Beetle Parts Update

Just a quick note,as we’ve been uber busy around here lately*. I did in fact order the exhaust that I mentioned in the last post,it’s shipped and enroute to me…


I had decided that I was going to make/build a “short ran” style of air intake,as my dad and I have done a few times for other vehicles over the years. This would have cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $30-50 in part/materials. That changed when I found one on eBay new for $34.95 shipped,LOL (why build basically the same exact thing,when I could buy one that will work as good and look much better? ;) XD ),so it’s also ordered and enroute as we speak.


Lastly (as far as parts I have ordered),I found a set of (new) lowered springs,that when installed,replacing the factory springs,will lower the ride height of the whole car 1.25-1.5″,which is as low as I wanted to go anyways,this car being low to begin with. This will elliminate most of the gap between the tires and the fenders in the wheelwell,giving a cleaner look. It may also improve cornering ability slightly (less body roll,lower center of gravity,etc),but being such a minute change,it will be negligable. I was looking for a slightly better look/stance,these will fit my needs perfectly :)


Lastly,after some local reseach and several reviews read,I’ve found the shop that I will entrust to install the exhaust,as well as that timng belt kit that I have for it. Labor is going to run $400 for both the timing belt kit and the exhaust combined (total price,tax included). They mentioned they could also install the lowered springs for me (for an additional $200…),but I think that I’ll wait until it’s a bit warmer weather (and all this snow has gone :P ) and install these myself,save that money for a rainy day or something**. I’ve done similar work on my vehicles before,and if I were to run into anything that I have issues with,my dad is much more mechanically inclined than I :P

Stay warm,my friends :)




*Especially with the snow that hammered us early on this week. I’ve been out helping with local volunteers for the city a bit with the FJ Cruiser,yanking stuck motorists loose at night (when being stuck/trapped in a ditch could turn very serious),among other things.

**Well….I could use a new (used) XBox 360….the Boy’s had stopped working (and the repair estimate was high enough to make it worth more to…) so I had “loaned” mine to him,which he has since torn up (throwing a b-ball in his room,sigh). He’d bought him a new (used) one with his Christmas $ that he’d received from family members this year,but I have none to play…my Halo trigger finger is itchy,LOL,so I may run out to Gamestop (where we’r eon first name basis’ with every emplyoee :P ) and pick one up since I have a little budget left and no XBox to play :P

Posted in Beetle, General Life Stuff, VW | 2 Comments

VW Beetle Ragtop-Random Thoughts

So I have put around 450-500 miles on the Beetle since getting repairs finished/getting it running (yes…I’ve been drivign it lots :P ),and have a better idear of how I feel about it then I did lost post. I will say up front,I’m really diggin’ it,lots. On the one hand,it reminds me of years gone by when the Wife and I owned vintage air cooled Beetles/Super Beetles,and on the other,it feels as if a modern car with all the modern conveniences and niceties…a smooth blend of old world and new. For me at any rate–I do understand that this modern Beetle is basically a VW Golf with a round body attatched…but I digress,it does bring back fond memories (as well as hide the bad ones–like that winter we had 3 solid weeks of >15 degrees F and I drove that ’69 Beetle with no heat-exchangers because it was all that we had at the moment,LOL!).

So far,I’ve averaged around 25mpg’s with all city driving (and a bit of warm-up before driving on colder days),and as high as 33.87mpg’s when all highway,with an average of weekly driving being around 26-28mpgs. About what was expected.

The interior has proven comfy for me,if a bit cramped,the cruise control works flawlessly,it’s proven easy to park,the butt-warmers (heated leather seating ;) :P ) have kept my bum happy on cold days,and with 150HP on tap (with no noticeable turbo lag time) it’s fun to drive. Also,unlike our previous Beetles (all air cooled),the heat is awesome…just like any modern car/truck should have,LOL!

