Modifications Pictures Back Home
November 29, 2002 -- Did Sonja's last oil change of the year, cleaned her up a bit, then tucked her away in storage for the Winter. I got Wolfgang back from the bodyshop last Wednesday, so he's back on daily driver duties. Looks like Sonja was spared being driven on salted roads, after all. <whew!>
October 15, 2002 -- Wow, I'm waaaay overdue for an update. Well, I got myself into an accident with Wolfgang on September 23rd. Basically, the traffic ahead of me came to a stop and I didn't notice it in time. I realized I wouldn't be able to avoid hitting the car in front of me and didn't see anyone in the lane next to me, so I made an emergency lane change. Unfortunately, that's when a '77 Ford F150 nailed Wolfgang in the B-pillar. (The lane obviously wasn't as unoccupied as I thought--of course, I didn't have a whole lot of time to check my rearview.) I did manage to not hit the car in front of me, and nobody (no people, that is) got hurt. Pics of the damage can be seen on Wolfgang's picture page.
At any rate, Sonja's pulling daily driver duties yet again while Wolfgang is back in the bodyshop getting repaired. Y'know, I think I've driven her a heckuva lot more than Wolfgang this summer. Of course, this means my autocrossing season has come to an end, because of my "don't autocross the daily driver" rule. That's okay, though, because my autocross money will be otherwise spent on repairs and increased insurance rates. :(
Meanwhile, I have swapped Sonja's stock wheels with the all-season tires back on her. The weather is getting cold enough to make a little frost overnight once in a while, so it's time for the summer tires to hibernate. I'm really hoping Wolfgang is repaired before it actually starts snowing, though. Granted, I'm really curious to try Sonja's Quaife differential in snow, but I'd rather protect her old chassis from salted roads...
September 2, 2002 -- Happy Labor Day, everyone! Rather than staying home and resting up (like I should have), Sonja and I competed in her 4th autocross. Okay, so "competed" may be a strong word--we participated, at least. Rather than just listing the times and showing the screen capture of the track logs like I usually do, I'm going to actually provide a summary of the event in the hopes of drawing attention away from how badly the numbers show I did. :)
I woke up plenty early to get there in time to help set up. Those who help set up are given first choice on which heats they run in and work on. Since it was forecast to be really hot out, I decided I wanted to do my thing before it got too hot--so I chose to run in the first heat and work in the second heat. Since the course wasn't very technical (mostly straights and long, sweeping corners), I kept Sonja's front Koni shocks at their daily driver setting (1/2 turn from full soft) and tightened up her rear shocks to a lot stiffer setting (1/4 turn from full stiff), so simulate the Shine road racing philosophy.
I took my first run nice and easy to make sure I knew my way around the course, as I usually do. Coming out of the second turn, I lost sight of where I was supposed to go. Fortunately, I knew I was supposed to go right to cut across the course, so I looked for the pair of pointer cones that make a "gate", found 'em, and went about my merry way. It didn't feel quite right, but I figured I'd find out if I went off-course when I finished my run. As I was pulling back into grid after my finish, I heard my time announced (49.xxx seconds), the announcer called my car a Jetta--to which I laughed--but I didn't hear him say "DNF". ("DNF" stands for "Did Not Finish"--this is your result if you fail to navigate the course and your time doesn't count.) So, I figured I was okay and focused on going faster next time. I did my second run and felt pretty good about it, heard my time was 48.xxx, then heard "...but he DNF'd again". What? Whaddyamean "again"?!?!? Apparently, I missed a complete corner when I shot across to what I thought was a gate.
One of the guys asked me if I knew where I went astray--clearly I didn't. He walked me over to where we could see the other cars running that section and pointed out the corner I was spacing off. Oh yeah--that's the one with the pothole in it that I noted when I walked the course. I knew something was missing (DUH!). Boy, you'd think I'd get *better* with more experience...
LESSON ONE: If you think you might not have run the course properly, ask someone to be certain. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time and energy.
I took my 3rd run and managed to follow the complete course. (Yay!) I got a 48.203.
I took my fourth run, and it felt really good. However, the timing system messed up so I had to re-run it. "Even better", I thought. As I pulled into grid, I heard a strange sound: rrrrrrrrrr. "Is that Sonja, or the car next to us?", I wondered. Popped the hood, got out: RRRRRR. "Crap!". The last turn is a hard left, and it's kind of a washboard surface. Those two factors caused that ill-fitting Optima Redtop battery to slide over a bit. This caused my power leads for the relayed headlights to get shoved in the way of the radiator fan, which promptly started chewing 'em up. I couldn't make another run like this, so I asked the grid chief if I should try to fix it or leave the course. He told me to try to fix it (thanx Todd!), so I ran over to where I had unloaded my tools and stuff prior to the event, grabbed my ratchet and extension from the tool box, ran back over to Sonja, and managed to get the battery loosened, repositioned, and tightened back down. <whew!>
LESSON TWO: Always take your tools when you're going to drive your car hard. (And, more appropriately, make sure everything is going to stay in place BEFOREHAND. I thought I had the battery snugged down pretty well--which it was for daily driving--but that hard left with washboard proved otherwise.)
