Weekend Warrior

mostly about cars, driving them, fixing them, rating them and occasionally fixing computers, phones and things around the house

Mazda 3 HID conversion

A while back I did an HID conversion upgrade on a Mazda 3. Disappointingly the left side is apparently not coming on. As the car is 400 kilometres away I'm unable to check out why that is happening. I'm hoping it's just a bad Ballast, so I sent through the old kid to test with. I hope that is the case because that would be a simple explanation. I like simple explanations. Although it would still be disappointing in a way because the new Philips set would have been faulty out of the box, it probably can't be returned and even if it could the box is here and it is there, that would be a mission.

The Mazda DIY kit competition

So I saw a competition on Facebook on the Mazda page. I actually got it wrong in the beginning. I thought it said one of the prizes was the BT-50. Turns out it said BT-50 service kit. Anyway, I entered the competition. The entry involved sending a Facebook messenger message to Mazda telling them why you should win. I don't normally win competitions so I didn't expect anything of it. I did however spend a fraction of time thinking about what I would do if I won the bakkie which as I mentioned earlier wasn't even the prize. I thought I would drive 50 metres down the road and sell it for 50 grand less which would have left me with a few hundred grand probably 3 or 4 depending on which spec it would have been. It isn't because I don't like the bakkie, I actually like it especially the face lift. It's because I would rather have the money at this point instead of another car.

Anyway I digress, I got contacted by their social media representative who was bearing the good news, you guessed it, I had won a service kit not the bakkie. I had to tell them what kind of Mazda I have. Shame this person struggled. They didn't know my car a 1991 Mazda B2000. I don't think they knew the existence of the B series at all. I suspect they are a very contemporary millennial, I'm more a vintage one myself so I appreciate the classics. After the back and forth that required me to submit a whole bunch of things including my VIN number, engine bay pictures and the car itself I still wasn't getting the prize. It dawned to me at this stage that chances are they don't have the parts for a 27 year old car.

I thought they would go to a parts store like Midas and buy it there and just give to me but they decided to give me a consolation prize instead because as I guessed it, they don't have the parts in stock for it. I wonder could it be because they were a different company back then or they just don't carry things for old cars. The consolation prize sounds like an oil catch pan. It would still be welcome, I do oil changes very frequently. It just sucks a little bit that the first thing I ever win has so much admin attached to it. I await my oil catch pen with much anticipation.

VW Transporter

So I figured out how to remove and replace the air filter. After I got a new one, it came to my attention that the filter has a rubber top and bottom. This means they are malleable and can be squeezed passed the body and the throttle body. 

I have replaced the spark plugs, oil, oil filter and air filter. I had to spent a few minutes looking for the fuel filter. It turns out it's behind the back rest of the back seat but out outside obviously. It might require taking out the wheel but since I'm small I might get away with just reaching passed the wheel.

Then leaves the gears. The clutch has to be pumped a bit before it can engage gears and most of the time the noises that come out of the gear box sound like something is being murdered.

VW Transporter T3

I have always know it as the Microbus or the kombi but it seems the rest of the world know it as Transporter T series. This became apparent after a friend brought one for me to fix but I was struggling to find any information on them. His is the T3 with an in line 5 from Audi. I was rather surprised that there is a lot of space still in the engine bay. For some reason I was expecting it to be rather cramped. There is so much space one could even entertain a turbo maybe but that's for another day.

I'm being rather annoyed by the air filter at the moment. It hits the intake, specifically the throttle body part of it and seems stuck. Since the old one is dirty and oily and I'm not gonna use it again I can easily just pull it out but a new one has to go in undamaged. So I have to figure out the correct way to do this with out any reference material. I can't even find a service procedure or anything like that online on this car.

It could have bad valve seals or guides I'm not entirely sure yet. Someone had loosely fitted the tappet cover, so most of the leak seems to result from that although the owner insists it had an oil leak issue before that. I don't wanna pull the head unless I have really have to. The plugs are bit fouled but they looking at the state of air filter, they might not have been changed in a while.

