Gas station without pumps

2019 December 28

Holiday activities

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:28
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We celebrated several holidays over the past week: Festivus, Christmas, and Chanukah. We neglected Solstice this year (most years we make solstice cookies).

For Festivus, we put up a Festivus pole and ate meatloaf on iceberg lettuce (well, vegetarian meatloaf, since my son is a vegetarian).  We skipped the airing of grievances, though.

On Christmas Eve, we went out to eat, but almost all the restaurants downtown were closed (even the Chinese restaurant that we had considered as a backup), so we ended up at the Korean restaurant Sesame.  My wife and I enjoy the food there, but there is not a lot for our vegetarian son—he was ok with the japchae, but I could tell he was a little sad that both Saturn and Monster Hotpot were closed.

For Christmas we had a live Christmas tree (the same one as last year, but it is now 22 inches tall—plus a 12 inch pot), which my wife decorated with a small fraction of our Christmas ornaments. This tree has many years before it is the size of the live trees we used to use, but we can carry it into the house with needing a hand truck. (The big one that we gave away a couple of years ago was getting to be too heavy to haul up the 3 steps to the porch.)

We also opened presents from each other Christmas morning.  Most of the presents were books or consumables—we’re all hard to shop for as we don’t want much, and when we do want something, we generally just buy it for ourselves.

For Chanukah we lit the candles on the menorah each night and had homemade applesauce and latkes one night.

Over the winter break, I’ve been getting several things done:

  • I got the syllabus rewritten for my electronics course, got the assignments all entered into Canvas (which always takes forever—filling out the same form over and over is incredibly tedious), and hired my group tutors and graders.  Creating the Canvas entries for the due dates for the 12 homeworks, 6 prelabs, and 5 labs took a couple of hours, and I still have to enter the quizzes (which I’ll do after I’ve created and graded each quiz, as each will have a different number of points).
  • The cat fountain I created failed, and I spent some time trying to diagnose the problem.  The controller board is fine, but the pump won’t run.  The resistance of the pump is now about 100kΩ, which indicates that something in it failed.  I’m not sure of the reason for the failure, but most likely the impeller was jammed by a build-up of algae.  The cats were less interested in the fountain than I hoped, and keeping the cat fountain clean was more trouble than I expected (algae growth was fast, and clearing the hose with a pipe cleaner was a pain), so I decided to scrap the fountain, rather than buying another pump.
  • The mesh seat that I sewed for my recumbent bicycle five years ago had the stitching fail on one strap. I tried resewing it with my wife’s sewing machine, but it just jammed, so I ended up resewing the strap by hand.  I expect that some of the other stitching will fail in the next year, and that I’ll be doing more resewing, but there is enough redundancy in the straps that I can ride home even with one of the straps broken.
  • My son visited Monday–Friday, so we spent a couple of days installing the new range hood that I had promised my wife six months ago.  I bought a 2-part range hood ( with the blower unit to be installed in the attic, even though this is more expensive than one-piece units.  There were two reasons: to make the range hood itself lighter and so easier to install, and to reduce the noise of the blower in the kitchen.  Holding up even the motor-less range hood while we got the screws in place was tiring (for my son), but installing the blower in the attic was also somewhat difficult, so that was pretty much a wash.  The new range hood is much quieter than the old one, but I think it moves as much air.  At any rate, my wife is pleased with the new range hood, which is all that really matters.

Mostly, though I’ve been reading and sleeping—things I’ll have much less time for once the quarter starts. I do still have to write the quiz for the first week of class, but I still have a week to do that.

2019 January 12

Wilder Ranch bike ride 2018 Dec 28

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:21
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During winter break, my son and I went for a bike ride in Wilder Ranch State Park, which has popular hiking/mountain biking trails.  I ride a long-wheelbase recumbent bike, which is not really designed for off-road bicycling, and has a higher minimum speed for balancing than most upright bicycles.  That resulted in my having to get off and walk the bike two or three times on steep, rutted portions of the trail.

We took Engelman’s Loop in the clockwise direction.

Here is the view from the first rest stop we made climbing the hill. We had not had much rain yet this season, so the new grass has not yet grown to hide last year’s dried grass. The horse paddock and the ranch buildings are a few pixels in the top center of the image.

You can see my recumbent here at the first rest stop.

The day was fairly clear, so we had a good view of Monterey across the bay, with only a little haze.

Here is my son at the third rest stop.

2014 July 28

New mesh seat finished and tested

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:50
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In Need new mesh seat for recumbent, I mentioned that I needed a new seat for my recumbent, as the one I’ve been using since 1999 (15 years!) is completely worn out.  I repaired the seat once before (replacing part of the front strap), but the seat was not worth repairing again, as the warp has worn away in several spots across the middle of the seat (apparently abrasion with the central strap behind the seat).

I bought new hardware and straps from Country Brook Design (through Amazon, since the prices were the same and the shipping seemed cheaper than a direct order from Country Brook Design.
I got

There was $7.08 shipping and handling on the order from Country Brook Design.

I also bought a yard of 840×1680 denier leno-woven mesh fabric from, but when I went to check the price again, it is now a “discontinued product”—I must have bought their last yard—including shipping the total bill was $20.20.

