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Rabbit Farmer's 1.8T 4-door money pit

121222 Views 454 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.


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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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Sucks that you went off the road, from the video it really looked like a clean run!

I love the custom wooden tool!!!
About a month before the next/last hillclimb of the season. I was able to source one tire from a friend; I already had one extra. Just need to mount the tires on the new rims.

Waiting for the new Gaz strut... I followed up this morning.

Redoing all the suspension back to pre-off at Okemo status (good control arms, light rims/good tires, and softer suspension) prior to Ascutney hillclimb is dependent on when the Gaz strut arrives.

That leaves a known electrical/mechanical issue that I need to address. The intercooler pipe from turbo to FMIC is close/nearly touching the starter. I have issues with the single wire that goes into the starter and have to wiggle it around to get it to work from time to time. I have already cut the end and replaced with spade connector, but the contact and/or heat from the IC tube is still an issue. I also need to inspect the connection on the starter to see if that is an issue.

I haven't had a chance to address the issue... or at least temporarily fix it... because of house projects.

Thankfully, one of the house projects was the garage. :) x 100 More to come soon...

Oh, went the Wolfsgart-12 car show in Essex, VT. I didn't have to pay to get in because we were raising money via donations for the American Cancer Society. My wife drafted me. Walked around the show for about 30 minutes and then escaped the heat inside the air conditioned buildings and saw a lot of the old local VW guys... they are getting older, not me.

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** 2014 Garage **

I figure that I spend a great deal of time in the garage that I wanted it to look better and be more functional. Plus, Julie’s 50th birthday is coming up and we plan to have 50+ people in the garage for the banquet.


Unpainted OSB on ceiling and floor along with a real cluster of storage.

The old workbench is a great work surface that I built many many years ago. 4x4 legs, easy to disassemble with carriage bolts (I didn’t want to screw it all together as it was heavy and I knew I would have to move it one day), custom bent metal surface, and limited open shelf storage. The cabinet doors I added years later looked like a little kid’s first day in the woodshop in school, but they did cover the clutter. Perhaps I will use this workbench in the shed for wood projects, plus it will be nice to retain the use of the awesome work surface for rebuilding engines.

This took a lot longer than expected.

Had 10 gallons of Kilz “Original” for one coat walls and two coats ceiling. Ran out. Got another 8 gallons and used 7. Ended up with two coats everywhere to cover the nail lines on the walls.

Of course, even before paint, there must have been a screw shortage. Spent two nights securing the sagging OSB on the ceiling (found a few full 4x8 sheets that had a total of 5 nails each!) and some screws for the walls.

Taped the hell out of the surface mounted electrical conduit… something I (and Julie) will regret later when trying to remove the painted tape. That sucked.

Walls for two coats of tan. Electrical conduit got sprayed tan (close to wall color).

Filled holes, sanded, and painted the trim on two doors and two windows.

Very pleased with the results.

I would like better looking/function lights on the ceiling, but can’t find anything that works (yet).

I think I want to do something for the floor... Epoxy won’t work with salt, but I did find this on the dark web: Why Spartacote Concrete Floor Coatings? | Flooring Systems Companies

And interesting video here:

Ordered NewAge Design cabinets (Pro series).

* 84” tall cabinets with four shelves.

* Three overhead cabinets with one shelf.

* Two 5-drawer and one 7-drawer along with a stainless steel work surface.

Assembled size is 156” W x 24” D x 85” H

Very heavy and seems to be good/durable quality.

I think the only difference from the Bold series (next step down) vs. the Pro is the depth of everything... Bold 18” vs. Pro 24”.

Everything is already assembled, but does require installation.

And... done!

** 2012 F250 **

Time to make the 10 year old truck shine.


After.... I wish I could take credit for this work.

Rodney does car detailing as a side job and has done the Volvo (full detail inside/out) a few years ago and again this month.

For the truck he did (what he calls) "paint enhancement" where he washed, decontaminated the paint (remove iron build up), washed again, clay bar and finally do a single stage buff to remove small scratches and brighten the paint.