I have a timing belt kit (with water pump) on order,and may have found a trust-worthy mechanic to install it all,as well as have decided where I will have any/all exhaust work done (same place) should I need/do any. On that note…

On the recommendation of a Facebook friend,when I’d decided that I wanted a cat-back performance exhaust upgrade,I surfed Megan Racing for their unit,as alternative systems were priced considerably higher (nearly $700 plus labor-speaking of Magnaflow here),while at $390 shipped,they offer a nice mandrel-bent and mirror pollished pipes/partsas well as dyno-backed claims of around 12-15 honest horsepower and 3-5mpg gains. I ordered one for myself. Unfortunately,Megan Racing Inc contacted me via email to tell me that they would be refunding my payment,as they no longer have that item (2 things…would have been nice had they,oh IDK,updaed their website and removed the unit,and since they received instant payment from me,it doesn’t seem right that I have to wait 3-5 business days for them to issue my refund–no,I’m ot very happy about it,but “them’s the breaks” as they say…whata ya gunna do?). A shame,it’s a good looking system that came well recommended from friends. Pics (though it matters not since I will not have op to own a set myself….)

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Since I’m not getting that unit (and since I have the time while I wait for them to half-heartedly refund my money),I’ve been surfing for another that isn’t priced outragiously*,and though it doesn’t carry as well of a known brand name,it DOES carry a similar waranty,as well as great customer reviews,I have found a replacement unit on eBay (new) of all places for a meager $179 shipped,AND unlike Magnaflow or Megan Racing’s units,this one comes with a downpipe**. Below is th eonly pic I could find of it. It looks like a very close copy of the Megan Racing parts (which,as I said,would not have came with a downpipe). Assuming they still have one in stock (I’ll ask first :P ),I will most likely order that unit when I have my refund in hand (or in Paypal,as it were). This leaves a bit of budget for other things I was thinking about ordering…


I have not decided which unit/brand to go with,but I also want to install a cold air intake–$179 shipped leaves plenty of budget for that (especially if,like when my Dad wanted one on a previously owned car…we make one ourselves). I also found a “power module” from a reputable company that pushes that budget only a few dollars,which I am seriously considering buying as well.

It’s basically a “power chip”,but specifically designed to be user adjusted/tuned,and specifically designed to increase output (both horsepower and fuel mileage) with my 20V turbo engine***. No worries,this unit is from a reputable company with years of experience,the module will not allow any changes that fall outside of the factory computer allowances,and is safe enough to the car that using it would not void a new car waranty. It will remap everything to optimise the turbo’s output,as well as all sensors and fuel system settings to match the user-friendly 10 settings it has offered (with a “10” being the most modified). All said and done (and disreguarding any lofty claims of “you’ll see 60 more horsepower and 10mpgs!”),after speaking with a dyno technician that I know (who works on all makes/models,including this one,but is a Honda-guy) with all of those parts,I could reach 30-32mpg’s in the city (when driven modestly,mind you),and upper mid 30’s on the highway,as well as see an honest to goodness 40-50 horsepower increase with each part tuned correctly–all on premium pump gas. Nice…a 50 horsepower gain (again,this is estimated,and with nearly double the turbo boost) is good for .5-.75 seconds off a car’s et at the drag strip :)

No,I’m not looking to project this out to build a “fast-Bug” or anything (maybe a bit of a “sleeper”,a car that’s quicker than anyone would expect by looking at it ;) ),LOL,but I do like to tinker. The mpg increases are actually what I’m after (well,and a better sound ;) ),any extra horsepower is just good gravy on the biscuit,as my Great Grandma used to say when I was young.

I wish that I had parts in hand (or installed already),so this is basically a “what I’m thinking about doing,but haven’t begun yet” thing I suppose,we’ll see when the time comes,LOL! Be for certain that I DO wish to make some mods to the car (in effort to increase the “fun to drive” ratio),including a slight drop in ride height to close the fender-well gap….down the road,of course,after fixing any issues in need.

So anyways,these are my random thoughts.

*$700 for a cat-back system (Magnaflow)…really?!? Deduct the $135 muffler and what you get for your hard fought $’s is basically general-steel pipes at around $200 per foot. Greed much?

**What makes more power and mileage improvements than any other exhaust parts ona turbo motor,I’ve discovered with researching,is the downpipe–that piece that bolts to the bottom end of the header/exhaust manifold through to the pipe before the catylitic converter.

***For example,my turbo is factory set to deliver only 8.7psi of boost–where-as the same engine in the Turbo S models are producing 180HP,at 12-16psi–safely. This module will allow me to crank it up to that amount as well,for a considerable gain in boost/horsepower and mileage.

