Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Suzuki "Delivery" Burgman

I decided to take the Suzuki Burgman out to Point Roberts today to pick up the RCE sport springs I ordered for the STI. It was raining in the morning, but the forecast was for sunny breaks in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, I forgot to put the rechargeable battery back into my Nikon D50 and was unable to take any pictures of the Burgman. I actually had the bike all positioned for a photo shoot by the boat ramp at the beach in Point Roberts when I discovered that I had no power in the camera. At least it was a good ride and I had an opportunity to really stretch my legs on the freeway--especially since I started my trip by heading in the wrong direction....

I mistakenly headed over the Port Mann Bridge south towards White Rock instead of west and I ended up doing a loop through Crescent Beach before turning around and heading to Tsawwassen and Point Roberts. The Burgman handled really well at high speeds even with heavy crosswinds. Tucking in behind the windshield helped, especially when encountering the turbulence behind and in front of the 18-wheelers.

The only things I didn't like were the repair patches that seem to streak across the lanes on the freeway for no apparent reason. I don't even know why repairs were even needed because it looks like a perfectly fine road was simply gouged and gashed up so that strips of repair material could be applied. The problem is with the repair material which so smooth that when wet becomes very slick--especially for people on two wheels. I could feel the wheels on the Burgman do a little squiggle every time I went over them.

Monday, April 23, 2007

2006 Suzuki Burgman 400S - Dead battery

It had been more than 5 weeks since I had the Burgman out for a ride--ever since Aston was born--but with being so busy all this time, the fact that the battery could have died escaped my mind completely....

Actually, the last time I had her out (the Burgman, that is) she started up no problem despite sitting for a couple months through the snowy winter. This morning there was no sign of life at all. I opened the glove box and removed the cover for the battery. I had never actually seen a motorcycle battery before: I figured I have to take it out to charge it. Getting it out was no problem, but then I realized it was probably better to charge it in the bike so that I could perhaps jump start it. That was the tricky part, getting the battery back in because the wires and the tight space made it difficult.

I looked at the specs on the battery and it looked like it said 5A. I had a 6A setting on my charger--negligible, I figured. With everything hooked up, it didn't look like much was happening. I waited a while and then tried to jump start it with the charger. Nothing. I switched to 12A and then there was action--the needle jumped up. I moved the switch from "Charge" to "Activate" to and tried to jump starting it again. Still nothing.

Then that's when I realized that I didn't have the key in the ignition! Doh! After that, it started up fine and I let it run while I checked over the bike for lights, horn, tires, etc. I was able to ride for at least 30 min before I had to shut it down and it started up no problem afterward. It was a beautiful day for riding.

Sport springs have arrived... early!

I checked DHL's online tracking this afternoon and discovered that the sport springs I ordered from RaceComp Engineering arrived earlier than the original ETA of Wednesday. Now, it's always nice when things are delivered promptly, don't get me wrong....

But I had reluctantly scheduled installation based on the later date, the whole time I was thinking that it would have been sooo much nicer to get them earlier. Now that they're here, I've got almost a whole week with them sitting in the box, calling out to me to do something with them already!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gettysburg National Military Park

I was in Gettysburg, PA the other day and had a chance to take some "I was there" pictures....

I was attending a conference in Gettysburg and unfortunately the person I was sharing a room with was a dedicated "no way in heck will ear plugs make any difference" snorer. Anywhoo, to cut the story short, I'll give it one last humongous sleepy "ugh" and mention that as a result I ended up with less than 3-hours sleep and with the need to waste some time before breakfast.

As soon as there was light I decided to stop at the nearby Gettysburg National Military Park to see what I could see. I thought it was quite fascinating--not so much because of the cannons and monuments of which there are plenty, but because of the sense of history, the realization that here, on this ground, in these fields, men fought and tens of thousands died.

It became a little depressing, actually, so I thought I'd take my mind off it by taking a few pictures....

Here are a few more pictures.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cobb AccessPort2 firmware update: v1.0.1.0

The firmware update for the Cobb Accessport went smoothly. The nice thing about these updates is that you don't have to uninstall the AP from the car to do the update. The biggest change is the addition of the Performance Tests....

After I installed the update, I went out for a drive. There are two tests you can do: 0-60 and 1/4 mile. The AP records the time and speed at various intervals and when the criteria is met (speed = 60 mph or distance = 1/4 mile) the test is completed and the results are shown. If you happen to decelerate before the criteria is met, the test will terminate and it will show you the results it got.

These are the changes for this update:
  • Added additional screen when no DTCs are found.
  • Added 0-60mph and 1/4mi performance tests.
  • Fixed screen refresh issues related to the Map List, DTC list, and flash completion status.
  • Increased animation responsiveness.
  • Improved COBB USB to OBD Cable detection.