The truck looks fantastic.

I’m still driving the truck as much as I can (longer trips down the interstate to get the DEF pump... well, pumping) to get rid of the problem with crystallization on the pump. My want for a low mileage truck was nipped in the bud with a DEF pump that can’t sit; the fluid evaporates over time leaving the crystals. Expensive to replace the pump. Hoping more long distance driving will resolve. I have my BlueDriver OBD2 reader plugged into the truck so that I can reset the “check engine” light associated with the pump that will reduce the power to the truck.
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Okay.... now I'm done. Some string lighting (mulit color and dimmable) to add some flavor to the garage.

No one uses our front door... if I hear the door bell, I know someone is selling something... no, I do NOT want solar panels in my field! Everyone comes through the garage.

Instead of having the eight 100w daylight bright lights on, this will provide some quality light at an acceptable illumination level. Also good for Julie's birthday party... which is the real reason I installed them.

I hung four guide wires from wall to wall with turnbuckles to tighten them to D flat. Ran three lengths (150'+ total) of linkable Edison bulb string lights. It was pretty easy to do with the guide wires.

They look brighter in the picture because of my camera... it is a bit dimmer.

Happy with the results. Some clutter to get out of the garage and I will be done. Miller time... okay, Sip of Sunshine double IPA time.


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==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

I just realized the car is 21 years old! Still seems like a new car to me.

Winter 2022-2023 Plans

1. Car goes to VEMS in Colchester, VT (same person who tunes the car) to remove the older 034EFI standalone engine management (ECN and harness) to replace it with a more modern ECU.

2. Kales Custom for changes to the intercooler pipe from the turbo to the FMIC. It currently is next to the starter, which causes some issues with starting (plus it is harder to work on the car). He will also change the hot side of the turbo (smaller)... I could change the part, but he did some an excellent job with the securing each of the bolts with safety wire, I’m going to leave this job to the expert. Then a pause... he will get it back later.

3. To my friend’s body shop to put the car on the frame machine to ensure everything is straight after my off-road adventure at Okemo this year.

4. After the car is confirmed straight, back to Kales Custom for some changes to the skid plate.

5. Maintenance:

a. Shift bushing rebuild kit

b. Inspect and replace (if needed) brake pads

c. Make sure all current gauges work or replace them... EGT, A/F, etc.

d. Clean out behind the front fenders... common dirt/water collection area that rusts the fender and rocker

e. Check harnesses, helmet, and other safety equipment

f. Address starter issue (wire affected by hot intercooler tube)

g. Change oil, brake fluid, etc.

Get all this done by January so that I can run out of excuses to not to work on the Scirocco.

==== 2012 F250 Pick-em-up-Truck ====

Still having issues with DEF pump crystallization errors... will have to bite the bullet and get new pump installed.

And fix those darn mirrors... I will start on that when the Golf is at VEMS as I will have more space in the garage.

==== 2021 Subaru WRX/STI ====

4,600 miles

The plans... make monthly car payments and drive the car all winter!

Jason G. (a friend) did a fantastic job undercoating the car for the winter. Last winter, we used Fluid Film, this time we used Wool Wax. Looks great under the car followed by a hand wash. Great job Jason!

==== 2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Platinum ====

Less talk, more pictures!

I knew I had to replace the front brake pads, but I kept looking at the rusty calipers I just had to address that at the same time.

One would think that the sporty R-Design would come with some more performance-oriented brakes. The full blown Polestar has some pretty sweet looking brake calipers... a little too expensive to swap onto our S60.

Enter the POR-15 (Paint Over Rust) brake caliper paint kit in black.

Something new to me... with all my Volkswagens, the caliper is a one piece unit with piston. With the Volvo, the piston is one side of the setup and this large metal “cage” is the rest of the setup. I will have to dig up the proper names for these parts. New territory.

Kinda thin inboard brake pad.

I checked the size and thread of the mounting holes and bolts prior to painting. I wanted to chase the threads, but not until after I was done with the paint. All threads addressed prior to final installation.