I think I'm just gonna replace the tappet cover gasket, tighten it properly, replace the plugs and filters and put some new oil in and see if it smokes. If not, chances are there is no leak in the head. Hopefully this works because the head thing would be rather costly.

Automotive Youtubers part 2

Flying sparks garage

I could I have forgotten Emily. I was introduced to Emily through Roadkill. There was one event of Roadkill, I can't remember what but Emily was there and David seemed to know her and I was like who is this chick that David's seems to know and calling her thee Emily Williams.

So I did what anyone would, googled a bit and found her. I enjoyed her stuff. She doesn't claim to be an expert, and she isn't selling sexiness either not that she lacks in that department. I like her show, I won't get to see the show they made for tv but it's probably good. 

I can't believe I forgot her. I really like her channel even the unrelated vlogs that she does are cool. Oh yea the first video of hers I watched was the one where she was doing donuts with a blue Nova. She isn't trying to be a man, She isn't trying to be sex draw, she is just a car enthusiast working on cars and that is super cool.

Automotive Youtubers

I only recently became aware and a fan of Auto Youtubers. I have always done little bit of work on my own vehicles but it's always been either at my mechanic's or things I could find in my Haynes manual. However, those Haynes manuals aren't cheap. One can't have one for every vehicle. In my case I have one for my Yellow Bone (Mazda B2000 1991) and in most cases it sufficient. Once I started working on other cars, e.g Silvaki (Corolla 2E) and IronBelly (Civic R18A 2009), I needed to research how to do things like the fact that ironbelly brake pistons screw in. 

Eric the Car Guy:

One youtuber I found early was Eric, mostly because I needed information a Honda and for a while he worked almost exclusively with Hondas. Maybe it's because he used to be a Honda technician at a dealership. I enjoyed his how to stuff. Later I started watching his ETCG1 videos as well. He is great, even with his quirky of talking to himself. I find it funny sometimes. He seems like a cool guy. I found myself cheering for him when he moved into a bigger shop. If I could afford to subscribe to his personal website I probably would. I like almost all his cars except the Honda Element. I do like his Ford Fairmount that based on his ETCG1 videos seemed to get quite a bit of hate during the build. I really like that I can tweet at him and he responds.

He is a trained tech but he shows all his struggles. It makes me feel better about my own struggles if I'm struggling. I think he makes the best how to videos. They have come in handy many times for me.

Doug Demuro:

By Sheer chance I discovered Doug. I can't remember which video of his I watched first. I watched almost all that I can find in the beginning especially when he used to make videos about his own cars. I think he is great for cars normal people wouldn't normally know about because they are very rare or very expensive or both like the Bugatti Chiron. His quirks and features segment is cool, I enjoy that quite a bit. I was interested in the beginning of the Doug score but I'm not anymore. I can't really explain why, I just lost interest in it.

He has a habbit though of saying "many people don't know..." followed by very obvious things. I don't know if I'm not the target market of these "many people" but it feels to me like when you don't know something and when you learn you assume other people didn't know it either. He is too focused on America, maybe the majority of his audience is in America but I feel there are somethings he could do a little effort with. The video where he reviews a Chevy "mini Truck" is a good example. He talks about how the roll bar is old fashioned from the 80s and is making a come back. The thing is the rest of the world never stopped putting roll bars on their trucks. A simple google search of Europe, Asia and especially Australia and Africa would have shown him images of Crews cabs with rollbars all through the ages. The voices he makes when reviewing Japanese cars irritate me, making fun of the English words used to identify the cars etc. The failure to acknowledge that European cars are ruined by American laws, that European cars work reliably everywhere in the world except for America while the opposite is true for American cars. Instead there is a constant bashing of European cars as unreliable and American cars as reliable, if this were true, the world would be full of American cars. It isn't, it's full of European, Japanese and Korean cars. Lastly his video of the Mercedes Mini van, he went on like that's the only van Mercedes Makes, I had to tell him that it isn't, all he said was is that a real car when I showed him pictures of a luxury version that Merc sells all over the world probably can't sell it in America because....stupid laws.

