Most of my posts are pretty firmly rooted in the “car” category and I’ve been quite neglecting my motorcycling fetish as of late. It’s pretty easy to forget about your bike when it’s parked at your girlfriend’s house and it’s rainy and cold pretty much every day of the winter here in Seattle, but I have been seeing more and more bikes on the road recently and my spark has been reignited.
As some of you other riders out there might know one of my favorite bike companies just closed its doors in a tear jerking farewell to the only American sport bike company. Buell Motorcycles was an awesome and ahead-of-its-time bike manufacturer that was entirely focused on 2-wheeled motorsports and absolutely insane engineering. Having just come away with their first ever victory in the AMA championship (did I mention it was their first because it was the first year they had tried?), they were sitting pretty and obviously very happy.
(Danny Eslick sitting atop his AMA winning Buell)
Harley-Davidson, Buell’s parent company, then decided that they were fucking retarded and then told Erik Buell (Buell’s founder and a totally rad motorcycle racer/engineer in his own right) that they were shutting him down. In probably the most tear-jerking address I’ve ever seen from a CEO, Erik Buell spoke into the camera letting Buell fans across the world know that Buell had to shut the doors. I’m not kidding, I can’t watch this video without getting teary eyed and feeling horrible about the closure. This was Erik Buell’s life, his dream, and his heart. All three torn asunder by the knuckleheads at HD who do nothing but produce the same bike over and over and over again ad infinatum and rake in the cash from the idiots who keep buying them. (Aside: I actually like a couple of Harley bikes, but I’m not sure I’ll ever buy from them after what they did to Buell.)
(See what happens when HD destroys a soul. Get some tissues…no, I’m not kidding)
As a Buell owner (even if it is just their 500cc entry bike) I am legitimately upset. The Buell closure was a while ago, the last bike was produced before 2010, and I’ve had time to heal from the wound. The thing that burns me the most is that the cool and innovative brawler bikes from Buell will forever be forgotten and under appreciated, lost to history.
(Buell Lightning XB12scg… the bike I lust after)
What’s the point of this post? I don’t know really. It’s hard to not be cynical in the face of such a loss and I really don’t want to just be filled with anger about this. I guess I’m just venting, I don’t really know how else to put it. I’m frustrated and sad that HD closed down Buell. The world lost an innovative and exciting bike company and racing lost a huge challenger and dedicated competitor. I suppose it won’t really matter, you’re just gonna go out and get on your Japanese sport bike or your American cruiser and totally forget that there ever was an American Sport bike that could wrestle, fight, and win with the best of ’em.
-Steve is gonna take a ride tonight to pay homage to Buell, rain be damned
I’ve been almost comically busy the past couple of weeks and I’ve not really paid any mind to the Mediocre audience so I’ll give you a couple quick updates and then some eye candy.
Alex‘s car (the Mediocre 3000gt):
We now have all the parts we need to get the beast back on the road. After a mostly successful Saturday we managed to finally get access to the 3000’s oil pan and we learned an important message about early 90’s Mitsubishis. That lesson is: Mitsu’s are almost insanely complex and nothing is easy. It took us almost the entire day to get access to that damn oil pan and we didn’t even have enough time to pull the pan off before we all had to pack up.
Don’t worry though, Alex is almost ready for the rebuild and we’re all looking forward to seeing the big red rocket out on the streets punishing those completely worthless Hercules brand tires.
(Alex and Jeff spending some quality time together under the 3000)
Steve‘s car (the Mediocre tC):
Ah, the little 4cyl that could. Racing season is coming fast and I’m working to get all the parts together for the turbo kit that I acquired. Right now all I’m missing is a vaccuum manifold and some hosing. The fuel computer should be arriving at my house as I type this post and yesterday I received the turbo timer, motor mounts, and an electrical harness for the timer. Next week about this time the electronic boost controller should be showing up too so with a little bit of prep work and soem good luck on the installs and tuning, I’ll be running around in a turbo’d Scion tC by the end of February/beginning of March. Just in time for the start of the track season!
(The Mediocre intercooler going through the paint removal process. Who paints an intercooler gold…seriously)
Rich‘s car (the Mediocre Jetta):
Rich is…uh…busy? I give Rich a lot of trash, but I know it’s very hard to write posts during the off season especially when the only place you can work on your car are the snowbound and frostbite ridden streets of the Boston metro area. Look for more posts from Rich in the coming months when the weather actually starts to become manageable back east.