Posted in Beetle, Cars | 8 Comments

New (to us) Vehicle

It’s tax season,and as we knew when I sold my old Jeep Cherokee a while back* that when this time came,we would be looking for and buying a vehicle to replace it. Knowing that it was to be releasd/deposited (our refund) by today,I began pre-shopping last week,having looked at several vehicles within a 150 mile radius.

We decided (well…I decided,but the Wife agreed :P ) that we were interested in a Volkswagen of some sort. We’ve owned several VW’s over the years of our marriage (since 1992),several old air-cooled Bugs from the 60’s and 70’s,an ’83 Sport Truck,’84 Golf GTi,and a really nice (as well as modded and reasonably quick) ’90 Passat come to mind,with the last VW we had owned being a resto’d ’69 Beetle back in the days that the Boy was a new-born babe (he will be 13 in a couple of months–so it’s been a while). I kind-of wanted/liked the idea of a New Beetle,but other than that they share lots of chassis and parts with the modern Golf’s,I didn’t know much about them.

We went as far as 147 miles south into North Carolina to look at Beetles (that one ,despite what the dealer had told us to get us on his lot,was nothing but junk…the Boy and I made that trip and enjoyed the day,but I’m sure glad that I borrowed my Dad’s Toyota Prius hybrid for that trip and averaged 47.9mpg’s for the wasted mileage,LOL! The FJ would have averaged around 14.5mpg’s of premium unleaded :P ),but we weren’t really finding the right car,nothing reached out and grabbed my sleeve and said “pick me” until Wednesday (as in,2 days ago). Note that we also looked at  afew Jettas (including a Jetta wagon that I liked),and several Passats as well. Wednesday,we bought a Beetle,however.

When the Boy and I took my Dad’s Prius back to him,we rolled on down to a semi-local dealership that had it posted on that was only 20-25 miles from home. It looked good on the ad,and after talking with a salesman over the phone,I thought it worth a trip to see. We didn’t have our refund at that point,so I called up my friends at Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union (shameless advertising plug yes,LOL,but they have always treated us well,and I’m a loyal customer :) ) and borrowed the money for it,with 48 low monthly instalments**–the Boy,BTW,has figured out that he will be 17 years old and potential holder of a valid driver’s license by that time should we just sit back and pay those as they come,LOL! :P (he REALLY likes the car ;) ).

The Good:

It’s a 2004 Beetle convertible Turbo (equipped with the 1.8L turbo engine shared with AUDI and a 5 speed manual tranny),nicely optioned with heated mirrors and (also heated) leather seating in good condition,power everything,the “Monsoon” upgraded sound system (does not compare to the awesome FJAMMER system in the FJ Cruiser though,LOL),has nice 16″ (factory) aluminum wheels,and when we test drove it for over an hour (on a wide variety of roads/conditions,including several stops to walk around and look at everything) it rode,drove,and ran very well for an 11 year old car (this is not my first owned turbocharged car,but I am always leary about used turbo cars). Zippy and with plenty of power to move along,though stock it’s not a “hotrod”,LOL,it’s no threat to a stock Toyota Camry V6,at the drag strip,LOL,but it is surprisingly peppy/torquey.

The Bad:

Issues that the dealer either did not share with us–more accurately,lied to me outright face to face when I asked questions about specific areas…the top does not work. At least,the motorized part that powers the top down and back up does not. It was cold Wednesday,so not wanting to put the top down,I asked them up front how it worked,and they outright lied to my face and told me that it did***.

When we bought it,it was just the Boy and I there,so we had to leave it,and have my parents drive me back to pick it up. When we got back to get it,the right rear tire was completely flat (which means a leak,and that when I called and told them I was coming to look at it,they aired it up and said nothing),so we ran to a service staion and bought a can of Fix-A-Flat and aired it up enough to limp back to that station (which was only 1/2 mile away,thankfully). It started fine,but when we drove it a few hundred yards up to the road to pull out,the engine died (note: I had ran it very low on fuel/gas during the test drive,and was sitting uphill),and took 10-15 minutes to get it to restart,but at that point,there were several warning lights then on (Check Engine,EPS,coolant…). The engine died on us twice while driving home–both times while having the clutch in (engine slowing to idle speed) while slowing at a stop light,and when I got it home,it flat-out would not start until early yesterday morning.

