Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Amp

I never expected the inside of an amplifier to festive, but the amp I just finished seems to give off that vibe.  I can say that I'm happy to get it working.  For what seems like a month, it has been kicking my butt.  Nothing like letting a little smoke out of some components to let you know you have screwed up.  But at least it's colorful.  When you first turn it on, it has yellow neon for about 30 seconds, then red and green LEDs lighting up the green and blue boards.

This amp is the most expensive, least efficient, and most dangerous I have done so far.  For least efficient, it puts out 25 watts of useful power but uses 180 watts just sitting there with no music playing.  That means the thing is like a space heater with heat rolling off the top all of the time its on. 

Regarding dangerous, there are 350 Volts running around inside this thing.  Part of the extra time taken to trouble shoot this baby are because I was waiting for the volts to go down.  350 Volts will kill you.

Its too early to say whether its worth the effort.  I certainly hope it sounds good.  At least its mostly finished and I can turn back to working on motorcycles.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nose Pictures

My father used to enjoy taking close up pictures of faces.  He would move in so that the frame was filled up with just eyes, nose, and mouth.  He called them nose pictures and I liked them.  They were unusual, but also a nice representation of the person.

It seems that I have unconciously developed a kind of nose picture that I take when possible.  In this case, it's close up pictures of hood ornaments and, occassionally, badges.

Recently, I went to the Hemmings Concours in Lake George, NY with my old high school friend Dan.  Lots of interesting cars, but I liked the hood ornaments best.

Of course, horns can be nice too, but there is no way to avoid the photographer being in the reflection.

A Studebaker badge isn't a hood ornament, but it's a nice detail anyway.

Of course, hood ornaments started out as radiator caps.  Here is a nice one from an MG racer.

The classic hood ornament is the Packard Swan, although Packard referred to it as a Cormorant.

Although I guess Studebaker was trying to compete with Packard.  Is that a swan or a goose?

The gazelle was a Chrysler hood ornament in the 30's, although something similar later became the Chevy Impala trademark.

Stutz was using a goddess.  I think it is either Athena or Minerva, the difference being Greek or Roman.

An some hood ornaments are just fun.  I am assuming that this one is aftermarket and just for fun.  Either way, it is interesting to find on a Studebaker.

 If you find yourself enjoying hood ornaments the way I do, the link below will take you to pictures of many more fun and interesting ornaments.  Of course, all the pictures above are mine from the Lake George event.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Signs of Autumn

As autumn comes on,  I count on different signs to let me know its really here.

The sure sign of fall's arrival is a visit from the sandhill cranes.  Some of them always stop in my yard for a visit before heading further south.  This image comes from an internet image.  It seems the cranes in my yard are just a bit camera shy.

Actually, the first indication of their arrival is there unique call.  Some have called it prehistoric and others have described it as the sound of a creaking of a screen door.  The sound image below was downloaded from and was created by Corsica_S.  Of course, Blogger doesn't make it easy to share sound files, so I had to put it in a video.  The only thing there is a title and 1 minute of sound.

Sandhill Crane from Jac Brown on Vimeo.

As the season goes on, the cranes fly south and the sound is replaced by shotguns and bird hunting season.  But late in the season, there are always one or two trees with strong color late into the season.  In the past, it has been a Cherry tree in my front yard with bright orange/red leaves that hang on even until the snow.

Alas, this has been a tough weather year in my yard.  Strong storms have blown down two trees, one of those being the beloved Cherry.  So this year, I turned my attention to my back yard where the combination of the dark greens of the white pine contrast nicely with the yellow/orange of this old oak tree.  It reminds me of that line from the Shawshank Redemption, "There is a big hay field up near Buxton....One in particular.  It's got a long rock wall, a big oak tree at the north end.  It's like something out of a Robert Frost poem."

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Identifying Cars from the Video

In the last post, I showed a video based on home movies of car racing.  One of the things that fascinates me is the variety of cars on the track and in the parking lot.  Some of these cars would be worth millions of dollars today.  Others, we don't even know what they are.