However I still like Doug. I just curate what I watch instead of watching every video he releases. One of the best things he did for me though was introduce me to Tavarish. I was watching Doug when he sold his Aston Martine V8 vantage to Tavarish. More on that later.

Tavarish:

As I said I was introduced to Tavarish by Doug. I then went on to watch some of his S500 videos and have watched most of his videos ever since. I like Tavarish for one very important reason, he made me realise that no car is too complicated to work on yourself. I was afraid of "breaking" my Civic until I saw him do things like tear out an entire S500 interior and put it back, struggle and get things working. If I were in America I would be first in line to buy that S500 when he sells it. The upgrade he made to the dashboard changed the whole look of the car. I really like the S600 he bought from Hoover which introduced me to Hoovies garage. More about him later. I feel pain inside each time Tavarish shows the S600 with tools in it saying things like it's his parts hauler. If I had that thing I would cherish it. His Lamborgini is awesome, I have had the privilege of driving one and I know what it's like although that one was stock.

All this mean I can forgive his terrible taste in movies lol. He hates all the good movies for very stupid reasons. Other than that I don't have a lot of complaints about him.

Tyler Hoover:

Youtube kept suggesting Hoovies garage to me back when he still own the S600. I watched a little bit into the video before quitting. I was annoyed, I have to admit that wrongly so. He just stroke....stroke me is that the right word or is it striked....uhmm I don't know, anyway I had come off seeing a couple of videos by Salomadrin which just looked like rich play boy type of shit. I didn't like that at all so when Hoover started going on my about buying an S600 with a broken engine sight unseen and rebuilding it's engine for a lot of money I just thought another rich play boy with more money than sense. A description I he would probably like minus the rich play boy part maybe.

I have enjoyed quite a few videos of his ever since. I have liked many of the cars in them. My favourite video of his would have to be the one where a cat crashes the video. Man that was hilarious. I didn't like the one where he buried a car though. 

Mike Finnegan, David Freiburger, Lucky Costa and Roadkill:

I can't remember how I started watching Roadkill but I found it quite amazing. When they used to fetch some junk from far away make it run and take it somewhere else usually thousands of miles away it was just the greatest of automotive entertainment. Mike's own show that is still on Youtube is great i like the long version episodes where he goes through everything. David I'm not a particularly huge fan of, I enjoy watching him and Finnegan together on Roadkill which is quite simply a masterpiece. His own shows not so much, luckily there were never free. Something about his Obama gun rights comments rubbed me the wrong way. 

Lucky is great, great personality and watching his and Tony Angelo's Hot Rod Garage shows how skilled he is. His own short clips are cool though the shakiness could make one sick. Hot Rod garage is pretty cool as well. I would have to disagree with Andrew who co presents with Tavarish the car guys talk podcast that we are cheap if we can't afford the motor trend subscription. I will definitely miss Roadkill though because I'm not getting the subscription but at least I still get to see Finnegan on FSM garage.

Mighty Car Mods:

What to say about this guys? They are great, I love most of what they do and I recognise most of the cars they work on. They drive on the proper side of the car. what's not to love? The only thing I wish I could know is how the ownership of the cars works. I have asked Finnegan this about the Roadkill cars and he said, some belong to him others to David and others to the company that owns Roadkill the show. I wonder if MCM is the same.

Bad Obsession Motorsport:

Make the noise!! I was introduced to this guys by a former boss when he found out I was into cars. This is what I wish I could do to my Yellowbone, rebuild it from scratch and re-engineer parts of it I don't like. The skill of these guys is just ridiculous. Whole episodes spent just designing and building tools, this is some crazy shit. I'm however so tired of waiting to see Binky done or at least driving.

