Tag Archives: cars

Dual Sport Surgeon ZeroXR – Cars and Computers

So… Friday was one busy day filled with projects.

After work, I made haste to visit Track Dog Racing in Dallas for Devil’s part. After paying Gary for the coil packs, I would wait for the engine to cool enough so I could just get in, change out the coils and then go home. There were a few Mazda engineer snags like tape and zip ties, but the guys out at Track Dog helped with those as I bolted in the coils. After the coils were in, the moment of truth was upon me. I was to take Devil around and make sure throttle response was stable again as well as ignition. A test run of about 5 minutes showed all systems were normal and I was relieved.

From there… I sped back home to Plano to hit up Comp USA for a few things for Byakko (the desktop computer for those confused with my nomenclature). I would pick up a GeForce GTS 250 by XFX, 4GB of DDR2 OCZ ReaperX HPC RAM, and 4 more USB ports to plug them up… This is where the real fun began.

The fitment of the Geforce GTS 250 into my Micro ATX board was a little tight but manageable. It does show how much real estate disappears when you have a graphic card that eats 2 slots… That for me was essentially one PCI slot gone. After the parts were in… it was then time to power it all up and behold the glory…

I decided to try to “benchmark” my games on fluid playback… and surprisingly… Most of my games had decided to set themselves to “High” settings and played without any choppy frame rates. This is probably the first time I have ever seen “modern” games coming even close to looking decent. Sure there was some behind the scenes tweaking with drivers and stuff, but it was highly rewarding to say the least.

The funny part is just how in common fixing up cars and computers are… The fact I got to play in both worlds was rather rewarding. Devil being back to tip-top shape as well as my computer being in excellent condition made things far more sweeter.

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.

Damn Vehicular Envy and Lust, We Meet Again!

Machinery and throttle have been in my blood since I was a wee lad… Most of my fans know that I had a very modest Acura Integra sedan as my “intro” car. I had observed and assisted my father with repairing his cars, so naturally my interest in cars is profound from watching the machinery evolve from a primitive rat’s nest to a very neat compacted power plant with wiring and hose work that almost looks beautiful. Sure, the bodies of cars have seen some bad days where you have designers butcher misshape metal into abominations… at the same time, you also have artisans trying to push the limits for new styles but embracing traditions.

I made the foolish mistake of thinking I could turn a project car into a daily driver… but it was one hell of a lesson. The majority of the foolishness was the fact that I was desiring too much for a return to my days of glory. Oh well, one day I will have my chance to revive Project Phoenix and relive my old days…

Continue reading Damn Vehicular Envy and Lust, We Meet 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.

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.