And the Saga of the Brakes Continues

Seriously, eight months without a post, and now three in four days?

So, looks like my thoughts on my first excursion on the track provoked some interest: viewership kinda exploded. I’m sure it’ll settle back to the usual 3-6 da day (mostly on the Mysterious Package posts) but in the interim: Hey, new folks!

And, as I noted, I killed my brakes. And I was Looking into options.

It turns out, on the bottom of the Frixa pads box, it says, very clearly “NOT FOR TRACK USE”. But who the hell looks at the bottom of the box??? That would have been helpful on the TOP of the box.

C’est la vie.

The deal is, though, by the time you read this, I should have the car back on the road. New brakes are acquired, at least for short-term.

Lets go back in time a little bit.

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When I bought the Genesis Coupe in 2009, it was one of three in the city. They were rare. like any new model (it’s still just a Hyundai). There was a community beginning in the ‘states, but not much in Canada yet. I got involved in GenCoupe.com, and that was OK. Upside was, I met some good people locally, who I’m still very, very good friends with. I, and those guys and girls, never actually called ourselves anything. Fast forward to 2010, 2011, and there’s a group popped up in Oshawa/Whitby area: The Durham Basterds. We met a bunch of these guys and girls, and, well, got along famously. Some are just car friends, others have become friends: it was a year before I met most of them. It was also several of these guys who pushed me towards the much more structured community of Chapter 11. And I got to know some more of the guys, even better.

My Bombshelter crew: the guys and girls from University have become the bar to which I hold myself, and anyone I meet.

The core of the Basterds?

They’re worthy of the Bombshelter.

They do the things I would do, and have done.

For instance.

While I don’t want to embarass anyone, someone built probably the most epic street genesis coupe (there are some more epic Gensesisisiesies. Genesii? I don’t know, but they’re pretty inherently show cars, not drivers) that I’ve seen.

Well, this morning, they were on the road at 4am, and delivered me a full set of OEM brakes.

Darkcyde Delivery Service//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

And I do mean “complete”. Rotors, pads, calipers, brackets, hardware, lines, and dust shields.

I cannot put into words how much this kind of thing from my friends/chosen family means to me. This is what it’s all about: it’s what I try to do, and I know it’s the kind of selflessness that my friends seem to have, from 8 hour roundtrips for a favour, midnight cottage closings, hospital runs, parking lot repairs, charity events and so much more. The things I’ve seen the people I’ve surrounded myself with, that they get NOTHING out of, do, for the benefit of others? It’s just awesome. And it gives me hope.

So… enough with the mushy stuff?

Finally…

It’s 40oC today. I got home from work, went through the brakes that’d been left for me, and re-installed what I needed: I’m lousy at bleeding brakes, and I want the car on the road this weekend for the cottage run, so I just did pads and rotors, re-lubed everything and took it for a test drive. All is awesome.

The pedal is a little squishy. I do need to change the fluid, but it’ll be fine for a few days at least. It seems to hold true though, once that fluid has boiled, it’s never the same again. So, what I’ll probably do is swap the fluid, and at the same time, swap on the newer calipers, too.

And then I figure out what the plan is going forward, for the track. And I guess I need some higher performance pads for Tail of the Dragon this fall too. Still, all things in their time.

Gonna have to pay this whole thing forward sometime though.

The Continuing Saga of a RaceTrack Wannabe

That’s right. I don’t post anything for months, and now you get a couple in a couple of days.

So, brakes.

I mentioned briefly in my thoughts from Novice Day that my brakes went away by the end of the day. Well, it was actually worse than that. I lost brakes entirely on my 3rd last lap, going into Turn 6 at 170km/h: Pedal went to the floor. I’d already lifted, so was bleeding speed anyway, pumped the pedal a couple of times and got some pressure into the system, downshifted to let the engine do some of the work, and cranked the wheel over to let the tires scrub some speed, and all was well: My instructor admonished me for diving too deep into the corner and running wide and off line, I told him that it was a brakes issue. I ran the next few laps slower, just working on my line and smoothness, and pointing people by as I needed to (including the 370z I’d eaten up about three laps earlier, dammit!).

I got a look at the rotors after the session ended, and this is what I saw:

FLICKR – wheel – rotor

Not good. Tough to tell without closer inspection, but the pads were looking a little light, too.

Get on the road home, and I popped an (unrelated) engine code: P0133. Pretty sure that was just the engine reacting to the high flow catalytic converter and suddenly not running wide open, as I had been on the track for the best part of two hours. I cleared that, and no issues the rest of the way home (70km).

When I got into town, however, and off the highway, I ran into some issues.

At about Bank / Walkley, the car felt really sluggish. I had to give it more gas to make it go anywhere, and acceleration was seriously lackluster. If I took my foot off the gas, it came to a halt almost immediately.