So I headed out for my re-run...and entered the uphill slalom to fast. Sonja's rear end swung out from behind me, and I couldn't get her pointed between the next two cones of the slalom. Dangit! Another DNF! Otherwise, I got a 47.xxx (which would've been a bit faster if I hadn't had that "moment"). When I got back to grid, I popped her hood and made sure that battery was still in place. It was. Good. Stay!
Time for my last run. I figured I was pretty much toast, and I didn't want to push Sonja too hard in any left-handers so that battery wouldn't slide over too far and cause some real damage. So, I drove fast but tried to take it really easy in the corners. I dunno how I did it, but I managed my fastest time of 44.262! Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. (Granted, I'm sure I was still dead last in my class...)
In summary, I have pretty mixed emotions about my performance. I screwed up a lot, but I managed to pull out a pretty good time (for me) on my last run. I was actually pretty happy with the suspension setup, as I didn't understeer nearly as much as I have in the past--I attribute that to the softer front shock settings.
Before I headed home, I pulled the fuses from the power wires for the headlights and secured them out of the way with a twisty-tie. When I pulled the GPS out to capture the track logs, I took another look at the wires. The damage is mostly superficial, since the insulation took the brunt of the abuse. Copious amounts of black electrical tape will put things back in order quite well, I think.
In the meantime, I'm not going to run any more autocross events until I make sure I get that battery REALLY secured. Fortunately, I've got until September 22nd to make that happen.
Okay, here are the times and the track logs (BTW, 1st heat gets 5 runs instead of the 4 the rest of the heats get):
1 - DNF (49.xxx) 2 - DNF (48.xxx) 3 - 48.203 4 - DNF (47.xxx) 5 - 44.262
August 22, 2002 -- I FINALLY posted the track log capture from the August 11 autocross run. Scroll down to that date's entry to see it.
August 20, 2002 -- I may not have fixed it, but at least I diagnosed it. Turns out it was the #2 injector being sick. Another fine job by Autopia. Sonja's running like a champ now!
August 17, 2002 -- I had grand plans of pulling the #2 injector and checking its spray pattern today. That didn't work out. I don't have the injector puller tool, so I tried to improvise with a 12mm open end wrench and a makeshift fulcrum. I tried for about an hour, but I couldn't get the silly thing out. I decided to stop before I actually broke something. Looks like another job for Autopia, since I lack the tools/skills/courage...
I did replace the #2 spark plug with a slightly less used one and verified that it's getting good spark. I also replaced her fuel filter while I was in there. The rough running is still present, though to a slightly lesser degree (likely due to the cleaner spark plug). She's become increasingly difficult to start when cold, though.
At any rate, we won't be competing in tomorrow's autocross. :(
August 14, 2002 -- Well, I ran some tests with my newly purchased dwell meter. The frequency valve and mixture control stuff is all working fine. The oxygen sensor checks out, too. Unless I'm testing the wrong thing, I think the thermo-time switch is dead, though (but that shouldn't cause her rough running at speed, though). It's starting to look like maybe the #2 injector is sick...
August 13, 2002 -- Scirocco-lister Eric Soltwedel has been helping me diagnose Sonja via e-mail. His original theory was that she was leaning out, but I've discovered that spark plug #2 is carbon-fouled--which means that cylinder is actually getting too much fuel. He's given me some suggestions of things to check out, so I've got plenty to do in the meantime. Looks like I'll be learning quite a bit about Sonja's fuel injection system in the next few days. Thanks to Eric for all his help in the past, present, and future!
August 11, 2002 -- Sonja's 3rd autocross! Another set of clean runs, but likely still dead last in my class. (Consistency is a virtue, I suppose...) Here are my times:
1 - 70.353 2 - 65.795 3 - 65.268 4 - 64.987
Here's a track log of the course. Since the course requires two loops, I'm only showing one track log capture here.
After the event, Sonja developed some strange behavior that's got me a little preoccupied. She runs rough (like she's missing on a cylinder) under 3000rpms. Yup, once I get the tach above 3000rpms, her engine smooths out and it's like nothing is wrong. <sigh>
July 22, 2002 -- GAH!! She's trying to drive me crazy!!! Okay. On Friday, she decided she was going to change the display on the MFA at her own whim. This continued through the weekend. Every once in a while, she'd let me change the display with the stalk switch, but it was mostly her show. Then yesterday, she decided to occasionally show the stuff in U.S. format (Fahrenheit/miles/12hr time), but every once in a while switch back to Euro format (Celsius/km/24hr time). Well, tonight I made a temporary block plate for the hole in the dash left by the vacated head unit. I decided to mount the switch for the amp there, so I pulled the fuse for the interior lights (also feeds 12V to the switch, which then goes to the amps turn-on line) so I could remove the switch to mount it to the block plate. When I finished and re-inserted the fuse, her MFA was blank again. Argh! No amount of fiddling with the fuse or the battery cables would bring it back to life. <sigh> This is really starting to bug me.
