MACarbon – Carbon Fiber Chrono Cover & Door Handle Inserts!

Yes, it’s the part in our show where we install more carbon fiber. I have been contemplating another purchase from MACarbon for awhile now but it takes a bit of time to work up the courage. This time around I bought a carbon fiber chrono clock cover and inserts for the interior door handles.

Installation was pretty straight forward. The chrono trim clips gave me a little bit of trouble, but I eventually got it sorted out. The handle inserts were heavenly. Here’s a quick installation video:

Since I’m planning to keep this car until the 992 series are in their second year (probably 2020) I decided to splurge a bit on additions (I’ve got some leather parts coming in the next few weeks). I think these particular mods are pretty subtle but I am really enjoying them.

Tag Cloud Added

I realize I’m about 10 years late to the party but I added a tag cloud to my blog (it shows up in the sidebar). My next big project is going through all the posts and adding tags. I don’t know how the cloud will work with entries that are marked as private but if you suspect you can’t see something then you’re probably right.

GT3 Carbon Fiber Mirror Installation

Another upgrade for the 991! This time I decided to add the GT3 carbon fiber mirror housings.  Certainly not cheap (I ordered them from Suncoastparts) but compared to offerings by other companies like MACarbon or Techart they seemed like a steal.

Installation was fairly difficult because I couldn’t find any good assembly / disassembly documentation online. Eventually I figured it out and made this video below:

At first I wasn’t really digging the look of the carbon fiber. In retrospect I have no idea why since I think they look really sharp now (it’s been about a week since the install). Great upgrade. Not a DIY for everyone, but somehow I muddled through it.

The carbon fiber almost makes the mirrors look like little ears from the front. All business from the side.

Porsche 911 Turbo S – 1 Year Review

I have now owned my 2016 Turbo S for over a year. I thought I’d do a quick update after a year of ownership. If you’re not interested and want the quick version then here you go: Still the best car I’ve ever owned. Incredible to drive. Very reliable. Love it.

Reliability: My car has over seven thousand miles on the odometer and its performance has been, for the most part, very solid. In the interest of full disclosure I will mention the following:  I had to have a leaking windshield wiper reservoir replaced (under warranty). Periodically I hear some strange noises I can’t explain (an intermittent groaning noise under the dash – although it’s been awhile since I’ve heard it). There are some little rattles here and there (dash, squeaky seat).  A few other quirks pop up now and then such as the stereo restarting or the passenger thermostat not working for an evening. I would say, however, that the amount of issues is on par with or less than most other vehicles I’ve owned. The aforementioned aside, all the electrical and mechanical systems seem to be working correctly, no [other] leaks, emissions tests run (with the right tune) and the car seems very happy. I would say the reliability thus far has been excellent.

One thing that’s noteworthy is that the service at Ken Garff Porsche over the past year has been outstanding. That makes me feel more comfortable when something goes briefly amiss- I feel like they have my back. Their proximity has also been a huge bonus. They happily give you a loaner car or provide pick-up/drop-off services but I love dropping the car off and walking home along the trail.

Projects: While I’ve undertaken a few modifications myself (i.e my center console, carbon fiber additions, etc) I have left some cosmetic and electrical changes to the professionals. I think it’s safe to say that I feel less confident tinkering around with this car than I have with previous cars. That being said there are still tons of cool (non-invasive) ways to customize the 991 series.

Modifications, Mechanical: So far I’ve really just stuck to the time-tested modifications I’ve mentioned before on my blog: Fabspeed 991 Turbo Supersport X-Pipe exhaust w/ the quad-Style Tips, sport headers, , HJS 200-cell racing sport cats, BMC F1 air filter, ByDesign intercoolers, IPD plenum & Y-Pipe and then a tune via the 991 Cobb Accessport Port. Obviously I haven’t pushed any boundaries or ventured into uncharted territory but for the most part I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done. The only thing that I’m not totally satisfied with is the drone that the Fabspeed makes at certain speeds / RPM ranges. However, aside from the periodic drone I do love the sound of the exhaust.

At this point I still don’t actually know how my modified car compares to a stock Turbo S (I haven’t made too much of an effort to find out). Once upon a time I had plans to upgrade the Turbos and add meth injection. However, I think I’m nearly over that infatuation. I like how the car performs right now so I don’t want to go further down the rabbit hole. As thing stand I can’t run quarter miles at RMR (I’m not adding a roll cage) and there aren’t a lot of places around here to max out the car so I don’t see the need for more speed (wha- whaaaaa whaaat??).

Modifications, Cosmetic: I’ve really been happy with everything I’ve done so far. Most of the gold is gone. I’ve added lots of carbon fiber (from Techart & MACarbon). I love how the blue calipers turned out. The back being blacked out (vinyl, tint, letters, etc) really gives the car a nice look. No regrets on my cosmetic changes yet. I do wish upgrading stuff wasn’t so expensive…

Performance: Still top tier in most respects (not much has changed from any of my other reviews so this section will be pretty short). I think I’ve definitely gotten comfortable with the car’s handling and in some ways that makes the car more enjoyable to drive. I took a drive through the AF canyon recently and pushed pretty hard. Previous cars have always made me feel nervous but the Turbo was so planted and handled so well it actually surprised me.