Of course, this is when a good officer of the law arrived on my bumper, in traffic.

Because OF COURSE.

So, I’m gunning the hell out of the engine to make the car go anywhere (I’ve already got an idea where the issue is) and figure, well, I might as well set up my defense. Put my four-ways on, and hope for the best. I’m less than 2km from home at this point, so I’m going to try to limp it there, unless I’m told not to. Turn onto the primary run into my neighbourhood… and the officer follows me in. Again, I figure I might as well get ahead of the curve, and pull to the side of the road in front of the Dodge dealership. At which point, the cop pulls right past me!

Seriously?

I’m now not worried about getting a ticket, but mildly irritated that, despite my four ways, the cop didn’t stop to check on me. Sorry guys. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Nothing is visibly stuck, so after a few minutes, I get back on my way. Still really sluggish though. I get home, and the same thing: the car is stopping very quickly when it’s not under power, of its own accord. I back it into the garage, and leave it there for the night.

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Sunday afternoon rolls around, and it’s time to check things out. The good news: all the bolts on the brakes came loose with some pressure: nothing seized.

The bad news. This list is longer.

First, the front rotors are, as I thought, screwed. With them off, they’re both splotchy/white, with some flaking of the edges that isn’t rust, and they’re so deeply grooved that you could climb them. Or at least play “Darkside of the Moon” if you’ve got a record player kicking around. They are ROUGH. See for yourself:

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Second, the front pads. Also totally fucked. Outboard was down to a sliver of material left. The pad itself has been baked to the point at which it’s also flaking apart. The inboard pad isn’t as badly worn, but it’s really unevenly worn. Looks like it stuck in the bracket and stopped retracting/loosening off when I got off the brakes. Basically, about 1/4″ more wear on one end of the pad than the other.

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Third, the front caliper sliders were completely stuck: all the lubricant had burnt off. That’s an easy fix, but contributed to the above issues, I’m sure. All the lubricant around the areas the pads touch the brackets? Yeah, that’s gone too. Again, easy fix, but the pads are dead.

Fourth, I don’t know if the front calipers are still ok. I’ve pushed the pistons back in, so they do move. Only way to find out will be to get fresh rotors and pads in there and see what happens.

So, what’s the plan from here?

Given how my brake knowledge has grown in the last 72 hours, there’s a couple of things. First, the rear brakes (same brand rotors – R1 Concepts, and same brand pads – Frixa) that I installed new on Friday night are FINE. No scoring, no over-wearing, no sticking. It might be worth disassembling them and re-lubicating to make sure everything is moving post-track-heat, but otherwise, they’re fine. What I hit the track with on the front of the car, though, had 60,000km over four years, on them, and two winters of driving in Ottawa’s snow and salt. There is (I’m told) a finite shelf-life for brakes, even if there’s material left: I didn’t know that. So, old, well-used components, stressed to the maximum on the track? It should surprise no one that they fought the good fight, and finally, lost. Everything I’ve read, and been told, says that no, the expectation is not that you will be going through a set of pads and rotors per track day. I hit a perfect storm of abuse and existing wear. On top of that, as I mentioned, I have the base OEM brake set up. It’s good, but it’s not, I don’t think, race track good. Especially not with 60,000km of wear already on the components. But, it’s taught me an awful lot about things to look for, and things to keep up with in terms of preventative maintenance. And I think, whatever brake set up I end up with in the future, I’ll make sure I’ve got spare pads and rotors on hand in case I do need them.

Well, I’m doing Tail of the Dragon with GenSport United in late September. So, I’ve gotta have decent brakes on for that. In the short term, i MIGHT have access to a set of OEM’s that someone isn’t using. If I get really lucky, they’ll get up here from Oshawa before Thursday, and I can drive the ‘coupe to the cottage this weekend. If not, then I’ll be ordering new, OEM-base replacemnts (probably EBC rotors and pads) to get me through the end of summer and fall.

After that, I’m seriously considering a BBK. It sounds like there may be a semi-local option for me. I may also have a line on an affordable OEM Brembo swap with Stoptech rotors and pads. Failing all that, the R1Concepts forged series BBK looks like it has potential as well.

As I said in the original post, I learned a lot this last weekend, not just about being on a track, but about myself, my car, and all the things that go into being SAFE on the road, and on the track.

Good times.

Track Day, Bro.

So, I’ve been quiet here. Ummmm. Sorry? All three of you?

Basically, shit’s been busy, and I keep starting writing things and then not finishing them. I’m hoping this will not be the case tonight.

So, I’ve talked about the car before. Today was a bit different.

