Thursday, August 31, 2006

Aston Martin For Sale

Ford has a long history of design and manufacturing in Britain, so it's not really thought of as a foreign company. Ford ownership of British Aston Martin has been a comfortable arrangement. Ford has been a good parent to AM: Giving them money and not telling them what to do.

But now they're for sale, who will buy Aston Martin?
I'm guessing Renault will buy them. Lets wait and see.

Photo from Aston Martin Racing

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

1930's Acoustic Locators

Before there was radar, the only ways to detect incoming aeroplanes was to look and listen. In Britain this took on greater importance in the late 1930's as war seemed likely. These acoustic locators were probably kept secret at the time, then ignored and forgotten after the discovery of radar. The massive cement structures are still there, and presumably still work.

Thanks We-Make-Money-Not-Art

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Corbin Sparrow Update

The three wheeled electric Sparrow was a financial disaster for Corbin (I wrote about it here). Now Meyers Motors of Ohio is taking a stab at making the same car under the NmG name. O-60mph in 12.5s. 70mph top speed, and 30 mile range. The price has jumped up to $25,000.

Thanks Jalopnik

Monday, August 28, 2006

Abandoned Pod Hotel

What looks like a failed modern utopian community is a failed 1960's resort/hotel complex on the outskirts of Taipei, Taiwan.

More here

Thanks Tropolism

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bede BD-5T

The BD-5 was sold in kit form starting in the 1970's. Early Bede-5's had 33 hp Hirth 2-stroke snowmobile engine driving the pusher propeller, while some had Honda Civic engines, and some had small jet engines (BD-5J). This particular aeroplane is unusual for having a turbine engine driving the propeller (BD-5T). The engine is a Solar T-62T-2AI turbine that originally provided auxiliary power for a Boeing Chinook helicopter. The service hatch has been replaced with perspex for display purposes.
This BD-5 is displayed here with modified short wings. It was difficult to fly with the short wings, and so a longer wing option was available. The wings quickly detach for storage.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Better Safe Than Sony

If you own a Apple iBook/PowerBook G4, Erika has this good advice for dealing with the battery recall/exchange:

A few things you might want to know before you waste 1.5 hours like I did today, trying to fill out the form online and awaiting customer service on the 1-800 phone line:

1) the serial numbers listed on
are correct, but...

2) the system is so overloaded it will deny you the application for exchange, even if your battery model, battery serial number, and computer serial number match up with the recall, and ...

3) calling the 1-800 number is useless, as they are dumped into the same registration system, AND they will have you try again with them on the phone, so

4) Advice from the customer service guy: go online in the middle of the night, well after the west coast is asleep but before the east coast wakes up. Seriously.

Good luck.


Thanks Erika

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Eight is Enough II

From todays news:
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Leading astronomers declared Thursday that Pluto is no longer a planet under historic new guidelines that downsize the solar system from nine planets to eight.

From Treough February 18th:
Marks Very Enthusiastic Mother Just Sent Us Nothing.

Recently a 10th body larger than Pluto was descovered in the outer Solar Sysem. It's in an orbit that takes it from outside Pluto to inside Neptune. This reminded me of the arguments over whether Pluto is a planet. There's no strict definition of what a planet is, but...
I think a planet should have a regular orbit concentric with the other planets because bodys that cut across the orbit of other planets are begging for a collision. The kind of collision that creates planets.


Design Within Reach

We've been looking for dining room chairs. Our price range is $100-$150. We'll be buying 6 or 8 of them, so that's about $1000.

I'd almost given up on finding something suitable and affordable. And then I found this Kyoto chair on the DWR website. DWR has a great selection of affordable dining chairs . This little beauty is just $88 with free shipping! Truly within our reach! OK it's a little bit clunky, but did I tell you it's only $88?


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

F1 at Design Museum

The Design Museum in London has an exhibit: "Formula One - The Great Design Race".

The videos of the Renault team at work are excellent. Be sure to watch "On-board with Alonso".

Categories:Cars Design

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sausalito Art Circus

If this event is an Art Festival, then a used car lot is a Car Festival.

It's an outdoor art shopping mall.
The art is for sale. The artists are there to make money. And you pay $20 for the privilege.

Labour Day weekend, September 2,3,4.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Apartment Therapy

AT is a must read for any appartment dweller. It's full of good advice. And they will sometimes post questions from readers.

My question concerned the whereabouts of this row of colourful houses in a car advertisement.

The comments were great:
"Barring color, the left three are the same house (same angle, same mouldings, same highlights and reflections) and the the right three are the same house (the artist changed the middle windowshade in the orange house to make it less repetitive but it's still the same everything else). If it weren't for the missing moulding above the second floor bay of the three left houses, I'd say all six were definitely the same building.

