Lug Nuts

Okay, that’s a weird title for a post, I realize, but that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Tonight, I went to 3 different part stores in search of a particular style of lug nut, a quantity of which I purchased, not too very long ago, from one of the stores in question. I need to replace them — yes, lug nuts do wear out when you’re taking them on and off as frequently as I do on the Cobra, changing from street tires to race tires to rain tires or just rotating the race tires from position to position to even up the wear. The threads “stretch” and distort with the number of torque cycles they’re subjected to.

The NASCAR boys, who are somewhat unique in the world of big-time motorsports in that they use “regular” 5-lug wheels instead of “center-lock” single-nut wheels like Indy Cars, Champ Cars, Formula 1, and most sports cars, use big honkin’ 5/8″ wheel studs and matching big honkin’ nuts. The nuts only get used once. The wheel studs are replaced after every race.

I don’t have that kind of budget. I’m also not running the nuts on with a hot-rodded air impact gun that’s fed 180 psi nitrogen, either. So mine last a bit longer. I’ve been using these for 8 years.

I really like the style of lug nut I have. They have a large “acorn” flare which puts even pressure on the seat in the wheel, and a large (13/16″) hex head. They are a 1/2″-20 threads per inch size. The Cobra, incidentally, came with M12x1.5 wheel studs and lug nuts, but I’ve replaced the original wheel studs with racing-spec 1/2″-20 wheel studs. This becomes important later, trust me.

So, off to the first store. They have, on the racks, packages of lug nuts that are just right except they have only a small acorn flare, and the contact with the wheel seat isn’t continuous around the diameter. I distrust these for racing applications even though I have a few of them that I’ve used as spares here and there. Okay, twice.

Thwarted at the blister-pack racks, to the parts counter I go. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: “I need a bunch of 1/2-20 open lug nuts with a large acorn seat.”
Counter Person: “What kind of car is this for?”
Me: “It’s a ’99 Mustang Cobra, but that isn’t important.”
Counter Person (putting “1999 Mustang Cobra” into computer): “That car doesn’t use a 1/2-20, it uses an M12.”
Me: “Yes, I know. Mine did when it was new. But I fixed it. It now needs 1/2-20 lug nuts. Open. With a large acorn seat.”
Counter Person (yelling across the store): “Hey, Mitch, you know how to look up lug nuts by part number instead of by vehicle?” (to me) “Why’d you do that?”
Me: “I autocross the car, and needed longer wheel studs to mount my race wheels. Longer wheel studs are not available in M12, only 1/2-20.”
Counter Person (by now confused beyond all hope of salvage): “That’s weird.”
Me: “No, not really. Can’t you find anything by part category? Or, even better, just check the bins where you keep the lug nuts?”
Counter Person: “It only lets us look things up by car model, and I don’t know where the lug nuts are.” (My BS-O-Meter is now twitching heavily)
Me: “Does someone else know where the lug nuts are?”
Counter Person: “Mitch is the manager, he should know”.

Then I have to repeat the whole damn conversation with Mitch, who is completely confused by the concept of a customer ACTUALLY KNOWING EXACTLY WHAT HE/SHE WANTS! And even more perplexed, if that’s possible, that the small part in question isn’t even what the customer’s vehicle is supposed to use according to his computer…

Things went steadily downhill from there. Bottom line: all they had was the same small-seat nuts as seen in the blister packs.

Off to the next store, which was essentially a repeat of the first minus the presence of blister packs.

Off to the THIRD store, which was an almost-identical repeat of the first with the addition of the counter person bringing out closed lug nuts (that I can’t use because they’ll bottom out on the wheel studs long before they’re tight) except for my frustration level going off the charts.

At this point, I went home, sans new lug nuts.

I think my mistake was going to big chain parts stores instead of a good neighborhood independent store. Except that by the time I had a chance to actually do this today, all the indie stores were closed.

Grumble.

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Alive? Yes.

Just really darn busy. Racing season has started, and I’m deep into it. This last week, I was able to get a couple days away from the office to volunteer at the annual Formula SAE student engineering competition, which was the first time I’d actually worked it since 1998, when I was the SCCA dynamic events coordinator and went well past burned-out and into “fried to a crisp”. This year, I was just a gentleman flunky/utility infielder/corner worker, and that’s just fine by me.

Still, it did involve 3 long days, two of which involved many hours of standing/walking/running on asphalt, and the body was sore. Until, that is, I allowed Robin, “my” massage therapist, to spend an hour this evening putting me back together as I had cleverly scheduled my monthly appointment to be right after this particular event on purpose.

