Archive for May, 2010

Quick update…redux

May 24, 2010 9 comments

Not all of the boxes that I needed got delivered. Well, let me rephrase that…they were all delivered, just not to a location that I am able to access. So while I sit here with a bunch of parts and a half completed kit I get to watch the UPS tracking of some packages going back to the sender instead of going into my engine bay.

(Sad tC sitting idle STILL without a turbo kit installed yet…)

I’m pretty sure no one other than the Mediocre crew could stretch out a simple turbo bolt-on installation into a 1.5 month long shit show that this has turned into. I cannot even begin to fathom how even the simplest things – such as getting a package delivered – can take up almost 2 weeks to get done, and then it’s not even done right. Because this is no fault of our own I’m pretty furious with UPS right now, unfortunatley I can’t really do anything so it’s just impotent rage at this point, but that doesn’t lower the blood pressure at all.


The guys at Descendant racing (Rob specifically) have been super awesome and have been completely understanding. As soon as I told Rob what had happened he immediately offered to send out a replacement package before he even had the mis-delivered stuff back in his posession. There are tons of shade tree shops out there that would’ve required the original parts to be back in their posession before even considering resending them, but thankfully I chose a great shop that really does care about its customers. Thanks Rob and Descendant, you guys are completely awesome.

(Completely stand up organization and builders of some insanely high powered race machines)

– Steve’s car is STILL down which would be comical if it weren’t so sad

Categories: Cars, Steve

Quick update

May 19, 2010 2 comments
Just got a big box from Descendant so it looks like it’s time to get this project moving again! I’m really sick and am rocking a decent on/off fever right now so I’m not really looking forward to lying on the floor and working for the rest of this afternoon, but there’s no way in hell I’m wasting any time now that I have the parts!

Will post more pics of the new kit and any progress updates when I get them. 

(Mediocre Alex’s kid Evan exploring the new turbo kit)

Stay tuned!

-Steve is sick, but refuses to rest

Categories: Cars, Steve


May 17, 2010 3 comments

If I’ve learned anything from the “tC turbo extravaganza” that we’ve been going through for almost a month now (holy crap…it’s been a month) it’s that time isn’t always easy to account for. From that I’ve learned that patience – not money – is the most important resource you can ever have when enduring a major project.

(How do I know if I have a concussion…oh well…I’m sleepy)

The time needed for parts to ship is long and no parts supplier ever seems to be on the same urgency scale as you or your project. If you ever have to purchase new parts from places not local to you, you’re going to have to accept a delay in getting those parts.

There’s also when you’re missing a specific tool relevant to your work. You won’t ever find that you need that part until 10 minutes after all the local autoparts shops are closed. There ya go, another day’s worth of wait as your build stops.

Worse still is when you just flat out don’t have the required skill to complete that complicated step that’s blocking everything else and you need to wait for your more knowledgable buddy (or shop) to help get that work done. More time, more patience, and certainly more beers needed to get over that hump.

(The worst part of any build; paused until further notice)

Sometimes it’s nothing to do with skill, or parts, or tooling or anything else like that. Sometimes the work itself is just long and tedious and tests the patience and the stamina – both mental and physical – of the person. Patience is your greatest weapon and the resource that is always in the shortest supply. If something breaks, take a moment and breathe. Can’t get a bolt off no matter how many different tools and methods you try, sit down and think about it while you cool off. I’m sure someone brought beer to the work day so take some time to take a sip while you let yourself calm down and collect yourself.

Everyone wants to get things done quickly and correctly with the least amount of effort, but we all know that’s not always possible. Practice patience and try to keep a light attitude toward the project and it won’t feel like work, it’ll feel like the fun you were looking to get out of it.

– Steve doesn’t take his own advice, flips out over simple things

Categories: Cars, Steve

Forum lurking

May 13, 2010 1 comment

Lurking on forums for cars that aren’t your own can sometimes give you the best ideas for your own car. You’ll sift through the usual forum drivel that exists on your forums and the forums of everyone else in the world, but once in a while you’ll stumble upon something magical. You’ll find something that makes your day and gives you a perfect new project to add some flair to your car.

(Oil cooler in the rear diffuser on this 2nd gen Rx7, very clever)

When you stick to a single forum specific to your car you start to get into an incestuous pool of knowledge and willingness (or unwillingness) to try new things. Going to other forums for other cars allows you to see the crazy stuff that the rest of the world is doing, and trust me…the rest of the world is doing some crazy stuff.

(Wait…a Scion tC with a 3.3L V6 jammed in there!? Holy crap!)

While you won’t neccesarily like everything you see you’ll certainly see things that you wouldn’t ever have thought of. Further still, what you’ve now seen can help you form a new tanget of an idea that someone else might never have thought to do.

(S2000’s F20C motor in a 1973 Toyota Celica! So effin’ rad!)

Obviously you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) spend all your time digging on a different car model’s site if there is a lot to do that your own community can help with, but if you need a break from the same old same old, get out there and see what else is going on outside your neighborhood. Your eyes might open and your love for cars might come rushing back. Either that or you’ll cry…or find porn. Really, it’s most likely the last one, it’s really hard to NOT find porn on the internet.

