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Rabbit Farmer's 1.8T 4-door money pit

121143 Views 453 Replies 40 Participants Last post by  Rabbit Farmer
Hmmm, I guess I haven't created a project over here. Let me get you caught up with the progress over the years.


I still have a bit to do to make it perfect. Engine build-up coming within the next 8 months to give me full boost on the turbo.

Here it is from the beginning to get everything caught up to the present....


Here is where the car started:


Summer 2006:

FIA Cage (Done)
FIA Seats (Done)
5-point harnesses (Done)
2.5 LB A-B-C fire Ext. (Done)

Bilstein Sport shocks/struts (Done)
Shine Racing coilovers and camber plates (Done)
Shine Racing anti-roll car (Done)

EBC Yellow brake pads all around & new rotors (Done, thanks for Fast Addiciton)
Waiting for my Mintex pads to arrive.
17x8"" rims (Done)
Toyo RA1s (Done)

Plans over winter 2006-2007:

Turbo GT2871
Performance intake manifold
3"" downpipe and side exit exhaust
034EFI Stand-Alone Engine Management
APR fuel pump
57 lb injectors at 3 bar
Adjustable Fuel Pressure Regulator (FPR)
Cooler spark plugs
Might change oil pan (add baffles and trapdoors)
Fuel injectors
Cam shafts
Sprayer for coolant radiator since FMIC will block some of its air flow.
Oil pan (trapdoors/baffle)

Lightened flywheel and performance clutch.

No plans other than some minor body work.

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1st of two coats. All painted with a brush. (friend Nick helped tonight)

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Buring the midnight oil....

A little progress this weekend.

(1) Determined solution for sunroof hole. Going to Rathe's on Friday to cut some sheet metal from a Golf/Jetta III. This is just a temp. solution to plug the hole until much later when the body will be the concern. For now... getting it on the track/hill and going fast will be my priority. Won't look pretty for a while. :oops:

(2) Wiring: Just have to weld a tab in for the fuse box and then plug everything together that is on/around the steering wheel. Everything else is hooked up.

(3) Plug the air vents in the dash where the dash was cut for the cage and then installed the vents a little further up-stream. :D

(4) Did some cutting of the dash and glovebox to make it fit. Still a work in progress.

(5) ""Fixed"" front bumper (essentially it looks like Frankenstein) and test fit bumper and fenders. Ordered part that was broken on fender (goes between fender and bumper). After the part comes in the front end body work will be done.

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Another busy night.... finished a bit earlier than I had been this week.. midnight. :oops:

(1) Spoke with Pete down at VW to attempt to order little plastic tube that goes into the vacuum in the front right fender well... not really sure what it does, but it sucks air when the car is running so it must be really important. Anyway, Pete said that the little tube I need does not come separately and that I would have to purchase the entire tube for $50. :shock:

Here is the vacuum blue-ball thingy with the broken (half of broken tube is still in the flexible tubing) black connecting tube.

At lunch I decided to figure out what alternatives I had and came up with a brake line (the flared ends were a perfect fit)

Did a little cutting and sanding...

And done!

I did put tape between on the brake line so it could not slide inside of the blue-ball thingy (the lines are secure and shouldn't move around, but I still didn't want to take chances).

(2) Next, working with Eli at Shine Racing Services ( we are trying to determine the best suspension setup (done) and to see if camber plates will work on the strut towers with the cage there. Eli faxed an outline of the camber plate to test fit it on the car. Not looking good.

(3) Finished the dash with the exception of the trim at the driver's feet and steering wheel. Waiting on those until my brother Andy welds on a tab for the fuse box that is normally located at the end of the dash.

I cut off the back of the center section to make it easier to change/inspect the e-brake lines in the future. I don't want to have to remove interior trim.

(4) Trimmed the door panel (just one thus far) to fit around the cage. Not perfect (need to slam door) so I will have to tweak a little more. I might use alum. sheet at a later date, but this is what I have for now.

(5) Starting to look like a car. Fenders mounted, bumper mounted, broken grill mounted. All panels are a little bumpy, but body work comes later after the performance step has been completed. :twisted:

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Andy (my brother) came over today so we could get to work on the roof and fuse box. HE can fabricate.... I can't even come close. If it doesn't involve cardboard, a couple of nails, pop rivets, zip ties or duct tape, then I'm lost.

Anyway, headed to Rathe's to cut off the roof of a MKIII Jetta. Thanks to Chris (vtGTI) for the loan of the cordless sawsall.

Short and quick.

Put the new roof on top of the old roof, traced the sunroof hole....

Andy (love his shirt!) grinds off the paint to prepare the surface for welding.

Cut out and grind edges to match new roof to old hole.

Weld in new roof (including one brace from the original roof). Didn't come our perfect (a bit of warping).

Grinding down the welds....

Later... filling the holes and painting the roof.

Welded in bracket for fuse box.

It is coming together.... slowly.

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Spent all day on the car and didn't seem to accomplish everything I wanted.

Cut off the top of the glove box so that it could be accessed from above by going through the airbag opening on the passenger side. The glovebox won't open because of the cage, so I figured out a way to access the box another way. Of course, I suppose I could convert the airbag hole to the euro box and call it a day, but that purchase doesn't make the car go faster or handle better.

Anyway, Did another door today. Reinstalled window and interior door trim... cut the heck out of it to fit around the cage. I will take a picture of it with the door open so you can see all the cutting that was needed. My goal was to make it look complete when the door was closed.

First coat on the roof.

Some misc. shots (new wheels are on)... needs to be washed very badly:

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Since the first event for the Golf is coming up very quickly, I took today off to work on the car.

A present arrived today.....

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Well, I took enough pictures of the whole process and will make my own tutorial for the VermontRacing site.

Rear shocks/springs are in. Ride height was reduced by only 1/2"", but I can lower it 1"" more. We will see how the front comes out. It is all about performance.

Here is the reason I couldn't figure out the rear... I had to remove the retaining clip and plastic washer, install the perch, and reinstall the washer/clip. I had to purchase a new retaining clip spreading tool (whatever it is called) since the one I had spent more time going sideways instead of spreading the clip. (junk!)


Smoothed the roof out some more.... there are a lot of wrinkles.

Life on "the farm"... too many projects, not enough time!

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Took Sunday off because I worked on car from 9am (Sat) until 2am (Sun).

Had a real fight with trying to get the camber plates aligned. For now, they are held in with 4 grade 8 bolts per side until we can get it on an alignment rack to check the caster. I'm not worried about camber since the plates are adjustable, but caster is not adjustable once welded in. We will weld both the top of the plate and underneath to make sure it stays together.

Did the finally smoothing of the roof and plan to try the paint method posted by Rob (Elmer Fudd) since it is just white and the roof. Bret at Rally Grafix will take care of the graphics for the roof. :wink:

Anyway, Nick and Tim came over and helped with the drilling of the 4 1/4"" holes to remove the original strut towers. The drill was so powerful that it took Nick for a ride a couple of times when it caught. :shock:

Hole in the strut tower.

Camber plate installed....

What it looks like underneath....

It is kinda of strange taking a cutting wheel to a new strut


I am still working on sourcing the brake rotors, but put it together for now (the brakes are easy on this car!) so it is mobile.

Short and sweet. I'm really looking forward to getting this on the road.

Dealer is coming over on Monday night to determine the actual value of the car for registration. NADA lists this car at $9700.... yeah right. Was that before or after it landed on its roof?

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A big thanks to Casey for coming over tonight with a rear brake tool to reset the rear caliper, help put the car together, and get it down to the shop (and me back). Plus, he didn't show up empty handed. :)

Pictures as promised.

Chris scuffing roof to prep for paint.

Me painting the first coat.

Roof when done.

Present arrive from Fast Addiction!

Rears before...

Rears after...

Fronts before...

Front after...

Seats are in. Harnesses are partially in right now.

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Camber plates installed...

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Thanks to Bret at
(covering over a really bend roof)

End of 2006.....

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And now you are all caught up. Welcome to 2007.....

Tranny is out. What a pain. The actual removal of the transmission was easy. Big bolts on the axles, easy motor mounts, lots of big bolts all around the tranny (instead of those 10mm head bolts from the Rabbit that hold the sheet metal cover to the transmission to keep water out... and that little piece in the back/behind the passenger side tranny flange), easy to remove parts underneath, and it just slides out soooo nice. The pain was the hours we had to spend on the top of the engine trying to figure out how to remove all the crap.

Transmission goes to Fast Addiction tonight (11pm) to start its journey towards enlightenment (e.g. LSD).

The issue I did have with the removal is the bolt that holds the back of the dog bone to the subframe snapped off (I just barely started to turn it with very little force). The bolt looked more like chalk instead of metal. And, in my efforts to remove the dog bone (the bolt broke off leaving a stud still in the hole) it looks like I broke the back of the dog bone. So, I will need to get a new one. Doh!

