Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Unfuckening- "Or, I Drag My Broken Ass Out Into The Garage After 3 Months Of Sitting On My Ass."

This Blows...

"Recuperating", that is.  For the last three months I've been sitting on my ass waiting for my broken body to heal up from my recent accident.  I've watched TV, surfed the Internet, researched car projects and even built model kits.  Bored, does not even begin to describe my mental state.

  My surgeon gave me the green light to start hobbling around on both legs without any support for the broken ankle and I've been making pretty good progress.  Until I was told I needed another surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder and I was looking at possibly another 3 months of downtime.


So, 5 days after my surgery, I decided to head out to the garage and at least look over the 98 Talon I picked up before the accident and see what I've set myself up for.  I mean I can't "work" on it, but what harm is there in looking it over.

Ran When Parked

With any used car purchase, there's a point where you look everything over, see what you've got to work with and devise a plan to address any issues that may arise.  Over the years, I've come to call this process "Unfuckening The Car".

How much of this process involves, wailing, tearing of hair, and the gnashing of teeth generally depends on whether an informed decision was made while purchasing the vehicle in question.

Since this was a 98 Talon AWD and the last year it was made, and knowing "I've always wanted one", I didn't have a lot of hope in that regard.

I Hate Being Right

Yeah, it's a basket case.

The rear of the lower rocker panels on both sides, show signs of rust, along with the underside of the car.

 For some reason the wiper cowl and wiper arms were removed and were chilling in the hatch area. 

 I found a pair of aftermarket gauges attached to the A-Pillar pod with wood screws that had wiring twisted together with electrical tape.  I suppose I should be glad they at least used electrical tape.

The stereo wiring has the aftermarket radio wiring harness butt spliced in place of the factory wiring plugs.

The interior is missing bits and pieces everywhere, and it looks like he enjoyed screwing random things into the various trim pieces.  Luckily, it has the Gray/Black ombo dash and interior in the car with power leather seats.  *SCORE!*

The carpet on the passenger side of the car has been removed and there is a huge oil slick inside the car on that side.

The Driver's Side door appears to be misaligned, and the door panel needs to be reinstalled.

There's a virtual rats nest of wiring and poor choices that will need to be sorted out before I even think of applying power or hooking a battery back up to the car.

Both taillights, the center section and some other lenses were tinted at some point and look like sweaty swamp ass. 

The top of the hatch near the roof is dented for some reason.

Fucking rust! Did I mention that?

I haven't even looked at the engine bay yet, becuase I don't have bolts for the hood and I can't hold the hood up with just one hand.  The hood prop is missing too.

 Someone, just shoot me now.

I Don't Care

Like I said, I've always wanted one of these and I have no problem taking my time trying to get this thing looking and driving good again.  To make things easier, I'm pretty sure I'll need to find a parts car so I can source the various interior, engine bay and body bits to restore the interior and shell.

Well, I'm always talkign about how much I love working on basket case cars. Time to prove it.

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot....

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Yeah, But You Should See The Other Guy

I Wish I Wasn't Typing This..


The "Helmet" Is Dead.

  Well....That Happened...

Nope, not a joke.  My faithful 2005 VW Golf TDI is dead.
Bier Cans.
Scrap Metal.
Peace Out, I'm Done.

I got into a car accident on the way home from work.  Someone crossed into my lane and hit me head on at full speed.

I Should Be Dead

Both vehicles were traveling at roadway speed when the vehicles collided.  My Golf was struck head on by the mid sized sedan (details of other vehicle withheld) at full speed.

After the impact, I was initially conscious but trapped in the vehicle. I was later told I lost consciousness at some point.  It took EMS personnel approximately 10 minutes to extract me from my car.

Pity Party, Party Of One

The last two months have been filled with stress, drama, surgeries, physical therapy, hospital stays and more doctor visits than I care to remember.

