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    News Flash - Sailing Away

    I'm just off of Skyping with my daughter Kirsten in Philadelphia and learned that her partner, Jason, just purchased a 57 foot Nautor Swan sail boat called the "Insurgente".  Wow!, that's a big sail boat.  They will make a few modificaations and upgrades on it then move onto it before taking to the high seas.  Amazing. Congratulations.

    Krabi Vacation

    I am just back from one of the most beautiful places in the world: Krabi, Thailand. An area on the far southwest coast of Thailand dotted with beautiful islands, giant stone obelisks jutting out of the sea, emerald green water, and palm trees.  Oh, and sea food engorgement. Five days was enough! Photos to come.  In the meantime, enjoy a full set of photos from our recent vacation to The Philippines here.

    The Centara Resort is isolated in it's own bay and is only accessible by boat.

    The view from our room.

    Lovely Krabi, Thailand.

    Sawasdee, indeed!

    Here & There

    Gee . . . having a blog is hard! You have to write things and then post them!  I have been very busy lately . . . and am busy today . . . so I will post only these four photos of what I have been up to in the last two weeks.

    I went to The Philippines for 10 days and had a wonderful time in Manila and the Taal Volcano region. I took some amazing photographs that I have added to a Philippines album in my Travel Photo Blog link.  Here are a couple of pics from the trip for now:Looking down into the actual Taal Volcano crater lake (above).

    I was lucky to have some really excellent light one afternoon at a roadside fruit market.

    This & That

    I haven't sold the 1.5JZ in my race car yet . . . even at a great price.

    Last week-end was a bit of a debacle for me at the track:  An electrical gremlin pestered me all afternoon and evening.  There was a periodic ignition miss that came and went.  Unfortunately, it reared it's ugly head right when I was at the front of the line in the staging lanes on Saturday night..  I had to 'idle through' the track . . . but when I got to the top end I gave it the gas . . . and NO MISS!  Frustrating! Peter and I fiddled with the wiring, but it still came and went.  I will have to chase all the wires in the ignition system to find it.  Oh well.  I need to spend more time with the car.  It was built five years a go and the heat and humidity may be taking its toll on insulation and causing corrosion.  Time to run some new wire.

    I have added many photos to the China, Australia, Studies of Stuff, and the My Beloved Thailand section of Travel Photo Bank section of this site.  Please check them out.

    Race Week-End

    May 1 & 2, 2009. I had a pretty good week-end with my little race truck, although I didn't make the call for the first round on Saturday night. A thrown fan belt on the qualifying run kept me out of the program, with no replacement at hand. I made six passes over Friday and Saturday nights, got my photo on the Thai Drag Racing Web site (, and got to hang out with my good friend Peter.

    Friday Night: I went out for some test and tune runs to see how the truck would do with the new 4.10 gears and to get some 'seat time' with Khun Mac, my friend/tuner/driver, away at the Thai SuperCar race up-country. I made three runs:

    Run #.... E.T. .... @ ....Kilometers per hour .... Miles per hour

    1. 11.491 .... @ .... 208.14 .... 129.33

    2. 11.368 .... @ .... 211.15 .... 131.20

    3. 11.258 .... @ .... 212.17 .... 131.83

    Not exactly consistent! The new gears really picked up the top end speed, but killed the 60-foot times (they used to be in the 1.8-1.7 range, but last night in the 2.0 range). The car seemed to stutter on the line as well. I called it a night when the trans temp was too high and the new coolers were not taking care of it beween rounds. What's the problem with the trans temp?

    Saturday Night: I changed out the synthetic race trans fluid to the recommended Toyota Type-IV fluid to see if that would effect the trans temp (it did - lowered it by about 20 degrees because it was thinner). My first 'open test' run of the evening was a waste because I had the shifter in second gear . . . it didn't shift into third so I backed out of it and coasted through the lights at a 12.99. My second run was immediately hot-lapped on the first to see what the trans temp would do (fine -- 215f after the second run). It was a good run (11.422 @ 212.87kph/132.27mph) and provided me with a baseline to tune to the night's 13 second and 11.90 second 'Super' style eliminator brackets I had entered. But that was not to be. I went to the line for my first qualifying run for Bracket 13, staged, launched well, but 20 feet out it started to sputter and pop. No power. I lifted and fluttered the gas, but it was fading. It felt like I was out of gas, but I knew the fuel cell was full. I finally coasted to a stop ON THE TRACK (OH NO!) about 20 feet short of the first turn out and was towed back to my shop . . . where it started up immediately . . . but still wouldn't rev . . . and the fan belt tore in half. Oh well . . . . . something happened and I have no fan belt so I can't fix it.

    The above image was posted by the bangkok Drag Avenue on the Thai Drag Forum site (

    So, nothing to do but clean up the shop, walk around the track and take photos, hang out with racing buddies, John, Richard, Andy and Peter, and send SMS messages to my other buddies on my iPhone. Still, a bad day at the drag strip is better than a good day at the office.

    UPDATE (May 5, 2009): Mac and I spent part of my day off (Tuesday) out at my race shop seeing what was up with the Familia. It started again, but wouldn't rev, like Saturday night. So we put on a new (non-squeaking) fan belt and that did the trick. Apparently the MicroTech ECU has a 'limp home' mode that allows the engine to run if it is not charging (and, hence, no water pump), but only at a very low RPM. While Mac was there we decided to make a few tuning passes on the abandoned drag strip (I KNOW Peera would approve) to see if we could get the rich idle sorted out. It ran, but it stuttered at higher RPMs. All the electricals checked out, plugs were good . . . . . maybe it's fuel. We pulled the fuel filter apart and WOW . . . what a pack of gunk and debris! We cleaned it and blew it out as best we could and made another run . . . but the new air/fuel gauge said that it got leaner the faster it went . . . and it couldn't be compensated by the mapping . . . so it is fuel starvation. It must be the fuel filter (or fuel pump - thanks Richard). Mac has a new bigger model we will put on this Saturday night.

    This is the starting line (top), drag strip (right), and staging lanes/pit (left) at my home track, Bangkok Drag Avenue, last Saturday.  It was early in the evening, and it was a three day week-end, so there weren't that many cars or spectators out.  Plus, the word may not have spread yet that the strip is open again and the racing surface is excellent.