The one that shows in the frame before you start the video is an Elva Courier,  I would love to have one of those.

Starting with a mystery, the sports racer in this freeze frame is quite unusual and I haven't been able to even come close to identifying it.  It is very wide and low and has a very rectangular shape in plan view.  My memory tells me that this is the Flying Shingle raced by Ken Polman, but the existing pictures of the Shingle don't match at all.  By the way, the Flying Shingle was a very creative effort.  It had a steel tube chassis with no suspension (go-kart style) to save weight.  It was powered by a 700cc Mercury Outboard boat engine.  The complete car was said to weigh about 300 pounds.

 Somehow, I remember that Mercury outboard engine in this very low car, but memory does funny things over more than 50 years.

Staying in at Waterford, I love the smaller classes.  Mini Cooper .vs. NSU Prinz TT .vs. Hillman Imp with Volvo, Fiat 500, and Beetle thrown in for fun.  One of the fun things about Waterford is that it puts a premium on handling, so the feature race on Sunday was when all of the closed wheel cars raced together and there was usually a ding-dong battle between a Mini and a Corvette for the overall win.

 I also love the battle between the front engine and rear engine Formula Junior cars in the early years.

The big cars had lots of Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros, and one E-type, but there was also a few pure, big bore racing cars. The 1969 part of the video has an amazing range of big bore racers.

McLaren Mk 1 Can Am racer

 Lola T70 Can Am racer

  Porsche 906

 Porsche 904

Pretty fancy stuff for a little club track like Waterford.

By the time we got to Watkins Glen for the F1 in 1971, things were pretty interesting in F1.  If you remember, 1971 started out with outrageous, suspension mounted wings flying high above the body.  The crashes mounted quickly and so did the regulations that limited height and forced wings to be body mounted.  By the time the cars got to Watkins Glen near the end of the season, the cars had evolved into some of the prettiest and ugliest F1 cars ever.

Does everybody remember the "tea tray" March?  It was there and competing.

On the other hand, I have always found the McLaren of that year to be beautiful.

The Ferarri is quite nice too.

 The Tyrrell may not be quite as pretty, but it was effective (1971 champion) and iconic.

Did you find anything else worthy of note?

Greg found a number of cars that I hadn't called out with a photo, so here we go.

Ford Lotus Cortina

Ford Anglia

Hillman Imp (on of my personal favorites)

Lotus 7 Series 4 (I assume you all found the earlier series Lotus 7's)

 NSU Prinz TT or known as just the TT

The business end of the TT

Renault Dauphine

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Car Racing in my Youth

My father was a great guy.  My parents recognized my love of cars early and my father supported that any way he could.  One example is the homemade go-kart that I posted about a few years ago.  He also supported my racing bug with slot cars which is the step that got me building my own stuff.

But the biggest influence was when he took me to a car race at age 10.  That was Waterford Hills road racing in 1964.  The best I can tell, we went back in 1969 and went to a lot of races in 1971 (Waterford, MIS endurance race, and Watkins Glen F1).  Somewhere in there we also attended the first Can-Am at MIS and a Formula 5000 race at MIS as well.

For several years, I have intended to go through our home movies of these races and turn them into some sort of video.  I finally took the time and the result is linked in this post.  Be forewarned.  This is no great cinematic accomplishment.  They are just home movies with the usual lack of cinematic skills.  More than that, these come from Super 8 film which means they are blurry flickering with no sound.  What I do hope you find interesting is the thin slice of culture and time that they represent.  The cars are fascinating and surprisingly diverse.  The shots of people are interesting, both as fashion and the size of the crowds showing the popularity of road racing at that time.

The video is about 12 minutes.  Feel free to freeze frame and see if you can identify the cars.

Early Waterford and Other Road Racing from Jac Brown on Vimeo.

 I will try to identify interesting cars in the next post.  Should be fun.