I have subjected my family and girlfriend to stress, drama and my personal bullshit and issues that have arisen from this accident.  I've suffered from physical pain, mood swings, depression, memory loss and lingering, unresolved anger.  Unfortunately the people I love, have been the recipients of my anger and frustration at times.

For this, I sincerely apologize.

My family and especially my girlfriend have gone above and beyond to take care of and help me get through this.  I have no way I can possibly articulate or ever possibly express just how much this means to me.

The accident has left me in a very dark place emotionally, that I'm still dealing with.  I'm not sure how I would have made it this far without her support. 

"Thank You Weezie.  I'm Sorry For Being A Whiny Jackass Sometimes."

According to my doctors, I SHOULD recover from this mostly, with some lingering effects.  My range of motion in the affected joints and limbs will suffer from slightly degraded range of motion, dexterity and strength.  I will have lingering pain from the surgeries used to repair the accident damage. Most of this will be mitigated with Physical Therapy and time as my body heals, but I will have reminders of the accident for the rest of my life.  My finances will be damaged and several things I had planned to do will be placed on hold because, I now have medical bills to contend with until things with the other driver are settled.

However as my girlfriend has reminded me numerous times..."At least you're alive."

She's right.  I broke almost 3/4's of my body in the accident, and not only am I alive, I'm not permanently crippled or missing any limbs.  In the coming months of recovery and physical therapy, I'll try to remember that.

I also just wanted to thank Volkswagen for engineering the Mk4 Golf.  The design of the vehicle ensured I survived what could have been a  far more serious accident.  I want another Golf or Jetta, but my Girlfriend thinks I might be pushing my luck considering how easily this could have gone much, much worse for me.

I'm inclined to agree.

She still hasn't showed me the pics she took after I asked her to clear my car out at the tow lot.  She says it's pretty bad and probably not a good idea to see it until I recover a bit more.  I'm told it looks like the front end of the car has been bitten off, while the rest?  Well, it looks like a car.

I'm just pissed because now I have to find something to replace it.  Hopefully I can find something as cool looking and fuel efficient as the Golf.


R.I.P. 2005 Volkswagen Golf TDI "The Helmet"

You Saved My Life.  Thank You.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

As for the guy who hit me?  Destroyed my super cool Diesel Daily?  Caused me and my loved ones worry, pain and unneeded stress?  Derailed my finances, health, career and several long range life plans?

I wish the other guy no real ill will at all, but I do wish we had never met.  I've been told you're not supposed to speak ill of other people, even if they've wronged you so I'll just say this to the other guy:

"Nice try Cupcake.  I'm still here."

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot.......

Wheels, Gauges, Oh My....

It's About Time...

 As I've mentioned before , the "Helmet" gets no love.  My previous attempt to show it some love resulted in a road trip to Kansas City to buy some wheels that didn't actually fit.

Wait, What?

Yup.  It turns out the Borbet Type C wheels I drove 4 hours for and got such a "great deal" on?

Yeah, they don't freaking fit my car.

Turns out the guy didn't know what he had and either intentionally or accidentally misrepresented the wheels in his Craigslist ad.

The wheels were for a car with a 5x120 bolt pattern, and not for a 5x100.  Great for a older BMW, but not for a Mk4 Volkswagen.

This is partially on me, as I never bothered to validate the bolt pattern.

You know,  before I had one of the wheels repaired, bought new tires and took them to the tire shop to have them mounted.

 You know, before I did all that and looked like a huge jackass.


Craigslist Crawl, Part Deux

So, I still wanted to make the Golf look better, so back to Craigslist I went for a deal on some nice wheels to polish my turd.

Found a set of Black 17x7 in Konig "Day Lite" wheels in Tulsa, with tires installed for a decent price.  Neat!  Off to Tulsa!

Managed to snag the wheels and tires and also verified offset and bolt pattern before I loaded them into the Raider for the trip home. Check these out.  They look great and are supposed to be pretty light.  A great addition to the TDI.