– Steve tried really hard to not find porn, failed miserably, had fun doing it

Categories: Cars, Steve

Futility, thy name is “Used Turbo Kit”

May 10, 2010 3 comments

Ok, so after a looong few days worth of working on the car, working at my job, and trying to spend at least a little time with my girlfriend I’m completely exhausted. The kit is in, the new turbo is on the manifold and the pipes are routed. We’ve got to find a location for the oil cooler, although I think we’ve got one ready, and finish connection the gauges and vacuum manifold. Otherwise we’re pretty much done. 

(Turbo in the bay! Downpipe not yet attached in this pic)

Now, here’s the funny part. Now that everything is on the car I’m most likely going to take this kit apart and pick up a new one.

Sayy whaaat?? But, but, but…you’re just about to get tuned aren’t you!?

The kit is junky which I knew and am ok with (again, I got this kit for ridiculously cheap even after getting a new turbo) and I’m totally fine runnning the car on the streets for daily driving and minor romps. What I’m not fine with is trying to trust this kit to deliver high quality reliable performance on the track…which is really the only thing I want and need from it.

The turbo is brand new, so I know it works. The wastegate and BOV work fine and were tested by Alamo turbo. The intercooler seems to be in good working order (minus the broken bracket) and really I’m pretty ok with the charge pipes now that I smoothed out all the dents and divots the previous owner/installer had mangled into them.

(Why yes, that IS rope holding up the intercooler while we work on the pipes…stupid broken brackets)

The main problems now are with how everything fits (or doesn’t fit) together. The downpipe doesn’t seat properly against the turbo outlet, the mounting bracket on the lower block, or the wastegate. This is due to the new turbo being marginally wider than the original Turbonetics unit.

The Turbonetics turbo had a 90 degree bend at the end of the cold side outlet so that it would fit up with the pipes and clear the starter. The Comp turbo doesn’t have this and I don’t have a 90 degree silicone coupler handy so we rigged up a flexible 90 degree coupler from a water piping system for the interim.

The Turbonetics turbo must’ve been mounted a little lower on the manifold and was certainly physically smaller than the Comp turbo I have now. Because of this, the intake pipe leading to the cold side routes directly where the radiator hose is and the only way to mount the intake pipe is to put pressure on the radiator hose. Technically it fits and the pipes all still connect properly (also still clears the hood), but this isn’t really an optimal situation to be in.

(Hooray! Interference!)

Downpipe: I can adjust this by putting some time and effort into making it work
Intake pipe: I can fix this by popping off the radiator hose, getting a new hose design to route under the intake pipe, then refill the system
90 degree pipe: I can fix this by getting a proper 90 degree silcione coupler instead of this little temporary fix

What’s next:
I’m frustrated, but not nearly as much as I thought I would be. I’ve already got a good set of injectors, I’ve got an F/IC, I’ve got a vacuum manifold and all the gauges I need as well as a new oil cooler. Right now I just want to replace out the actual hardware of the kit. I’m toying with the idea of piecing together a compeletly custom kit, but right now I’m without car and my motorcycle is awesome…but cold and wet to ride to work every day.

I’m also considering the “tuner” kits from Descendant and Dezod (I looked at Ptuning, but it’s ~$1k more than the other two and has nothing special compared to the other two…no thanks). If I were to buy a new kit, I’d have a completely reliable (comparative to the current kit I have) system that I wouldn’t feel worried about punishing at the track. If I DO grab the new kit, it’ll give me time to go through the old kit and fix all the little annoyances and either sell it once it’s fixed or keep it for a future project. Hmmm…lots to think about now.

 – Steve is about to be very light in the wallet

Categories: Cars, Steve

Hard at work

Hello Mediocre readers, just wanted to pop on and let you all know that Mediocre Motoring is going to be kind of boring for this week and upcoming weekend.

(Hard at work…pants optional)

The turbo build is in progress, but hitting a bunch of speed bumps and work stoppages. I’m working really hard to get it all wrapped up before this weekend and I’m still trying to maintain my quality of work at the real job so I’m going to be on a little hiatus from writing posts.  Check back Monday of next week to see the progress and to get some yummy new posts.

– Steve works hard for the money that this site generates…which is zero

Categories: Random, Steve

Off Roading : The Tea Party

May 1, 2010 1 comment

I figured I’ve written one post about video game stuff, I should probably write a post about politics. And what better thing to write about than the current political movement du jour, the Tea Party. For anyone not familiar with the movement (and unless you don’t follow any news at all, how could you not be?) it’s a group of people who feel that the government is overreaching their bounds, invading personal life and spending way too much money.

The REAL tea party

As I explained in my first post, I’m fairly liberal, so it should be of no surprise that I don’t agree with their views. However, I’m not going to take what seems to be the common anti-tea party stance, dismissing their views because they are “stupid” and calling them Tea baggers. For any democratic society to work people need to be able to express their views, and all members need to be able to accept other views, whether the agree or disagree, and be able to debate them openly without fear of being insulted. The debate of the role of government in our lives is a very important one to have, and this brings me to my first problem with the Tea Party, they aren’t open to debate.

