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Journal Archive - 2005

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November 12, 2005 -- Got some FWD dyno pulls with the 96 octane mixture today, and here are the results:

307.3 FWHP on the second pull, 280.93 FWTQ on the third.

A close-up of the tailpipe air/fuel readings:

dynojet96oct_afr.gif (16845 bytes)

Graph from a VAG-COM log for one of the pulls, showing that pre-cat AFR actually is in the "safe" region:

dyno96afr.gif (13453 bytes)

Note that the VAG-COM readings show a correlation to the taipipe sniffer's results. I'm relieved to see that the VAG-COM values are indeed more rich than the tailpipe values.

Here's a "street pull" AFR log from VAG-COM tonight, following the dyno pulls:

street96afr.gif (15836 bytes)

I'm relieved to see that the AFR values appear to be safe, after all.  :)

November 7, 2005 -- I posted my full review on Vortex last night, and much discussion/debate has ensued...

November 4, 2005 -- Well, I got nearly a half-tank of 100 octane over lunch today (a gas station 15 miles away sells it at the pump), so my effective octane rating should now be nearly 96.  After driving a few miles back to work, the car actually felt a bit smoother and stronger.  Could it be placebo effect?   I met up with another local R32 owner and good friend tonight, and we took some logs with the VAG-COM.  (Thanx, Todd!  That was fun!)

Here is his stock R32 running 91 octane (he usually fills up with 92 like me, but he was out of town the last time he filled up):

stock_91oct.gif (20891 bytes)

He was able to perform a nice, clean pull onto the interstate as there was no traffic ahead of us.  Peak knock value was 5.3, which is les than half the values I was getting--and this is on lower octane fuel.

Okay, so how does the higher octane (~96) mixture do?

stage1_96oct.gif (30612 bytes)

Much better!  I had traffic ahead of me, so I couldn't get as clean a run, but you can see that the knocking has been greatly reduced.   Peak value was 10.5, which is still pretty high, but I had to load the car pretty hard to get that.  Otherwise, it was generally peaking around 8 or 9 with the majority of the readings much closer to the sane end of the spectrum.

I'll definitely get a new set of dyno pulls at an upcoming dyno day to see if I'm finally making the numbers I'm supposed to.  Haven't decided yet if I'll keep the mixture around 96 octane to see what I'll get on a daily basis, or if I'll fill the tank predominantly with 100 to see just how that does.  I may just do the latter, so I can have a range of values to interpolate my expected WHP given a particular octane rating.   (Yup, I'm a geek.)

So, as long as I fill up as soon as I'm down a half-tank and alternate between my local 92 octane and the 100 at the station further away, I should be able to keep the effective octane rating high enough to keep things happy.  PITA, but at least there's something I can do about it.

Road trips will still be cause for worry, though.  In my past travels south to Springfield or Wichita, 93 octane could be found there.  Wtih the higher gas prices this past year, however, 93 octane is not as abundant as it used to be.  Demand for the higher-priced 93 octane fell off, so supply is following suit.  (And the kicker is that you could usually buy 93 there at a lower price than you could get 91 here!)   When I drove to Colorado this past spring, I couldn't find anything higher than 91.   92 or 93 may have been available, but it was probably limited in availability like 92 is here in KC--especially with the higher altitudes they have.

Since Rich believes my installation has been done properly and my car is performing as he expects it to, I guess that means I'm free to post my review to Vortex.  I'm going to try to compose a full review and submit it to Vortex sometime this weekend.  I hope to wash the car and take some quality "after" pics first, though...

November 3, 2005 -- Rich confirmed today that the software is indeed tuned for 93 octane, and yesterday's log pretty well proves it.  Now we know why I wasn't getting the dyno numbers EIP has been claiming.  

Rich tells me the programming is optimized for 93 octane, but it's "safe" to run 91.  Their tests with 91 octane have not shown any mechanical trouble becuase the multi-knock sensor setup on these engines "are there to remove timing even on NA engines".  Uh, maybe that's because it's an 11.5:1 compression ratio engine that some dumbass consumer will no doubt try to feed 87 octane fuel?!?

I, personally, disagree with the philosophy of relying on the knock sensors to keep the software from blowing up the engine.  For as long as I can remember, reputable chip tuners have always advised against using fuel lower in octane than what the software was tuned for.  The reason they make more power with 93 octane software is because they start the timing more advanced than 91 octane programming--they make the valid assumption that if you buy a 93 octane program, you're going to put at least 93 octane in the tank damn near every time you fill it up.

I always fill up with 92, because that's the highest octane available to me.  When I travel, I try my best to seek out 92 or higher octane fuel.  There are some places where the best you can get is 91, and there are other places where you actually have to search to find 91.  Having that much knocking on 92 octane just seems absurd to me.  I shudder to think how bad it would be on 91.

November 2, 2005 -- A local Dubber/friend pointed me to a thread on Vortex where someone was parting out an R32.   I bought the ECU for $500.  Sweet!

In other news, I got some feedback from Rich around 5pm last night.  Among other things, he said:

"I suggest 93 octane fuel whenever possible for the street and for the dyno as well."

Uhhh, that strongly suggests their software is tuned for 93 octane.  I asked Rich if that was the case point blank, and went on to explain that the best I could get around here is 92 octane--and if I travel anywhere outside of town the best I could hope for was 91.  (And besides, WTF?  I thought everyone developing FI for national consumption tuned for 91 octane...)

No response from Rich yet.  :(

And if you recall, on October 29th the dyno operator suggested that the timing was being pulled back, either because it was programmed too conservatively or the knock sensors were kicking in.  So I did some logging with the trusty VAG-COM tonight, and here are the results.

stage1_92oct.gif (24254 bytes)

Hmmm!  Looks like some pretty heavy knocking to me!  As I understand it, those knock sensor values are supposed to be in the low single-digit numbers.  With 92 octane and a heavy load, they're peaking at 12.8!   I think I need to add some race fuel to my tank to bring the effective octane rating up...  :\

October 30, 2005 -- I FINALLY got around to trimming the driver's side grille piece so it can stay in place.  It's bowed out a bit where it's pushed out by the piping that enters the intercooler, but it seems to stay on much better now.  We'll see how it fares after several days of driving.

October 29, 2005 -- I took Dieter to MC Racing today and performed some pulls on their Dynojet 248 2WD dyno.  Results and comments can be found here. 

Best pull was 296.25HP and 269.87ft-lbs of torque.   EIP claims we should see 310-315FWHP (an expected gain of roughly 110BHP), and I believe they use the very same Dynojet dyno that MC Racing has.  So, it looks like we're still missing some ponies somewhere.  The dyno operator said that the jagged nature of the graph line indicates one of two things to him:

1)  The knock sensors are kicking in and forcing the ECU to pull back timing, or
2)  EIP's software is too conservative with the timing (which is ImagineAuto's opinion as well).

He also said that the air/fuel mixture was not as rich as he would personally tune a car, which ImagineAuto has also claimed.  Any/all of the obove observations could be a factor in the "missing" power.  I'm also curious what fuel EIP uses when they perform their tests.  I always fill up with BP/Amoco 92 octane, but maybe they use something more potent.  Once I burn through this tank of gas, I'll try some 100+ octane race fuel and see what that does.  ;)

I sent these results to Rich, so we'll see what he has to say about it.

I did manage to spend some quality time driving the car around this afternoon.  Other than constantly worrying about causing it to stall, it's quite fun.  Power delivery continues to be smooth, although I get a "buck" if I accelerate strongly in a lower gear then let off the gas abruptly.   I also get the occasional backfire when cruising along the highway and let off the gas a bit (real easy to accidentally pick up speed, ya know).  At one point, I managed to keep the revs up enough to completely stay in-boost while merging onto the interstate (over 3 shifts), and that was very rewarding.  I have been keeping many of my shifts a little on the slow side on purpose, so I can feel the power build and get a feel for how quickly boost develops in each gear.

Even when off-boost, Dieter feels a bit stronger/faster than before.  Either because he's essentially performing like a "chipped" car, or because there's still some positive pressure in the manifold (or, more accurately, less vacuum), or because I haven't driven my R32 consistently for so long that I forgot what it felt like.  I'm going to hook up with a friend of mine pretty soon so we can swap and compare.  (His R32 is still bone stock, performance-wise.)

October 26, 2005 -- Per Rich's request, Stephen sent him a list of issues encountered during the installation of the kit (many of which I have mentioned in passing from each day's summaries found below).   Here's hoping this feedback will be constructive and help them refine their kit so other installers can have a smoother experience.

