A Week in Ohio and Kentucky

Last week i spent 2 days surveying near Lexington Kentucky and 2 days near Cincinnati Ohio.

The site we surveyed in Kentucky was right by a Dixie Cup plant, i liked their water tower.
Dixie Cup Factory and Water Tower
Down south they have lots of cockroaches in their sewers. They were big too.
Cockroaches in the Sewer
We drove through part of downtown Cincinnati.
Downtown Cincinnati Street
I got to eat at the original Montgomery Inn, in Montgomery Ohio. The ribs were probably the best i've ever had.
The Original Montgomery Inn Ribs Ohio


Pontiac Rear Struts

Any time i had more than 2 people in my car and hit a bump, there was a loud bang from the back. I figured it was time to replace the rear struts.

I wanted to use something called a Quick Strut, which is where the strut and spring come pre-assembled. This would eliminate me having to buy and use a spring compressor. The problem is that i have a 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Competition Group. Originally the car came with special rear struts that were higher compression than the base Grand Prix or even the GT and i could not find a Quick Strut the same as my GTP.
I figured that there wasn't a huge difference installing the standard strut, nothing i would notice while driving.

So i ended up buying the left and right rear Monroe Quick Struts from rockauto.com. They were $120 each, which is about $30 cheaper than places like Sears.
Monroe Quick Strut for Pontiac Grand Prix
Monroe Quick Strut, part, spring, instructions, assemble
Several months ago i took my car to Katie and John's and John helped me fix the heads-up-display. So again he agreed to help.

The first side was awful and took 3 hours to replace. Here's a time lapse video of us trying to get the strut off.

It took a while trying to figure out how to remove some of the bolts, how high to jack up the car and what order to do things. The biggest problem we had was the sway bar link bolt was really rusted and we ended up snapping it while trying to get the nut off.
Broken bolt while replacing rear struts
So we had to go to the store and get the right metric bolt with the right size threads. When we did finally get the strut off i noticed that the spring was different. The new one looks a lot better then what was on there.
Side by Side Comparison of Struts
After learning all the steps and tricks we fixed the other side in under 45 minutes. This time we sprayed WD-40 and used a wire brush on the threads of the rusted bolt and it came off much easier.

Here's another time lapse video of us doing the second strut.

For most of the video i was in the trunk messing with these 3 bolts.
Rear Struts install instructions, bolt removal
The car rides much better now.


Charlie Bath

I found a flea on Charlie the other day. So i bought him a flea collar and gave him a bath. He didn't freak out nearly as bad as i thought. He wasn't real happy about it though.
Wet cat in bath tub
giving the cat a bath, flea bath


Detroit Auto Show - 2012

Karrie's favorite car last year was still her favorite car this year...the Audi Q5. We sat in the Q7 and the station wagon but thought this one was the perfect size. Super nice inside and really comfortable. It even had cup holders that you can set to hot or cold.
Audi Q5 at the Detroit International Auto Show
We both liked this car, the Honda Accord Crosstour. It was really nice and functional inside. Just like the Audi Q5, it had USB and SD card slots so you can just plug in the memory and listen to music or books on tape. I think that it's a cheap feature that every single new car should have.
Honda Accord Crosstour at COBO Hall
The F1 Red Bull car was super cool. I could have looked at this car for an hour, every single inch of it had some crazy carbon fiber fin.
Red Bull F1 Formula 1 Race Car
Red Bull F1 Formula 1 Race Car at the Detroit International Auto Show
Close up view of the Red Bull F1 Car
I really liked the chars at the Ford display. They were simple, strong, comfortable and looked cool. Like the F1 car, a perfect combination of form and function working together. I think i might try and make two of these.
Unique blue chair at the Ford Display
one piece curved chair
The 100 year anniversary Corvette ZR1. This might have been one of the cars that i saw in the parking lot in Bowling Green last year. The guy at the Corvette plant said that the 100 year anniversary cars were lined up to get a special paint job.
100 Year Anniversary Corvette ZR1
This was a cool truck by Toyota, then modified by DCShoes. It had a compartment in the rear fender for extra storage and the entire thing was covered in that protective bed liner paint. It would probably help it last a long time. Another great idea that looked good too.
Toyota Truck DCShoes bed liner
This was the Volkswagen Bugster. It was dumb, i doubt that anyone will buy one, if they ever decide to make it.
Ugly Volkswagen Bugster electric white car
The thing i don't like about companies is that they make this really cool looking concept car then 90% of the time that's the end of it. Even if it's a great car it never gets built. Then on the 10% chance that they do build the car, it turns into this boring, scaled back version of the concept. Take the Chevy Volt for example. Here's what the concept looked like at the auto show a few years ago.
Chevy Volt Concept Car
Here's what the actual car looks like now. I like the way the Volt looks, but compared to the concept car it looks just like every other car on the road.
Chevy Volt Production Car
This year, the worst thing about concept cars is they were all electric. I guess companies figured, "what the hell, this concept car is never getting built, let's just make it electric and it will definitely never get built."