B is for Build:

Chris is also my inspiration. Coming from the software and just doing a hobby for a living now I feel like I could be him. I'm currently a software developer, I just don't see how they possibly make a living from that. It's one of those only in America situations I think. I like a lot of his cars, that Lotus build was absolutely ridiculous. The Aston, I don't like the wing but I like the car, the M5 is pretty cool and the rest of them even the ones he has sold. I like that you see him learn and getting better.

I feel though that he is not very in touch with the internet because he seems to be quite hurt on occasion by the comments on his videos. The internet is a negative toxic place unfortunately. I guess when you make videos you need to read the comments to know what your people are thinking but I feel like his head space benefit if he stops reading the comments.

Hoonigan:

I would love to know the business side of Hoonigan, how it was started, what it's ownership setup is like etc. It's boyish crazy fun but lately I feel like I have seen it you now. I don't really mean to criticise it, I just feel like for me there is only so many times I can watch cars doing burnouts and donuts. The thing is there is big culture of doing this where I come from, only it's called spinning and it's mostly done with E30 BMW 3 series models, usually 325i. To go on a Tangent they are currently this E36 and I got annoyed when they did the American thing which to say the BMW is somehow bad and they are gonna replace it with an LS. Rather than take the time to learn other people's technologies they would rather just LS swap everything to hide their lack of understanding. An LS is not a better engine for a BMW than a BMW engine. why not learn something you don't understand? That just ruined the whole build for me.

The Mercedes Benz X Class

I'm a huge Mercedes fan. I have always been. However I wouldn't buy the new X class. I would rather buy a Nissan Navara. It would be the same car for less, maybe less prestigious but then again prestige has never been a factor for me when choosing anything let alone cars. They say they have done some suspension work to make it different, but the Navara wasn't a bad vehicle to begin with and their stands look the same so I don't know how much different it can be.

Mercedes should have copied VW, their Amarok is an amazing design. It's comfortable, fast and luxurious for a bakkie. Mercedes could have taken their time and designed their own from scratch, I'm confident it would have been great. It's not gonna matter in the long run though, they seem to be selling them. That's probably their only concern.

HID Xenon Light conversion kit installation for a Mazda 3

I'm usually apprehensive about working on people's cars, but it's always interesting especially when it's something I would unlikely do. Don't get me wrong I like Xenon lights with their blue hue and all that. They look cool. I guess I should say I wouldn't do them right now. I have a long list other mods I would to do first, like the Android head unit, I just love those things. I would do that first.

Anyway I'm rambling, The Mazda 3 in question already had a previous after market Xenon installation it came with. The power units were attached with double sided tape to the chassis. I thought that was quite sketchy. I don't really trust double sided tape. I haven't had great experiences with it's reliability. I wouldn't trust sticking things with it next to the engine pulleys. I don't know what double sided tape the guy who installed it used but it was quite on there. It didn't look like it would have fallen off by itself but I don't like doing things I don't trust because there is nothing more worse than somebody saying "Ever since you worked on my car.....(add a list of problems here)". So I would rather just do something I trust.

The Phillips units I used came with thin metal brackets, nuts and bolts. This seemed more trustworthy for me, so I went with that. OEMs don't usually make random holes for people to use to customise their cars later, so finding places to put the brackets was a bit of a challenge. Like most right hand drive front wheel drive cars, there is a lot of space on the left side of the engine bay and not much on the right. I was able to find a bolt on the on the chassis to attach the unit to and there is a nice big hole to slot through the extra cables. On the right I was lucky to find an empty bolt hole on the main engine mounting. I'm not particularly sure what Mazda would usually use that for but I  happened to have a bolt that fits it perfectly in bin of bolts. So I was able to attach the unit there. The cable management was a bit tricky thought because on the right side there isn't much space and the last thing you want is for something to hook on the drive belt. I attached the cables loosely to the radiator coolant overflow hoses.