I signed up for 1morelap.com‘s novice day at Calabogie Motorsports Park. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into. So, about a month ago, I went to an HPDE day. Why? I wasn’t going to drive just yet. But they do a great thing there: once you’re signed off to drive solo, you can take passengers. Better, you’re kinda expected to take a passenger if they ask. It’s the “first taste is free” kinda deal. And that was the full track. I’ll get to more of that later. I’ll give you verbatim what I posted to facebook that night:

Huh. It was more than a couple weeks ago. June 11th, in fact!


So, yesterday, a few of us (finally) took Borge Gamble up on a run out to Calabogie Motorsports Park for a lapping event, with 1morelap.

I did not DRIVE.

I had two very, very different experiences as a passenger (and everyone was wickedly friendly). First, with Ken in an (if you can believe it) automatic Scion FRS. Second, with Norman, in a fourteen year old BMW M3. Ken is somewhat of a novice, Norman, been doing this a good while.

The FRS is amazing. I’ll be perfectly honest here. Anyone who says the base spec of 201hp/151lb.ft isn’t enough for a real car? Has never been in one driven hard, on a track. Hard on the brakes into Turn 5 was touching 155km/h. If anything, the paddle-shifted automatic made it faster. it was balanced, and basically only being passed by other cars on the straights: in the corners, with good tires, it is beyond capable.

The M3 though (E43, the last truly good one in my opinion) is pretty much everything the M-fanbois make it out to be. It has more than enough power, and stunning brakes. Better tires make the handling… knife edged. The same entry into turn 5 as the FRS was a terrifying 200-220km/h, dropping to 90ish through the corner itself. And I now know what the phrase “throwing the anchor out” REALLY means. 220kmh to 85km/h in (my guess) under 200ft. It is violent. It was passed by exactly two cars. One, a monstrous Corvette street car, and the other a dedicated CASCAR (I think) chassis.

I spent a lot of time watching entry speeds, exit speeds, and control: it’s not just about the experience (although the first three or four laps in the FRS were a bit of a blur, and my grin in the M3 was enough to split the helmet). I love racecraft, and you can learn a lot here. It’s a controlled environment, but it’s not THAT controlled. There’s excellent support from the support staff and marshals, and they WILL black flag (end your night) you if you’re being a dick and unsafe. I saw nothing but courtesy from other drivers: always pointing to pass (you do not pass unless the driver in front has told you explicitly to pass, and which side, with hand signals). Ken and Norman had dramatically different lines into several corners (most dramatically, Turn 8, 12, and 17).

I drove home with the cruise locked in at maybe 5km/h over. There just didn’t seem to be much point.

Sometime this summer, I’m gonna make it out there myself. Most likely August 6th / novice day, but possibly an evening or HPDE day, with an instructor: It costs a little more, but I think is going to be absolutely worth it.

I’m also going to head out there on a couple of the days and volunteer as a photographer: it apparently gets me some different access, and that will also be a ton of fun.

Excellent afternoon, doing the kind of thing I love. Good, good time. I can see the potential for addiction here, though.

So, fastfoward to yesterday. We got there early, about two hours early for our first session (10am) and lined up, parked, and went to get a handle on things.

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There were two events ongoing yesterday, so the track was “split”. Known coloquially as “east” and “west” tracks. The west track is where the novice day was held: it’s not as fast as the east side, but it’s got some extremely interesting and complex turns on it. Rewind a bit. A requirement of the Novice day is a half-hour in-class training. It’s very simple, basic stuff: this is a novice event after-all. Still, I learned some things: Seating position – I was very close to where I needed to be, but still needed some adjustment. Vision – again, I was close, but I needed to learn to look all the way round the corner, not just into it: I know the rule. You go where you look. Beyond that, it was basic material about focus, apexes, speed, braking and shifting points, and the racing line. All excellent information.

So, then, to the track.