This week: front bumper off, exhaust off, DP off, exhaust mani off, clutch/flywheel off, SMIC off, power window control in. That should do it. Then start ordering parts.

Still looking for a hood and front bumper. I believe I have a lead in NH for the front bumper, but local would be better.

No pictures... figured you know what it looks like to remove a transmission. I have to say that I do not like the Bentley for the MKIV. Funny part of the removal, there was one like that stated (in a nut shell) to go to the electrical section for removal instructions for the starter. Okay, looked at the section on how to remove the starter... zipped to the step near the end since all the previous steps were completed until I realized the ONLY step that I needed to follow in the starter removal process was to remove the lower bolt on the starter. Um, they could have told me that in the transmission removal section.

John at has the transmission and is installing the Peloquin LSD. Want a go fast modification? This is a great thing to get!

I recent purchased a MINT front bumper from a fellow Vortexer (I had to drive to the intersection of 89 and 93 to pick it up... and then on my way home stop by at FA to get some parts).

Here are the 'some parts'

I am still lost on what I should run for for electronics. I have an e-mail out to Unichip. APR is a no go. Revo is a no go. I can't find a product that will run a big turbo (short of engine management).

I finally got to dig into the engine today to swap out the plastic water pump with a metal one. Doh.. it already had a metal impeller. Such is life. I guess I needed the practice. 2.5 hours start to finish. :) It did make it easier with the fact that the transmission was out of the car so I could hang the engine more in the middle of the engine bay giving me more room to work.

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Progress continues..... Car still isn't faster, but I now have all the body parts I need and the transmission is back in. I wanted to drive it around a little tonight to make sure everything was good (plus I'm supposed to put 450 miles on the clutch before any hard launches... I don't drive that much in a year with that car... LOL). But, since I didn't completely bolt the DP to the turbo it was loud as hell. Don't worry, it is just hooked up for moving the car around (get on the trailer, etc.) and the ol' foot won't punch the throttle creating a lot more boost that it can handle.

Anyway.... a little progress.

Thanks to John at, I now have my new flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate (I installed this on Saturday) and the transmission back with a nice toy installed inside. I also purchased a set of Driveshaft axles (good for 400 HP). The MK4 axles are soooo much easier than an MK1.

Clutch installed..... (bolts not tightened yet)

Something to keep me warm when the heater ran out of gas.... a little bit of apple infused vodka thanks to a friend.

The stock axle vs. the driveshaft axles.

Spent most of my time researching the internet for ways to make the car faster. Thanks to John at FA, he was able to give me some direction since I am new to the whole leaf blower mounted on an engine thing.

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Spent the last few weeks making it look pretty. Waiting for go-fast parts to arrive.

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Some assembly required.....

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Some progress... all the big parts have been removed from the car so it is now time to put it all back together. The oil feed line to the turbo was the biggest PITA as it was impossible to get to.

Anyway, some stock vs. go-fast parts side by side.

The pile of 1.8T parts I took out yesterday.... my green Rabbit suspension makes for a nice frame.

I think it is very impressive the HUGE difference between the stock exhaust manifold and the ATP setup. Stock is tiny.

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The past two days were productive.

The FMIC has been installed and most of the plumbing is done. I did not connect the tubing to the intake yet as I need to change the throttle body from DBW to DBC. I have not installed the front bumper cover yet (will require some shaving). The installation was a bit of a pain.... I had to cut the lip of the bumper bar so that IC would sit flush against the bottom of the bumper. Per ATP's instructions, I had to cut the lower radiator support, but after I finished and reviewed the work, I have no idea why I had to cut it. The IC doesn't hang anywhere near the radiator support. Looking again at ATP's instructions, it looks like the IC in the directions is different than what I actually had to install. There was some wasted time. I cut part of the battery box base (I do not have the battery box anymore since it was a causality of the rollover) to make room for the pipes. I also had a little problem clearing the headlight (throttle body side), so I cheated by removing the back cover of the headlight for clearance.

IC mounted to the bumper/rebar:

I had to drill a hole all the way through the second layer just so I could see. Then I worked an open-end wrench with the nut duct taped to it over to the correct position. The photo is at a sharp angle so you can see the nut.

Mount on the car with the tubing. I had to put the tow hitch at an angle (I want to leave it mounted on the car)

The removal of the old turbo was very difficult with the oil/coolant lines and miscellaneous bolts/nuts. Installation of the new oil/coolant lines looks like it will be much easier since I can see all the connections because the turbo doesn't hang below the exhaust manifold.

Installation of the ATP manifold was a royal PITA since it was impossible to see the nuts and even move impossible to (a) get an open-ended wrench on the nuts and (b) to be able to swing the wrench to tighten the nut. Well, I don't think Sears will take back my 12mm combo wrench after I shaved it down to make it thinner both in depth of the wrench and the thickness of the round part. I also bent the wrench to allow for the swing. It actually worked quite well. I wish I had thought of it before (as does my friend Nick) since Nick tighten (mostly) the hard to get nuts with the open-end wrench over the course of an hour. I just had to tighten them with the modified wrench.

Hard to see/work with nuts:

The fabrication:

I hung the turbo last night. Good thing I didn't start tighten the top nuts because one of the bottom nuts required the turbo to be at the end of the stud to be able to fit the nut between the turbo housing and the top of the stud. I was able to tighten all but one of the nuts since I needed a 12mm combo wrench. Hmmmm, somehow my 12mm got bent and didn't work here.

Turbo partially installed:

The nut that had to be installed first (lightened area) and the nut next to it (left side of image) that I couldn't tighten without a straight 12mm wrench):

The turbo from the bottom:

Hopefully tonight I will be able to install the oil and coolant lines and complete the intercooler pipes. That leaves Wednesday night to install the FPR, injectors, and BOV. If there is time, I get the exhaust completed.
EDIT: Didn't get a chance to work on the car tonight due to an SCCV meeting followed by the gym.

The engine management should be in the mail to me today. Hopefully I will be able to get that on by Monday (busy this weekend drinking that 1/2 barrel of Switchback).

I need to get to Fast Addiction to pick up some last minute items.

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The saga continues.

Big BOV... no idea where/how to install it.

The hairdryer installed...

Engine... not all hoses connected yet.

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Now I'm above my head....

How the car has been sitting for 5 weeks....

Package arrived today with some wires in it...

Starting to sort out/layout the harness. I plugged in what I could figure out so that I could determine the flow of the harness, and therefore, how/where to mount everything. A bit of a brick wall here so I have some deep thinking to do.

Letting the turbo breath with full 3"" exhaust. Chris Achilles is doing the side exit for me.

Split race muffler... the muffler is 5"" round and only 6"" long.

Bigger is better... :)

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Done. Car is down at Quintin's Brothers in Williston to get dyno tuned. They may or may not get to it today. The exhaust system didn't do a very good job of making the car quieter.... I think it sounds nice.

Joe from was making sure the 034EFI wiring harness was functional. It turns out that 034EFI did not include a mini-harness to allow the stock tach to work. Because the stock tach didn't work, the fuel pump wouldn't stay on and the oil warning light kept flashing.

Cyrus, Chris Marotti, and Chris Achilles came over later with the Achilles custom exhaust.

While Cyrus, Achilles and I worked trying to get the exhaust hung we got to listen to Marotti play us a ditty on the guitar. Much enjoyed!

I still need to do a better job with the after-market tach (temp fix until I get the missing harness) and boost (hack!) gauge (hack!) install (hack!!), but I think I'm all set now. Oh, and finish hanging the exhaust.

I think I got a total of 10 hours of sleep over the past three nights.


------------- Project Update -------------

We still need to mount the ECU inside the car (it is in the rain tray at the moment), but this means I need to remove the wires on the left side of the car (driver's side for me) and relocate them along the right side of the car.

We had some problems with the car at Lime Rock (track event) where the spark plugs would foul (oil from PCV) and turbo would become loose. Issues that I will address this week as I have a hillclimb in two weeks. I also need to make it quieter.....

Photos and videos from its first track event will be forthcoming.

Due to the stock internals of the engine (building it over the winter), we stopped at 18 psi and got 277 wheel HP from it. The turbo can breath right up to 28-30 psi quite efficiently, but I want to keep the engine in one piece this summer. This will turn out an easy 400 crank HP when done and a GREAT power band (good low end and top end). Very pleased with the GT2871R!


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Brady at Quintin's (dyno shop) e-mailed me today to tell me how to use the program to view the results. I didn't realize that that graph x and y titles were clickable menus. I'm unsure which program I ended up with (both displayed), but it is a very conservative number (18 psi) to where we are going (28 psi +/-).

Fun for now and the engine should hold together just fine.

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Stock piston gave up the ghost at the first race (it made it through the first track event just fine). I believe it was because the manual boost controller wasn't tight so it allowed for an over-boost condition.

