End of an Era

This actually happened this past Tuesday (10/1/2013), but I’m only now sitting down to post about it.

The Thursday (9/12/2013) after the accident my insurance declared my 2001 convertible Corvette totaled. Needless to say, I expected such a result, and considering the damage the car took I was saddened but relieved to hear it. Even if the front frame cross bar and rails going a foot back from it hadn’t been bent 45* to the left from the impact, I don’t think the car would’ve ever been the same afterwards, and I would’ve lived in dread fear of future electrical or mechanical issues. That would’ve destroyed all the fun and enjoyment the car brought to me.

My insurance is paying me nearly what I paid for the vehicle, which was a shock to say the least. I didn’t expect to get so well reimbursed for my loss, and State Farm likely has a customer for life after this experience. On top of that, they allowed me to have it towed home and swap off the aftermarket parts I’d put on the car. After two weekends of pulling parts, I made the call Monday to have the car towed away for the last time.

Now, I didn’t cry seeing it go away or anything like that, and the slight (mental) numbness I’ve got from the shock of having my car destroyed like that has actually helped some, but it’s no fun seeing something you’ve put so much time, money, and attention into getting taken away from you. It’s not how I wanted to see the car leave. I wanted someone else to be able to enjoy it after I was done with it. That would’ve been years away, too.

Now, what am I doing for a replacement? You don’t own two Corvettes (we still have my ’86) for nearly a decade and just stop owning Corvettes. You just can’t. It doesn’t work that way.

Well, I was looking at late model C6 Corvettes for my options, and I almost picked up a Jetstream Blue 2010 manual coupe. The owner decided last minute he didn’t want to sell, which put me back on the hunt. Now, after talking with my father, I’m taking a serious look at the C7. I don’t know what will happen yet, but for what “good” condition C6’s are going for, I’d be stupid to not consider just getting a brand new C7. Who knows? Honestly, at this point, even I don’t.

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Corvette down

Well, last night sucked.

I went out late to get some cash to pay for getting the Morgan’s dash scanned, and on the way home my 2001 Corvette got hit by a red light runner. The gist of what happened was I was stopped at the light to turn onto the freeway on-ramp, light turned green, I looked and saw the intersection was all clear, rolled out about half ways into the intersection, and WHAM! face full of airbag. The gal ran the red from the freeway off-ramp and hit me across the front of the car.

As it currently stands, I’m waiting on the body shop / insurance inspection, but I’m guessing the car’s going to be totaled. I’m highly suspecting frame damage up front as the whole front bumper was pushed sideways and back a bit. We’ll see what happens, but I’m certainly not enjoying how this week’s turning out.

accident_maindmg_01

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Chemical reaction

So today was “play with nasty chemicals” day in the garage… and the results were amazing!

I’d gone over the “DIY PCB” kit I got from work on Friday, and realized the kit was incomplete and didn’t have all the necessary chemicals. Since I had to work Saturday (boooo) I stopped by Fry’s on the way home to pick up a few items.

When I got to their “DIY Electronics” section, I quickly realized it’d be cheaper to pick up a full new kit than try and piece together what I needed (also, they didn’t have all the necessary individual chemicals). I picked up their MG Chemicals Photofabrication Kit for about $50, and since I already had the high intensity UV bulb from the kit from work, left with that.

Talking with my dad about the custom-made boards, we quickly realized that with the extra boards the kit provides I could also make the custom LED tail lights I’ve wanted to make for our Barracuda as well as a proper third brake light for the ’86 Corvette. That will be future projects, but it’s well in my mind now.

All in all, the whole process took about an hours to do, and the results are far better than I expected. There is a little bit of ‘missing copper’ around some of the leads, but nothing that the soldering won’t fix when it gets to that point in the process. The new batch LEDs have been ordered from my contact in Hong Kong, so that gives me about a week to get sorted on setting up and running the board on the CNC router at work to punch the necessary holes. I’ll also be looking for a black or silver paint to put on the LED side of the board before I run it on the router.

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Planning the Circuit Boards (cont)

Went over the circuit board designs some more today and found a few ways to optimize / simplify the overall layout. It’ll probably be a few days before I have the time to actually start with the boards, which is no problem as I’m still waiting to hear back from the LED supplier on the new order.

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Planning the Circuit Boards

I get an idea, and I usually just run when it. Especially when the idea excites me creatively. A hour or so at Illustrator and I’ve got the planned mask laid out for the copper clad circuit board etching. The black lines with the +/- on them will be printed out on transparency film and hopefully I will get good results. The kit I have is a “positive mask” style, meaning I will have to reverse the image to properly mask off the copper.