Take a look back at the track. As I said, the track was split, and we were running corners 2 through 1. That sounds odd, I know, but, follow it round. We entered the track at Turn 2 / Jacques: following the blend line. Uphill wide onto the concrete curb on the outside, then cresting right before turn 3 / Gilles, which is effectively blind. When I did it right, I ran full-throttle in third gear through turn three. The short straight to turn 4 / Easy lets you settle the car: in my case, I found that I could run third up against the red line, but that was forcing me to back off, or grab fourth gear in the middle of easy, on the curb on the inside, at about 110km/h. So, what I learned to do was grab fourth gear on the transitional straight between 3 and 4, and run wide open: by the time I cleared 4, and wound out the steering onto the straight on the outside edge of the track, I was running about 130km/h. From there, a straight run down Rocky Road. Rocky Road ends up with a crest and kink into Sir John A and Mulligans (Turn 5). By the end of the first session, I was diving straight through, blind, into Mulligans, braking hard, stabilizing the car, downshifting to third gear, and preparing to turn. By the end of the second session, I was standing on the brakes at the top of fourth gear, just barely touching 170km/h and 6800rpm. By the time I come off the brakes, about 200ft later, I’m at 75km/h or so, turning in and touching the cement on the inside, then letting the car drift out to the cement on the outside, between 5 and 6 (Big Rock), shedding speed naturally, rather than under braking: begin the turn into turn 6. Turn 6 dips slightly, and the car settles down: as it does, roll onto the gas pedal. The car takes a set, and if I did it right, the traction control does not flutter. Exiting the turn, there’s a very short transisiton between 6 and 7 (Candy Mountain) and you’re now aiming at the tall, single tree beyond the track. Aiming here and letting the car drift to the center of the track as you unwind the steering sets you up for turn 7, running at the top of third gear. Straightening out after turn 7 is grabbing fourth gear and onto the short straight down to turn 8 (Temptation). Hard on the brakes at the end of the straight, but leave it in third and let it run out (no gas) bleeding speed, then a dab of brakes again, and turn hard across the inside, drifting out to the cones at turn 1, and onto the paddock straight. Run out third gear as tight to the wall as possible then brakes and hard across the concrete at turn 2 and do it all over again.

When I write it down like that, it sounds like I know something, right?

Yeah, not so much.

I couldn’t have driven like I did without the instructors in my ear, in the passenger seat. Mike, John, Deiter: if you read this, holy shit guys, thank you. I learned so damn much yesterday. I put so damn much that I though I knew, into practice. I would not have had as much fun, learned as much, and had my frustration level lowered without those instructors.

Let me put it this way.

I cannot recommend the Novice Day enough. I just can’t. If you have any interest in cars, you need to do one of these. The instructors from 1MoreLap are absolutely fantastic, and patient, and knowledgeable, and patient, and encouraging, and did I mention patient?

I never timed a lap.

I didn’t count laps.

I know I did enough laps in 90 minutes to learn something.

I know I did enough laps in 90 minutes to destroy my brakes. Like. Completely.

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*edit* *2016-08-08* Just to clarify. My brakes were OLD. Brakes (I discovered from someone more knowledgeable than me) have a shelf-life, as well. The car is 7.5 years old, I did the front brakes four years ago with reasonable quality Frixa pads and R1Concepts rotors. They had about 60,000km on them when I got to the track. You should NOT expect to have to replace your brakes every half hour! 🙂 It seems I may be implying that by omission. I’ve added a post about the brakes, too, because if you’re into racecraft, discussion of wear of hardware should interest you, and I’m talking about it from the perspective of a total noob. *end edit*

I know I did enough laps in 90 minutes to verify something I already knew, intellectually. I discovered that the drivermod is most important. I discovered my untuned, effectively stock(1) sub-200hp Genesis Coupe can stay with and go better than on-paper better cars, because of that DriverMod.

I know I did enough laps in 90 minutes to qualify my interest in watching racing, running sim-racers, and studying driving mechanics because I enjoy it, gives me a lot of knowledge the moment I sit down.

I know I did enough laps in 90 minutes to qualify that that last point means an awful lot less than I though it would: knowing a line intellectually is entirely different to actually driving it, at the limit of adhesion, as fast as you can, while listening to an instructor in your ear reminding you of the things you’re forgetting, or ignoring, because you’re only able to concentrate on a dozen things at once, not the two dozen you actually need to remember to be both fast and smooth.

I know I did enough laps to prove to myself that while smooth may be fast, sometimes you’ve got to slow down to get smooth again, and then rebuild your speed.

Most of all, I know I did enough laps to prove to myself that I know almost nothing, and that I want to go back and learn more.

I could say an awful lot more, but I don’t think anyone would read it. I know I’m gushing somewhat, but that’s a bucket list experience. And when I do get the brakes fixed up, I’m looking to do it again. And again. It won’t be every/every other weekend. But it’ll probably be a couple of times a summer. Because I want to get better, and better, and better.

(1) I have, at this time, wider, stickier than stock tires, lighter wheels, short shifter and bushings, intake, exhaust, high-flow catalytic converter, a stage 2 clutch, and lowering springs.

2015 #extralife #gameathon

Yes, I hashtagged my title. Live with it.

I had previous written this “We’re right on top of the Gameathon”. Well, I never posted that. So, this is a little bit of pre- and post-gameathon.

First things: if you don’t know, it’s a charity event that benefits the Children’s Miracle Network, via Extra-Life. In turn, you choose your hospital, in our case, that’s CHEO, or the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

With that explanation, if you’d care to donate a few dollars, five, ten, fifty, five hundred, whatever you can, the best place to do so is here, through me!

Donate via me!