Time to rebuild......

Not too worried about the block as I can bore it out if needed. The head is my main concern.

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Done. I might procrastinate, but I get things done (now, about that turbo single round headlight Rabbit I have been talking about for years....)

Anyway, a number of late nights and one weekend I was able to pull out the old engine, put together a new one (never opened the new engine.... should have only 40k miles). The whole process was not difficult, but it was time intensive. Surprisingly, everything went together... kinda intuitive. I did discover that almost all the parts on the NB engine (stuff bolted to head, valve cover, block) are different than the Golf. Right down to the hard metal coolant tube that runs along the front of the block (found that out after I install all the tubes, wires, etc.).

Anyway, some pictures for those of you bored with the text (I know I am).

Engine out (removed head and then lowered block/transmission out the bottom)

New engine with everything bolted on, Spec clutch, flywheel, transmission installed, etc.

How many 20-valves can you spot in 4 seconds? ...go!

I removed the DP and both axles and was able to (quite easily) bring the completely assembled engine up through the bottom. I had thought the turbo being bolted to the engine would prove to be too big for the engine bay opening. Good news!

Every wonder why VW's have some electrical issues? This is what the wire looks like that went to the secondary air pump and power steering pump. The power steering pump wires were also broken off. Of course, the damage could have occurred when I removed the engine, but honestly I have no idea how that could have happened.

I don't think that I need ANY of this. I already removed the secondary air pump from in front of the oil pan. Since I wasn't sure what I needed/didn't need and didn't have time to experiment, all the parts went back in.

Location of 034 ECU and relay board. I took the time to remove all 034 EFI wires that ran along the driver's side (left side of car for those of you with the steering wheel on the incorrect side) and ran everything on the passenger side of the car. I took the ECU out of the rain tray, cut a hole through the fire wall with an air nibbler (love that tool!) and put the ECU where the passenger airbag was. In the future, I'll have to get it mounted better, but it will get me by for this season. No pictures of the changes yet, as I need some sleep.

Heading to Moon Performance in NY at 2:00 on Thursday so that they can dyno tune the car to get it ready for Watkins Glen. Fingers are crossed that everything works.

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Engine makes noise when it runs. I will be getting new rings in the mail on Tuesday and changing them Tuesday night. If there is an issue with the head (which it sounds like this is the issue), then I have a real problem as I don't have any extra good heads to us. I have my $200 block/head setup, but that has bent valves and I have the old head that the pistons were throwing the rings against them at 6000+ rpms. I just might have to use that…

Picking up car from NY tonight. Bringing it back on Wednesday night assuming I have it together.

ACK! I am so sick of this crap!

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The rings on the stock pistons looked okay. There was a little peaning of the top edge of the piston that I had some concerns with, but it might have been okay. I just happened to get good pistons and rods in so I started on that last night since I couldn't go anywhere with the head.

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More progress... bottom end is done. I just need a complete head and I should be done in about 3 hours. (that's 3 hours on Thursday night)

Anyway... tired so here are a few pictures.

New pistons and rods finally arrived. Since I didn't have them the other night when I knew that I had to rebuild, John at Fast Addiction was nice enough to next day up rings and a head gasket.

Compared... notice the location of the top ring on each piston. The new piston is covered with assembly grease, hence the dirty look.

The old pistons. For some reason that had dents (old dents!) in the pistons.

Three in so far... notice the new EGT sensor. :)

Bottom shot with hanging oil pump chain.

And finally the last one going in. Pump back on, oil pan back on, etc. Done with this step. One more night and then it is a trip to NY.

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Turns out the head I finally ended using was crap also. It dropped a valve inside the engine. It started and ran great... never sounded so good. Put it on the trailer at 6am (when I finally finished working on the car after an all nighter), took a shower (needed it!), drove to Moon in NY, started it (sounded great), it stalled, couldn't start it again. Tried starting it a number of times with the laptop hooked up to it to figure out what was going on and about the 6th time we heard a clunk. Took the plug out and the end of the plug was flat.... huh!?! Looked down the plug hole and we could see the face of an exhaust valve looking back at us. Thankfully the head failed during a starting instead of running action. So, the Golf isn't going to Watkins Glen and won't be rebuilt for a while as I plan to get a new head.. perhaps ported and polished and ready to bolt on. Hmmmm, maybe some new Cat cams while I'm at it. Snow will be flying before that happens, but I do plan on taking it apart sooner than later just to see what happened. Hopefully there was not damage to the new pistons. "
"It is March 2008 which is the month I scheduled to start working on this car again for the next race reason (tax refund comes in the mail in March).

Getting new head (naturally)
Kevlar cord timing belt
Perhaps getting rid of the coilpacks and going wired
Getting rid of OEM wires/tubes under the hood that aren't needed as I have stand-alone.
Electronic booster controller (controlled by 034EFI ECU)
Dyno tune with two maps (high HP and moderate for the rainy days)

That is it for March (I think).

Big brakes planned for later.

After running 100% with bigger brakes, I don't think I will be doing anything with the car for a while. I want to change the suspension to lower it more without changing the suspension geometry (read as "lowering the car with shorter springs or coilovers is not the best way to make a car handle"... I need re-engineering). For example, my other Rabbit (a 1980 Rabbit) is lowered in the front using heightened strut towers and modified mounting points for the front and rear spindles... the rear is independent suspension to boot!

Progress (and therefore photos) will start in a couple of weeks as I am busy right now shopping for parts and weighing options.


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I'm still waiting for my website to come back online, so for now, enjoy the little red x's.

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May, 27, 2008

Progress.... picked up a complete 1.8t engine with transmission.... unfortunately it is an automatic with front end damage. (free auto tranny to anyone who wants it... it is just weight at the scrap yard to me... want to practice working on auto transmissions? Here is your chance. But wait... order the FREE transmission now and get a free under the hood wiring harness.)

Picture of disassembling "new" engine... and taking stock wiring harness out of the car so just the 034EFI will be there plus the 6 or so stock wires needed for sensors, etc. I will be working very fast on this in the next couple of weeks as I have a track event on July 14, 2008 that the Golf would be better than the Rabbit (5 hours of driving at the event).

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June 20, 2008


Turbo/exhaust manifold is bolted to the new head. The broken valve damaged one of the pistons. I had two options: 1. get one piston and have it balanced to the weights of the other three, or 2. get a new set of pistons for now (JE pistions) and do the "get one piston to complete the set" for later engine builds. Anyway, new pistons will be here on Monday.

Right now I have all the pistons/rods out of the car waiting for the new pistons. Everything should be together by Saturday.

Now, time to work on the new Rabbit and the water pump on the Cabriolet. I need a vacation.


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June 27, 2008

Well, I have been away in MI for a week (Sun-Fri). New pistons were in this AM and I started installing them around 3:00 PM or so. I bolted the head on around 10PM and ran into a little snag (one with two solutions). The 5mm x 50mm stud that is needed to compress the timing belt tensioner is way too short when the tensioner is already fully extended (i.e. the belt is not longer on the car). I plan to head down to SAC in Williston on Saturday morning to get a 5mm x 70, 80, 90, 100 (hopefully they have it). I could get a bunch of 100mm and cut them down, but they should be cheap enough to just buy the different lengths.

Plans are to fire this up on Sunday..... Saturday is busy with a BBQ at our place so time is limited on Saturday.

Boring photos to follow on Saturday.


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June 29, 2008

Some progress today. It was a little slow since I took soooo much time just to get the timing belt on the engine. :censor: :censor: :censor:

Big thanks to Jodi Doyle for some help with the intake today (added some nipples for vacuum lines)

Anyway, new JE pistons are installed (still using Scat rods).

And them purty?

The turbo setup on yet another head. :censor:

Those hard to get to nuts on the exhaust manifold.

I bought a 10mm flex wrench years ago to be able to get those nuts in between the oil pan and transmission on my Rabbit. Well, it is the same tool that is needed for the Golf, but thankfully, only two bolts need this tool on the Golf.

Close up of the end....

In between oil pan and transmission....

Close up of the bolt....

5mm x 50mm bolt with head cut off + standard thread connector + 5mm x 50mm bolt cut to 10mm + (nut+washer+washer) + brad (nail) = "tool" to compress the timing belt tensioner.

I had a hard time getting my hands into the tight spot so Julie gave it a go....

Next project is to replace the bearing on Julie's Jetta (and do the brakes also... it still has my track compound pads on the front).

Then finish fixing the Cabbie....

Then.... get the turbo Rabbit read for the next hillclimb.

Of course, around 11PM tonight I started to notice water coming under the garage door while it was raining.... so, I was outside in the rain cleaning the gutters over the front and back of the garage.


NOTE: I changed the first post to show a new link to the complete build (and re-build) of this car. It has been a royal PITA, yet a bit of a learning experience.
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90quattrocoupe said:
If you are still looking to change over from 034 to VEMS, Mark Swanson made an adapter cable for my CQ when he changed mine. Used the same sensors and wiring, already installed.
Just a thought.