October 25, 2005 -- EIP's "loaner" ECU arrived today, so I'm back on the road again (for now, at least).   We'll see if anything else breaks.   Heh!

I got the sanity check on the A/F gauge, and there's nothing to worry about.   Full-throttle acceleration on the highway showed nice and rich.  Any time I let off the throttle for a bit, the gauge shows really lean, but that's because it's a narrowband gauge when I apparently should be using a wideband.  Since there isn't really anything I can adjust with the fueling anyway, I may just switch to a single gauge pod and only run the boost gauge.

The stalling issue has not been fully eliminated.  It stalled on me once after I picked it up, and stalled once more on my way home from work--as I was trying to turn into my driveway with Soccer Mom in her minivan right on my ass.   8^o   Fortunately, I was able to get far enough out of her way and stopped before hitting the curb.  That issue MUST be fixed.  The earlier adjustment helped reduce the likelihood of this issue, but it will still happen if I rev high enough before putting the clutch in (allowing the revs to fall to idle--which the ECU can't catch in time, so the engine stalls out completely).

I think I'm gonna head to MC Racing this Saturday to get a couple pulls on their dyno, since it's the same make/model that EIP uses.  If the numbers are lower than expected there, EIP will have (more) 'splaining to do.

October 23, 2005 -- Well, there's been a flurry of e-mail activity between "us" and "them" regarding my ECU, with no real resolution.  Rich claims that there's no way his guys could have screwed up my ECU like that (still not sure if he actually re-read Stephen's initial e-mail).  Stephen claims that the only way those pads would have failed is if Rich's guys screwed up the installation--in which case it didn't matter who attempted the repair.   Both sides have lots of experience showing they can do the job right.  Yet the facts remain that my ECU failed before we opened it, and it's beyond repair now.

Meanwhile, I just learned tonight that another guy's ECU failed.  His Stage 1 turbo kit was installed by EIP themselves, and he was fortunate enough to live only an hour from their shop so they could get a replacement to them immediately.  He previously had the soldered-on APR chip upgrade, and was told that all the heat to the board from installing the APR chip, removing the APR chip, and installing EIP's socket caused one of the traces to fail.  HMMMM!  I guess their guys aren't infallible after all.  :P

And I guess I know who had EIP's loaner ECU now...

October 20, 2005 -- I got a call from Mike at EIP just before 5pm today.  He said that they are having problems sourcing a used ECU, but he's going to keep looking.  He said that he'll try to send us their "loaner" ECU in the meantime, but may not be able to send it until Monday as it's currently out on loan. 

Even more days without my car.

October 19, 2005 -- ARGH!  So apparently Rich didn't actually read the e-mail the Stephen sent him.  Rich said that he was "shocked" to find the pins removed and pads missing from the board.  He went on to say that there was no way the ECU left their shop in that condition, and that the car wouldn't even start--let alone run--if that was the case.   The ECU is not repairable.

Hello?!?!  All the details in Stephen's e-mail described what happened to the ECU.  There should have been absolutely no surprise when they opened up the package.  >:(  What the hell?

So now Rich says that they will cover shipping costs and installation of their socket/chip on a new ECU, but I'll have to pay for the ECU itself since we rendered it un-repairable.  He said that they'll try to source a used one rather than have me shell out for a brand new one.  Good grief.

So I guess the only reason stepped up to the plate like he originally did was because he wasn't paying attention to exactly which plate he was stepping up to.


October 18, 2005 -- One bit of good news:  42nd Draft Designs have finally released their Stewart Warner-compatible Perfect Match LEDs.  I ordered a pair today.  Sweet!

October 17, 2005 -- Stephen K. called me today to give me the lowdown on the ECU situation.  Unfortunately, several pads lifted from the board when he attempted to remove the socket legs.  He was pretty frustrated by the situation, because he's re-worked over 300 ECUs without encountering this problem.  He said that they should not have pulled off the board like that as a result of what he did.  He believes the pads were overheated when the socket was installed, and that's why they failed when he tried to remove the socket.   His opinion is that EIP would have suffered the same fate if they attempted the same repair.  He said that he *could* attempt to repair the ECU, but had reservations about how reliable it would be.   

And now we're in a pickle because my ECU is broken.   I asked him to contact Rich and explain the situation and see where we should go from here.  He couldn't get in touch with Rich by phone, so he sent an e-mail instead, detailing the situation and how we got to this point.

A couple hours later, we got an e-mail response from Rich.  He explained that the legs of the socket were uneven on purpose, to alleviate interference issues with the ECU's case.  He also instructed us to ship the ECU back to them for repairs--and they would cover all shipping and repair costs!   Holy cow!  I can't say that I saw that coming, but I'm certainly not going to complain!

October 14, 2005 -- While showing Dieter off over lunch, someone pointed to a vacuum line and said "Hey, is that supposed to be plugged into anything?"  D'OH!  Everything seemed to be running well enough, so I drove up to ImagineAuto to have them look at it.

Turns out, Stephen used an OEM plastic boost tee to feed vaccuum to the BOV (none included with the kit--maybe it fell out of the box?).   Apparently, the heat from the turbo caused this tee to melt!  They're going to replace it with a brass one and apply some heat shielding for further protection.   They're also going to double-check everything else to make sure all is well. 

While we were there, I asked him to take a look at the air/fuel gauge, because it was doing some wacky things as I described yesterday.   (I later learned that since it's a narrowband gauge, it will essentially "magnify" the voltage levels provided by the O2 sensor, so it can't really be trusted most of the time.  I'd be better off with a wideband gauge.  Chalk one up to learning experience.)  When he went to start the car, it would turn over, but not fire.  I had my wife come pick me up and left Dieter with them to diagnose.

I got a call from Stephen K. (the owner of the shop--not the same guy who installed the kit) later in the day.  Turns out the ECU actually failed!  He told me they could get the car to start sporadically, but it eventually stopped doing that altogether, and then he noticed that the Check Engine Light no longer illuminated.  :(  I asked him to crack open the ECU and see if there was an obvious problem, like a cold solder joint.

He called me back a few minutes later and described what he found.  EIP uses a standard decryptor socket, and the legs on that socket were not even (one side shorter than the other), several of the pads were not straight on the board, and there was a lot of leftover flux from the installation process.   Pretty messy, with ugly solder blobs, burn marks on one side of the decryptor board, and one of the legs had actually broken off the socket!  Stephen has re-worked hundreds of Porsche ECUs, including TwinTurbo ECUs where the chip is actually epoxied to the board.  He has the skills and the experience, so I asked him to go ahead and fix the board for me, rather than shipping it back to EIP and waiting for them to repair it.   Besides, if they did such a crummy job installing the socket in the first place, I can't say that I'd be highly confident of a repair.  :\

He didn't call me back, so I'm assuming the repair is taking longer than expected.  I'm sure I'll hear from him on Monday.

Well, I didn't really get to drive it a whole lot, but here are my impressions so far:

Regardless of the dyno readings, the car does feel pretty strong--or at least noticeably stronger than it did before, and a helluva lot stronger/faster than my TDI.  ;)  Power delivery is very smooth and surprisingly linear, as shown in the dyno graphs posted earlier.

1st gear didn't seem much different, probably because it's a pretty short gear.

2nd gear is just plain nuts!  GOBS of torque, and I'll have to apply the throttle with a bit more finesse to keep things in check.

I honestly don't remember much about 3rd-5th, probably because I was too busy giggling about 2nd.  Will pay more attention in the future.

6th gear is pretty interesting.  Cruising along at speed, there really isn't much boost going on.  When I mash the throttle, boost quickly climbs to 5psi on the gauge (accompanied by a lovely whooshing sound) and speed builds very quickly.  Doesn't really push you back in the seat like the lower gears, but the speedo marches right on up there and all the other traffic falls behind like they should.

The exhaust note is much deeper than stock, and not as "blatty" when you get on it.  It is certainly louder than I was expecting, partially because everyone says that the turbo will reduce exhaust sound simply because it's right in the exhaust path.   Yes, when the turbo is spooling up things aren't as loud as stock, but off-boost it's not much more quiet.  I don't mind the volume so much, but there is a bit of cabin drone that I would like to reduce or eliminate.  But that's something I can sort out once everything else is good to go.

