Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Laguna Seca Wrap

What a blast! A huge thank you to all who made the Miata Reunion such a wonderful experience! All of the vendors and support staff obviously worked very hard to put together a world-class event. The weather couldn't be better, and everyone I met were enthusiastically having a good time.

Mazda had a great display in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the Miata, and brought along some cool show cars, like this NA Miata coupe prototype:

My car was a hit - it was the only Flyin' Miata-built V8 car at the event, though there were a couple of other V8 cars there, they were more track-focused, like this Monster Miata from Woodstock Motorsports:

Truly a monster with an ITB intake setup on a wild Ford small block. He broke a LF suspension joint on Sunday while giving a ride and was super lucky it happened in a slower speed section of the track; there wasn't even any body damage I could see.

On Saturday my main focus was getting a ride with a pro driver in order to learn track lines and relative limits before taking my car on track Sunday. I struck gold and was ready to go when Ryan Passey had an open seat available in Good-Win Racing's "Budget NC" project car. Ryan's home town is Monterey, so he has logged thousands of laps on Laguna Seca. In fact, he had just set a new lap record the day before in this car:

Ours was only a two-lap run, but I was able to learn much about the track in that time. First impressions were that there was a tremendous amount of grip available in most corners - the elevation changes and cambering make the track flow through the lap, and there are no super high speed sections like the back stretch at Road Atlanta. It was also exceptionally smooth, with excellent curbing and transitions - and fun! I haven't had as much pure driving fun *ever* as I have on Laguna Seca.

I've been to enough track days to know that patience and planning make for the best on-track experience. Below is the best session of the five I had on Sunday. I was finally able to pass a few cars towards the end, so skip forward to around 20:00 for some action:

Miata Reunion hired a good track photographer to record the event and I have a few favorites...

The Corkscrew!

The trailer performed flawlessly, and never scraped the pavement during the trip; anywhere the Miata could go, the trailer had no problems with ground clearance. I was also able to back it into parking spots if needed. While in Monterey I stayed at the Motel 6 on Fremont (very nice for less than $100/night in Monterey) and they let me lock the trailer to a tree in the corner Friday and Saturday:

The car ran perfectly for the entire 5,150 mile trip, averaging 22.7 MPG, and burning one quart of oil. The exhaust took a beating on some sections of Route 40 crossing Oklahoma and Texas, but it had already been dinged up from prior run-ins with rough pavement. The cats take the brunt of it, as they are the lowest point of the exhaust system.

Now that I'm back in the saddle at work it's onto the next set of challenges, but I will be looking back on this vacation with fond memories for a long time to come, I'm sure!

Regards -

Friday, September 27, 2019

Track Trailer

Well, I've had the trailer done for a couple of weeks now, test driven it around Atlanta, and I must say that it is one of my better projects.

I knew I wanted something with suspension and larger tires for highway driving, so I started looking at some sort of coil-over setup, but then thought about a torsion axle design for simplicity. Then I found Timbren Axle-Less Suspensions and learned that they are built so well that I could use them as a structural member for this light weight trailer. In the photo above you can see that the front and rear halves of the trailer are bolted to the suspension on each side. Initial tire alignment was close, and with the included shims I was able to adjust toe, track, and camber easily. Note the rubber strip on the front of the storage box - my first test drive was in the rain, and some water got in through the hinges - not any more!

The tire rack in front is only 6" off the ground in order to keep the tires below the spoiler in back. I didn't want to be pulling a big sail behind me on the highway. I made the track width the same as the car so it will track well in the rain. The Rubbermaid cargo box carries my floor jack, jack stands, tools, and a few spares like brake pads and such. The weight balance came out pretty good - there is about 35 lbs. of tongue weight with the trailer fully loaded, and I figure it's around 300 lbs. total.

The trailer is built with a combination of 3/16" wall tube and angle in the higher stress areas, and 11 gauge steel for the tongue and rear frame. I found aerosol touch-up paint to mach the car at  automotivetouchup.com, and gave it five light coats of color and three medium coats of clear. I purchased the hitch, lights, straps, fenders, wheels, and suspension at etrailer.com. I found the storage box online for half price due to a supposed blemish (which I still haven't found). The tires were purchased at a discount from my local supplier I use at the golf course, and I had them balance the wheels for smooth running.

Registering the trailer was too easy - I only had to pay $5 for a serial number plate, have a police officer verify the plate was permanently installed (riveted), and then pay $12 for a tag. Nobody even checked if the lights worked!

Now I'm all set for my trip to Laguna Seca! I serviced the car and it is all set to go. I'll be driving an average of 500 miles a day for ten days starting October 8th!


Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer Update

This season has been especially busy it seems, with all courses getting intensive cultural practices in the month of July, followed with intensive machine and cutting unit maintenance in August.

I have been running the grinders this summer, and have gotten back into the "production mode" I established in Florida; I can run cutting units through my SIP grinders almost as fast as a man can set them up on the bench.

On a personal note, I was lucky enough to get registered for this year's Miata Reunion at Laguna Seca in October. This is a true "bucket list" thing for me, as I have long wanted a chance to drive that track. Also, I was born in Southern California and spent my early childhood in Anaheim. I remember taking drives up to Big Sur and playing in the surf as a young boy. This is the last year for Miata Reunion at Laguna Seca since Mazda has discontinued their sponsorship of the track - it is now known as "Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca". This year is also the 30th anniversary of the Miata, so there is a special buzz around the event.