Greg W.
Good to know. I like options. I'm thinking of just replacing everything as it is quite of. Thinking about potential damaged wires, corrosion, etc over time.

We will see. Thx for the idea.

Good article that talks about Docol R8 tubing. This is what we used in my MK1 Scirocco cage. ... abrication
are those Quantum front spindles on the scirocco? they would have the bigger bearings and the hubs would still be 4 x100.
Do you think there will be any events this year? I bought a car but havent' gone through it yet.
Sciroccohp said:
are those Quantum front spindles on the scirocco? they would have the bigger bearings and the hubs would still be 4 x100.
Do you think there will be any events this year? I bought a car but havent' gone through it yet.
Unsure what they are. Some local VW guys (without seeing the front end in person... just pictures I posted) thought they were Audi 4000 rears on the front.

Just guessing. I haven't looked everywhere to see if there is a part number.

Reading through the 2003 Golf magazine, it states "Carrera dampers at the front and rear". It is in the section named "Two-step garage" on page 5. The whole article is fun to read. Very cool car. Bill changed the engine to a 1.8T while still using the 020 transmission.

I really don't know what they are.

He did have a Carrera engine in his old Bug ("the bathtub") that he still holds record for the 100% dirt Mt. Washington hillclimb. Perhaps he had other parts from the donor car.

For events in 2021... still a lot of unknowns when we will start. Waiting for a more open environment in Vermont to allow for hillclimbs. Philo hillclimb is scheduled for May 1-2, but we are still unsure about it until state government makes some changes... might be too early in the year.

It is a bit frustrating, but if that is all I have to deal with in life, I'll take it.

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**** 1980 Volkswagen MK1 Scirocco ****

Sitting in the garage… planning time for transmission, suspension, etc.

Removed the seat to reinstall it in the Golf in preparation for a track event.

Purchased a new helmet to replace my current Simpson Voyager Evolution SA2010 (size 7 1/2).

I originally ordered the Bell M8 because of the large eye port, but they were not available until June 2021.

Plan B: I ordered a G-Force Nova Helmet SA2020 (size Large) in flat black, a smoke visor (to replace the clear… perhaps I should have gone with an even darker visor), plus some new HANS mounting posts.

I like the fit and it is a bit lighter than my old helmet.

New HANS posts

Single my helmet already has the threaded insert, I did not need the washer/nut combo that goes on the inside of the helmet.

**** 2001 Volkswagen MK4 Golf ****

Time to get the Golf ready for the 2021 hillclimb season, and more importantly, a Test and Tune track event at Club Motorsports (I love this track).

Winter is over and need to find a place for the little snowblower.

Tried to do my own alignment. I have done this before, but it was more tweaking on an existing properly aligned car vs. new suspension, new steering rack (well, just the tie rod ends come into play), new ride height, control arm bushing, etc. etc.

I was out of my element and did not have a lot of experience to know how to do everything correct.

But… there is that darn track event coming up and I needed to get it close.

Goal is -2.30 camber and 1/16" toe out.

I set the camber on both sides to -2.30 (I didn't take the time to zero the level on the floor… that played into my numbers not quite being correct based on the "real" alignment I got after the track event).

Did 1/16" toe out… well, I did it in CM as it was easier to see on the tape measures.

Ordered a new window net. The mesh is the original and the web is new. (24" wide by 18" tall)

Car is all together and ready for track event… after a much needed car wash. Last time I washed it was prior to the September 2019 hillclimb (Mt. Ascutney).

Loaded and ready to hit the road. One thing that I want to do with the trailer this summer is add interior lights and decorative lights on the awning. Lights would run from a deep cycle battery in the trailer and the battery would charge when connected to the truck. Plus… some cabinets and drawers as digging through bins to find stuff suuuuucccckkkkssss.

Welcome to Club Motorsports in the b-e-a-you-tee-ful town of Tamworth NH." onclick=";return false;

Some pictures of all the cars and drivers. Lots of cool cars. Some cars/drivers that I race with at the hillclimbs.

Lots of really cool and fast cars.

Love this purple 2016 Porsche GT3 RS. Fastest time of the day. Hard launches and drove it like it should be driven. Very impressive driving Mr. V. Campbell.

Frog Racing

Chris shake down of the GTR in preparation for Pikes Peak Hillclimb

Our local hillclimb "fast car/driver"… the Super Chicken II

How about a car with no gears or clutch? We had to push him while he engaged the starter to get going. Only way to completely stop is to turn off the engine.

The "Mutt". Older Subaru body with STI setup.

MK2 Golf with turbo VR6

And now back home after the track event to get a professional alignment at Twisted Wrench in South Burlington, VT. They did the previous alignment on the Golf and did a good job.

Took my about an hour to make this image to try to capture the before and after measurements. The before numbers show my lack of alignment skills. Yellow is before and Green is after measurements. The colors do not signify in or out of spec… just two colors to make it easier to read.

My instructions to them was -2.30 front camber and 1/16" toe out. Everything else just seemed to work out.

And this little gem. A mint vase from my mother's 1962 (her guess on the year) VW Bug. Includes shiny new looking mounting bracket and original box. Pretty cool

**** 2009 Subaru WRX ****

Well… the plan is to sell it this summer.

Plan for next car is AWD. Might be Subaru STI or WRX. Don't know yet.

I do not need a car during the summer as I can drive my truck. I don't drive the truck in the winter except for infrequent trips to the hardware store and dump when the roads are clear… followed by a rinse down when I get home.

I figure the 2012 F250 crew cab 6.7 diesel should be the last truck I ever own… less than 30k miles on it at the moment. Taking care of it to make it last 40 years.

It does need better headlights.
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Hopefully these rims work.

Ordered from; (working with Richard).

Konig "flow formed" 17x8" | ET40 | 5x100 bolt pattern | 73.1 center bore

The rims come with 57.1 hub centric rings.

I opted to not order their tuner bolts as I run studs... researching what will work for nuts. My studs are M14x1.5 and the Konig site recommends "spline drive, tuner diameter, conical seat lug nuts." I'm never exciting about any product with "tuner" in it.

What I know... conical seat and I have M14x1.5 studs. Just need to get the rims in my hands to determine what to use for nuts.

From ECStuning, I ordered a set of 73.1mm to 57.1mm hub centric rings (want spares and the price was right) along with 10mm spacers with 57.1 lip (I didn't want a flat spacer).

The reason for the spacer is two fold. My current rims are 35ET. With a 4mm spacer, the Yokohama tires (the take-offs from Vermont Sports Car) do work with the suspension, but with the 40ET of the new rims, I calculated that I need 9mm to get the same clearance. After the Yokohama tires are worn, I will be back to using the skinnier Toyo R888R tires on the new Konig rims that will not need 10mm spacers... I will cross that bridge later.

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And... now they are telling me they the Konig rims are out of stock. Research continues.

This weekend was the first hillclimb that we have had since the fall of 2019.

New England Hillclimb Association (NEHA) series event
Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH) - great host!
Mt. Ascutney
May 2021

I was happy with the performance of the new suspension especially on the very very very very very bumpy section at the top of the hill.

I set the shocks/struts at the mid-point (same as what I used at Club Motorsports earlier this year). Everything felt good. I thought the back floated a little, but it was better on the bumps, transitions, and was very consistent.

The last run of the day, I reduced the fronts by two clicks and did not like the results. It seemed the front didn't stick as well as before. I turned them back one click (now 1 click higher than the midpoint) and did not get a chance to test the change as it started to rain... figured there was no improvement opportunity with the wet surface.

I do need to get new tires to replace what is currently on the car.

I believe I was first in class and fifth overall... not too bad for a front wheel drive 4 banger. :)

Basic video of my fastest run. I left a lot on the table. This was with the 2 clicks softer than mid-point.

Suggest you watch it in 1080HD.



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**** 2015 Volvo S60 R-Design ****

Not much of a "performance" update, but with the non-metallic paint, we decided to go the detailing with clay bar route.

Can't really tell in the photos, but when we saw the completed car afterwards, the paint just popped. Incredible results!

**** 2001 Volkswagen MK4 Golf ****

New wheels, tires, spacers, and nuts!

After learning that Fitment Industries was not able to get the rims I wanted because Konig is reporting that they were now on backorder, I started contacting the vendors on Konig's website to see if they had the rims in stock.

I assume in most cases that the vendors are just a conduit for taking the order and it ships directly from Konig. Essentially, the availability is based on what Konig has in its inventory.

I contacted CARiD and they told me that had them. After double and triple checking, I placed the order with them and they arrived! I have never worked with CARiD before, but have been very pleased with this transaction. Adding them to my list of places to shop.