I hope these improve the looks of the car without hurting the fuel economy too much.
17X7 5X100

Konig DayLite Wheels With 235/45/17 Tires
The tires installed were 235/45/17 and were pretty much the same size installed from the factory for OEM 17 in wheels.  The offset was perfect for the most part.  I'm not a fan of too much poke from the wheels on my cars, so I didn't see a need to use spacers.

The only thing I wanted was for a small drop in ride height.  My only worry was the fact that the car already sat rather low from the factory, and was more concerned with everyday driving than looks.

The wheels and tires really helped dress up the looks of the car.  Handling was improved, but mileage did suffer slightly.  MPG dropped from 41mpg to 38-39mpg.

Can't win them all.

Information High

A lack of information from the factory gauges was also a consideration that needed to be addressed for my Diesel Daily Driver.

I wanted a way to monitor Boost, Voltage, Water Temperature and Boost Pressure.

Unfortunately, due to limited space for gauges there wasn't going to be an easy way to install enough gauges to monitor everything.

P3 Gauges offered a multifunction gauge that monitored most of the parameters needed, and fit into the space occupied by the Driver's Side air vent in the dash. The gauge read parameters directly from the OBD2 port under the dash.  While this was a simple and convenient solution to my issue, it was fairly pricey.

Some research revealed several other multifunction OBD2 displays, that were far cheaper than the P3 Gauges offering, but didn't offer the same drop in mounting integration.  Some custom work would be needed to mount the chosen unit.

I chose to use the UltraGauge OBDII Scanner/Gauge for the "Helmet".  It offered far more features including, MPG Readings and the ability to read and clear OBDII errors and codes.  Mounting the unit was kind of a challenge due to the shape of the gauge and the shape of the dash.  I eventually decided to remove the useless factor pop out cup holders located above the head unit, and use a plastic blanking plate in its place.

The plate was notched slightly to allow the cable for the UltraGauge to be routed into the dash.  A special multidirectional mount for the gauge was secured to the blanking plate with 3M double faced tape.

It Actually Works Pretty Well Here

Once installed, configured and properly calibrated, the UltraGaugeII is a very useful tool.  I used it mostly to monitor Water Temperature, Voltage and Boost.  There are several other parameters that can be monitored depending on the ECU Protocol used.  For $69.97 this gauge is a bargain, and I will probably use it on other OBDII equipped vehicles.

One More Gauge

While the UltraGauge took care of the majority of the engine parameter monitoring issues, I still needed something to monitor oil pressure.

  The gauge was a little over $100 and the tee was about $12.  The steering column pod was around $39 or so.  It's been awhile, so I might be completely off.

I picked up a 52mm Electrical New South Performance Oil Pressure Gauge along with their L/H side steering column pod.  The gauge included pretty much everything needed to install the gauge except for a "tee fitting" from VDO to use with the oil pressure sending port on the engine.

I used the info in this guide for information on locating the proper port on the engine, routing the signal wire past the firewall and the part number for the VDO tee unit (M10x1k thread T-fitting VDO 240-850).  Everything else is outlined in the instructions for whatever gauge you wind up using.

One thing to consider is how close the factory steering wheel comes to the front of the gauge when installed with the NSP Steering Column Pod.  The 52mm AEM digital gauge I intended to use originally wound up hitting the back of the factory steering wheel due to how far the AEM gauge bezel stuck out.  It kept hitting the steering wheel.

I know for a fact that the NSP and VDO 52mm Analog Gauges will fit using the NSP Steering Column Gauge Pod.

Almost Looks Factory

 Once installed the gauge supplied a lot of peace of mind, as good oil pressure is MANDATORY for reliable operation of any engine.

Information Overload
The addition of these two gauges provide plenty of information for the driver of a TDI to monitor and diagnose their vehicle.

Hopefully this will help someone out in the future.

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot....

Sunday, August 13, 2017

It's Been Awhile



It has been awhile. Actually,  it's been so long I had trouble remembering how to log into this stupid thing. 