I’ve approached a friend of mine to write me a couple of articles on video games to see if he’s any good, and to see if you guys want to read more about the other stuff we do here at Mediocre when we’re not muckin’ about in the engine bay. Keep an eye out for some video game posts coming in the near future.
I mentioned it before about the future of the site and I just now locked down an agreement from the first car – and owner – that I am going to be interviewing for the “Featured Rides” section. I still need to work out the details with him about how we’re going to meet and where, but I’m very much looking forward to this. Oh, here’s a fun little teaser…did I mention that this guy and his awesome car have been featured in a magazine already? Yea…Mediocre is that important that people big enough to be in car magazines are still interested in working with us.
Ok, so now that the boring site news and updates are out of the way, here’s that eye candy I mentioned. I stole this (what else is new) from Jalopnik, but I felt it was necessary to show you. If you’ve got 11 minutes of your life to spend on this awesome compilation of old school Group B rally racing, I highly recommend it. Frankly, I think you should dedicated 22 minutes to this so that you can watch it, and then just listen to it. God I love racing.
-Steve has to get back to work now…stupid work
As you may or may not have noticed the site is adding a few changes. I’ve opened up the Featured Cars and a Mediocre Garage tabs so that I can finally start expanding the site as I had originally planned back when we launched. Right now both are empty (although I’m currently working to arrange an interview with the first featured car), but keep an eye out on the main page as I’ll post up when the tabs are officially underway.
(If you look closely, there might be a spoiler included in this picture. No, it’s not in the circle.)
For the Featured Cars section, I will be looking to expand out of the Scion/Toyota/Lexus world, but since I’m shallow and only really know Scion/Toyota/Lexus guys I’m going to need a little bit of help. If you know of anyone that you think would be a good candidate to be in the featured cars (and is hopefully within 2-3 hours drive from Seattle) I’d love to know. Leave me a comment with a forum link to their car, some e-mail or phone information for them, or just send me some cool pictures and I’ll try to connect the dots.
(Totally rad connect-the-dots tattoo that actually works. Giraffe!)
In the Mediocre Garage section I’ll hopefully be getting my slacker co-editors to take some higher than usual res pictures of their cars and maybe go through their current builds, interesting stories or history about the car, and their future plans for the cars. We don’t have show cars and we aren’t that good at taking pictures (as you may have noticed from the majority of the cell-phone pics in the posts) so don’t get too excited to see magazine quality shots.
(Yes, that is the exact model of phone I still have…)
In the end it’s more work for us, but I think we can do it and I think you guys will enjoy it. Otherwise I’m gonna feel like a complete dick for wasting my time when I could’ve been looking up more pictures of stockings or hoochies-who-think-they’re-making-a-career-out-of-standing-around-and-having-people-take-pictures-of-them-in-their-underpants.
Big things are comin’ so grab a beer, fire up the intertubes and get ready for some 100% average quality work coming your way!
– Steve isn’t above shamelessly self-linking T and A
As you know I am woefully inept at writing original and moving pieces for the blog. Hell, I copied most of my first post from War & Peace. Seriously though, in an effort to not be as much of a social loaf, my plan is chronicle the build/repair of the Jetta. The first month will highlight my goals for the year, and each successive month will go over what I’ve done. Since I’ll acquire a lot of parts in trade, I figure it’d be a cool way to showcase the quirky VW people while also detailing some of the struggles of trying to daily drive a 20 year old car of ill repute.
(Picture unrelated…but funny)
Leave us some comments on your thoughts
Those of us who are entirely addicted to our hobby know what it feels like to sacrifice some things to make sure that we can get what we want in others. Everyone has their limits of what they will and won’t sacrifice, but this limit is often variable as we continuously weigh our losses versus our potential gains.
Me? I’ve sacrificed some of my eating habits to hopefully save some dough for the upcoming turbo build. What does my sacrifice look like? Well, to most people it would look like absolute rock bottom, but to me it represents a delicious way to save big money on food. I present to you my newest low-budget Mediocre dining creation: Spicy Mustard Tuna!
(Looks and sounds weird, tastes delicious for under a dollar worth of ingredients!)
Everyone knows what it’s like to sacrifice for something they really want, but can’t immediately afford. Some people know how to dig deep and really cut away all the things they don’t need and some people just aren’t willing to do it. Whichever you are it’s totally fine because we all build our cars at different speeds and the beauty of our hobby is that you can do whatever you want to get to your end goal. Just make sure not to judge someone just because their breath might smell vaugely of Jalepeños and Tunafish.