October 13, 2005 -- After unplugging the prescribed O2 sensors and clearing codes, the first pull on the dyno yielded 235AWHP/207Ft-Lbs of torque. AFR ranged from 11.7 to 13.0 during that pull. That's actually ~30HP lower than we got with all 4 sensors plugged in. After another pull or two (I was unable to witness the testing this time, so I'm not sure how many there were in total), they said the power came back up to about the 264AWHP mark we saw with all 4 O2 sensors plugged in. Still shy of what we were hoping.

Rather than beat on the car with more dyno pulls, they let me take it home for the weekend in the hopes that some real-world driving will help the ECU adapt better. We'll test again next week and see what results we get. I'll clear the codes myself with my VAG-COM before driving it around this weekend.

On a more positive note, adjusting the BOV did seem to eliminate the stalling issue.

BTW, the boost gauge arrived this afternoon, so they did manage to get that installed before I picked it up.  Booyah!  We're using the red gel-caps on the gauge bulbs until I get the blue LEDs that will fit.

The air/fuel gauge makes me nervous.  There are times when it pegs out at the lean end.  When ImagineAuto performed the dyno pulls, they had their dyno's wideband air/fuel sensor in the tailpipe the whole time.  While it wasn't as rich as they'd prefer, it never got dangerously lean during any of the pulls.  So I'm trusting their dyno's sniffer and trying to ignore my A/F gauge.  Dunno if there's something wrong with the gauge or the signal it's getting.  I plan to drop back by the shop tomorrow and have them look at things and tell me what they think.  Hasn't blown up or melted down yet...

October 12, 2005 -- <sigh>   ImagineAuto's VW tech (the guy who performed the installation) was out sick today.   Waiting for tomorrow...

October 11, 2005 -- Rich responded to my e-mail with some suggestions to correct the issues we saw.  The stalling problem should be resolved by adjusting the blow-off valve.  The power issue should be resolved by unplugging the Bank 1 oxygen sensors.  For whatever reason, their software is only making use of Bank 2 sensors, so the additional information from Bank 1 is getting the system confused.

He confirmed that I am indeed running the latest version of software (V4).  Unplugging the Bank 1 O2 sensors will make the CEL come on, as expected.  He said we should see a gain of roughly 110BHP.  Let's hope these adjustments do the trick.  More to come tomorrow.

October 10, 2005 -- Okay, so the boost gauge did not arrive today--should get here tomorrow.  :(  They did get the A/F gauge installed, though.  One more kink is that 42 Draft Designs Perfect Match LEDs do not fit in the Stewart Warner gauges.  Some digging around on 42DD's web site confirms this, and they say that they're working on a new version of the Perfect Match LED that will fit.  Looks like I'll either have to go incadescent or use "regular" blue LEDs that fit the standard 194/168 wedge.  Stephen will use the included incadescent bulbs with red filters for now, which won't look too bad against the blue-and-red scheme of the stock illumination.

We did perform some dyno pulls, though.  Pictures and dyno scans here.  We got 264AWHP and 221.3ft-lbs on the best run.  Not as much of a power gain as we were expecting, but the other numbers look pretty good throughout the pull.  Mike at EIP told me the software I was getting should throw a CEL, but provide a very smooth 310-315 FWHP.  No CELs have been thrown yet, and the car has been through a ~50 mile shakedown/break-in cruise as well as a few dyno pulls.   I have told EIP that I am willing to sacrifice some power if that got rid of CELs, so I may well have a different version of software than was expected.

During the shakedown/break-in drive, it was discovered that if the engine is revved high and allowed to fall to idle, it will stall.  (This matches up with my stall experience during the 'round the block test drive on Friday.)  While the car was on the dyno, it was also noticed that the fuel mixture was unexpectedly lean at idle.   Popular theory at ImagineAuto is that some power may be regained by adding more fuel to richen things up.

I'll be sending an e-mail to Rich at EIP with our findings and see what he says.   Stay tuned.

Oh, and for those who were wondering about the installation fee since this little project ran well over the expected schedule, you need not worry.  ImagineAuto came up with a very reasonable final cost.  During the entire installation process they took excellent care of me and my R32, and they certainly demonstrated a high degree of competence in overcoming the inevitable little issues that kept cropping up.  A huge thanks to the folks at ImagineAuto for all their hard work and for their future support.

October 7, 2005 -- Day four of the turbo installation.  Big day today!

The all-new 3" stainless steel exhaust system has been installed.  We trimmed the front bumper cover to accommodate the intercooler piping, too.  As noted yesterday, the pipe that connects to the intercooler on the driver's side was off-angle so much that the grille it's routed behind could not be re-installed.  Stephen corrected this by cutting off that section of pipe and replacing it with properly-sized silicon hose with a much better "shape" to it.   It still interferes with that grille a bit, but not nearly as bad as the solid pipe.  With a bit of trimming, I think I can make the grille fit much better.

As expected, the re-worked ECU arrived today.   Sweet.

After restoring all the fluids, Stephen pulled the fuse for the fuel pump and cranked it for a few seconds to prime the turbo with oil.   There must have been enough fuel leftover in the lines, because it actually started right up and ran for a bit.  Put the fuse back in and started it up and let it idle for a bit.  While it was running, he lifted the car back up and we inspected everything for leaks.  None found.  Excellent!

There was some smoke coming from the area of the turbo, and a bit coming from the exhaust.  Didn't smell like oil or coolant.  It looked like it was coming from the housing of the turbo itself, so we believe it's just some coating or something burning off.  Ben also suggested that some of the heat wrap applied to the hoses and lines back there kinda acts like heat shrink and smokes a bit until it's all cured.  Car seemed to be running fine, so we assumed all was well enough.  We shut the hood and backed it out of the bay for a quick test spin (with me behind the wheel).  (Moohooha!)

We went around the block 4 or 5 times.  Really easy at first to make sure all was running well, then got into it a little more to make sure the turbo was providing boost and actually making the car faster.  The test drive was only 4.8 miles, so my impressions so far are very preliminary.  My thoughts:

1)  Yup, it's faster alright.  8^D

2)  Power delivery is shockingly smooth for a turbo, much to my delight.  Torque comes on nice and strong in the midrange, but is progressive, rather than exponential.   The concerns I had about off-boost performance have pretty much been put to rest.   It feels pretty much stock below 3kRPM--maybe even a bit stronger--and you are pushed back in the seat as you roll on the throttle.

3)  Exhaust note is certainly different from stock.  Volume lies somewhere between stock with the flapper in quiet mode and the flapper in loud mode when in motion.   At idle, it sounds a bit louder than stock (with the flapper in quiet mode).   The tone is a bit deeper than stock, and not quite as "blatty" when on the gas.  There is a bit of cabin drone under some conditions, which I didn't take the time to really explore.  That bit of drone is the only real downside to the exhaust sound, in my opinion.  If I can find a way to greatly reduce or eliminate it, that would make me much happier.  Something to research and play with, I guess.

4)  I was concerned about how loud the blow-off valve would be, considering its location and the fact that it was venting right into the engine bay.  It's audible, but nowhere near loud--perfect.  VrrroooooOOOOMMMMMpsshhh!

5)  No CEL (yet), but a longer drive would prove more.  Driveability seemed quite good (it'll take me a few miles to learn the new power curve).  There were two oddities.  The first was a weird surge then drop in power while under hard acceleration in 2nd gear.  I was able to repeat it once, but could not get it to happen again after that.  May have just been the ECU learning/adapting to a new situation.  More driving will help prove that out.  The second was that the car stalled while cruising to the back of the shop.  I was accelerating briskly in 2nd when Stephen warned me to slow down, because of a blind corner where delivery trucks like to jump out--I let off the throttle, pushed in the clutch pedal and tapped the brakes to slow down.  Just as I was about to give it some gas again to go into 1st, it just stalled.  I dunno if that's a bug in the software, or if it was another learning experience for the ECU.  Again, more driving will help prove that out.

The gauges have not yet been installed, and it still needs and alignment, and there are still a couple minor "detail" things to be done.  Not to mention the "after" dyno pulls.  So, I left Dieter at ImagineAuto for the weekend so they could dig in first thing Monday morning.  I definitely want to spend more quality time behind the wheel just driving it around locally before embarking on any road trips.  I want to give myself some time to learn how it will behave under various circumstances and give the ECU a chance to learn, too.  I have asked them to give me advanced notice before they begin the dyno pulls so I can witness them.  Beyond that, I'll stay out of their hair for the gauge install and stuff like that.  (I left my camera with Stephen so he can take progress pics for me, just like he has when I was away at various times throughout the week.)

