Monday, November 29, 2010

A week in review

Not really much to report for the week. I finished Fallout: New Vegas last night. I put about fifty hours into the game. About half the time I spent on my first play through on the previous, Fallout 3. There's an unfathomable amount of side jobs and quests in the game, and I spent the majority of my time playing through quite a few of those. Overall, I really enjoyed the game. I think Fallout 3 was a better ride, but this one didn't disappoint either. I miss the vast subway systems and epic views from the crumbling highways of '3, but this one offered a wider variety of options for game play. The ability to align with different factions throughout the game was far more interesting and satisfying than the very black and white morality of the karma system in the Fallout 3. The ending didn't disappoint either. I won't give away any spoilers, but the ending (which I get the feeling is different for every play though) really showcases how vast the game is. You interact with a hell of a lot of people and groups throughout the game, and they all have their own story going on. It's nicely tied up at the end. It's also got Matthew Perry and Wayne Newton, two of the most unlikely people to do voice acting for a post-apocalyptic video game, and that counts for something in my book.

As I was pulling the Puch out of the garage this morning, I realized that it had been almost a week since I had ridden a moped. Ouch. I can't remember the last time I went that long. Snow at the beginning of last week put the kibosh on Moped Monday, the following two days I drove the car to work, and during the four-day weekend, I didn't really go anywhere that didn't involve the grocery store, or going places with Steph.

The other night I discovered the varied nuances of Vespa gears. I have three different transmission main gears and all of them are the wrong size for the rest of my gears. What the hell? I had no idea. Isaac has a set of gears that he pulled from his Bravo. I'm going to try those and see if they line up properly. If not, I suppose I'll be switching over to the race gears.

The Hobbit continues to move along slowly, but surely. Digging through my crate o' Hobbit, I was able to assemble a starting clutch set up, most of the rear pulley, and a variator that is soaking in carb cleaner as we speak. Once I notch it, it should be ready to go on the bike. I need to take some time this evening before Moped Monday and cut a squish band into the head. I spent a little time last night chamfering the ports on the Athena with a file while I watched The Walking Dead. I still need to gap the piston ring, and widen the exhaust port a half millimeter on each side. By the end of the week I should have a full-operational death star engine.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Of Hobbits and Pac-Men

I knew as soon as I bought a kit for the Hobbit that I would change my mind. Only a week after picking up the DR kit from Treats, did the fabled Athena 70cc kit come into stock at 1977. There were a few minutes of debate with myself until the tuner in me won, and I was placing the order for the Athena. A few days later, it showed up.

My first impression was that it had to be one of the lightest cylinder I've ever held. Which makes sense because it's less a cylinder and more a few pieces of aluminum holding a ton of swiss cheese holes together. Which is a good thing. When it comes to transfers and ports, we're really paying for what's not there anyway. Lotta flow.

The quality seems excellent. With any cylinder there's always a little flashing that will be filed off, and some chamfering of ports, but looking at this thing, I can't wait to fire up the Hobbit in 5 or 6 months.

Next step is to make a head fit. I have several options and I haven't decided which way I'm going yet.

I did read that there need to be some case mods done to make this kit work. I've scoured the forums, and mocked it up to the case, but for the life of me can't figure out what needs to be modded. Anyone?


I love Xbox 360. And with it, I love a whole slew of Xbox games. I could talk about the same games that you're probably playing, but that's not so interesting, so I'm hoping to write about some games you might not be playing.

This time around I want to talk about good old Pac-Man. I've been playing Pac-Man in one form or another since about 1981. Some versions have been good (classic Ms Pac-Man arcade version) and some haven't been so good (Atari Pac-Man).

I'm sure when I say "Pac-Man reboot" most people will scoff, but hear me out. The Championship version from a few years ago was excellent, and gave a different twist on a game that needed a new twist. The game play was fast, and using fruit to introduce a never-ending new set of pellets to munch was much better than clearing screen after similar screen.

