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August 11, 2008 -- Wow, it's been a very long time since I've updated Dieter's page! Most of my time and resources have been invested in working on Rebekkah's restoration, so not much has happened with Dieter since my last entry. The cams have finally been installed after waiting nearly a year. Unfortunately, ImagineAuto didn't have enough time to perform before or after dyno runs, which is rather disappointing. I will eventually get some dyno pulls done so I can at least get the "after" numbers--but it would've been nice to get some pulls done while he had just the chip and intake. <shrug>
Back in March, I had Autopia swap out the stock U.S. springs with stock Euro springs, keeping the Bilstein Sport shocks/dampers. I didn't do it for the lower ride height (those who know me know I'm being honest about that), but for a better-balanced suspension. The Euro springs are more stiff than the U.S. springs. The result is actually a more comfortable ride, believe it or not. The U.S. springs are actually too soft for the Bilsteins, which resulted in an under-sprung/over-damped setup. With the Bilsteins doing all the work, the ride was a bit harsh. Now that the more stiff Euro springs are doing their fair share of the work, the suspension is properly-balanced and the resulting ride is greatly improved. There's a little more body sway now, but overall performance remains excellent. I'm quite pleased with the results.
November 10, 2007 -- Still waiting on cams and V-Flow, but I’ll go ahead and share my opinions now that I’ve got many more miles under my belt since going back to natural aspiration. I love it! The lack of up-front torque was quite obvious the first few days, but I have finally re-calibrated myself to the VR6’s natural power curve, and it really does feel more "natural" to me. I can actually use the full range of the gas pedal now, and I no longer have to treat it like an eggshell during my daily commute. The throttle response felt quite a bit "softer" at first, but I think that’s because EIP really turned up the sensitivity of the drive-by-wire throttle to help augment the illusion of being fast.
Meanwhile, the exhaust note has improved by several million percent! I keep giggling like a school girl at the wonderful noises it makes and the absence of drone. My exhaust "flapper" switch still works, and the novelty of that function is new again. I really missed having the option to press a button to change between loud and quiet exhaust modes--the quiet mode is more quiet and the loud mode is quite a bit louder than when I had the turbo. And the exhaust note gets louder when I go fast now (was the opposite with the turbo). That's just the way it should be.
Idle is back down to 600RPM, versus EIP's 800-900RPM, so the exhaust note at idle sounds deeper, too. I think the VF motor mounts all the way around sends more vibration into the cabin at idle, increasing the "bassy" sound/feeling. Now that the turbo is out, maybe I’ll consider going back to stock mounts…
That weird "hiccup" in power when accelerating briskly in first gear has returned. It went away with the turbo and I expected the GIAC software to also prevent it from happening, but apparently that isn't the case. Hm. I wonder if it’ll still be there after the cams get installed.
Overall, I’m quite pleased with the results, and have absolutely no regrets about removing the turbo system. :)
October 26, 2007 -- I just got Dieter back from ImagineAuto after his turbo-ectomy. That’s right, I had the EIP Stage 1 turbo removed. After 2 years of continuously messing with this’n’that (and all the time and money spent in the process), we STILL couldn’t get it "right". After my experience in Tulsa and the reports of many others who had this turbo system, it’s become painfully clear that EIP simply cannot provide a solid tune for their own kit. Furthermore, the recent developments at EIP (namely the fact that they’re closing their doors for numerous reasons) have completely eroded what little confidence I had in them and their turbo system.
I’ve been pondering this decision for some time, and C2 Motorsports have recently released a fueling upgrade kit that should solve all the tuning problems. Initial reports from others have been very positive, and this development actually gave me pause to reconsider my options. I exchanged many e-mails with Chris at C2 Motorsports, and he answered all my questions with confidence and gave me a very strong impression that those guys really know what they’re doing. In the end, I chose to "stop the madness" and return Dieter to natural aspiration for the following reasons:
Hardware. ImagineAuto fought numerous fitment issues during the installation of the turbo, and some of the pieces simply could not be made to completely fit the way they should have. With EIP closing their doors, I won’t be able to get replacement parts should I be unfortunate enough to need more…and that would mean custom fabrication if that need ever did arise. Furthermore, we’ve already replaced one Turbonetics turbo, so who knows how long this one will last.