Wire brush and wheel...

Degreaser followed by rinsing with water and drying

Metal prep. Brush on for 30 minutes and then rinse with water and dry

POR-15 rust preventive paint... effectively gray primer with a strong dislike for rust. Two coats.

POR-15 black caliper paint. Like the POR-15 primer, this stuff eats foam brushes. I ended up using a one-use bristle brush and would smooth the paint with the foam brush at the end. Two coats.

I was having a hard time with the brake carrier bolts, so I just left it installed and painted the sections that did not make contact with the pads.

Looks better than rust...

The last shop that worked on our Volvo really dorked up the rims. I wasn’t worried about inside the hole where the bolt head resides, but the paint was chipped all around the opening also. VERY noticeable when we picked up the car and we shared this with them. They told us that it wasn’t their fault as they were aftermarket rims. I have no idea why that matters. They have worked on this car for years with these rims. So... not going back there again.

Perhaps they need a set of these coated sockets... I just picked up a new set as my old socket was getting old.

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==== 2020 Kubota LX3310HSD ====

It has four wheels, so it gets a spot on my project post.

After spending 15 hours brush hogging (very slowly) the 10 acre back yard, I did an oil and filter change along with the transmission oil filter and the hydraulic filter on the transmission. I’m not quite at the hours to change the 4.5 gallons of fluid... that should be fun.

Since we have a paved driveway, I remove the metal skids and cutting edge and installed a polyurethane set. Pretty easy to swap and the polyurethane parts are replaceable (as opposed to having to purchase the metal part of the skid that the poly attaches).

Nothing too exciting... snow tires on the Subaru and Volvo and the tractor is ready for moving the snow.

==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

Previously on the Golf MK4 channel... “1. Car goes to VEMS in Colchester, VT (same person who tunes the car) to remove the older 034EFI standalone engine management (ECN and harness) to replace it with a more modern ECU.”

Progress as of Nov 26... I will share some upgrades and changes when the car is done.

==== 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco ====

Previously on the Scirocco channel... “Get all this done by January so that I can run out of excuses to not to work on the Scirocco.”

Planning seems to be taking more time than action. I didn’t have an end date goal to have the Scirocco completed, but since Mt. Washington hillclimb is in 2023 or 2024 (my guess is 2024), I would enjoy driving the Scirocco at the event, especially because it is all paved.

A 2024 deadline is do-able, but... I would want a lot of seat time in this car prior to heading up the mountain. That changes my end date a bit. That possible deadline is “me” making the car 100% race-ready, but getting the body ready is only possible if my friend Jodi can fit it into his schedule.

I have never raced up a hill or on a track alone... so many people have helped to make that possible.

Time to break out the white board to capture exactly what I need to do.

#1... spend money.

Back to planning... let’s talk about lights.

A friend of mine (Chris A.) has a BMW E21 (first generation of the BMW 3 series, built between 1975 – 1983, 2-door sedan... blah blah blah) with a BMW “M Power” M50 straight 6 cylinder... turbo! He runs the car on VEMS and wanted a solution for the lights, directional, horns, etc.

Enter Power Distribution Module (PDM): MicroPDM

Nut shell... replaces conventional relays and fuses in a vehicle electrical system. This is what I am planning to run on the Scirocco with buttons on the steering wheel for directions, lights, and horn.

Some fun reading: Getting Started with the MicroPDM — MicroPDM

This is way above my head (I don’t do electrical) so I will pick both Chris’ brain and Jason at VEMS. Doing the VEMS ECU on Scirocco and the PDN at the same time is key.

Time for me to get an understanding of high-side, low-side, CAN bus, etc.

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I plan to be able to drive the Scirocco on the road (unsure how the side exit exhaust will work), so directionals (two buttons; blink right/left), horn, and lights (toggle high/low) are needed on the steering wheel.

So many cool options for this setup...

I should be able to pick up the Golf tomorrow, but with a snow storm coming in, I will wait for clear roads.