As Ferris Bueller said, if you have the means, I thoroughly recommend it.

This weekend? More racing. Two days of flagging at Grattan, followed by a day of autocrossing at the DTE Pine Energy Music Knob Theatre. (Okay, it’s really the DTE Energy Music Theatre, which used to be known as Pine Knob, and the ski area and golf course next to it is still called Pine Knob, but I like my name better.)

Oh, and work. Plus fixing the car (stripped a wheel stud at the last event, it’s at a friend’s place right now in some pieces, and we’ll get it finished tomorrow).

How, you might ask, do you strip a wheel stud, particularly a mega-buck ARP racing wheel stud? Well, if it’s 8 years old and it’s had a few hundred on/off cycles, quite easily… I can’t complain, though. It’s had a good service life.

More when I can…

We interrupt this life to bring you the racing season…

Today was the Detroit Region SCCA Season Opener Solo at the DTE Pine Energy Music Knob Theater (this is a ski area/ampitheater that used to be known as Pine Knob, and the ski area still is, but DTE Energy — the parent holding company for Detroit Edison, among others – sponsored the theater and it became known as DTE Energy Music Theater).

Things got off to a bit of a slow start – first event of the year, new players in key positions within the organization – and for me was complicated by the untimely seizure of a lug nut on a wheel stud on the Cobra, which ultimately resulted in a critical piece of thread going walkabout on the stud and me scrambling for something else to drive.

As it happened, fellow Michigan Mustang Mafia “made” member (and also a fellow in the Black Car Division) Marcus had his “spare” car, the Legendary Black Beast of Westland, along, so I unloaded it from his trailer and slapped my numbers on it. Marcus and his wife Jen drove their new ’07 Mustang Shelby GT (also black, naturally). The Beast drove well, although the driver (me) didn’t get everything out of the car. This is not the car’s fault, it’s the driver’s. To be fair, I had not driven this car on a competition run in at least 4 years. I did get one respectable run out of the four, but I got creamed on index (unsurprisingly — the guy I needed to hang with on index was almost 3 seconds faster).

But I had fun anyway. And our Pro Index class folks put on another clinic on “how to operate an event” during our 4th heat work assignments. No problems, no worries, and we were done a LOT faster than the other three heats ran. By this point, we were all ready to go home, though, so everyone was working toward that end. I left the site for home shortly after 6 pm.

One issue is cropping up. I’m considered tall at 6’4″ (although I’m the short one in my family: little bro is 6’5″, Dad is 6’6″), and the newest crop of Snell-rated helmets has added additional energy-absorbing material on the top of the helmet. Which means my spiffy Snell SA2005 helmet I got last year is hard into the headliner in my car. I had figured Marcus’s car had a thinner seat sitting lower… but the compression on my head was WORSE. I’m gonna need a Gurney Bubble on my roof, I think. Wonder if I can push that into the rules… probably not.

Several Motrin later… my head is almost normal.

Musical Meme Time

Snurched from

: (I note here that I replied in her LJ with a different list — this one is generated anew with a fresh shuffle on the ol’ nano)

IF YOUR LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?

1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool…

Opening Credits: Lorelei – Cocteau Twins
Waking Up: She’s a Beauty – The Tubes
First Day At School: Shock the Monkey – Peter Gabriel
Enter The Villain: Voodo Chile (Slight Return) – Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Falling In Love: Truganini – Midnight Oil
Breaking Up: Channel Z – B-52s
Prom: Games Without Frontiers – Peter Gabriel
The Big Game: Road to Nowhere – Talking Heads
Life is Good: Pulp Culture – Thomas Dolby
Mental Anguish: Right Now – Van Halen
Flashback: No One Is To Blame – Howard Jones
Getting Back Together: Everywhere I Go – The Call
Meeting the Parents: Bonny Swans – Loreena McKinnett
Wedding: In The Springtime of His Voodoo – Tori Amos
Paying the Dues: Crazy Baby – Joan Osborne
The Night Before The War: Love Stinks – J. Geils Band
Chase Scene: World Where You Live – Crowded House
Final Battle: Don’t Cry – Asia
Moment of Triumph: Planet Claire – B-52s
Death Scene:  If You Were Here – Thompson Twins
Funeral Song: Belfast Child – Simple Minds
End Credits: Secret Separation – The Fixx

The usual…

Yep. I’m alive. Worked a race over on the “west coast” of Michigan last weekend, then this week at work has been a bit on the real busy side.

But I get to go racing on Sunday. After I get tires mounted. Can’t race without tires.