Heat: The VR6 runs fairly hot, even in stock form. In fact, VW added an auxiliary radiator for the U.S.-spec models to help cooling. Adding forced induction (particularly a turbo, which is driven by exhaust gasses) simply piles on even more heat to the system. Practically every FI R32 that has been driven hard on a road course has experienced overheating issues, so the drivers have to slow down and take a few cool-down laps more often than those who are still naturally-aspirated. Many are experimenting with water/meth injection, oil coolers, auxiliary fans, vented/louvered hoods, and other means of trying to cool the engine down but I don’t know if anyone has found that silver bullet yet. I had gotten into the habit of popping the hood as soon as I got home to help vent all the heat out of Dieter’s engine bay. His skid plate didn’t exactly help with cooling, either—but it has proven itself enough that I refuse to sacrifice it.
Driving characteristics. With a well-running/properly-tuned turbo, the car will experience a lot more torque earlier in the powerband. (Okay, even my poorly-tuned turbo gave a lot more torque earlier, too.) While in Tulsa, I learned that the Peloquin torque biasing differential made an HPA FT-400 R32 a bit of a handful during a hard launch because there was so much torque being transferred from one side to the other, that the driver had to work a bit to keep the steering wheel straight. I have a Peloquin differential sitting in the box, just waiting for installation, and I really want to put it in there and enjoy it, rather than fight it. Furthermore, that car was equipped with HPA’s "lengthened" gear set, which is almost a necessity at that power level, because the stock close-ratio gearbox will keep you too busy shifting. The stock close-ratio gearbox is one of my favorite features of the R32, as it’s set up perfectly to keep you in the power (when N/A, that is). Adding huge power and changing the torque curve so drastically totally destroys that balance, necessitating the lengthened gears. More money, more work, more changes that take the car further away from what I fell in love with 3 years ago.
Exhaust note. The turbo is a terribly effective muffler, and it actually reverses the nature of the exhaust note from what I’d like it to do. It was loud when going slow (off-boost), and really quiet when going fast (on-boost). Making matters worse, the 3" EIP exhaust produced a lot of in-cabin drone, so I couldn’t really enjoy what little exhaust note I could hear. Every time I met up with a fellow non-FI R32 owner, I would nearly drool over how awesome their stock exhaust note sounded, which made me miss mine all the more.
Overall enjoyment. In the two years I’ve had this turbo on Dieter, I can honestly say that there were really only TWO occasions where I truly got full enjoyment from it. The rest of the time, my satisfaction ranged from 60% to 85%. Before the turbo, it seemed like I got a LOT more daily enjoyment from the car, and I really missed that.
Rather than going back to bone-stock, I plan to have Schrick 268/264 cams, EVOMS V-Flow intake, and appropriate GIAC 91 octane software tuned specifically for those goodies. There was a delay in getting the cams and V-Flow, so Dieter currently has the "regular" EVOMS CAI and GIAC "CAI-only" software to tide me over.
August 8, 2007 -- Day 3 (the last one) of the R32 National Middle o' the Map GTG in Tulsa. Today we went to Hallett Motor Racing Circuit. Wow! Hallett is an outstanding location. The track is well-kept, nice and technical with several elevation changes, and there are several dual-bay carports offering shade and electrical hookups. Even though it was yet another very hot day, the availability of shade and a nice breeze made the day FAR more bearable. All the cars (including mine) were much happier running on a road course where they can get decent airflow and a chance to warm up and cool down properly. Oh yeah, the staff were very friendly and laid-back, and the on-site concessions were excellent. They also had a pro photographer who took pics of all our cars (available for purchase, of course).