No excuse really, but I just kind of fell off the wagon, and stopped writing. I work a lot, have a GF that monopolizes (kidding, put the knife down) some of my time and spend the remainder out in the garage, so this was real easy to put by the wayside.  It's also kind of labor intensive, since writing doesn't really come naturally to me. 

Which is strange, because I LOVE to read and you'd figure that love of reading would help on the other end with writing. 

Nope.  Not really. 

My GF can hammer out a blog post, like it's nothing with pictures, diagrams and unicorn rainbow GIFs all up in that bitch.  You can check it out HERE .  She's pretty good at it.

Me?  Mr. "Two Finger Typist?"  Yeah, right. See you in two hours.

Enough about that, let's try to get back into it with what's been going on with the garage and the cars.

 So, What Gives?

The reason why I even thought about this thing, was that I started reading a blog a guy had started on a DSM site detailing his efforts to fix/modify/repair/exorcise a 1991 Eagle Talon TSi/AWD.  You should check it out, HERE .

 It kind of reminded me, "Hey Stupid.  Don't you have one of these too?"  

So yeah, I'm back for however long that lasts.


There have been a few changes since my last post.  One car left, and others have made their way into the garage.  Actually that's one of the changes...I had to get another garage, so I'm now leasing two garages from the complex.

I honestly don't know if that's a good thing, recognizing the need for more space or indicative of a future long term issue.

The Lineup

99 Miata- Sold it in February.  Kind of kicking myself for doing so, because I got kind of lucky with that car, minor issues notwithstanding. 

I liked this car, A LOT

But I didn't love it. 

 So, I had an opportunity to pick up something that I did love (hate, whatever), and unfortunately that meant, the Miata had to go.

I sometimes find myself perusing Craigslist looking for a cheap NA or NB to pick up, but need to stop torturing myself and wait until I get into a house with more room, for more projects.

93 Eagle Talon TSi/AWD- The replacement for the Miata as "Jackstand Queen" and "Permanent Garage Occupant."

Picked it up from a buddy of mine back in Texas, and I'll do another post about what led to the decision to get it and how it got up here.

 It's like a roomful of Baby Daddies on the set of the Springer show.  Plenty of material to mine here.

2001 VW Beetle 1.8l Turbo-  Picked this up as a Valentine's Day gift for the GF.  Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be too interested in getting it tagged...insured, or even in driving it.  Which really bums me out, because it's really a cool little car.  There's material a plenty here as well.  It took some time and effort to get it road worthy.

2005 VW Golf TDI-  Yeah, The Helmet has been giving me issues as well.  Spent way too much time under the hood of this thing as well.

So, that's where it stands right now.  4 cars, two garages and one cranky guy. 

Let's see what the future holds, eh?

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot.....

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The TDI Gets A Little Love....

"The Helmet" Gets A Little Polish....

(Wait.  That sounds ALL sorts of wrong.)

I really don't give my VW enough love.

It's got a pretty rough gig, dragging me to work and back at least 5 days a week, with a total trip that sometimes goes over 100 miles.  I do take care of it, because I have to.  It's what I rely on to get me to and from work.  So if something goes wrong, I tend to spend money to get it fixed.

A month ago, I realized I had put over 50K miles on it since I had gotten it, and hadn't thought to check or find out what the service interval on the automatic transmission was.  A quick text to the previous owner, and a consultation with the owner's manual had the car in the dealership two days later to get the tranny serviced.

The dealership noticed that my tires, were pretty much worn down (Surprise!), so they needed to be replaced.  Two days later, the Helmet was riding on new rubber (That Didn't Sound Good Either..).

Your Point?

My point is, while I take care of the car, I don't do a lot of things to make it look or handle better, and I definitely don't do anything to make it faster.  I figured, it was time to show it some love, so I hiyt up Craigslist to look for something to try and address one of those three things.

Craigslist Crawling

I hit up Craigslist and started searching for something to put on the car.  Suspension, exhaust, exterior stuff...oh wait, I know what it needs.  New Wheels!  Entering "5x100" soon yielded a promising ad, that showed a set of wheels that should fit the Golf, perfectly.