And while I'm ranting, I think the amp is terminally unhappy. I verified that it's getting good voltage, and I lowered the gain and unplugged the inputs and outputs, and it's still cutting in and out. Called the folks at Crutchfield, and the guy said he'd send me a new one and gave me a return authorization number to ship this one back. Great customer service! Almost scary, because I didn't tell him who I was or give him my order number--but he knew which model amp I bought and my street address. Must've gotten that info by cross-referencing caller ID or something...
July 18, 2002 -- Okay, a little more electrical weirdness. (No Scirocco is truly complete without some kind of electrical gremlins.) On the way in to work, the amp kept cutting in and out--like the on/off line was being switched on/off repeatedly or if the supply voltage kept dropping below the minimum required amount needed to power it.
On the way home from work, everything worked fine. In fact, when I got home I discovered that I had full control of the MFA again. There ya have it--she's just taunting me. Figures. Also, when I first turned the key to the on position (just before starting her up to go home), her tach jumped up a bit and returned to 0. Better do some research and see if there's a real electrical problem (ailing voltage regulator, or similar?) brewing...
July 17, 2002 -- Sonja's stereo upgrade is 99% complete. All I have to do know is make the block-off plate to cover the hole in the dash where the old head unit used to live. I'll eventually get a GAK Motorsports triple gauge panel to cover that hole.
It actually works! I'm quite pleased with myself. :) At first, it sounded like tinny crap--but then I discovered that the crossover switch was set to high pass. Once I switched it to disable the crossover (full range), it sounded *great*.
As an added bonus, Sonja decided to turn on her MFA display when I re-connected the battery. (I probably wiggled the right wire the right way when I re-installed the cover on the underside of the dash.) Interestingly enough, I couldn't switch between the MFA functions with the switch on the wiper stalk. I don't know if she's just taunting me to show me who's really in control, or if she's encouraging me to fix more electrical stuff.
July 14, 2002 -- Phase one of Sonja's stereo upgrade/stealthification is complete. During the course of yesterday and today, I:
Installed the new rear speakers. (Should get replacement stock grilles later this week.)
Mounted the amp in the rear hatch, behind the driver's rear seat.
Removed the Sony radio installed by the previous owner.
Routed power and signal wires to the amp. (This was quite a chore!)
Put Sonja back together enough to drive to work tomorrow. :)
Now all I have to do is:
Verify the wiring to the front speakers.
Connect the wiring up front for the amp turn-on switch (and mount the switch) and the amp outputs to the speakers.
Connect the speaker wires at the amp.
Connect the speaker-level inputs to the amp's connector and plug it in.
Make some kind of block-off plate to cover the hole left by removing the stereo. (Probably order the "official" block-off plate from Potterman.)
I hope to get the above done during the course of this week. Hope it all works!
While I had Sonja apart, I discovered a small wiring harness that was unplugged. I found it's mate, and guessed it was for the cruise control. I plugged 'em together for kicks. During the shake-down cruise (to make sure I put everything back together properly), I heard a relay click when I tried to engage the cruise control. The cruise control still doesn't work, but at least I've made a step towards fixing it. I'm undecided whether or not I want to go through the troubleshooting process or just remove it...
Oh, and another cool thing--I managed to get the driver's seat adjusting forwards and backwards again. Ever since I bought her, that seat would *not* budge forwards or backwards. After removing several pennies, sunflower seeds, and a pair of sunglasses from the rails, it'll actually move now. Spiffy!
July 11, 2002 -- Apparently, the rearview mirror fell off at some point when one of her previous owners had her. The original "slug" that is glued to the windshield for the rearview mirror to mount to has been replaced with a plastic, one-size-fits-most. Well, that plastic slug fits kinda loosely, so the rearview mirror wobbles a bit. Most annoying. I called a couple local auto glass places to see about getting that slug replaced with the correct one. Each place said that they'd be willing to try it, but they expected the windshield to break in the attempt to remove the current slug. :\ So, I ordered a new rearview mirror from ALLVIEW. Basically, it's a replacement wide-angle mirror--much like those clip-on panoramic mirrors. Just got it installed today (glued the new slug last night and let it cure overnight), and it works great. My Scirocco is a *little* bit shorter (height-wise) than this mirror was probably designed for, but it gets the job done, and certainly provides MUCH better rearward visibility than the small original mirror.
July 1, 2002 -- I have since reconnected that ground wire for the ISV and have temporarily covered up the air intake hole until I can get more time to check out that vacuum servo (to make sure it's actually the part at fault, and not a leaking vacuum line). Covering up that flap will prevent the air intake from sucking in hot air from the engine bay, which should help the A/C keep things cool.
I also took a peek at Sonja's speakers in preparation for an upgrade. It looks like the previous owner actually put some fairly decent speakers in the door pockets (at least they *look* healthy), whereas the obvious 6x9s in the rear have seen better days. I've ordered some uprated 6x4m replacements from Crutchfield, as well as a nice amp to spice things up. In the meantime, the search is on for some stock speaker grilles to regain some stealth in the rear. I fear those large 6x9s attract too much attention to themselves. (If you look at the Future Modifications section, you'll understand my plan for stealthy tunes.)
Finally, I scavenged the city lights from Wolfgang's now unused set of Hella dual rounds and installed 'em in Sonja's Euro lights. Sweet!
