Putting the pedal down

In times like these, it may seem like the best thing to do is to follow the herd. Which seems to be letting up, putting things on pause and waiting for things to get better. But, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. It’s time to double our efforts. We need to excel in our work lives, excel in our personal lives, be better partners, be better parents and most of all, use this new found time that we all seem to have to grow ourselves, learn new things and continue to do the things we love. Especially, those things that we might not have had time to do previously.

Rather than letting off the gas, I’ve been putting the pedal down. So, among trying to do those other things that I mentioned, I’ve been putting more time into something I love – this site. I’m trying to invest a little every day. And, it’s been therapeutic. One of the main things that I got done was to get this blog up and running again. And, by doing that, I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve had and used this as an avenue to express myself. If you read back a few posts, I didn’t think it was something I needed any more. Well, I think I was wrong.

In that vein, I wanted to give an update on the things I’ve been working on to make the best use of the free time I’ve been lucky to have.

Updates and security patches to the software used by this site and FoxFeatureCars.com

This site uses a number of separate software packages each for the main site, the forums and this blog. All of these require regular patching and updating. These types of things don’t usually result in a visible change on the site but are important to keep up with for bug fixes and, especially, for security patches. I’ve sometimes fallen behind on these. But, not recently.

Separate from this I also started the process of evaluating an upgrade the main software package that this site uses which is called Drupal. A more up to date version than what I’m currently using is available and I have started the process of determining the complexity and process of that upgrade.

Registering for the tent for Carlisle Ford 2020

It’d be easy to put this one off. The deadline for tent registration is still weeks away and the I question whether the event even will happen. But, I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve committed to it now and am paid in full for the tent and tables. And, I hope you commit to it, too. Don’t forget to register by May 4th!

We should again be located in the 1987 to 1993 Mustang LX Stock class.

Signing up for Ford Performance Club Connect

You may have seen the front page post on this. I had a nice email exchange over email with the Club Connect team to answer some questions that I had on the registration process. They were very helpful and responsive. As such, we are on the map but no longer listed at my home address!

Getting the auction history back up to date

This tracking has been on and off for the last couple of years. It’s a lot of work and, with the decline in ebay partner benefits, it has been a long time since it has been able to cover the costs of running this site. But, I still see the value in it so I continue. I’ve been considering other revenue models like a Patreon effort to support what I am doing. But, for now I’ll keep at it the best that I can. As always, click the links to support the site. Even if you aren’t purchasing the items I am linking to, I still benefit from your clicks.

Getting postings going again on FoxFeatureCars.com

Last year at this time, I went full out on the new project that Fox Feature Cars became. I posted nearly every day until I burnt after a few months of it. It was intense to post once a day. And, quite honestly, there aren’t enough feature cars for sale to warrant a daily post.

So, I’ve taken a more measured approach. I am going to post but not every day if it isn’t appropriate. If there are great cars, sure. But if there is nothing on my radar, I’m not going to dig deeper to find something that might be sketchy or something being pushed by a dealer and/or of questionable value.

So, join me on this. Let’s all improve ourselves and creation a distraction for ourselves and, quite possibly in doing so, create a distraction for others. And, since the weather is getting nice almost everywhere, get that Mustang out and put the literal pedal down.

Blog is back online

At some point, the WordPress software used here broke and was producing an error; no blog content, just the error.

“Your PHP installation appears to be missing the MySQL extension which is required by WordPress.”

I finally got off my butt and figured it out. I figure it broke when I upgraded the version of PHP being used on the site when trying to fix something else (possibly the forums) which made it incompatible with the really old version of WordPress being used.

The solution was to update to the latest version of WordPress. Which I did and the blog content is now back.

Now the question is whether I will continue writing new posts. I haven’t decided that yet. I know my last post states that I wouldn’t be posting anything else here and using either the main page or the forums. The truth is that those two options seem much more formal than I would like for my blog posts. Posting my sometimes random thoughts on the main page or in the forums just hasn’t been comfortable. I may restart using the blog. I’m not sure yet.

Blog now closed

Just a quick note that the blog is now maintained as an archive and will not receive new posts. Comments are closed as well. New content will appear on the front page of this site and no longer be “hidden” here. When new content warrants commenting, a discussion thread in the forum will be opened. This is being done to reduce the number of places where new content and commenting happen on the site.