I’d also say that I’ve gotten used to the car’s speed; it’s still fun, but the adrenaline rush has definitely diminished a bit. I think that getting used to your car is inevitable and, for many, it’s part of what compels people to keep modifying their car. I find myself carelessly close to the siren mod-reef on many occasions . But the bottom line is still the same: I’ve never never had a car that’s more fun to drive.

Ownership (attention): The car is fairly nondescipt, as far as cars like this go and I am generally ignored by other drivers. As I have modified the car it has gotten a little more attention. That’s not necessarily a positive thing for me as I’m certainly not making any changes to garner additional attention. Whatever you own- house, car, clothes, jewelry- you open yourself to some level of public scrutiny. Generally the reception to the car is positive. There are a few detractors now and then and I will admit that owning the car occasionally feels uncomfortable.

Dislikes: There’s just not a lot to dislike about this car. I’ve hit on things in my blog from time to time but it’s little stuff. No volume indicator- just ridiculous. I have gotten blasted so many times… at the very least there should be a volume level indicator when there’s no input. Not a huge one, but the sunroof doesn’t open all the way. It opens enough but I feel like I’ve been robbed of a few inches. The exhaust drone is not my favorite (truthfully I almost never notice it when I’mm by myself- only with company). Not totally keen on the placement of the only USB port although this really isn’t an issue since I got my Rennline Phone mount.

I don’t mind the inconvenience of center lock wheels. I don’t mind the tiny back seats (I love that they are even there). No objection to the lack of storage in the frunk- it’s always been plenty to accommodate what I’m doing in this car. I can’t even think of anything else that I might dislike.

Likes: Where do you start on a car like this? I love the look. The feel. The smell. When I get in the car I feel transported to another world with only two rules: Feel good and go fast. So much headroom. So much space in general. I’m a 6′ 4″ 260 lb guy who feels like the car was built for me. The visibility is so good. The seats are so good. The stereo often blows my mind- the Burmester offering is so outstanding that sometimes I just go for a drive to listen to music (to be absolutely fair- the subwoofer has a hard time on some bass-heavy songs).

Cost of Ownership: This could really be its own blog post but I’ll cover the basics here. Cost of ownership is something a lot of people really don’t consider when they are buying a car (any car). What does it cost you to own your car each day, to drive it each mile? Here’s a breakdown of my Turbo S. While I won’t hand out all the specifics in this post rest assured that my math is pretty accurate. There are a couple of different ways to approach this but I’m just demonstrating the “cash costs” of owning this vehicle. There are several components of real cost that I will outline below:

Purchase Costs: The base price for a 2016 Turbo S is readily available online and that’s about what I paid (you could say I got my option upgrades for “free”). I traded in my ’15 Corvette on this car which reduced my taxes on the new car by about $6,000. I paid title and registration fees and I purchased, a service contract and some additional warranties (after a year of ownership I have concluded I can sell back two of these for a prorated refund). I don’t have to take into account any costs of interest because I don’t have a loan. If I sold the car right now I think depreciation would hit me to the tune of 18% or so.

Upgrade Costs: I have spent a ton of money on upgrades (many of which are listed here). I could probably recoup 1/5 of the money I’ve put into my upgrades when I sell the car so I can pull those from the cost, but the rest is stuck in that car. Granted, I didn’t have to do the upgrades, but I did and they are part of my personal ownership costs.

Insurance costs: $2000. Gas costs (7000 miles at 17 mpg average at $2.90/gallon  + $400 of racing fuel & additives): $1600. 

Gas Costs: Total cash cost (as in cash I can’t get back from this car) of ownership for year one: $212 / Day or $11 / mile. Totally insane, right?

Now, if I keep the car another year and don’t do any modifications it gets much better.

Taxes, tiles, registration, warranties, and the upgrade costs were all paid for in year one so we don’t have to worry about those (you do have to count modification costs moving forward – I’ll probably spend about 5K a year on those). I’ll get hit with some depreciation from year one to year two (and so on), but it won’t be as bad- say $10,000. I’ve got the racing out of my system so fuel is just $1200 (7000 miles again). Insurance will be about the same. No maintenance costs yet because I have a service plan and my car is still under warranty.

Total cost of ownership in year two, three and four (depreciation, fuel, maintenance, insurance):  $50 / Day OR $2.60 / mile. Obviously the smartest thing you, as a savvy car buyer could do, is let someone else take the financial hit in year one. Maybe I’m not so savvy, but I’ve gladly taken the bullet for someone down the line.

FYI: By the end of year four the warranty expires and maintenance that is no longer covered by an existing service agreement. Depreciation is still going on and maybe a bit faster since the car is out of warranty. It’s very possible that year five and up costs will be similar, but it’s more likely they will be higher than two though four.

Final Thoughts: I am really sold on the Porsche brand. I think any car in their line up would be fantastic but I have a special affinity for the 911 series and, in particular, the Turbos. I’ll conclude the way I started: Best car I’ve ever owned. Incredible to drive. Very reliable. Love it.

Thermostat Confusion? I Have the (a) Solution!