This leads to the question of how am I getting the car and all my track gear out to California from Atlanta? I'm driving, of course! It's a three-day trek each way, and I'll be spending four days in California. Oklahoma City, OK, and Flagstaff, AZ are my intermediate stops. 

To transport all my track gear I have decided to build a trailer. When I go to my local track days I change tires at my shop and drive on the slicks to and from with no issues because the tracks are close, but there's no way I would ever be able to do that cross country. There is a company selling a range of track trailers, Leroy Engineering, which are great, but a bit out of my budget (this trip is going to tap out the till for the year - I haven't been to the track since April).

I will go into the trailer construction in a later post, but here is a teaser:


Monday, January 21, 2019

Surface Plate

I've just posted a new short video on setting up cutting units on the surface plate:

Of course as soon as I published this I thought about something I missed - set the height of cut after paralleling!


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Beaver Power!

Note to equipment manufacturers: If you are not going to spend the (small amount of) money on sealed electrical connectors, at least coat the terminals with dielectric grease prior to assembly! One thing that really irritates me is when a factory made unsealed electric terminal fails due to corrosion, especially when the machine is only three years old! We operate our turf equipment outside in the elements! Okay - rant over...

I finally found a good source for the snap-in terminals found in the unsealed connectors used in some circuits like glow plug and fuel cutoff solenoids. I had previously located the .250" tabs and receptacles, but was having a hard time tracking down the larger .312" pieces used in the high power (glow plug) circuits.

Set up primarily to supply the large motorcycle aftermarket in Japan, Eastern Beaver has sourced the best O.E.M. grade terminals used on the Denso components used by engine manufacturers, as well as most Japanese cars. They also carry high quality crimping tools, and the Carling Contura rocker switches used in most turf equipment these days.

Shipping from Japan can take a while, so I suggest using the Express Mail Service (EMS) option to get your package in less than a week. I was able to get a good selection of terminals for less than $25.

Oh, and we are now preemptively going over all of the other connections in our three year old fleet...


Thursday, November 1, 2018


Yes, yes, I know - six months between posts is a bit much, but the summers here are quite busy and I just can't bring myself to post much up on any media platforms when I'm working 1/2 days (6:00am to 6:00pm).

I have been looking at several different web-based Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) platforms over the years - there are many on the market. I recently renewed my efforts after participating in a beta test program which ended with my telling the developer that their efforts were a train wreck, and the developer then deciding my input was no longer what they were after (imagine that). Apparently they have enough people telling them to move forward with a system which is slower than pencil and paper, and almost as effective.

Most of the commercial CMMS software on the market is geared for facilities maintenance at the enterprise level (read: expensive and large). I have reviewed systems which cost anywhere from $2,800/year (with no inventory management) to $6,000/year (with an additional mandatory three-day training commitment at $6,800). Then I found Limble CMMS.

The Urban Dictionary defines Limble as a combination of Limber and Nimble - seems reasonable.

I contacted Miguel at Limble and arranged for a free 30 day trial. After a week of playing with the system I was ready to commit, and we have decided to go all-in with implementation. Limble does everything we need a maintenance management solution to do, and does it for a very reasonable cost. We will be setting up our technicians with Galaxy Tab A 8" Android tablets in Otter Box cases, and I will run it from my desk and phone. We also have a large flat screen display in the shop running on a Chrome box which will display shop operations in real time.

For shops of all sizes I recommend checking out Limble. At $25/month/user even small shops can have a fully modern CMMS with inventory management that can run on your phone just as well as on your PC. $35/month gets you multi-location implementation for operations which have more than one shop.


Thursday, March 8, 2018


I am thrilled to announce that moving forward I will be representing SIP Corporation in Georgia as the owner of
SIP Direct GA, LLC. I am not leaving Atlanta Athletic Club; I am fortunate to have an employer who  knows my commitment to excellence in the equipment maintenance facility, and who also supports me in this endeavor. I am excited for the opportunity to represent what I truly feel are the best grinders in the business. I could never represent a product that I didn't believe in 100%. Over the past ten years SIP grinders have proven to me time and again how superior they are to other brands. 

I have purchased around a dozen SIP grinders over the course of my career, at facilities ranging from 18 hole private clubs to 90 hole resorts, and I believe they have been integral to my success as an equipment manager. I take great pride in the quality of cut and after cut appearance from the equipment under my care. In fact, I believe my reputation with cutting units has been largely responsible for my career advancement within the golf industry.

Along with the design of the machines, one reason I like SIP grinders so much is the owner of the company, Mark Pilger. Mark is an engineer. Mark is focused on solving problems and improving processes. Mark listens. When I told Mark that I wanted a method of mounting bedknives in the Ideal grinder which referenced the pivot bolt location horizontally, he invented the pin alignment system - in two weeks. Mark then took that idea further and developed the V-mount system, which aligns the bed bar both horizontally and vertically, indexing the knife from it's mounting position, which I feel has truly revolutionized the way bedknives are ground. What used to take me ten to fifteen minutes I can now do in three to five, with better consistency. Saving five to ten minutes once isn't a big deal, but when you multiply that savings by the number of knives we grind, it adds up quickly.

Prior to the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio I began producing cutting unit maintenance videos, and in my videos I want to share the importance of the different aspects of cutting unit maintenance - how all the different parts of the puzzle come together to achieve excellent results. Mark used one of my videos in his booth at the show, and I think several people said I could be an SIP salesman - Mark and I started talking about my representing SIP shortly after we got home.

If you are in Georgia and would like information about the best reel and bedknife grinding equipment available, please give me a call at (561) 512-4632.