This was only my second time on a road course, so there was plenty for me to learn. I can honestly say that my driving line did improve as the day progressed, but I still have a long way to go before I consider myself an adequate driver. Even so, I had a blast as did everyone else (yet again). Pictures from the day can be found here.
August 7, 2007 -- Day 2 of the R32 National Middle o' the Map GTG in Tulsa. The only scheduled event was a night at the local drag strip, Tulsa Raceway Park. That left the bulk of the day open for hanging out and relaxing. I consulted with some folks online about my CEL, and was advised to check vacuum lines around the intake manifold. I was also advised to check the vacuum line that fed the exhaust flapper valve for the stock exhaust--not something I would have thought of. All the lines at the intake manifold seemed healthy, so I crawled under Dieter to check the exhaust flapper vacuum line. Sure enough, I found something suspicious: A vacuum cap was used to close off the end of that line when the stock exhaust was removed. That cap had dried and cracked, and was now leaking. I bent the vacuum line back on itself and used a couple zip-ties to pinch it tight. Thanks to QBNR32 for the advice to check that line! (Note: No more CELs for running lean since then.)
Even though we waited for the evening to go to the
drag strip, it was still terribly HOT (track temps well in excess of 100°F) and humid, so
record times were not in the cards. The now infamous EIP "de-tuning" bit
me hard on my second pass with a flashing CEL for misfires and a 25.3 second quarter mile
time as I limped gingerly to the end of the track. (Slower than Neb's infamous dead
clutch run. ;P ) Can't say I'm terribly surprised, considering how it behaves when
trying moderately aggressive acceleration from a stop light. I had originally
planned to not run for this very reason, but figured I'd give it a shot anyway.
My first run went off without a hitch (an unimpressive 16.124 seconds), but
apparently got enough heat soak by the time I lined up for my second run that unhappiness
was inevitable. Fortunately, no physical damage could be found with a thorough
visual inspection, and all appeared to be running normally after clearing the codes with
Two prizes were up for grabs tonight. The first was for fastest time, and the second was for the person closest to 20 seconds without going over (in honor of the aforementioned run by Neb with a dead clutch). There was obviously no way I could win the fastest time, but Ian encouraged me to aim for the 20 second test, which I managed to clinch with a 19.844 run. That's one way to put that de-tuning to work in my favor. LOL!
Gabriel got the fastest time (14.1??) in Brett's monster HPA FT-400 turbocharged R32, and Brad broke the track's record for most passes in one night with a whopping 35 runs (plus 2 more runs in Brett's FT-400). R32s aren't great drag cars, but we all had a blast. Pictures from the day can be found here.
August 6, 2007 -- Day 1 of the R32 National Middle o' the Map GTG in Tulsa! After a hearty breakfast at the Waffle House right next to the hotel, we all drove to a car wash on the way to Mohawk Park. We had representation from both coasts as well as the midwest, and the drive to Tulsa left all our cars quite dirty (mostly bugs). Then it was off to Wal-Mart to pick up coolers, ice, and beverages. On the way to the park, we made one more stop at a side road in the country for a quick photo-op. It was pretty warm and humid, but all had fun and it was a nice and relaxing day. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at an open quarry for one more photo-op, which was pretty cool. Pictures from the day can be found here.
Dieter threw a CEL (check engine light) when leaving the first photo-op. I scanned him at the park with my VAG-COM and discovered codes for running lean. Hmmm... :\
March 2, 2007 -- Back in the saddle again! I picked Dieter up from the shop today. Woooohooooooo!
Of course, I'm a bit nervous and driving like a granny, because it's a VERY different experience than driving Gretchen (my TDI) for the past 5 months. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to adapt--"like riding a bicycle", as they say...
There are a couple minor things to be tweaked, but the beast is finally back in the wild.
February 13, 2007 -- Yet more progress pics from Roger:
Horns, headlights, and wheel well liners--oh my!
Aaaaannnndddd: My name is Mike, and I have an addiction:
That is complete set number 2 of 17"x8" SSR GT2 wheels. These are shod with Yokohama Advan Neova AD07 tires. As you can see, the tires have been used, but may still offer enough tread for me to see how they fare. (Looks like they have more tread left than my Pilot Sport PS2s, anyway.) In the meantime, I've ordered some new Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position tires to replace the Michelins.