BOSS Track Attack

Last week I attended the BOSS Track Attack with my buddy Tom who, earlier this year, purchased a 2013 BOSS 302 in Race Red. As part of the purchase, he was eligible to attend a day of performance driving school at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, UT. To my great fortune and surprise, he asked me along as a guest. I opted to drive the first day of the two day class. I could have also not driven at all or driven for two days (at additional cost). I’m glad I drove – it was an amazing experience.

We arrived on Sunday night and were welcomed for dinner in the museum at Miller Motorsports. The Museum houses some incredible cars from the history of Carroll Shelby racing. There were Cobras, GT 350s, Ford GTs and several other cars, all with a winning history in racing. Each car had an incredible history. The row of Ford GTs had one of each iteration Mk I through Mk IV and this was where I stopped first.

A row of GTs at the Museum

The first car in this picture was the first of any cars in the Gulf colors to win a race. I’ve got a thing for these colors. Apparently so, because even my 7 and 9 year old recognize them. I guess I credit good parenting that I explain to them things like this. The second car in the row is one of the three GT 40’s which won 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Le Mans in 1966. If you have seen Top Gear America Season 3 Episode 12 you have seen this car driven on the track at Miller Motorsports Park.

After a tour of the museum, we had dinner within feet of these cars. What a great night.

The next morning we started in the classroom. You may have seen my post of Facebook from the classroom. We spent about an hour there talking about the fundamentals of driving a road course including turning, apexing and breaking. We then suited up in the class room before heading out to the garage.

Ready to go

In the garage, they directed us to our cars. They split us into two group and my group was first out to the track to follow the instructor.  It felt like we jumped in feet first. I was alone in the car with a helmet, a four point seat belt and a “modern” Mustang under me.  It was very foreign, at first.

Our six cars did a few laps with each getting slightly faster. Tom, being a BOSS owner, drove a 2012 Race Red BOSS 302. I, being a guest, drove a 2006 Mustang GT. Both were mostly how they came form the factory with a few racing bits to make them safer and race-ready.

First laps

After our quick laps around the track we headed to the skid pad for some work with only a little traction. I thought I would do OK with this especially when the instructor said that those with experience in driving in snow and ice might have an advantage. I was not as good as I had hoped. We started at full traction with the instructor reducing it for each subsequent lap.

In control

My tendency was to go to the brake at the first sign of trouble. When I did do it right it was surprising how a little gas and turning in could correct a skid. It was also a lot of fun.

The rest of the day was spent alternating between classroom and track time. They really mean it when they say that you’ll be in the car 70% of the day. We had sessions on heel/toe shifting, cornering and braking. We had on-track time in a lead/follow where we each of us took turns right behind the instructor to learn he correct line, an instructor ride along and a some general track time in order to put it all together.

Although, initially I feared it, the instructor ride along was really good and some of the most beneficial time on the track. I found that I wasn’t using all of the track on exiting corners and that I was underestimating the car. It was far more capable than I was allowing it to be. Those that drove the BOSSes, they were allowed times to explore the custom feature of those cars such as Pit Lane Speed Control and Launch Control throughout the day.

They started to allow passing during the last track session. Though, I didn’t pass anyone, that session ended with me wanting more which was a sure sign that I had a great time.

Cornering hard

The last thing of the day were “hot laps” where an instructor drove and we rode as the passenger. They said they didn’t do this earlier because if we knew how the cars could go around the track we would have tried it on our own with less than impressive results. These laps were amazing. The amount of control, the smoothness and the hard breaking were all impressive. We even got a little sideways in each turn. The day ended with a “Graduation” where we each received a certificate and plaque.

I didn’t drive the second day but Tom did. It was cool to be track side as the cars came past.

http://youtu.be/xeRCKo7pY4E

Of course, once I knew we were at such a high altitude (4,200 ft), I couldn’t resist going for a run. I’m used to under 500 ft above sea level where I live. The course I took was fairly flat while following the edge of some steep mountains but the running felt uphill all the way. Not in my legs but in my lungs.