Pictures from today (along with my summary) available here.

October 6, 2005 -- Day three of the turbo installation.

Stephen made some pretty good progress today, though "bolt-on kit" fitment issues continued to slow him down a bit.  The subframe is tacked back into place, but won't be fully secured until he's certain it won't have to come back off for anything else.  Oil pan now has the return line connected and is back in place, and various lines have been installed.  All the piping has also been installed, but the one on the driver's side really gave him fits.  He may have to perform some corrections to it once we try to fit/trim the bumper and see whether or not it interferes with the lower grille on that side--I do NOT want any pipes sticking out of my bumper (no offense to those of you who do). 

The good news:  My ECU should be delivered by tomorrow afternoon and the A/F gauge arrived today.  (EIP wackiness for today:  They were going to ship it UPS Ground, which would take 3-4 days.  I had to cough up another $30 to expedite the shipping to get it here tomorrow.)

The bad news:  There was a mix-up with the boost gauge, so it won't be arriving until Monday.

So it's possible that Dieter will be buttoned back up and "driveable" by the end of the day tomorrow, but he won't be complete. 

Stephen still needs to run some vacuum lines and replace the fluids.  Then there's the trimming and test fitting of the bumper cover.  Also need to install the new exhaust and an alignment will definitely be necessary since the subframe has been removed.   Oh, and installing the gauges.

Getting very close!

Today's pictures available here.

October 5, 2005 -- Day two of the turbo installation. 

The oil feed line was installed, as were the downpipe and wastegate output tube.  The bracket that secures the  wastegate's output tube didn't mate up with the engine block/tranny like it was expected to.   Took some extra time to correct it.  Stephen also said that it was a PITA to get the downpipe and that tube to line up and mate up the way they were supposed to.  

He was a little irritated by these things slowing him down, but he also said that that kind of stuff is inevitable when a jig is used for mass-producing pieces like this.   He said he had used some equipment at ProCharger to make some tubes once, and they didn't line up like they were supposed to, either.  <shrug>  "Bolt-on kit".

He installed the turbo heat shield.  Then we removed the front bumper cover and he relocated the power steering cooler from in front of the radiator to below the car.  Of course, it's now tucked in between some coolant lines, so I wonder if it's more of a power steering heater now.  The front-mount intercooler has been bolted into place and the oil pan has been removed (after draining all the oil, of course).

Pictures of today's progress can be found here.

On tap for tomorrow will be drilling the hole for the oil return line in the oilpan, re-mounting it and connecting that line, hooking up coolant lines an other miscellaneous things, and hopefully buttoning everything back up.  Still have to mount the intercooler piping and trim the bumper cover for all that stuff to fit, install the remainder of the exhaust, plug the ECU back in (once EIP returns it), and install the gauges.  There are probably a few other steps that I'm forgetting...

October 4, 2005 -- Day one of the EIP Stage 1 turbo installation! 

Work started a little after 8am and finished between 5:15 and 5:30.  I actually had to miss a couple hours in the morning to go to a meeting at work.  Likewise, I will have to be in & out a bit tomorrow. 

The battery and airbox have been removed, as well as the downpipe and cats from the exhaust.  The lower subframe had to be dropped (after removing the skid plate, of course) in order to have enough room to install the turbo core.  Progress was a little slow, but I think things went pretty well considering this is the first time ImagineAuto have performed this installation.  One minor issue is that Stephen (the technician performing the installation) had to clean up the threads for the wastegate flanges on the turbo core and the dump tube that goes from the wastegate to the downpipe.  Once he chased the threads out, the parts bolted right up like they were supposed to.

Pictures from today can be found here.

Next, he'll need to drop the oil pan and tap it, run all the lines, "slightly" relocate a power steering piece (don't recall if it was the resevoir or a pump), mount the intercooler and run the piping to it, minor cutting of the bumper cover to make room for the intercooler, and install the exhaust.  And replace all the fluids that had to be drained today (oil and coolant).  ECU was shipped to EIP tonight and they should get it tomorrow morning.  I expect/hope it will be back with the new software sometime on Thursday.  Oh yeah, and an alignment will be necessary since the sub-frame had to be dropped to get the turbo core installed.

October 3, 2005 -- I dropped Dieter off at ImagineAuto this afternoon.  Boxes arrived later today (finally!), and I spent the evening loading all the parts into Gretchen.  One of the boxes was pretty beat up, though.   Fortunately, none of the parts appeared to be damaged, and hopefully none are missing.  Pictures and further comments can be found here.  Installation begins tomorrow!

September 27, 2005 -- Mike called me today and gave me the low-down:

EIP's business volume has recently grown exponentially.  They began re-structuring things to try and keep up, and their new strategy is to build batches of products in a round-robin fashion--30 1.8T upgrade kits, then 30 VR6 turbo kits, then 30 exhausts or some other product, etc.--in order to try and keep their shelves stocked with products.  Building products as they're ordered simply isn't working for them anymore.  They just can't keep up with demand that way.   Apparently I placed my order smack-dab in the middle of the transition to this new methodology.  Rather than telling me I'd have to wait 3 months for the next batch of R32 turbo kits, they tried to squeeze my kit in so they could get it out the door sooner.   (It's the thought that counts, right?)

As a result of this huge change, EIP has obviously experienced some growing pains and communications issues between departments during this transition period.  That's why the assembly of my kit has been so messed up.

As far as Mike knows, the "only" thing missing right now are 10 nuts.  Everything else is together and ready to go.   (Apparently they actually make their own nuts and bolts, too.)  There were tracking numbers waiting in my e-mail when I got home, but the kit will actually ship tomorrow.  <fingers crossed, knocking on simulated wood grain, etc.>

Mike was gone Friday and Monday because his 3-month-old baby was sick, which is a totally valid reason to not go to work in my book.   Mike also expressed that he's just as frustrated by this situation as I am, and that makes sense considering he's stuck between unhappy customers and departments in (let's all hope temporary) turmoil.

Things are looking up, it would seem.

September 26, 2005 -- No contact from EIP.  When I called and asked for Mike, I was told he wasn't in today, either, but should be back tomorrow.  I didn't bother asking for another status request, since the last one didn't yield any results.

I sent an e-mail to Rich detailing my poor experience so far.  Hopefully that will get some kind of results...

September 23, 2005 -- No tracking numbers and no call from EIP.  <sigh>  So, I called and asked for Mike.   The fellow who answered the phone said that Mike wasn't in today (which explains why he didn't call me), so I asked if he could check the status of my order.  He took my name and my order number, then told me he would submit a status request and I should get an answer on Monday.


No wonder EIP can't ship me my kit--they're mired in bureaucracy!

Meanwhile, the H&R adjustable rear swaybar I ordered from Virtual World Parts on Monday (of this week) arrived today.  The good folks at Virtual World Parts have never let me down, and are truly a testament to timely and friendly service.

September 19, 2005 -- Called Mike at EIP to see what's up.  He said that they're just waiting on the flanges, which should arrive on Wednesday (9/21).  Once they get the flanges, all they have to do is weld them onto the downpipe and then they can ship everything to me.  Mike said it should ship by Friday (9/23).

Apparently, I'm one of very few people who have opted for the silent return rather than atmospheric dump from the wastegate (which is reportedly VERY loud).  As such, they don't keep the materials in stock for the silent return piping, and that was the cause for the delay.

So I asked Mike if they could just ship everything else so we could get started on the installation (since the "only" thing missing was the downpipe, and it should be done by Friday).  Mike said that he would check with "the owner" (Rich, I presume) and call me back.  Mike called back and said that they would not ship everything else, as there would be too great a risk for a mistake.  Whatever.

It's been two weeks since I dropped Dieter off at ImagineAuto, and we're losing confidence in EIP's delivery estimates, so I got Dieter back today.  Damn, I missed him!

September 14, 2005 -- I have received my NewSouth Performance dual ColumnPod and my 42 Draft Designs Perfect Match LED kit.  Ben at ImagineAuto is sourcing the Stewart Warner boost and air/fuel gauges.  Now all I need is a turbo kit to justify the gauges.

September 13, 2005 -- I called Mike at EIP today to get an update.  He said that the only thing missing is the downpipe.   (And I thought the piece from Turbonetics was the only thing missing...)   However, the only way he could get one was to actually submit paperwork to the parts department for a new one.  And once they process the request, he can then send it along to the fabrication department--at which time he'll finally get an estimate on how long it will take them to make one.  Seems like an awful lot of paperwork just to have poor communications between departments.