I did manage to get it started and drove it to a local VW new car dealership with shop as well yesterday,where they plugged it into their diagnostic computer,fortunately it only pulled one fault-code on it,the crankshaft position sensor. I bought one of those today,and have hopes to install it tomorrow.

This has nothing to do with the dishonest dealer,nor is it a fault of this specific Beetle,but I have found that no one makes a receiver hitch that will fit on a turbo convertible model New Beetle,so I won’t be using it to slide my bike rack in and haul bikes that way :o :( ,also,a quick call to my favored local bike shop and extensive search on his part found that no rack manufacturer that he is aware of specifies any “hang-off-the-back” racks will work on it either…in short,I won’t be hauling any bikes,at any time,anywhere with this car–it’s no different than what has been having only the FJ for the Wife and I,but as she is shiftless when it comes to driving manual transmission cars (and has no desire to ever learn),any time I wish to load up and ride bikes anywhere besides around the (trailer) park,I have to use the FJ….no overnight bike trips,it looks like :(

The Rest:

We do really like the little car,and look forward to fixing it’s minor issues,and I will enjoy doing the minor body repairs/bodywork it needs over the pretty-weather months to have i tresprayed next year’s Spring. I will update on how goes it when/if I can get the sensor installed over the weekend (and shoot some fresh pics when I can get it cleaned/washed). Pics…

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*Sold to pay closing costs on a house purchase that we wound up not buying after-all

**With the down payment I paid,payments are under $50 per month at a low interest rate–we will pay this off early,most likely the middle of next year.

***I have met a semi-local new friend on who upon seeing the pics I posted recognized th ecar and said “Hey,we looked at/test drove that same car at that dealership (I had not mentioned the dealer’s name,he knew where I’d bought it)! Ultimately,we wound up buying a lower miles older hardtop after discovering that the convertible top didn’t work and that they hadn’t mentioned it to us until we tried it/asked….they offered it to us for $500 less to purchase the parts,but would not fix it”. Note that in their pics,which are the pics I’ve posted here (as I haven’t shot any pics of it yet of my own),the top is down. They would manually lower the top,but the car cannot safely/legally be driven as such because it cannot be fastened/held/latched/locked in poistion with the powered parts not working. When I asked,they told me “yeah,top works fine!”

Posted in Beetle, New Vehicle, VW | 7 Comments

Updated FOR SALE Page on the RC Blog

Due to having lost a bit of interest (and wanting to fund some bike-camping gear needed that I didn’t pick up last season*),I’m selling a few RC’s. Link to page…

Thanks for looking :)

*A few items are needed yet for family FJ Cruiser camping (most notibly,sleeping bags for the Wife and the Girl),as well as bike-packing/camping/tours if the Boy wants to go along with more this season (rear rack and panniers for his bike so he can share some of the load,etc)

Posted in The DC's RC Page New Post Link | Leave a comment

Friday; January 23,2015: Ride!

Got another ride in today (as I’d mentioned I would). A bit cold and wet by the time I got done (my winter riding gear is….non-existant :P ). AWESOME to be back on the bike (it really had been too long for my tastes) :D

Bike: 2014 Surly Troll

Place: Blountville,TN
Type of Ride: Road ride
Time of Day: Mid morning
Ride Time: 2 Hours*
Average Speed: N/A
Max Speed: N/A
Miles: 13.9 Miles*
Miles This Week: 23.7 Miles
Miles This Month: 23.7 Miles
YTD Miles: 23.7 Miles
*Computer/odometer batteries dead,used stop-watch for approx ride time,and after riding,I retraced my route in the FJ Cruiser to measure mileage.
Posted in Bike Ride | 4 Comments

Wednesday; January 21,2015: Ride (FINALLY!)

With a recent spinal flare-up having eased up on me (considerably so) earlier this week,I was anxious to get outdoors and do something (oddly enough,I wasn’t in the mood to run an RC,LOL),especially with the beautiful weather we’ve been blessed to have this week. I didn’t want to risk a hike (walking tends to set off spinal issue flare-ups,not help them ;) ),so I thought “why not go for a bike ride,it’s been many months…”,so that’s both exactly what I did,and exactly what I needed.