I ordered the BFI spacers (10mm thick, 57.1 hub, lip, 5x100 bolt pattern) and hubcentric rings (73.1 wheel center bore to 57.1 VW hub) from ECS Tuning and the M14 x 1.5 open end Gorilla "tuner" nuts and socket from Summit Racing.

Somewhere along the lines I noticed that BFI spacers are for OEM wheels only. Thankfully before I tried to use them. I'm on the hunt for replacement non-OEM spacers.

Images from BFI's website. It is more of a side note on ECS Tuning's site where I ordered the spacers.

The difference is the lip on the spacers. The OEM only rims are more of a cone while the "universal" is a cylinder.

The nuts…

The Konig rims did come with bolt on center caps, but I do not plan on using them as it will make it harder to work on the car (access to the axle bolt). We will see.

I tried to get the "new" tires mounted at a local shop, but they said their tire mounting machine could not do them as the sidewall was too stiff.

They suggested Green City Garage and Chris (owner) was able to mount them within a few days. Very happy with my interactions with Chris. Will be going back there.

Tires mounted just for show…. It only has the 4mm spacer. I think they look nice. The tires are a little taller than what I had on there before, but the price was right.

Earlier I noticed that I was getting a code for the left rear ABS wheel sensor per my simple BlueDriver code reader/reset tool.

(Brakes Code) Error 290. Static - ABS Wheel speed sensor rear left (G46); signal outside specifications.

I replaced the wheel sensor and still have the error. Unsure if I need to drive the car after replacing it to reset code. Hindsight as I type this is that I did not clear the code and scan again.

If the error is still present, I will have to check the wires going to the sensor.


Find 10mm thick, 57.1 hub, lip, 5x100 bolt pattern spacers
Install second horn
Install vacuum pump for the brakes
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Thanks for an unexpected "shout out" from Grassrootsmotorsports, I had someone ask me why I use "Rabbit Farmer" as my handle, logo, and online identity.

Easy… I used to have a lot of Volkswagen Rabbits (MK1 Golf); from my daily driver, hillclimb/track/autocross/ice time trial car, and my future "full race" Rabbit that I ended up selling to purchase another Rabbit.

Here is the story of the Rabbits.

1984 Rabbit L

My first Rabbit. We made a surprising number of modifications to the car over the years. Car came with a 1.7 liter carburetor engine and four speed that we installed a 1.6 liter fuel injected engine from my 1980 Scirocco; we might have installed the 5 speed also (that was a long time ago). We did carb the Scirocco engine after blocking off the injector ports where I ran double downdraft Dellorto 40mm carb with no choke… and drove it year-around. Bought that carb brand new… cost as much as the car did.

Didn't look pretty, but it was pretty quick.

198x Rabbit (GTI?)

As the white Rabbit was losing the battle against Vermont winters, I purchased a replacement Rabbit from someone who did track events (lived in Massachusetts). He delivered it to the NHIS (Loudon, NH) track as it was half way between us… that was nice of him.

We removed the bolt-in cage (sold it to someone to do some racing) and we installed a hillclimb legal custom cage using the roll bar from the white Rabbit.

This was my only car for a few years… driving it to work every day, climbing over the cage (rain, shine, snow) with dress pants and a tie. Drove it to the events (no truck and trailer or anything fancy like that) packed with all our camping equipment and tools.

What I did with the car… Bilstein Sport struts/shocks and two-step 2.5" coilover springs (front 450# main/350# tender and rear 300# main/150# tender), 22mm rear anti-sway bar, Toyo RA1 tires, LSD for the 5-speed close ratio transmission, polished and ported 8V head, bored the engine to 1.9 liter and bumped compression to 10:1. After purchased tow vehicle (2001 Dodge Durango) and trailer, we increased this to 12:1 and ran C-12 race fuel.

Painted it green… um, blue… um green? in my parents' driveway.

White Rabbit being disassembled while the green car (thanks for my brother Andy for making all this possible… I was new to working on cars).

Pretty car. Street legal and was always fun on the tight roads.

I don't recall what the car came with, but I assisted (handed tools to Andy) Andy with converting it to CIS (fuel injection) from a Golf MK2.

And I did everything with this car…

Ice Time Trials


Small track events (time trial)

Big track event (HPDE)

Car shows

And my favorite… hillclimbs!

We decommissioned green Rabbit in 2006 when I purchased the caged the Golf MK4.

1983 Rabbit GTI

The cars have a lot of overlap.

I purchased this stock Rabbit GTI as my daily driver.

Naturally, I had to modify it.

Bored to 1.9 liter with 10:1 compress. Bilstein Sport suspension with stiffer springs than stock. LSD for the transmission. See a theme?

198? Rabbit

Bought this caged Rabbit for hillclimbing. Raced it for a short time and decided to sell it for something that was a lot faster. I wish I kept this car.

198-doesn't matter the year Rabbit

The "Tub 2" was for sale for the right price. Only the roof was metal. Light was heck, wide race tires, 1.8 liter 8-V, CIS (fuel injection), standalone engine management, and 28 psi of boost. Very very very quick car. And the only car that I could do endos (back end off the ground at least a foot!) when braking hard at the track.

1989 Cabriolet

Not quite a Rabbit in name, but it is a convertible Rabbit.

I purchased it was a 1.8T conversion and cable shift. I rebuilt the engine using the same components that I used in my 2001 Golf MK4 that I was hillclimbing. GT28R turbo. VEMS standalone. LSD for the transmission.

272 wHP = happy camper

That wraps up the world of Rabbits.

Lots of details on the later cars earlier in this project thread. Slim Pickings for older Rabbit content as it was all captured on… gasp!... 35mm film.
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The coolest thing about this picture (other than a great GTI) is the ice racing tires. You can see how they chew up the ice.

400+ ice racing screws in each of the front tires and 300 in each of the rears.

Fun to drive on the ice with these. There are better methods today for building ice racing tires, but back when I made my tires, this was the way we were all doing it.

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Wicked cool!!!

Thanks for sharing the history of the cars of that you've owned....

Looks like a lot of fun over the years!!!!
Anyone going to the Mt Washington hillclimb on August 13-15, 2021 to see Travis Pastrana destroy the (his!) current record in the 862 HP "AirSlayerSTI"?

Should be pretty sweet to see that car going up the hill. (much faster than I will be going).

On the Subaru Motorsports USA facebook page, they posted a video of Travis in this car at Burke Mountain (Vermont); this is one of the hills that our local group races. Pretty cool seeing him run the car on a course that I am familiar with.

Direct link:

About a week before Mt. Washington... I better get the car and supplies ready.

No no no... more procrastination is needed.

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Lots of preparation for the 2021 Mt. Washington hillclimb (formally known as the Subaru Mt. Washington hillclimb presented by Yokohama Tire); aka "Climb to the Clouds".

Let's talk about the spacers. I returned the ECS Tuning spacers as they stated they would only work with OEM Volkswagen rims.

I found the spacers I needed at Venum Wheel ( at the right price.

I ordered 5x100 bolt pattern, 10mm, 57.1 bore, black spacers.

A few days before the Burke hillclimb they arrived.


It was quite obvious that they weren't black. Okay, I can live with that.

But they also aren't 10mm. I really needed 9mm, so going 12mm was more than I wanted/needed. I called Venum and we had a conversation… the easiest way for me to get the 10mm spacers in time for Burke (4 days away) was to pay for another set and return the 12mm.

I decided to hold onto the 12mm until I had the 10mm in my hand as Burke was the only event prior to Mt. Washington that I would be able to drive on the new tires.

Good thing… FedEx screwed me (which is very rare… it is usually UPS with a "weather event" on a sunny day). Out for delivery the day before I had to leave for the event and then (poof!) won't be at my house until the next day.

The chrome looked good on the front. I wanted black to match the rims.

On the back, we have some issues.

I was hand tightening the new Gorilla nuts and something didn't feel right like I was stripping the nut. Oh-oh. Took it all apart and found that the stock VW hub pushed off the machined lip of the spacer.
I ended up running 12mm front and 4mm (what used to be on the front) rear spacers. I wanted a square car, but would settle for a slightly skinnier rear.

Oh… Venum also told me to return the chrome spacers that pushed off the machined lip because they were obviously defective.

When I got home from Burke the 10mm spacers had arrived. I tried them on the rear and they didn't fit either… with or without the dust cap.

The gap on the rear.

I noticed at Club Motorsport, Ascutney, and Burke that the car didn't seem to have the power it should. It was a little more obvious at Burke as I normally get into 5th gear prior to checkpoint 1 and downshift into 4th to make it over the jump. I never got into 5th.

I figured the engine or turbo were getting old and the power just wasn't there anymore.

Let's start with troubleshooting. Pressure test, check timing, look at the turbo, perhaps a compression/leak down test (though I did these tests earlier this year).

Guess what? It seems a hole that I can put my index finger through kinda robs the power from the engine.

Wrench for dramatic effect.

