Tag Archives: automotive

Saving a Demon and The Fall of the Ramparts

Of all things… Devil had an odd misfire issue. When I was replacing the spark plugs and the plug wires, I came about something odd… One of the metal firing contacts had corroded. Now, I need to figure why the service light is still on… I hope it’s not ’cause the misfire issue has killed my catalytic converter and possibly O2 sensors…

The school also will need $244 from me cause my student loans suck. I get the loan injection on 1/12 but I will have to scrounge up money somehow. Hopefully with a tolerable GPA, I will get more cash next school year.

My apologies for lacking a nice solid update as I have had some personal struggles come up I know I am highly overdue for my Men Science review. I have also decided to go ahead and work on an early Valentines special article too. I thank my closest friends and my loving girlfriend Ice for being so supportive in shouldering my personal problems.

As far as work… Let’s just say the ramparts are giving way and either leaders will fall or there will be mutiny among the crew. I have done my best and the sanity of the battleground will not hold.
(Updated from my Blackberry Curve)

My Thanks to the Surgeon of Metal and Future Plans

I left ZeroXR 13mg with a post outlining a rather dire situation. As things were looking… they were not going to end well. That changed today. My friend David managed to finagel things so that we could attempt to try to salvage my predicament. The radiator, he picked up a stock unit from Gary out at Track Dog Racing for a fair price of $40. My deepest regards go to him for helping a student down on his luck. That sort of understanding is almost lost in the modern day era. This simple act of kindness from Gary has made me want to hopefully bring my business to his shop once my finances open up a little more so that I may be able to do my supercharger upgrade at some time. David managed to procure the new radiator fan for about $38 and the missing radiator hoses at $48, post tax comes to about $92. The last few water hoses and the fuel filter were the bitchy part, but once those locked in… we were good to go.

The test run and drive home yielded good results. Devil’s performance seems stabilized, even more so with the new radiator fan, obviously. Devil seems to behave in a more coherent manner now, which is important considering I am going to Texas A&M Commerce for school this fall. It’s good to see my machine in tip-top shape and once I can burn my gas tank down to the end and drop in some fuel cleaner… Maybe I might see my fuel efficiency increase.

Ultimately, I want to thank my friend David for helping me out with everything. It was troublesome, but to have a friend help you out when your funding has been tight means more than anything. I owe him big time for it, as a shop would have probably charged me a good $1,000 in labor easily considering how tight some of those hoses are.

Now… With Devil repaired, what does this mean for the office of ZeroXR 13mg?

I plan to hit the gym for sure and shift away from my home work outs. The home work outs were ok, but being around my parents while the recite depressing banter about me is not really an inspiring environment for important personal progress. Tomorrow, I’ll be returning to my push and pull schedule at the gym. I may try to push my limits higher. We’ll see. I’ll probably be doing my booster dose of creatine and carb stack with a finish of my whey protein shake for sure. Tomorrow for divinely great punishment… I will be doing push based exercises. Why? Cause I miss stacking weights on for squats!

I know I have been meaning to be less of a recluse… but with regard to my job falling apart on the inside, my family demanding more expedient repayment, and a few more automotive issues to be addressed… I may have to consider either a second job or do something to generate a good amount of money. I am playing with the idea of selling my PSP and DS… I love them both, but as things stand with my family for the most part… I may be parting ways with them.  If anyone knows someone who could use a DS or PSP… let me know, least before I decide to randomly throw it up on Craigslist.

Devil is Hospitalized…

So… today was interesting. It started off with a fight with my family about automotive stuff… then turned to me getting degreaser to see if a wheel was leaking. Then a call from my friend David saying he had time to try to attempt my overdue 60,000 mile service on Devil…

I’d bring my box ‘o crap to his home and we’d get cracking on what we could. The forces of irony were quick and merciless…

Mishap #1: I apparently didn’t order the top and bottom main radiator hoses. It will cost me about $38 locally. Not really too bad…

Mishap #2: When trying to remove the top radiator hose from the top of the radiator… It apparently snapped off a rather large chunk!

Mishap #3: On removing the radiator from the engine bay… David noticed that the primary fan blades had popped off the fan motor.

Numbers 2 + 3, David hopes to score parts from a local Miata tuner shop in Dallas. Hopefully, the radiator and primary fans can be had for not too much out of pocket. O’Reilly’s was asking $150-ish for the radiator and then $70 some for the fan motor and not the fan assembly (which I need). I hope I have some vestige of a prayer out there…

There’s also the matter of my AC compressor pulley that was damaged… Not really my biggest concern, but I would like to have AC again. The pulley should run about $25, which is no big deal… the bolt-up is easy enough too, so I am not in a panic. Hell, if that has to be done later, no hurry. There’s also the matter of checking out my rear calipers for potential leakage. My father said there was some fluid dripping, but a few visual inspections revealed some moist grease on the inside of my wheel. If those bastards are leaking… I have yet another repair to expense out.