September 12, 2005 -- ImagineAuto performed a new baseline pull on their Mustang AWD dyno today, and got the following numbers:

208.8hp @ 6500 RPM, 184.7tq @ 4750 RPM

These numbers are quite a bit higher than the previous run, so I quizzed Ben down about these results.  They got new roll-calibration data from Mustang before doing this run.  On the previous pass, they didn't have this information for the R32, so we selected the same values as a TT Quattro (same Haldex drivetrain).  Clearly, Mustang believes there's a bit of a difference in driveline loss between the R32 and the TT Quattro.

Assuming a generous 20% drivetrain loss, that puts the calculated crank HP at around 260.  

The R32 is advertised to have only 240HP stock, but many of us in the R32 community believe it's actually closer to the same 250HP advertised for the Audi TT 3.2--and who knows if Audi's numbers are underrated.  The dyno pull was performed with the exhaust flapper in the "loud" position, which other folks have dyno-tested to show a good 5HP gain across the rev band.  (Actually around 10HP gain under the conditions when the flapper would normally be in the "quiet"--and therefore more restrictive--position.)  Couple that with a tank full of BP/Amoco 92 octane (versus the standard 91 octane) and the fair possibility that I'm lucky and got a "strong" VR6, the 260HP crank value is actually feasible. 

At the MC Racing dyno day last year, my R32 pulled 227.1HP in FWD mode on their DynoJet dyno.  Using a 15% drivetrain loss that is typical for FWD VWs, the crank HP comes out even higher at 267.  Again, slightly optimistic in my book, but close enough to validate/confirm IA's AWD baseline.  In the end, the only thing that really matters is the difference between the "after" pull and the "before" pull.

September 7, 2005 -- Argh.   Mike at EIP called me today.  He said that they got the missing piece from Turbonetics, but now they don't have the downpipe.  Mike believes that communications are very poor between their fabrication and parts departments (I tend to agree at this point), and that things aren't being coordinated in a timely fashion like they should be.

He couldn't give me an ETA, but said he would let me know as soon as he finds out.   <sigh>

September 6, 2005 -- Dropped Dieter off at ImagineAuto this morning.   They will be performing the turbo installation once the parts arrive.  They're also having an open house this Thursday and wanted to display Dieter as an upcoming project.  :)

August 30, 2005 -- Well, EIP was supposed to ship the Stage 1 turbo kit by now, but there's been a mix-up and Turbonetics failed to send them a flex bellows (or something like that).  So, I took Dieter up to the top level of the parking structure at work and snapped a few pictures.  Purrrdy!

August 10, 2005 -- The dealership (Jay Wolfe VW) diagnosed the brake pressure sensor as being faulty, and replaced it under warranty.  The service advisor said he'd never seen one of those fail in all his years of service.  I wouldn't expect it to fail either.  But then again, there have been lots of brake light switches failing on other R32s and MkIVs.  Maybe I should go ahead and order one of those...

August 2, 2005 -- Started Dieter up to drive to work yesterday morning, and the ESP light turned itself on, indicating an error of some kind.  Hm.  Turned him off, started him back up, and the light went away.

Plugged in the VAG-COM tonight, and the ABS controller logged an intermittent signal from Brake Pressure Sensor 1. 

Cleared the code, turned the key off, then turned it back on--no light.

Foot on the clutch, foot on the brake (as though preparing to start) and turned the key back on--ESP light trips back on.

Got the same code again and cleared it again. This time, I left the key on and pressed just the brake pedal--ESP light trips back on again.

Aha. It would seem that the sensor actually is starting to flake out.

Cleared the code, then actually started the car without pressing on the brake pedal--no light. Repeatedly pressed the brake pedal--no light.

Turned the car back off, turned the key back to the on position, then pressed the brake pedal--no light.

So, it looks like I'll call the dealership tomorrow and set up an appointment...

July 13, 2005 -- My first day on vacation, in Hawaii--thousands of miles from my R32, and what do I do?  I order an EIP Stage 1 turbo for Dieter!  ;P

June 18, 2005 -- Went to the Omaha VW Club's annual show & shine in Gretna, NE today.  I tried using the blue painter's tape for the trip up.  I lost a couple pieces along the way, and had to pull over once to secure/remove some more.  Apparently, the low adhesion tape has a hard time sticking at 80mph unless it's laid down just right.

The registration was set up such that they took a picture of your car directly after registering and before you parked.  After about 2 minutes of pulling off the painter's tape, Dieter's front end was basically bug-free, save for the windshield, and ready for a picture.  Overall, I have mixed feelings about the painter's tape.   It probably takes as long to apply the tape as it does to clean off the bugs, but removing the tape is much faster/easier at the show site. 

It's been a couple years since I've gone to the Omaha Club's show, and this was my first time at this location.  It was basically held in the parking lot of a strip mall, with no real designated parking other than "over there, but not too close to the actual mall".  There was active road construction on the highway right next to the mall, so it smelled like a cattle pasture and there was a constant supply of dust blowing over and settling on/in all our cars.  All judging was people's choice, and Dieter didn't win anything.  I have no problems with that.  On the upside, a local R32 won many awards, including "Best Engine".  Cool!  I had fun hanging out with the Nebraska water-coolers, as always.  They're good guys.

June 11, 2005 -- Went to the June Bug Jam VW show in Springfield today.   Of course, Dieter was nice and clean until I pulled out of the garage...into rain.   It was dry when I got to Springfield, and the nearest rain to the west was still on the other side of the Missouri border.  A few minutes into washing the bugs off Dieter, the sprinklers at Chesterfield Village fired up.  Fortunately, I was on the other side of the street, but still got a little of the blow-over mist.  Not a big deal for me, though, but I felt sorry for the folks parked right up against 'em.

Once I got Dieter all clean and ready to be judged, I strolled down the lane to check out the other cars and chat with folks, and eventually stepped into
the local deli to get some lunch.  Just before I went in, I noted an increase in cloudiness.  About 5 minutes after I placed my order, I saw that the sky had become considerably darker and the wind really picked up.  Rain was inevitable, so I quickly asked to change my order "to go" so I could get
Dieter closed back up before the rain fell.  It had begun slightly sprinkling by the time I got back to him, and got everything put away and all the doors shut before it began to really rain.  And it poured!  The rain lasted a good 30-45 minutes, then moved on.

I went back to Dieter to open him back up and dry him off since he hadn't been judged prior to the rain.  (The judges put a little sticker on the headlight of each car they've judged, so participants know whether or not their car has been judged yet.)   When I walked up to Dieter, though, I spotted the sticker on his headlight.  I guess the judges kept working through the rain.  As such, I only wiped down the side mirrors and headlights and left the rest wet.

Well, I guess the water beaded up nicely, because he managed to nab 3rd place.  There was some pretty stiff competition, so I'm happy enough with 3rd place considering the circumstances.

My friend Sean came to the show, and he drove Sonja.  It was cool seeing her again, and she's looking and sounding as good as always.  :)  We hope he'll
be able to enter her in next year's show.

May 28, 2005 -- Another successful car show for the Mo-Kan Volkswagen Club.  Dieter took third place in his class, which was the largest water-cooled class with a total of 8 cars.  Pretty stiff competition.

Next up will be the VW show in Springfield, MO in two weeks.

May 27, 2005 -- Went to BHR this morning, where Eric Brown repaired the windshield chip.  (The glass work is a side business, called Glass Solutions.)  The damage is still visible, but is less apparent.  Eric told me that it's very rare for the damage to become completely invisible--the point of the repair is to prevent new cracks from forming.  He said he was pretty please with how this particular repair turned out.

Before:  rockchip1.JPG (18802 bytes) rockchip2.JPG (12577 bytes)

After:  chipfixed1.JPG (21599 bytes) chipfixed2.JPG (15581 bytes)

Spent the rest of the day cleaning Dieter up for the Mo-Kan show tomorrow.  Each time I give Dieter a nice hand-washing, I find more rock chips and dings.   <sigh>

May 21, 2005 -- Finally got around to washing the bugs off Dieter's front, and vaccuumed out his interior, wiped the dash down, and cleaned & treated the seats.  MUCH better! 

The rock chip in his windshield should be getting fixed next week, and I'll be taking a day of vacation next Friday to give Dieter a really good cleaning in preparation for the Mo-Kan VW show on Saturday.