E-mail from Volkswagen

A few days ago I received an e-mail from Volkswagen....

The e-mail was a plug for the 2008 MkV Golf R32, due to be in American dealerships in a few months. There are only 5000 units, and according to the e-mail only 250 R32s haven't been spoken for. I think that's pretty impressive for something for which I haven't seen many ads. My impression, given an earlier e-mail, was that VWoA only began accepting reservations for the MkV R32 in February of this year (see previous post). I'd have thought VWoA would have advertised it more, especially given the overwhelming success they had with the MkIV 2004 Golf R32. Odd.

CobbTuning AccessPORT: 0-60mph and 1/4 mile update

CobbTuning.com - 0-60mph and 1/4 mile update for new AccessPORT

It's out of beta and was officially released yesterday, so I'm installing this update for the AP version 2 right now. Impressions to follow :0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

2006 Honda Odyssey - Winter tire swap - 6452 km

Despite the freak snow we got on April 1st (yes, it was no joke!), I had been wanting to swap the winter tires off the van. Today I finally got a chance to do it....

At the beginning of the snow season, I wasn't able to put the Hankook Ice Bears until after the first major snowfall and because steel wheels were back-ordered for a month. (I <3 my Subaru!) I thought I may have been too late to use them this year but we actually got plenty more snow. The Hankook Ice Bears handled quite well in the snow and ice. In the dry, they slipped a bit more than the OEM all-seasons and I was able to make the tires squeal off the line plenty of times on demand :0)

2006 Honda Odyssey - Service "A" Due - 6322 km

Regular servicing for our Honda Odyssey isn't necessarily performed at every 5000 kilometers traveled. The ECU actually calculates "Oil Life" dependent upon the type of driving that you do....

Once there's only 15% oil life left, it gives you a reminder to schedule an appointment. I found that low speed, stop and go driving caused the oil life to deplete more quickly. The service reminder first appeared at 6322 km and I've got an appointment for tomorrow morning. Actually, I had an appointment on Tuesday morning, but I forgot about it and slept in!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Baby Aston, age 2 weeks

Aston, 2 weeks
Actually, this is Aston on Tuesday when she was 2 weeks, 1 day old. There were a few firsts out in the world for her this week: 1st school assembly (slept through the whole thing) and 1st visit to martial arts class.
Click below for more pictures.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

2006 STI - Cobb AP Stage 1: Second impressions

First impressions.

I was out again today running some errands and took the opportunity to give Baby Aston her first ride in the STI. One thing that's always "imprezed" me about the Impreza is how kid-friendly the back seats are. I had no problem fitting the rear-facing infant seat in the center position, and the seat belts held everything tight and in place without any fuss--even without the base for the car seat (which is installed in the Odyssey).

I'm also really liking the way the car is performing--especially with power available lower in the RPMs....

I used to just cruise around 3000-4000 RPM because I liked having that instant response available from the engine. With the reflash, today I was able to cruise uphill in 4th gear at 2000 RPM and still feel the STI pulling well and able to pass (normally, i.e. legally) without a problem. Once RPM gets to 2500, it really starts to pull (quicker, i.e. less legally :devil: ). Before the upgrade, I remember trying to cruise at 2000 RPM felt like there was a lot of lag. Now I'm able to cruise at a lower RPM but still have plenty of power--I guess that will save me some gas money :lol:.

When I'm heavy on the gas, the STI was always quick, but with the reflash, the butt-o-meter feels just that extra bit quicker: you hit the right RPM and then it's just jumps like a rocket--but smoother than stock. I know I'm trying to describe something subjective, but I hope that make sense. It's like driving a totally different car--and the stock STI wasn't too shabby to begin with!

Can you tell I'm lovin' it? ;0)

I also had a chance to try switching to a real-time map. It only takes a minute or so to reflash on top of the base map. Since I needed to underground park for a couple of hours, I tried the Anti-Theft map:
COBB TUNING Calibration Notes for 2004-2006 Subaru STi
AccessPORT Calibration Anti-Theft Av115
Description: Anti-Theft mode, option A. This map was designed to not allow the vehicle to start. Vehicle dies instantly once RPMs increase over 500.
It works! :biggrin: When I turned the key, the engine started up but then died right away. When I was ready to leave, I just reflashed the proper map and away I went.

Next I'll try the "Valet mode" :0)

Quest for oil: update

The other day I posted about how my local stores rarely had suitable motor oil for the R32 (Quest for oil). I'd also asked rhetorically where I could find some online....