A different track

Carlisle 2013 Recap

Mike and Amy representing the feature cars

My 7th Carlisle Ford Nationals was a great time. I brought my oldest son with me which made for a very different experience. He attended my very first Carlisle in 2007. That was so long ago that it is only a faint memory for him. My brother also attended this Carlisle with his daughter. He last attended Carlisle in 2008 which was before he had a Mustang. He now owns a 2008 GT/CS.

2008 Mustang GT/CS

Both of our children did a great job keeping pace with us. On Friday we walked 7 miles and on Saturday we walked 9 miles. They didn’t complain and were up for anything.

Carlisle wouldn’t be Carlisle without rain. This year it started for the second half of Thursday’s drive down. We drove the last 150 miles in the rain. I again joined 5pt0joe on his “Cruise to Carlisle”. The forecast for Friday was not good. This was the first time that I didn’t wash my car upon arriving in Carlisle.

As predicted, Friday was a full day of rain. We tried to get out from under cover during periods of light rain. Thankfully, we had the tent which allowed some shelter for the kids to play their video games.

A rainy day - kids under the tent

The tent was also another point of variance from the usual. It was not located in the class in which almost all of our feature cars fall – the 1987-93 Mustang LX stock class. It was about two classes away. This was a let down. The events staff had a new member in charge of clubs for this year and I had asked ahead of time if our tent would still be in our class and he had communicated that that was the plan. What changed, I don’t know and my question to him in that regard has gone unanswered.

It almost didn’t matter because most people who had registered with our club had not brought their feature cars. I had my ’91. My brother brought his ’08. Tim H. brought his ’07 due to some mechanical problems with his triple white.

Tim's '07 almost in view

Tom brought his 2013.

2013 Boss 302 in Race Red

It occurred to me that I think we really need to encourage everyone who considers themselves a supporter of TripleWhiteFox.com to pre-register next year and specify this as their club. It doesn’t matter that the car being shown is not a feature car, or a fox-body or a Mustang, for that matter. I was very flattered to see cars around the show field with us as their club. We just might get to the 25 car free tent threshold with enough friends of TWF.

Saturday night was the third annual parade and street party. We got an earlier start than last year to get in line and avoided a little of the traffic jam to get off of the show field.

Lining up for the parade

It was a nice drive into downtown Carlisle. I gave my son the option to sit up front. Normally, he has to ride in the back. While we were waiting to go he asked me if it was OK for him to be in the front. He asked a couple times before he decided he wanted to sit in back. He definitely has my tendency to be conservative. On the other hand, his cousin had no problem with riding up front.

A front seat passenger

The street party

Sunday was all about the awards list. Both Amy H. and Mike P. won in our class! Amy won first and Mike won third. There were some nice cars in our class which meant competition was strong. Both awards were well deserved as both cars were the cleanest and best presented that I have seen them.

Going around and talking with people I had two occurrences of being recognized from my picture in the recent Fox Mustang Magazine. It made me feel really nice. The magazine was again there selling subscriptions which I thought was brave of them considering their recent track record of delivering issues. I really want them to survive and encourage everyone to subscribe. Even if they were to go to quarterly (a hint to them) I still would have a high opinion of their efforts.

The ironic thing is that I wanted to renew but couldn’t. I saw Mike on Sunday morning on his way to re-up his subscription at their tent. I joined him thinking I would gladly part with $20 to support them and, in return, would be veryhappy with a renewal and a free t-shirt. When we got to their tent, we found it empty as they had already left the show. The guys at the tent next to theirs said they had packed up on Saturday. This seems weird for a struggling magazine. They lost our two renewals.

Third Place for Mike

That’s it for 2013. See you next year!

SSL

On December 12, 2012, I stopped receiving mail sent to my email address at triplewhitefox.com. It was two days before I realized it. You see, I have it picked up by Gmail from the triplewhitefox.com server so I can use Gmail for dealing with all of my email. I also have a Gmail address for the same inbox. So, I was still receiving some mail – the mail sent directly to my Gmail address.

It turned out that, without warning, on that date Gmail stopped supporting secure, encrypted SSL connections where the server did not have a valid certificate. From Gmail help:

As of December 2012, Gmail uses “strict” SSL security. This means that we’ll always enforce that your other provider’s remote server has a valid SSL certificate. We made this change to offer a higher level of security to better protect your information.