The Tea Partiers don’t want to debate the role of government. They don’t want an exchange of ideas, and are not willing to compromise. Granted, there are people like this in every party, but the Tea Party seems to be solely made up of these people. They think their way is the right way, and that it should be the only way.  Unfortunately for them, that’s not how democracy works. A recent poll shows that 18% of all people consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement. While that’s a staggering number for such a recently formed movement, it’s still well less than a majority of people. So in accusing the Democrats of going against the wishes of the majority of the population, they are being incredibly hypocritical, as them mandating that their way be the one adopted is the exact same thing.

Doesn’t really LOOK like the ‘majority’

This is actually more of a problem for Republicans than it is for Democrats. The most recent New York Times survey stated that only 54% of the Tea party movement considers themselves Republican, with 36% being independents and only 5% being Democrats. However, 73% said they are somewhat or very conservative, and 20% are moderates. I’m willing to guess that probably 85% to 90% of the members of the tea party are most likely to vote Republican. This poses a HUGE problem for anyone running for a Republican seat, due to the absolutist nature of the Tea Party members. If we accept that these numbers are true (and I have many issues with opinion polls, but more on that in another post), then that’s about 17% of the total pool of voters, and votes that are almost guaranteed for a Republican. These are also people who are much more likely to show up at the polls, as they are actively involved in a political movement.

Even if we take the number of people who consider themselves Republican at face value, that’s about 10% of the entire country. That’s a bout a third of registered Republicans (there are about 55 million registered Republicans, or about a third of the voting population). This is a significant portion of the republican base. However, should a candidate try and negotiate with the party in power, the Democrats, they will be ostracized from the Tea Partiers, who will stay home, or will run either a third party candidate or a primary challenger, forcing the moderate Republican to run as an independent, effectively splitting the vote and ruining the chance of a republican getting elected, as we saw in the special election for New York’s 23rd district with Doug Hoffman, and with what just happened in the Florida Senate race with Crist becoming an Independent. However, if the Republican candidate sticks to the Tea party line, they risk losing any independents and more moderate republicans, and 25% of the vote isn’t enough to win anything.

He worked out really well didn’t he? (Doug Hofman for those who are curious)

My second major problem with the movement is the rhetoric they use and the actions they take. Most people have heard about the racial and bigoted slurs hurled at congressmen as they went to vote on the health care bill, and the violent, offensive, and racist signs that many of them carry have been well documented. This may be attributed to a fringe element, but when you have one of the de facto leaders of the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, saying that progressivism is a “cancer” that needs to be “cut out” of America, how can you have an open debate with them? Glenn Beck is basically calling for a significant percent of our population to be removed from society (one could argue that using the term “cut out”, and Sarah Palin using the term “reload” could actually be inciting violence against these people). The say anyone who disagrees with them “un-American” and a “communist”. To be fair, I also hate it when liberals refer to members of the party as “Tea Baggers.” It’s an insult, and it’s stooping to their level of discourse. If you are upset by their insults, insulting them back isn’t a good way to try and change the tone of the debate. But the Tea Party movement has a very hostile undertone to it, and this came out after the passage of the Health Care bill, in which one Congressman’s brother’s gas line was cut, and many Congress Men and Women had their office windows shattered, apparently at the encouragement of a Tea Party leader and blogger.

Yeah, this is a totally reasonable protest sign to carry around. Not racist at all…

My final major problem with the Tea Party movement is either the ignorance of the movement or dishonesty of the movement. Their number one talking point is that they are taxed too much. Well, according to The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the middle class tax rate for 2009 was at or near a historic low. Another common argument thrown around is that Obama has tripled the national debt since he’s been in office. First off, saying he “tripled the national debt” makes it sound like he has tripled the entire amount of money our country owes. That isn’t what happened. His budget deficit for 2010 was three times the amount that the one Bush made for 2009 was. However, when you look at the numbers, he didn’t add three times as much to the entire debt our nation owes. This was because Bush never included the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in his budget. He just left them off. In actuality, Bush increased the total National Debt by right just under a trillion dollars in 2008, and Obama increased it by about 1.2 trillion dollars. Doesn’t look all that different to me. The “tripling the national debt” comes from a projection of the debt in 10 years, based on this budget. Going back to the year 2000, the CBO estimated we would have over a 4 trillion dollar surplus by 2010. That was pretty accurate, wasn’t it? I’m not even going to get into the paranoid fears that Obama is “taking our freedoms” or the nonsense about “death panels”. Show me one credible threat to your freedom that happened under the Obama administration. Just one, never mind one that was worse than anything the Bush administration did with their warrant-less wiretaps and most of the Patriot Act, when the Tea Partiers didn’t seem to care quite as much about their freedoms.

I’m all for having an honest and open debate about how our government should work to best serve the needs of it’s people. I have a few friends who mostly vote Republican, and we have excellent discussions on the various aspects of politics and governing. But in any debate, I expect the other person to use facts and logic, not lies and misleading statements, and I expect to be treated with respect, which the Tea Party does not give me, so I have none to give to them.

-Dr. Floppy PhD

Categories: Off-Roading, Wetzel