Since I already had sewing thread, the total cost for making the new seat was $76.11, but I have a lot of materials left over (the 25 triglide slides, 16 buckles, a little bit of seat-belt webbing and reflective webbing, and most of the leno-lock mesh).  I could have bought a seat from Greg Peek at Longbikes for $149.00 plus $15 shipping and handling, so making my own was less than half the price, despite having a lot of excess parts.  Also, my new seat has fancy red straps that are reflective at night, and the new straps are polyester rather than nylon, so should perform a bit better (less stretching, more UV resistant, faster drying).

I decided to use dual-adjustable heavy-duty buckles, so that they would be less likely to break and easier to replace if they did break (no sewing of the buckles). I also ran the 1” straps all the way across the seat at the top, bottom, and middle (3 of the 7 horizontal straps), as these seem to be the high-stress parts of the design (based on the stretching in the old seat).  I ran the warp horizontally, as I thought that would result in less stretching than having the warp vertical (as on my old seat)—I’ll let you know in 15 years how that works out (if I remember).

The new seat came out a bit heavier than the old one (545g rather than 470g), probably because of the straps across and heavier plastic hardware. The extra 75g is completely irrelevant give how much my bike and panniers weighs.

I used my wife’s sewing machine (my treadle machine needs a new leather belt, or tightening of the old belt).  My wife’s machine had no trouble with the mesh or the reflective webbing, but going through the seat-belt webbing sometimes caused it to have problems, particularly where it had to go through two layers of seat-belt webbing, a layer of reflective webbing, and the mesh.  I think that the treadle machine would have had less trouble, but I didn’t want to take the time to fix the belt on the treadle machine.

The seat came out looking ok, and I took a short ride on it today to buy groceries—it is as comfortable as the old seat and much nicer looking:

In this side view, you can't see much of the mesh seat—just the straps on the sides.

In this side view, you can’t see much of the mesh seat—just the straps on the sides.

From the front, the red straps match the red paint fairly well.

From the front, the red straps match the red paint fairly well.

By using a flash on my camera, I could light up the reflective straps even in the day time.

By using a flash on my camera, I could light up the reflective straps even in the day time.

From the rear, the reflective straps should add a fair amount of visibility at night.

From the rear, the reflective straps should add a fair amount of visibility at night.

The heavy-duty dual-adjustable buckles seem to work well.  By keeping the straps fairly short, I did not need to use the triglides or keepers to hold the ends of the straps in place—they aren't long enough to be a nuisance.

The heavy-duty dual-adjustable buckles seem to work well. By keeping the straps fairly short, I did not need to use the triglides or keepers to hold the ends of the straps in place—they aren’t long enough to be a nuisance.

2014 July 14

Need new mesh seat for recumbent

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:28
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I need to replace the mesh seat on my recumbent bicycle, because one of the buckles snapped yesterday. The mesh itself is badly stretched and abraded, and a few of the webbing straps are badly worn, so it is not worth repairing the seat—it’s replacement time. I can still ride the bike, but it isn’t as comfortable with the front strap no longer functional.

Now I’m trying to figure out exactly what fabric and parts to get.  One person on the Ryan owner’s club mailing list conveniently provided a parts list recently, though the seat I have currently does not exactly match his list (for example, I have all 1″ webbing, no 3/4″ webbing).  Here are some things I’m trying to decide:

  • What type of mesh should I get?  He recommended black Leno Lock mesh from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics MESHBLK at $14.03/yard, but I’m also considering Phifertex Vinyl Mesh at $12.95/yard, which is available in many colors, or Phifertex Plus at $17.95/yard, which would provide less stretch, but also less ventilation. The Phifertex Plus is sold as a sling mesh (capable of supporting a person’s weight), but the others are not.  I suspect that any fabric rated for seats will have too little ventilation for the recumbent. The leno weave fabrics are likely to provide more stability in an open mesh, because the warp threads twist around each other, rather than running straight, locking the weft threads in place. The bentrideronline forum posts generally recommend the Leno lock mesh from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics, so I’ll probably go with that, even though it is a bit too stretchy.
  • What sort of webbing should I get?  The edges of the seat use 2″ webbing to stabilize the seat and attach the straps, plus a couple of diagonals from the center front to part way up the sides, to support the weight of the rider.  The rest of the straps are 1″ wide.  But should they be nylon, polypropylene, or polyester straps?  Nylon has high strength, but is rather stretchy. Polypropylene has less stretch, but poor abrasion resistance and UV resistance, and polyester has the best UV resistance and the least stretch (about half as much as nylon webbing of the same weight under the same stress).  It also doesn’t absorb water, and is more resistant to mildew and rot.
    I can get black polyester 1″ webbing for about 35¢/foot, and 2″ black polyester webbing for about 75¢/foot, but colors are a little more expensive: I can get 10 yards of red 1″ with reflective stripes for $18.90, or plain red for $1.48/yard. For a bicycle application, the reflective stripes may be a useful safety feature. Red 2″ seatbelt webbing would be about $10 for 5 yards.
  • I also need to get buckles for the 7 cross straps and the two straps that go over the top of the seat.  I’m undecided between simple side-release buckles (Fastex FSR1 59¢), and dual-pull side release buckles (generic GTSRD1 47¢) from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics. Cam lock buckles (generic GCB1 46¢) are also a possibility. I’ll also want a a tri-glide for each loose strap end (generic GTG1 12¢).

So, unless I can get a new seat from the manufacturer of my bike (Longbikes in Colorado), even though they discontinued this model about 10 years ago, I’ll probably be making my own seat soon.  It’ll cost me about $50–60 for materials, but I suspect that an already sewn seat would cost more like $150, and I wouldn’t have the option of red straps with reflective stripes.


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