The new Pac-Man Championship DX game does it one better. The game play is some of the best I've ever seen. It is, hands down, the fastest Pac-Man ever. The problem with ultra fast Pac-Man play has always been that there comes a point when it becomes unplayable due to the ghosts matching your speed. DX has a solution. Ghost close calls momentarily slow down game play, allowing you to figure a way out. If there's no way out, drop a "ghost bomb" and the ghosts are all sent back to jail. This sort of thing might make the game a little too easy if you weren't in a time trial, and if it is, there's always expert mode.

IGN gave it a perfect score last week, and I'd say it's pretty close to the best/most addictive Pac-Man experience I've ever had.

Speaking of games, the holidays approach, and game deals can be found left and right Here's a great blog that keeps track of the best deals going on. The holidays suck, don't forget to buy yourself something fun along the way.

Lastly, if you've ever wondered what my D&D game looks like, here's a human fighter about to be blasted into oblivion by a Beholder. Spoilers for a future game session.

Monday, November 15, 2010

First steps out of the Shire

Amid copious hours spent playing Fallout: New Vegas this weekend, I was able to peel myself away long enough to start building my Hobbit bottom end.

First, I hand-milled the head. Of the two heads that came in the box o' Hobbit this was the better one. Unfortunately it looked like it's previous piston mate had exploded causing some pretty serious pock marks. I milled it down until I had a decent mating surface; going from 220 grit to 400, and finally 600. Not a mirror finish, but it looks better than it did before. Yeah, I'm not certain its going to work, either.

I gave the case halves a bath in some engine degreaser, and they cleaned up nicely, carefully taking off the old gasket material that had fused itself on.

Bearings pressed onto the crank.

Nice noob mistake with the press caused some nicks in the shaft. Urgh.

Case halves in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. This will not (I found out) melt the engine mounts.

Everything slipped together like butter. Bolted down, and step one is complete.

Other than the nicks in the crank, the only mistake I made was installing the large seal on the wrong side of the crank. I tapped it in and lost it as it dropped onto the bearing. Pulling it out with a micro screwdriver ruined the seal, so I'll be purchasing another one in the next wave of parts. At least next time I'll know better.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Don't Call It A Comeback

Well, well. Here we are again. It's only beeeeen...over a year. Hopefully I'm back with more frequency. The blog has gotten a makeover (thanks to my fiancé Steph and her non-colorblind eyes).

Along with that facelift, I'll be expanding to a broader range of topics. The focus will still be mopeds, but I'll delve into my other interests, too. Comics, video games, D&D, and the occasional fresh box of cereal will be discussed. I'm also cooking up a few ideas that I haven't seen in the mopediant blogosphere before. I'm a trailblazer, bitches! Well, we'll see.

Anyway. Mopeds. Yes.

I'm embarking on my first Hobbit build (that's what all the hip kids ride, right?).

One of my greatest downfalls has always been the impulse buy. I've worked on it. Really I have, but sometimes a "deal" still gets the best of me. Case in point: late summer, this year, I'm innocently working in my garage when I get a call from Vic from Portland. He's in town and is unloading moped stuff. He heard that I had some inkling of building a Hobbit, and he had a parts bike with him. $75 takes it home. I hemmed and hawed, saying I didn't need another bike in my garage. He insisted on coming over anyway. I'm strong, but when a moped shows up at my door, and I'm told to take it and Paypal later, I take it and Paypal later.

Responsible Jon later sold me his trike frame, and now I'm going to spend a rainy, possibly snowy winter building another bike.


plus this

plus maybe some of this

and a whole lot of this

should, fingers-crossed, become a street-scourge of Seattle by the spring. Hopefully it'll lap a race track or two before the end of next summer, too.

Specs are simple; 70cc DR kit, Motomatic pipe, 21mm PHBG, race crank, some sort of CDI set up, and other bits along the way. I should have the bottom end built this coming weekend. I'll snap a photo or two of the process.

It's interesting how five years ago in Seattle, no one wanted Hobbits (or Hondas in general). They've always been plentiful, but if it wasn't a Puch, Sachs, or Minarelli, no one wanted it. Oh, how times have changed. The level of tuning knowledge has grown substantially, and people are willing to wrench on anything.

brb. In a week or so.