June 28, 2002 -- I took Sonja in to Autopia today to give her A/C a quick check-up. Roger checked everything out, and got her recharged again. He pointed out the broken ground for her idle stabilizer valve (which I can fix later), and showed me that the vacuum servo that shuts the air intake flap when "Max A/C" is turned on wasn't working (which I'll also look into later). Now Sonja's got A/C just like all those fancy new cars. :)
June 23, 2002 -- Sonja competed in her second autocross today! Again, we weren't the fastest, but we kept it clean (though I got *really* close a couple times). Here are my times:
1 - 61.726 2 - 57.330 3 - 55.820 4 - 55.927
Again, I had the GPS going for my runs. Below is a screen shot of the tracklog for my slowest and fastest runs. The portion drawn in white was my slowest run. The portion drawn in light blue on top of the slowest run was the timed part of my fastest run. The portion drawn in yellow was not timed (i.e. the grid area). I set the unit up to store a track point once every second. Therefore, the further apart the points, the faster I was going. Likewise, the closer together they are, the slower I was going. Top speed was 45.9mph at the end.
June 19, 2002 -- Just a quick update. Sonja's participated in 2 VW shows, the Bug Blitz/Bus Blast in Topeka, KS, and the June Bug Jamboree in Springfield, MO. She didn't win anything, which is actually a good thing--that means she actually had some competition! I changed her oil a couple days ago, and stopped by Autopia yesterday to get that mangled cold start injector wiring plug replaced. She's still running great <knocking on wood>, and the 6-speed still works like a dream <again, knocking on much wood>. Wolfgang's repaint has developed an i$$ue, so I hope I can afford to run Sonja in the autocross this weekend. If not, I at least plan to watch and cheer on my friends.
May 19, 2002 -- Sonja and I just took our first road trip this weekend, and she did great! We went to visit family and friends in southern Missouri/northern Arkansas. The roads are great fun there, and Sonja handled like a grown-up go-kart. :) Here's what I learned from the trip:
1) Sonja's definitely ready for daily driver duties. That's a Good Thing(TM), because Wolfgang goes into the paint booth next week, and will be "on vacation" for a month or two.
2) The novelty of the 6-speed hasn't worn off yet. In fact, the tall 6th gear was *very* nice for highway cruising.
3) 30mpg is a refreshing change from Wolfgang's thirsty VR6.
4) Her odometer doesn't always work. Hmm... (The above mpg figure was calculated by using the mileage logged on the GPS.)
5) Relayed Euro lights ROCK!
6) She's a lot more smooth/stable above 75 than I thought she'd be. ;)
May 15, 2002 -- I *finally* completed the installation and relaying of the Euro lights! Actually, I got 'em installed and hooked up (late) last night, and got them "mostly" aimed tonight. They *might* be aimed a bit high, but everyone else around here drives SUVs, so they probably won't notice anyway...
They are BRIGHT, and the oh-so-superior Euro light pattern that puts the light where it ought to be and nowhere else. I can actually see at night, now!
May 12, 2002 -- Fairly productive weekend. Last night, I secured that pesky Optima battery a little better (may eventually re-locate it to the hatch), hard-wired power for the GPS (was using a cigarette lighter adapter previously), and swapped in a programmable wiper relay. Tonight, I replaced a couple adjuster screws on the Euro lights and got a healthy start on relaying the headlights. Hopefully, I'll be able to scrounge enough "spare time" tomorrow night to finish the job.
May 5, 2002 -- Sonja *finally* ran her first autocross event today! Certainly not the fastest times of the day, but I kept it clean and managed to not DNF. Here are my times:
1 - 58.077 2 - 48.923 3 - 46.460 4 - 45.496 5 - 45.250
Here's what I learned about Sonja:
1) Quaife is GOOD! :) When she'd start to understeer, I was able to give a little more gas and pull out.
2) Sonja's 8 valves of fury just don't have as much torque as Wolfgang's VR6.
3) Sonja's lighter curb weight makes her a LOT more tossable than Wolfgang.
4) The Kumho Supra Ecsta 712s hold up pretty well to auto-x use. (At least they did for this first event...)
5) I need to secure that Optima Red Top battery a lot better. The tech inspection guy said that the side-to-side play made him nervous, and for good reason. The battery had shifted over a couple inches when all was said and done.
I had the GPS going for my runs. Below is a screen shot of the tracklog for my last run. The portion drawn in light blue was the timed part. (I set the unit up to store a track point once every second. Therefore, the further apart the points, the faster I was going. Likewise, the closer together they are, the slower I was going. Top speed was 43mph at the end.) Isn't technology fun?
The G-grind gave Sonja a little more pep. She seems to accelerate a bit better now. Not a huge improvement, but not totally worthless, either. I'm thinking that I should have gotten a lightened flywheel when I had the tranny installed. Sonja revs a lot better now than when I first bought her, but I'd like to think she could still be quicker. Wolfgang's VR6 spoils me, sometimes...
