mess With the Old Dogs...

Via my lovely bride, this parable of age vs. youth:
One day an old German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a panther heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.

The old German Shepherd thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep weeds now!"

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the panther is about to leap, the old German Shepherd exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious panther! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the young panther halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees.

"Whew!," says the panther, "That was close! That old German Shepherd nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the panther. So, off he goes.

The squirrel soon catches up with the panther, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the panther.

The young panther is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the old German Shepherd sees the panther coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?," but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the old German Shepherd says "Where's that squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another panther!"

The moral of this story: Don't mess with the old dogs - experience and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!

The Drums of Doom Beat Ever Closer...

In California they do.  We're raising a generation on notions like this one: that a Swiss Army knife is an evil weapon:
A fifth-grader in Cupertino, California was suspended and threatened with expulsion for bringing a small Swiss Army knife on a school-sponsored, science-oriented camping trip.
We have got to get out of here...

A Beautiful Piece of Code...

Not only is this beautiful code, but it involves regular expressions, was written by Rob Pike, and is explained by Brian Kernighan (two of my heroes while learning to program).  Awesome geekery!

Would You Fly With This Man?

Via my mom:

Geek One-Liners...

Via reader Simi L.:
  • I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.
  • Last week, I went to a furniture store to look for a decaffeinated coffee table. They couldn't help me.
  • What's another word for "thesaurus"?
  • When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great parking spot, then sit in my car and count how many people ask if I'm leaving.
  • When I was a kid, we had a quicksand box in the backyard. I was an only child . . . eventually.
  • I bought some batteries, but they weren't included. So I had to buy them again.
  • For my birthday I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier. I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.
  • I have a switch in my apartment that doesn't do anything. Every once in a while I turn it on and off. One day I got a call from a guy in France who said, "Cut it out!"
  • I replaced the headlights on my car with strobe lights. Now it looks like I'm the only one moving.
  • I wrote a song, but I can't read music. Every time I hear a new song on the radio, I think "Hey, maybe I wrote that."
  • I got my driver's license photo taken out of focus on purpose. Now when I get pulled over the cop looks at it (moving it nearer and farther, trying to see it clearly)... and says, "Here, you can go."
  • I went to a general store, but they wouldn't let me buy anything specific.
  • I turned my air conditioner the other way around, and it got cold out. The weatherman said, "I don't understand it. It was supposed to be 80 degrees out today." I said "Oops . . ."
  • I put contact lenses in my dog's eyes. They had little pictures of cats on them. Then I took one out and he ran around in circles.
  • I spilled Spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone.
  • My neighbor has a circular driveway. He can't get out.
  • I bought some powdered water, but I didn't know what to add.
  • I put instant coffee in a microwave and almost went back in time.
  • I have an answering machine in my car. It says, "I'm home now, but leave a message and I'll call when I'm out."
  • I bought a house on a one-way dead-end road. I don't know how I got there.
  • I have a hobby. I have the world's largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen some of it.
  • I Xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra Xerox machine.
  • Last week I forgot how to ride a bicycle.
  • My school colors were clear.
  • I stayed in a really old hotel last night. They sent me a wakeup letter.
  • I'm taking La maze classes. I'm not having a baby, I'm just having trouble breathing.
  • When I was in high school, I got in trouble with my girlfriend's Dad. He said, "I want my daughter back by 8:15." I said, "The middle of August? Cool!"
  • My girlfriend's weird. One day she asked me, "If you could know how and when you were going to die, would you want to know?" I said, "No." She said, "Okay, forget it."
  • I went for a walk last night and she asked me how long I was going to be gone. I said, "The whole time."
  • My buddy got busted for counterfeiting. He was making pennies. They caught him because he was putting the heads and tails on the wrong sides.
  • He's in a minimum security prison now; he's on a whiffle-ball and chain.
  • Hermits have no peer pressure.
  • Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories .
  • There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
  • How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges didn't live there?
  • Did Washington just flash a quarter for his ID?
  • I just got skylights put in my place. The people who live above me are furious.
  • Imagine if birds were tickled by feathers.
  • I remember when the candle shop burned down. Everyone stood around singing "Happy Birthday".
  • I accidentally installed the deer whistles on my car backwards. Now everywhere I go, I'm chased by a herd of deer.
  • I got stopped by a cop the other day. He said, "Why'd you run that stop sign?" I said, "Because I don't believe everything I read."
  • It doesn't matter what temperature a room is, it's always room temperature.
  • Yesterday, my eyeglass prescription ran out.
  • I'm a peripheral visionary.
  • I make my own water - two glasses of H, one glass of O.
  • Ballerinas are always on their toes. Why don't they just get taller ballerinas?
  • The other day, I went to a tourist information booth and asked, "Tell me about some of the people who were here last year."
  • Why in a country of free speech, are there phone bills?