Pictures from last weekend's trip can be found here.

May 16, 2005 -- The drive home was fairly uneventful.  LOTS of bugs are now embedded into Dieter's bumper and mirror covers now.  He needs a bath!

I've got over 1500 miles on the VF-Engineering pendulum mount now.  It's presence is barely noticeable when the A/C is off.  If the A/C is running and Dieter is idling, however, it's still quite noticeable.  I wonder how much worse it will be when I get the two remaining mounts installed...

May 15, 2005 -- Met up with the R32 gang at Red Rocks park for a photo shoot prior to the VWs On The Green show.   Beautiful scenery and beautiful cars made for a fun time. 

I finally got to meet Ian--someone I've conversed with many times before via the GTI-VR6 mailing list and the VW Vortex message forums.   Man, he gets his money's worth out of his R32 every time he gets behind the wheel.   He makes full use of his car's abilities:  both for hauling things and for hauling ass!

After the photos were taken, we all caravaned to the VWs On The Green car show.  More fun in the sun, and lots of really cool (and a few eccentric) VWs to look at.  Good times, good times.

After the show, Ian led a handful of us on a spirited drive down the back roads of the Rocky Mountains.  That was a complete blast!  I have a renewed appreciation for my suspension set-up.  The Bilstein Sports and stock springs performed wonderfully.  I noticed a loss in power due to the higher altitude compared to the flat lands of Kansas, so I spent a lot more time higher in the rev band in lower gears than I was used to, but still had a great time.   Unfortunately, Dieter took a stone to the windshield at one point.  On the up-side, it's off to the side, rather than directly in my field of vision, and should be easily/cheaply repaired.  Better to take a stone at high speeds down a mountain road than during a hum-drum commute on the local highway.

At one point, someone in a red A4 convertible started following us, and he did a very good job of keeping up.  When we pulled over to chat a bit and let the cars cool down, so did he.  Turns out he was an Audi engineer (thick German accent and all) scouting out "test tracks" for cars, and he said we were the first cars he's followed that "weren't boring".  8^D   Ian said he's spotted lots of cars being tested in Colorado, due to the high altitude.

Following that drive, Ian took me on a tour of his various video shoot locations. That was great! (Now that's my kind of sight-seeing.) For example, we were driving along and he pulls off the road and goes directly into a powerslide to come to a stop. I stop next to him, and he says "Hey, remember that AWD take-off video?" And then he launched away, just like in the video.  Sweet.

He also led me up Mt. Zion, to Lookout Point (I think).  In all the previous driving, there were plenty of trees and scenery on either side of the road.  This particular stretch, however, had a plain view DOWN the side of the mountain, and my fear of heights started to kick in.  I alternated between "Oooh, aaaahhh..." and "OOH!  AAAHH!"  There were some seriously tight switch-backs on that road, though.  Fun!

We also swapped cars very briefly. The HPA SHS suspension in Ian's car offers an outstanding balance of performance and comfort--very impressive.  (Ian informed me that I need to upgrade the rear sway bar.  It's been on the list of mods I plan to do, but I just don't need it that urgently here in the flat 'burbs.)  And the Azenis tires he uses have much better stick than the Pilot Sport PS2s. Gonna have to try a set of those once these PS2s wear out...

After that, we headed back into Denver for dinner.   Ian and I had a good chat about numerous subjects--he's a really cool guy, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to finally meet him face-to-face.  As we were about to part, some kid drove up to ask us questions about our R32s.  Apparently, he's a big fan of the car and would love to own one someday.  His girlfriend was riding along in his car, and she was rolling her eyes and making fun of him the whole time.  LOL!

Back to the hotel for some much-needed rest.   Not going to bother cleaning Dieter yet again.  Got some bugs up front, and a little dust inside from driving around with the windows down and sunroof open.

May 14, 2005 -- Spent an hour with tech support this morning, trying to gain internet access.  No luck there, either.   The tech support guy was nice enough, and seemed to generally know what he was doing, but had no idea why my browser kept locking up.  <shrug> 

I met the owner of the blue R32 on my way to breakfast: his Vortex ID is ValveFloat, and I recall seeing him post many times before.   Cool!

After breakfast, I went to the R32 "No Coast GTG" held at Avalon Motorsports, a Denver area tuner shop.  Apparently, they had just moved to this new location--they were there until 3am (this morning) getting things set up well enough to host the event!  There were 15-17 R32s present (I think--a couple came and went, so I may have missed a couple).  The vast majority of them were blue, I think 3 were red, 3 were black, and there was one other silver R32 besides Dieter.  Avalon had some cool prizes that were given away in a random drawing (I didn't win anything--but that's okay), and several folks got their R32s flashed with GIAC software.

We then drove en masse to the picnic location, which was in a rural park area.  Driving with a pack of other R32s is quite an experience!   The last couple miles were down a gravel road.  Not that I particularly baby Dieter, but I have been able to avoid gravel roads up until now.  That damn gravel dust has a tendency to get everywhere and is a general PITA to clean out.   That's okay, though, because the scenery was fantastic and the company most excellent.  Much to our surprise and dismay, someone had stolen the barbecue grilles--so we had no way to cook all the food the organizers brought!  An emergency call was made, and a wife was dispatched to purchase a few cheap grilles.  In the meantime, there was plenty of pop and chips and fruit to tide us over.  The grilles eventually arrived, and we cooked hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats.  Yummy.  We eventually disbanded, and I went back to my hotel to clean Dieter, again, and get some much-needed rest.

And I really should have put on some sunscreen.  I made a dash to the local pharmacy to buy some aloe vera gel before settling in for the night.  Ack.

May 13, 2005 -- Last night, I applied low adhesive blue painter's tape to Dieter's front, on the surfaces most likely to collect bugs on my road trip to Colorado.  I learned this morning that rain and highway speeds will remove low adhesive painter's tape.  So much for that...

Before heading out of town, Roger at Autopia checked & adjusted Dieter's alignment.  His alignment machine was due for calibration when he installed the Bilstein Sports, so we left it alone at that point.  Since I was about to embark on a long road trip, we decided to make sure everything was proper.   Good thing we checked, as some minor adjustments were needed.

Rained on me the first half of my journey, to Salina, KS.  Once I got out of the rain, the Kansas Highway Patrol were out in force.   Fortunately, I was adhering to the speed limit when my V1 radar detector let me know that they use directional, instant-on radar.  Yikes.  So, I set the cruise control at the legal limit and continued on my way.

The drive across Kansas wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.  Only the last hour or so became a little monotonous.  The speed limit on I-70 raised to 75mph inside Colorado, so that helped.  :)

Got checked in around 8pm and unloaded my stuff.   My room is on the "back side" of the hotel, away from the main drag.   I was able to park Dieter right underneath a street light, right outside my room, so I could easily keep an eye on things.  I immediately started cleaning him up, and getting the bugs washed off.  Finished up around 10pm.  Grabbed a quick bite to eat, and spotted a blue R32 parked on the other side of the hotel on my way back. 

I then tried to connect to the internet through the hotel's wireless network.  No luck with that, though.  I could connect to their network, but my web browser kept locking up every time I tried to open it.  :\

May 7, 2005 -- Took Dieter in for his 10k mile service yesterday, so all should be well for the road trip to Colorado and back next weekend.  Got him washed up today in preparation, and will put him in storage so the forecasted rain for this week doesn't un-do my work. 

Oh yeah--Jay Wolfe VW performs a complimentary car wash when they service your car.  I requested that they skip that, since he was already relatively clean and I planned to wash him again myself directly afterward.   They complied with my request, but also applied their special industrial-strength tire shine stuff.  (I presume because they had to remove the wheels to inspect the brake pads for wear.  I also asked them to skip the tire rotation, and they complied with that request, too.)  They used this stuff on Gretchen's tires just before I took delivery, and it lasted a surprisingly long time--longer than any other product I've used.   When I requested to skip the complimentary wash, I almost asked the service advisor to go ahead and let 'em apply the tire shine since it may well last through the next several car shows, but decided not to.  I was pleasantly surprised.   :)

When I picked Dieter up from the dealership, I was told that at some point during the day that there was also a red and a blue R32 parked next to him.  That would have been a pretty cool sight to see...

I've got around 180 miles on the VF-Engineering pendulum mount now.  The vibration has subsided notably, but is still very apparent at low RPMs.  I'm hoping things will mellow out even more by the time I return from Colorado next weekend.