So what happens now?

With Devil in David’s garage, I will have to wait and see if he can successfully get the major parts (radiator and radiator fan) without too much trouble and procure the hoses. Hopefully that should resolve the major issues and get my car patched up with all new 60,000 mile parts. My family has offered to let me borrow the jade chariot or be chauffered to work… we’ll see what happens. Hopefully tomorrow, Devil will be back and ready to rock out with new parts and new journeys.

The next issues from there are brake calipers and new tires again.

[Review] Two Years of Faithful Service – 1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata (NB8C)

November 5th… I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was doing the morning shift and I’d receive a call at home from a dealer saying “We’ve drop shipped your car to our lot! Come on over to take a look at it before we close… It is first come first serve even if you did pay the deposit to get it brought over.” I would get to the dealer at about 6:00pm and take a peek. The gauges reminded me of the days I toyed with FD3S RX-7’s but most of the car stood out like a British roadster. The sales rep would end up teaching me refined manual on the fly… so that yielding to be an interesting experience. After signing off the papers and having my car polished up, I’d roll home to Dallas in my first set of wheels that I paid with my own hands for. It was a tiring day, but it would be the beginning of even more exhaustive training for me to remember my “fancy footwork”.

It wouldn’t be until I hit the 6th month of ownership that I would come to realize the true merits of my MX-5. Sure, it’s not the prettiest one. It has bare nothing as far as features go. No premium leather seats, no power windows, no power locks, no tricked out sound system, no sport suspension pack, no aerodynamics pack, no ABS, no power steering. However… it’s been one of my more forgiving experiences with a driving machine. Before the MX-5, I was plunking around town in a Honda Integra sedan which had more heft to toss around and simply not enough power to back it. The MX-5 however feels like a zippy go-kart that could push endlessly. However… the car is not without it’s caveats. The stock steel 14″ tires are far from adequate compared to the later models getting a wider 15″ wheels or even the 17″ wheels on the later Mazdaspeed turbo versions. The gears are short so those addicted to high speeds may feel a bit “cheated” on this vector.

From the 2 years I have become attuned to the MX-5, I have been rather impressed it’s been a forgiving teacher to me. The maintenance is a bit easier than the rat’s nest that I had to deal with in the Integra. The best part being the ability to break the top down when the day is looking great! The community of folks who drive MX-5’s is staggering! So help, tips and advice are almost always readily available no matter where you live.

For a worthy car to really learn the roots of essential and proper rear-wheel shenanigans, the MX-5 is one hell of a car to do it all in. The cost of one from the 1999 – 2005 era is much lower than the newer ones, so they are plenty cheap. Truly one of the best cars to learn about spirited driving and the essential techniques to hone it properly.

Downtime from the Gym, Devil is Due for Repairs.

My car, Devil, is approaching it’s 60,000 mile service quickly so I have to minimize my driving until I get everything done…  This also hurts me from going to the gym on the other side of town. I would rather not chance my engine going at a bad time due a strained belt or anything of that sort. I will probably do a home regimen of sit-up, push-ups, and other things to keep me in good shape. Expect some logs of me doing those and tracking my progress until I can get Devil in proper shape.

What all is Devil going to need at 60,000 miles? Let’s see…

  • New AC condenser belt
  • New timing belt
  • New cam seals
  • New crank seal
  • New valve cover seal
  • New timing tensioner spring
  • New alternator/fan belt
  • New fuel filter
  • New air filter
  • New spark plugs
  • New spark plug wires
  • New hoses
  • Radiator flush and reload with Redline Oil’s Water Wetter for the coming summer season
  • New water pump
  • Oil change with Mobil 1 Synthetic 10W-30
  • Gear oil change to Mobil 1 Synthetic for even smoother gear changes

From there… that should keep me in good shape until I need a new clutch. I assume I will probably need one before I head out to Texas A&M Commerce… I will probably stick with a stock one, until I do some serious power modifications that warrant a heavier clutch. If Project Fireseal becomes a reality, I expect to hold off on power mods for a long while and focus on safety modifications for both Devil and Fireseal slowly. Devil is due for some new “shoes” and I have my eyes set on a nice set of flat black wheels with a wider contact patch for tires (15″ x 6″) which I hope to get before the move to Commerce.

Project Thoughts: Revival of Project Fireseal

I apologize in advance if this came out as nonsensical ranting and raving from sleep deprivation.