If you remember,when we bought the Jayco camper last June,I’d turned in my RTO shed/workshop and had taken everything that was in it to my Dad’s garage (which is only used for storage,being too far from his house to be of garage/parking use) to store for later–including all of our bicycles*. So I ran to his house on Tuesday and brought home the Surly Troll,and spent the day tuning it up,not that it needed much–basically I wiped it clean of dust,ran it through it’s gears,made a few small adjustments here and there,and lubed everything properly and it was ready to go.

I shot no pics…this was a not-very-scenic road route of great familiarity,and I just wanted to ride for a while,as it’d been too long since last ride. It felt great to be back on a bike,felt like seeing an old friend you’d missed for so long as I glided down every downhill,and struggled on even the slightest of inclines,LOL! It’s weird….you think you know how far your physical fitness has slipped during many months of being more sedentary,but until that first hill that you need to climb,you don’t realise just how far you’ve slipped in your time off the bike :o XD

It was a nice time though,warmish temps (58-62 degrees F),little traffic (HWY394,at least this stretch of it,is a 55MPH zone 4 lane highway,but has a full-lane-width shoulder that many a jogger/cyclist uses regularly),there were birds a’singing,it was very serene with the wind blowing through my helmet vents on the downhills…..ah,I MISSED this :D Missed it so very much that,since the forecasted cold and wet weather coming by tonight hasn’t gotten here yet,I’m actually on my way out for another short road ride after finishing this (which means I suppose I must needs finish up and get on it :P ). Nothing major,same route,same ride :)

Bike: 2014 Surly Troll

Place: Blountville,TN
Type of Ride: Road ride
Time of Day: Mid day
Ride Time: 1.5 Hours**
Average Speed: N/A
Max Speed: N/A
Miles: 9.8 Miles*
Miles This Week: 9.8 Miles
Miles This Month: 9.8 Miles
YTD Miles: 9.8 Miles
**Computer/odometer batteries dead,used stop-watch for approx ride time,and after riding,I retraced my route in the FJ Cruiser to measure mileage.




*With the exception of the shiny new 20″ BMX-style bike that the Boy bought himself with his Christmas moneys,which is parked in the living room here so he has easy access to ride with the other kids in the (trailer) park (of which there are many). I should have posted about this….it was a “big thing” in my mind,as it’s the first bicycle that the Boy has ever completely picked out without help from me,or paid for with his very own money. EVERYone remembers the very first bicycle they ever bought all by themselves afterall. I will make post about the bike and his relationship with it soon :)


Posted in Bike Ride | Leave a comment

FOR SALE: 2014 Jayco Jayflight Swift SLX Travel Trailer

2014 Jayco Jayflight Swift SLX (not quite an RC,but I digress,it’s for sale :P ).

We bought this new back in June 2014,took it on 1 week long short trip over the week of July 4th,and 2 other short weekend trips >100 miles. Otherwise,it’s just been sitting idle at my parent’s house unused. 20′ long,claimed dry weight of 2,770lbs,and was “designed ot fit inside of most garages”. Our 200K+ mile old Jeep Cherokee (4.0L I-6/automatic) had no issues pulling it.

Sleeps 4-5 people,has shower/mini-tub,2 burner stove top,refridgerator,am/fm stereo,built-in A/C unit and heater,and we’re including a decent toaster oven. The original propane tank is still on there,and it’ s3/4 full,LOL! We simply did not use it as much as expected,and it just sits while the payments continue to come. (we’re not allowed to park it where we live,so sitting at my folk’s house,we can’t even walk outside and see it,or sleep in it for staycation camping). Like new.

It was financed for 84 months,payments (with our credit ratings) runs $208.76 per month,not counting insurance (which has ran around $35-40 per month). For sale only,no trades,looking for someone to assume our loan (with approved-by-the-finanace-company credit,obviously) payments. The finance company may or may not require a down payment on buyer’s part. We’re not asking any in hand cash to us on this (no down payment to us),simply take over the payments (or secure your own financing,or pay our loan off if buying with cash).

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If interested,comment here with contact info and I will get back to you within the week if not the same day. Obviously,local pick-up only. Thanks for looking :)

Posted in Camper, FOR SALE | 4 Comments