April 26, 2002 -- The G-grind is in--as well as all new belts and a new motor mount. Another fine job by the guys at Autopia. The motor mount alone has totally transformed Sonja into a car that feels MUCH more solid and smooth. I can actually use my rearview mirror now! In fact, Sonja feels a bit more solid than Wolfgang, and certainly has fewer squeaks and rattles. Once I have a chance to really drive her, I'll post my impressions of the G-grind.
This should be the last of the major repair/upgrade items for a while. I still need to work on her headlights (relays and sockets are on the way), and I still need to fix her MFA, but she's good to go for daily driver and autocross duties now.
April 15, 2002 -- I took some pictures of Sonja's new Euro bumper look after work today. She's dirty and the wind was howling, so the pics aren't too special. Once I get her cleaned up, I'll have a real photo shoot and post a new pic above.
In other news, the G-grind cam is on the way! Woohoo!
April 14, 2002 -- Last weekend, Mike VanAmburgh (of Scirocco-list fame) delivered my Euro bumpers (with headlight squirters) and Euro lights purchased from Dirk Schneider (also of Scirocco-list fame). This weekend, with a little help from Dad, I got the Euro bumpers installed. The lights need a little bit of refurbishing before I can install 'em (that's okay, because Dirk gave me a *screaming* deal on 'em), so they'll be put on later. Hope to take some new pics sometime this week. Stay tuned...
I also FINALLY got the Eurosport lower subframe stress bar installed. The bar I originally got many moons ago was waaay off, and would not fit. Potterman worked with Raffi @ Eurosport, and Raffi sent me a replacement--as well as a UPS shipping sticker to send the defective one back. I had to grind a millimeter here and there to make the new bar fit, but that's likely because Sonja's frame is ever-so-slightly off. I'm a happy camper now, and can autocross without fear of damaging her frame. :)
Oh! And Potterman came through with a G-grind cam at a great price--just waiting for it to arrive...
Mar. 22, 2002 -- Okay, got most of the goodies installed! New brakes all around, stainless steel brake lines, exhaust manifold and TT exhaust. She's a little louder and a little faster now. :) After getting the brakes bedded and exercised, she's stopping with more authority now, too. Woohoo! Still waiting to hear from Potterman about that G-grind cam, though...
Mar. 8, 2002 -- Wow, I'm *way* overdue for an update! Here's all the stuff that's happened since my last entry (or at least as much as I can remember):
My plan was to convince my wife to put her car in storage for the winter so I could tinker on Sonja in our garage, since I do all the driving in Wolfgang when the weather is bad. Well, this winter has been unusually mild, so there was little to no chance of that plan actually working. I have actually been driving Sonja when the weather was mild and dry enough, so that's good...
I recently took her in to Autopia for a leak-down test. Everything checked out good, except for the discovery of a loose helicoil used for spark plug #3 (the reason for the wobbly spark plug when I bought her). Basically, everything is fine for now, but I will invest in a new head when I start gearing up for the turbo conversion.
Just this week, I received a whole bunch of parts just aching to get installed. These parts include: ATE Powerdisc slotted front rotors and Mintex Redbox pads, Neuspeed stainless steel brake lines, OEM rear drums & shoes, new rear wheel bearings, rear cylinders, drum spring kit, Bosch single-wire oxygen sensor, Techtonics 2" aluminized cat-back exhaust system with Ultraflo stainless muffler, and Techtonics downpipe w/oxygen sensor mount. I've already got a 4-into-2 exhaust manifold to compliment the rest of the system. The only part I'm waiting for is the G-grind cam. In case you care, I bought the exaust manifold from Daun Yeagley of scirocco.org mailing list fame, the Techtonics exhaust and downpipe from Peter Lindvall (a.k.a. thescirocco.com), and all the rest from the Potters at Virtual World Parts.
I'm gonna cop out and let Roger at Autopia install all this stuff for me. I have slowly come to the realization that I much prefer driving Sonja over wrenching on her. I still plan to do basic maintenance stuff and other minor things, but for now I'm going to leave the big jobs up to the professionals. That reminds me, I *still* need to change her oil...D'OH!
In other news, some Euro bumpers are in the works...stay tuned.
Nov. 29, 2001 -- A quick trip out of storage to get some stuff done. I've got the Yokohama Avid T-4 all-season tires mounted on her stock wheels, and got those swapped on for the winter (those stubborn spacers are finally off). I also got her tranny fluid flushed with some fresh Redline MT-90. I really ought to change her oil before she completely settles in for her winter slumber...
Nov. 16, 2001 -- Colder weather will be upon us soon, so I put Sonja back in storage. In the meantime, here's an update on her condition: She turned over 132k miles this week, and I have over 500 miles on the 6-speed tranny. All is well so far, and it seems like she runs a little better the more I drive her. :) I've got some Yokohama Avid T-4 performance all-season tires on order, and plan to have 'em installed on her stock wheels. That way, she can spend her time in storage sitting on something other than the expensive "summer tires" AND be properly equipped to make a winter trip from storage to my garage if I have the need to tinker. One small drawback is that the 8mm spacers I put on the rear drums appear to be stuck there. I need to get a small torch or something to heat 'em up. I *still* need to replace all her belts, but the new ones are all in a plastic bag in the hatch, so it's just a matter of taking the time to do so. I've really had a blast driving my Scirocco the past month. :)
Oct. 31, 2001 -- Happy Halloween! I just finished installing an Optima Red Top battery and upgraded to 2Guage battery cables. Very nice! The headlights actually appear to be brighter. I've got a lot more electrical conditioning work to do, but this is a good start.