February 11, 2007 -- Even more progress pics that Roger just e-mailed to me...
Scott at work, trimming the bumper cover:
Power steering cooler mounted in front of FMIC:
Fitment of intercooler piping:
They did a little grinding to allow for a tigher fit shown in the first picture. The second picture shows where they had to weld on a new stud, as the accident broke the original off. The remaining two pictures show fitment of the bumper cover around the FMIC inlet/outlet.
Bumper cover fitted:
February 10, 2007 -- A couple more progress pictures...
FMIC and piping have been installed. Roger and Scott have made an excellent improvement over the original design by making some modifications to allow mounting of the power steering cooler in front of the FMIC, rather than tucking it underneath the car (which takes the cooler out of the air flow and bundles it right up against the coolant lines that run across the front of the car there--effectively making it a power steering heater).
They also began the modifications to the front bumper cover to make it fit over the FMIC piping (not pictured).
January 24, 2007 -- Here are a few pics I took tonight, showing the status of the repairs. Almost there!
January 19, 2007 -- I've been waaaaaaaay too busy at work to pester Autopia for repair updates (probably a good thing), but Roger called me this evening to let me know that the repairs should be wrapping up next week. Woohoo!
December 28, 2006 -- Just got these pictures from Roger at Autopia:
Pirrello Collision have completed the repairs to the bodywork, so mechanical repairs can now begin in earnest. Getting closer...
November 25, 2006 -- A little more progress to report. First, I took delivery of the replacement SSR GT2s yesterday:
They're all shod with Pirelli P Zero Nero M+S tires
with a very healthy amount of tread left. One of the wheels is a bit scuffed in a
couple spots (no physical damage--just cosmetic), but the other three look to be no more
worn than my own set.
Later in the afternoon, I got an e-mail from Toney Clark @ Baron VW informing me that he has taken delivery of a hood for my car. Autopia was closed for the holiday, so I'll call 'em up first thing Monday morning to see if they're still looking. (They're sourcing parts through Molle VW, but I know Toney through his involvement with the Mo-Kan VW Club.)
This afternoon, I finally got around to modding the new OEM HIDs to convert them from auto-leveling to accepting the rheostat switch input. I'll drop them (and new front Bilsteins that were delivered earlier in the week) off at Autopia over my lunch break on Monday.
November 10, 2006 -- Some parts have arrived, and we're still waiting for some more parts. Here's a quick summary:
I have received new OEM HIDs and smoked bumper
markers. I need to modifiy the wiring in the HIDs to bypass the auto-leveler inputs
and work with the rheostat switch instead before delivering them to Autopia.
I have also received replacement intercooler and boost pipes from EIP.
I have found a guy in California looking to sell a complete set of 4 SSR GT2 wheels in the exact same size and fitment I currently have! The check is in the mail. ;)
I delivered the parts from EIP and my winter wheels to Autopia this afternoon. Sitting behind my car were lots and lots of boxes--kinda like Christmas. They want to let the body shop do their work before replacing all the mechanicals, but the only piece we're missing is the hood. Apparently, MkIV Golf/GTI/R32 hoods are on "intergalactic backorder". Never saw that coming.
Here are pics of everything as it sits now. Yes, ALL those boxes are for Dieter.
October 22, 2006 -- I finally made it back to the site of the accident to take some pictures, which clearly show I could not have touched that lamp post (and it's a good thing that guard rail was there, or I would have "touched" it very badly). Pictures added to the accident picture page.
October 18, 2006 -- The adjuster came today (really pleasant to work with!), so we began the teardown and took a closer look. Pictures and commentary have been added to the accident picture page.
October 16, 2006 -- Dieter was delivered to Autopia today, where the repairs will take place. I took some pictures of the damage, which can be found here (along with commentary).
October 14, 2006 -- I wrecked Dieter today.