Old School

A guy up in the Kansas City Area (Again? Really?)  had a set of Borbet Type C wheels for sale in the right bolt pattern and a inch wider than the factory rims on the Golf.  At about $200 for the set, it was a steal.  After confirming with the seller that the centerbore and offset would work, I set up an appointment on Saturday to drive up and meet him.

From a little research I found out the Type C was a fairly popular wheel with European vehicles, and it was also no longer in production.  Judging by the size (15x7), centerbore (72.5mm) and offset (+35mm), I think these wheels were originally intended for a BMW of some type.  No problem, that's why they make hubcentric rings.

Here's what they look like:

Thank You Google Images
Met up with the guy, picked up the wheels and headed back home.  Got the wheels unloaded and found one had a slight bend on the inboard side.  No problem had a local shop straighten it for a small fee.

Here's a shot of an older Golf with the Type C's installed:

It'll Be Fine..

Why Aren't They On The Car?

Because it's cold outside, and I want to put more performance oriented tires on this set of wheels and save the stockers, for winter use.  Which it is now.  Unfortunately.

Also, along with the new wheels and tires, I figure a slight suspension drop is in order as well.

 Can't have new wheels with stock ride height, right?

It'll Happen.

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot...

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Looking For Surfboards...In Texas

Ow....That's Gonna Smart

 I installed a Blackbird Fabworx Single Diagonal Rollbar in the car a few months back to get the car ready for track days and also as a added safety feature on the street.  

One thing I noticed about this roll bar was that it comes really close to my head, with the NB1 seat in a comfortable driving position.  I now see why the Hard Dog Single Diagonal roll bar has the diagonal brace offset slightly,  to allow the driver some extra head room.

I don't regret buying the Blackbird bar, but I think that for a mostly street driven car, the Hard Dog might have been a better choice. 

I have the bar padded with SFI approved padding, but the thought of hitting the bar with my oversized noggin, just wasn't that appealing to me.  Unfortunately this is a real possibility with the shorter NB1 seats. Since I primarily plan to drive the car on the street, I wasn't really interested in installing a set of aftermarket seats at this time.

So, I hit up Car-Part and started searching for a set of NB2 "Surfboard"seats.


The factory seats used in the 2001-2005 Miata/MX-5 cars, had a much taller seatback and headrest than the earlier seats.  They look kind of like a surfboard, so that's the name that stuck for them.    It's a popular upgrade for earlier model NB1 cars (like mine) and NA Miatas as well.  I've been keeping my eye out for a set locally, but haven't had much luck.  I thought using might net me a set locally, or at the very least, in Kansas City.

Foiled Again!

Surprise, surprise.  There's not a very big supply of used Miata parts in this area.  A search in the Kansas/Missouri/Arkansas area didn't show a lot of promise, unlike my search for the same parts in Texas. Plenty of hits there.  Go figure.  I figured it was a good excuse to go see my folks and snag some seats for the car.

Road Trip!

Mazda Heaven....Indeed

Stopped by Nissan-Mazda Heaven in Ft. Worth, TX to check out what they had, before I headed further south to my parent's place.

If you need ANYTHING Miata related in the TX/OK/KS area, this is the place to go to. They ship as well, so I have a feeling I'll be talking to these folks again.

   Found a set of blue cloth NB2 seats in "decent" shape. Definitely pricier than what I was used to paying for seats from a junkyard, but I needed them and they had them, so..yeah capitalism and stuff.  I also picked up a 2001+ Header and a spare gauge cluster for a possible future project.

"The Doorknob", Earning Its Keep

Time To Make The Chimichangas...

Got them home after spending the weekend with my folks and tore them down to properly clean the seat covers, and the foam.

Bought a plastic storage tub and filled it with water and some liquid upholstery cleaner from a spot carpet cleaner. Washed the covers by hand (gently) and then hung them to dry.

I'm glad I washed them, because the water was pretty filthy after I was done.