Oct. 17, 2001 -- FINALLY!!! After numerous delays for various reasons, I drove her home tonight! Woohoo!! SIX gears baby!! Hooyeah! Ahhh... It's like coming home again--only your home has an extra gear now. Errr... Yes, I'm slightly delirious.
At any rate, the tranny appears to work great. The Quaife works, too--Roger left a couple of matching patches on his garage floor to demonstrate. :) It looks like there's a very small leak from the brass plug on the end cap, though. I'll have to call Vince tomorrow and ask him about that. Since it's really minor, I plan to leave it for the 500 mile break-in, then take care of it when I flush the tranny fluid.
Okay, I've swapped in the Audi TT 6-speed shift knob (pics coming soon), replaced the tired hatch struts, and gave her a quick sponge bath to remove 4.5 months worth of dust buildup. I still need to replace the driver's side bumper bracket, but that'll have to wait until the weekend, I'm afraid. I also plan to install the lower subframe bar this weekend and probably tinker with a few other things. I also plan to take some new pics of her very soon, so I can update the site. Stay tuned...
Oct. 11, 2001 -- <sigh> Make that Friday or Monday. They didn't send the *complete* part...
Oct. 9, 2001 --
Thursday. Had to order a part...
Oct. 8, 2001 --
Oct. 4, 2001 -- Progress. Slowly, but surely. It took Roger at Autopia a little longer than he anticipated to get the 6-speed tranny installed. He had to cut some of the driver's side wheel well out and move the brake line on that side to make room for the longer end cone. Check out the pictures. He hopes to be done by next Tuesday or so.
Sep. 24, 2001 -- Well, Roger at Autopia sent me an e-mail shortly before 5PM. Sonja's finally up on the lift! She should be back on the road very soon! Stayed tuned!
Sep. 16, 2001 -- Just a quick update. Sonja's Option-6 tranny did arrive, right on schedule. I had a brief chance to look at it in the box. It looks great! It'll be the cleanest part on my 'rocco. :) Now, the problem is getting it installed. In the 3 months I've been waiting for my tranny to be returned, Autopia (the shop where Sonja's been living at) has become quite busy, and I don't know when Roger will have the time to do the work. My goal is to have her back on the road by the end of this month. <fingers crossed>
Aug. 31, 2001 -- After a long ordeal, Sonja's tranny is on the way back--with the work complete! The UPS tracking number is 1Z 0A2 59F 03 4197 7652 and it should arrive next Thursday. Woohoo!
July 16, 2001 -- Okay, I'm loooong overdue for an update. Basically, a lot of stuff has happened, but Vince has not yet come through. He *still* has Sonja's tranny and my money for all the work he's supposedly doing. In fact, this has become such an ordeal, that I've devoted a whole separate web page to it, as listed above in my links. This has become a major irritation to me, and at this point I cannot in good conscience recommend V.L. Enterprises to anyone.
June 22, 2001 -- I mananged to talk to Vince today. He said he was in the middle of working on Sonja's tranny when I called him, and he hopes to ship it back to me this coming Monday. <fingers crossed>
Also, the MiSEL MJ-3000R MP3/CD player arrived yesterday. I haven't had much time to really play with it yet, but I really like what I've seen (and heard) so far. Seems like a great product.
June 21, 2001 -- The Audi TT 6-speed shift knob arrived today! Woohoo! This thing is sweeeeet. Now all I need is for V.L. Enterprises to ship her transmission back with all the work done. I'll try to contact Vince tomorrow and see what the status is.
In other news, I ordered a MiSEL MJ-3000R MP3/CD player from ComputerGeeks.com last weekend, and it should arrive tomorrow. Step one of the stereo plan is nearly complete. Now I just need to get the right amp, some new speakers, and swap the old stereo with the new setup. (Details available in the "Interior" section on Sonja's Modifications page.)
June 17, 2001 -- Update on the V.L. Enterprises/tranny saga. I've been in e-mail contact with Mark Christiansen, the owner of EM Precision, which manufactures the pieces Vince needs to make his 6 speed kit (and other performance parts sold through EMsport). Well, EM Precision also manufactures some aircraft components, and one of their customers went under an audit by the F.A.A. Mark told me that the F.A.A. shut down his production for two weeks in order to complete their audit, which kept Vince from getting the parts he needs to complete the work on my transmission (and the trannys of several other people). I (finally) got an e-mail from Vince last week, saying that he intends to be done with Sonja' tranny by June 22nd. Stay tuned...