The car is unquestionably comped in since it's being lit from the right while the houses are lit from the left. The faked reflections of the houses on the wet street is a nice touch to bring it altogher, though. Props to the ad artist."

Thanks Harlie. Complete list of comments here.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Shimano XT V-Brakes

When you modify a race car, change one thing at a time.

I didn't follow this advice with my bicycle. I replaced the fork (RockShox SID), wheels (Mavic rims), and brakes (Shimano XT) at the same time. Straight away I noticed how weak the braking was. And the brakes were screeching very loudly. So I used emery paper on the rims and pads, then cleaned them with alcohol. But the noise came back after a few miles. I changed to a different brand of brake pad, and adjusted the 'toe' of the pads. No good. So I thought that the SID fork might be flexing and causing the brakes to stutter against the rim. Had I changed one thing at a time I would have instantly isolated the problem...

Finally, a bicycle mechanic at Mill Valley Cycleworks diagnosed the problem for me. He said my Shimano XT brakes are notorious for squeaking. So I bought Shimano XT M760 brakes (bolted to the fork in the first photo) and the problem is solved! The second picture shows the bad brakes.

USB TV Tuner

The Elgato EyeTV Hybrid USB TV tuner gadget is just the ticket for the an Intel based Mac. Plug it into a USB slot and connect an analog antenna, digital antenna, coaxial cable or s-video source. To top off the usefulness, it works with Front Row and the Apple remote.
Rewind, fast forward, and pause live digital TV.
Record TV to the hard drive and export to your video iPod.

Thanks Gizmodo

Friday, August 18, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I Know Your Type

Portable Olivetti typewriter, $125.

Siegler&Co are going out of business, and their very expensive inventory of gadgets are on sale.

Thanks Red Ferret

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

More Bajaj Auto Chetak

More photos of the Indian made Bajaj Auto Chetak scooter.

I stopped on the Presidio to look at these scooters because I thought they were Vespas, and I wanted to compare them to the Chetak I wrote about last week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

1955 Allard JR

Allard was founded in 1936 by Hill Climb competitor Sydney Allard. This British company produced about 2000 cars, mostly between 1947 and 1957. These included hill climbers, sprint cars, sedans, and racing cars. The J-series were the racing cars.

This car is one of 7 JRs made. It was designed for a 250hp Cadillac V8 engine, and weighed 2200lbs. Some time in the 60's a more modern and lighter Ford V8 engine was fitted. The original Caddy engine sits in the corner.

Allard used engines from mostly American car makers, and the body styling was hit-or-miss. However, the JR is a pretty car.

Allard production ceased in 1964.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Horseshoe Cove Boat Ramp

The "Babe Mo"(1972) was unloading debris boxes at Horseshoe Cove last Thursday.

While other boat ramps charge a fee for use, this ramp is free to use. It's at Fort Baker, across from the Coast Guard station.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

1925 Sunbeam Tiger

Built for Major Henry Segrave to attempt the World Land Speed Record. V12 4 Litre, twin OHC, twin superchargers, 4-speed gearbox.

Segrave took the record at 152mph, on March 16th 1926.
It was subsequently fitted with superchargers and became a Grand Prix racing car.

Parked in a corner, I was only able to inspect the front of the car. The first things I noticed were the hydraulic brake lines to the front drums, and the machined front axle. Of course the hydraulics are a more modern addition, but Malcolm (not Campbell!) told me the front beam axle is not original either. The front axle is located by semi elliptic springs that 'float' at the front, and two friction shocks on each side. The forward shocks are hidden by a cowling. I did not see a sway-bar.

A quick look inside the cockpit showed 4-speed 'pre-selector' gears and an exposed torque-tube. Nothing to be afraid of.

My photo above is not very good, so I searched the web for better pictures and found some that show the car in Grand Prix trim with exposed radiator. My photo shows the car in LSR trim with aerodynamic front (and is that a rear-view mirror!?). Clicking the pictures links to the images owner.

(At this time, the engine is toast. In its last outing it ended up in the gravel and sucked stones through the engine. Malcolm said that there were pebbles coming out the exhaust pipe. Perhaps he was pulling my leg, but anyway, the engine is being rebuilt. It's great that the cars in this collection are still raced.)


Friday, August 11, 2006

A Sofa Too Far

We live in San Francisco, so how hard should it be to find a couch to fit a bay window? I've searched the web until my fingertips bled. Nothing! SFApartmentTherapy even asked the same question a few weeks ago. Their best reply is pictured here.

One reader suggested a built-in seating area with storage. I like that idea. But really, where are all the curved couches?


Thursday, August 10, 2006

1953 Porsche 550 Spyder

This must be the most original Porsche 550 in existence.

Notice the convertible top. The first thing any new owner would do is throw this away. And it still has the canvas bag for the spare tyre.

In the first photo you can see the lever jack on the right side of the passengers seat. The car weights only 1213lb and the 'cup' of the jack lifts the car from a 'nub' under each corner of the car.