The car is ready for the 2021 Mt. Washington hillclimb including the door sticker to commemorate the event.

Another set of 'take off' tires from Vermont SportsCar. This time Cooper Rain tires.

I picked up some 1/16" vinyl coated wire rope/cable, crimps, and tool to make tethers for the cameras on the car.

Welcome to the 2021 Mt. Washington hillclimb!

Car with the newly acquired (thanks to the Mt Washington Auto Road) "This VW climbed Mt. Washington" bumper sticker.

Friday practice. The only point of the entire weekend that I was ahead of Travis Pastrana. We practiced the top half of the mountain from 8am-noon. Picture is us waiting below the mid-point to head up for our run.

Cool picture of the collection of cars after Saturday's practice of the bottom of the hill. Parked above mid-point on the hill where we finished.

Sunday timed runs of the whole hill. Cog railway train in the background.

I was able to secure 2nd place in class between two BMWs, both with good drivers. Happy with the results, but I did struggle with the lack of low end power that took forever to get out of the corners. Really impacts my times at the Burke hillclimb.

I hope to resolve that issue over the winter so that the car is more fun to drive on tight courses. We will see.

And those poor rain tires. I drove them during both Friday and Saturday practice. It was dry and hot on Friday. Overcooked them a bit. I expect this look on track where you always pick up track rubber, not so much on a paved mountain road. Could be wrong (been known to happen).

Pictures of some of the cars at the event.

Rabbit… bah! They should have named it something else. "Rabbit" to me is a small car from the 1970-1980s.

Datsun 510

Sierra Car (normally aspirated)




Cool car at the event. Car was raced by John Buffum (search the internet for his rally racing career in the US… very accomplished driver) a long time ago. Passed through many hands until the current owner acquired the car and brought it to Mt. Washington.

My neighbors, the Sierra Car.. um, cars. The black is turbo and was 2nd overall at the event.

Speaking of John Buffum… he is up on the golf cart for the driver's meeting telling us to not do anything stupid and have fun.

Helicopter from the event that was following the fast cars. I saw him over me at one point… must have been birdwatching or just returning to base.

The Unimog that shows up every year to help with communication on the hill. Pretty cool.

What I think was the coolest tow rig at the event.

We got lucky with the weather. B-E-A-Uuuu-tiful on Sunday. Very foggy on Saturday afternoon. Could not see more than 30 feet +/-.

That wrapped up the Mt. Washington hillclimb.

Perhaps I will have the Scirocco ready for the next one.

And different video cameras… I was so frustrated trying to get the GoPro to work. Problems connecting on my old Iphone 10 XR and my new Iphone 12 Pro.

I will post the video later tonight. World's slowest DSL internet connection requires overnight uploading of videos.

One more event this year… Mt. Ascutney hillclimb in September. My favorite course in the series in Vermont.

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Here is the video. Make sure to select 1080 HD for quality.

Best time 7:15.552
2nd in class (P2)
20th overall out of 72 drivers with times

Best time 7:34.18
4th in class (P2)
30th overall out of 67 drivers with times
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[start rambling blog post]

Happy Thanksgiving.

25# turkey is in the smoker.

Winter is nearly nearly here... no snow yet, but the snow tires are on. Have the snowblower mounted on the Kubota (3 hour project with removing and cleaning mower deck, removing bucket, install snowblower frame, installing snowblower). Hoping for a lot of snow to justify the purchase of this tractor (LX3310HSDC) with blower.

We should have fast internet next week. This is a big deal!

Our prior house (5 miles away) had 250 mbps cable. Moved to current house (a little more in the country) and we are getting a max of 8 mbps on DSL. Imagine that speed with two people working from home. Next week... 400 mbps. (didn't think we needed anything faster than that... we will see). Planning to order a new computer on Friday or Monday (based on sale options this weekend) to replace the 11 year old gaming rig I have. It has been a challenge with the slow internet and gaming PC that isn't quite up to spec for the current Call of Duty. Roughing it, I know. ;)

Officially selling the 2009 WRX as I just put a down payment on a 2021 Subaru STI. I was waiting for the 2022 MK4 Golf R to come out and couldn't wait any longer. I will have to source some rims and snow tires for it. I was looking at a friend's absolutely beautiful MK7 Golf R that he is selling, but I opted for new with warranty. Too bad I couldn't get both. If you want a fantastic Golf R (located in Vermont), I can put you in contact with the seller. Highly recommended car.

Scirocco... sitting in the garage like a piece of exercise equipment.

Golf... plans for the winter are... well, planned. Just need to get the ball rolling. Just some minor stuff. VEMS engine management to replace the antiquated 034EFI; smaller hot side on turbo; reroute intercooler tubing so that it isn't near the starter; make sure all gauges work (need new EGT). Plan is to tune it for pump gas to avoid having to purchase and haul around the VP C12 leaded race fuel. Yep, less power potential (because of pump gas), but hoping to get lower end power to make the car more fun to drive at the hillclimbs and cost less with pump gas.

[/end rambling blog post]

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Finally catching up on “things” but nothing too exciting.

Winter wasn’t as productive as I hoped, but “hope is not a strategy”.

--- Wrapping up the 2021 Season ---

Hillclimbs were really good and the Golf held together. It was put into the trailer clean and didn’t see the light of day until May 2022. Nothing was broken, but I did have a lot of winter plans.

I drove the 2009 Subaru WRX at Club Motorsports in October 2021. Last event for this ol’ girl before selling it in December 2021. Loved everything about this car except the rust that was forming on the rockers. It has been my favorite winter vehicle ever! Balanced, good gearing, good power (265 HP), and naturally the AWD. And I like the looks of the car.

Also last event on these fantastic 17x8 rims. They don’t fit on the new car (different bolt pattern and too small of a diameter) and the offset was wrong from the Golf (I tried!). Rims went to a good home on the “Mutt” (older Hillclimb Subraru with STI setup).

The “Gang” from the track event at Club Motorsports.

---- Introducing the New Daily Driver ----

2021 Subaru STI Limited purchased from Gary Smith at Prime Subaru in Manchester, VT. Same place we got our 2009 Subaru WRX Premium. Good price, good service, and I ensured to get the Fluid Film undercoating before picking up the car. Gotta protect my investment.

Car is for sale for $1,000,000 since they aren’t making any more internal combustion engine STIs after 2021 as Subaru is going electric in the STIs. I kid... about it being for sale. I’m sure the electric STI will be a good performer, but I’m not sold on electric vehicles yet with the limited resources for the batteries, dirty mining, issues with recycling old batteries, not a good power support for charging (batteries just store energy created by non-clean sources), etc. I don’t think we are “there” yet for electric cars.

Jury is still out how I like the car. I really enjoyed driving the WRX and think I like the gearing of the 5-speed (WRX) better than the close ratio of the 6-speed (STI).

I’m unsure about the seats in the STI... I was hoping they would hold me in the seat a lot better. Perhaps the seat cushion needs to sag a bit with use so that I sink into them more. Would love the “butt retention” of the Recaros in my 1983 Rabbit GTI.

I would like a taller second gear. I haven’t had an opportunity to really utilize the potential of this car by bringing it to a track... don’t race a car payment. Recently discovered the different power (throttle response) options of the S Drive, but pretty much just leave it in “Intelligent” mode with the price of gas.

For now, an underutilized daily driver as I am working from home most of the time. Car almost has 2,000 miles on it as of June 2022.

Nice clean engine... 310 HP (slightly better than the 265 HP in the 2009 WRX)

First modification was the floor mats. After cleaning the 2009 WRX to get it ready to sell, I spent an hour cleaning the salt off the carpet (especially the tunnel) using hot water, vinegar, and our home carpet cleaner. Carpet looked fantastic after the effort.

I wanted to protect the carpet on the new carpet from day one.

I installed Tuxmats in the Subaru. Impressed with the how well it covers all areas of the carpet especially the center tunnel where crusty salt accumulates. My only “want” with these is that I would have liked for it to use the two stock driver’s side mat retention posts on the floor. I had to remove them to make this work properly (it comes with a single retention post).

I tried to get these for my 2012 F250, but the company doesn’t make anything that old anymore.

---- Minor Updates on the Golf ----

As mentioned... not a lot accomplished over the winter. Heck, I didn’t do anything.

Started the car in May.

Bought race fuel at $21 + tax a gallon. Holy mother of...

Same day that diesel was $6.29 a gallon. Double ouch with the 50 gallon tank.

Because the car felt a little loose with the new suspension, I decided to remove the Shine Racing Services (SRS) rear sway bar. Something that I would regret a little at Mt Ascutney as the car would plow a bit and not rotate... I ended up turning up the rear shocks three clicks to compensate. Still trying to figure out the best setup with the new suspension. Think I will also lower the car a little (currently stock height). We will see.

Mt. Philo Hillclimb with the other cool Volkswagens. Both are VR6 turbo.