Well, speaking of trips down memory lane (Wayback Machine), while I was searching around on VWvortex I rediscovered a thread regarding motor oils for the R32. To my chagrin I saw that *I* had made a few posts in that very thread; one post of mine said that I was going to buy Amsoil 5W-40 from their website if I couldn't find Valvoline 5W-40 locally. My only excuse for forgetting this information is that I posted it back in 2004.

I never did buy Amsoil because at the time I was able to find some Valvoline, which is much less expensive. Anywhoo, in the same thread someone posted a link to Oil-store.com, an online store that among others sold Valvoline Synpower 5W-40--the motor oil I've been using.

Hurrah! No more weekly trips to the local stores searching for oil! Shipping and handling is a pain, but I'm willing to pay for convenience.

Fyi, here's some product info on Valvoline's Synpower motor oils. You'll see that Valvoline has no 5W-30 that meets the R32's ACEA A3/VW 502.00 required specifications. I don't know what VWoA is talking about when saying 5W-30 can be used as a substitute. I haven't seen any suitable 5W-30s at all, regardless of brand.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
Someone sent me an email asking about the Rear Fog Lamp modification I did to my 1999 VW Passat GLX. European-spec Passats came with rear fog lamps standard. The North American ones don't, but they do have provisions for them so the mod is easy to do.

The problem was that one of the resources that I used to do this modification disappeared sometime in 2003--four years ago. I was trying to remember all that I did way back then when I remembered a site that archived old web pages....

The Wayback Machine allows you to search its archive for a particular URL and it will show you what the page looked like at that moment in time. Its archive covers web pages (not blogs) from 1996 to the present. It's pretty cool. You can see what the original Stargazer's Garage looked like in 2001 when I first started the page :0)

Unfortunately, not all images on the web page are archived, but I definitely think this is a valuable service.

2006 STI - Cobb AP Stage 1: First impressions

COBB TUNING Calibration Notes for 2004-2006 Subaru STi
AccessPORT Calibration Stage1 93 v111
Power Output: 325 HP / 340 ft-lbs which is a 40 ft-lb & 25 HP increase over stock. Peak torque is achieved by ~3800RPM compared to ~4000RPM for the stock vehicle.

We had some freak snow yesterday and today, but I finally was able to go on a short (25 min) test drive this afternoon when the sun came out and dried everything up.

I'm running the standard 93-octane base map and using 94 octane fuel. Like a lot of people have said, there's definitely smoother power delivery with the AP and less turbo lag because the power comes earlier in the RPM. It's a noticeable difference and it should have come like that from the factory....

I didn't bother to reset the ECU after flashed Stage 1. According to the live data readings on the AP (I don't have a boost gauge), I was hitting 17+ peak boost in full throttle pulls in 3rd and 4th gear. From what I've read this is normal while the ECU is still learning. Afterwards, according to the map notes, target boost should be around 16.5 psi. I can't wait to get out on the road again:0)

It should be even more fun when Cobb releases the 0-60, 1/4 updates--then I can do performance comparisons between the stock and Stage 1 maps ;0)... although, I'm already dreaming of Stage 2 :devil:.

Quest for oil

One of things I didn't anticipate when I bought the R32 was how difficult it would be for me to find the correct motor oil.

The owner's manual recommends synthetic 5W-40 motor oil that meets ACEA A3 and VW 502.00 specifications. Locally, the only brand I've seen that qualifies is Valvoline's Synpower 5W-40. Unfortunately, it's only rarely that I see any in stock, if they sell it at all. Frustrating.

I wonder if you can buy motor oil online, and where?

I've read that Mobil 1 Delvac 5w40 is suitable for the R--it's marketed for diesel engines but is fully compatible with gas engines (same ratings, just some extra additives). Next time I'm in a parts store I'll have to pay attention and look.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why the new Impreza WRC 2007 doesn't have a roof vane

A Letter from the Subaru World Rally Team

Subaru introduced the roof vane on their production STI in 2006. The link above gives a really good explanation of the job that it does. Basically, it directs air to the trunk spoiler and gives the car more traction and grip at high speeds.

However, I guess some other FIA World Rally Championship teams thought that this was an unfair advantage so the rules were changed and the roof vane is not allowed on the 2007 WRC race cars....

The rule changes don't apply to the Group N cars because those cars are based on production vehicles. This is a quote from P-WRC driver Toshi Arai:
"Downforce at the rear has dramatically improved with the group N machine since the roof vane was installed. Group N uses production cars, so I don't expect the regulation will apply to this category in the future either. If we didn't have the roof vane, we'd have to re-shape the front bumper and reassess a huge number of aspects on the car including suspension settings and machine height."

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