In the meantime, I'm buying a used Audi TT 6-speed shift knob from Lawrence Wong. Sonja's knob is pretty worn, and the 6-speed shift pattern on the new knob will be most appropriate once she has her tranny back. :)
June 4, 2001 -- Okay, I'm long due for an update. The last I heard from V.L. Enterprises, Sonja's tranny was supposed to be finished by May 21. That means I should have received it sometime last week. I'm still waiting, and Vince hasn't returned any of my calls yet... :(
On the upside, her new wheels and tires arrived last Friday. They are 15"x6.5" SSR Competition wheels with 195/50-15 Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires. I can't wait to put 'em on! Once I do, I'll post some pictures.
May 2, 2001 -- Off the road again! Today I shipped Sonja's tranny and the Quaife I bought in a group purchase February to V.L. Enterprises. They're going to perform a full rebuild, install the Quaife, and install their Option-6 Speed kit with a .71 6th gear. (I'll keep the stock 1-5 gears.) The cost of doing this will instantly double her value. Okay, it'll *actually* double the purchase price, but I view that as value, anyway. :) For those who care to go to http://www.ups.com (basically just me) and follow the shipping progress, the tracking number is:
1Z 690 X02 03 1673 231 1
Apr. 22, 2001 -- On the road again! This weekend, I finally got her oil pan fully installed and installed new Koni adjustables, H&R lowering springs, and new strut bearings in the front.
Well, I know I'll be dropping Sonja's tranny soon for a good working over, so I just shimmed up that stubborn oil pan bolt in the meantime with some washers. That way, the bolt is still applying pressure to the pan so the gasket can seal even though it won't go in all the way. Once her tranny is out of the way, I can take care of that bolt the "proper" way. I'm not proud of it, but she's back on the road. No leaks yet! <fingers crossed> <knocking on simulated wood grain>
Once Roger at Autopia swapped the strut inserts for me, the rest of the install was a piece o' cake. Of course, she's in terrible need of an alignment and her steering wheel is all crooked. Oh well. That can be taken care of pretty easily. After her alignment, I'll post my impressions of the new suspension setup. The quick spin around the block shows that I can actually feel the road again, rather than bouncing and rolling like I'm out to sea on her worn out stock suspension.
It's just awesome to see her off those jack stands and on all four wheels again. :) Once the tranny work is done, I'll install the Eurosport lower subframe stress bar that I bought a couple weeks ago.
Apr. 15, 2001 -- Okay. Roger saved me once again. This week he got the pickup tube bolt out of the oil pump and got me some new bolts. He also sourced me a new oil pan. This weekend, I managed to *carefully* install and torque the oil pickup tube on the oil pump, and re-installed the oil pump (being *very* careful not to over-torque anything). I also tried to install the new oil pan and gasket. There are two bolts next to the tranny housing, that are quite difficult to get to. I managed to get one of them in, but the other only goes so far and binds up. I took the oil pan back off to see what the deal was. I guess the threads are slightly screwed up, because if I manage to start the bolt *just right*, it'll go in all the way. Otherwise, it'll go so far, get off kilter, and bind up. The only way I could manage to get the sucker started *just right* is with the oil pan out of the way. Obviously, that's not going to work out too well.
Well, I got tired of fighting that bolt, so I moved on to the control arms. Roger replaced the ball joints and pressed on the new bushings for me, and cleaned 'em up for me. I repainted both of 'em and got them re-installed. That was a little tricky for just one person to do, especially wrangling the front swaybar into position. I managed, though. :)
With the control arms back in place, I removed the front strut/spring assemblies. I lack the equipment to remove the strut inserts from the housings, so it looks like another job for Roger. All in all, a pretty productive weekend.
Apr. 8, 2001 -- Argh. Bad weekend. I got the oil pan and pickup tube back from Roger at Autopia this week. Went to put everything back on, and over-torqued one of the oil pickup tube bolts, and the head snapped off. <sigh> I'm such an amateur. Of course, this happened as I was trying to get into a better position to read my torque wrench. I've tried grabbing the bolt with a pair of vice grips, but to no avail. I just can't get a good enough hold on it to turn it.
I've also discovered that the threads on the oil pan are pretty much shot--which explains why she always dripped some oil from the drain plug. Time for a new pan...
Mar. 29, 2001 -- Both control arms are now removed. I had to cut the nut off the bolt on the ball joint retaining clamp on the driver's side, and then the ball joint was very reluctant to come out of the retaining clamp. It's out now, by golly! The ball joint needs to be replaced--but it may have been messed up already. At least, that's my story. :)
Mar. 25, 2001 -- Pretty productive weekend. I replaced the passenger side front bumper mounting bracket. When I put everything back together, I discovered that the driver side bracket is also tweaked. :( Looks like I'll have to replace that one, too. While I had the front bumper off, I discovered something very rusty attached to the inner side by a magnet. It was one of those spare key holders, and it was holding the original spare key, VW emblem engraved on it and all. :)
Then I replaced the rear suspension with Koni Sport adjustable dampers and H&R lowering springs, plus a Eurosport rear strut tower bar.
Then, I removed the oil pan and oil pickup tube. I'm going to replace the oil pan gasket (desperately needed), but first I'm going to take the pan and pickup tube in to Roger at Autopia, since he graciously offered to clean 'em up for me.
While she's up on jack stands, I'm going to remove her control arms to replace the bushings (I'll have Roger press 'em for me), and then I'll replace the front suspension--Konis and H&Rs, of course. Then she'll be ready for the tranny work...