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Switching lights

So I got a bit more done last night with the LED lights, but got a bit frustrated with the slow progress. Having to manually build bridges between each LED either by solder or wire (both a royal pain at that size) was starting to get rather tedious. At one point I exclaimed aloud “why didn’t I just do this with a printed PCB setup?”… and then I stopped and thought… “wait… why *don’t I* just do this with a printed PCB setup?”. I got a bit farther along, and after blinding myself with a test of the brake light running lights, decided to call it a night and do some reading.

A bit of digging around turned up more than a few sources of light-sensitive copper clad boards (even Fry’s… which was a bit surprising). The only downside I’ve discovered is that I haven’t come across any with the grid holes already drilled. While this isn’t in any way a deal breaker (CNC router, hello~!), it does mean a slight bit more setup time. I stopped to ask my electrical engineer coworker if he’d seen the kits for doing these kinds of things before, and that proved to be a very smart move.

He had me follow him to the tools / chemicals cabinet on the company’s assembly floor, and dug out a whole “DIY Copper Clad PCB” kit that he’d said had been sitting around for a long while and no one had touched it. I grabbed it and made off with it and some laserjet transparency film we haven’t used in years, and now I’m going to start designing the circuits for the MogRod LED Lights 2.0! This does mean I’m going to have to reorder the LED’s, as I would rather do that than waste more time trying to de-solder all of them. It’s such a small cost in the scheme of things that it’s worth doing so, though.

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Up, Up & Away!

Had quite a cool day in the sun today! I drove over to Watsonville (near Santa Cruz) for the annual “Watsonville Fly-In & Airshow“. I’ve been to it once before and enjoyed it just as much this time. I’ll let the photos and video do the talking, but man, nothing gives me the chills like hearing a group of P-51 Mustangs doing low altitude high speed fly-bys!

Also, started plasti-dipping the RK Sport hood I picked up last weekend for my ’01 Corvette. Hopefully it’ll be fully coated, dried, and installed before the weekend’s over!

 

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The “Kit Car” C5 Corvette

Sharing this little bit of fun reading: http://cartechstuff.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-c5-corvette-kit.html

Did you know that General Motors made a (very) limited run of “build your own C5 Corvettes” for the buyer to make their own race car with? I sure didn’t!

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Seeing clearly and digitally

Couple of updates for tonight.

First off, a shiny new “rear script” emblem showed up in the mail Thursday. The original has the “n” snapped clean off and nowhere to be seen, so this will serve as a replacement. It will also be scanned in and turned into vector art for my own uses and to share with the Morgan owning community.

Next up, the Morgan’s original dash (pictured below on my ‘new’ Corvette hood) is off at Advanced Laser & Waterjet Cutting to get scanned. They’ve got the tools to scan the whole thing and digitize the shape, so I can reproduce it on the CNC router at work. I’ll be using their waterjet services in the future, but the dash has rounded edges and other feature that they can’t do, plus I’ll be redesigning it some and will have to clean up the outline.

Following that, as you’ll see below, I got the emblem out of the mold! It’s still slightly flexible after two days of curing, so I’m going to let it set out on the countertop over the weekend before I start attempting to clean it up any. It turned out quite nice, despite all the imperfections of the original (combined with this being the first time I’ve ever made a casting like this). I need to read up some on how to properly ‘fix’ the casting, since it’s taken long enough to get to this point that I don’t really want to mess it up.

Finally, on an interesting point, I’ve found out there’s a company in the UK that makes fiberglass “wings” (fenders) for the Morgan. I’m attempting to get a hold of them as I may be interested in just getting brand new fiberglass fenders (possibly front and rear) as opposed to currently spending the money to repair the originals. Both front “wings” have damage from the original accident, and the passenger’s side (left hand drive) is significant damaged on the leading edge. I have great quality rear fenders, so those may stay as metal, we shall see!

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Casting call (continued)

One step forward for the custom emblem designing!

After dinner I went out to the garage and checked on the mold material, and it appeared to have cured completely. After some prying with a flathead screwdriver I managed to get the glued together ‘frame’ peeled back, and the whole mold came out in no time.

I cleaned up a few little bits of debris that had pulled off the emblem and stuck to the mold, then mixed up a batch of casting resin and poured it on in. A few bubbles were worked out with a small nail, and now it’s another day’s wait for the casting to cure and pull that on out!

For anyone interested, the mold making material is Tap Plastic’s “Silicone RTV Mold Making System”, and the resin is their “Clear-Lite Casting Resin”.

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