Pictures from the ImagineAuto GTG and the "Cruise The 'Burg" show are now available.

May 1, 2005 -- Today's activity was the "Cruise The 'Burg" all-car show in Louisburg, KS.  A wide variety of cars are represented in this show, from antiques to vintage muscle cars, to modern street-legal racecars.  I'll try to get my pictures up in the Events section soon-ish.

Dieter's ECU is adapting more to the 103 octane gas he got yesterday.  Daddy like!  On the way back home, 6th gear seemed to have more pep than I thought it used to.  BTW, the average effective octane rating should actually be 97.875, considering the previous mixture of 92/93 octane.  (Yes, I'm a geek.)  I wonder how it'd feel with a full tank of un-diluted 103...

April 30, 2005 -- Spent the day at ImagineAuto today for their GIAC Tuning & Dyno Pulls GTG.  They installed the VF-Engineering pendulum (a.k.a. "dogbone") engine mount, Dieter got two pulls on their Mustang AWD dyno, and then I treated Dieter to a half-tank of yummy 103 octane gas (at $7.75/gallon).   There was a pretty decent turn-out, with over 20 cars visiting throughout the day.

As expected, it took longer to remove/re-install the skid plate than the pendulum mount itself.  The VF pendulum mount is certainly more stiff compared to the stock one.  In-cabin vibration is more apparent at idle and low RPMs.  Others who have this mount claim that the vibration will subside after a couple hundred miles of use, so the upcoming drive to Colorado and back should take care of that.

The Mustang AWD dyno certainly puts more of a load on the car than the 2WD Dynojet Dieter ran on at MC Racing last year (not to mention the higher drivetrain loss due to actually driving all 4 wheels for the pulls).  Here are the scans:

dyno1.gif (75613 bytes)

dyno2.gif (72771 bytes)

And for the sake of comparison, here's the FWD dyno from last year:

DieterDyno.gif (86111 bytes)

As you can see, this really illustrates the futility of comparing dyno sheets from two different types of dynos.  No power-adders (or subtractors) were installed between these two different dyno runs.  The only differences are the number of driven wheels and the dynos used.

April 23, 2005 -- Spent the afternoon detailing Dieter in preparation for the start of "car show season" next weekend.   And I'm reminded of why I like having a "beater" car.   Dieter can stay clean in storage between shows, which reduces time and effort spent cleaning him up for the next one. 

I hate relegating him to weekend-only duties, but I'm too lazy to do that much cleaning over the next two months...

April 16, 2005 -- Drove to Wichita (and back) today for their first poker run.  This event was hosted by a couple enthusiast clubs who are uniting under the umbrella of WichitaVW.com.  I had a great time, even though I got separated from the group at the very first stop light.  By the time it turned green they were GONE.  Fortunately, I had my trusty GPS and a map pointing out each destination.   When all was said and done, I actually beat the group back to the starting point.   :P  Wichita is not unlike Kansas City (heavy traffic and lots of construction), so getting around wasn't anything new to me.  Wichita is also like Springfield in that they have 93 octane available cheaper than what most stations charge for 91 octane here.  Yummy 93 octane...

Dieter's nose got totally plastered with bugs on the trip down and back.  I think I'll investigate that blue low-adhesive painter's tape some folks on VW Vortex apply to the fronts of their cars when traveling to car shows.   Should come in real handy for my trip to Colorado for the "VWs On The Green" show and the R32 GTG the day before.

This was a good way to add some miles.  Still not up to 10k yet (around 8500 now), but it's been over 6 months since his last service, and I won't be able to pile on enough miles to get to 10k before the road trip to Colorado--and that trip is over 600 miles one way.  Gonna have to get the 10k service done before that trip.

April 7, 2005 -- Update after a few weeks and a couple hundred miles on the suspesion:  Both front and rear have settled down ~1/16".  Still a touch higher than before the swap.  Performance-wise, they've softened up just a little bit, but still a huge improvement over stock and exactly what I want.

March 9, 2005 -- Finally got the Bilstein Sport shocks/struts installed.  The Monroe shocks/struts we got on the U.S. version of the R32 felt like they were getting softer and softer, making the car wallow in the corners and dive/squat under had braking/acceleration.  In general, Dieter simply felt under-damped, and the problem appeared to be getting worse and worse.

The European R32s were equipped with Bilstein shocks/struts and H&R springs--which is a much more sporting combination that no doubt offered a more firm and controlled ride.  That setup also leaves the car sitting about 20mm lower than the U.S. version.  (Both differences are probably the reason we got the taller, softer set-up here in America.)  It is possible to buy the European R32 suspension, but I actually prefer not to lower my car.  I've run over enough ice chunks this winter to reinforce that--and even though it's higher than the European version, it's still visibly lower than "regular" Golfs.  I wanted to keep the "OEM Plus" theme going and wanted to improve performance, but without lowering.

So I bought some Bilstein Sport shocks/struts (intended for lowered cars--again, the R32 is already lower than "regular" Golfs) as well as VW Motorsport front upper strut mounts/bearings from Mike Potter (a.k.a. "Potterman") at Virtual World Parts.  I retained the stock springs to preserve the ride height and general comfort they provided.  Again, the car was feeling under-damped, so changing the springs weren't necessary to me.  I opted for the VWMS mounts/bearings because they're reportedly more sturdy that the stock pieces, and should last longer.  I wouldn't say they were a necessary upgrade, since the stock pieces haven't had an opportunity to wear out yet, but I figured we might as well upgrade while we're in there.

Roger at Autopia performed the installation for me.   (I've installed suspensions on Wolfgang and Sonja, but Dieter is a different critter under there and I don't have a Bentley service manual yet.  Besides, it's been hard to find that much time the past several weekends.)  Once he got into it, he became concerned that the Bilstein Sports would actually lower my car, judging by the relative position of the spring perch and upper mounting point:

DSC00192.jpg (52574 bytes)

I called Potterman to ask about this.  He said that upper mounting point is actually for the front sway bar.  It may cause the sway bar to be pre-loaded a bit more, but shouldn't be a problem.  Likewise, he hadn't heard of anyone else having issues with these Bilsteins lowering their cars too much.   (Granted, all the other people likely bought lowering springs as well...)  So, Roger proceeded to install everything, and it all went in without a problem.

I measured the ride height before the install. Measured again afterwards.  Much to our surprise, my R32 now sits ~1/4" HIGHER than it did before. Moohooha!  Those of you who know me realize that I'm not disappointed by that.  This is the lowest car I've ever owned, and I appreciate having enough ground clearance to drive normally without having to "granny" over bumps and inclines.  I dunno if the increase in height happened because the Bilsteins are pre-loaded (because they're pressurized gas dampers) or because the fading stock units were starting to sag (which would be lame, since I have only 7600 miles on 'em).   Maybe a little of both.  <shrug>

Performance-wise, this combination is EXACTLY what I wanted.  Dive/squat/body roll have been virtually eliminated.  Ride is more firm, but not at all harsh.   (Still less firm than the SRS on Wolfgang, which is fine by me--but notably more firm than it was before.)  Dieter no longer wallows, which really helps mask his weight.  I can now accelerate briskly and brake aggressively without feeling I'm in a rocking chair.  I haven't put on enough miles yet to perform a full evaluation, but at the moment I am highly satisfied with my purchase.  I'll give everything a couple hundred miles to settle and post an update.

All I need now is a rear sway bar and suspension is "done".

February 8, 2005 -- In celebration of my 1 year anniversary with Dieter (tomorrow), I've finally added a page listing current and planned modifications.  Also did some minor structural clean-up of his web pages. 

I plan to expand the modifications page with links to appropriate journal entries and/or archive pages, and I also plan to add a "budget" page much like Wolfgang's, that will list both costs and sources for all this stuff.

February 5, 2005 -- Got Dieter cleaned up this morning and snapped a couple really quick pictures of the V1 installation.  Here's the basic run-down of my installation:

First, I went to James O'Connor's (a.k.a. "SkankyBeans" on VW Vortex) web site showing his Valentine One hardwire installation.  That's basically how I performed the installation of the main unit.  Thanx to James for an excellent DIY!

Next, I modified the trim panel above the radio so it could be pivoted up to gain access to the area behind it.  Check out this excellent thread on VW Vortex to learn how you can do the same.  Outstanding work by VW Vortexer "VR6CorradoSLC". 