Feb. 24, 2001 -- No real progress has been made, but I have been gathering some much-needed parts. In the past couple of weeks, I've received the suspension upgrades I ordered from Virtual World Parts and a dual outlet exhaust manifold I bought used from Daun Yeagley of Scirocco List fame. This past week, I sent my payment for a Quaife differential for Sonja (through a group purchase organized by Peter Lindvall, also of Scirocco List fame). All these purchases should keep me poor and humble for a while...and I've got a lot more spending to do, yet...
Feb. 3, 2001 -- I actually got some work done on Sonja today! I finally replaced her spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap & rotor, and several pieces of vacuum line. When I got her from storage last night, her MFA decided to work for no apparent reason, so that was pretty cool. <shrug> A quick inspection revealed that her control arm bushings will have to be replaced when I install the rest of her suspension upgrades. I'm not very surprised by that, to be honest. Oh yeah, I also weighed one of her stock wheels on the bathroom scale: 29 pounds, including the tire. I'm not sure how heavy the new tires will be, but since the new wheels I plan to buy are only 9.9 pounds, I expect the new setup to be lighter than stock. That'll really help her acceleration. :)
Jan. 28, 2001 -- Added a News Archives section, as linked above. That should help me keep a record of Sonja's progress while keeping her main page from growing too large. I also moved the pictures to a separate Pictures page, and removed some redundant information.
Jan. 26, 2001 -- Let the spending begin! I ordered some suspension upgrades from Virtual World Parts for Sonja today: H&R lowering springs, Koni Sport adjustable dampers, Eurosport rear tie bar, and new strut bearings. I plan to order the upper front stress bar and lower subframe stress bar soon after I'm done with most of the engine work (so they're not in the way).
Jan. 21, 2001 -- I didn't do any real work on Sonja this weekend, but I did do a lot of planning/budget work. I've decided which wheel and suspension combo I want to do (and can afford). For the wheels/tires, I plan to get SSR Competition wheels in the 15"x6.5" size (only 9.9 pounds, and reportedly very strong) shod in 195/50-15 Kumho Ecsta Supra 712 tires. Since the SSRs are so expensive (because they're so amazingly light), I'm dropping the coilover suspension plan in favor of H&R lowering springs with Koni Sport adjustable dampers. At least I can still tune the stiffness of her suspension. I probably wouldn't have adjusted the ride height that much, anyway... I plan to get the suspension stuff within the next month or so, but the wheels & tires will have to wait until May. Baby needs a reworked tranny first. :)
Jan. 13, 2001 -- Did some minor re-organizing of the website. Added a Modifications page, and moved the appropriate info from this page to that one, and added more details on my plans for Sonja's future. I've been working on my financial spreadsheet, and it looks like I can afford to start the transmission upgrades by the end of February. By mid-March I should be able to afford most of the major parts she'll need, and (if time allows) make some excellent progress.
Jan. 4, 2001 -- New website location for the new year! I decided to dedicate one of my accounts to my VWs, so both web pages will be moved here.
Dec. 24, 2000 -- As a Christmas gift, the Scirocco gets a name. I've decided on Sonja. That name seems most appropriate for my desired end result. Besides, I think "Turbo Sonja" kinda has a ring to it. <shrug> Of course, that now means that her web site will have to be updated a bit. That will happen sooner or later, but not today. Until then, happy holidays to all!
Dec. 9, 2000 -- After a long day of Christmas shopping, I hastily swapped cars (my VR6 is my daily driver, and the 'roc is kept tucked away in storage). Unfortunately, this didn't happen until much later than I had planned (about 8PM), so I didn't have much time for tinkering. I managed to get her oil changed for the winter hibernation, which is definitely a good thing. I wanted to change the spark plugs, plug wires, and distributor cap & rotor, but simply didn't have enough time for the block to cool down completely. :( The weather-guessers are predicting sleet, snow, and other nasty weather to arrive tomorrow, so I had to finish up and get her right back into storage. <sigh>
I've narrowed the list of potential names down to Rebekka, Sonja, and Veronika. Hmmm...
Nov. 30, 2000 -- The new radiator is in! Many thanks to Roger Moser at Autopia for letting me work in his shop tonight, and for lending me a hand and sharing his experience and know-how.
Nov. 26, 2000 -- I brought the Scirocco out of hibernation since this was the Thanksgiving weekend (extra time off). I managed to install the K&N filter, and did some general poking and prodding. Looks like I'll need to replace the spark plugs, plug wires, distributor cap, and distributor rotor next. I also hope to replace the radiator sometime this week, with the help of Roger Moser at Autopia, Inc -- provided our schedules mesh and the weather stays mild long enough.
The quest for a proper name continues (drags on). I have determined that this Scirocco is a female. In keeping with tradition (see below), I'd like to give her a German name. Currently, the list is down to: Eva, Ingrid, Karina, Katja, Rebekka, Sonja, and Veronika. If you have any opinions about any of these names, let me know. Unfortunately, I haven't spent quite enough time with her yet for any one name to seem most appropriate.