– Steve eats it right from the tin…now that’s hardcore
We all know that I’m not really a “show” kind of guy. I mean, I haven’t washed my car in over 4 months and I have scratches and door dings on the tC for as long as I’ve owned it. Because of my penchant for not cleaning things that don’t need cleaning, this post should be relatively hypocritical to my normal mindset.
I recently stumbled upon a ridiculously cheap deal for a complete, but used, Turbonetics turbo kit for my tC. Immediately jumping on it yielded a few weeks worth of waiting for it to be delivered and then consummate joy when it got here. (Technically I’m still waiting for the oil pan the guy forgot to send, but that’s a lesser concern) As I started to look over everything and take stock of the parts and the integrity of everything, it became quite clear that the kit was well and truly used. All the piping was showing signs of use from scratches, scratched/peeling chrome, and what looks like some sort of acid splashes on the lower parts.
(Scratched and acid splashed)
After some closer inspection it seems like all the pipes are fine and there isn’t really anything wrong other than the superficial issues I mentioned (and showed) above. Here’s where the point of this post starts; I didn’t like the way the pipes looked. Oh don’t get me wrong, I think the cool “smoked chrome”/gunmetal color would’ve been awesome had it been brand new and flawless. Problem is, it was neither new nor flawless as you can obviously see. Not having all the parts I need to install everything (just need some ancillary items and an exhaust gasket) I couldn’t really put the kit on the car just yet. The winter has made me antsy and I wanted to at least do something so I picked up some VHT header paint and some sandpaper from my local auto parts store.
After some eager sanding and then some taping off/plugging of holes, I hit one of the newly cleaned tubes with the header paint and let it dry over night. I must say, the results are pretty impressive considering how little work it required.
(Hard to see in the picture, but the pipes are a nice flat black now)
Did I NEED to do this? Nah. Do I really care what the inside of my engine bay looks like? Hardly. Then why the hell did I go out and buy parts and spend good time on this little project? Sometimes the things you don’t have to do are the things you enjoy the most. I had fun sanding and painting the pipes, it gave me something productive to do with the parts and has allowed me to connect with them on that weird level you get when you have some sort of emotional attachment to things that you’ve worked with.
(After / Before)
You don’t always have to do something to make it better, and sometimes mucking around with something will make it worse. On those rare occasions where you do something you don’t have to and it comes out perfect, that’s what our hobby is all about.
– Steve accidentally wrote “Spray-tainted” and then giggled to himself while writing this
Steve’s post about “real” vs. “fake” automotive products isn’t limited to just performance parts. It also applies very well to tools. Mr. Angrypants and I have often argued about the use of a penny to measure how much tread is left on your tires. His argument is that a buying a tool for this particular job is ridiculous since you can get virtually the same thing for something worth, well, a penny (I’m good at this game). Mine is that I would prefer the precision of a tool designed for the job. This post will be my official statement saying that I really endorse either way.
(“Real” Tire tread depth gauge.)
Keeping to my example of measuring tread depth on tires, I bought the tool above for about $10 after shipping. You place the flat end of it against your tire and push the “plunger” in until the part sticking out of the bottom reaches down into the tread. The depth of the tread is then measured with the numbers at the top. Take measurements from different parts of the tire and you can get a very accurate picture of your tread’s general health. The benefit is obvious: it offers precision and accuracy. The more information you have, the better you can plan for replacement tires or upgrades. The trouble with the tool is also obvious: it costs ten bucks when I could get similar information for next to nothing.
(an example of “next to nothing”)
This article from Tire Rack describes how to measure tread depth using a penny and a quarter, and how to interpret your results. According to the article, you can use this method to confidently know when your tires have at least 2/32”, 4/32”, and 6/32” left. These are also key limits to keep in mind: 2/32” is generally the legal limit for tread depth of tires; 4/32” is the recommended minimum when driving in rain; and 6/32” is the recommended minimum when driving on snow. So some really important things to know about your tires can be learned from simple coins. The benefit is the lack of any investment in a tool. The challenge, however, is the lack of precision. You may have more than 6/32” of tread remaining, but how much more? How much longer do you have before you drop down below the safe limits? Don’t answer these questions, they are rhetorical.
The conclusion to this post is really something that most people should live by: you get what you pay for. If you don’t need the additional precision and information you can get from a tool like the one above, by all means use some coins to measure your tread depth. The same rationale can be used for lots of different tools. Either way, we here at Mediocre Motoring accept you for who you are (unless you’re from Denmark).
– Alex “Did I use the word ‘precision’ too many times?” Gregorio