Note, however, that I skipped the installation of the touch latch.  I used that face in the center to attach the included Dual Lock fastener (with the other Dual Lock attached to the back panel of the remote display, as shown in the V1 instruction manual).  This allows me to attach the remote display when needed, and detach it for storage when not needed.  The downside to this is that the panel won't be as easy to open.  Keeping a business card, paper clip, or toothpick on hand (stored in the ashtray) will allow me to pop it open easily enough.

I cut a hole in the cavity on left the side of the piece behind the trim just large enough for the RJ-11 connector on the V1 cable to barely squeeze through.  That allowed me to get the cable through to the remote display, yet be able to stuff the cable into that pocket when the panel is closed without having to worry about it falling down into the dash.

When not in use, I can detach and unplug the display, tuck the cable into the cavity, and flip the trim panel back down into position.   The remote display can then be stored out of sight.

This was not my original plan for the remote display.  I wanted to permanently mount it behind the trim panel, recessed into the structure that holds the panel/door in place.  With the remote display fully intact, it's simply too large to fit back there.  Unscrew the two T8 torx screws on the underside of the display's housing, and you'll discover that the "guts" of it aren't so deep, after all.  See this picture and this picture for illustration.  This way, the circuit board and front panel could be recessed into the unit the trim panel/door is mounted to, and the door could be closed unobstructed.   Unfortunately, that piece is recessed far enough into the dash, and the display's circuit board is tall enough, that doing so would require some trimming/cutting of the dash itself.  I didn't want to do that.

That's when I got the idea to use the Dual Locks to temporarily affix the display unit to that piece.  There wasn't a good surface on the circuit board to attach a Dual Lock, so I had to put the display back together.

Remember how that piece the trim panel mounts to is recessed into the dash?  Well, I forgot to shim out the Dual Lock attached to that piece, so the matching Dual Lock on the remote display can't quite reach it well enough mate up like they were intended.  I can angle the display just enough for them to mate up sufficiently to hold the display in place, though.  (This may actually be a good thing, as those Dual Locks take quite a bit of force to separate once fully locked together.)  I may later revise this to use a relatively strong magnet that will stick out far enough to meet the remote display's backside (with either a piece of ferrous metal or matching magnet in place of the Dual Lock), yet not far enough out to prevent that trim panel/door from closing properly.

I've also added some pictures to the Gallery from January showing that Dieter actually does get dirty in the real world.

In other news, this past week I received the smoked bumper markers I pre-ordered from EuroCullen last September.  They fit much better than the previous smoked markers I had (no trimming of the markers necessary), and they included a pair of amber LED bulbs, so I won't have to worry about them melting like the last ones.  They also actually have a little reflective capability, which I like.

I learned from Cullen today that the bumper markers are actually supposed to use W3W bulbs, rather than the W5W amber bulbs I used with the previous markers.  That would explain the melting.   He also informed me that amber W3W bulbs aren't available--and that's why he supplies the amber LED bulbs with his markers.  Good stuff to know.

February 3, 2005 -- I finally got around to performing the hard-wire installation of the Valentine One radar locater last night.  Still have a teency bit of tidying up to do, but it's in there and it works.   I had to settle on a less-than-ideal mounting method for the remote display, but it seemed to be the only viable option that would still allow complete concealment in a relatively easy fashion.  I'll post more details about that once I take some pictures (hopefully today or tomorrow).

And the V1 definitely works.  Coming home tonight, the V1 warned me of a single radar source ahead while on one of the small sidestreets leading to my house.  I was already abiding by the posted limit (always do in my own neighborhood), so I wondered what the source was.  Eventually, I noticed a car approaching, but couldn't make out the silhouette of the light bar on top until just before we passed each other--the street was pretty dark.  Once we passed, the V1 indicated that the radar source was behind me, then it faded away.  Sweet.

January 22, 2005 -- Well, I finally installed the Haldex Performanc Part today (described in my December 30 entry).  In theory, this upgrade should take about 30-45 minutes to perform.  True to form, it took me pretty much all stinkin' day.  Partly because I'm a slow, methodical worker when it comes to wrenching on my car, and partly because halfway through I discovered my tools were inadequate for the job and I had to buy some better ones.  At any rate, I have successfully swapped in the new unit.  Haven't had a chance yet to really try it out, but I'll definitely report my findings once I do.

I also did some preliminary research on installing my new Valentine One radar locator.  I investigated a couple mounting options, and I think I've settled on one.  Still have some fabrication work to do to mount the remote display, so the actual installation probably won't happen until that's done. 

Tomorrow, Dieter gets a good hand-washing and quick tidying-up of the interior (Monster Mats need to be hosed down, but it'll be too cold for that tomorrow, so a "real" interior clean-up will have to wait).  Then he'll take a short vacation in storage so Gretchen can have her turn for a bit.

January 16, 2005 -- I've added a few back-dated entries, as the holiday season has kept me too busy to update this page in a timely fashion.  I also moved all of last year's entries to a separate archive page, with a new link at the top of this page that will take you there.

January 12, 2005 -- My new Valentine One radar locator arrived today.  Sweeeeeeet.  Of course, it's so bitter cold outside (single digits for overnight lows, and it's not terribly warm in the garage, either) that I'm reluctant to get out to perform a stealth installation of the remote display.  Plastic gets brittle when cold, and I don't want to risk breaking anything by accident.  That, and I don't care much for the cold.

I'm also anxious to install the Haldex HPP I got just before New Year's, but again, the garage is both cold and wet from melting snow/ice.   In addition, I'd like to clean up that area a bit first.  Installation of the HPP requires replacing a gasket, and I don't want to risk contaminating that surface or the oil within.  And Dieter is mighty dirty right now.

Yeah, I'm a wussy.

Looks like temperatures are going to warm up some next week, so maybe I'll have more to report then.

January 9, 2005 -- Crushed another chunk of ice on the road today.  My wife shouted "Skid plate!" before I had the chance.  She's catching on...  =D

January 7, 2005 -- Well, Dieter's skid plate has finally proven it's worth with this winter weather.  Twice in the past two days, in fact:

1)  Last night, there was a fairly big chunk of ice in the middle of my lane, like something that fell out of an SUV's wheel well.   Looked to be small enough to clear the bumper cover, though, so I stayed on course.   KRUNK!  Squished by the skid plate. "Skid plate!" I proclaimed with glee.

2)  This morning on the way to work, there was a mound of snow/ice buildup on the corner of the road leading to the parking garage.  Didn't even see it, but I sure heard it when the skid plate plowed over it.  "Skid plate!"  (My wife then asked me if I was going to shout "skid plate" everytime I ran over something with it.  Heh!)

Granted, the reduced clearance because of the skid plate may have been a factor in situation #2, but I'd sure hate to have an impact like that without it. I feel my purchase was justified.

This has also solidified my thoughts about not lowering my R32.  I think I'll be ordering a set of Bilsteins to use with the stock springs next month.  The stock US-spec Monroe dampers are simply too soft for the heft of this car.

January 5, 2005 -- Happy (belated) New Year!  We finally got some significant winter precipitation here in the Kansas City area (freezing rain, then sleet, then a little snow).  I've waited 11 months to drive my R32 on some real snow!  The last big snow we got was the weekend Dieter was delivered to the dealership.  By the time I took delivery that Monday, all the roads were well cleared.  While we did actually get a few inches of snow in mid-November of last year, I was driving Gretchen at the time, and everything melted within a couple days.  This stuff is actually sticking around for awhile.

Dieter is a blast to drive in the snow (with snow tires on, of course).  Very confidence-inspiring.  I giggled several times at just how easy it was to get around on the snow-packed roads around here.  AWD is once again a revelation to me.  I had the opportunity to play around in an un-touched parking lot after work tonight, to learn more about how Dieter performs in these conditions in a controlled environment.  That was a lot of fun!  With ESP turned off, handling and throttle response was very predictable and easy to control.  AWD donuts were also quite easy to perform, and are pretty fun to boot!  ;) 

The ESP works shockingly well, too.  I had read some people post in message forums about how well it does its job, but I still was not prepared for just how effective it truly is.  Pulling out of a sidestreet onto one with more traffic, I got on the gas to stay well ahead of an approaching car.  The rear end slid out on me, so I countersteered.  I expected the car to fish-tail a little bit, but it didn't--it simply stopped sliding altogether as soon as it was pointing the direction I wanted to go.  In fact, it stopped lateral motion so quickly that my head bobbed side-to-side!  Very impressive.