Top of Mt. Ascutney...

--- The Scirocco ---

It occurred to me one day that the reason I wasn’t working on the Scirocco was because I needed a transmission to start the ball rolling.

Bringing back my old 02J (5-speed) transmission that I removed from our 1.8T Cabriolet back in 2011. Sold it because I didn’t think I needed the 5-speed as I had plans to use the 6-speed in the Scirocco.

Four 4-packs of Fiddlehead later and I was bringing it home again.

I was curious about the 13” very very very light rims that I had... with the bias ply race tires, I could hold one of these straight out from my body. I guess that is “the” test for lightness. Couldn’t do this with the 17” rims on the Golf with or without beer muscles.

Based on input from a number of people on Facebook (VWRacers group), these were identified as Keizer Racing Wheels with centers that are aluminum or magnesium. They are made for lighter cars (Bill / original builder did use these on the Scirocco at hillclimbs) such as open wheel cars.

Unsure if I will keep them as I plan to use 15” rims on this car.

Two more hillclimbs in June (Okemo and Burke) and then a long break to allow me time to continue to procrastinate on my projects until Ascutney in September.
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And for the consistency award at the 3 mile Ascutney hillclimb... well, they weren't giving out awards.

I guess I have the hill dialed in pretty well mentally. I need to figure out where to get a little more time. I think my best time at Ascutney with this car is 2:56.771 (Asctuney #2 in 2021). Not that far off.

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I can see this is a long read, so I’ll give you the short version and you can look at the pretty pictures if you don’t want the verbosity induced detailed version.

Short version:

I went off at the Okemo hillclimb that caused damage to ego (I can no longer say I have been crash free since 1999 when I first started) and the front suspension and rims. Borrowed a cool Subaru to get a time run. Fixed the car for the Burke hillclimb. Drove the next hillclimb on rain tires that sucked in the hot dry weather. Ordered new front strut and two rims to bring it back to its pre-accident condition prior to the last hillclimb of the year. Did something fancy with Subaru license plate. Pictures of parts to fix the folding mirrors on my 2012 pick-em-up truck. Go look at the pictures and watch the video. Move along.

The long version:

Mt. Okemo Hillclimb

First time leaving the road at NEHA hillclimb.... ever... since 1999. Yep, there was that “creative parking” incident at Mt Washington, but I was more stuck than “off”.

Something in the left front end failed which made the car go straight in a corner. Maybe...

No body damage or anything that there really wasn't an impact. Just lots of driving in a muddy ditch. There was a rock that had a fight with one of my rims... guess who won?

All on video. Gopro was mounted below front bumper and was not damaged.

Here is the video of my run. I was not going fast as I was just trying to lay down an official timed run for the day. The road is very very very rough.

When going off, something felt strange in the steering wheel. In the video it looked like the car was turning in and then didn’t.

Did something break or was loose, was it the rough road/loose surface... It wasn’t a situation where I was overdriving the car and just ran out of talent. I was in control... until I wasn’t.

Originally I though the strut failed, but that isn’t the case as the left rim was only damaged in one section where it came in contact with the strut. This means the wheel was not rotating when the strut was damaged, therefore, thus, and hence... the wheel was already locked up and I had already left the road.

The only thing that was loose was the left front ball joint nut... I could turn the nut with my fingers. It is doubtful that the tapered ball joint left the knuckle and returned.

Here is the video... the “off” looks more exciting than it actually was. The GoPro just got a ride through grass and mud.

In other news... I purchased a new computer this year, which means I no longer have Photoshop. I can’t find the CD and don’t want to purchase... nay... “rent” a new subscription based Photoshop, therefore, I’m stuck with the Windows 11 Microsoft Photos program that is clunky. I’m still looking at options to replace my Photoshop CS3 (yes... very old program, but did everything I needed).

One of my settings in Photoshop was to always save photos with lower case file extensions as my server is case sensitive. Not an option in MS Photos.

Back to the 1980’s Command prompt for some “ren *.JPG *.jpg” action.

Back to our regularly scheduled program...
In a hole in the ditch.

Left the road way back here, thankfully there was a ditch that kept me near the road instead of having a wooded adventure that would have broken a lot more that suspension parts and wheels. I consider myself lucky.

This was in corner 29... the corner 30 sign was directly in front of the car when it finally stopped (seems I didn’t have good tires to stop in the mud)... and corner 30 is the final corner prior to the finish line. So close.

Don and Patrick (his first recovery) returning the Golf to the road and a picture from checkpoint 6 (thanks Manu of Frog Racing) of the Golf finally “on the hook”.

Since I didn’t have a timed run for this event (important for series points), Bob Lyle trusted me to take a run in his pretty sweet Subaru. I went very very slow just to get a time. For reference, my time on Saturday in the Golf was 2:33.87 and my intentionally slow time in the Subaru was 4:25.48.

It was a very nice car to drive... good low end power, crackled/popped when getting off the throttle (sounded cool), and handled great. Love the car. Not that he will see this... but, Thank you Bob!

An apology to the other drivers for holding up the event for an hour while extracting my car, “thank you” to Don and Patrick for extracting the car without causing more damage, and “thank you” to those who checked out the car after the event trying to determine what was broken and helped to push the car into the trailer. Gotta love the local hillclimb family!

2021 Subaru STI intermission....

On the 2009 Subaru WRX that I sold, when removing the rear license plate, I noticed that the plate damaged the body of the car. The rusty damage was caused by the plate making contact with the body for many years. To avoid this, I added some 1/4" nylon spacers to the backside of the plate, nylon washer to the front, used 1” long stainless steel screws (slightly longer than stock to account for the spacer), and mounted it with four screws instead of just the two on the top.

I think the result will do three things... keep the plate off the body to avoid damage/rust, allow water behind the plate to keep the body clean, and allow some air flow in back of the plate so not to trap water.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

I backed the trailer up to the garage to allow me to unload the car in the driveway as I had some serious cleaning to do to remove the mud prior to putting the car in the garage. Surprising all the spots that the mud was hiding... even after all the cleaning, I was still dealing with dried mud while working on the car in the garage.

After unloading, I had to get the truck/trailer out of the way. To help me back up without hitting stuff, I found a good use for the home video system. Out of body experience backup camera system (patent pending).

On jackstands, all four wheels off, skid plate off... enter a hose for an hour to clean as much mud as possible off the car.

I think the mud on the skid plate was from the extraction process.

Using the medium size Kabota tractor with fork lift attachment to move the car into the garage. The loader lift capacity is only 800 pounds, but it did help lighten the front end of the car a little to help with the wheels pointing different directions while pushing it into the garage.

Might have been a little easier using my friend/neighbor’s larger tracker with 2400 pound lift capacity. Anyway... it worked.

Going for the stanced look.

At the hillclimb, I was going to drive the car on the trailer (yep, even with the wheels pointing different directions), but we noticed a fuel leak.

I have a jiggler fuel transfer tube... a hose with a one way valve at one end where you move the tube up and down quickly to file the tube to start the siphoning process (much better than sucking on a hose filled with C12 leaded race fuel)... but it didn’t work for getting the fuel out of the fuel pump access inside the car because there wasn’t enough downhill to keep the flow going.

I borrowed an electric fuel transfer pump to make things a lot easier.

A rocked hit the fuel filter and ground a hole in the leading edge... the source of the leak.

Out with the old and in with the new. One thing I learned from a fell racer about 25 years ago... it is good to write on stuff to tell you when you did something. The sharpie has been used on fuel filters, oil filters, fly wheels, etc. etc. so that I remember what and when I did things.

I was so impressed with the electric fuel transfer pump that I purchased one when I got home.

It was different fuel can caps (including VP racing fuel jugs) to attach the intake hose to fuel cans. The purpose of the pump is to transfer fuel from a fuel jug to your car... hence the different caps.

Runs on four AA batteries (and will function on two if needed), pumps 2.3 gallons per minute, and has an auto shut off.

The left front strut that broke after leaving the road.

The left front wheel... the only damage on the rim is from where it made contact with the strut. Because the damage was only in a small section, this tells me the wheel was already locked up prior to the strut breaking upon impact with the ditch.

I also noticed both front tires had cracking on the sidewall... I guess they were getting old.

The right front rim was damaged because it lost a fight with a very large rock. If I navigated a little more left (further away from the road), I would have landed in a softer location that didn’t have that big rock. But... I wasn’t exactly trying to turn the wheel left to get further off the road... turning right was my goal.

The skid plate support bar in front of car did take an impact. The bar does across the front of the car under the intercooler and is welded to the front bumper beam. From the front bar, there are two smaller removable support bars that bolt to the front of the subframe using the control arm bolts. The smaller support bars give the skid plate rigidity.

It wasn’t until I started talking apart the car that I discovered the front support bar impact... this means that once again the Joey Kale fabricated skid plate protected my engine and transmission from expensive damage.