This was the BMW i8 concept. I really liked the way it looked, both doors and the roof were acrylic.
BMW i8 electric Concept Car sportscar
There was a lot of interesting people at the auto show this year.
Fat Guy in Overalls at the Auto Show


Furnace Humidifier

A few months ago, when the furnace was running more, i realized that it was getting really dry in the house. I checked the humidifier on the furnace and realized that it was bone dry.

This is the second time in two years that it's happened. I figured that the solenoid that i replaced last year must have been clogged. Water is forced at 150psi through a tiny hole.
This time i ordered a new generic solenoid valve with a changeable orifice. That way if it becomes clogged i can just change the orifice and not the entire solenoid.

Here's the 3 solenoid valves. The left one is the original part, the middle is the replaced solenoid and the one on the right is the generic solenoid.

Furnace Humidifier Solenoid Models

Here is a close-up of that solenoid, the yellow orifice and the cone filter to help keep the orifice clear.

Furnace Humidifier Solenoid, Filter, Solenoid

I connected the water pipes and wires, turned up the humidistat to 60% humidity and it works just fine now.

Furnace Humidifier Parts, tubing, wiring, solenoid, honeywell

Furnace Humidifier, broken, fix, repair


Tennessee New Year

For New Years i went to Tennessee with Karrie and her family. Karrie's family stayed in hotels but we stayed in a cabin about 10 miles outside of Gatlinburg.

Here is the cabin that Karrie and i stayed in. It was really nice and at the same price as a hotel.
Gatlinburg Cabin Rental, interior, view
I took lots of pictures of the night sky from the back deck.
Night sky view from gatlinburg cabin rental
This is picture was done by using the CHDK software i've used before, it combines around 60 pictures into one. Still not perfect, but i'm getting better. The town of Gatlinburg is on the left.
Star trails over gatlinburg tennessee
This is the time lapse video from those pictures. Using my new camera makes a big difference. The Canon S95 lets in a lot more light.

Here are some more pictures i took the next night.
Gatlinburg stars, cabin rentals, tennessee, pigeon forge
Gatlinburg sky view, cabin rentals, tennessee, pigeon forge
Gatlinburg view, cabin rentals, tennessee, pigeon forge
The morning of the second day Karrie and i drove into the Smokey Mountain National Park and hiked on the Laural Falls Trail. It was 2.6 miles round trip and had a rise of 300 feet in elevation. Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls Trail Sign
Smokey Mountain National Park, Danger Sign
Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls

The falls were really cool and we even climbed off the trail to a rocky area below. That's Karrie way down at the bottom. Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls View Down
Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls View Up
Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls Portrait
I was excited to try my homemade ND filter. The pictures didn't come out perfect, i forgot to take the picture in RAW, it made it a lot harder to fix the colors in Photoshop.
Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls ND Filter
Smokey Mountain National Park, Laurel Falls ND Filter Water
We left the falls after an hour or so, but before leaving the park we stopped at a trail along a river. I tried taking more ND filter pictures. Smokey Mountain National Park, river ND Filter
river water homemade ND Filter, welders glass
river water homemade ND Filter, welding glass
river ND Filter, welding glass
river ND Filter, smooth, flowing
ND Filter, smooth, flowing
green ladybug by river
sitting on a river rock in the smokey mountain national park
The next day we went to Ober. There is a road but we took the cable car. cable car, view of gatlinburg, to ober, tennessee
Then went all the way to the top of the mountain on a chair lift. chair lift, view of ober, tennessee
riding the chair lift up to ober tennessee, gatlinburg
chair lift up to mt harrison, ober, gatlinburg, tennessee
top of mt harrison, ober, gatlinburg
The view was great.
panorama view of the smokey mountain national forest
panoramic view of the smokey mountain national park, dome, peakview of chair lift with smokey mountains in background
They had a neat picture up there that explained what you were seeing. sign board of smokey mountains peaks
It's a little hard to see but it labeled each peak. For example #6 is Clingmans Dome at 6643 feet. city of gatlinburg, newfound gap, chimney tops, mount leconte, clingmans dome
Here is the view of downtown Gatlinburg from the steps of the aquarium.panorama of downtown gatlinburg tennessee, in front of the aquarium
We spent an hour there one day. aquarium, downtown gatlinburg, tennessee
Got to pet some horseshoe crabs. petting rays, aquarium, downtown gatlinburg, tennessee
aquarium port hole, shark tank, tennessee
Another day we went to Wonderworks. It was a really cool upside-down building in Pigeon Forge. This was a cool 3D painting they had inside. You can't tell how it works until you get near it and realize that it isn't flat.

Gatlinburg at night. The traffic was still pretty busy. downtown gatlinburg at night, tennessee, new years
New Years in Gatlinburg. They dropped the ball and shot off fireworks from the space needle. downtown gatlinburg at night, tennessee, new years, fireworks
downtown gatlinburg at night, tennessee, party
Elvis and his family were even there. downtown gatlinburg at night, tennessee, elvis