Anyway, I suppose we can call this a one day build. I don't know if I'm getting better or if this was easy. Either way it was half a day of improvising doing up and undoing and wrapping of insulation tape and at the end, The lights work, they are blue. I took it out on the road I know doesn't have street lights to get the full effect. They look much brighter than halogens. I have never had a car with xenons before so it was pretty cool. I still have the old kit I removed from the car. I wonder if I should install it on the Ironbelly or the yellowbone. Could be cool. I will think about it for a while, in anyway it won't be soon. 

Minor service for yellowbone and Ironbelly

Servicing Yellowbone (1991 Mazda B2000) is always a breeze, well most of the time. There is lots of space, by any modern standards it's light years. Draining oil for instance, I don't have to jack the car up. I can easily slight in under the sump and undo the bolt. I can stand on the fender and easily reach the oil filter. The points are on top next to the radiator. Literally anything you wanna get to there is lots of space to get to it. 

Ironbelly (2009 Honda Civic VXI) on the other hand is very well designed. Things are easy to reach because they have been placed strategically so. The oil filter and sump plug are placed right next to each other under the engine. However there is some complication in getting there for someone who doesn't a big jack. I find that when I put my jack on a brick I can jack it from the middle jack spot, I can then place jack stands on the sides and have space underneath. 

I however had some complications where the oil wasn't getting full or I should say I expected it to take less than it was supposed to. It took almost a whole 5 litres. I wasn't expecting that. I was expecting it to take less oil since it's only 1.8 litre. After extensive internet search and converting to metric it seems it takes 4.4 litres. Beyond that it was a breeze.

I someday would like to change the serpentine tensioner as it's been making some noise. It's gonna be a while. I haven't been brave enough to look at how much it costs. It probably isn't as easy to change but we will deal with it eventually.

From pallet to beautiful kitchen lights

When I started this project I had no idea how to get from the pallet to what I had in my head but the end result is great for something without a plan. The biggest challenge of this whole project was taking the pallet apart. I had initially expected that to be the easiest part but as it turns out they are not so easy to take apart. After some youtubing I was able to find a way to take the pallet apart although it took much longer than I had expected.

I measured the gap in the kitchen where I wanted to put the lights and started building. It's not a complicated thing, two load bearing beams on the side, another two across those makes the basic structure. In the middle put the planks that will hold 3 small 12 volt lights. I glued all the pieces together and drove screws through them while the glue dries. I then sanded them down and vanished them with a vanish sealer. It looked quiet nice even if I say so myself. I will upload pictures of this project on Instagram @weekendwarriorsa.

The wiring was a bit of a mission because the power out of the socket is at 240 volts and my little 12 volts light bulbs would not be able to handle that. I had to find a way to get the right voltage to the bulbs. Why not just get 240 bulbs, you are probably wondering. It would remove all the unnecessary complication. The extraordinary answer to that question is someone gave me a bag full of 12 volt light bulbs. It would be cheaper in the long run, not to mention convenient to use them. So I had to use a 12 volt system. I bought a transformer that could take 240 volts and step it down to 12 volts. I wired the bulbs in parallel which complicated it a bid but if you have ever tried to find a blown light bulb in Christmas lights that are wired in series you will understand the need for this. In parallel if one blows they won't go dark, only the blown one which will make it very convenient to find the blown one and replace it.

I wired the switch incorrectly though and instate of completing the circuit I was causing a short. Each time I tried to put them on the mains would trip. I was tired and just wanted the satisfaction of seeing them come on. It took a while for me to figure out how stupid I had been, about two hours. At around 02:00 I figured out I had wired the switch incorrectly, I wasn't completing the circuit but pinching it on both sides. I remedied this by connecting the red cable in and out of the switch, the black cable to another black and earth to another earth, which is the correct way of doing it as opposed to what I was doing which is connecting red into switch and black into switch. 

A little after 02:00 I finally got the satisfaction of seeing the lights come on. It was a thing of beauty. The war had been won or so I thought. The worked flawlessly for a week. Then yesterday we had them on for a long cooking session and they just went off. I still have to diagnose why they went off. I hope it's not the transformer because I'm really not in the mood to return it. I will have to find some time and whip out my test light and try to figure out where is the power going.