How did I notice? I could not remove the front control arm bolts. I didn’t know why yet.

The bolt would come out most of the way and then just spin. I thought it was an issue with the captured nut inside the subframe, but I was able to retighten the bolt (to test the nut) and could see inside the subframe with my borescope to see the nut was still captured.

I tried all the tricks to get the bolt out... no luck.

Because I was able to get the bolt out of the backside of the subframe, the plan was to cut the front of the bolt off, tap it in a little to clear the front of the subframe, and remove the control arm.

The plan was good, but execution was clunky.

The blade on the dremel wasn’t big enough to be able to cut the shaft of the bolt as the head was in the way. I got out my small angle grinder, but that didn’t have any cutting wheels.

My large angle grinder does have a cutting wheel, but I have no idea where the tool was to remove the grinding wheel. So... I used the grinder to cut off the top of the bolt and the dremel to cut the shaft as close as I could get to the subframe.

Took me an hour+ to identify the issue with the bolt, work through the various solutions, and finally remove it. Steep learning curve on the other side of the car... 5 minutes to remove that bolt.

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This is how I determined the skid plate front bar took a hit. Because the smaller support bars are mounted to the front of the subframe, the impact compressed the area where the control arm mounts causing the machined spacers to mushroom. This is why I could not remove the bolt as the threads couldn’t get through the mushroomed part.

There are two halves... mushroomed on the left and good one on the right.

I went to the Southern California Cylinder Heads website ( that I thought made the control arm bearings to look for replacement parts. I purchase the bearings from Performance MRP, Billet Aluminum MAF in New Hampshire, but figured they just resell the parts created by SCCH.

I went to the Contact page on SCCH’s site and saw “All inquiries are forwarded to Jacob at Innovative Motorsport Solutions.” Great... don’t know who that is... yet.

I received a response from the SCCH message submission from a company called Performance MRP. Wait... that is the company I purchased the original bearings. MRP told me to contact Jacob who makes those parts.

Ok... I emailed Jacob and he said he could mail the parts to me or... he could meet at the Sports Car Club of New Hampshire (SCCNH) Cannan track event in two weeks (I’ve driven there!) and most of the SCCNH NHMS (Loudon, NH) autocross events... I’ve been there also. Wait... that is a local club that I am very familiar with as they host the Ascutney hillclimb and I have driven autocross events with them over the years.

Small world!

Look at those lovely new machined parts. :)

Of course, since some dumbass drove off the road, I had to use a special Volkswagen tool (part number 702... it happens to be my race number also... what a coincidence) to expand the control arm mounting point in the control arm.

Since I had to cut the inner tie rod off to remove it, I made a crappy tool out of wood, two allen wrenches, and some screws to remove the grinder wheel to install a real cutting wheel.

Removing the bent tie rod end.

When I installed the inner tie rods on the new rack last year, it was on my workbench where I was able to use an adjustable wrench.

This year I purchased an Inner Tie Rod Removal tool that has 7 different size inserts.

1-1/4" installed to show how it works.

The size that worked on my inner tie rod bolts was 33.6mm

The tool made it sooooo easy to remove the nut and made install very easy... especially since I could actually tighten the nut to the proper torque spec.

Another challenge with the rack in the car is that the tool I had to install the clamps around the tie rod boot only worked with the rack out of the car. There wasn’t enough space to use the tool with the rack on the car. There are offset tools that work from the side, but I couldn’t find one locally. A friend of mine who used to race circle track said they always use safety wire on the boots for easy install and removal.

It was still hard to use the safety wire tool in the tight space (especially the inboard side of the boot), but it worked. Next time... zipties.

Left front assembled with everything replaced. I just assumed that everything could have been damaged, so it got replaced. Didn’t need to cut any corners to save a few dollars on important parts.

I used a new fully loaded control arm plus an older control arm with red poly bushing that used to be on the car. I am working on moving the metal bushings/bearings to a new set of control arms prior to the last hillclimb of the season (Asctuney).

New inner tie rods, tie rod ends, ball joints, use a new driver’s side axle just in case (sent the removed axle to Raxles for inspection), and all new bolts on control arms and strut.

I had to use my old (much stiffer) Bilstein Sport struts, but used the softer springs to match the front and rear of the car.

I ordered a new left strut, two new rims, and working on replacement tires.

For body damage, the plastic mounting piece on the front bumper was no longer attached to the bumper skin as the two tiny plastic tabs sheared off. Not a great design.

I used black plastic welder to attach the plastic piece to the bumper skin. Pretty easy.

When torqueing everything, I noticed there was a lot of play in the left front wheel. Darn it... wasn’t sure if it was hub or bearing. I grabbed a replacement knuckle, spend many hours until 1am cleaning the surface rust and chasing (using a tap... don’t have thread chasers) all the threads.

I had an alignment appointment at Green City Garage the next day... the day before I had to drive to the Burke hillclimb.

Unfortunately, I did not have two replacement tires to match what I had on the rear of the car... I had one.

My only option was to use the Cooper rain tires. My experience at Mt. Washington in 2021 (the only time I used these tires) is that they need wet and cooler conditions to work. I was hoping for rain at Burke (bite your tongue!) that weekend.

The car at Green City Garage at 8am on Thursday.

I brought the extra knuckle with me just in case the knuckle on the car had issues. I had one spare wheel bearing to have Chris at Green City press into the old knuckle, but did not have a replacement hub. I wasn’t sure if he had the tool to replace the wheel bearing while it was on the car or had to use a press... this is why I didn’t install the replacement knuckle on the car before the appointment.

Chris did a great job swapping out the knuckle and doing the alignment to my simple specs (-2.3 degrees negative camber and 1/16” tow out).

Friday... Welcome to the Burke hillclimb

It didn’t rain and was very hot. Two things that just don’t work with rain tires. I took very few runs as the tires suuuuccccckkkkeeeddd in these conditions. Took a few much slower than normal runs as I didn’t like how the tires felt in the fast corners. They were pretty useless with the tight corners and acceleration... tire spin and effective acceleration are not even distance cousins. I took two runs on Sunday (official timed runs) and put it in the trailer at lunch. The hot weather and those tires did not make for fun driving.

I still have to address a starter issue... the intercooler tubing is pressing against the starter wire... either the contact or heat is causing issues with the wire. Joey Kale is going to see if he can route the tube somewhere else in the engine bay so that it isn’t near the starter... will also make working on the car easier in the future with less clutter in that area.

I was having issues with getting the car to shift into third ever since the first hillclimb of the season. My plan was to swap out the transmission between Burke and the Ascutney since there was a two month break. At Burke, I was having the same issue, but notice that it wasn’t a grinding issue (I thought it was the third gear synchro) it was more a hunt and peck situation.

I ordered a shifter rebuilt kit from Diesel Geek and will install soon.

Next two projects... paint the garage (and purchase NewAge cabinets for more functional and better looking organization) and fix the folding mirrors on the 2012 F250 truck.

The design on the folding mirrors has a flaw... it uses plastic parts that don’t hold up.

I ordered replacement gears and stronger motors from Gruvenparts in July... um, July of last year. Talk about a waste of a winter... I could have gotten so much more done.

I also ordered some interior tools to make this project easier.

But... before the mirrors, I have to get the truck fixed. First time ever, I got an engine warning on the dash. Seems related to the DEF pump so I got to drive home (towing a fully loaded enclosed trailer with my car and supplies in it) under reduced power. It wasn’t limp mode, but I had far from the 800 ft/lb of TQ at my command. Dropping it off at the 4x4 Center (great shop!) this week.

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Might not look like much, but I almost have all the parts again... just waiting on the new strut and tires.

The car has already driven a hillclimb since the “off” but I want the soft suspension back for the Ascutney hillclimb. Plus, I never want to have to drive the rain tires in the hot/dry conditions again.

Let’s start off with the Raxles axles. I figured the left axle was damaged so I contacted Marty (Raxles) about sending them in for repair.

Result... inner joint was damaged and needed replacement.

What I got back looked like a new axle. He went above and beyond and repainted the shaft and made it look new. Heck, he even put it in a new box. Many companies can learn from Marty with his quality products, quality service, and being an overall awesome and down-to-earth person. Head over to for performance CV axles and CV joints for your Audi, Honda, Volkswagen Acura, and Subaru.

Got the two replacement rims. The good news about buying something new is that replacements are still available. My original rims from 2005 or so from Edge Racing went the way of the Dodo bird a long time ago.

And finally, the new control arms. I had a hard time finding stock arms that weren’t full loaded with bushing, so I had to purchase the fully loaded arms from ECS Tuning.

Brought them down to CheeseFactory (Colchester, VT) to swap the metal bearings. Chris said that the front bearings pretty much slid out of the control arms... this tells us they were a little “modified” after driving off the road.

Back together waiting for the replacement Gaz strut to arrive to do it all over again.

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