What to do in the winter when there is no racing going on (for me)?

Head a few miles down the road to the "Turbos, Tacos & Tinsel" at Vermont SportsCar.

The shop continues to impress, plus everyone there is down to earth.

Taco truck (well, a trailer) was inside the building serving tacos and there was a beer/wine booth.

Fun seeing a few people that we know. Good times.

You might recognize this car.

Plus they had a Simcraft racing simulator there... not running, just tucked in the corner.

After a friend with me said the thing probably cost more than the Subaru he races (the Mutt)... I looked at these online when I got home... $129,000 complete.

I would love this space...

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Vermont sports car really looks impressive!!

This was my first year spraying Wool Wax in my shop, I can't believe the smell difference compared to Fluid Film. So much better than the dead sheep smell!

Sent from my E7110 using Tapatalk
I had Fluid Film on the 2021 Subaru and then did Wool Wax in year two... more impressed with the coverage of wool wax.
Car is home, but going to the next shop (Joey Kale) for some changes. More to come when I get better pictures (hard with car in the trailer).

Short version: Old 034EFI ECU out and more modern VEMS ECU in.

VVT will be part of the new tune (and on pump fuel!) to spool quicker. VVT gives option for 20% for air... just need to tune it to the right RPM. Sweet.

Very happy with install. Smiles x 100


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==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

VEMS ECU and complete wiring harness is installed and the car has moved to its next destination (Joey Kale’s shop) for changes to intercooler tubing (currently goes by starter), fix leaking exhaust flexpipe, install rear tow hook, and (later) a redesign of the skid plate so that it isn’t mounted off of the subframe.

Car is back from VEMS in Colchester, Vermont (VEMS Tuning). Great job as always from Jason and Nick.

Pump gas tune in the future! No more expensive race fuel. I plan to use pump gas on the MK1 Scirocco also. Makes racing so much more affordable... if there is such a thing.

New gauge that will have both air fuel and exhaust gas temp (AF/EGT) on it; will get the info directly from the ECU after we fix the EGT probe.

What was removed:
  • Volkswagen OEM electronic booster controller (EBC); called N75 valve
  • 57 lb injectors at 3 bar
  • 034EFI wiring harness, ECU, etc.

Earlier picture of car showing cluster of wires running over the passenger side strut tower.

What was installed:
  • VEMS V3 Standalone ECU
  • 3 port EBCS booster controller solenoid (part MAC 46A-AA1-JDBA-1BA); we still need to hook up both ports
  • ID1050X injectors (part 1050.60.14.14B.4) from Injector Dynamics / Bosch Motorsport
  • Complete wiring harness and all supporting bits (relay block, canbus module, etc.)

Big advantage for low end turbo spool is the intake variable valve timing will be utilized by the VEMS tune.

Speedometer and tachometer are working again!

Much cleaning in the engine bay as all wiring makes it way to the driver’s side of the car to use the stock wiring channel to get into the rain tray, makes its way across to the passenger side, through the fire wall, to where I had the old ECU mounted on a metal plate that I installed a few years ago.

Lots of additional grounds were added for this setup... I will have to pay very close attention when taking engine out in the future to ensure I know where everything is installed.

The car still has the cluster of stock wires under the hood that I would love to get rid of. Not a project for this winter.

Everything under the dash to protect it from the elements. Easy access via the airbag cover.

Unrelated.... iRacing was on sale for $99 for two years. I purchased the game (simulator) along with the Mt. Washington hillclimb. Using my very old and basic steering wheel / pedals.

I spent more time spinning around like I was driving on ice than actually being able to zip up the hill.

More practice and different car setup is needed.

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A short story where I discovered a new favorite tool.

We drove the 2015.5 Volvo S60 R-Design AWD... anyway, 6 cylinder turbo all wheel drive sedan that hauls donkey... to Rhode Island for the holidays.

Dealt with hard rain for the first 150 miles and worrying about the flash freeze that was supposed to happen in the late afternoon. Then we noticed that the engine would break up with moderate acceleration (I was taking it easy on the throttle with the rain) and the check engine light would send me happy notices under full throttle. A little worried with another 150 miles to go.