Many of my readers know that I am a very passionate fan of cars and modifying things. As odd as it is… I do miss my first car: A 1990 Acura Integra GS sedan in white. The car was a good car, but when it got up in the years… all sorts of things fell apart on it. While it fell apart, I still remember asking my father to help wrench with me to get things back in working order. I still remember the broken promises of my family titling the car to me when I lived under their roof so I could give my car a second chance… I was going to overhaul the car with a new engine, a 5-speed manual transmission, new wheels, a custom suspension set-up, and most of all… a brand new repaint to a bright and pearly white. But after a few catastrophes happened… My car became a zombie and was sold off to market. This sacrifice would give me a small offering to get my current MX-5 Miata. I love my Miata, but with it’s category… it does have some drawbacks.

Over this past Christmas holiday, I was actually partly to blame as a “killjoy” to my family for not owning a 4-door car because they had wanted to fly out to Orlando, Florida to attend the wedding of my cousin out there. They did not trust me to drive their cars as I am not insured under their policy. There have been times where I have wished I could have dragged friends along, but well, a 2-seater roadster can only hold one other human. There are times I have wanted to take Sol and my friends around… but well… I end up having to give first priority to Sol.

I have also had times where I have had to buy groceries for family and that ends up very poorly. Why? I end up playing Tetris when I have to cart up an entire month worth of groceries for my family when I do a 1-man run for my mother. I have had the “pleasure” of playing the game, but well… I am not a fan. Moving crap home in my roadster was both comical and a pain in the ass… When you make 8 trips from a 20 minute stretch, it becomes a failure. With the possibility of going to Texas A&M Commerce, hauling my initial move-in gear with my MX-5 is a bad move.

So I have considered a very reasonable plan… Picking up a spare sedan as a people and/or supply hauler. Which cars are on my “roster”? Just two simple and great used cars. A third generation Acura Integra GS-R sedan or first generation Lexus IS300. Reasons? Small, nimble, and agile but gas sippy to boot. The charms of these cars are that they are sharp in a timeless classical sort of way. I know, the Integra GS-R is “the wrong drive wheels” but front wheel drive can be a godsend for bad weather days in Dallas… like rainy days. The IS300 would be more ideal as it would keep me locked into the rules of rear wheel drive. Either choices would be great as they would be plenty reliable. Let’s shoot them out though…

Acura Integra GS-R Sedan (Circa 1999 – 2001)
My first Integra from 1990 proved to be plenty reliable when everything was in working order. The worthy B18A1 engine was a plenty throaty scream at 7,000 RPM but I never got much chance to play with the “sweet spot” of my engine from one crutch: the god-forsaken 4-speed automatic transmission that was a useless void of slushy gears. The lunky 14″ aluminum wheels provided a less than adequate traction patch and really left more to be desired. I got once chance to drive a stock GS-R sedan from 1996 and I almost fell in love with the refined experience. It was basically the experience that my car was SUPPOSED to be. The difference from 130 HP versus 170 HP with a far more refined gearbox and suspension proved how much more of a refinement the experience was. To get one would be a a fun ride, though the modification bug may bite me and then there will probably be thoughts of dropping in a bolt-on GReddy turbo kit with a TD06 turbo and push 220 HP to the wheels. With how the automotive market looks like… I could easily find one of these for cheap.

Lexus IS300 (Circa 1998 – 2005)
The first run of the IS300 has always charmed me. The slick chronograph dials for the essential functions and then the matter of its nimble handling have struck me as a fan. I was almost edging to get one until the “luxury” moniker made my young, accident ridden insurance record go beyond my means… The experience in the IS300 is not a raw, visceral, and untamed power like the Integra GS-R sedan, rather, it’s a more polished and posh driving experience without carrying an expensive German name badge. The IS300 holds its value rather well, but with how well the new and current generation is faring… the market resale value may have dropped on the car. The only issue is I want a 5-speed manual edition so that I can keep honing my driving skills rather than get sloppy from automatic driving, but the used market is flooded with overpriced “tuner” projects where the builder is trying to recoup their losses or too many automatic versions.

With those points mentioned… What are my “terms” for picking up something for Project Fireseal?

  • Cheap price – To prevent me from “needing” to loan money from my family
  • Manual transmission – So I do not get lazy and fool myself that I can multi-task and drive
  • “Quiet” Colors – This will prevent my purchase from attracting the attention of law enforcement or thieves.

The main purpose of Fireseal is to primarily be just a beater car with the ability to haul things. Later, I may seek to improve performance, but it is not a priority. If anything, it is more of a tribute to my first car. If anyone has suggestions of great, reliable 4 door cars that are great to drive and can be found for cheap with manual transmissions, feel free to comment. The Integra and IS300 are the only ones I know of that appeal to me.