Yes, we have already completed our gameathon for 2015: However, donations are still counted towards this years totals until December 31st, 2015. So, if you want to donate? Please click the link. CHEO is a great, great cause. And, honestly, I would expect them to be busy in the new year: Refugee kids are going to need help, and I’m sure CHEO will be part of that effort.

Anyway, back to the event!

The team has become this weird combination of nerds, geeks, car-people, and .. yeah. General weirdos. There’s Chapter 11 Section 62 representation, @wrenchhaus, and the old university crew: The Bombshelter. Basically, we are legion.

This year, we changed things up. How? well, you’d need to know last years, first. So, here’s last year:

This year, instead of the island in the livingroom, we’re trying a long table around the walls. I think it’s free’d up a bunch of space: we had a problem last year with people needing to get in and out (food, bathroom). I think we’ve alleviated a lot of that with the new set-up.

On top of that, with The McFee being out of town, we’re skipping Rockband and making room for more PC’s. The entire basement, in fact, is dedicated to PC gaming this year.

Then, we’ve set up two bedrooms/offices upstairs with tables and chairs for serious tabletop action:

At this point, in fact, we’ve got a full walk-through video for 2015, again. My apologies for … yeah. that’s me doing the voice over. So, I apologize in advance.

Once again, I failed to do a second walkthrough. This year did, in fact, end up being signficantly different to previous years: not only did the Tabletop gaming get a lot more attention, but at the same time, one non-nerdy-family-game got played for no less than four straight hours, by a group that grew to nearly fifteen (somewhat intoxicated) bodies: “Catch Phrase”. I know. I don’t get it either. Sadly, I didn’t get any video of the idiocy involved, either, but that’s life. That said, we brought in the kids, too, and there were games of My First Carcasonne, and the like. The adults delved into a group favorite, Pandemic, as well as Elder Sign, and a multitude of others.

The PC master race was, as is appropriate, well represented by basement dwellers. I mean, I set up the PC gear in the basement. Note the network cables EVERYWHERE.

Speaking of the hardware, this is what it takes to set-up the house, to do things the way we do it. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to others: it’s a ton of work, and every year I end up buying more and more gear, especially networking gear. I got very lucky this year, and a neighbour was throwing out two tables (and by tables, I mean doors, with those folding legs bolted to them) which I picked up for free. Without that, we’d have had issues, so it was incredibly fortuitous.

So,yes, the hardware and set-up. Couches get moved from basement to ground floor: the ground floor is entirely consoles.

Also, my racing rig, which I finished at about 11pm the night before the event, and stood up extremely well. Althuogh I think I need addtional plyons… I mean, bracing.

The hardware!

Ok, so the house is rigged, before anyone shows up, with:

Ground Floor:
-Asus AC68u router
-TP Link 8 port switch
-TP Link 5 Port switch
-TP Link 16 port switch
-350′ Cat6 network cable

Basement:
-TP Link 5 port switch
-TP Link 8 port switch
-TP Link 32 port swtich (it’s what we had)
-250′ Cat6 Network cable

Once everyone was plugged in we had:

Ground Floor:
-11 TV’s (32″ to 50″)
-5 Xbox360s
-6 Xbox:One
-1 lonely PS4

Basement:
-12 gaming PCs of various sizes, shapes, and forms

This year, though, we didn’t blow a breaker. You laugh, but last year, we blew breakers repeatedly (due to a bad piece of wiring we’ve since had corrected) so badly that it blew a hole in the breaker itself, which had to be replaced, last winter. I’ve never seen anything like that. Compared to last year, I think we were actually bigger this year, but it’s hard to tell, because, as I pat myself on the back, I think we organized much, much more effectively this year.

So, while it IS a ton of fun, both in the set-up, preparation, and the event itself, there is a point to all this. And the point is, to raise money for CHEO. Which we did in spades.

Again, donations don’t close on this year’s event until December 31st, 2015. So, feel free to click that link up there, and make even a small donation.

Here’s the numbers so far though.

We’re showing up as the 285 biggest fundraising team in the event (international, 6265 teams, total). However, once the $400 USD I have addtionally makes it to the organizers (next week) then we’ll jump… We may jump into the top 100 teams. Which is INSANE. Most of those top-100 teams are corporate, and where they’re community teams, they have dozens, even hundreds of members raising funds. Again, I’m incredibly proud of my guys and girls: they put a ton of effort into this.

And yes, I know it’s not a competition. But boy, leaderboards, am I right?

Team Bombshelter is, once again, the #1 fund-raiser for CHEO, via Extra-Life, and the gameathon. I’m incredibly proud of not only our direct team, but the people who support us (with fooooooooood, in large part), those who donate incredibly generously, and those who come to wish us well. Our numbers are not 100% yet: I have a number of cash donations that are still coming in, but it looks, on the surface, as though we’ve (in what we thought was going to be an “off” year) broken through $3200 USD. That’s somewhere around $3800 in Canadian funds, going back, directly, to CHEO. Over the last four years, we’ve raised juuuuuuuust about $15,000 in Canadian funds[1].