We found an Advanced Auto in Hooksett, NH and borrowed their code reader.

Misfire on cylinder 3. I assumed it was a bad coil pack and wasn’t sure how easy it was to replace as I wasn’t even sure how to remove the plastic engine cover. (was easy to remove... just pull up on it; no tools needed)

A little internet search wasn’t too helpful, but I was finally able to determine what tools I needed and purchased them at Advanced Auto.

Seems a mouse took up residence on cylinder 6 with a rest room on cylinder 3.

Thankfully, the Advance Auto had one (and only one!) coil pack.

Tools needed (that I already own a few times over, but they were 150 miles away):

  • 8mm for the nuts on the coil packs and ground wires in the general area
  • 3/8” drive
  • 3/8” extension
  • Spark plug socket

Pictured with six new coil packs from FCP Euro that I received after we returned home. I replaced all the coilpacks and will keep the Advance Auto purchased unit as a spare.

And my new favorite tool.

For deep well sparkplugs on my 1.8T Golf, I have a socket with the rubber insert and remove the plug into the engine, similar socket without the rubber that I use for tightening the plug (as it doesn’t get stuck on the plug), and long needle nose pliers to remove the socket when it gets stuck on the plug. I have a system and the tools and it works.

Well... how about JUST a sparkplug socket with a magnet in it? This socket will make things a lot easier with my Golf.

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==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

The first hillclimb of the year is scheduled for May 6-7 and I have a bit to do to the car to get ready.

  • Buy a new 2.5# fire extinguisher
  • Buy new tires
  • Install shifter bushings
  • Install control arms and Gaz struts (reinstalling what I had to remove last summer)
  • New sparkplugs
  • Oil change
  • Brake fluid flush
  • Install manual timing belt tensioner to remove the prone to failure hydraulic tensioner
  • Install new water pump and Gates timing belt
  • Install parking brake cables
  • Tune the car at VEMS on pump gas (after pumping out the race fuel from the tank); they will also install the multi purpose EGT and A/F gauge.

I had to postpone bringing the car to my friend to put it on the frame straightening rack followed by alignment. He is too busy this time of year. Soon.

This is the manual timing belt tensioner from Integrated Engineering.

The red handle tool is from my old MK1 Rabbit days... good thing I still had the tool.

This will remove the prone to failure hydraulic tensioner and utilize the simple MK1 Rabbit era tensioner. Pretty simple. I will change the water pump and timing belt (naturally) at the same time. It has been a long time since I have done this work while the engine is still in the car.

DieselGeek shifter bushing kit was on my list of ‘to do’ at the end of last season with some of the challenges with shifting.

Some of the work by Joey Kale in March 2023.

This is the before picture with the hot side intercooler tubing making its way to the FMIC and making contact with the starter. I had issues with the car starting last summer where I had to wiggle the wire on the starter to get it to work. I’m unsure if this is because the IC tubing was pushing against the starter or because of the heat from the IC. Reminds me... I’m going to ensure I have a spare starter with me this season.

This moved the IC tubing away from the starter (and allowed easier access to sparkplug #4).

Another difficulty was how the IC tubing connected to the FMIC... it was tight and a weird angle with the skid plate frame. It would help if I stopped hitting stuff with the corner of the skid plate frame... it pushed it in a little. Better angle of approach will make it easier to do maintenance without fighting with the IC tubing coupler.

When I was at VEMS, Jason mentioned to be that there is an exhaust leak at the flex pipe. Normally this would not have been a concern as the 034EFI ECU use manifold pressure and didn’t care what was going on with the exhaust.

VEMS needs the O2 sensor data for the tune. The flex pipe is before the O2 sensor... so, we now have a new flex pipe. Ain’t she pretty?

This was a far as I got last night... inventoried what I needed to do, laid out all the parts, and jacked up the car/removed the wheels.

Tonight... real progress.