In the second photo you can see why this is probably the only 550 with an original folding top.

The third photo shows some chassis tubing to the drivers left, so this might be the 550A model that used a spaceframe.

The final photo shows the engine compartment.

Thank you Malcolm for giving me a personal tour today of all the cars (and bicycles) in the collection. It was thrill!

Readers: stay tuned for more historic cars.


Eames 'Film Festival'

Charles and Ray Eames made over 100 short films, and DWR is showing them for free starting in San Francisco tonight.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006


The old Vespa scooters had a 2-stroke engine with a manual clutch and 4-speed gears. You knew it was a Vespa by the distinctive sound the engine made as the rider accelerated through the gears.

Lately I've been seeing old Vespas, but hearing a 4-stroke engine! Our neighbour has one like this, so I took a close look at it today. It turns out that the scooter is called a Chetak, and is made in India by Bajaj Auto, who built Vespas under license from Piaggio until around 1970.

The Chetak has a monocoque chassis, combination clutch lever/gear shift, and trailing link front suspension. The styling is slightly different from original, but can you tell?


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Flying Mower

This made me smile:

Thanks Autoblog

Star Trek Prop Auction

A collection of 40 years of Star Trek props are being shown around the country ending in an auction in NY in October.

I sent my friend Josh a picture of the phasers. His reply: "When I was in Seattle, I went to the Science Fiction Museum. I saw a lot of these, and it amazed me at how crude they were in person. Sorta changed my opinion on them".

Thanks Retro Thing

Monday, August 07, 2006

Boolean Padlock

The gate is locked if padlock 1 AND padlock 2 are locked.

Sometimes you need to share a padlock for a locker/storage/gate/garage. Rather than use a combination lock or buy an extra key for the padlock, you can use this simple idea.

The bar can be any shape: A rod or 'U' shape with holes at each end.

This lock was at Fort Baker under the truss section of the Golden Gate Bridge. I imagine one lock belongs to the GG District, and the other one belongs to contractors constructing a security fence.

Update March 7th, 2009: The gate to the Army Corps of Engineers Pier in Sausalito.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Paint Your Wagon

Today on Bowling Green Drive in Golden Gate Park, the Hari Krishnas were celebrating Ratha-yatra (Festival of Chariots).

The first Ratha-yatra festival outside of India was held in San Francisco in 1967.

Categories:San Francisco

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Lola Gets What Lola Wants

You may have heard this expression and wondered who Lola was.

It turns out that Lola was a real person with ties to San Francisco. Born in Eire and raised in India and England, Lola Montez was a stunning beauty, pursued by rich and famous men. She was also known for her temper, and was known to use a riding crop to strike any man who disobeyed her. After her first marriage she took on the name and persona of a Spanish dancer. Her dancing was terrible, but her beauty could not be denied. She danced and married her way around Europe.

Wearing out her welcome in Europe, she ending up in SF in the 1850's. Here she perfected her 'spider dance'. On stage she would search the folds of her dress for spiders, hiking her dress up for the all male audiences.

Thanks Sparkletack

Friday, August 04, 2006


Originally uploaded by treough.
We won't have broadband at our new place until Tuesday when Comcast activates our cable TV and modem. But it's not a problem because I have the Treo 650 and I just bought an iMac with built-in wifi receiver. I have a choice of free wifi signals, so why do I want to pay $50 per month for a cable modem? Because I'm new to wifi and I don't know if the free signals will always be there, and be fast enough.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Be Nice

Be Nice
Originally uploaded by treough.
Dog is my driver.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Flood Building

The Flood Building
Originally uploaded by treough.
The lawyer for our landlord emailed me yesterday to enquire about our status. I was happy to reply that we had vacated 1239 6th Ave, and that I would come down to her office in person to pick up the cheques for the second half of our settlement, the deposit and last months rent.

Her office is at 870 Market Street. MapQuest placed this near the Powel St. Cable Car turn-around. To my surprise, this is the Flood Building! Built before the 1906 earthquake, the steel framed Flood Building is very 'Sam Spade' inside. It reminded me of older skyscrapers I'd seen in Chicago.

The ground floor was used by Woolworths until 1992. I shopped there once. It had a breakfast counter and it was very old fashioned. Now the ground floor has clothing stores, and is part of the Union Square retail area. If you're in the area (or just tired of waiting in line for a Cable Car) walk into the lobby and look at the exhibits. Then ride a lift to any floor (I was on the 9th floor).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Marmite vs Vegemite

Marmite is British, and Vegemite is Australian. In NZ they're sold side by side on the supermarket shelves. We were a Marmite family. But for a while we ate Vegemite because it was sold in containers that made good drinking glasses for picnics.The Roxie Market on 9th and Kirkham has both spreads.