It should be noted, however, that the newly-formed “Ottawa Guild Superstars” were nipping at our heels this year! That’s pretty damn, awesome, too.

[1]we lost our team historics this year, and we still don’t know why. Fortunately, I had screen captures of the previous years’ totals, so we’re not totally lost, but it is a shame, and I have to get back in contact with Extra-Life again to see if that can be rectified. It’s not a huge deal, but we are gamers, and our leaderboards are important to us. 😉

Totally Awesome Thing About Car Culture

There’s a reason I refer to myself and my fellow car nerds as nerds. We are. Seriously. Bordering on car hipsters, to be honest. I’m not going to get into what I drive: If you’ve read here before, you already know, ad neauseum, about my car. And, honestly, I’m a little run down. THere’s a “parts going in” update coming… eventually. In the meantime, I’ve been avoiding events, especially “offical” events, because, yeah, I just don’t have the energy, and my car’s not in the shape I’d like it to be for those events, and I don’t have the energy to get it there, right now.

Onwards!

So, Thursday night, there was a show. The Ottawa area has a lot of these weekly shows: there’s a Tuesday night in Kanata, there’s a couple of different Friday night ones, there’s Wednesday night at the Casino. They all have something in common: they are nearly universally classic, hotrod, and muscle shows. I like these shows: they tend not to have the sheer idiocy that comes with eighteen year-olds in civics (I know whereof I speak: I was that kid. But I didn’t have a civic, I had an ’88 Ford Tempo).

The Thursday night show, no different, just at Fallingbrook shopping center, in Orleans.

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So, what you see there is a sea of gleaming muscle, painstakingly restored classics, expensive modern insanity (2015 C7 Corvette, I’m looking at you), waxed and polished so hard the chrome almost comes off. I love all this: I love seeing the restorations, the resto-mods, and the cars of yester-year. And as usual, all the owners are milling around, looking at the same cars they see every week, talking to their buddies, and wondering what seven KDM, one Honda, and one VW are doing there.

And then.

And then this guy rolls in.

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And I wouldn’t say the record scratched as the lot went quiet. Hell, it didn’t REALLY go quiet. But he rolled in, backed into a parking spot, and got out.

The valves (open to the world) were smoking. The exhaust was clattering. The lights were… ineffective.

But all of a sudden, there was a crowd: the biggest crowd of the night. And EVERYONE wanted a word, an explanation, and a picture.

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Two minutes later?

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What you can’t see is ’em standing three-deep behind me, as I took that (and some other) pictures. Basically lining up to take a good, clean picture from the front.

The vehicle in question isn’t even a car. It’s a reverse-trike: specifically, a 1939 Morgan Three-Wheeler. It’s also, according to the owner, a bit of a bastard: it’s an “SS” model, which in this case doesn’t mean “Super Sport”, but rather, “Stainless Steel”. The frame is steel, not wood, so, you only have to worry about rust and British electrical systems, not termites and wood rot. Which is nice.

And yeah, everyone wanted to to know about it. There were the few regulars who had “opinions” and “knowledge” (Spoiler: they didn’t know much about it, but talked a lot like they did). The guy who owned it was saying that he’d actually just got it on the road: 2.1Km from home to the show was its maiden voyage, after he got it: turns out, his Uncle had had it in a barn in BC and kinda said “If you’re going to drive it, it’s yours, free. If you’re not going to, i’ll sell it to someone who will” So the new owner is going to drive it, everywhere he can.

It really was the coolest thing there. And that brings me back to the car-nerd thing. All the guys, and girls there were, well, classic North ‘Murican car-types: big, V8, detroit iron (which you can see in the pics above) but everyone went ga-ga over this little British three-wheeler. Because it’s different and weird, and they want to know. Not only that, they want to know the guy who’s doing something different, who’s being something different. I never did get the spec on the engine, but according to wikipedia, it’s the last year of the V-twin three-wheelers, and this was definitely an air-cooled model. Finding specs on these things is crazy tough, too.

All in all, just a very cool, very cramped little thing. And apparently, the brake- and turn-signal lights don’t work. So, it’s hand-signals all the way (the lights are aftermarket add-ons, and maybe aren’t as good as they could be). And it’s classed as a motorcycle. So, helmet and goggles? Yeah, I’m all over that! I’ll admit it. I kinda want one. I’d totally commute in that in the summer.

And totally not… normal. And, for all you hang out with your own crew? When that “not normal” rolls through? You gotta check it out.