I went too fast. I ran out of talent. Then I ran out of luck.
I got an e-mail a couple days ago from a new-ish salesguy working at Molle VW, Franck, who found my web site about Dieter while searching the web for various R32 stuff. He invited me to come meet him at the dealership so he could check Dieter out and chat about VWs and such. I was out running some errands today and found myself "in the neighborhood", so I swung by to pay him a visit.
Franck is a pretty cool guy, has a '95 Golf Sport that he's had for awhile, and is an actual VW enthusiast. I told him about KCH2O and the Mo-Kan club, so maybe I'll see him at some future events. Our conversation was wrapping up, so I offered to take him for a quick spin and he agreed.
I took the traditional Cunningham/Jay Wolfe/Molle test route that takes Holmes to 103rd to 104th, etc. (Those of you who have driven this route can probably guess where things went awry.) The turn onto 104th street is a 90-degree right-hand turn with a stop sign, just after crossing the railroad tracks that run parallel to 104th there. I launched hard from the stop (ESP off, of course) to demonstrate the beauty of AWD in that situation and proceeded rapidly up the hill. At the top of that hill, the road makes a long sweeping turn to the right. Since the road runs parallel to the railroad tracks, there's a bridge on that corner to go over the tracks--actually smack dab in the middle of that corner.
There's a big bump where the road meets the bridge, so I let off the throttle a bit before to scrub off some speed. Went over the bump just fine, but got a small chirp from the tires. I took a mental note to not go any faster than that next time, and got back on the gas. Unfortunately, I forgot that there's another bump when exiting the bridge until we were over it. This time, I was carrying enough speed to really upset the suspension and the rear end swung out to the left (would have been fine, otherwise). I believe I let off the gas at this point in the hopes of scrubbing off speed and began counter-steering...and the fish-tailing began: back to the right, back to the left, back to the right, back to the left (still rounding the rest of that corner, mind you). On the last transition to the left, I could feel that the amount of rotation had reduced a fair amount, so I thought I actually managed to pull it out.
I was wrong.
One more quick fish-tail to the right set me up for the rear to make a big swing to the left--too big to correct (or maybe I over-corrected on the last swing?). Next thing I know, I'm watching the guard rail sliding parallel to the front bumper as I'm asking myself if this is actually happening. One quick 270 later, I'm past the corner in the outside lane (the left-most lane of the two right lanes of the four-lane road, which has a decent median between), facing the correct direction. Warning beep telling me the washer fluid is low (nice) and a few other sensors were probably unhappy, too. Don't recall if the car was still idling or not (maybe about to die?) but I turned the key off at that point.
Right front wheel is toast (dammit!), but the suspension didn't appear to be obviously out-of-whack. Front bumper cover, grille, headlights are all toast, as is the FMIC, immediate piping, and radiator (incriminating trail of coolant from where I struck the curb while kissing the guard rail leading up to where we came to rest). Both front fenders are messed up, as is the hood. Skid plate appeared to be intact. I'll take pictures of the carnage on Monday after the tow service delivers it to the shop.
Most importantly: no injuries. Not a scratch, bump, or bruise on either one of us (aside from my ego). That rawks. No other vehicles involved. Only damage to my car and the guard rail. Oh, and the helpful tow truck driver pointed out to the police officer that the glass was broken out of the street light behind the guard rail, and they concluded that I broke that, too. The thing is, I came off the guard rail before we got to that lamp post. The guard rail is obviously pushed back where I hit it, but there's absolutely no contact between the guard rail and the still very upright lamp post. <shrug> I may take some pictures of the scene sometime before my court date on 11/22 (citation for careless driving).
So, I'm grounding myself until further notice...at least until after repairs are complete or my court date, whichever occurs last. And I expect I'm going to become super-careful while driving for some time now and cut out all shenanigans. I need to look into track days at Heartland Park instead of trying to get my kicks on public roads...or possibly stop doing "the car thing" for good.
All entries prior to this one can be found in the Journal Archive.