One thing I like about our home is that each level has its own thermostat and can be independently regulated (makes for more efficient cooling and heating and it actually cuts electrical costs). Thermostat technology has come a long way, however if your thermostat is in the wrong location it can cost you money and cause perpetual discomfort.

Situation: Our upstairs thermostat is in the hallway. With no hallway air vents the temperature around that thermostat is mostly dictated by whatever makes its way up from the main floor.

The old thermostat location was not ideal. Air from downstairs would heat and cool the hallway where the thermostat was located. When in use the downstairs fireplace caused a huge temperature discrepancy.

Summer Situation: In summer the upstairs AC will run and run until the hallway cools to whatever temperature the thermostat has been set to. Since the air has to spill out of the bedrooms and into the hallway to reach the thermostat by that time all the bedrooms are too cold.

Winter Situation; In winter the warm air from downstairs keeps the upstairs hallways warn as well. The net effect is that the bedrooms are left unheated if the thermostat is set to a normal heating range. If we compensate by making our heating threshold higher than normal the upstairs AC will run and run until the hallway warms to this temperature. Since the air has to spill out of the bedrooms and into the hallway to reach the thermostat by that time all the bedrooms are too warm.

Solution: My wife pointed out that if we moved the thermostat into the bedroom that would solve all our problems. Since we use an automated system to control our temperature having it in our bedroom isn’t a big deal because others rarely need to adjust it. And thus was the thermostat moved. And there was there peace in the land.

That was all a long-winded way of saying this: If you have a two story home and separate thermostats (main and upstairs) make sure your upstairs thermostat is placed correctly. One alternative option to relocating the thermostat is to use one with a remote sensor.

Bounce House Trampoline Birthday Invite 6 x 4 Template

It seems that more and more kids are doing “bounce house” trampoline birthday parties. My son just had one and my wife recruited me to make the invite. I’ve posted a blank copy below and it’s high enough resolution that it prints out nicely at 4 x 6. We had ours printed at Costco and then we just mailed them out (you can put address info & stamp n the other side). If you feel lazy and don’t want to make a card feel free to use mine. I’ve left the text section of the card blank so you can enter your own text, put a sticker on the card with the info or even hand write the invite.

LiquidArt Fountain Mountain Spring – Install & Operation

Once again, I have decided to undertake a project for no particular reason- I  just get enamored with an idea sometimes. In this case I was thinking about how much I like the noise of our fountain (probably because a friend just installed a very nice water feature in his yard) and how cool it would be to hear the sound of a fountain while sitting on our front porch. All of a sudden BOOM! I had to put in a front porch fountain.

The first step was picking a location and that was easy since there was only one place to put a water feature. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bushes in front of our porch so I was happy to rip a few out to make room. The next step was finding something that would fit look nice and not be too loud. I remembered seeing some fountains at Costco last year so I looked on their website and came across a model called the  LiquidArt Fountain Mountain Spring. I liked the shape, a pondless bubbler was just right and the price was pretty good (much less than buying it direct).

I placed my order and it came within less than a week (shipping from Oregon via a freight company). As soon as it arrived I took actual measurements (it’s 2″ larger than advertised- a tight fit) and started digging. I naively assumed I could just shovel out a few wheelbarrow fulls of dirt and I’d be all set. Not quite. I think all told I ended up emptying five pretty big loads. I dug the hole a bit deeper than needed so I could lay down a couple inches of gravel.

Deciding on a height was more difficult that I thought it would be. I ended up trying to seat the fountain two inches below the side walk to accommodate the rocks I was planning to get (I’m hoping the weight of the water and fountain won’t cause it to sink at all, but I’m mentally prepared to pull it out and readjust it if necessary). After getting the water reservoir installed and cleaned out* I placed the grid on top, placed the pump inside, ran the pump hose through the grill, overlaid the mesh and placed the “rock” (orienting it was tricky and I ended up changing it several times after seeing the actual water flow). Aside digging the hole that was the best part (sarcasm).

*Quite a bit of dirt fell into the water reservoir. The only way I could think to get it out was to vacuum it up. I used this an an opportunity to acquire a new Shop Vac (quite happy with this model). Sweet!

After the main fountain components were situated it was time to get some landscaping rocks. We live right by an American Stone so I headed over to see what they had. Turns out their selection is pretty massive (it was my first time there). Here’s how it works: You weigh in your vehicle and then go fill it up with rocks (keep track of what you get). Then you go a weigh in again and pay for your selection (according to your weight difference). They don’t really cater to jobs as small as mine but I managed to get what I needed. I’m not going to win any awards for landscaping / fountain design, but it turned out pretty nice (I wish I hadn’t pruned the bush on the left quite so much).

Below is a quick video of the fountain running. I think it’s quite relaxing. In fact I would be on my porch right now if allergies weren’t ravaging my body.

Overall: 8/10 – The LiquidArt kit is comprehensive, well designed and attractive. My only two gripes are minimal. 1) The PVC pipe that comes out of the top of the rock isn’t too attractive. I feel like that could have been flush with the surface. 2) Install wasn’t anything close to 3 hours, as described by the instructions.