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Trying to do some consolidation / simplification of my online post for my projects. Any interest of these updates on motorgeek... anyone following / interested, but don't feel a need to interact (which is fine) or just shooting into the wind with no real interest here?
I enjoy reading these posts very much. Motorgeek has a very low "noise" ratio of random junk posts, so I like that very much.
==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

- Buy a new 2.5# fire extinguisher

Well... this one took an astronomical amount of time.

The two new fire extinguishers did not work with the old brackets.

Pretty easy solution for the unit installed on the main hoop of the roll cage, but the old unit “within reach of the driver” is mounted to the passenger side of the tunnel. And... the bracket was installed when the heatshield under the car in the tunnel was not installed.

No easy way to remove old and install new bracket on tunnel.

Worked on Plan B... which I think is a better solution as the fire ext is closer to me where I get access it while still in my harness.

Next to the emergency brake are two mounting points for the original interior/arm rest.

Holes are 8mm x 1.25 pitch.

I originally tried using the new fire ext bracket, I did not like how easily it would pop open... touch it like a mouse spring trap and it would open.

I purchased some low profile hex drive bolts; 8mm x 1.25 x 16mm and 20mm long. The longer bolt was needed for the new bracket, but 16mm would have worked for both mounting points on the old bracket.

Installed bracket

Fire ext mounted

Because I didn’t like the fire ext retainers... how they seemed to pop open, I removed the retainer from one of the brackets and installed it on the other. This provided two retainers on the B hoop mounted fire ext.

Done with fire ext project.

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I enjoy reading these posts very much. Motorgeek has a very low "noise" ratio of random junk posts, so I like that very much.
Thx for posting... I'll keep at it here.
==== 2001 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T ====

Made some good progress, but realized my “to do” list that outlined goals for each night this week is on a sliding scale. Wednesday night showed completion of Tuesday work... hopefully Friday is a good day to catch up.

  • Buy new tires (mount them on Friday... along with STI summer tires)
  • Install control arms and Gaz struts (reinstalling what I had to remove last summer)
  • New sparkplugs
  • Remove skid plate (for timing belt change and oil change)
  • Remove race fuel

It took a little longer than expected to reinstall the Gaz struts and the control arms with the SCCH control arm bearing kit.

The front bearing was dorked up due to my off road excursion at Okemo in 2022. I didn’t notice it until I was trying to install the spacers. Darn it.

Thankfully, the person who makes the bearings is pretty local (next state over... you need to live on the East Coast to understand how small the states are). Jacob of Innovative Motorsport Solutions made the parts I needed and had them in the mail over Easter weekend so that I had them on Monday. Thank you!!!

Extra bonus... it was late in the day on Monday, but Chris Cheeseman of the Cheese Factory in Colchester, VT (bring your VW and Subaru there) was able to swap out the insert and bearing.

Strut assembled... Just used the “gravel rally” soft springs and a helper spring (to retain spring tension on droop). Pretty easy after I learned to remove the whole assembled via the three nuts on the camber plate instead of the single nut on the strut. Much easier assembling it outside the car.

Done with both sides.... Driver’s side fought me a bit (will have to check everything out during the “frame” straightening process this summer), but passenger side was easy. Julie helped me with the CV axle bolts... she is a good brake pedal pusher.

The new VEMS tune is going to use pump gas to make racing much more affordable. This does mean a bit less HP, but I am hoping to still have some low-end power with the VVT (variable valve timing). So... out with the VP Racing 110 octane leaded race fuel that cost $21 per gallon. Yikes... I have 10+ gallons for sale!

The electric pump made the process very easy and quick. Highly recommended.

Finally... tires have arrived from Phil’s Tire Service ( I have been buying tires from them since 2015 at least... starting using Vermont SportsCar used tires for a number of seasons, but went back to Phil’s this year for a new set of Toyo R888R in 235-40-17.

I have had good success with the Toyo tires.

It seems the COD MW2 season 3 update is done downloading... time to do some relaxing pew-pew’ing.

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