Wiped the seat foam down with some Clorox Spray Cleaner with bleach, and painted the seat pans with POR15.The pans got a little rusty while in the junk yard.   Rattle canned the pans with some semi gloss black to cover the POR15.

Battleship Grey

Did a slight "foamectomy" to both seat bottoms, before reassembling everything.

"Slight" Foamectomy

Seat Backs Reassembled

Reinstalled everything. From the first picture, you can see the difference in height between the NB1 and NB2 seats.

See What I Mean About The Rollbar?

Blue And Tan?  Yeah...No.

I went ahead and drove the car to work a few weeks ago and after spending some time in the new seats, I had to make a few adjustments.

Removed a section of rollbar padding directly behind the Driver's Side seat. It interfered with reclining the seat enough for it to be comfortable.

Reinstalled the foam section I cut out for the "foamectomy" on the Driver's Side. The angle that I was sitting at with the foam cut out, just wasn't that comfortable on long drives. I might take it back out and cut some more foam out to try and get it perfect, but I think I'll see how I like it for right now.

Need to order some aftermarket upholstery to change out the blue cloth for tan leather. I thought I wouldn't mind it that much.

 I was wrong.

I think the NB1 seats were a bit more comfortable than the NB2 seats, but I can't question the fact that the NB2 seats offer a lot more protection with the rollbar installed.  So, until I make a final decision about the "Surfboards", I'm going to hold onto the NB1 seats for awhile longer.

Who knows?  I may grow to like them.

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot...

Track Weekend Bro!

Seemed Like A Good Idea... 

Took the Miata out to my first ever driving even on the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October.

Driver's Edge was holding an event at Motorsport Ranch in Cresson, TX and I took my all season tired, stock 170K suspension having butt out there to see what the car could do.

My plan was to drive the car down, beat it on the track and then drive home. No sweat, right?

I didn't go completely unprepared....I put new rotors and Green Stuff pads on all around. So I had that going for me.

See? That's me being prepared.

Seriously though, I went over the car as best I could.  Checked fluids, looked the car over on the underside, checked the suspension, made sure wheels were torqued, along with the brakes.

Heading Out..

This was going to be my first real road trip in the car, since I had gotten it, so just a bit nervous.

 I drove from Wichita KS, pretty much straight through to Plano, TX to meet a friend at the Mercedes dealership he worked at. We bullshitted a bit, and he threw a quickie alignment on the car for me, and then we headed out to Cresson, to check into the hotel for the night.

It's Too Early For This...

Got to the track as early as we could and staked out a spot for us and another friend who was driving his new M3. Once we got settled in to our spot, got checked in, attended my first driver's class and got the car ready for the day.

Nice Numbering Job, Eh?

Getting it "ready" consisted of slapping some numbers on it, emptying the trunk, adjusting the seat, doing a last minute fluids check and yanking the floor mats out.  Before too long, the call over the loud speakers came for the Green Group, and I was off to my first session with my instructor.

How Was It?

I had a blast! Definitely more intense than I was expecting At first I was very hesitant with the car, and definitely a bit stressed.  Lots of traffic out there, and a lot of information to process.  The track was set up for a full 3.1 mile course, so it was kind of a beating for my first ever track day. I got passed (a lot), but I enjoyed pushing the car once I relaxed a bit. Also the instruction I got from my instructor and the classroom sessions went a long way as well.

High Resolution Yo

Little Car, Big Track

Next Time...

I wanted to take the car out there mostly stock to see what it felt like before I started modding it with suspension parts, and different wheels and tires.

This is one tough little car.  I beat the dog snot out of the car, and it handled everything like a champ. Had a few close calls, but I didn't stuff it in the dirt.

Made the 6 hour drive back to Wichita on Sunday, without a real hitch, besides the one in my back.

Now, I really want to get some suspension and new wheels and tires for this thing.

Oh and improve the "loose nut" behind the wheel as well.

Alpha, Mike, Foxtrot....