This was precisely my situation. I was using a self-issued certificate that came installed on my web server. I had, in the past, considered a proper SSL certificate and migration to https but I was put off by the cost of a certificate. Most providers charge hundreds of dollars and they must be renewed every year or two.

Not wanting to transmit my mail to Google over a non secure connection, I started to search for alternatives. I found one in StartCom which provides a basic SSL Certificate for free.

Over the past few days I have worked on installing one on my web server and also on my mail server. It was a little tricky to get my Dovecot mail server running with the certificates but the post here was very helpful. I also found the certificate checker at digicert helpful while debugging my configuration. You just enter your hostname:port and it checks the certificate.

As a side effect of securing my mail, triplewhitefox.com is now available over https.

The home page: https://www.triplewhitefox.com

The forums: https://triplewhitefox.com/servlet/forum

This blog: https://triplewhitefox.com/WordPress/

Admittedly, it is not perfect. Some links in the various parts of the site will switch you back to http. I need to do some cleanup. I could make a global change to force all traffic to switch to https but I think I will hold off on that until I see how well it goes with this hybrid solution. Also, the site includes some non-secure content in the form of the ebay ads so, if you view the certificate, you will see a warning about this.

 

MCA Ocean State Nationals 2012 Judging Sheet

If you follow the TWF Facebook page, you might have seen my post on winning Gold in the Unrestored class at the 2012 Ocean State Mustang Nationals. This was my first experience at an MCA show and it was more intense than any other show I have attended. But, the end result was that it was more rewarding than any other show.

I am not doing this review of my judging sheet as a critique of the judges or the judging process. They did an excellent job and found everything that I would have found had I been judging my car. I am doing this because I thought a breakdown of the scoring sheet might be helpful to others in determining where they might lose points and to what degree something might be OK or not OK.  I imagine that a different set of judges might have given me different deductions, though, hopefully with the same Gold result. This is a human process, after all.

Beforehand, I detailed my car for 20-30 hours above and beyond what I normally do for the popular vote shows. It is hard to say exactly how many hours but I went over everything inside, outside and underneath. I think I spent about 6-8 hours under the car and engine bay. This turned out to be overkill. The show field was grass, cut at the customary 3″, which resulted in that much less ability to see under the car. On asphalt, my work would have been more apparent.

On the morning of the judging I spent nearly fours hours with the final detailing. The 2 hour drive to RI was partly in the rain. I had detailed my car during the preceding weeks only in the garage and the outdoor light on the show field revealed some low points. The beginning of the morning had shade on my car. This was also helpful. In the bright sunlight, some crevices are in full shadow. In overcast weather or shade, these areas are more easy to see into.

I was present when the three judges went over my car. I did not interfere and only spoke when spoken to. Well, except on a door tag issue where they were trying to verify my car was a feature car using the interior code. I pointed them in the right direction. Otherwise, I resisted the urge to try to point out things I thought might influence the results.

The first thing I was marked on was my door weatherstrip. I think this “cracking” could be from getting in and out but I doubt it. The door sill is not scuffed in any regard. This must be due to my sagging map pocket. For many years, it sagged low enough to get closed between the door and weatherstrip thus resulting in wear. When this wear was called out, one of the judges, the one who was doing the note writing, remarked that this type of wear was present on his car.

Click on image for large view

Apparently, it was not bad enough to warrant a deduction (a dash in the deduction column).

Admittedly, my top is the weak point of my car. It is, of course, original. With 53,000 miles it has been down a lot. I rarely drive the car with the top up. There is one large hole and several cracks. This is by far the worst –

One of my primary motivations for bringing the car at this point to an MCA show and showing in unrestored vs. occasionally driven was to attempt a gold before the top needs to be replaced. The thinking was that if I could achieve gold then replace the top I could state this is a gold car and the only thing replaced since the gold was the top.

The next one was a simple deduction, not the original battery –

Another easy one, incorrect oil filter –

Finally, I didn’t have a lot for extra points. I think I will work harder for a few more of these next time.

So, that’s how it breaks down. I think I still have some room for improvement. I don’t think I will ever get a perfect score but I am very happy with the result this time out.

