Monday, January 22, 2007

Again, With the "Nothing to Report!"

December 1? Has it really been that long since the last update? Profuse apologies for keeping you waiting so long.

We've been working on our 2007 catalog, trying to cram in more new products and more information without adding too many more pages. I enjoy working on the catalog, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing the finished product. I like being part of the production team, and I do feel like my contributions are improving the catalog. But there are some drawbacks.

Maybe it's because I enjoy the work so much, but for at least one solid week this month I kept working on it every night in my dreams. This week my nightmares have been all about mysteriously shrinking pages and words that keep multiplying and moving around, refusing to fit in neatly laid out text boxes.

And then there are the cool new products. We carry so much cool stuff! This is what gets me in trouble. When we bring on a new product, I have to get familiar with it, familiar enough that I can write a description that explains exactly what it does, why it does what it does better than anything else, and why you need it. And then I realize: I need it too. It won't fit my car, and I know this because I wrote the description that says very clearly "fits Van Diemen F2000, 1990 and up with 5.5" Tilton twin-disc clutch" and I've had my car apart enough to know that it's not a Van Diemen, not an F2000, older than 1990, and doesn't have a 5.5" twin-disc clutch... but it's just such a well-made, good-looking part, and if you have a Van Diemen F2000, 1990 and up, with a 5.5" twin-disc Tilton clutch, and you don't have one of these, boy oh boy are you missing out, and maybe you don't deserve to have one, maybe it should go to a good home, someone who really knows it and appreciates how it can solve so many problems... Good thing I don't work for the Humane Society.

A few of the new products that I have to force myself to leave here when I go home:

Gold heat barrier film. This is the new stuff that F1 teams use inside the engine covers. When you watch a race on TV, and a car pulls into the pits, and the crew pulls the engine cover off to see what's wrong, and all you see is gold -- that's what this is. It blocks the engine heat from overheating the bodywork and cooking off that expensive paint job. And it looks pretty zooty doing it. A few of those cars would probably look better if they put that paint job under the engine cover and covered the bodywork with the gold film instead.

Tripod Joints. This is a type of CV joint that has been used by Van Diemen since 1990. My car doesn't use that style, but they're so light and well-made, they just look fast.

Hydraulic Release Bearings for Van Diemen. A very reliable brand of clutch release bearings modified to replace the troublesome unit in the Van Diemen. My car isn't a Van Diemen, and I have an HRB, but these are just such a great thing that I can't understand why a Van Diemen owner wouldn't want one.

Lady Eagle safetywear. No, I'm not a woman, nor am I built like one. But it's about time that someone made driver's gear designed for women. I want to buy a set for all the lady drivers I know.

KOUL Tools. If you look in the encyclopedia under "better mousetrap" it will have a picture of the KOUL Tools. Installing hose ends onto braided stainless hose means pushing a collar onto the hose by hand -- a process which loosens and frays the wire braid while causing blisters and cuts and puncture wounds. These tools act like a funnel to squeeze the braid into the collar, even if the braid has frayed. I wish I assembled more of these hoses so I would have an excuse to buy these. I may give them as Christmas gifts next year.

E-Track. A moveable anchor system for tying down cargo (like a car in a trailer). Snap-in fittings snap into the track, which has sockets every couple of inches. You're not tied down (har har) to just one anchor point. If you sell the Miata and buy a Corvette, no problem! Just snap the anchors out of the track and snap them back in where you need them. If you need the race trailer for work during the week, no problem! Your friend needs help moving? Oh gosh, I'd like to help you out, but I'm out of town that weekend... My trailer is already tailored just exactly to what my car needs, but E-Track almost makes me wish it wasn't. I'm tempted to install some in the bed of the pickup truck.

AiM dash systems. Talk about a do-it-all digital dash system! These dashes are so flexible and capable of so many functions, it's amazing they don't cost more. I've heard that they will be introducing a formula car steering wheel with everything built in (dash, shift lights, and all switches) this spring. If they can keep the price reasonable -- and based on past history, I'd say that's likely -- these could be very popular. I have all new gauges in my car, and they're period-correct, but this thing is so uber-cool that I'm hoping it will either be dirt cheap or WAY out of my price range.

I'm off to find some oil pressure. I'll send a postcard.