Of Things Fitness-y and Bit-y, and Wearable Nerdiness

So, after a few weeks of water-related issues, I managed to lose my Fitbit Flex. Specifically, I was loading the car for the cottage run, and kept catching the strap on things I was loading into the car, popping the catch on it, and it falling off. So, I put it on the roof of the car, and said to myself “Don’t forget you put that there”.

And promptly forgot it there. @thirtyyearhouse says she thinks she saw a “black circular thingy” fly off the car once we hit highway speeds. Which would pretty much define a fitbit in its black wrist strap.

So, I done fucked that up.

What she has also suggested is replacing it.

But.

This put me to thinking: I’ve had some issues with it recently: after some wear, it seems the straps seal around the bit itself … less well. Which means my fitbit has spent more time in a bag of rice in the last three weeks, than it has on my wrist, where it actually does something for me.

Don’t get me wrong: I like it. And, surprisingly, I like the data. I use a combination of the fitbit itself, MyFitnessPal for food tracking, and Strava for my cycling endeavours (and soon to be running endeavours… I think. I don’t want to talk about it. Ugh. Running). THey all report back to each other, and combine the data. And, despite my English degree, it turns out I like data and metrics. Hunh.

So, having something on my wrist giving me information is definitely something that’ll happen again. But, will it just be a fitbit replacement? Given the issues with water intrusion, and the straps inability to keep the bit dry, I’m not 100% sure.

The two primary competitors actually have a head-to-head review, and it puts them pretty equal… until you read the comments (Never read the comments, I know, but in this case, some glaring issues start coming to light).

Fitbit Surge

On paper, the Surge is actually a pretty easy choice: it’s an extension of what I already have… had. I like the interface, so, just keeping going? Decent.

But, once you start reading reviews, and user experiences? It’s… not good.

Turns out, they’re sporadically not waterproof (despite on paper being good to 50m). More like water resistant. There’s a lot less actual smartwatch functionality than you’d expect at the $250-$300 price-point, and the exercise stuff (the device’s “raison d’etre”) is also lacking (the GPS isn’t that accurate, and the heart-rate monitor is beyond substandard). Finally, the cycling mode is, when and if it works, lackluster at best. The screen is also a small, monochrome number. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it, but at the same time, there’s nothing great about it: it looks old and boring, and kind of is.

In other words, they want to play the game, but not pay the price. Which kinda sucks.

Fitbit’s lack of bike-interactivity is known to me: with the Flex, I use Strava on my phone, which feeds to MyFitnessPal, which is in turned imported as “exercise” by fitbits own connection the MFP. Without MFP, I wouldn’t have that interaction of cycling exercise. Also,t he near universal hate of the Surge is terrifying. People REALLY don’t like it, and it’s for functional reasons (bad GPS tracking, lack of/hit’n’miss waterproofing, HR monitor that doesn’t work properly during exercise, etc, and, even with all that, the smart stuff isn’t actually that good (text messages and email only, no social media notifications, etc). Pretty much a fail across the board.

So, I googled a few other options (basically, “fitbit Surge vs [other brand] review”) and found then Garmin Vivoactive

And this one looks good. It’s got some drawbacks: no big surprise in a developing tech. There’s no built in HR monitor (which is not a huge loss, from what I’m seeing: none of the IR based ones seem to work that well) and it can connect to an external strap-style, which seems to be preferable. The screen takes some getting used to, but is a great power saver, and works fantastically as-is in bright sun. It also seems to excel at being a smart device (such as their able to at this point).

Most importantly for me, it appears the Garmin is fantastic for cycling. I mean, it’s sitll mostly a runners world in terms of wearable tech, but the cycling stuff is really coming along, and it appears Garmin is doing it right.

There’s a couple of others that look great, but aren’t so big on the fitness stuff, which IS the whole point of the exercise. They’re excellent devices, by all accounts, but more cellphone companions, rather than fitness bands/devices.

What are they? Well, the Moto360, and LG G Watch R. While they’re not really fitness oriented, they’re both very cool devices, and very pretty.

Ugh, really undecided. It’s probably smarter just to get a regular fitbit again. But I do loooooooooooooove technology.

This will probably take a while.

Car Stuff – Wherein My “Season” Ends Early

Last week was awesome. I finally got the car to the point where a] I could have the spacers on and b] only scrape the tires on the liners/tabs on the most major bumps. That’s actually a win. I think if I push the stiffness a little further, I can eliminate it altogether. The scraping, not the stiffness.

Which means my summer set-up is currently:

F: 19×8 +15mm 245/35R19
R: 19×9.5 +15mm 275/35R19

It’s very nice. Ride height finally, is probably in the range of two inches of drop (rather than the nearly 3.5″ I had to start with) and I’ve gotten the pre-load almost sorted out too (although a little more, especially in the front, probably has worth).