Here is my full judging sheet: 2012 Ocean State Nationals Judging Sheet for URB-G25

Looking forward to top down driving

I had my TWF out for a ride today. Top up. Though, the weather is finally starting to feel like spring is coming. It is the kind of weather that makes you remember that owning a convertible is about the best thing ever.

While out for the ride, I remembered that today, March 10, is a day that I usually fail to remember. It is the anniversary of the build day of my car. March 10, 1993. It is now 19 years old. Wow.

I purchased it in April 2002. So, this year marks a milestone for that – 10 years of ownership for my car. In some ways, that’s also hard to believe. In other ways, I can’t remember what life was like before owning it. Actually, it is much like thinking back to the time before you had children. You remember that time existed but are sure that you wouldn’t want to go back.

To commemorate the event, I dug up pictures from the original for sale listing for my car.

Feature Mustang Auction History Update

I just completed some updates to the 1992 and 1993 feature Mustang auction history pages. The request to add a search by sequence number was a feature that seemed too reasonable not to have. I too had experienced the need to look for auctions by this criteria while researching a car.

I also added some other things –

  • Thumbnails for auction listings that are not on ebay anymore (>90 days old). I have been storing the main photo of every auction since mid 2005. For new auctions, I now generate thumbnail versions of each image to be used when the thumbnail is no longer in Ebay’s image cache. I also generated thumbnails for the historical auctions for which I have images.
  • As part of the auction details, added the main photo for all auctions where it has been captured (again, back to mid 2005).
  • Some database connection fixes that will hopefully result in even greater stability. The move to the new web host in July 2011 left behind most of the site stability problems. That change can be mostly attributed to the availability of more resources on the web server. The bug I just fixed just took longer to show itself on the new server but still caused an occasional crash. It was only in the code involved in adding auctions and was a problem with not releasing the database connection.

In handing these updates, I also improved the development environment that I use. I first developed the auction history in 2003 on a Windows 2000 desktop. My next machine was Windows XP where I had problem running natively the development tools that I needed to use so I ended up creating a VMWare virtual machine from the old Windows 2000 desktop that I then used to do subsequent work through the years. Fast forward to my current Windows 7 machine and that old Windows 2000 virtual machine still runs but getting it networked was an issue.

So, to do this round of auction history changes, instead of spending the time to fix the networking issue, I invested time in getting to an updated development environment much closer to the production triplewhitefox.com site. I am now using the BitNami Tomcat stack. I went with the one that configures Tomcat 6.0.35-0 running on Ubuntu 10.10. Instead of using VMWare I have switched to Virtual Box to run this on my Windows 7 host machine.

Using a pre-built VM made this pretty easy to get running. My next step, of course, will need to be to get PHP running on the VM in order to fully simulate the TWF site.

Link: 1992 Auction Results
Link: 1993 Auction Results

1992 Feature Mustang 1:24 Scale Replica

Mike G. just emailed me to provide pictures of his scale replica of his 1992 Feature car. We’ve seen one before for the 1993 Mustang but this is a nice set of pics of an outstanding effort. I asked Mike for some details on the build and he was glad to provide them –

I used a combination of three kits to build this.  The main kit being a Monogram ’91 Mustang GT convertible.  The engine, chassis, interior and main body parts came from this kit.  I bought a resin body kit for an LX coupe back in the mid-1990’s that was made to fit the Monogram kit’s chassis and I used the nose, rocker panels and rear valence from that to convert the GT body into an LX.  With the body mods completed, I used a Monogram ’93 Cobra kit for several of the finishing details such as the airbag steering wheel, exhaust with straight tips, tail lights and rear spoiler.  The spoiler required some modifications but it was a good starting point.  I can’t remember the maker/seller of the resin body but I ordered it online and recall paying somewhere in the $30.00-$40.00 range for it.

This reminded me that there was an article in the June 1992 edition of Scale Auto Enthusiast that can provide more inspiration for a project such as this. I have mentioned it but never included many details of it on this site. So, I have posted some details on it in the 1992 and 1993 “Scale Replicas” sections of this site. Also, I have given Mike’s car a permanent home on its own page with more, and larger pictures.

Despite my best intentions for attempting a project like this, I’ve never started my own. Kudos to Mike for sticking with this project and producing an amazing result!