Last Sunday (the 16th of August) was Torque Modified in Bowmanville. At the same time, @thirtyyearhouse needed to be at her family’s cottage in Carnavon (where I was joining her after the show). So.

Friday – 160km roundtrip to drop the dog off at the dogsitter
Saturday – 360km to Carnavon from Ottawa, 160 to Bowmanville from Carnavon
Sunday – 7am out to Torque Modified, 10 hours in the parking lot, 160km to Carnavon
Monday – nothin’
Tuesady – 360km Carnavon to Ottawa, 160km roundtrip to pick up Dog
Wednesady, Thursday – Nothin’
Friday – 360km Ottawa to Picton
Saturday – 80km roundtrip to Sandbanks
Sunday – 360km Picton to Ottawa

Hunh. So, that’s actually over 2000km. With more accurate measures, probably exactly 2000ish. Yes. Exactly, ish.

The show was fantastic fun, I’ll admit. Not because I won (I was never gonna win anything, my car is NOT show level, by any means). But it was fun to hang with a ton of guys I talk to online regularly, and see rarely. The show itself was a fantastic mix of Hotrod, classic restoration, resto-rod, Modern Muscle, Tuner cars, and Import modified. No hate from anywhere and some truly amazing vehicles. But, it’s easier to show you, right?

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The run back up to the cottage was amazing too, and so was the run home. I just love DRIVING the Genesis, still, after six and a half years.

So, what’s the issues?

Well, a portion of the lip is cracked now. I think I can fix that, but it’s going to take me some time, and I’m gonna have to pull the front end off to get at it. Not a big deal these days, but it’s still a bunch of work.

The rear tires are still scraping on the tabs inside the fenders where the bumper cover joins the body. Again, not often, and not badly, but it’s still there. I think just a little more adjustment (some more pre-load, a little more stiffness, and another turn of height) will do the job. It’s primarily happening when the car is loaded down, so the pre-load will definitely help. And doing all this will put me closer to next years goal of going to the track.

At the same time, I did the front brakes with some nice, but affordable, parts from R1 Concepts, a few years back. At the time, we looked at the rears, and there was no real point doing them: they were pristine. Now, after 6.5 years of spirited driving, they are less so. A little grindy when you get aggressive, and the rotors are visibly scored. I’ve had the parts sitting around for three years, so it’s a matter of doing them. But I don’t want to go far, until I do them, for safety’s sake. As I’ll have the wheels off to mess with the suspension, I might as well do ’em then.

On top of that, the clutch is finally getting really bad. I think.

But here’s the thing. At this point, it might be the clutch (and again, I have one waiting, a stage 2 Competition Clutch. I just need a good clutch line (might as well do it while I’ve got everything apart) and a throwout bearing (a definite must do while the clutch is out). But it also might be the exhaust. The car is six and a half years old, and the stock engine/tune runs rich, and, due to turbo, blows some oil. Nature of the beast, not worried about it. BUT. I have feeling the stock catalytic converter is almost done, and is causing issues of restriction: the hesitation I can feel when I got wide-open with the throttle could be the clutch, except I’m not seeing the revs jump and then fall, except at high-gear, high load. So I’m wondering if it’s the back pressure building up behind a jammed up catalytic converter, that’s just not flowing as well as it used to. At the same time, I KNOW I’ve got an exhaust leak at the gasket between the catalytic and downpipe, and I think that’s a combination of a downpipe flange that wasn’t as well manufactured as it could have been, and worn catalytic converter studs.

Which means it’s time for a new catalytic converter.

The options there are … very few, actually. I could go with a stock one: as I want to tune the car next year, finally, I’d need to have it modified with a wideband sensor bung. Smarter is aftermarket, high-flow: still emissions compliant (which was always my goal) but comes with the necessary sensor bungs (stock O2’s, Wideband), and flows more, faster. That means more power. I like more power. The options there are incredibly limited, because most people just ditch the catalytics completely, and run an open, catless O2 housing. I don’t wanna do that. Technically, CPE makes a high flow stock replacement, but the only place I can find it is Uniq performance. The other (cheaper) option is out of Toronto as well: Ultimate Racing makes a high-flow replacement for the stock cat on the 2.0T Genesis, and it’s affordable. Thing is, despite them being Canadian, I don’t know how affordable, because their pricing is in US Dollars. I understand why: most of their business will come out of the states, online. But it does mean I have to contact them directly to get a price on what I need. Still, looks to be about 2/3 to half the price of the CPE unit, which is dandy by me!

What this means, is, in the TL-DR version I currently have issues with:

-Brakes
-lip/body
-clutch
-suspension rubbing
-exhaust
-and nearly worn-out tires

Which means I’m done for the season. Which takes the